Dear Swamiji. Good morning fellow seekers, friends, welcome to the Sangha Gathering of 2019. I was given the task of saying something about what is AHYMSIN. But I found there is very little left to say after Swamiji’s wonderful explanation of the tradition.
What is AHYMSIN?
To a lot of people it is a rather obscure name, and in fact even within our family sometimes we also will question “What is AHYMSIN?” because when we go outside we put up the board that says “AHYMSIN” and people come up and say: “Oh, what is this? Can you explain to us?” So we went through some soul searching. Should we have a secondary title next to AHYMSIN explaining who we are, what we are, and what is it stands for? We had some sessions discussing this. In the end, we decided that nothing can be added.This name was given by Swami Veda, and he intentionally incorporated this entity, registered in India as a society, to organize the disciples, fellow sadhakas, globally. So he gave this name AHYMSIN. What is in the name? A name is the same object that it refers to, especially for someone like Swami Veda. He who is a rishi. A rishi does not give a name randomly. A rishi gives a name that has meaning in it. So AHYMSIN, as Swami Ritavan ji just explained, his plan for us, stands for Association of Himalayan Yoga Meditation Societies International. That is a long name. Whenever I translate that into Chinese language, it is almost impossible to translate it succinctly. You have to say a very long line and then still leave AHYMSIN untranslatable. So we always go through this process of explaining to people what it means. But, in a way it helps because it is a way for us to introduce ourselves to complete strangers. People come in and we start with AHYMSIN.
Swamiji [Swami Ritavan] had told us it’s the global body of Swami Veda. He created this. AHYMSIN has seven letters and stuck in the middle is the “M”. M is not just a mantra word, it stands for meditation. And that is the first and foremost means of practice in this tradition. And so Swami Veda deliberately put the “M” in the name. Otherwise he could have called it the Himalayan Yoga Tradition as it has been referred to for many decades before he created AHYMSIN; so the meditation is the main focus of this lineage.
Last December I was in Beijing having a sharing session with a group of people who are pretty much new to our tradition. Before we started the session, the night before, we had like a session open to the public. So anybody who is interested can just walk in. So I was there doing the usual thing about the Himalayan Yoga and why we were there and what we were about to share during the next two days. At the end of the session, there was a lady in the audience, apparently very well informed exposed to yoga, and a very good speaker in the English language. She turned out, as I was informed subsequently, to be a professional translator for the yoga industry in China. There are so many foreign teachers. Yoga teachers go into China, but there is language problem. You cannot just pull somebody or an English major student come out and translate yoga. This lady made a name somehow for herself as a professional translator of the yoga science. So she had translated for many, many different yoga traditions for many, many different yoga teachers. At the end of this public session, she put her hands ups and asked: “There are so many yogas. This yoga that yoga. What makes you so different?” I was taken aback. What makes us so different from all these other traditions?
I paused a little. So I stood back and then a thought came to my mind. I said I cannot really say how we are different, but may I put in a way that I say why we are the same? We are not different. If in your yoga tradition the primary means of practice is meditation, and all these asanas, pranayamas, study of the texts are ways to facilitate a better meditation, then we are not different. We are the same. If your yoga tradition has as a mission, to set out to relieve the pains and sufferings in the world and bring people to recognize the divinity within, then we are the same. If your yoga tradition comes from a long long long tradition handed down by guru to disciple, guru to disciple for thousands of years nonstop, and is not a recent invention by a suddenly enlightened being, then we are the same. If in your yoga tradition there are classes to be taught and each of those classes is an inspiration, some kind of an initiation, and it is not just a transmission of techniques, it is not just a transmission of intellectual knowledge, then we are the same. So I told her in conclusion, I could go on for quite a few more “similarities” but I think that is probably enough to tell how we are not that different from the other yogas, provided that the things I have just expressed are also what you believe in. If so, then we are the same. We are not that different.
So that is in a way, to summarize my personal take of the tradition that is long established, following flowing down all the way from the Hiranyagarbha to Patañjali, to Vyasa to Swami Rama. And then to Swami Veda who founded AHYMSIN in 2007 and had it registered in India. He served as the first Spiritual Guide. And in 2015 when Swami Veda left his body, he left instruction very clearly that Swami Ritavan is his successor of AHYMSIN, as the Spiritual Guide. So this is the lineage, this is the tradition that we follow and please do not deviate from that. Let’s keep it, this purity. Let’s not digress into something very fancy but not true to our lineage or not true to the pure yoga tradition. For instance, one of the things Swami Veda has left as a standing instruction to all of us is he said: ‘When I am not in the body, please do not make the ashram into a therapeutic or ayurvedic centre. Do not make this ashram into a stress management or sleep enhancement kind of institute. No. Keep it pure.’ Hopefully, during the time we are all here, we can sense that purity of this lineage, of this tradition. And hopefully when we go back we bring it back with us and we spread it around with our friends, with our family, with fellow seekers.
Having said that, I remember it was in 2010 when I was asked to join an AHYMSIN meeting in Malaysia, and at that meeting Swami Veda said: ‘What makes us different?’If you want to say, you can say three things.
One is three-minute meditation. Do not underestimate the power, the effectiveness of a three-minute meditation. This is what we emphasize a lot.
Another unique feature of our lineage according to Swami Veda is the full moon meditation. Please keep it as much as you can and encourage your friends to join because that is the opportunity where all sit together at the same time. We may be physically apart, but we all sit together at the same time. Previously it was Swami Veda who would always sit with us, and now it is Swami Ritavan who will sit with us at each and every session globally.
And the third thing Swami Veda said makes us different is silence. He is a master of silence. If you look through his lectures, there are so many materials, so many sessions, so many teachings he gave about silence. Now that is an irony. He spoke so much about silence, and we already come out with one book, very lengthy book which it takes a lot of many hours to read. That book called Silence. And a next book on silence, Silence II, is on its way. So, it is a way for Swami Veda [to] say, keep it with us, make sure that we do understand and do appreciate silence as a practice. So do set the time regularly during the year, during the month, even during the week and make that a silence moment. That is the moment that truly belongs to each one of us, to yourself, to myself.
So finally, I would just like to share is that we are all here for one purpose and one purpose alone, that is our own spiritual progress. And hopefully we can all reach the destination of moksha. It is all about each and every one of us. Swami Veda again and again said ‘Your personal progress is of the utmost importance. But, you will progress more if you will help others progress. You will progress more, and that is how we achieve progress, and that is the teaching Swami Veda has given to us specially in that little orange book called Sadhana in Applied Spirituality. The real sadhana, he taught us, is in everyday life, and it is not just sitting for fifteen, thirty minutes, one hour, two hours a day with eyes closed. We have to bring apply the teachings and apply those into our daily lives. He said, ‘That is the real sadhana.’ and I would very much encourage if you do not yet have a copy of that book, please do get a copy of that book. I have many friends, many friends, who had told me personally, they said sometimes they went through a problem, an issue, they did not know what to do, and so they went to that book to turn the pages and unexpectedly the answer was right there. Very pertinent to the situation the person was in at that moment. Previously they glanced through ‘ya, ya, ya right, that is nice.’ But at that very instance, they turned a page and said, ‘Ah’. And that is his / their ah-ha moment, and that is the blessing Swami Veda always gives us. He said ‘May your problems not be answered. May your questions not be answered. May they be resolved.’ And I struggled very hard when I translate that line into Chinese for my friends. He did not use the word ‘dissolved’; he said ‘resolved’. So how we resolve the question? It is the grace that he has given to us, the blessing that he has given to us.
And with that, I conclude my short address. Thank you all for coming and hope you will enjoy your stay here and I would like to particularly thank the people who have been working so hard in preparing this unique event. It is quite a task for those people to put this so nicely.