The Old Guard

Swamiji’s Example

Bhava Samadhi

The book that Swamiji recommended

His Presence

Not Religion; Eternal Truth

The Mission: Reduce Tension

The Shivabalayogi Story

Shivabalayogi on His Mission

Shivabalayogi’s Sabotage

The Living Example

The Cosmic Shivabalayogi

The Living Guru

The Living Miracle

Bhava & Trance Swamis

Meditation as the Mission

Diversity in the Mission

A Community of Devotees

Measuring the Mission

The Living Self

Lord of Yogis

An Army of Monkeys & Bears

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Perspectives on the Shivabalayogi Mission Today

“Swamiji is not a holy man.  He is a yogi.”

Shivabalayogi, Lord of Yogis

  Shiva Bala Yogishwara

Shivabalayogi did not complete unusually difficult and intense tapas so that he could lecture or write books.  He did not give any esoteric teaching, or enumerate different levels of samadhi or the various stages of enlightenment.  He did not discuss the different spiritual planes of existence, although he enjoyed telling stories about the gods.  He gave no commentaries on the meanings of the scriptures or advaita philosophy, aside from suggesting that the Yoga Vasishta was the best book to read about such matters.

It was not his mission to establish hospitals, engineering colleges, or senior centers, although he was an impassioned advocate for such service.

Shivabalayogi completed tapas in order to be Lord of Yogis.  That is the name that his guru gave him, Shiva-Bala-Yogishwara.  Yogishwara means “Lord of Yogis.”  He is a Teacher of teachers, a Guide of guides, and a Master of masters.

One could argue that Shivabalayogi was not well suited to be a teacher.  In a conventional sense, he was not eloquent.  One could safely say that he was not born to be an ordinary teacher, although he inspired learning.

When Swamiji was asked a question about medicine, he would tell the person to find a doctor.  When asked about past lives, he said to go ask an astrologer.  Perhaps when we are challenged to integrate our spiritual lives with the world in which we live, we should seek guidance from the wealth of counseling and self-help resources now available in the world.  Most people need a little more framework and support than simply sitting in silence.

Perhaps Shivabalayogi is the inspiration and enthusiasm behind many teachers of meditation.  If so, we should not be counting the number of Shivabalayogi students meditating, but the increasing spread of meditation practices throughout the world.

In the world today there is an explosion of inquiry, the development of different techniques of healing and self improvement, and a much more comprehensive appreciation of the wisdom of the world’s diverse, but fundamentally similar spiritual traditions.  If we limit ourselves only to what Shivabalayogi “taught”, then we would deny ourselves the richness and benefits of today’s amazing spiritual awakening.

We do limit Shivabalayogi.  For example, in conversations with devotees in Seattle and Portland, Shivabalayogi repeated the importance of meditation so frequently that some of us assumed that meditation was the cure-all.  It took some confrontations with our own egos to recognize that Swamiji was also telling us that we needed to adopt an attitude of humility.  We missed the written instruction included in the handout that Shivabalayogi insisted we give each person receiving his gift of initiation:

“Practicing meditation regularly and with devotion helps in having your wishes fulfilled in course of time.”

Spiritual development requires devotion, what in some other spiritual traditions is referred to as the heart.  Learning to develop and open the heart is a part of a balanced, practical spirituality.

We also tended to not appreciate what Swamiji meant when he described himself as a practical yogi.  It was not just that he asked us to practice meditation, or even that he gives experiences so we learn directly.  It also had to do with integrating spiritual life with everyday life.

Shivabalayogi never encouraged meditation in a vacuum. He never gave anyone permission to leave their jobs in order to pursue spiritual life. He sent people home. Even those he initiated into tapas he sent away from the ashram. They could do tapas at home.

In the West, so many asked Swamiji about samadhi and tapas.  We were incapable of meditating for an hour a day, but we wanted tapas.  Answering our questions, Shivabalayogi never suggested that he expected millions of people to meditate, solve all their physical and mental problems, attain Self realization, then never incarnate again.  When asked whether sooner or later all of us will become yogis and attain Self realization, Swamiji answered,

“No, God realization is not our aim. First you have to reduce your tensions and keep your path right.  Then people can understand each other. . . . If you do meditation, tensions will come down and you will be able to have good relations with the people around you.  You can be an example to other people to control their minds properly.”


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