Resources of the Himalayan Yoga Tradition


A brief introduction to contemplation in the yoga tradition.

There is one simple principle of self-observation, one very simple central principle of self-observation that is taught mainly to swamis, but it can be taught to others also, and that principle is called manana (contemplation), based on one maha-vakya, one great guiding sentence. It need not always be assigned by a preceptor. You may take some sentence from the scriptures and say, “This year I shall mold my acts according to this sentence.” And then you check whether all your mental acts are based on that or not. For example, find excuses for everybody else but don’t find excuses for yourself. Justify everybody else’s wrong acts except your own. I guarantee that next year, if you practice this for one year, this tent will be empty because nobody will need any more teaching. But the center of that manana practice is taking one ideal sentence from the scriptures, from the teachings, and making that your holiest practice, and molding all your mental acts around that. And then keeping on checking: This mental act, was it according to this? I have to make a decision, a very practical decision. Does it fit with the ideal I have set for myself according to this particular sentence? The swamis are given a maha-vakya when they are given the vows of swamihood. They speak of four maha-vakyas, but there are more. I know thirty-two so far that I have used from time to time. So these are advanced spiritual practices, and they are much more difficult than sitting down with your eyes closed and turning your mala beads. And if you’ve got this basic principle of contemplation you can develop the whole system for your own progress on that basis.