Focused spiritual practice and desire for Moksh

There was a question from someone, he was quite agitated because he was unable to focus when he was doing his spiritual practice. Random thoughts were popping up in his mind, then his mind was following these thoughts. Soham, focus at the 3rd eye chakra and the awareness of the breath was all lost.

First, always remember, you are not the mind/ Manas. You are the Soul, Awareness, Consciousness, Eternal, Parabrahma, Advaita. The mind is simply one of the 24 tattvas of creation in the dominion of Prakruti. You and me are far far above the reach of Prakruti, but right now we are unaware of our own Reality. This entire exercise, spiritual practice, is to increase our awareness level to the subtlest possible. When you sit for meditation, Dhyan, also called Sushumna Yog, the Prakruti will test you. This test is the flightiness of the Mind/ Manas. This Manas will jump around like a monkey. And it will happen. You have to continue your Dhyan with these flights of the mind in the background.

Try to understand this so that you can resolve this and reach the Unmani avastha, ‘absence of mind’. Using simplistic examples so that it is quite clear,

Focused spiritual practice and desire for Moksh

The first way of looking at this,

Imagine you are sitting crosslegged on a mountain top and your 3yr old child is sitting in your lap. The top is a small area, say 5mX5m. Beyond this, all around you, is a sheer drop. You are sitting still, you want to enjoy the experience. And you are expecting that your child also remains still. If your child runs about, he will disturb your experience or even fall down the mountain. And your child is unwilling to sit still, he wriggles, tries to jump out from your lap. A couple of times he does manage to run out from your lap. But you are very alert, you grab him before he gets near the edge and make him sit still with you again. Your child wriggles but you hold him firmly. Ultimately he gets tired and stops moving. Then you show him the views from the mountain-top and then the child too enjoys the experience. Now onwards he is still.

This child is your mind. You are sitting for your Sadhana, your Dhyan, it is a very delicate balance, your position is precarious. You have to understand the seriousness of your practice and keep your mind in control. You are very alert about your child, if your own baby would fall down the mountain, it would be horrible. You are doing everything possible to avoid this disaster. You grab your child and keep it firmly in your lap again and again. So in the same way, you should, with the same terrible intensity, hold your mind in. Know that if you let your mind loose it can fall again to the depths and cause you pain. If it tries to run away, bring it back by force and make it sit still. There will always be attempts by the mind to run away. And it is possible that a few times it may totally fall down the mountain. But every experience is a learning. The mind will learn with time that falling down the mountain is painful. And you too will learn to keep your mind more firmly under control. Eventually there comes a point in Dhyan where your mind starts ‘enjoying the view’, ie starts supporting you in your practice. This is the annihilation of the mind, the Unmani avastha.

The secret is daily regular practice, you must give yourself these 30mins. As you get more deeply with yourself, these 30mins will expand to maybe 1hr and then perhaps to twice a day sessions. Then it will convert into a continuous process which will happen throughout the day/ night. This regular practice is called ‘Abhyas’ in Sanskrit. अभ्यास is – use, drill, addition, repetition, exercise, effort, multiplication, study, discipline etc. It is a very intensive thing that you do, when you sit for these 30mins daily. The toughest thing. But you start slowly and buildup, add-on, multiply, pyramiding the energies generated. It will take time, a few years, till you reach your destination, but you will reach, provided you do your exercise regularly.

Focused spiritual practice and desire for Moksh

Now another way of looking at it.

Suppose your brother has a bad habit, eg he smokes in the garage, You do not like this, you try to reason with him, try to make him understand that it is harmful but he does not listen. So one day you put in a camera in the garage and secretly record him smoking. Then play the clip in front of the family. Everyone, from your grand dad to your sister, stare at him in shock. He feels conscious that his bad habit was observed, ashamed even. He apologises and stops smoking.

So what you have to do is, simply observe the mind. It is beyond reasoning, it wants to behave irresponsibly. So let it smoke or do whatever it wants, you just keep on observing it, dispassionately. You are not your mind, you are the Soul. Let it behave like the fool it is. Dhyan is a very serious activity. While in meditation, is it proper to misbehave? Let the mind do whatever it wants, you just observe it. Soon it will become conscious, perhaps ‘ashamed’ and slowly but surely, it will stop its antics. The Mind becomes silent, serious and cooperates with you. This is again the unmani avastha, mind-less-ness.

Train yourself consciously to be an observer. You are the pivot around which creation dances. Bring your Self out of the whirling creation and remain at the unmoving center. Whatever happens around you, let it, you remain still.


There is yet another way of looking at this. This thought process will also destroy the mind’s movement completely.

Suppose you are in a party, there is dancing and you are the DJ. Your job is to play the music here and you are quite good at this. A pretty girl tries to attract you. She deliberately comes in front of you, dances seductively, looks at you, smiles suggestively. She does this again and again. You are attracted at first, you want to respond, go and dance with her, enjoy. But if you do so, the music will stop and you might lose your job. So wiser sense prevails. Your life’s objective flashes before your eyes, it is very clear, you are to focus on your job, you are the DJ. And you focus completely on the music you are playing. She tries a few more times, dancing even more beautifully. But you are so much into your music, your life purpose, that her presence is irrelevant. She vanishes.

When you do your Dhyan, focus on what you are supposed to do. Soham Mantra, awareness of breath and focus at the 3rd eye-chakra. This is your music, focus on this exclusively. Let the Mind/ Manas perform its dance of the seven veils around you. Why should you even bother about it? Let it jump around. This is just the background noise of Prakruti, the illusion of creation, ignore it. Focus on what you want. If you are clear on what you want, there is no fight, no struggle. Ignoring everything else but what you really want is actually very easy. Just that there should be clarity of the concept within you. In other words maintain your focus on your objective always. Everything else is essentially meaningless.

Initially it is possible that you ignore the seductive Mind for a just few seconds. This is simply great, one has to start somewhere! A few minutes, a few hours and finally you will be able to ignore the Illusion around you always. This is the annihilation of the Mind, unmani avastha.

Unmani avastha is absence of Mind. The Mind is the tattva which creates the illusion of creation, frantically working to hide the gaps (do read this post). The Mind is convinced that the world is real and tries to convince you too. As long as you remain convinced by the illusions your Mind weaves around you, you are trapped. Once the Mind is still, you realise that the world around you is Unreal. Once you understand that something is a mirage, you cannot believe that lie anymore.

(A Sat-guru will exist in this “Sahaj avastha’ or Jivan-Mukti or Sadyo-Mukti, self-realization always. The Sat-Guru is the Advaita, The Beyond. ‘Dhyan’ is considered a lower medium level ‘madhyama avastha’. The worship of moorthis/ yantra is even lower down. And the lowest form of spiritual practice is going for pilgrimages. “उत्तमा सहजावस्था मध्यमा ध्यानधारणा । अधमा मूर्तिपूजा च तीर्थयात्राSधमाSधमा ।” But we all have to start somewhere, so start with pilgrimages, do pujas of Moorti/ Yantra/ Mantra etc, later do Dhyan, evolve. You will reach Mukti eventually. In the highest Moksh, Sadhana, Dhyan, puja, mantra etc all vanish as these are parts of the creation. You cannot expect that you will get Moksh the first day or even the first year of your spiritual practice. It is a gradual process, just do it regularly.)


And finally, should you desire Moksh? If desire has to be uprooted, should one even desire Self-realization? This too was a burning doubt from someone. Apparently he was thinking that one should not desire anything, not even self-realization!

There is one only one Desire of the soul, to realise itself. This is the deepest innermost Desire of every jiv-atma. Every soul linked residing in this 5-layered body Desires just this only one thing. This singular Desire is the real Kaam काम. When sages talk about “uprooting desires” they refer to the superficial desires of the created worlds. Only when the material illusory desires are uprooted does the innermost Desire become evident. Kaam काम means wish, desire, Will, longing, radiance, glory, love, object of desire etc.

Another simplistic example.

Suppose you are a 3yr old playing with your toys. Your Dad is sitting in the same room doing some work. And you do have a lot of toys to play with, fluffy bears, trains, cars, cute stuff and you are quite occupied. You are not paying attention to your Dad. Your Dad does have an eye on you, but as long as you are playing with your toys, he is not bothered. Suddenly you feel bored with your toys. You feel that what you really want is to be picked up and cuddled. So you call out to your Dad. Your Dad is doing his work so rather than picking you up, he gives you some new shiny crayons. You again get distracted with the crayons, till you again realise that you really wanted to be cuddled. So you cry again. Again your Dad tries to distract you by pulling out another new toy. But you are not interested in toys anymore. You cry louder. Your Dad is really into his work and tries to ignore you for a bit. But now you have lost all patience and you want the cuddles now! You wail incessantly. Now Dad has no option but to pick you up and give you what you really want, cuddles.

This is the same thing in spiritual practice.

You are playing with the illusions of creation. The Eternal is observing you play. You are so engrossed with your material toys that you ignore the Advaita which exists at the root of your consciousness. Sometimes you do feel that you want to realise yourself, but another toy pops up and diverts your Will. Your this deepest Desire recedes to the background again and again. You amuse yourself with these illusory stuff till once day you get absolutely bored. The limit is crossed. Now you start your spiritual practice. You pray with all your heart that your deepest Desire, your essential Desire be granted. You ‘cry’ for the ‘cuddles’ of Self-realisation, you desperately long for Moksh. You are in unbearable turmoil, a fish out of water. You are desperate for complete self-realization. This Desire is so intense, you actually burn with its intensity. You have to Desire Moksh with all the intensity you can. Only then will the Advaita pick you up.

What does your Soul Desire? What is your Will? I wish to Love my own Self, I am my own object of Desire. Express this wish, again and again, intensely. You cannot be really satisfied till you get this Desire. Intend it, reach for it, Practice!



Meaning of So and Ham Sah and Aham

There are two types of sounds, Ahat आहत and Anahat अनाहत. All vibrations of this manifested Universe are the Ahat sounds while Om is the only eternal all-pervading Anahat sound. Soham or Hamsa are the link between the two.

Ahat sounds – These are sounds which are created by two things striking together. e.g. when two stones strike together it creates a ‘struck sound’.  In spiritual context, these things which strike together are the ‘Shabda’ the sound of the words of the manifested Universe. These are created by interactions between the three tendencies, Satvic, Rajasic and Tamasic. These are also linked to the conscious energies of the chakras located within your Sushumna naadi. These Ahat sounds are generated by some sort of vibrations which you can sense. These are sounds multiplied from the energy of Shabda शब्द.

Every type of sound you hear with your sense organs in this world is an Ahat sound. Even the silent, mental jaap, recitation of Mantras are Ahat sounds. Even if you are reciting the Mantra in your mind, your internal energies are ‘striking’ to produce its vibrations. These mantras are of the Manifested Universe and not of the Eternal Consciousness.

Anahat Nada  – अनाहत नाद is a sound which cannot be heard or sensed with your physical sense organs. This is a single sound, the sound of OM. It can be experienced only when the Ahat sounds are silenced. OM is the origin of everything. It is self-sustained, self-generated, all-pervading and Conscious. Nada is the eternal sound which then differentiates into Creation. This is a step-wise process and creates your internal energy chakras and the kundalini etc structure. On the macro-levels the Nada creates the Universes.

The Ajapa mantra Soham and Hamsa are not fully Anahat (as they do have a component of Sa-kaar and Ha-kaar). But as you progress in your Dhyan, the Sa and Ha sounds get nullified and only OM remains. Soham and Hamsa can then be considered to be a link between the Ahat and the Ananhat. These two are the eternal flow of the Anahat OM. They create, sustain and destroy the manifested.

So and Ham Sah and Aham

When you breathe in and breath out, every breath cycle, on the energy levels, you are first created (Purak), then sustained (Antah Kumbhak), annihilated (Rechak), then enter the Shunya/’Conscious nothingness’ state (Bahya Kumbhak) then created (Purak), endlessly. Breathing is not just a physical act!

There are broadly two types of karma. Those karma which are linked to your current horoscope/life have to be experienced thus rebalanced. These are already activated for your current life. You can only reduce the intensity of these karma by practicing some spiritual practices or remedies. Then there is the second type of karma which you have chosen to not resolve in this lifetime. This is the stored karma to be rebalanced in some future life. This second type of Karma can be ‘burnt’ in Dhyan. I hope you have guessed how this can happen. When you do your spiritual practice sitting on your Asan, focus on the Mantra and the third eye chakra, you literally complete one life-time with every breath! With every inhale and exhale, you live out one life-time and the focussed blast of energy you are invoking ‘burns’ your stored karma. As you practice regularly, you will look younger, fresh and vital! (My Dad is in his 70s and he looks like a 40yr old!)

Even if you use the Sanskrit language principles to open up this word Soham = Sah + Aham, सोहम् = स: + अहम् | you will get Sah/ That and Aham /I. With every breath you are affirming ‘That I’.

But what is स:, Sah, ‘that’? ‘That’ cannot be defined using the words and relative meanings of the manifested physical. The complete knowledge of the eternal constant. It is the Ultimate which is described in negation words, ie. has no attributes निर्गुण, no shapes निराकार etc. It just Is.

And what exactly would be ‘I’, Aham, अहम् then? It is not your body, mind, emotions, social standing etc. It is your individual soul. This is how it is created. (I have written about it briefly earlier)

  • The Bindu first divides into the three attributes, Satva, Raja and Tama represented by the Vama Jeyshtha and Raudri chakra in your head, the top triangle of the Shri-yantra.
  • Raja and Satva first combine to produce Mahat-Buddhi (light, intelligence, cognition, self-awareness, great). There are two ways this energy works.
    • When Creation is on, the higher level will lower itself and differentiate further. The Mahat-Buddhi now creates certainty and thus leads to definitive action. This is the point where individual Self is created. Now every individual Self is certain about its existence and will perform actions which will lead to creation of karma. The binding begins in earnest.
    • And when dissolution is on and Kundalini has reached this point and is ascending, this Mahat-Buddhi is converted into the Universal Self.
  • Next Mahat-Buddhi lowers itself down one step and creates Aham. Aham also called Aham-kaar and can take two directions,
    • When creation is on, Aham is the energy of individualisation, personal identity, ‘I am, ‘Mine’, ‘I do’ etc. It is self-referential, perhaps conceit/ Abhiman? And more importantly it is the place where the root of desires/Vasana reside. These Vasana are the tendencies of desire and will be modified into grosser levels and acted upon, Karma creation. Thus Vasana bind you at very deep levels.
    • When dissolution is on and you have reached with the Kundalini at this point, individual Aham dissolves into the Cosmic Aham. You get to experience the Ultimate Self.

The real and complete meaning of Soham would be quite impossible to describe but this much is a mere glimpse of its incalculable power.

If you are aware of the eternal Soham Mantra linked to your breathing, you will be aware  of the oneness of individual soul and the Ultimate. Unless you realise this link, you will continue to think of your personal ego as your identity. You will remain limited, constricted and restricted. Soham is a reminder that you are the Ultimate yourself. When you do your Dhyan with Soham you are breathing in the स:  ‘That’, the One-ness. You are breathing out the ‘I’, अहम्, the limited sense of self, you are expelling it. Thus with time when both equalise and stabilise you will experience the Kumbhak state of pure OM. All of us accept that we are created from the Ultimate or ‘God’ has created us. But this mere acceptance is not enough. If you believe that the Divine has created you, then try to experience the Divinity that you are. So practice and do your Dhyan.

So and Ham Sah and Aham

Hamsa is the second Ajapa mantra which brings the deepest knowledge of your own Self to you. It brings enlightenment. Soham and Hamsa are the same, one cannot exist without the other. The eventually merge and cancel each other out and a pure OM remains.

‘Hamsa’ is said to be the carrier /transport /Vahan वाहन of the Devi Sarasvati/ Gayatri. Hamsa means the bird ‘swan’ in Sanskrit. In popular images the Devi Gayatri is shown to be sitting on a swan. This means, Hamsa/Soham is the support on which the Gayatri is realised. Thus these two mantras are also called the ‘Ajapa Gayatri’. This is important for the aspirant as Gayatri/Sarasvati essentially is Moksh. The Devi Gayatri is the Light of the Internal Source/ Self/ Sun. To experience Her is to experience the Self

There is a popular story that Shiv and his wife Shakti stand at the shores of the Manas-Sarovar lake to observe the Swan swimming on it. This really means that the Eternal energies, Shiv/ passive principle and Shakti/ active principle, are united in the Swan/ Hamsa/ Soham. This union happens at the Manas (illlusion, imagination, mind, existance) Sarovar (body of water, summation of experience, flow). The Hamsa swims ON this illusory lake of experience. The Shiv-Shaki stand outside it and witness (साक्षिन्) to this. In other words, Shakti/Kundalini and Shiv/Parameshwar witness the Creation and the Hamsa. The Hamsa is linked to the Creation but is also quite apart from this. There is a wealth of esoteric meaning in this story.

Whichever story/allegory you like, the fact is that there can be no Enlightenment without these 2 Ajapa mantra. Soham is intention सङ्कल्प, practice साधना and mantra all-in-one!

And for people like us, who are always engaged in the business of living, office, home, house-work, husband/wife, children etc this is the easiest Spiritual practice. If you cannot do regular Dhyan, at least be aware of your breathing and the Ajapa Mantra, Soham /Hamsa which subtly power it. At least start somewhere.


So and Ham, Sah and Aham