वृक्ष कबहुँ नहीं फल भखै, नदी ना पीवै नीर !
पर्मारथ के कारनै, साधुन धरा शरीर !

Trees never eat their fruits, river doesn’t drink its water;

It’s only for the ultimate good sages carry their body. 

Tapas or Tapa literally means heat. Tapashcharya means way of living in which you bear heat. In the normal sense it means bearing discomfort or pain for greater good or Dharma. Tapas has had a great significance in Spirituality. From fasts to celibacy and non-violence to truthfulness–all austere pursuits which are dedicated towards spiritual advancement is considered Tapa.

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Sadhu, Sadhana and Siddhi!

In common parlance Sadhu and Saint are two words used together as well as interchangeably. Sadhu is a short form of Sadhaka. Disciple is a proper English word for Sadhaka. Disciple is someone who practices some sort of discipline under a Guru. Sadhu stands for a saintly person in general. In exact terms –harnessing energies for some great goal is discipline and it includes but isn’t limited to controlling body and mind. Thus Sadhu is a very disciplined person especially someone who practices spiritual discipline.

The discipline is Sadhana. It’s introversion. Extroverted energies are made introverted under some expert guidance in order to do inner work which leads to harmony and peace. The guidance or Guru could be a person, many persons, books or Self which acts via inspiration and intuition.

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Sadhana: meditation and breathing practices

Question: So breathing exercises generate energy and meditation is also about generating and saving energy to increase awareness.. both seem to be doing the same job — increasing awareness, isn’t it? Also which one generates more energy? breathing techniques or meditation? What’s the difference between meditation and sadhana?
Answer: Sadhana is an umbrella term which includes everything from meditation, breathing practices, asanas to Samadhi in it. This is yogic terminology but in other paths–say in Tao or in Zen there might not be any breathing practices or postures or Samadhi–still whatever you do–you do to become more aware–it’s Sadhana. But beware that Sadhana need not always be to awaken–not everyone wants to get liberated–some people want to stay healthy and some people want to get more intelligent–they train themselves for that–this training is Sadhana. Sadhana literally means to control. To control your body, mind, diet, behaviour and other associated things in order to harness them towards a particular goal is Sadhana.

Meditation is a very simple thing and yet you would come across so many definitions, all equally true. Meditation is becoming more and more aware of what you do, feel, think. How you eat, how you walk, how you talk and how you sleep. Meditation is becoming witness of your thought process., of your emotions, your feelings. A voluminous amount of energy is wasted in trivial, repetitive and negative thoughts. This energy can be saved and it would help keep your organism healthier. When this energy starts working inside it becomes introverted evolutionary energy. Breathing techniques help you stay fit and they can also be meditative. The question is how you go about doing them. Anything done with awareness would increase awareness. Anything done mechanically will make you sleepy. Vipassana is breathing with awareness. It is said that Buddha became enlightened by using this technique and he recommended this technique to his disciples as well. Pranayama on the other hand help you stay healthy and improve your concentration. Some rhythmic breathing techniques make you feel harmonious as they make your body’s rhythm orderly. They might also bring deeply hidden emotions and feelings to your awareness–but only when you’re witnessing them can you bring them to the light of awareness and become free from them. Otherwise you might feel compelled to react to them.

The question is not whether breathing practices generate more energy or meditation does. You can’t practice breathing all day. Meditation can continue all day long–everything happens inside witness–inside the awareness. The question is about quality of energy. Is energy being utilized by awareness or being spent into lower layers is the question. Meditation is transmutation of  energy to high quality introverted evolutionary energy.

image: peace