James Swartz – Great souls and devotion – Talk 15

One achieves devotion through Satsang. Satsang builds a devotion habit. Make the worship of god a habit.

Verse 38: However, the primary method by which one develops devotion is association with great souls, that means a free person of the vedic tradition. Teacher who was taught properly. The teaching sets you free not the teacher.

Verse 39: Contact with great souls is rare, difficult to understand and infallible. The reason is that qualified students are rare. Great souls: you see the self in a person pretending to be a person. Great souls transform your life. The effects of meeting great souls are infallible. The spirit of renunciation is the essence.

Verse 40: The association of great souls can be obtained, but only by the grace of the Lord. Don’t seek them. Isvara will supply a great soul when you are ready. Many schools are knowledge averse.

Verse 41: There is no difference between the Lord’s grace and the great souls that manifest it.

Verses 42-43: Strive only for God’s grace. By all means, renounce all relationships with ignorant, negative, selfcentered individuals.

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Yoga Vidya – Europe’s leading Yoga Retreat Centre

Yoga Vidya is a nonprofit organization whose aim is to spread the knowledge (vidya) of holistic Yoga. Founded by Sukadev Bretz in 1992, Yoga Vidya now runs 4 ashrams, 100 Yoga centres in various cities and has trained more than 17.000 top-quality yoga teachers. This makes us Europe’s leading and largest yoga educational organization. We teach in the tradition of Swami Sivananda, welcoming people of all spiritual paths and traditions of yoga.

If you are interested in our English Seminars, click here.

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James Swartz – Vedanta, Ishvara and the importance of devotional practices – Talk 14

Vedanta: means of knowledge based on the upanisads or knowledge that ends the quest for knowledge. Modern advaita teachers and qualifications. Arguments from satya viewpoint and from the mithya viewpoint. Example of Ramana Maharshi, his spiritual experience and the knowledge he got from it. Knowledge is the only way to get free because I am already free. But I am ignorant of this fact. You know you exist and that you are conscious. But you don‘t know that you are limitless and free. Vedanta helps you to remove the notion that you are incomplete. The scriptures reveal something to you that you already know. Swami Chinmayananda: gurus are temporary psychological aide.

Verse 36: One achieves devotion by worshiping the Lord ceaselessly. Every action becomes a worship if you offer it to the Lord. Be a caretaker of all the things borrowed by the Lord.

Verse 37: One achieves devotion by hearing and talking about the Supreme Lord’s special qualities, in every relationship. Avoid gossip. The world is a shining reflection of the Lord‘s glory. Go back to the source whenever you see an object. Isvara is both the intelligence and the matter for the creation. Everything is Isvaras body. Two creation teachings: projection teaching and cause and effect teaching. Mandukya Upanishad. Location of objects teaching. You love love. We have to know that objects are love even though they don‘t look like love. You should question what you see and look deeper.

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James Swartz – The role of Ishvara – Talk 13

Verse 25: Advaita devotion is superior to karma yoga and jnana yoga.

Verse 26: Vedanta is a means of knwoledge, non-dual love is the end.

Verse 27: If you take credit for something that belongs to the Lord you won‘t like yourself. Your self knows it when you fake something. All glory should go to god. Bhakti means acknowledging the source. See the Mighty – How They Fall!

Verses 28+29: The more you know about god the more you love him. The more you love god the more you want to know about god. Dvaitas get stuck in humility. You can be humble and glorious at the same time. Isvara and god. Original and reflected consciousness.

Verse 30: Its all love. Actions can‘t produce non-dual love, only dual love. Self-knowledge can‘t produce non-dual love. It removes the ignorance. Love is your nature.

Verses: 31-33: Prepare yourself by loving the people around you and your own imperfections. By giving love you are not loosing love. The source of love is infinite. Chapter III: presents formal dualistic practices required for achieving unconditional love and emphasizes the value of values.

Verse 34: A teaching presented by the tradition not by a person.

Verse 35: One gains devotion by giving up sense gratifications and associations with worldly objects. Simple lifestyle is necessary. Isvara is the devotee of the devotees. Think of the Lord in every activity. Anger happens. I am not the doer of the anger. Advaita shuffle. Actions have to be appropriate and timely to produce the right result. Jiva has a responsibility. In every situation there is something unknown.

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James Swartz – Are the self and the world jiva connected? – Talk 12

The supreme person. Experiencing or being the self? Two orders of reality. You are never not experiencing yourself. Duality and Non-duality are not opposites. You can be and experience yourself at the same time. It is not necessary to get rid of the ego to become the self. Parinama, substance, name and form. Not two. The self is no object but it is always present and always experienced. Unfortunately it is not always known. Claiming the self as your primary identity. Your identy as a person doesn’t go away. Dvaita bhakti is an intelligent use of my free will. Samsara problem is: transacting with something other than you. Vedanta solves the problem of experience and knowledge. The knowledge gives you the permanent appreciation of your self as love. There is only one love. A non-dual bhakta is still a person. Just being and knowing your are the self doesn’t change the life as a person. If you want to create something in the mithya dimension you have to do the work there. Non-dual love is understanding that satya and mithya are in different dimensions. Superimposing the perfection of the self onto the jiva. But the jiva never becomes perfect. There is no connection between the self and the world. You know you are free as the self although duality is happening in you. Verse 23: You look at people in terms of what they can do for you. Selfish relationships develop. The heart that gives gathers. The needs of the Lord come first. He who eats the remnants of the sacrifice incurs no skin. The joy of offering your self as a service. The joy of doing the right thing is more important than getting any object. Course in miracles and Vedanta. Rama is taking his joy from following dharma, doing the right thing. By acting with selfishness you inhibit your growth.

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James Swartz – Devotion and dharma – Talk 11

Verse 10: Elimination of nonessential desires: Worldly or emotional security, wanting to be recognized. Single goal is freedom. Active sense of renunciation is important. The only security is your self. Five stages of devotion: 1. Sakama Bhakti 2. Nishkama Bhakti. Praying to Isvara to resist your desires. “Zorba the Buddha” versus “Sin intelligently”. 3. Istha Devata Abyasa, Personal deity 4. Visvat svarupa. Worship of everything 5. Non-Duality.

Verse 11: Suitable values. Crazy wisdom gurus. Follow dharma to protect society.

Verse 12: Firmly commit yourself to maintaining an ethical code even after your devotion to Isvara/God is firm.

Verse 13: As long the notion of doership is present there is the danger of a fall. Enlightenment Sickness. Dharma trumps enlightenment.

Verse 14: For as long as the body lasts, one should minimally engage in worldly activities and only perform those actions necessary to sustain the body. Non-dual devotion is expectation-free.

Verses 15-22. Various definitions of the characteristics of devotion. Love in presence, love in absence. Unconditional love.

Verse 23: If you forget that every person is your self, only selfish passion remains.

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James Swartz – Conciousness and matter – Talk 10

Swami Chinmayananda. Consciousness and matter. Four types
of devotees: Devoted to god because of suffering. Spiritual
materialism principle and Vedanta. Seeker of god or truth. Nondual
devotee. The lower and the higher self. Krishna, Arjuna and
the cosmic vision. Until you see the beauty in the ugliness you
are not free. Understand what is imperfect is perfect. You are
perfect.

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James Swartz – Action, renunciation and indifference to objects – Talk 9

Actions won’t remove ignorance. Actions and ignorance are not
in conflict. Knowledge will remove ignorance. By sadhana you
don’t remove the basic ignorance: I am the doer! Moksha is the
negation of the doer. Actions don’t give lasting happiness.
Verse 4: Supreme love of your self. The immortality benefit. All
your worries stop, no tension anymore. The instinct to do
something to survive is produced by ignorance. Its a beautiful
world. Verses 5-7: Everything is perfect. Teaching is perfect. No
need for a new teaching. It does not generate desires. Turning
everything over to the Lord. You are like a baby. Verse 8: Spirit
of renunciation. You hurt yourself with the fear thought. Its good
to get rid of things. Renunciation of worldy and spiritual duties.
The wonderful power of desire to make the lifes of people better.
Desire is your life force. Verse 9: For renunciate objects
are value neutral because they are inert, matter. Value is
projected of conscious beings on inert objects. You only
experience the thought of an object. The location of objects
teaching. Inference versus direct perception. The value of an
object is projected by your conditioning depending on your
values.

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James Swartz – Nature of non dual love – Talk 8

Beginning of the verses of Narada’s Bhakti Sutras. Traditional
versus modern style of teaching. Vers 1: Using intellect for
justification is not useful. Devotion is directed to God. Treat
the people around you as if they are God. Devotion is rational.
Vers 2: Focus all of your attention on one topic: who am I?
Samadhana. Love is willing attention. Love of what is right
here and now. You are always present. You love your self.
Selflessness. You are the goodness that makes goodness
good. Hate is a perverted form of bhakti. Duality: Men are
defined by women. You don’t love objects, you love love.
Chasing love in objects is useless. Vers 3+4: You know you
don’t die and get a security benefit. The worry goes away.
Immortal love. Perfection benefit. Gain of knowledge, loss of
ignorance. Enlightenment sickness. Love is your nature. You
are not the body. You were here before your body was born.
Solution is to accept the words of the scripture. Vers 5: Life is
not jiva centered anymore. Free of passion for objects. No
need to feel special. Vers 6: Feel wonderstruck because you
understand and fulfilled the purpose in your life. You know you
are love.

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James Swartz – Karma Yoga and Dharma – Talk 7

Recap of the last session. Freedom as the number one priority
in life. Nondual bhakti is exclusive love of the self. To progress
spiritually you have to commit yourself to the vedic tradition:
work through all stages. Skipping of the purification by karma
yoga is not useful. Understand the progression. Take care of
all instruments. Dual love is there to qualify for nondual love.
Nondual relationship. Samsara is a zero-sum-reality. You can’t
win and you can’t loose. Karma yoga is suitable to get out of
samsara: prepares you for jnana yoga, jnana yoga gives you
knowledge and knowledge sets you free. You need a noble
idea for your life. All beings are a set of rules by Isvara that
form their nature. Svabhava and svadharma of a human
being. Nature of animals. Karma yoga dharma. Example of
Arjuna. Karma yogis honor samanya dharma or universal
values. Vishesha dharma or situational ethics have no simple
formula. Dharma yoga. React appropriately in relation to
dharma in every situation to avoid bad karma. Krishna: I am
the desire that is not opposed to dharma. Adharma: Going
against your nature or to go against universal values.
Adharmic action creates mental and emotional agitation.
Pollute the environment and living in it is adharmic.
Svadharma of someone commited to Vedanta: be a karma
yogi, develop discipline. Karma yoga is build into the indian
society, that is a dharmic society. Svadharma and profession.
Karma yoga makes less stressful. You start thinking: who is
this Isvara? 4. Upasana. Listening, reasoning (reflecting and
getting rid of opinions that are not in harmony with the
teaching), actualize the knowledge “I am the self”. Getting rid
of obstacles to perfect satisfaction: by continuing the sadhana.
Total sense of confidence.

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James Swartz – Karma Yoga, Teachers and Scriptures – Talk 6

Karma yoga is bhakti yoga. Swami Vivekananda, Freud,
consequences of technology. Psychological designation in
Vedanta appeared. Multipath confusion. Better to integrate all
parts of the psyche. All stages of devotion are necessary, must
be practised. For karma yoga you need a guru and the
scripture. Only a mature person can surrender to Isvara.
Mantra “sadāśiva samārambhāṁ
śaṅkarācāryamadhyamām…” The self is the guru. Self is
beyond perception and inference. You need a guru because
the tendency for self-deception is immense. Dead gurus don’t
reveal your self-deceptions. You should manage your own life
based on the knowledge. Desire produces anger, depression
and delusion. Karma yoga as right action: dharmic lifestyle is
necessary. 5 daily practices: worship teacher, worship of
ancestors (tvam eva mātā…), worship deity, service to
humanity, protect environment. Desire hides your self from
you. Karma yoga turns an extroverted and subjective mind
into an introverted and objective mind. Inner child becomes an
inner adult. Relationship of guru and disciple: Krsna and
Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita. Sakhya bhava. Karma yoga is an
appropriate use of your free will. Described in chapters 1-6 of
the Bhagavad Gita.

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James Swartz – Karma and Karma Yoga – Talk 5

3. Formal devotion. What is karma? Prarabdha, sanchita and
agami karma. Karma is similar to a bank account. 3
possibilities: add karma, exhaust karma or stay the same.
People with little karma become sannyasi. Karma Yoga means
how to relate to your karma. Neutralise your karma to have a
steady mind. Gunas, mind and karma. Deities are Vedas in
code. Rishis show you who Isvara is. The love for myself
depends on whether I am handling the karma properly. You
are the witness of karma. The I has no karma. All karmas are
created by Isvara. Isvara or God: creator, upholder or dharma,
giver of results. Isvara is in charge of the results. The principle
to hand out results to jivas are the needs of the total. Isvaras
versus jivas mind. Karma is hard to understand: I want results
and I am not sure if I get it. Karma Yoga is acting like an
enlightened person: offering the actions as a worship to Isvara
as the giver of results. Isvara gave you your life as a gift.
Karma Yoga is love of God. This attitude during action reduces
karma. Giving instead of grabbing. Your whole life is an altar.
It is normal to do good things with love. Accept the good and
bad results with an attitude of gratitude.

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James Swartz – Love, Ishvara and Informal Devotion to God – Talk 4

By reading Vedanta texts it is easy to misinterpret them.
Ignorance and knowledge are mixed up. Teaching makes
difference between ignorance and knowledge clear. Live your
life based on knowledge not on emotions. Isvara and action.
What is real? You see reality on the basis of your experiences.
Reflecting media. Three gunas and the mind. 2. Informal
devotion. Personal deity, ishta devata. Religion. Influence and
judgements of the family. God is a helpful concept in the mind.
God doesn’t judge. Dead gurus don’t judge. Living gurus make
you grow. In informal devotion you bring God down to your
level. Vedanta lifts you up to Gods level. Karma Yoga as the
beginning stage.

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Yoga Vidya – Europe’s leading Yoga Retreat Centre

Yoga Vidya is a nonprofit organization whose aim is to spread the knowledge (vidya) of holistic Yoga.

Founded by Sukadev Bretz in 1992, Yoga Vidya now runs 4 ashrams, 100 Yoga centres in various cities and has trained more than 17.000 top-quality yoga teachers. This makes us Europe’s leading and largest yoga educational organization. We teach in the tradition of Swami Sivananda, welcoming people of all spiritual paths and traditions of yoga.

If you are interested in our English Seminars, click here.

James Swartz – Vedanta, Love and God – Talk 3

Existence is my nature. Love is my nature. Everything you do
is motivated by love. Stages of love (see chart in the video):
1. Love of objects. What do you love? Samsaris love objects.
Suffering comes because objects are not under their control.
God controls objects. Does the love of your life last forever? To
love god is the only option if you want to be free.
2. Love of god. Informal devotion.
3. Isvara. Who gave life to you? Gods laws in the creation.
Moral dimension. Isvara/God: creator, upholder or dharma,
giver of results. Gods grace. Law of pleasure and pain. Joy and
sorrow are connected. Is it wise to worship God? There is only
God. Dharma field is a field of laws. God is the rule giver and
the rules.

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