Existence has two aspects – the visible and the invisible; the gross and the subtle; or the tangible and intangible. Our body is concrete, it is visible; but our breath, mind, intellect, memory, ego and the spirit is the invisible aspect of the same reality.
Contrary to popular belief, the invisible aspect of our existence is much bigger and powerful than the visible aspect. Usually we think that our mind is inside our body, however in reality the body is inside the mind. Mind is much bigger than the body. Mind is also much powerful than the body. The body can’t take a single step unless the mind tells it to do so. Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji says, “A strong mind can carry a weak body but a weak mind cannot even carry a strong body.”
It is the invisible aspect of our existence which governs the visible aspect. But ironically, the invisible aspect of our existence is the most neglected aspect. The root cause of all the human suffering can be traced, by one way or other, to this gross neglect of the subtle aspect of existence.
Sadhana is one way to take care of this invisible aspect of our life. Sadhana refers to the discipline of spiritual practices like yoga, pranayama, meditation, japa, chanting etc. undertaken to elevate and enliven the spirit inside. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji says, ‘Sa’ means true and ‘Dhana’ means wealth. Sadhana is the real wealth, which nobody can take away from us.
Sadhana gives benefits on all levels of existence; physical, mental as well as spiritual. Sadhana enhances the process of evolution of individual consciousness. Consciousness evolves from animal to human and finally to the Divine consciousness.
Sage Patanjali says, “Sa tu dirgha kala nairantarya satkara sevito drudha bhumihi”. We can get firmly established in the Abhyaasa (practices), when we do our practices with regularity, without break, for a sufficiently long time and with honour and love (devotion).
Honour and love for the Self, for the technique and for the Guru accelerate progress on this path. Here, doing Sadhana as an expression of honour and love is the key. Respect helps us to maintain a one pointed focus, discipline and gratefulness. Love helps to maintain an unbroken connection with the Self, with the technique and with the Guru.
Gurudev says, “Repetition either leads to boredom or elevates you to perfection.” Our daily Sadhana is nothing but repetition. When the Sadhana is done mechanically as a routine job, it may lead us to boredom. However, when the same Sadhana is done with honour and love, it elevates us to perfection.
When Sadhana is done as an expression of honour and love, then there are no expectations from Sadhana (Achaah), no doer-ship (Akinchan) and a natural effortlessness (Aprayanthna).
The benefits of Sadhana increase manifold when we do our practices in a group. Scriptures say that, ‘Sanghe Shakti Kaliyuge’. In this age of Kaliyuga, if you are in a group, if you are united, that has more power than an individual. Thousands of years ago, the individual mind was very simple, focussed and full of faith. In present age, mind has become overloaded with information and concepts. Mind has become highly complex, stressed and divided. Individual mind has lost its original strength because its energy is dissipated multiple directions. However, when many minds join together in a group activity like Sadhana, the synergy produced benefits everyone.
Quantum Physics says that the whole world is made up of waves or vibrations. Individual mind or individual consciousness is also nothing but vibrating energy. When many individuals come together for some spiritual practice like meditation, chanting etc., it produces effect similar to ‘resonance effect’ in Physics. This helps in amplifying the effect of Sadhana for every individual in the group.
To have a better insight into the mechanics of ‘Group Sadhana’, let us understand the phenomenon of mob psychology.
Have you closely observed small kids in a play group? If couple of children start crying, it is very likely that the whole class starts crying.
Have you listened to any powerful speaker who is making some emotional appeal to a large mob? The mob simply gets carried away. The logical, intellectual part of the individual brain simply stops working and the mob blindly believes in the speakers appeal.
Have you ever ventured out on the roads where riots and arson is going on? If you have ventured out, you might have noticed that your mind also gets affected by the mob violence. You also want to throw a stone or burn down something, even if you are a law abiding citizen.
The above phenomenon of mob psychology can be used in a positive or in a negative way. It can be used to unite people or it can be used to spread hatred and violence.
During Group Sadhana, the phenomenon of mob psychology is used in most positive way to unite minds of people to spread peace and love.
In 1993, Maharaishi Mahesh Yogi effectively demonstrated the power of Group Sadhana. A two month study was conducted in Washington D.C. where up to 4000 Transcendental Meditation practitioners regularly practiced group meditation. It was observed that the violence crime rate in the city reduced by up to 23.3% during this period. This came to be known as Maharishi Effect. This experiment proved that Group Sadhana not only gives benefits to the individuals, but also spreads positive vibrations in the environment. It gives benefits to all the people in the vicinity.
When we practice our daily Sadhana individually, it is called as ‘Tapas’. When the same Sadhana is done in a group, its benefits increase manifold and it is called as ‘Yagna’.
A ‘Yagna’ has three essential aspects:
- Deva Puja: Acknowledging and honouring the Divinity, honouring the subtle existence.
- Sangatikarana: Bringing everyone together, taking everyone along with you. Hastening the process of evolution by bringing together all elements and people in creation. Another meaning is bringing harmony among your different faculties like body, mind and the breath.
- Dana: Sharing and giving what one has been blessed with.
Group Sadhana has all the three aspects of a ‘Yagna’.
Deva Puja: Scriptures acknowledge that God or the Divine is omnipresent. So Divine is also present in every individual. Spiritual practices are nothing but acknowledging and honouring that Divinity inside.
Sangatikarana: In Group Sadhana, individual minds are united together. All minds vibrate in harmony. In a group, even if one person is doing Sadhana with total love and honour, this will influence the whole group. The whole group consciousness will get elevated to a higher level.
Dana: The benefits of Group Sadhana do not remain limited to the group but the whole subtle environment gets blessed. The prayer at the end of Group Sadhana is for the benefit of entire humanity.
Om Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah, Sarve Santu Nir-Aamayaah |
Sarve Bhadraanni Pashyantu, Maa Kashcid-Duhkha-Bhaag-Bhavet |
Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||
Om, May All become Happy, May All be Free from Illness.
May All See what is Auspicious, May no one Suffer.
May there be peace on physical level, mental level and spiritual level!