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Articles of Interest

Hingori Sutras / Articles of Interest

The Drop in the Ocean

The famous Sufi poet, Rumi, once wrote “You are not a drop in the ocean. You are an entire ocean in a drop. If we are the ocean why do we feel so incomplete and insignificant? Why do we suffer from a spiritual identity crisis? Why do we feel so small, so worthless sometimes? Why Do We Feel This Way? Spiritualists talk about our real nature being that of “Sat Chit Anand” – a state of complete bliss. It isn’t the bliss derived from material pleasures, worldly success and fame but an acceptance that you are a manifestation of the supreme consciousness – that you are no different from the gods you worship. So why is it that you are continuously seeking a sense of significance without? A person identifying with the Jeevatma is like an ocean identifying itself with a drop in the infinite liquid mass. With such a limited perception of itself, how much bigger can the picture get for that drop? A drop sees itself as a small speck in the ocean and it will always feel small in comparison to the ocean that is made up of trillions of gallons of water. It cannot feel significant enough and it cannot feel its own...

The 21 gram soul theory

On 10 April 1901, an unusual experiment was conducted in Dorchester, Massachusetts.  Dr. Duncan MacDougall was going to prove that the human soul had mass, and was therefore, measurable. Dr. MacDougall conducted this experiment on six dying patients who were placed on specially made Fairbanks weight scales just prior to their deaths.  Dr. MacDougall’s intention was to weigh each body before and after death to determine any differences measured by the delicate scales.  The patients were selected based upon their imminent death.  Two patients were suffering from tuberculosis, 5 were men and one was a woman. In the company of four other doctors, Dr. MacDougall carefully measured the weight of his first patient prior to his death.  Once the patient died, an interesting event occurred. In Dr. MacDougall's words "Suddenly, coincident with death, the beam end dropped with an audible stroke hitting against the lower limiting bar and remaining there with no rebound. The loss was ascertained to be three-fourths of an ounce." The experiment continued on the next patient with the same results.  Dr. MacDougall felt he was on to something extraordinary.  A quote from the 11 March 1907 New York Times article captures the historic moment: “ The instant life ceased the...

The Spiritual Power of Water – Laura Hamilton

Water and spirituality seem to go hand in hand. Many religions and spiritual practices include the use of water. Even being near a river, lake or ocean seems to invoke a spiritual experience, soothing the body, mind and soul. Water is an extremely powerful element that has the potential to heal on many levels, particularly spiritual and emotional. What’s so special about water and its role in transformation? WATER AND SPIRITUAL PRACTICE Since ancient times water has represented many spiritual ideas. The biblical story of Noah and the great flood shows water as a powerful destroyer, cleansing the Earth of the evil and disobedient. Water is also portrayed as a great giver of life in many beliefs and is considered sacred. The Ganges River in India for example is deemed sacred to Hindus. Many Hindu pilgrims bathe in the river to wash away sins and the faithful often spread ashes of the departed into the river, helping them reach nirvana. Christians rely on the spiritually healing waters of baptism for redemption, cleansing, renewal and rebirth of the soul. Catholics employ the use of holy water for blessing themselves and their homes. WATER AND EMOTIONS Water and emotions also have a unique and interesting relationship. Many people...

How Sleeping Positions influence Dreams

There are a number of things that can influence our dreams — sleeping in a new environment can induce some wilder visions, and you may have heard that eating cheese or Chinese food before bed can also bring on more lucid dreams. But has it ever crossed your mind that whether you sleep on your right side, left side, or face down might have an impact on your dreams? Researchers think our sleeping positions may actually have a significant effect on our sleeping minds. There have been multiple studies that explore the effects of sleeping position on dreams, and the first one was published in Sleep and Hypnosis back in 2004. 63 volunteers were asked to sleep either on their left side or their right side, and then fill out a survey on sleep quality after waking up. The questions asked about dreams, nightmares, vividness, and how the participants felt in the morning. Interestingly, those who slept on their left side were far more likely to have nightmares than those who slept on the right. 40.9 percent of the left side group reported disturbing dreams, while only 14.6 percent of the right side group reported nightmares. Further, those who slept on their...

Tibetan Book of the Dead – A way of Life

The Bardo Thodol, Liberation Through Hearing During the Intermediate State, is a text from a larger corpus of teachings, the Profound Dharma of Self-Liberation through the Intention of the Peaceful and Wrathful Ones, revealed by Karma Lingpa (1326–1386). It is the best-known work of Nyingma literature,known in the West as the Tibetan Book of the Dead. The Tibetan text describes, and is intended to guide one through, the experiences that the consciousness has after death, in the bardo, the interval between death and the next rebirth. The text also includes chapters on the signs of death and rituals to undertake when death is closing in or has taken place. According to Buddhist scholar and translator Robert Thurman (father of Uma), The Tibetan Book of the Dead, or Bardo Thodol, “organizes the experiences of the between—(Tibetan, bar-do) usually referring to the state between death and rebirth.” While The Book of the Dead has, of course, a long and illustrious history in Tibetan Buddhist life, it also has its place in the history of the West, particularly among 20th century intellectuals and artists. In an example of Eastern mysticism meets Western artist, the video above features poet and troubadour Leonard Cohen narrating a two-part documentary series from 1994 that explores the...

The Power of the Gayatri Mantra

The Gāyatrī Mantra is a highly revered mantra that is considered not to have an author, and like all other Vedic mantras, is believed to have been revealed to Brahmarshi Vishvamitra by the Supreme Conciousness as a reward for his penance. This was to be a gift for all of humanity. Gayatri mantra is a Sanskrit verse of a hymn in Rigveda (3.62.10).  It creates a resonance in the nerves which connected to several important parts of body. when a person repeats the mantra, certain pressure points on lips,tongue, vocal cord and palate got elevated to give excitement on extrasensory energy centers. Dr. Howard Steingeril, an American scientist, collected Mantras, Hymns and invocations from all over the world and tested their strength. His tests revealed that the Gayatri Mantra produced 110,000 sound waves per second making it the most powerful hymn in the world. Through the combination of sound or sound waves of a particular frequency, the Mantra is claimed capable of developing specific spiritual potentialities. The mantra results in awakening trillions of neurons in the brain, only four percent of which stay awake in the ordinary brain. The Gayatri Mantra is scientific, as it is based on the universal and natural laws relating to sound and matter. The Mantra...

Science and spirituality: Jeff Lieberman

Albert Einstein referred to thoughts as an optical delusion of conciousness. He felt that thoughts separated us from the rest and were a prison for us — restricting us to affection for a few and personal desires. He said our primary task has to be widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living things. The collapse of the quantum wave function by consciousness would entail a single, universal consciousness. Jeff Lieberman, an MIT-trained artist, scientist and engineer, makes a scientific argument for mystical experience. He asks us to challenge our perception of what we are, our relationship to the universe, and our relationship to one another. Our minds are “thought-generating machines.” What we would happen if we could turn off the machine? If we could transcend our individual experience of the world?...

Meditation can rewire your brain

Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, was one of the first scientists to take the anecdotal claims about the benefits of meditation and mindfulness and test them in brain scans. What she found surprised her — that meditating can literally change your brain. She explains: Q: Why did you start looking at meditation and mindfulness and the brain? Lazar: A friend and I were training for the Boston marathon. I had some running injuries, so I saw a physical therapist who told me to stop running and just stretch. So I started practicing yoga as a form of physical therapy. I started realizing that it was very powerful, that it had some real benefits, so I just got interested in how it worked. The yoga teacher made all sorts of claims, that yoga would increase your compassion and open your heart. And I’d think, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m here to stretch.’ But I started noticing that I was calmer. I was better able to handle more difficult situations. I was more compassionate and open hearted, and able to see things from others’ points of view. I thought, maybe it was just the placebo response. But then I did...

Meditating upon Meditation & the Brain

When Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist at Harvard Medical School, was advised by her physiotherapist to stop running, she took to Yoga as a form of physical therapy. She was quite hesitant to believe the claims made by her Yoga teacher about the benefits of meditative practices. However, over the weeks that she attended yoga class, she realized that she felt calmer than she had in years. Initially dismissing this change as a placebo effect, she soon realized that Yogic meditation was not only helping her body, it was also centering her mind – leaving her more energetic and more focused. She then decided to take the available anecdotal evidence of the benefits of meditation and test it with brain scans using modern technology like fMRI scans. Sara Lazar and her team at Harvard found that eight weeks of meditation increased the cortical thickness in the hippocampus, which governs memory and retention. There was a reduction in brain cell volume in the amygdala, which is responsible for fear, anxiety, and stress. These changes were mapped with the self-reports filled in by the participants which further proved that not only does meditation change the brain, it also impacts our perception and feelings. Lazar elaborated “The first study looked at long...

What neuroscience is teaching us about yoga

From brain scans to genetics, scientists are now using the latest research tools to understand the power of yoga and meditation. Studies in healthy volunteers show that yoga/meditation can induce long lasting changes in brain structure and function — a phenomenon known as experience dependent neuroplasticity. Studies of patients with neuropsychiatric disorders have shown the potential of yoga to heal a wide variety of symptoms and enhance resilience. Regular meditation and yoga may also slow age-related changes in the brain and boost cognitive reserve. Studies of experienced yoga teachers are helping scientists better understand the brain’s role in self-referential awareness and advancing research into consciousness. Thus, as the union between yoga and neuroscience evolves and matures, brain research shed new light into yoga benefits us and yoga research may transform our conceptualization of the brain. Speaker Bio: Murali Doraiswamy is a professor of psychiatry and medicine at Duke University Medical Center and a member of the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Duke Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development. Murali directs a leading clinical trials unit focused on mental wellness and cognitive health.  He has coauthored more than 250 scientific reports and...