November 21, 2014 on 11:00 am

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Dear Spiritual Explorer: One of the women in my office is getting married and has advised us to forget the intimate apparel and give her things for the house, all for under $10.00. Any ideas? Bree F., Long Island, NY

om-cushion-cover

Om Cushion Cover

Dear Bree: If there’s one thing that wears out more than anything in a home and takes abuse, it’s a cushion which people don’t always replace readily. However, if you have the beautiful Om Cushion Cover, the cover can easily be removed for cleaning and thus preserves the cushion. Our Om Cushion Cover comes in red or white, but what distinguishes it is the design of beads configured in an Om symbol. This is not a mere cushion cover but one that has a symbol reflecting spirituality.

As you rest your head on this pillow cover, especially if you have some advanced knowledge of its meaning and significance, I think you will have a deeper, more restful sleep or rest.

Did you know that Om is the smallest mantra even though some purists insist that it actually contains three syllables, A-U-M, kicking it upstairs in size and significance. A-U-M represents the divine energy of Shakti united in its three elementary aspects; Vishnu, (preservation) Braham (creation) and Shiva (destruction). Om is the reflection of the absolute reality; it is said to be without beginning or the end and embracing all that exists. The mantra “Om” is the name of God, the vibration of the Supreme. It is the tiniest of mantras, but if said with sincerity, the most profound and powerful. It’s the sincerity you attach to a mantra that makes it powerful, not just mere recitation of words.

One can say Om very easily a myriad of times without becoming tired of it. I once asked a Chanting Master why that was. He told me that it was because each Om as it is recited seems to blend into the next Om, not causing any interruption or pause and therefore produces a flow that is very exhilarating and blissful. Just another way to think about the power of smallness. Thanks for writing, Spiritual Explorer

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November 19, 2014 on 11:00 am

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Dear Spiritual Explorer: Does the Om Dum Durgaya Namah mantra heal mental illness or should one recite Om Namaha Shivaya for mental healing? Please throw light on this. Regards, Pryankur, Chandikar, India

Durga Mantra Bracelet

Durga Mantra Bracelet
“Om Dum Durgaya Namah”

Dear Pryankur: I do know that saying mantra or japa consistently can bring peace of mind to someone who is troubled. I know that people who are in the throes of an illness, be it mental or physical, do not feel peaceful in the throes of their discomfort. Nevertheless, your Om Dum Durgaya Namah mantra is a very powerful mantra used for healing, both physically and mentally. It means Om and salutations under the protection of the Goddess Durga. One asks that Goddess Durga bless us with her protection and love. The Goddess Durga is the supreme feminine manifestation of deities in the Hindu tradition. Dum in this mantra is the seed sound for Durga, who is the personified goddess of protection. As a suggestion, you might also want to invoke the power of Durga by wearing the Durga Mantra Bracelet, which Ma’s India carries, that carries the mantra on its surface. Wearing this bracelet is a sacred reminder that reminds us of the protection we receive from Durga.

Om Namah Shivaya is also a wonderful mantra to rely upon. Shiva sits upon his mountain in contemplation and represents ultimate peace. He is rarely disturbed in his contemplation and saying a mantra of Om Namah Shivaya can bring strength, endurance and resilience in the face of any challenge. It is said that if one recites the Om Namah Shivaya mantra for many years, one eventually accumulates knowledge and spiritual clarity of the deepest type.

I, as your Spiritual Explorer, am at a loss to tell you which mantra would be most beneficial. But I would be willing to bet that if this person for whom you are praying and you yourself were to say either of these mantras, that it would be of great assistance in times of trouble. Remember, that the gods are full of compassion and even if we do not recite things in the proper manner or form, they know our intent. And one thing I do understand and know is that the gods are so happy when we pray to them and ask them for favors. They wait for us to do this so that they may fulfill their own godly nature, which is to serve us as well as they can.

Om Namah Shivaya is an extremely powerful mantra. Many people think that they must find some mysterious mantra to gain the gods’ attention, but in truth, the very popular Om Namah Shivaya or Om Dum Durgaya Namaha are mantras that have been used consistently for thousands of years by many devotees, and these mantras are as powerful today as they were when the esoteric scriptures were penned so long ago.

Blessings on whomever it is that you are chanting for. Both of you will be rewarded for your caring and kindness. Thanks for writing a really good question. Spiritual Explorer

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November 14, 2014 on 11:00 am

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Dear Spiritual Explorer: What is spiritual cannibalism? Mae R., Warwick, RI

Spiritual Cannibalism

Spiritual Cannibalism

Dear Mae: It is a term coined by Swami Rudrananda, otherwise known as Rudi to his devotees and followers. Rudi, as he was affectionately called, was a unique teacher of spirituality. Completed before Rudi’s death, Spiritual Cannibalism is the only book that he wrote and published himself.

One of his lessons to his students was that one could continue to lead an active life and still be spiritually connected, as opposed to strict monasticism. Rudi was unique in that he dispelled common misconceptions of spirituality and challenged his students to lead a fulfilling life.

Rudi, himself, was an entrepreneur and importer and met many of his students through his store in Greenwich Village where he collected Asian art. Wonderful stories are told of his meeting and connection with each one of them. Rudi had an amazing psychic gift and related his experiences with these students in great detail. Rudi’s unique experience with his students was to sit with them and gaze into their eyes for 5 to 10 minutes and transmit Shakti energy to them.

According to his autobiography, Rudi’s first spiritual experience occurred at age 6 in a park where two Tibetan Buddhist lamas appeared out of the air and stood before him. They told Rudi they were going to place within him the energy and wisdom of Tibetan Buddhism. Many mystical and spiritual experiences followed Rudi throughout his unfortunately short life and he was greatly influenced by the teachings of Swamis Muktananda and Nityananda.

Spiritual cannibalism as explained by Rudi is really about a student’s desire to grow and the role played by a teacher in the student’s growth. Spiritual cannibalism is about emptying out misconceptions of spirituality and preparing oneself in many ways for the presence of the Divine.

Rudi taught an eclectic blend of techniques he called “kundalini yoga” He called it “a yoga which is used to collect energy within yourself and bring through your own chemistry the energy that is in the universe. A human being is only able to do that by internalizing energy and bringing it through their system.”

In his book Spiritual Cannibalism there are many exercises to release negative energy, which includes cultivating gratitude, sitting with deceased persons and advanced breath exercises to draw in “cosmic energy.” This is a very inspiring and useful book to any aspirant.

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November 12, 2014 on 11:00 am

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Dear Spiritual Explorer: What is prasad? Loren P., Miami, FL

Om Copper Offering Bowl

Om Copper Offering Bowl

Dear Loren: Prasad, literally, means gracious gift. It is usually known as some type of food offered to a deity, saint, or guru for blessing. After the food is duly blessed, it is then offered to others who might have attended the ritual ceremony. When prasad as fruit as is offered to the deity, some people might surround it with flowers and then it becomes a very attractive display. Some people have special prasad bowls to contain this offering. Ma’s India has a particularly beautiful Om Copper Offering Bowl.

In fact, when one visits India, they say that the purpose of a pilgrimage is to receive both the darshan (holy meeting with the saint) and the prasad that has been blessed.

Prasad, however, not only denotes an offering of food, but is also known to be a spiritual or mental state experienced by gods, sages and ther powerful beings which is marked by spontaneous generosity and the bestowing of boons, thus heightening prasad’s value.

Another exquisite meaning of prasad is that it is a process of giving and receiving between a human devotee and the divine god. For example, a devotee makes an offering of a material substance such as flowers, fruits or sweets. It is believed that the deity then enjoys this offering and gives back the blessed prasad to the devotee to be eaten or, if flowers, placed on their respective pujas.

What I have discovered through my research is that some Hindu sects will eat only prasad, which means that everything they eat is first offered to the deity. In that respect, when they are cooking their prasad, they do not do any tasting so as to offer the first taste to the deity.

There are some temples in India who provide prasad to all who come, believing that they are not only feeding the poor, but providing them with the divine’s mercy as well.

There are many offerings to the divine. One of the things I like best about the Om Copper Offering Bowl is that it not only can contain something edible as prasad, but in fact, one might place a piece of paper inside containing a devotee’s wish or desire. Then it is also considered appropriate to burn this piece of paper and consider it an offering to the divine. A multi-purpose offering bowl indeed!

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November 7, 2014 on 11:00 am

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Dear Spiritual Explorer: I saw an old copy of the Yoga Journal and wondered if it was still around? Laura P.,Akron,OH

yoga-basics

Yoga Basics

Dear Laura: It is certainly still around, and in fact, a wonderful distillation of articles, yogic disciplines, pranayama and asanas are now found in Yoga Basics, a beginner’s guide to yoga by Mara Carrico and the editors of Yoga Journal.

It is still alive and kicking, thank goodness, for I too remember many years ago how special it was to have a magazine devoted to what was then an esoteric art and discipline. The editors of the Yoga Journal have brought together a totally readable and concise edition of the many branches of yoga, varied teachers, and guidelines and advice for practice and poses in this book.

The editors of the Yoga Journal found that over six million people today are practicing yoga and sixteen million wish to begin a practice—not bad, I’d say, for a discipline that was spoken of only in small circles many decades ago. It seems that people are now realizing that their aerobic workout, while beneficial for youngsters, does not translate as well for those who are getting on in years and are suffering from bad knees, ankles and shoulder injuries. It seems that people are willing to embrace an exercise that is kinder and gentler to aching and tired joints. More than that, yoga is known to enhance one’s mental and spiritual outlook also in a very deep and affirmative way.

The mission of Yoga Journal was to bring together all aspects of yoga without belonging to any single tradition, but embracing the elements of many. They were thoughtful enough to respond to the questions a beginning student has in relationship to yoga: What teacher should I consult? What poses would be appropriate and beneficial for me? Do I have to believe in God to do yoga? Does yoga interfere with my religious practice in any way? All those considerations are addressed in this very readable and understandable book.

The Yoga Journal is to be congratulated for bringing many years ago an ancient discipline to a western readership and providing enlightenment to so many.

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November 5, 2014 on 11:00 am

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Dear Spiritual Explorer: Normally dorjes are use for meditation, but I saw some politicians keep dorjes in their hands while they address the public. 4 prongs, 5prongs, 9 prongs: Which one is good to keep for daily use? I am very grateful for your advice. Thank you. U.E.G Dayaratne, Sri Lanka

double-dorje

Dorje

Dear Sir: I appreciate your request, giving me an excuse to delve more into the mystery of the dorje. I am presuming that you are referring to my tiny treatise on the dorje in December of this year, at which time I mentioned what I considered to be the most extraordinary purpose of the dorje–illumination of the mind, the moment where our thoughts become crystallized into one blissful experience of the truth and reality lying beneath illusion.

The vajra or dorje of which you speak is made up of several parts.In the center is a sphere which represents the primordial nature of the universe, the underlying unity of all things. Emerging from the sphere are two eight petalled lotus flowers. One represents the phenomenal world (Samsara); the other represents the noumenal word (Nirvana). Arranged equally around the mouth of the lotus are two, four or eight mythical creatures which are called makaras. Out of these makaras come tongues which come together in a point.These points are to be used to cut through illusion or whatever samskara or habituation you are being challenged with in your lifetime.

It is customary for some people to ring a bell, thus announcing their intention of performing a dorje ceremony and then lifting the dorje as if to cut through the obstacle and then making a slashing gesture through the air. It has been felt as a release of sorts for many people who have performed this ceremony.

You speak of the differences in the number of prongs in a dorje. Some traditions use different prongs for different ceremonies and when asked by your teacher to do so, it is appropriate. However, it is my opinion that the commonly used five-pronged dorje is perfectly acceptable for most purposes, unless one is called upon to perform an esoteric practice.

I particularly enjoyed the fact that you have seen people holding the dorjes unobtrusively in their hands at all sorts of functions. That thought does indeed warm my heart. I know that anybody who does that is calling upon an ancient tradition to assist them in dealing with difficult matters in a very enlightened and conscious way. Bully for them! How much preferable to call upon an ancient symbol or dorje to deal with challenging times than resorting to weapons and artillery of many forms.

In these days we long for assistance in the form of heavenly guidance and that which calls upon consciousness, love, devotion and practice rather than violence and abuse, n’est pas?

To conclude, I would say the amount of prongs is a small matter when compared to the fact that you are attempting to cut through Maya or illusion using this arcane and ancient weapon; it will truly serve you. Congratulations!

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October 31, 2014 on 11:17 am

Ask the Spiritual Explorer

Dear Spiritual Explorer: I saw your Dreams Reiki Energy Candle and wondered if this candle could help me remember my dreams. Jane P., Baltimore, MD

Reiki Dream Candle

Reiki Dream Candle

Dear Jane: There is indeed a lot of energy in these candles bestowed by Reiki energy and I would not be surprised if the Dreams Reiki Energy Candle would facilitate your remembrance of dreams. Other people have told me that just to intend to remember a dream brings about a certain ability for remembrance. Another friend of mine puts her laptop near her bed so that she can awaken herself at any time and quickly jot down the dream.

It is in understanding our dreams that we can approach the greatest significance of them. Unfortunately, the content of our dreams can shift suddenly with bizarre elements that are misunderstood and have terrifying imagery.

Meany theories exist to explain why we dream, yet no one fully understands their purpose. In fact, some researchers claim that dreams serve no real purpose. Explain that however to the many followers of Carl Jung who give great meaning and purpose to dreams and in fact, these dreams assisted Dr. Jung in understanding many of his patients’ psyches.

In his book The Interpretation of Dreams, Sigmund Freud suggested that the content of dreams was related to wish fulfillment.

While Carl Jung shared some commonalities with Freud, he felt that dreams were more than an expression of repressed wishes. Jung felt that dreams revealed the personal and collective unconscious and believed that their purpose was to compensate for parts of our psyche that are not expressed in waking life.

As psychoanalysis became more popular, so did dream work. There are techniques and ideas that anyone can call upon to interpret their dreams. Myriad books and dictionaries of words and symbols are available to interpret dreams. Is a flower just a flower in a dream? Or does it mean perhaps an opening to life or a new beginning? Does a bird mean a bird also in that context? Or could it mean somebody wanting to fly upwards or outwards in their lives?

Enjoy your Dreams Energy Reiki Candle and any dreams that may result from lighting it. Good luck in remembering them.

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October 29, 2014 on 11:15 am

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Dear Spiritual Explorer: Can you tell me of a reasonably priced gift for somebody who appreciates the spiritual world? Rex R., Houston, TX

Seven Chakras Magnet

Seven Chakras Magnet

Dear Rex: In these times of economic simplicity, many of us are looking for a good deal. I have just the thing for you; it’s a simple piece of decor that carries a lot of wallop. Lo and behold, witness the Seven Chakras Magnet. I can almost guarantee you that few will have this beautifully rendered gadget known as the Seven Chakras Magnet. I haven’t yet encountered one myself yet in visiting my friends’ houses.

Did you know that there were actually more than seven chakras, Rex? In fact, there are the main chakras which are numbered one through seven and hit the following spots on the body: survival, sexual, power, heart, throat, third eye and the chakra that is noted to be beyond all the other physical chakras, the seventh chakra to which we all aspire. However, those who have the spiritual sight as they say, claim that there are chakras in many parts of our bodies, including our hands, our feet, other places on our torsos and many more too numerous to mention.

However, most noted scholars confine themselves to the definition of the main seven chakras. Chakras are so resplendent in their nature and so beautifully expressed by the many colors of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple and white.

The chakras are slow moving, spinning wheels representing the energy that abounds in our bodies. As these chakras spin, so does our energy flow and spin likewise. Chakras are not static energy; they like the universe with its ebb and flow. It is only when one of these chakras stay closed that there is some energetic problem that arises that must be attended to.

One of my favorite stories of a closed chakra was a woman with a closed sixth chakra. Now usually we hear about the more physically energetic chakras closing for reasons of sexual abuse. But what I found most interesting was that this woman’s sixth chakra, which represents the third eye, was closed. This was about spiritual abuse. Her parents insisted that she attend a church that was not to her liking and as a result she closed down any and all spiritual aspirations that might have manifested. When she recalled many years afterwards of the experiences she had endured from religious abuse, her attitude towards the spirit and other forms of worship was given a chance to soften and change. It was as if her whole life opened up before her since she was no longer consigned to a mundane experience of reality. As we all know, when one begin to surrender the feeling of “Is that all there is?” life can open in a very meaningful way.

We of a spiritual faith are indeed lucky to have such an inspiring and uplifting perspective of life for which we all need to be grateful. Enjoy your chakra magnet!

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October 24, 2014 on 11:14 am

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Dear Spiritual Explorer: So many people are doing yoga today, but I feel too awkward because of my size. Any suggestions about curing my body dysmorphia? Sue M., Detroit, MI

Yoga from the Inside Out

Yoga from the Inside Out

Dear Sue: Your comment about what you term body dysmorphia is something that a number of young women are experiencing today. For those not in the know, it’s when you are not comfortable with your body shape and size even though it might not be an accurate observation. You are not alone; in fact, Christina Sell’s book Yoga from the Inside Out deals with that very issue.

John Friend, whom many people associate with Anasura Yoga, a heart centered yoga, speaks of his own initial meeting with Christina. His first impression of her was that she was a very solidly well built woman who had critical feelings about the shape of her body, even though it was well toned and in great condition. Upon further observation he saw that she would criticize some of her poses within the yoga even though his own assessment of her was truly admiring. In the face of that approval by this renowned expert on yoga, Christina was thus able to eventually relax the rigidity within her body and begin a transformation and acceptance through the practice of yoga.

Throughout the book, we see many photographs of women who don’t have what might be termed classically shaped bodies but who enjoy and perform yoga with great expertise and confidence. What is noteworthy is the delight that seems to emanate from each one of these women who have seemingly gained through yoga a wonderful acceptance of their bodies. And from what I have learned from my own study of yoga, this is the precise manner and behavior to adopt towards one’s body: an acceptance and appreciation of one’s ability to perform and complete poses, from the very simple to more complex, without comparison to others or more importantly, without self-criticism.

According to Christina, hatha yoga or any yoga for that matter, is an opportunity to build on what is good and whole within us, rather than focusing solely on our neurosis or darkness. Yoga allows us to focus our attention internally on the sensations of the body rather than its appearance. By changing this focus away from our bodies towards the sensations we feel in yoga, we can then take that same inwardness and change how we experience the world around us. First inward, then outward, as my teacher Ma Jaya would say. Instead of a battlefield, the body through yoga becomes a vehicle for greater awareness, and becomes a means of true authenticity and spiritual transformation.

This is a wonderful book about self-acceptance and love extended towards oneself through the vehicle of yoga. I highly recommend it. Thanks for writing, Spiritual Explorer

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October 22, 2014 on 11:14 am

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Dear Spiritual Explorer: Can you speak of the darkness of Kali and how it regenerates humanity? Rae P., Dallas, TX

Yogic Secrets Dark Goddess

Yogic Secrets of the Dark Goddess

Dear Rae: Yogic Secrets of the Dark Goddess by Shambhavi Chopra can give you the most definitive and expansive explanation of the darkness of Kali. According to Chopra, Kali actually holds the key to the spiritual regeneration of humanity. Unless we reconnect to the deeper feminine energy of the universe, as reflected by Kali, we are unlikely to resolve the conflict that has arisen from ignoring the divine influence and contribution of femininity to the human race.

Kali is the ultimate feminine expression of the mystery of woman, which includes her fertility, mystery, magic, and transformative qualities. It is because we have misunderstood the way in which she is pictured with skulls and what some would term as images of violence, that contributes to the fact that Kali has not been fully spiritually acknowledged. We also see her with her foot upon Shiva, all of which could of course translate to superiority and dominance over the male aspect. This however would be a wrong interpretation of Kali’s stance. In truth her foot upon Shiva represents the fact that both Kali and Shiva devour and conquer each other simultaneously, thus producing true tantra.

You might ask what is true tantra between Shiva and Kali. As Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati would say, it is when each of them surrenders to the other. It is when male becomes female and female becomes male. This merging of Shiva and Kali becomes the ultimate expression of love and merging.

Much mystery enshrouds this dark form of Kali who in fact holds all the energies of life and death. The greater connections of this Dark Goddess to the forces of nature, particularly electrical energies of life and perception, are seldom noted. Kali’s role to bring us back to our Divine Source is not addressed in any meaningful way to the multitudes. People do not see that Kali’s deepest purpose is to take us beyond all ignorance and sorrow.

However, when one approaches Kali, the Dark Goddess, with reverence and respect, she will reveal her golden illuminated self to us and connect us to our deepest awareness.

How to approach Kali? With our inner heart and inner eye. Chopra provides us with a direct experience of Kali as she is in her inner reality, ignoring all the confusion and distortion about her. Her gentle face is revealed to us shining her inner light upon us. Chopra’s entire book is a means of bringing the energy of Kali into our world and into our psychology, restoring the magic of what is beyond the human mind to vitalize our deeper feelings and perceptions.

This is a wonderful explication and experience of the Goddess Kali for sure. You will so enjoy it.

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