Soma, the Bliss Principle in Vedic Knowledge – Part 2
by Vamadeva Shastri
Note: This article is being presented in two parts. Part 1 is presented in the Living Dharma section of the newsletter, and Part 2 is presented here below.
Soma and Mantra
Mantra is the main yogic tool for working on the mind. This implies the development of Soma, amrit or Ananda as the essence of the mind. Mantra can be used to develop our inner Soma, which is the bliss and happiness inherent in the nature of awareness. As you develop the Soma or bliss energy of your mantra, it will have a greater healing power both for yourself and for others.
Your primordial sound mantra is uniquely attuned to your karma and individual nature in order to aid you in this process. Our seed mantra is something that we must cultivate and nourish, empowering it with all that we wish to accomplish and realize in life.
Yet as a form of Soma, the mind is also the ultimate result of our nutrition and digestion at both physical and psychological levels. This essence of mental digestion is reflected in our memories. The mind as the essence of our memory should be based upon positive memories and attitudes. Taking your mantra to the deepest level of your memory is an important way to do this.
Meditation is a way of cultivating the essence of our being and connecting to the inner delight or Soma of resting in our own nature as pure awareness. It is a way of extracting the essence of peace and bliss that pervades this vast wonderful universe of consciousness. The seed mantra develops into a natural state of meditation in which we can feel a single awareness, vibration and creative energy pervading not only ourselves but also the entire world around us.
Unitary Mind, Prana and Speech
Concentration is the foundation for developing meditation. The rule is that when the mind becomes one-pointed (what is called the ekagra chitta in Yoga and Vedanta) then it naturally moves into a state of meditation and samadhi – its bliss or Soma begins to naturally flow.
This means that we need to bring our minds into a state of singularity, like a singularity as in modern physics that moves beyond the ordinary laws of nature, in order for any inner transformation to occur. In a singular state, the mind is able to move beyond time, space and karma, beyond localized awareness to unitary consciousness that connects us with the entire universe. This single pointed awareness is the bindu or point focus that is also the drop and flow of Soma.
A seed mantra is an important way to develop this one-pointed mind. The practice of Self-inquiry in Vedanta, or asking the question “Who am I?” is another. The one-pointed mind is the unitary mind in which we are wholeheartedly attentive to whatever concerns us in life.
This unitary mind in turn is linked to the unitary prana, which is the concentration not only of the breath, but the energization of our entire vitality towards a higher goal in life.
Additional Tools for Practice
For proper meditation it is often recommended to keep the mind cool, calm, tranquil and composed like a still mountain lake that can reflect the deep blue of the boundless sky. Keeping the head cool and the belly or navel warm is a key to balancing and supporting Agni and Soma.
As you practice your primordial sound mantra try to energize it with the essence of your feeling, joy and aspiration in life. Look at it as a beautiful pigment that you can use to color all aspects of your life and thought with bliss.
There are a few practical things that you can do in this regard. One is to place the tongue at the roof of the mouth, which aids in the upper movement of awareness and delight. It helps draw the prana and speech upwards and move our consciousness into space.
Another is to focus your mind at the point of the soft palate at the top back of the root of the throat. There is a special smaller mind chakra here that controls all the five senses and allows the nectar of higher awareness to flow down through the brain. It is the Soma or watery counterpart of the third Eye that has a fiery or Agni nature.
From the soft palate of the mouth one can experience a flow of nectar from the brain that will bring a sweet taste to the saliva. Fixing our awareness at this point also helps us control all the senses and turn them within. This is aided by holding our inner gaze at this location.
Effortlessness and Flow
The Soma of delight flows best when we give up outer effort and enter into an effortless state of both inner and outer relaxation, which is to open our hearts to the grace and beneficence of the magical universe in which we live. We need to learn how to flow with the grace and delight of all existence. Often our personal efforts, strain and striving inhibit us in our higher growth and spiritual evolution. Our practices should be done naturally and gently, allowing inner processes to unfold, like a stream moving to the sea.
To develop this nectar of meditation, we need to create a sense of space and vastness in our awareness. Space is delight or ananda, as it is freedom and letting go of all bondage. Vastness in the mind is necessary to create space – meaning that we must let go of little and trivial things, personal and emotional conflicts, and connect ourselves with the unbounded universe and its innumerable forms of life and consciousness.
Another key to meditation and yoga practice is contentment or santosha, one of the five niyamas or foundational principles of Yoga practice that is seldom given its proper role. Cultivate contentment of an inner type, recognizing the bliss inherent your own being. This is not to give into inertia and try to accommodate or excuse for our weaknesses in life. It is to affirm that in our inner nature we are perfectly happy, free, aware and immortal, one with all. This attitude of bliss or Soma bhava will allow negativity to fall away from us naturally.
Another important Soma principle is receptivity. Be receptive, which means to be respectfully observant of all life, of yourself and of all your relationships. When we are quietly receptive then what is of greater value and truth will naturally come to us. This involves becoming a vessel in life that is open to and can carry the nectar, grace, beauty or Ananda that pervades all things. To be receptive means not to judge but to allow each thing to reveal and unfold its true nature for you.
The Play of Delight
Soma also relates to the play or lila of life. Life should be a play of delight or ananda. But for that to occur we must seek to unfold our own inner bliss. We should seek to bring happiness into the world rather than to pursue happiness from external objects or from other people, which only means that we do not have adequate happiness inside ourselves. Learn your role in the Divine play and enter into the dance of creative intelligence.
We live in an age in which we have many new forms of entertainment and enjoyment, through our ever-developing media and information technology. These have many benefits but also can breed addictions for us, in which we may get caught in external stimulation and forget to look within to find our own innate happiness.
We should not confine our awareness to an outer screen or a cell phone but should learn to direct it to the point of universal communication and bliss, which is the point focus of our own hearts.
The true seeking of bliss and pursuit of happiness in life is not something external. It is an inner search for the core divine awareness within our own minds and hearts that is also the ground of all existence. Our meditation should involve that inner search for Soma, bliss and happiness within. Our entire life-style should support this, integrating Yoga, Ayurveda and Meditation into a complete system of well-being that takes us to the supreme bliss or Ananda.
For further information on these topics, note Vamadeva's excellent books Soma in Yoga and Ayurveda: The Power of Rejuvenation and Immortality, and Mantra Yoga and Primal Sound.
About the Author
Vamadeva Shastri (David Frawley)
Pandit Vamadeva Shastri (David Frawley) is a Vedic teacher or acharya working internationally to promote Vedic knowledge. He is noted for his ability to integrate Ayurveda, Yoga and Vedic astrology into a single system for raising consciousness that can be easily understood and applied today. His work has been honored in India and in the West.
Vamadeva is the author of over thirty books published in twenty languages over the last thirty years. He has authored many articles and several sets of Vedic course materials. A student of the Sanskrit language, he has translated ancient Vedic texts, including the Rigveda and Upanishads. His recent book Mantra Yoga and Primal Sound is regarded as one of the best available texts on mantra, and includes the practice of mantra meditation. He also teaches Vedantic meditation based upon the teachings of Ramana Maharshi.
Vamadeva is an advisor for several Ayurvedic and Yoga groups and institutions. He has worked with many spiritual and healing organizations worldwide. He has taught at the Chopra center since its inception nearly twenty years ago. The nature of his work and teachings, and other Vedic connections, is explained on his website -- www.vedanet.com.