Sound Makes Up Your Core

Sound Makes Up Your Core

By Devamrita Swami

Sound vibration makes up your core. An easy way to begin to understand what makes up your inner self is to analyse the sound that goes into your ears and rolls off your tongue. You can judge a person not by the clothes they wear, but by the company they keep. Most accurately, you can judge by the sound vibration the person associates with and the sound vibration he or she presents to others. Sound is powerful. It molds our consciousness.

Amidst the hustle and bustle of daily life, so many sounds can disturb us. If you’ve ever spent the day stuck in traffic amongst honking cars in some second or third world country, you will know how stressful it is. On the other hand, when alone in a house, especially if the house is big, you might have music on in one room and a TV on in another room to make you feel that you are not alone. The yoga texts teach us that sound can present both reality as well as illusion. The right kind of sound can free us from illusion while ordinary sound that we are familiar with in this world contributes to deepening our illusion.

Material sound deadens

Think about what you could be hallucinating about. The bhakti-yoga texts, especially Bhagavad Gita, explain that sound that reinforces a mistake— the mistake of thinking that we are material and contact with matter will satisfy us—is our worst enemy. Now just think about the various kinds of sounds that enter into your ear holes and those that roll over your tongue. Are those sounds actually able to bring you beyond time and space, beyond beginnings and endings, beyond matter and material situations, beyond psychology and physiology?

Are the sounds you hear reinforcing your attachment to the temporary material phantasmagoria, which shoots through the sky, like a comet?

Are the sounds you hear reinforcing your attachment to the temporary material phantasmagoria, which shoots through the sky, like a comet?

A comet in the night sky appears fascinating for a few seconds—then pssh! It’s gone. Our tiny spot of a life is like that. It seems to offer promise. If you are born into privileged circumstances, or happen upon some good fortune at some point in your life, your future appears promising. But just as if I were to suddenly blow on some candles and extinguish them, our temporary life is stubbed out. Because of that, we have to say that sounds reinforcing our attachment to the material scene are unhealthy. They deaden our higher spiritual faculties, and in this way, despite our noble, sincere efforts, the sound of the materialistic mindset traps us. Think about the various things you discuss with family, with friends, at the workplace, at university, on the streets, in the forest, on the boat. What is the substance of that sound vibration? What may sound like innocent chatter has an effect.

Why do people have comparatively low levels of aspirations these days? Why do we neglect higher possibilities? We want to make a bit of money, travel, experience a few relationships, have a few good times, but we neglect something deeper than that.

By examining the sound vibration that goes into the ear and rolls off the tongue, we can learn about how sound affects our consciousness.

By examining the sound vibration that goes into the ear and rolls off the tongue, we can learn about how sound affects our consciousness.

Material sound vibration compresses our lives into a tiny bubble of illusion, deadening our higher potential. It promises that you are going to be satisfied with gratification, achievement, acquiring, interacting, all on the material plane of physiology and psychology—the fleshy stuff and mind stuff. The bhakti-yoga texts point out that from the time you are born, you are hearing sounds of material entanglement. Just as a kitten tangles itself in a ball of yarn, similarly, we entangle ourselves in material complexity as we seek fulfillment in the temporary cosmos.

The constant material sound vibration pounds away at our possibilities for higher consciousness, and we become accustomed to that as normal. But kirtan (mantra meditation) opens you to higher possibilities.

Glimpsing the spiritual reality

Om namo bhagavate Vasudevaya is a chant that refers, preliminarily, to the all-pervading spiritual reality, and more profoundly, to the ultimate personal basis of that all-pervasiveness.

This is an example of how our sound vibration can either deepen our illusion or take us beyond material time and space, temporary limitations, past, present, and future. The bhakti-yoga texts explain that when you approach the Supreme Absolute Truth from a distance, your preliminary impression is formlessness and bright light. You can compare this to when you are driving late at night and another car is approaching you with its high beam on and your vision is dazzled, but as you get closer, when the lights dim, you can then make out the form of the car. Similarly, when we first get some spiritual awareness, we realize that there is an all-pervading spiritual reality. Sometimes you hear people talking about the white light, or the oneness, the undifferentiated, or the spiritual cloud that pervades all beings and everyone –this is the first stage in spiritual development.

Beyond the preliminary phase

If we’re pushing ahead, following a genuine spiritual process, we will advance past the preliminary phase of realizing there is an all-pervading oneness and we will start to understand that there is something beyond.

For example, imagine you are driving along State Highway 1, approaching Mount Ruapehu. From a distance, it can look just like a dark mass up ahead.

For example, imagine you are driving along State Highway 1, approaching Mount Ruapehu. From a distance, it can look just like a dark mass up ahead.

Because you are far away, you cannot see the actual form or the top of the mountain. You cannot see how it is variegated. But as you get closer, the mountain takes a distinct shape and you can almost see this shape as you make further progress up the road.

Although the chanting of om namo bhagavate Vasudevaya  creates an awareness of that all-pervading spiritual reality, it also points out that we should go further. We should go further up the road, and then we will see that the impersonal is based on the personal. Because you are a person, you know how to be impersonal. It takes a person to be impersonal. That’s why in Bhagavad Gita, the prime yoga text, Krishna Himself explains that the impersonal reality is based on the Supreme Absolute Truth, the Supreme Person, Krishna.

Sometimes people have a bias against the Ultimate Spiritual Reality. How could it be personal, isn’t anything personal limiting? Isn’t any person with activities, quality, personality and form material? Unconsciously, we think that for something to be spiritual it must be the opposite of individuality because we have only ever known these to be material. Negation of the material fact must establish the spiritual truth and take us to the spiritual reality. The yoga texts explain that this belief is fatal speculation and nothing more. If you have been sick for a long time, you forget how it feels to be healthy and when you look at others you may not be able to understand what it feels like to have a healthy body. There is the old saying: a cow that has been in a burning barn always feels paranoid. Similarly, we have been burned by material individuality, personality and activities lifetime after lifetime.

The Vedic texts explain, we (the conscious being) have already experienced it all, having transmigrated through all the possible species of life. The human form is the ultimate opportunity to develop our original spiritual consciousness. – Photo credit to Mahavan das

The pure spirit self has adopted so many different temporary bodies, in so many different species of life, in so many dimensions, that we have a built-up paranoia about individuality. Because we think that this must all be material, we speculate that the highest truth must be bland and formless, lacking personality and activity. Instead, we think that the void is spiritual.

Approaching the personal reality

The yoga texts try to educate us out of this speculation. The chanting of om namo bhagavate Vasudevaya is meant to bring you through the haze to the absolute personal reality. But, you may say, although I have heard about this chant Om namo bhagavate Vasudevaya, what about the Hare Krishna mantra? Is that distinctive of a particular group?

The Hare Krishna maha mantra is a yogic prescription that has existed since time immemorial.

The Hare Krishna mantra does not belong to a particular group, but when serious yoga practitioners take shelter of the Hare Krishna mantra, their lives become enhanced. Others then benefit from associating with such sincere yogis, who cultivate freedom through pure sound. But this is just the beginning—the Hare Krishna maha mantra can do much more. This mantra is a sound that can supply all your necessities, and even make you think, what do I actually need? We all point out how, these days, people have great difficulty distinguishing their wants from their needs: I want this, therefore, I must need it. It all collapses into one, one thing:

I need it.

I need it.

Because our mind and senses are out of control, we are so easily susceptible to being bombarded by external material stimuli, and in this way our spark of illusion simply increases.

Uncovering your core

Preoccupied with the externals, our life becomes full of unnecessary desires, which are not innocent, because they force us to act artificially. Cutting through all that accumulated perplexity and artificiality, the genuine mantra helps us to shed those unnecessary layers. This process is not just about mitigating accumulated negative effects; the positive application of this genuine mantra is that it revives your dormant spiritual identity—your spiritual identity as part of the Complete Whole. That Complete Whole, the yoga texts describe, is unlimitedly attractive. Krishna means “the unlimitedly all-attractive.”

The Hare Krishna maha mantra rescues our consciousness from material illusion and reconnects it with the ultimate all-attractive reality, Krishna.

The Hare Krishna maha mantra rescues our consciousness from material illusion and reconnects it with the ultimate all-attractive reality, Krishna.

Finding that dormant relationship

When a child touches fire, the fire does not ask the child, do you know that I am fire, do you know I can burn? Whether the child is aware of the fire’s quality or not, the fire will burn. Similarly, whether you know what the Hare Krishna mantra is all about or not, the spiritual technological process will manifest a beneficial effect. At the same time, the bhakti-yoga texts point out that the more conscious you are of what the Hare Krishna maha mantra can do, the more profound and deep acting the effects will be. Naturally, progressive human beings want the deepest experience; they want to get through the nebulous, preliminary stage of spiritual experience, because that all-pervading spiritual reality does not give us relationships. We have to go past the impersonal glare to get to relationships. And you will be shocked to know that this is the very thing we are most afraid of, because past material relationships have given us so much suffering and disappointment. But in its purified, untainted existence, relationship is what awaits us beyond the impersonal all-pervading spiritual cloud.

Bhakti is about reviving your dormant relationship of pure love. For a love to be supreme it must connect with what is unlimited and flawless. The yoga texts explain that Krishna is the ocean of all spiritual tastes and flavors.

For there to be spiritual tastes and flavors there has to be relationships, so the greatest confidential spiritual knowledge is about pure relationships between the part and the Complete Whole.

The Hare Krishna mantra works to renovate those realities. Once you re-establish that relationship between a part of Krishna and the Complete Whole then you are actually natural, otherwise the struggle to be the all and all, in this temporary material world, is a very exhausting, frustrating process.

The struggle to be the all and all, in this temporary material world, is a very exhausting, frustrating process. – Photo credit to Mahavan das

Bhakti-yoga means to understand that you are a tiny particle of the Supreme and you are meant to exist harmoniously with the Supreme, and that the most extraordinary characteristic of the Supreme is unlimited attractiveness. Bhakti is a personal thing.

This personal feature is what makes the Hare Krishna mantra special: it has a negative aspect and a positive aspect. The negative aspect dispels illusion –  the misconception that “I am this body, I am this mind,” and the positive aspect renovates your pure relationship with the Supreme Reality, your pure relationship with Krishna. Therefore, you will hear the Hare Krishna maha mantra in so many different places and in many different tunes. If you go to India you will find thousands of tunes because they have been chanting Hare Krishna from time immemorial. So, in addition to our other mantras, we always chant the Hare Krishna maha mantra. Depending on your perspective, it’s either the king or queen of mantras.

The mantra gives us everything

I would like you to take with you the concept that sound can nourish you with all your necessities. It’s a mind-boggling thought, at first. Especially in this age of anxiety, incompletion, disconnection. You may ask, how can sound supply me with everything I need? But that is the special characteristic of the Hare Krishna maha mantra. At the core of our being we crave authenticity, but how can we be authentic in the bleakest of times when human beings think they are most advanced but are, in reality, the first species to destroy themselves and their own habitat? How can we become an authentic being in these bewildered times when people are overwhelmed by their mind and senses; oppressed by consumerism, exploitation, and abuse; and lacking knowledge of the self, the Supreme Self and the relationship between the two?

How can we truly be authentic? – Photo credit to Mahavan das

No one likes to be a phony, although material society forces that mold upon you. People who are trying to be for real finish last. You have to learn how to swim with the sharks and you’ll be successful. And that, of course, means being a phony to yourself, taking leave from whatever higher principles you may have conjured up. We don’t know what is best, we don’t know what is real, so we establish some of our own ideas about what is good, and then we become embarrassed, because even those self-created concepts of what is good become violated under pressure from our own mind and senses in the scramble to live.

The yoga texts explain that especially in this particular time, the Hare Krishna maha mantra spreads its rays like the rising sun, so anyone who takes shelter of that particular sound has all their real necessities supplied. Of course, we have to understand what our real necessities are. We are not this body and mind; those are external garments; therefore, we do not put all the emphasis on what is outside. What is inside is the most important, so let us not neglect the internal.

The Hare Krishna maha mantra corrects that imbalance in our priorities. It readjusts our internal dynamics. Sound can do that, therefore, please take this nourishing sound with you and let it expand within the core of your being.

By taking shelter of that sound your life becomes rich and can be transformed according to how much you take shelter of the pure spiritual sound.

Do not be afraid to let this mantra start managing your life! Your life can be managed either by external forces, or by internal spiritual dynamics. So, the Hare Krishna mantra is at your service, so to speak. Either we submit to the superior spiritual energy and let our internal dynamics take over our life or we submit to the inferior material energy of illusion and allow ourselves to be pushed around by so many external pressures.

We choose which river we want to jump in, and once we jump into our particular chosen river, we are swept away.

We choose which river we want to jump in, and once we jump into our particular chosen river, we are swept away.

This way I hope you will take with you a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of material sound and spiritual sound.

Photo credits to Mahavan das

Creating Sustainable Relationships

Why stay together? We long for a real relationship, a lasting loving relationship. Yet these days it can seem impossible. Moving on to try out the next is a norm. We need to take our relationships to a higher level of love, and the Bhakti science is all about how to love on the deepest level possible, on the level of the soul, the only level that will fill our heart with the joy we seek, and the only level on which that love won't fade.

A Me-Centered Life

The gospel presented by materialistic society has been implanted deep in our heads. We believe the universe owes us maximum gratification, entertainment, and fulfillment. Haunted by this gospel, we ask:

Am I following my dreams? Am I fulfilling my passions? Am I with the most exciting partner?

Despite our feverish attempts to live a Me-centered life, the most amazing thing is that we are clueless about who the real "me" is. We ignorantly believe we are this temporary material body. Krishna explains that this investment in ignorance brings it predictable reward: frustration and anger.

The Blame Game

Everyone always needs someone to blame. Someone to point the finger at when things don't go our way. Our frustration and anger has to have a target because we don't realise that the root cause of all our problems is ignorance of our spiritual identity. It's time to life our consciousness from this abyss.

Can you be a real yogi in the city?

A genuine yogi means not simply one who can adopt various postures and breathing exercises, although all that is good for health, but the full understanding of a genuine yogi is that he or she can exist in perfect harmony with all living entities, because he or she is in perfect harmony with the ultimate source, Krishna.

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Myth #4 & 5 - The earth provides unlimited resources and waste capacity

Most human beings today consume without thinking about the destructive effects that have been created to manufacture the products they are consuming nor the waste that comes from such consumption... we live as if the earth can provide unlimited resources and as if it has unlimited capacity to soak up our waste.

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Myth # 3 - Weapons bring security?

What is so precious about our materialistic societies that we need trillions of dollars worth of weaponry to 'protect' them? Just think about that. And would such weaponry make us safer or more vulnerable?

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Myth # 2 - Technology brings well being?

Often it is assumed that as technology becomes more sophisticated, human well-being will follow. But people are beginning to notice that such 'advancement' is actually deteriorating the social fabric of our societies. Now many people are starting to long for a more simple less stressful life.

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Myth #1 - Money Brings Happiness?

There are five different myths of human progress which are interfering with our happiness on both an individual and societal level.

Myth #1 many people agree on, we know money won't fill our heart will delight, but money is attractive because it seems to provide options. Let's take a deeper look at this myth and how it has fooled us.

Best History Lesson

Many of you have heard the often-quoted maxim, “Those who do not learn history are condemned to repeat it.” Now, what is the yogi’s take on history? Consider your stay in a body as an event in history. The precise Sanskrit term “puranjana,” given in the advanced yoga text Srimad Bhagavatam, means “the one who enjoys within a body.” If you can track your history as the enjoyer within the body, how long is that history? Where does it start? Where does it end?

Repeated lifetimes

Although it is said that those who don’t learn history are doomed to repeat it, material existence is a process of repeated lifetimes. Somehow, because we are so tiny, we’ve forgotten about our birth. You don’t remember your birth, but if someone forgets your birthday you get really mad, right? Have you ever experienced that—someone dear to you forgets your birthday? We don’t remember our birth. But we want others to celebrate our birthday. In other words, what we remember or do not remember is not crucial to the way we live our life. What about our previous death? We certainly don’t remember that. But if we don’t remember our previous death, what does that mean?It means it never happened—that’s the difference. This is our bias.

Let’s consider our stay within the body from a different angle: the changes in our lifetime. Our body is always changing. Those of you who are familiar with Bhagavad Gita, the prime bhakti-yoga text, know that Krishna gives us this real-life example: a real entity—a real person within the body remains constant, while the body is always changing from infancy to youth to middle age to old age then death. But Krishna says, “Wait!” Why consider death the end? We didn’t consider birth the end, we didn’t consider infancy the end or the teenage years the end. So why arbitrarily do we have this bias to consider death to be the end?

Vision upgrade

At the very beginning of Bhagavad Gita, Krishna wants to establish the essential knowledge of how we are different from our body and mind. Without understanding that, we can’t make a clear, cohesive plan for our present or future. If we think we are something we are not, the rest of our life is going to be mistaken. We’ll be pursuing life in the wrong direction.Now, we might say, I can see someone changing from infancy to the teenage years to young adulthood to middle age, to old age and to death. I can see all that, but I don’t see anyone going from death to birth. That nails it. We do not see this transition. Therefore, it doesn’t occur. We don’t remember our birth but we see babies born all the time. Just because we don’t see something, directly or indirectly, does that mean it never happened? What if there is a way to develop higher vision so that we indeed can see the whole history of our changing from one body to another, one lifetime to another? In other words, our vision may not be educated enough. We may have to upgrade our seeing capacities in order to perceive what is most important. So much of the genuine yoga system involves purifying our consciousness. I speak at many universities and often mention the word “purification.”Even among the yoga crowd, the word can sound unattractive, like something very painful. But the bhakti-yoga texts introduce you to the bliss--the joy of purification. As we become more purified, meaning our consciousness becomes more distilled and free from pollutants, we can then experience the natural spiritual joy of the spiritual self. But right now, something blocks our system, something clogs up the works. It is the misunderstanding that we are matter, that we are the body and the mind. Now, many persons will say, “Wait a minute! I know that I’m not just biochemicals. I know that there’s something more to me. I know I’m kind of spiritual.” But we lack the profound, precise knowledge of that spiritual identity. And because we lack that, we end up just endeavoring materially. We end up basically doing what everyone else does, whether they think they are their body or not. That’s because we lack precise knowledge of the spiritual self and how to satisfy the spiritual self.

Lacking the knowledge of the spiritual science in the name of saying, “I am spiritual,” we end up just doing the material. In this way, ople become confused—confused about who they are and what they should be doing, and that confusion spreads to others. No one really knows what being“spiritual” is.Therefore Krishna begins Bhagavad Gita by making a  distinction between spiritual and material so we can then make further progress. How do we verify our nonmaterial identity? That requires a different kind of science. Just because that science is different from what we ordinarily consider science does not mean such a spiritual science doesn’t exist nor has no truth to it.

To verify the spiritual reality, the nonmaterial dimension, we have to qualify ourselves. Even to accomplish ordinary things, some qualification is often required. Many of you are attending or have studied atuniversity. The aim, ideally, is to gain a qualification that will impress an employer, who will want to employ you. But what about the qualification for understanding our history as the entity in the body who is trying to enjoy from one lifetime to another? In that sense, we’re all likekings and queens, because when we are inhabiting a body, we feel like the body is at our command. It is meant to fulfill our desires. The reality is like being a solitary swimmer in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. No matter how much of a gold medal swimmer you are, you are in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. You’re helpless. So here we are, in these bodies. We don’t know when their history started and when their history will end. We assume that because we don’t see beyond our birth, we don’t see past death. Therefore, that’s all there is to this history. But suppose we could access a process for refining our vision, for purifying our vision, so we can see all these things?In Bhagavad Gita, Krishna wants to provide us with the eyes—the different kind of eyes to see what’s actually going on.

Real spiritual experience

It’s amazing how little we know in this so-called information age. We are drowning in information yet we do not know the most essential things. We don’t even understand our circumstances and what’s happening around us. How many of us understand what goes on in our political system or the economic system? How many really know what the militaries of the world are actually up to? We don’t even know what the small New Zealand military are up to!If we don’t even know what’s going on around us materially, how are we going to get the knowledge to understand our nonmaterial identity? Is it just a belief, a wish, or hope? “Oh, I’m nonmaterial, yeah. I am spiritual. Yeah, that sounds good.” We will never get beyond that! Or is there a process for purification and transformation, so that indeed we can verify the spiritual reality and its source? This is whatKrishna wants to give us, not theory, not a religious belief, not theology, but, laboratory experience of the spiritual self, the Supreme Spiritual Self and the relationship between them. Once we get into all that, then we can start talking about pleasure. The yogis know that any talk about material pleasure is just wishful thinking. We wish it so much that it will come into being and you know how quickly material pleasure comes and goes. But we resign ourselves to that because “Hey, I don’t see anything better, you know. You’ve got to do something. You have to enjoy in some kind of way. Do the best you can.” But are we doing the best we can? Are there higher levels of pleasure available beyond the temporary thrills of the material cosmos? We should think about that.

Is there a process we can follow that will purify our consciousness so that we can actually see what is real pleasure, beyond the stuff that has a beginning and an end? These are the issues that the bhakti-yogis deal with and they are not just struggling in the Pacific Ocean. This knowledge comes directly from the source of all pleasure. “Krishna” literally means the “source of all pleasure,” the unlimitedly attractive source of all pleasure. The yogis want to connect with that ultimate source of pleasure. In that way, our quest in life becomes successful and therefore we can actually end the history of going from one body to another. We may feel like kings and queens of our body, but how long does the reign last? We’re actually quite insecure and we’ve been going from one body to another for countless lifetimes. Is that what we are meant to be doing? The question is, how do we live a life? What kind of lifestyle will allow us to see what our real mission is? You may have wondered from time to time – what is my mission in my life? What am I all about? You try to create something for yourself—someniche for yourself. “My mission is to make others happy,” you may say. But how many persons do you know? A few? How will you do that? “I’ll make them happy, some kind of way.”These motivations are good as far as they go, but they don’t go far enough. Therefore, Krishna tries to impress upon us in Bhagavad Gitathat before we can help, before we can enliven others, love others, or care for others, we need precise knowledge of the spiritual science. Then we can actually uplift the real person, the one who has been making all that history, going from one body to another.

Breaking the cycle of birth and death

What happens to you when you stop changing bodies? If you can put a stop to what’s called the cycle of repeated birth and death, what do you do? You have an eternal spiritual form and Krishna has an eternal spiritual form. Beyond all the changing of material forms exist eternal spiritual forms. Experiencing this is the topmost realm on the yoga ladder.Spiritual forms, spiritual personality, and spiritual individuality—all in a relationship of pure love, love unhampered by any material considerations or material circumstances. We can do that with our life right now, if we understand applied spiritual technology. Your lifestyle can be one way, but through purification of consciousness, your lifestyle can be another way. This is who we are. This is real science. This is real culture.

So please consider the history that shouldn't be repeated: our identifying with one body of matter after another, changing from one body of matter to another. As long as we make that mistake of thinking I am this body of mind and matter, we cannot be happy and we can’t make others happy. That’s always the wish, the hope, the attempt. For those of you who are serious about happiness and pleasure, we invite you to the world of bhakti-yoga.