Supplied by Anahata Yoga Retreat
In India there was a very ancient tradition which was followed by the saints and sages who lived with their wives and families, deep in the forests and jungles, practicing sadhana and meditation.
This system was known as the tradition of rishis.
The tradition of rishis is meant to give a reorientation to the lifestyle of every householder, because many times householders forget the purpose of life.
It is not wrong to enjoy life, to have desires and to fulfil them. It is not wrong to display-passions. But when we forget the purpose and the destination of life, then everything that we are doing has no meaning.
It was for this reason that the tradition of rishis was organised thousands of years ago. The tradition of rishis is the tradition of tantric sannyasa.
In ancient India there were many such sannyasins, who were married and had children.
They were the guides of society and very highly enlightened people. They had great mental and spiritual powers, and contributed a lot towards making life harmonious.
Swami Satyananda seeks to reestablish this style of Sannyas in which in everyday life the modern rishis mingle with streams of people, and at the same time they waft all around them the fragrance of spiritual ideals, to remind themselves and to remind others also of the true purpose of life.
Rishi Nityabodhananda (NB) and Rishi Yoga Diwali are dynamic masters of the Satyananda Yoga tradition. They have tutored students for over 40 years in India, Australia and other ashrams around the world.
Rishi Nityabodha is the author of Satyananda Yoga publication Awakening Ajna Chakra, and together the Rishis bring many years of experience and immense wisdom. They are captivating, humble, humorous and inspirational.
Join the Rishis when they visit Anahata Yoga Retreat in Takaka to celebrate the Easter weekend with Nurturing Positivity through Yoga 2012. For more info visit our website.
1. What does it mean to be a Rishi to you?
NB: The title rishi is bestowed on those who are totally involved in spiritual life and the service of Guru. It is impossible to serve without self interest. Spiritual life bypasses the individuality, the ego. In normal life, be it business, yoga, prayer, employment etc. there is always self interest, even when done in the name of spiritual pursuit there is usually some self interest involved.
As a rishi, I aim to place Guru as the highest priority in life. Personal desires are subordinated to that principal. Of course the necessities of life still have to be met and somehow they work together.
Just as a mother cares for her baby 24/7 and still she earns, cares for others, and all the other duties, but the baby is foremost in her priorities. In the same way a rishi has spiritual life and Guru as the foremost priority for love, devotion and effort whenever and wherever required.
2. Please, tell us about yourself and how you became a spiritual teacher?
NB: It was never in my mind to become a spiritual teacher.
I came to Yoga as a spiritual seeker, not to become a teacher. In my youth I had been educated and successfully employed. Wealth, future career, pursuit of promotions and romances were all at my fingertips but they held no allure.
I was constantly asking where did thought come from? What is mantra and why is it effective in transforming my being when other pursuits just left me in the same state of mind.
So I found Yoga and meditation and then discovered that great teachers with the power and insight to guide me on an inner journey were to be found in India. My spiritual path was unfolding when I met my guru Swami Satyananda who said;
Just to take the teachings and keep them for myself was not enough. We have to teach and involve ourselves with others in order to release the Karmas that bind the mind from further progress.
So teaching for me has always been a service and not a profession.
3. What style of yoga do you practice and teach?
NB: I teach every style of Yoga suitable for the student to relax, come out of his pain and suffering and progress in his spiritual life.
The strongest forces and influences in life are in the formless karmas of the unconscious mind. If our background has been unsteady, tumultuous, greedy, selfish, uncaring and irresponsible then it is impossible to overcome that and become a generous, happy, kind, peaceful person just because we want to.
We have to teach to give the background of the mind good information and training, and this takes years to ingest. This is my favourite type of Yoga teaching.
As an introduction to Yoga, of course I teach Asana, Pranayama, Prana Vidya, Meditation Techniques, Kriya Yoga, etc. but then the mind needs good philosophical ideas to occupy itself with. For this I teach Bhagavad Gita, Upanishad, Tantra Vidya, Samkhya Vedanta etc.
4. How has yoga transformed your life?
NB: Yoga is now my purpose and vision.
Its depths are unfathomable and I constantly search for greater depth and meaning of this vast science of mind and spiritual development. Other desires are insignificant so really I am quite satisfied with the things life has offered me and I am not driven to pursue other worldly enjoyments, acquisitions and attainments.
5. How does one access creativity and why is it important?
YD: The more you know yourself, the more your creativity flows and you discover that everything you do is an expression of the self which is pure creativity. I left my role as a successful Art Director and graphic designer and became a full time disciple/yoga teacher and have been able to dedicate my talents, energy and skills to the propagation of yoga in so many creative ways through karma yoga and have found that when you concentrate on something fully it totally absorbs you.
Creative energy is inherent in every one, by attending to each activity no matter how insignificant they seem to be and performing to the best of your ability the more conscious you become, and the more aware of how your creative processes work; you recognize that the most original and even transformative ideas actually come from the core of our being which is accessed through a concentrated mind.
6. How can creativity be used for spiritual transformation?
YD: Spiritual consciousness has no name or form but at the same time we want to evolve spiritually. During our initiation the Guru gives us a mantra and a psychic symbol, this helps the mind concentrate and transforms and restructures it.
Sound and symbol are necessary tools for meditation because they have the capacity to penetrate into the depths of the subconscious and unconscious mind in order to access the hidden potential within every one and in this way we manifest a new quality of consciousness in which empathy and better understanding of others develops and meditation begins.
7. Visualization and manifestation – how can you manifest your life in the way that you want it?
YD: First we lighten and purify the mind through mantra and visualization of a psychic symbol which explodes the hidden impressions in the subconscious. In this way we raise the frequency of our mind which results in an extremely focused mind, which keeps you in the present and brings you to your self. With a clear mind we are then able to visualize and create any thing we want.
8. Ajna Chakra – what is it and what is the importance of it?
NB: Ajna Chakra is the symbol for our inner divine eye. It is also the symbol for the quality of inner vision. When we are assailed by unconscious forces we become confused, deranged and troubled. Ajna gives us the vision to see these forces and gives us the capacity to witness.
Spiritual life is a process of expansion and release of our unconscious into our consciousness. Our purpose is to identify with spirit and witness the mind as experiences, just as we witness entertaining dramas. The witness does not participate, does not judge or moralize, it is the unbiased witness to all the internal thoughts, visions, feelings and experiences as they emerge.
Therefore it is essential we do not fall prey to the old messages of vice, lust, greed, jealousy, hatred, anger and so on, but let them be expressed through visions and dreams.
9. What is the relationship between Ajna Chakra and Nurturing Positivity in your life?
NB: Ajna means command and through Ajna we can receive the subtle divine commands for a higher spiritual life. Worldly desires always come up, there are millions of them and they always lead to the same dissatisfaction.
On the other hand, an awakened or awakening Ajna gives us a more satisfying direction leading to energising pursuits of higher vibration so that we gain qualities for life. Inner joy, inner compassion, inner love for all and inspiring glimpses of higher knowledge come in the form of a dawn to new understandings of knowledge.
As Swami Vivekananda once said, bread satisfies the stomach for a few hours but a new idea is worth living and striving for.
10. When people ask you what is yoga? What do you say?
YD: When we realize the spirit within and recognise the same in others.
Om Tat Sat
Join Rishis Nityabodha and Yoga Diwali on April 6 – 9 at Anahata Yoga Retreat for Nurturing Positivity through Yoga – Easter Weekend Retreat