Mandala Yoga Ashram Chakra course – evening questions and answers (2), 22nd August.

A wide ranging question and answer session, themed by the worldwide expressions of alarm at apparently uncontrolled burning of many locations in the Amazonian Rain Forest.

So themes include :-

Environment and playing our part in tidying up the planet

‘We are ruining this Planet far faster than we thought……..
…….. Don’t underestimate the part that you can play in trying to bring some harmony… ‘

The Heart Chakra

Feminine Power

Follow your own heart to find happiness

Quantum Physics

Materialism doesn’t fulfil us on a fundamental level

‘The materialistic paradigm gives us so much in terms of possessions, but it doesn’t really nourish us. It just creates a distraction for a while…’


And  finally a short meditation on Gaia.


Edit and Sound by Narada

The Essential I

Discourse given at Mandala Yoga Ashram in August 2019. The context is the 4 day course on Advaita, non-dualism, under the title ‘The Essential I’.

Investigating the “I” based on the Kena upanishad.


edit and sound by Narada

Meditation – going deeper, a course given at Mandala Ashram in October 2018

‘…. when we see that our belief systems and our behaviour is nothing but conditioning, that then gives us the starting point for looking deeper through meditation’

Swami Nishchalananda Saraswati

This satsang, and question and answer sessions, were part of the ‘Meditation  –  going deeper’ course run by Swami Nishchalananda and others in October 2018 at Mandala Yoga Ashram.



Edit and Sound

by Narada

The Essential Nature of ‘I’

What is this ‘I’ with which we so identify and which we spend our entire life-time feeding, pampering, protecting and re-producing? What is this ‘I’ that we fear for after death? Will the ‘I’ be extinguished or will something survive?

For thousands of years, yogis, sages and seers, as well as the yogic texts, have clearly stated that there is just one ‘I’ – behind every action, every thought, every feeling in our lives. This is the Conscious Presence in each moment. This ‘I’ expresses itself at different levels of ego-identification, which we will describe in the following paragraphs. Though they define our moment to moment experience, these ego states are ultimately unreal. We can call these ego-levels of I, the ‘me’.

All of us know the personal ‘I’ of daily life. In yoga, this level is called the ahamkara – literally, ‘I do’ – our sense of ‘I’ comes from our identification with the body/mind and the role or roles we play in life. We have a sense of I-ness and individuality – me-ness – which we fulfil and express by doing and achieving. If we don’t achieve certain things according to our desires or ambitions, our sense of self-image suffers and we feel like a failure. If we fulfil our ambitions and desires, we feel we are a success; temporarily we have a positive self-image and the ego-I or ‘me’ feels good.

This level of ‘me’ also includes thinking. Many people, especially intellectuals, get a sense of worth and a feeling of fulfilment by thinking and conceptualising. Here the ‘doing’ is in the mind. This level is indicated by the dictum of the French philosopher, René Descartes, when he stated ‘I think, therefore I am.’ The individual identifies himself, or herself, as a thinker. Our sense of self-existence comes out of the fact that we think. But despite the proposition of Descartes, this level of identification, which is the unquestioned stance of modern western belief, is not the fundamental ‘I’ at the core of our Being.

On a slightly deeper level comes the sense of ‘I’ which in yoga is called ahambhava – literally ‘I am.’ This level of ‘I am’ is not meant in a fundamental or mystical sense, but rather the sense of ‘I am so and so: John Smith or Brigitte Dupont.’ This feeling of ‘I’ depends more on a self-identification with who we are as a personality, rather than what we do. This ego state can also be called ‘me’.

The next level of self-identification is called asmita which refers to the sense of ‘I’ on a more existential level. It can be summarised by reversing Descartes’ statement ‘I think, therefore I am’ to ‘I Am, therefore I think’ or better, ‘I am, therefore I am enabled to think’. According to yoga and Hindu philosophy in general, Being is considered to be fundamental and thinking, secondary. This indicates that out of our Being comes the possibility to think as well as to feel, intuit and perceive.

We can get a taste of asmita, the Being aspect of the ‘I’, during meditation, although there is still a sense of identification, albeit perhaps tenuous, with the ego-personality.

On a more fundamental level comes the sense of ‘I’ as Consciousness (atma), which can be realised when the mental processes stop, or dissolve, albeit temporarily. At this point there is a re-identification or re-cognition of what we are as Conscious Presence. Ultimately, this is the only ‘I’. All the other levels of ‘I’, no matter how real they may seem in our daily experience, are illusory and conditioned projections of the mind. At the level of Consciousness, we are able to say ‘I Am’ or to use the Biblical statement, ‘I Am That I Am.’ This is not an egotistical statement, but a realisation that transcends our sense of individuality. At this level of identity we know that we are not really separate from other beings and things. This realisation arises in a super-meditative state known in yoga as samadhi (literally, ‘absorption into Reality’); it engenders compassion for all other humans and all creatures.

Yoga or any spiritual path will take us on a journey through the different levels of ‘me’ to arrive at realisation of our fundamental identity as ‘I’. Then we discover (or rediscover) the truth of our existence.

Note: The Sanskrit language is traditionally used to describe yogic terminology. In the above text, these are shown in italics.

The Edge of Infinity

When I was eight years of age I had a dream, a very lucid and vivid dream, that repeated itself over a period of some weeks.

I dreamed that in my search for Truth I traveled endlessly into space passing uncountable stars and galaxies. Eventually, I reached the edge of the universe. There I found a huge brick wall!! I started to pull away some of the bricks to see what was behind. What did I find? …. an infinitely thick brick wall! Therefore I hadn’t reached the edge of the universe or the limit of Infinity as I had ardently hoped. Even in my dream this was a shocking revelation, an impression that lingered after I woke up. Though it was more on the level of my subconscious, I realized that one could never reach the edge of Infinity, or know the extent of Infinity, by external endeavor.

It was some 20 years later, when I was initiated into the secrets of Yoga, that I came to know that, whilst one couldn’t reach the edge of Infinity externally, it is possible to know Infinity in the depths of one’s own Being.

Swami Nishchalananda Saraswati

Mandala Yoga Ashram, 1999.