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Friday, February 26, 2010

At Ma’s India we meet a lot of people interested in meditation. They usually come into our store after a darshan meditation given by our guru Ma Jaya, full of enthusiasm for the practice of meditation. Some are beginners, some are intermediate meditators and some are more advanced. We have meditation tools available for every degree of practice.

The beginning meditation practitioners want all the tools, and for them, we recommend The Meditation Kit. Contained within this meditation kit is a sandalwood mala, incense with holder, bell, sacred water cup, 4 track mantra CD and a 28 page illustrated guide book. In that guidebook of meditation, there is instruction on breathing, mantras, mudras, and a very complete guide for any meditator.

Devdutt Pattanaik has written a series of introductory books on Hinduism which are of great service to the beginning meditator if they are interested in Hindu lore and mythology; for example: Shiva: An Introduction; Devi: An Introduction; Vishnu: An Introduction and Hanuman: An Introduction. All of these books are written in simple narrative style reducing the complexity of Hindu lore to something immediately understandable and lucid.

For intermediate meditators who wish to learn more about Hinduism and devotion, we recommend to them a series of books such as Gita Wisdom by Joshua Greene, a wonderful readable tale of the relationship of Krishna and Arjuna as it is played out in the journey of the Bhagavad-Gita. Also recommended is Hindu Gods and Goddesses by W.J.Wilkins, a composite of the pantheon of gods and goddesses replete in Hindu literature. If one is looking for a particular god or goddess to offer their devotion to, one might wish to purchase Lakshmi – An Introduction, or Hanuman by Chitralekha Singh, two of the most popular deities in Hindu lore and mythology. Also a wonderful read is the seminal epic book, Ramayana, by the foremost authority in Hinduism, William Buck. These are but a few of the many books on Hinduism represented at Ma’s India.

Some more advanced meditators who perhaps have been meditating for quite sometime usually desire some more esoteric study. We immediately direct them to the most renowned expert on mantras, Thomas Ashley Farrand, in his book Chakra Mantras wherein he teaches the use of mantras in activating our secret chakras. This is truly a seminal book on mantras during meditation. Mudras: Yoga in Your Hands by Gertrud Hirschi is an innovative book telling of how a simple placement of your hands and fingers can allow you to clear space energetically, think more positively, ease tension and even relieve flu symptoms and asthma.

And for the most seasoned and serious mediators truly interested in esoteric books, we recommend Aghora: At the Left Hand of God by Robert Svoboda, a life journey tale of a master teacher into the rare world of Tantrism and Aghora III: The Law of Karma, which brilliantly speaks of karma and how it relates to everyman in his search for truth. These are experiential views into a world rarely seen by western eyes. There are a host of accompaniments to meditation such as the Meditation Pillow Cushion, an extraordinarily comfortable and popular cushion filled with buckwheat hulls to ensure a good meditation. Made with a removable cover, this meditation cushion offers structural support as well to the meditator. As one becomes more interested in meditation, it is interesting to note that the meditator can travel to certain meditation sites or retreats and bring along their Portable Zafu Meditation Cushion which is inflatable, durable and can be easily used outdoors as well as indoors. 

There are many other accompaniments to meditation such as oils, incense, bells and tingshas. The Auroshika Incenses made at the Sri Aurobindo ashram in India capture nature’s finest scents in their incenses. We particularly love Auroshika Sandalwood Indian Incense since sandalwood is the most popular and widely burned incense in meditation practices. 

Topped off with Om Tingsha Cymbals to bring you into a deep meditative feeling, you will be ready to receive that which you desire from your meditation practice.

Om Shantih Swaha!

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What a wonderful word is “puja,” pronounced “poo-ja” It has a soft comforting sound indicating its meaning also. In Sanskrit the word puja means the act of worship, or however one divines one’s worship. The person who performs the puja is called a “pujari.” The spiritual significance of puja is to offer one’s unworthiness or obstacles in one’s path to any deity or Higher Self that one chooses. Puja can be a silent worship, or an outward chanting, or the recitation of any words or actions that indicate the spiritual offering of one’s self. Doing puja is also the act of worshipping. When one does puja, one brings one’s mind and spirit to the occasion. In that regard, it is wise to have a place within your home or office on which you hang pictures or place sacred symbols. You might call those symbols “puja articles.” Now typical puja articles, and the most simple of with which you can not do without, are a candle, a bell, a stick of incense and of course something with which to light the candle. The puja article of a “bell” can be a simple ringing bell. Or it can be a bell known as a tingsha. Tinghshas are wonderful in that they are two brass plates sounding together to produce a long resonant sound that reverberates in the body well after it has been struck.

One of my favorite sounds is the tingsha because it is similar in feeling to the sound of Om in that it produces the same inner reverential feeling, It is as if one clasps one’s hands together in a reverential attitude and pranams or bows before one’s deity during the puja. Also similar to the feeling of sacredness is the sound produced by the Tibetan Bell Bowl, another similar puja article. As one rolls the stick around the rim of the bowl, one is transported by its melodic otherworldly sound into spiritual reverence. As one lights the candle,rings the bell, and lights the incense, one can then call upon the deity for whomever you feel spiritual regard.

Another wonderful puja adjunct is the offering to be made to the special deity. It is sometimes customary to offer fruit or cookies or other confections to the deity. After the puja is done, the confections or fruit become prasad or blessed fruit because it is customary to think that your deity has taken notice and blessed your offering. Choosing a sacred deity or Guru upon which to gaze on one’s puja becomes a wonderful adventure. One might be drawn to, for example, a picture of Nityananda, Ma Jaya or Neem Karoli Baba because that particular Guru is somebody with whom you might resonate most deeply. In that regard, one might wish to place the statue of Ganesh alongside Nityananda as another puja item because it was felt that Ganesh was Nityananda’s vehicle or the form through which he blessed people in many ways.

Other ways in which to do puja is through song or chanting, and reading relevant scriptures, prayers for the well being of others or other acts of charity that one performs in every day life. Pujas may be performed by some who have ongoing difficulties, grief or sorrow in their lives and sometimes it is merely to give thanks for continuous health and prosperity.

Whatever the reason one has for doing puja, the unsaid desire is to perform puja all day long carrying the name of your God within your heart. Om Namah Shantih!!!

Find these and more puja items at Ma’s India Spiritual Gifts.

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Bells have been used for centuries to call people to worship, to announce both good news and bad, to proclaim the births of children, to celebrate the end of wars.

Significantly for us, bells are an essential complement to meditation. As one sits for meditation in preparation to attune to the inner world, it is not uncommon to first ring a bell. The sound of the bell serves to elevate the vibrational level within the room and call forth something deeply within our souls. As the sound of the bell vibrates within the room, it has the power to still the mind and the senses within a moment.

Typically used in Tibetan Buddhism to call forth the silence before meditation is a Brass Bell with Dorje. The dorje, known as the “thunderbolt,” and the bell, are inseparable ritual objects during religious ceremonies in Tibetan Buddhism. The bell held in the left hand, represents the female aspect as wisdom; the dorje, or male aspect is held in the right hand. Together, they represent union of wisdom and method, or the attainment of enlightenment. 

Tingshas are spherical bells hand cast by Tibetan artisans using methods passed down from generation to generation. When the two pieces strike each other they produce deep and lasting sound used to focus the mind before and after meditation. Tingshas can be used for space clearing to remove negative energies. Tingshas are also very popular for feng shui practitioners who desire to expand and clarify living spaces. Clarity of a bell or tingsha is particularly important because of its power to clear a room of negative vibrations. These Tingsha Cymbals with Om design retain length and clarity of sound after striking. 

Setting aside a particular table or altar for your pujas or worship is consistent with practitioners in spiritual life, placing their sacred and familiar objects upon it. A beautiful adornment on any spiritual altar or table is the Zen Mantra Table Chime Tingsha, which has on its face the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum (Hail to the Jewel in the Lotus). It comes complete with wooden ringer and as the chime tingsha is struck, the mind comes immediately into spiritual focus.

Another recommendation for placement upon an altar or table is this attractive Altar Bell complete with striker in a very attractive, contrasting black and green color combination, favorite Tibetan colors. Because of its placement over an attractive wooden base, the tingsha rings long and free. 

Happy meditations!


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