Twenty five years ago, the Berlin Wall fell. At the time, I was living in the GDR and my dreams of traveling and seeing the world seemed as likely as visiting the moon. Studying yogic philosophy in a form of government, where access to any form of information is strictly monitored, must be challenging. Unfortunately, it is still a reality for some places in the world.
Today, I am flooded with gratitude. This auspicious turn in world history has not only allowed me to travel the world, but also to go on a journey, that may not have been possible in the setting of communist East Germany. A journey inward. Life has brought me to San Diego and has opened many doors for me to discover not only the beauty of the outside world, but also uncover the mysteries of our inside world. I feel immensely grateful for the opportunities that continue to present themselves.
Just this past week I enjoyed the opportunity to study with a visiting Sanskrit scholar from Mysore, India. Professor Nagaraja Rao discussed with a small group of students the yogic texts Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads. Upanishad actually means to sit down near a teacher. It refers to the fact that knowledge is transferred to the student who sits close to the teacher, and thus receives the teachings directly. The Upanishads are also called Vedanta, since they are the closing part of the Vedas, some of the oldest Sanskrit scriptures. There are four vedas, the Rigveda, the Vajurveda, the Samaveda and the Atharvaveda. However, there are over 108 Upanishads, since the four vedas have many branches. I learned that the four parts of the Mantra Om relate to the Vedas. When pronounced, Om is split up into A, U, M and a resonance of the M. The “A” corresponds to the Rigveda and to our waking state. The “U” is the Vajurveda and our dream state. The letter “M” is the deep sleep state or the Samaveda, and finally the resonance embodies Samadhi or the Atharvaveda. These states as well as the Vedas comprise our whole life.
The lectures ended today with a delicious Indian lunch. Contemplating ancient Indian scriptures on the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall – what better way to celebrate.
Om Asato Maa Sad Gamaya
Tamaso Maa Jyotir Gamaya
Mrtyor Maa Amritam Gamaya
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti*
Lead me from the non-existent to the existent
Lead me from darkness to light
Lead me from death to immortality
Om Peace Peace Peace
* Mantra from the Upanishads