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Svadhyaya: The Path Of Understanding Your True Self

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Svadhyaya is one of the five niyamas (yoga principles) that focuses on the study of self, self-reflection, introspection of self’s thoughts, speeches, and actions. In the process of practicing this niyama, we get engaged in the realization of our own essence. Svadhyaya serves as a ‘prism’ through which can we see the Divine within us. In this article, I will dive deeper into what svadhyaya is, why it is so important to practice it and what you can do today to step on the path of understanding your true self.

What Is Svadhyaya?

Svadhyaya is a compound Sanskrit word composed of ‘sva’ (स्वा) and ‘adhyaya’ (अध्याय). ‘Adhyaya’ means “a lesson, lecture, chapter; reading”. ‘Sva’ means “own, one’s own, self, the human soul”. Therefore, Svadhyaya literally means “one’s own reading, lesson”.

According to the Yoga sutras (Sutra 2.44), one who practices Svadhyaya acquires the ability of deep concentration, approaches the higher consciousness and becomes able to comprehend the higher truths.

There are several interpretations of this principle. Its first meaning is self-analysis, self-realization, self-education, awareness of oneself as a whole structure in various aspects: mental, emotional and spiritual. The second meaning of this principle is the study of the Scriptures, spiritual literature, Vedic sources of spiritual knowledge. And the third meaning is chanting mantras aloud (performing Japa).

It is necessary to practice Svadhyaya daily. For most of us, it is difficult to break away from our daily routine, but it is necessary to find an hour or two and devote them to spiritual self-improvement or reading spiritual literature. Compare how much energy you spend on questions of the material world, and how much time you devote to the spiritual world? When embarking on the path of spiritual self-improvement, you need to set your priorities correctly.

Understanding The True Essence Of SELF

Svadhyaya definition Image

Stop for a moment and think: what is life? The pursuit of ephemeral happiness? The endless bustle of everyday life? Or just boring aimless vegetating, when you don’t have the ability to see the true meaning of life and just go with the flow?

In most cases, people’s idea of life is misleading.

Many of us wake up every morning and force ourselves to go to work that we hate. After work, we come home and fall on the couch in front of the TV. We have our dinner and go to bed. And this is how most of us live. We live the same day again and again and call it “life”.

We are like robots, performing our functions, without thinking about the true meaning of what we do and for what reasons. This kind of life does not bring joy and does not give a sense of satisfaction.

Yoga is designed to help us become better, get rid of the obscurations that fill our lives. When we realize all the frailty and meaninglessness of our existence aimed at satisfying material needs, we begin to understand that the main goal of life is to cultivate our spirit. Therefore, eventually, everyone who follows a true spiritual path begins his journey of spiritual self-improvement, to break the shackles of the material world and free himself from the illusion of earthly values, unleash his inner light and illuminate not only his path but also to share it with those who are still in the darkness.

Gradually, as we practice moral principles, we begin to notice how we are moving forward. So, we should not miss any opportunity for self-development and self-improvement. And Svadhyaya serves us as a wonderful tool for gaining self-knowledge.

Our eternal Spirit experiences difficulties when it is imprisoned in a body that is affected by the material nature that binds it to the cycle of rebirth in the material world. It is necessary to learn how to limit the manifestations of the ego that forces us to focus on the material needs.

When we are involved in a process of constant self-development we gain control over our ego.

We need to always remember that all the knowledge we need is already within us. All we need to do is just reveal it. Every time we study the spiritual scriptures we are not learning something new but reminding ourselves of what we already know and always knew deep inside. The knowledge that we need for our development is hidden from us behind the limitations of our materialistic minds and opens gradually as the level of our spiritual awareness increases.

Jnana Yoga And Svadhyaya

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The teaching of yoga is divided into several branches. Each of the branches leads a person to the knowledge of his true Self, to the flowering and growth of his soul.

Hatha yoga, for example, helps us learn to control our physical body since it is a temple of the spirit.

Raja yoga helps us unlock our inner potential, develop our mental abilities, learn to control our mind, and strengthen our willpower.

Bhakti yoga is designed to awaken unconditional love and unselfishness, which leads to the realization of the unity of being.

Jnana yoga is a way of knowing and studying, which allows us to plunge into the amazing world of truths that lie at the heart of being. Yoga of wisdom, as it can also be called, will allow you to find answers to such questions as: “Who am I and why am I here? What is the purpose of my life? What exists outside of visible reality? What will happen to me after I leave this life?”

Svadhyaya is the basis for practicing Jnana yoga because it is the beginning of the path of knowledge and understanding of one’s own nature. When we learn about ourselves with the help of Svadhyaya, we also come to the realization that the opportunity to be happy is hidden in each of us. And the knowledge of self will lead us to liberation from the false ideas and illusions of the material world, change our worldview and we will gradually come to an understanding that each of us is a part of the whole.

Svadhyaya And Mantra Chanting

Mantra chanting daily practice image

As mentioned above, Svadhyaya leads to the opportunity to attain deep concentration. Mantra chanting is one of the tools we can use for this.

When we are involved in mantra chanting, it is important not just to repeat the text of the mantra, but also to understand its meaning.

By chanting mantras, we can purify the surrounding space. Even just listening to mantra chants can clear your mind. When you listen to their sounds with reverence, they can lift your consciousness to a higher level.

It is believed that the sacred Sanskrit sounds tune us in harmony with the vibrations of the cosmos. Thus even if you just listen or read mantras, it can have a beneficial effect on your aura and contribute to your spiritual development.

Studying The Vedas

The Vedas are considered the most ancient Scriptures. The Sanskrit word “Veda” means ‘knowledge’, ‘wisdom’, ‘intelligence’. Therefore, the Vedas teach us to understand what we read, to comprehend the deep meaning.

The Vedas are written in early Sanskrit and contain hymns, philosophy, and guidance on ritual for the priests of Vedic religion. They have been directly revealed to seers among the early Aryans in India and preserved by oral tradition. The four chief collections are the Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda, and Atharva Veda.

Reading and studying the Vedas allow us to touch the sacred wisdom of spiritual truths. This is not just a repository of mantras, hymns, and mandalas. The sages of the past shared their spiritual knowledge and experience in the Vedas, and now we have the opportunity to touch these divine truths that can help us start a meaningful and conscious life.

Initially, the knowledge that the Vedas contain was passed orally from teachers to students, who, in turn, memorized mantras by constant repetition. Because the Vedas have been preserved through constant self-study, they also belong to the practice of Svadhyaya.

Later the Vedas were recorded in writing. The Vedas are compiled by the sage Veda Vyasa, who divided them into four parts: Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda, and Atharva Veda.

Veda Vyasa Image
Veda Vyasa

Rig Veda is considered one of the oldest religious sources of knowledge in the world, a sacred collection of mystical hymns written in Sanskrit.

Sama Veda is the Veda of chants.

Yajur Veda is a collection of mantras used for worship rituals.

Atharva Veda is a collection of mantras and magical incantations and healing spells.

The final part of the Vedas is the Upanishad (Vedanta). The word Vedanta literally means the end of the Vedas and originally referred to the Upanishads. It describes how the four Purusarthas (objects of human pursuit) can be achieved. These four Purusarthas are Dharma, Artha, Kama, and Moksha.

Studying Sacred Scriptures And Spiritual Literature

Svadhyaya also implies the study of other spiritual Scriptures. By reading sacred texts and Vedic literature, we discover a treasure trove of spiritual knowledge that was left to us by the Great teachers of the past.

When we practice Svadhyaya we constantly study from sacred sources of spiritual wisdom with reverence and respect. In doing so, we establish a connection with the spiritual masters. As we dive into the sources of spiritual wisdom, we come into contact with the exalted spirit of those who left us this treasure. In this way, we rise in spirit to their level while reading their creations.

It should also be borne in mind that just reading spiritual literature is not enough. It is important to understand the inner meaning hidden in every thought of the author, manifested in his work.

After reading spiritual texts it is important to take time for analyzing, reasoning, learning and thinking about the ways you can apply this wisdom to your life.

Veda studies image

Most religions are based on faith and they ask you to take sacred texts on faith. However, when we talk about svadhyaya practice, we mean the deep understanding and analysis of everything we learn. Only by understanding the essence of the Scriptures, can this knowledge penetrate into our subconscious mind.

Analyzing what you read, applying it in your life, comparing it with the experience you have already received on your spiritual path, you get precious experience and spiritually grow.

Thus, the books of Great spiritual masters provide us with support in difficult moments of life and are a motivation for spiritual self-improvement.

Other than the ancient Vedic Scriptures it is also very important to read spiritual books of modern authors, communicate with spiritual Teachers, spiritual mentors, visit lectures on spiritual topics and attend seminars. Any “immersion” in the spiritual atmosphere somehow affects our consciousness, increases the vibration of our consciousness and allows us to reach a higher level of awareness.

The Bottom Line

We should always remember that when we start our spiritual journey we grow, and our worldview constantly changes. Therefore reading spiritual literature after a while, we can comprehend more or perceive it differently than we previously learned and understand. The mind perceives only what it reads that resonates with the level of spiritual development of the reader. So don’t be lazy to read a book you have already read before again and again. You may discover something new that you missed or misunderstood.


Katya Ki is the Founder of SOLANCHA Magazine, a Metaphysical Expert, a Reiki Master, and Human Rights Attorney. She has been studying Eastern metaphysics, cosmology, and esotericism for almost 20 years now. And she's still discovering new knowledge, which is hidden in ancient teachings. During her pilgrimage to the monastery of Saint Catherine in Egypt, she discovered the SOLANCHA System. This is how the SOLANCHA journey started!

Abundant Living

Brahma Muhurta Time: A Powerful Period For Manifesting

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Setting an intention is important. But how do you stay focused on your goals and not lose your motivation? For accomplishing our goals, we need four components: clarity, energy, calmness, and inspiration. In this article, I will share with you how to stay focused, grounded, inspired, and energized by using the Brahma Muhurta time period.

What is Brahma Muhurta time?

The Yoga Sutras mention the time of day called “Brahma-muhurta” – a 48-minute period that begins 1 hour 36 minutes before sunrise and ends 48 minutes before sunrise.

Brahma means ‘knowledge‘. Muhurta means ‘time period‘. Brahma Muhurta considered being the time period perfect to perceive knowledge.

The literal translation of Brahma Muhurta is ‘the hour of Brahma‘ or ‘Creator’s Hour‘.

Brahma Muhurta is the best time for meditation, yoga practice, or any other spiritual practice because at this time the receptivity is increased, the mind is naturally calm and does not resist the guidance from “above”.

The interaction of our planet’s energy with the energies of the Sun and the Moon creates certain physiological changes in the human system at this time. Medical science has even found that the waste material in your body, such as urine, for example, has certain qualities at that time which it does not have at any other time of the day.

Your entire body is immersed in a certain conducive atmosphere. The melatonin level is increased, which boosts the pineal gland’s activity. Therefore it is so beneficial to use this time consciously.

Why is the wake up time so essential?

Yawning woman image

Have you noticed that sometimes even after a seemingly full and prolonged sleep, you do not feel rested, fresh, and full of energy? The whole point is that at certain times of the day, certain qualities of energy (gunas) dominate. And depending on when and how we start our day, the certain quality of energy will prevail in us and, as a result, it will form the level of consciousness we will have.

You may have noticed that people who like to sleep longer often have such personality traits as inertia, passivity, infantile, laziness, and negative thinking.

Most often, these people are dissatisfied with their lives and deeply unhappy, and during the weekend, the first important thing for them is to sleep in as long as they possibly can. These are the signs of the predominance of the Tamas guna (ignorance) in the consciousness. And the reason for this is the regular late rise.

If you take a closer look at people who wake up early you will notice that most often such people have an active life position and a positive mindset. This is a sign of the Sattva guna (harmony) consciousness. This guna is active until sunrise, and if a person wakes up at this time, he will be full of strength, energy, and positivity.

There is the third quality of energy – Rajas guna – guna of passion and manipulation, which is active about 4 hours after sunrise.

What is the best time to wake up?

the Hour of Brahma image

In the period before sunrise, there is a special time that is not affected by the influence of any of the three gunas. This time is called Brahma muhurta, or ‘the Hour of Brahma’.

To be precise, this is not exactly an hour, but 48 minutes. These 48 minutes, when there is no influence of any gunas, are considered the most beneficial for awakening.

The fact is that all three energies (Gunas) have both positive and negative qualities, and being influenced by any of them for too long will lead to imbalance. There are no bad or good energies. Each of the three (Tamas, Rajas, Sattva) can be beneficial. For example, Tamas is necessary for falling asleep; and Rajas is essential for being active.

But to keep our consciousness in a state of harmony and balance, we need to wake up at a time when there is no influence of these three energies or, at the very least, when such influence is minimal.

Brahma Muhurta time is ideal for spiritual practices. Serious spiritual practitioners all over the world, get up at this time to devote themselves to prayer and meditation.

It may sound hardly believable but a person who gets up during the Brahma Muhurta time period will be much more energetic, cheerful, and productive than someone who slept for a few hours longer. It’s due to the fact that it’s not the amount of sleep that matters, but the quality of it. And you can sleep effectively even for just 4 hours if you go to bed and wake up at the right time.

5 Thing to Do During Brahma Muhurta Time

#1: Meditation

Brahma Muhurta Image

There are many different ways to meditate. You just need to choose the method that feels right for you. Let the practice bring you joy and balance.

Wrap yourself in a soft blanket or a fluffy sweater. Take a few deep breaths. Feel the support of the earth, and stretch up through the top of your head as if you are a conductor between heaven and earth (because you are!!).

Then experiment with different types of meditation and choose the one that resonates with you the most.

When your thoughts begin to slow down, you will create space for inspiring ideas to appear. By the end of your practice, you will begin to understand the next steps that you need to take towards your goals.

Benefits:

  • calm mind;
  • relaxation;
  • anxiety and stress relief;
  • creativity boost;
  • inspiration;
  • increased focus;
  • ability to concentrate on daily tasks.

#2: Free writing or journaling

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If you have room in your life for only one daily habit, let it be this one – writing down the stream of words that constantly revolve in your head. Over time, you will be able to hear your own inner guide with amazing clarity.

If you make a daily habit of cleaning out your inner reservoir of resentments, worries, and even thoughts about current affairs by pouring them out on paper, you will soon discover that free writing is like the process of cleaning up your internal space and preparing it for something new to come.

Also, use journaling for writing down your ideas, intentions, goals, and gratitudes.

Benefits:

  • thoughts become clearer;
  • solving problems with less effort;
  • your timing is getting better;
  • you become more open to inspiration;
  • increased ability of hearing the inner voice and follow inner guidance;
  • receiving answers to your questions.

#3: Reading spiritual literature/Sacred texts

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During Brahma Muhurta time, it is also very beneficial to read spiritual literature or Sacred texts. Sometimes it gets difficult to fully understand spiritual texts with our “material” minds. But when we read such texts during Brahma Muhurta time, it gets much easier to understand the information written in spiritual books. Moreover, the understanding itself will be much deeper than if you were reading it at any other time of the day.

Such a deep understanding of spiritual principles will open up your mind to a better understanding of your daily challenges and of the best ways to manifest your intentions and live according to your true purpose.

#4: Affirmations

Brahma Muhurta time period Image

Brahma Muhurta is the best time to work on removing your subconscious blocks and manifest your goals! Affirmation practice is the best way to re-program your mind and tune it in with your desired reality.

Here are some examples of affirmations you can use:

  • I love and approve of myself!
  • My life is magnificent!
  • I follow my inner call and fearlessly share my gifts with the world!

For more information about affirmations, read the following articles:

How To Create Powerful Law Of Attraction Affirmations

Abundance Affirmations: A Powerful Tool For Creating Abundant Living

Self-Love Affirmations That Really Work!!

Powerful Gratitude Affirmations for Health, Joy, Love and Success

Activate Romantic Luck With These Powerful Love Affirmations!

Boost Your Prosperity With These Powerful Money Affirmations

Alternatively, you can also chant mantras.

#5: Movement

Early morning yoga image

During Brahma Muhurta time, it is beneficial to perform:

What NOT to do during Brahma Muhurta?

There are 2 things that are not recommended doing during this time:

  • eating – because during Brahma Muhurta causes illnesses;
  • stressful activity – because it may reduce your lifespan.

Precaution

According to Ashtanga Hridaya, only a healthy person should wake up during Brahma Muhurta time. It is not recommended to do it for:

  1. pregnant women;
  2. children;
  3. aged people who have not been waking up in this period for a very long time (or never);
  4. people suffering from any physical and mental illness.

The Bottom Line

Awakening during Brahma Muhurta hour image

Awakening during Brahma Muhurta time will have a very positive impact on your life and significantly accelerate your progress in spiritual practice and increase your manifesting power.

However, it should be noted that it’s not good to change your daily routine abruptly. If, for example, you usually wake up at 8 am, do not immediately shift your wake-up time to 4 am. This will be a big stress for your body. The body will not be able to adapt to such a sudden change in your daily routine, and most likely, you will return to your previous routine very quickly.

Experience shows that it is much more effective to make changes to your daily routine gradually. And if you need to move your wake-up time from 8 am to 4 am, it is better to get up earlier every week by half an hour. This way the body can gradually adapt to the new daily routine, and over time it will become a steady habit.


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Spirituality

Heart Sutra: Hidden Meaning Of the Sacred Text

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Heart Sutra, also known as The Essence of Wisdom is a popular sutra in Mahayana Buddhism. Recited daily by many Buddhist practitioners, this is the shortest of the Perfection of Wisdom texts. Heart Sutra practice opens the connection between the understanding of emptiness and the five stages of the path to enlightenment. In this article, we will share with you this beautiful sutra and its hidden meaning.

The Essence of The Heart Sutra

The Sutra basically describes the teachings of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, who in this context represents the virtue of wisdom.

Avalokiteshvara refers to Shariputra, who in the Sutra represents the early Buddhist school of “perfect wisdom”. The bodhisattva especially emphasizes that “form is emptiness, and emptiness is form” and declares the skandhas to be equally empty.

After this, Avalokiteshvara talks about some of the most important Buddhist dogmas and explains that they are simple explanations of reality, but not reality itself, and therefore are not truth in the highest sense of this concept. In other words, a Buddhist cannot rely on words or traditional dogmas of teaching. The bodhisattva, as an archetypal Buddhist, relies on the perfection of wisdom, which perceives things as they really are, that is, perceives reality directly.

This perfect wisdom is centered in the mantra of the heart Sutra, also called Mahamantra:

गते गते पारगते पारसंगते बोधि स्वाहा

GATE GATE PARA GATE PARA SAM GATE BODHI SVAHA

Which can be translated as “gone, gone, everyone gone to the other shore, awakening, svaha“.

Which means complete liberation from illusions and welcomes enlightenment.

The peculiarity of this Sutra is that the teaching does not come from the mouth of the Buddha himself (which is traditional for all sutras); instead, the Buddha only confirms the correctness of Sri Avalokitesvara’s conclusions regarding Prajnaparamita.

The Translation of the Heart Sutra

Heart Sutra Image

There are multiple translations of the Heart sutra. Here is the most common version.

Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, meditating deeply on Perfection of Wisdom, saw clearly that the five aspects of human existence are empty, and so released himself from suffering.  Answering the monk Sariputra, he said this:

Body is nothing more than emptiness,
emptiness is nothing more than body.
The body is exactly empty,
and emptiness is exactly body.

The other four aspects of human existence —
feeling, thought, will, and consciousness —
are likewise nothing more than emptiness,
and emptiness nothing more than they.

All things are empty:
Nothing is born, nothing dies,
nothing is pure, nothing is stained,
nothing increases and nothing decreases.

So, in emptiness, there is no body,
no feeling, no thought,
no will, no consciousness.
There are no eyes, no ears,
no nose, no tongue,
no body, no mind.
There is no seeing, no hearing,
no smelling, no tasting,
no touching, no imagining.
There is nothing seen, nor heard,
nor smelled, nor tasted,
nor touched, nor imagined.

There is no ignorance,
and no end to ignorance.
There is no old age and death,
and no end to old age and death.
There is no suffering, no cause of suffering,
no end to suffering, no path to follow.
There is no attainment of wisdom,
and no wisdom to attain.

The Bodhisattvas rely on the Perfection of Wisdom,
and so with no delusions,
they feel no fear,
and have Nirvana here and now.

All the Buddhas,
past, present, and future,
rely on the Perfection of Wisdom,
and live in full enlightenment.

The Perfection of Wisdom is the greatest mantra.
It is the clearest mantra,
the highest mantra,
the mantra that removes all suffering.

This is truth that cannot be doubted.
Say it so:

Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha!

The Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore

Thich Nhat Hanh Sutra Image

Let us also share with you the new Heart Sutra translation by Thich Nhat Hanh.

Avalokiteshvara while practicing deeply with the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore, suddenly discovered that all of the five Skandhas are equally empty, and with this realization, he overcame all Ill-being.

“Listen Sariputra,
this Body itself is Emptiness
and Emptiness itself is this Body.
This Body is not other than Emptiness
and Emptiness is not other than this Body.
The same is true of Feelings,
Perceptions, Mental Formations,
and Consciousness.

“Listen Sariputra,
all phenomena bear the mark of Emptiness;
their true nature is the nature of
no Birth no Death,
no Being no Non-being,
no Defilement no Purity,
no Increasing no Decreasing.

“That is why in Emptiness,
Body, Feelings, Perceptions,
Mental Formations and Consciousness
are not separate self entities.

The Eighteen Realms of Phenomena
which are the six Sense Organs,
the six Sense Objects,
and the six Consciousnesses
are also not separate self entities.

The Twelve Links of Interdependent Arising
and their Extinction
are also not separate self entities.
Ill-being, the Causes of Ill-being,
the End of Ill-being, the Path,
insight and attainment,
are also not separate self entities.

Whoever can see this
no longer needs anything to attain.

Bodhisattvas who practice
the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore
see no more obstacles in their mind,
and because there
are no more obstacles in their mind,
they can overcome all fear,
destroy all wrong perceptions
and realize Perfect Nirvana.

“All Buddhas in the past, present and future
by practicing
the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore
are all capable of attaining
Authentic and Perfect Enlightenment.

“Therefore Sariputra,
it should be known that
the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore
is a Great Mantra,
the most illuminating mantra,
the highest mantra,
a mantra beyond compare,
the True Wisdom that has the power
to put an end to all kinds of suffering.
Therefore let us proclaim
a mantra to praise
the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore.

Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha!
Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha!

Hidden Meaning of the Heart Sutra

Now let’s dive deeper into understanding the hidden meaning of the Heart Sutra.

Let’s take a closer look at the mantra that is found at the end of the Heart Sutra.

GATE GATE PARA GATE PARA SAM GATE BODHI SVAHA

Gate means gone.

Paragate signifies gone to the further shore and is a stock Sanskrit expression used by Buddhists and Jains to refer to arahants. (The word para signifies the bank of a river opposite to the one on which one is presently standing).

Parasamgate signifies completely gone to the further shore. (The syllable sam means: altogether, thoroughly, or completely.)

The syllable bodhi is a feminine noun that signifies awakening, knowledge, and enlightenment.

The syllable svaha is an indeclinable part of Vedic Sanskrit. It is said to be the name of the wife of Agni, the god of fire. This syllable is used at the end of a chanting that accompanies a burnt offering made at a Vedic sacrifice (rather as “amen” is used at the end of a prayer in Christian liturgy). This syllable cannot really be translated since it is a performative word.

We can read the first “GATE” or “gone” as an incentive to enter the path of accumulating merit, and the second “GATE” or “gone” as a way to prepare the mind for a deep perception of emptiness.

Gone to the further shore” refers to the path of seeing reality, the direct perception of emptiness. One who attains this vision becomes Arya, or “noble.”

The words “completely gone to the further shore” indicate the path of meditation in which the practitioner through constant practice becomes familiar with emptiness on a deeper level.

The last words of this mantra “Bodhi Svaha” are an incentive to take root in the soil of enlightenment, that is, to enter the final Nirvana.

Stages of enlightenment image

There are five stages of the path to enlightenment:

  1. accumulation;
  2. preparation;
  3. vision;
  4. meditation;
  5. no further learning.

These five stages can be connected with various fragments of the main text of the Heart Sutra.

Four-part representation of emptiness at the beginning of the Sutra:

“Body is nothing more than emptiness,
emptiness is nothing more than body.
The body is exactly empty,
and emptiness is exactly body.”

is a way of practicing emptiness in the first two stages – accumulation and preparation.

The emptiness of the eight aspects of phenomena, expressed in the words:

All things are empty:
Nothing is born, nothing dies,
nothing is pure, nothing is stained,
nothing increases and nothing decreases.

is the realization of emptiness at the stage of vision.

The words:

There is no ignorance,
and no end to ignorance.
There is no old age and death,
and no end to old age and death.
There is no suffering, no cause of suffering,
no end to suffering, no path to follow.
There is no attainment of wisdom,
and no wisdom to attain.

indicate the method of practicing emptiness at the stage of meditation.

The words in the next section:

The Bodhisattvas rely on the Perfection of Wisdom,
and so with no delusions,
they feel no fear,
and have Nirvana here and now.

indicate the practice of emptiness of the last of the ten levels of bodhisattva, where he resides in a state of meditative concentration.

The actual transition from one stage to another takes place while you are in a state of meditative balance.

At the initial stage, when the practitioner goes through the path of accumulation, his understanding of emptiness is primarily intellectual. Practitioners with a sharp mind can reach a sufficiently deep understanding of emptiness before generating the altruistic attitude of bodhichitta. Those who are less inclined to intellectual thinking, first develop the intention to free all living beings from suffering.

In any case, a deep understanding of emptiness has a powerful effect on all other practices, enhancing and complimenting them. It can lead to a powerful renunciation, which is the desire to free oneself from the sufferings of the cycle of being, as well as to become the basis of strong and all-encompassing compassion.

In the accumulation stage, awareness of voidness is mainly the result of learning, reflection, and intellectual understanding. Through meditation on what has been learned, the practitioner further deepens his understanding until eventually, he attains full clarity of penetrating vision.

From this moment, the preparation stage begins. Here the understanding of emptiness is no longer purely intellectual or conceptual, but rather has the character of an experience, although it is not yet a direct comprehension of it.

In the preparation stage, the understanding of emptiness becomes more and more deep, subtle, and clear. The use of conceptual thinking in meditation is gradually fading into the background.

When all the dual perception of subject and object, conditional reality and self-existence is eliminated, the practitioner enters the path of vision. At this stage, there is no division into subject and object. Subjective perception and its object merge into one, and meditation is carried out in the direct perception of emptiness.

As this direct experience of emptiness deepens, the practitioner steadily counteracts the various obscurations that occur during the stage of meditation or assimilation by passing through the so-called seven levels of contamination.

In a Nutshell

Dalai Lama Sutra Image

According to Dalai Lama XIV interpretation, the stages work like this:

Accumulation refers to realizing emptiness as an intellectual exercise.

Preparation represents actually experiencing emptiness, but indirectly. Here one progressively sees emptiness while concepts gradually recede.

The path of Vision is attained when dualistic perceptions of subject and object are removed, and where emptiness becomes unmediated and direct.

During the stage of meditation, one progresses through subtle “imprints” of mental afflictions, eventually eradicating them.

This finally leads to full Buddhahood, or the stage of No More Learning.

The Bottom Line

First, it may seem very difficult to understand Heart Sutra. Therefore, it is recommended to meditate on it. By meditating on the Heart Sutra, you will, again and again, enter deeply the mysteries of these sacred words. And by making the Mahamantra your daily practice you will see that you’re observing your life experience from a higher perspective.


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Spirituality

Red Tara: An Introduction To Red Magic

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Red Tara Red Magic Image

Tara appears in many aspects represented by different colors, the most famous of which are green and white. Red Tara is less famous in the West though in the East She is widely known and worshipped.

Red Tara is responsible for the so-called “Red magic” or Vashya-karma (dbang gi phrin-las). The function of Red magic is bringing people under one’s power, enchanting, bewitching, attracting, subjugating, and magnetizing them. This is the primary function of Kurukulla and hence her red color.

In this article, I will introduce you to Red Tara, Her emanations, and mantras that can be used for manifesting different forms of reality and spiritual growth. Read on!

Tara & Four Kinds Of Magic

Praises to the Twenty-One Taras Image

Before reaching Buddha consciousness, Tara was a woman walking on the bodhisattva path. This woman made a vow to continue her journey until she reached Enlightenment in the female body. After reaching the highest Enlightenment, she manifested herself in different female forms.

Tara supports those who seek enlightenment and those who seek protection in it. She is an example that anyone can achieve Enlightenment, regardless of whether it is a man or a woman.

There are twenty-one manifestations of goddess Tara. These manifestations have their distinctive features, and each of them has its own mantra. 

The different colors of 21 Taras correspond to four different types of awakened functions. The sadhana texts describe these functions:

#1: White magic or Shantika-karma (zhi-ba’i ‘phrin-las) has the function of calming and pacifying conditions and healing. White Tara is an example of a deity that specifically has this white function.

#2: Yellow Magic or Pushtika-karma (rgyas-pa’i phrin-las) has the function of increasing wealth, prosperity, abundance, merit, knowledge, and so on. Yellow Tara is an example of a deity that specifically has this yellow function.

#3: Red Magic or Vashya-karma (dbang gi phrin-las) has the function of bringing people under one’s power, enchanting, bewitching, attracting, subjugating, magnetizing them. This is the primary function of Kurukulla.

#4: Black Magic or Rudra-karma (drag-po’i phrin-las) has the function of destroying evil and obstructions to the spiritual path. This is the specific function of Black Tara.

These four functions are allotted to the four gates of the mandala palace:

  • the white or pacifying function in the east;
  • the yellow or increasing function in the south;
  • the red or enchanting function in the west;
  • the black or destroying function in the north. 

Western tradition knows only two kinds of magic: white and black magic. The former comes from God and his angels and the latter from the Devil and his minions. However, the Buddhist approach is different. The Buddhist distinction between white and black magic is according to function and not the intention. We have to keep in mind that the Buddhist’s intention in practicing magic is always compassionate and aims at preventing evil acts, to help others and alleviate suffering. On the contrary, the Western understanding of black magic involves the deliberate attempt to harm and injure. 

Therefore, in Buddhist terms, the motivation in these four magical actions is always “white”. Without the presence of the thought of compassion, no action or ritual is considered to be genuinely Buddhist.

Red Tara

Red Tara Image

Red Tara (Dolma Marpo) has a number of manifestations (emanations). Here are some of them:

  • Red wisdom (Jnana Dakini) – female buddha aspect embodying the highest wisdom of all buddhas. She is depicted in a Joy State in a joyfully dancing form. She holds a chopping knife with her raised right hand and her left hand holds a skull bowl at her heart. Wisdom Dakini is Red Tara’s peaceful form.
  • Vajrayogini (Dorje Naljorma) – is one of the tantric goddesses who is said to be the embodiment of compassion and wisdom. Her name “Vajrayogini” can be translated as “the diamond female yogi“. She is responsible for the transformation of the most mundane of daily experiences into something that is essentially a higher spiritual path. Vajrayogini is considered to be Red Tara’s semi-wrathful form.
  • Vajravarahi (Dorje Pakmo), also known as “The Diamond Sow”. The conventional iconography for Vajravarahi shows the deity holding a knife and a bowl of blood, and wearing other grotesque attributes that symbolize her power over worldly concerns and fear of death. Vajravarahi is considered to be Red Tara’s wrathful form.
  • Dakini Kurukulla – is the Dakini of Magic and Enchantments.

Red Tara is often depicted as a dancing voluptuous female figure. The dancing form symbolizes the elusive, playful nature of Emptiness (Shunyata) and the pure joy of Clear Light.

Her red color symbolizes the west, fire, Padma Family, Lotus, and notably the “family of Speech” or Dharma.

Red streams of light emanating from her symbolize her compassion reaches out to all beings.

She is often depicted as sixteen years old which indicates her power to attract, to mesmerize, to draw-in and enchant followers to her inner Wisdom and the Dharma. In Tibetan Buddhism, a sixteen-year-old usually symbolizes youthful vitality.

Her left leg stands on top of a prone male which symbolizes subduing of our egos. The left leg is always the lead leg in female Dakinis.

Her face is flaming red. The red color indicates the power of her energy, but this power is combined with peace. Her face is beautiful, and her expression teeters on the edge between calm and aggression.

Red Tara has three eyes, and her dark brown hair is usually styled in a high hairstyle that symbolizes her inner strength.

Usually, Red Tara has depicted with four arms, although in other aspects she may have eight. She usually holds a bow and arrow made of beautiful flowers in one of her pairs of hands. Her other hands hold a hook and a noose of flowers.

Red Tara is an aspect of the power of Tara. She is associated with the attraction of all good things. Red can do both – attract or enslave. She embodies compassion, redemption, and the removal of obstacles (repressed fears or troubles).

Red Tara is the goddess of great wisdom, power, magic, and charm. She is the mother of liberation.

It is believed that if the red Tara mantra is repeated 10,000 times, all wishes will be fulfilled.

Red Tara helps us in the accumulation of spiritual forces. She can subdue and enslave a demon or person who stands in your way.

Red Tara is the goddess of wealth and abundance. Sometimes, to help humanity, Red Tara even comes down to earth. She helps people overcome difficult obstacles and changes people’s lives in the blink of an eye.

Red Tara is the Buddhist goddess of magic and occult science. She represents the feminine principle in nature. Her compassion and kindness help everyone who is in trouble or afraid of something.

Red Tara is a manifestation of the pure power of enlightenment, the amazing purity of an awakened consciousness that overcomes all negativity. She is known for enslaving evil spirits, demons, or people who tried to interfere with the spiritual development of mankind.

In Tibet, Red Tara is worshipped before starting a new monastery, before starting a new business venture, when faced with legal problems, etc.

Here is the simplest appeal to the Goddess:

“Red Tara, I’m asking for your blessings, so that all my actions will be good and bring the Highest Good for all.”

Kurukulla: Patroness of Magic, Love, Sorcery, And Healing

Kurukulla Image

Kurukulla (“Knowledge-Causing Mother-Buddha”) is one of the dakinis of Tibetan Buddhism. It is considered to be the embodiment of Red Tara.

Kurukulla is the patroness of magic, love, sorcery and healing.

In traditional iconography, Kurukulla has a red body. She wears a crown made of human skulls, and her hair stands on end.

There is a tiger skin around her waist, and a garland of severed human heads hang from her shoulders.

She is four-armed, holding a stretched flower bow.

According to the texts, Kurukulla is sixteen years old. Her face is beautiful, and her body is sensual and seductive. She is red because of her magical ability is to charm and attract.

She has one face because she embodies non-dual wisdom that transcends the usual division into good and evil.

Kurukulla has four arms that symbolize the four immeasurable states of mind: love, empathy, joy, and detachment.

She wears a necklace of fifty freshly cut human heads that bleed as a representation of the fifty negative emotions that she has conquered.

Her dance shows her activity and energy.

She tramples on the male corpse as a symbol of that she has charmed and subdued the demon ego.

Kurukulla stands on the red sun disk (a symbol of her hot nature and burning with a passion), and on the red Lotus flower because she is a pure vision of enlightened awareness.

Kurukulla statue image

In one Kurukulla Sadhana found in the Sadhanamala (No. 72), there occurs a list of eight great siddhis (or magical powers) acquired through her practice:

1. Khadga-siddhi (ral-gri), the power to be invincible in battle with a sword (khadga);

2. Anjana-siddhi (mig-rtsi), the power to remove ordinary lack of sight by using a magical ointment that enables the user to see Devas, Nagas, and other spirits;

3. Padalepa-siddhi (rkang-pa’i byug-pa), the power to be swift of foot by using a magical ointment that, when applied to the feet, allows the user to run with incredible swiftness;

4. Antardhana-siddhi (mi snang-bar ‘gyur-ba), the power to become invisible;

5. Rasayana-siddhi (bcud-len), the power of rejuvenation and long life through obtaining the elixir of life by way of an alchemical process;

6. Khechara-siddhi (mkha’-spyod), the power to levitate or to fly through the sky;

7. Bhuchara-siddhi (zhing-spyod), the power to move freely through the earth, mountains, and solid walls;

8. Patala-siddhi (sa-‘og), the power to have command over the spirits of the underworld (patala).”

Kurukulla Mantra

Any practices (including mantra chanting) dedicated to Kurukulla should be kept in secret. You can’t share with anybody that you perform these practices. If you tell, someone let’s say, that you chant Kurukulla mantra every day, you remove magical power from your practice. Such practice won’t bring you any benefits.

108,000 of secretive Kurukulla mantra repetitions lead to unity with the energy of the Goddess herself. That is, the energy of Red Tara manifests itself in your body.

The text of Kurukulla mantra:

OM KURUKULLE HRIH SVAHA

The text of Kurukulla mantra for increasing your abilities:

OM TARE TUTTARE TURE KURU KULLE NRI DZA SVAHA

Mantras To Other Manifestations Of Red Tara

Red Tara Mantra Image

Except Kurukulla, there are other manifestations of Red Tara we can appeal to. Let me introduce you to some of them.

NYURMA PALMO

She is also known as ‘Swift Lady of Glory’. This Tara will bring speedy results by pacifying problems and will help develop a spiritual nature. She destroys demons, as well as gives the power of control and effective persuasion.

Image: Her body is red. She holds a red vessel that conquers.

Mantra:

OM TARE TUTTARE TURE VASHAM KURU SVAHA

This mantra helps to attract power, authority, and respect.

METAR BARMA TARA

She is also known as “She Who Blazes Like Fire”. This Tara defeats hindering demons and obstacles.

Image: Her body is red and blazing like fire. She holds the red flask that protects from obstacles.

Mantra:

OM TARE TUTTARE TURE BHAYA BHASMIM KURU SVAHA

DUDANG JIGTEN WANGDU DEMA

She is also known as “She Who Brings Maras and the World Under Her Power”. This Tara tames all maras and obstructions.

Image: Her body is colored red. She holds the red flask that defeats mara demons.

Mantra:

OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SARVA MARA PRA­MARDHANI SVAHA

RIGPA HUNGLE DROLMA

She is also known as “She Who Arises from the Hung of Intrinsic Awareness”. This Tara is victorious over the contentions of others, who increases one’s intelligence.

Image: Her body is red. She holds the red-yellow flask that increases wisdom.

Mantra:

OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SARVA DHARMAH PRATI-PARISHODHAYA SVAHA

RIMNE SELWE’I DROLMA

She is also known as “She Who Removes Pestilence”. This Tara dispels all fevers and eliminates the epidemic.

Image: Her body is red. She holds the red flask that dispels fevers.

Mantra:

OM TARE TUTTARE TURE VISARATA SVAHA

Disclaimer

All the mantras listed in this article are supposed to be used only for informational purposes. Performing Red Tara Practices (including chanting Red Tara mantras) requires one to be an actual practitioner who has received an initiation or permission of a qualified teacher.


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