This Summer, we will be near Madrid, in sunny Spain. Four days and three nights of Chanting Yoga Retreat.
Arrival date: Thursday July 16th lunch time. Departure date: Sunday the 19th late afternoon.
This historical ‘Conscious Farm’ is a fabulous location to relax, learn, reflect and communicate peacefully. You will develop skills that not only enhance your day-to-day life, but you’ll also acquire tools that eliminate stress, allowing a balanced life from which to operate every day.
What is included: Your accommodation All courses and activities (hiking – swimming) Three vegetarian meals (light at night)
Not included: Your flight Your pick up and drop off at the Madrid International Airport
Most people do not breathe deeply – usually we use only 25% of the lungs, leaving 75% non-functioning. It is estimated that the lungs are made up of 73 million cells. During normal breathing only 20 million cells get oxygen thus 53 million cells remain starved of oxygen due to which the elimination of toxins is reduced causing several diseases.
Regular Pranayam can help in purifying the blood. Breathing air (prana) fills the lungs with the vital force circulating it through the entire body, first to the heart then to the lungs throwing out toxins like carbon dioxide through the process of exhalation. In addition Pranayam can help with chronic respiratory conditions such as bronchitis, asthma, tuberculosis, sinusitis and other ailments such as heart disease, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, liver cirrhosis, depression, anxiety and so on.
According to the ayurvedic medical science three items kapha, Pitta, vayu (phlegm, bile and air) maintain the physiological condition of the body. Ayurvedic process of treatment is based upon these three items (doshas). With pranayam a balance is achieved in the three doshas, vayu, pitta and kapha.
The prana vayu continues the life and the apana vayu stops the living force.
Mental health benefits
Great yogis find that chanting the omkara (Om sound) with breathing control allows one to bring the mind under control. This is the way of changing the habit of the mind. The mind and desires cannot be stopped. To develop the mind to function peacefully the quality of engagement by the mind has to be changed. The mind is the pivot of the active sense organs and as such if the quality of the thinking, feeling and willing is changed, naturally the quality of actions by the instrumental senses will also change.
Omkara is the seed of all transcendental sounds and it is the only transcendental sound, which will bring about the desired change of the mind and the senses. Even a mentally deranged man can be cured by the treatment of transcendental sound vibration. Breathing control helps to keep the mind calm and free from negative thoughts. Also by regularly practicing these breathing exercises one develops practice of deep breathing which has several health benefits.
Well being that includes good concentration, mental ability and good memory are achieved with pranayam exercises.
Pranayam has several benefits like: Longetivity, youthfulness and vigour.
Other benefits are in respiratory conditions, Allergies, Sinusitis, Asthma, inflammatory conditions like Arthritis and Rheumatism, in Diabetes, Hypertension, Obesity, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) Constipation, Prostate gland conditions, reducing blockage in Coronary Heart Diseases, Depression, Anxiety, Insomnia, Rejuvenation of skin, boosting of the Immune system. With pranayam and meditation one achieves a transcendental state. In this state the neuro endocrine system is regulated involving the pituitary adrenal axis. The stress hormones like ACTH, Cortisol, Prolactin, Adrenaline and Noradrenaline are reduced and the other good hormones and Endorphins and Enkaphalins etc, increase thus helping in reversing the stress related diseases like Hypertension and Diabetes.
Pranayam brings a balance in the three doshas: kapha, Pitta and vayu (phlegm, bile and air).
Consciousness is the sign of the living entity. The existence of the soul is manifest in the form of consciousness called jnana shakti. The activity of consciousness is performed through the air of life, which are called: prana, apana, udana, vyana, and samana. Pranayam is meant for concentrating upon the localized aspect of Vasudev represented as Paramatma, the Super soul. Pranayam brings stabilization of prana and calms the mind thus helping in the upward journey of prana from muladara chakra (base chakra) to sahastra chakra (cerebral) and helps in awakening kundalini (energy centers).
The various pranayam consists of:
Bhastrika pranayam Kapal Bhati Pranayam Bahaya pranayam Anulom Vilom Pranayam Bhramri Pranayam Udgeeth Pranayam Concentration on Breathing (Meditation)
Chanting Yoga combines two of the ancient processes of yoga – meditation (dyana) and repetition of mantras by concentrating on sound vibration.
Chanting Yoga offers a practical solution to the pressures of our time. According to the vedic calendar, we are now in the age of Kali which has also been called the Machine age or the Iron age. It is a time when it is practically impossible to practice traditional meditation because we are constantly exposed to noise – traffic, mobile phones, music – which has become an integral part of our existence. The nature of the mind is to be restless and this makes it extremely hard to concentrate on what we are doing let alone sit in tranquil meditation. Plus the pace of life makes it hard to find any time for our self.
Chanting yoga is perfectly suited to this modern time of stressful and busy lifestyles:
• You can chant anywhere and anytime • You can chant alone or in a group • You can chant at work, while traveling or at home • You don’t have to wear anything special • You don’t have to sit in a particular position • You don’t have to carry out any gymnastics
Chanting Yoga is a sublime and simple process by which one can attain peace of mind, bliss and everlasting happiness. From the vedic age came the idea of meditating with a mantra – a word or sound repeated to aid concentration. “Man” is mind and “tra” is to liberate. Therefore chanting of mantras frees the mind from entanglements.
Chanting yoga is based on the concepts of self-regulation, relaxation, and holism. If one wishes, these concepts can be extended metaphorically to create a philosophy of living, encompassing diet, health, lifestyle and relationships with others and the world.
The benefits of Chanting Yoga
Success without stress • Reduced stress • Increased focus and concentration • Enhanced creative intelligence • Higher productivity
Better health • Reduced depression and anxiety • Increased physical health • Longevity in elderly
Part of a philosophy of living
• Diet: determining ones diet based on ones physiology and season, promoting optimal nourishment and balanced diet. • Health: physical fitness and good health through prevention – learning to prevent ill health through balanced daily and seasonal routines, proper diet, and higher states of consciousness. • Lifestyle: relaxation and leading a life which is in harmony with law of nature by successfully controlling the expression of the “self”. • Relationships: the deeper goal of yoga sifts out the unreal from the real thus enhancing relationships and family life.
How will Chanting Yoga help you?
A study on meditation in the workplace showed that meditation: • Reorganizes your energy and vital force. • Heightens resistance to common diseases (viral infections). • Pranayam and meditation is known to boost your immune system. • Managing negative emotions/feelings means an individual can achieve success at a higher level and an organization can perform closer to peak efficiency. The bottom line is increased job satisfaction and bigger profits. • Meditation has been known to be effective in reversing heart disease, dealing with negative emotions, reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, diminishing anxiety, stopping smoking, weight loss, eating disorders, addictions, boosting the immune system, and improving sports performance. • Helps to gain control of your emotions and mind. • Regularity and punctuality. • Better understanding in family and social life. • Increases memory. • Enhances Virtues like straight forwardness, generosity, honesty and productivity. • Awakening our original consciousness. • Experiencing great peace and supreme knowledge. • Strengthen and recondition your entire body. • Regain youthful flexibility in spine and limbs. • Asanas (physical postures) have shown to improve the flexibility of the spine and help in the mobility of the joints. • Redistribute weight- With the practice of asanas and meditation one can achieve weight loss to a greater degree in a short span of time. Weight can be reduced faster then most diets.
Please read other articles regarding our practices here, here, here, and sign up for our next fabulous CY Retreat here!
The Vedic Times organisation follows the principles of Vaishanavism. Many supporters of the VTO are well versed in Krishna Consciousness; however, since the VTO welcomes every spiritual seeker, it seems appropriate to take a bit of time to discuss the history and philosophy of the movement.
History Krishna Consciousness is our original spiritual understanding, which means that its history is actually as old as the universe. However, we will start the history a little more recently.
The Vedic culture (Veda means sacred knowledge) began in India over 5000 years ago. This culture is so named because of it’s spiritual and ritualistic adherence to the Vedas. The four Vedas (Rg-veda, Sama-veda, Atharva-veda, and Yajur-veda) were delivered to the people of India by Vyasadeva in order to make this most ancient wisdom available to all. The Vedas are very technical and difficult for the common person to understand, so other writings were brought into being as a way of bringing wisdom and truth to the less intelligent of society. These works were the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Contained within the Mahabharata is the Bhagavad-Gita, considered by many to be the Bible of the Hindus, but of course, it is really the Bible of humanity.
The Bhagavad-Gita tells the story of a conversation held between the great warrior, Arjuna, and Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personification of the Godhead. Taking the role of guru, or spiritual coach, Krishna carefully guides Arjuna towards spiritual awakening and full knowledge. This text is left as humanity’s instruction manual. Its teachings are simple and to the point, but sadly, human ego drove some to abandon the true message of Krishna Consciousness, and instead to manipulate it to serve their own sense gratification for power and wealth.
Because of this corruption, Lord Krishna entered the world. This time, he appeared as a devotee of Krishna called Lord Caitanya (1486-1534). Caitanya fought against the corruption caused by ego and initiated a spiritual awakening through the sankirtan movement. The sankirtan movement, which is the chanting of the holy names, is the simplest method of reviving our dormant Krishna Consciousness.
The teachings of Lord Caitanya have been passed down from guru to initiate for the last 500 years, which brings us to the founder of Krishna Consciousness in the West, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada (1896-1977). Shortly before his death in 1933, Prabhupada’s teacher, Bhaktisiddhanta Swami, instructed him to bring this ancient knowledge to the West. Prabhupada was finally able to make this a reality in 1965.
Swami Prabhupada arrived in New York in the fall of 1965 virtually penniless, but he was able to set up a small store front temple at the former Matchless Gifts giftshop on 2nd Street. From there he began to chant, give teachings from the Bhagavad-Gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, and other important scriptures. Very slowly people started to notice, listen, and begin to follow the teachings from this spiritual coach. As the 60s moved on, and with the help of some prominent figures such as Allen Ginsberg and George Harrison, the movement grew in popularity and attracted many followers. (It attracted our own Gurudas in 1967).
During the final years of his life, Prabhupada travelled around the world 14 times and wrote over 50 books. He worked tirelessly to make Krishna Consciousness the world-wide movement that it is today.
The basic philosophy of Krishna Consciousness begins with the idea that we are not the physical bodies that we believe we are. Material conditioning has made us accept many falsehoods. Instead, we are spirit soul, which is part and parcel of Krishna.
In the beginning, humans existed in their original constitutional position, as the appendages of God. There was no sense of ego or desire to become anything more. We simply served the Lord and fulfilled His Divine Will. However, as time went on, a false ego developed within humans. This ego insisted that mankind was not just an appendage of God, but rather was its own person. With that mentality, desire for sense gratification developed and grew.
The created world had so many allurements, beauty, sex, wealth, power, entertainments, and so forth, that humanity forgot its true nature. As a result, we spent our time seeking these allurements and trying to find happiness within them. Of course, this is impossible. Any happiness found in this world is temporary, and when it is gone, it leaves a gap that brings misery. Suffering is the common state of existence for one who has forgotten one’s true nature.
True happiness can only be found in the eternal, which means letting go of all our temporary attachments and surrendering to Krishna. By doing so, we may return to our original constitutional positions as servitors of the Lord and find genuine happiness through that service. But how do we do this?
Lord Caitanya taught that the easiest method for reviving our dormant Krishna Consciousness, our love of Krishna and understanding of our true self, was through the chanting of the Holy Names of God. Within the Vedic traditions, the name of God, the image of God, or anything else associated with God is identical to God. So, when we chant the names of God, we are bringing Him into our presence.
The greatest desire of humanity is to see and know God. “I really want to see you Lord,” George Harrison sang in My Sweet Lord. There is a great deal of doubt and skepticism in this world about the existence of God, even from so-called believers. Like Doubting Thomas, they want proof, but it seems no proof is forthcoming. Another line from Harrison; however, says “it won’t take long my Lord”. This is acknowledgement that if one begins the process of chanting the Holy Names that one will quickly experience God and have the proof that is desired. One will soon be in the presence of God.
The Maha-Mantra The chanting that Lord Caitanya spoke of is called the Maha-Mantra (the Great Mantra). It is comprised of three of the names of God: Hare, Krishna, and Rama. Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare Hare Rama, Hare Rama Rama Rama, Hare Hare
Hare is the spiritual energy of God, and also represents the feminine aspect of the divine as Radha. Krishna, a name that implies universal attraction, is the Supreme Personification of the Godhead. Rama, who entered the world in human form, is the supreme enjoyer. It is through Him that we find true happiness. (Readers from a Christian background may find a strong similarity to the Trinity. Krishna would equate to God the Father, Rama to God the Son, and Hare as the Holy Spirit.)
Lord Caitanya taught that a devotee of Krishna should chant this mantra on a string of japa beads (similar to a rosary). The string contains 108 beads, and one chants the mantra once on each bead. After 108 times, one round of japa is completed. Caitanya advised that one should chant 64 rounds each day. In this way, the mind would constantly be focused upon Krishna to the exclusion of everything else. Recent spiritual guides, such as Srila Prabhupada, have lessened the number to 16 rounds per day due to the pressures and duties of modern life.
The key point is to ensure that one is constantly thinking of Krishna. The process of Bhakti-yoga requires that one offer devotional service to the Lord with love. So, one’s actions should be directed toward the service of the Lord and one should always be thinking of the Lord. In this way, one will remember and regain one’s original position as servitor of the Lord, and not be bothered by suffering from the illusions of the material world.
Intelligence or chaos ~ the teleological argument
A book written by Hari Krsna das (Henk Keilman)
“The numerical coincidences (necessary for an anthropic universe) could be regarded as evidence of design. The delicate fine tuning in the values of the constants, necessary so that the various different branches of physics can dovetail so felicitously, might be attributed to God. It is hard to resist the the impression that present structure of the universe, apparently so sensitive to minor alterations in the numbers, has been rather carefully thought out.”
Paul Davies PhD, physicist
3D illustration of neurons (brain cells) and nerve synapses in the human brain, the most complicated organ of the human body. The human brain consists of an average of 100 billion neurons and the human body consists of about 75 trillion cells. The complexity and the organizational level of the human body and brain are indescribable. But even the structure of the smallest atom, the hydrogen atom, appears to have a complexity and a structured balance that cannot be comprehended. From the smallest sub-atomic particle, up to the living organisms and clusters of Milky Way systems, the universe is permeated with an indescribable level of organised complexity
The first atheistic proposition: complexity is the result of chance and chaos
Most committed and outspoken atheists come from the world of science and philosophy. Dawkins and Baggini for instance, are considered to be authoritative academics. They believe in the scientific method and they often consciously position themselves as being completely opposite religion— which they call ‘superstition’ — to show that they represent reason. They suggest that religion belongs to the realm of emotions and feelings, where people can vent the thought that they ‘feel that there has to be something more’. They are firmly convinced that there is no, and that there cannot be any rational or scientific foundation for the proposition that the universe arises from and is governed by an intelligent power.
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“The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible at all” Albert Einstein
Unimaginably large numbers!
When I look out of the window of my study to the world outside, I see the world as we know it. I see trees, gardens and buildings in bright sunlight, except for the shadow of the occasional cloud passing overhead. Around me, life is taking its course. Nothing remarkable, as you might say; everything is just as we know it. However, behind this everyday reality is a universe of an almost unimaginable size and complexity.
We can forget this universe so easily in our daily routine of work, grocery shopping and enjoying our free time, but it is nevertheless always present, just behind that blue or cloudy sky, and it is full of truly astonishing phenomena. Take the phenomenon of light for example, which makes all life on this planet possible. It is only because of light that we can actually see anything of the world around us, yet rarely do we consider that this light has just made a huge cosmic journey simply to get here. Emanating from what we call the sun, a relatively small star known as a ‘yellow dwarf’ in astronomer’s jargon, the light that reaches our planet earth has traveled 150 million kilometers at a speed of about 300,000 kilometers per second taking roughly just 8 minutes to complete the journey.
The sun may be small compared to other stars, but the force that she produces is still unimaginably powerful. Every second our star produces an amount of energy that equals the explosion of 1 trillion hydrogen bombs of 1 megaton. In this same second, the sun produces enough energy to keep the entire world economy going for 500,000 years based on our current energy usage. Due to the enormous amounts of energy being produced and the speed at which it travels, we can feel the influence of the sun almost immediately despite her distance from earth. On a hot summer’s day, her heat can be unbearable and we are grateful just to find a spot in the shade.
However, the sun is only a glowing pin-head compared to the total size of the universe. To be really impressed by the cosmos, we have to wait until the sun disappears behind the horizon and darkness sets in. After sunset, the true scale of the universe becomes more apparent as numerous stars, star systems and other celestial bodies appear in the night sky. For those of us not living in towns and cities and not hindered by light pollution the night sky would be filled with thousands of stars. Nonetheless, no matter how impressive a view, we would only be witnessing a tiny part of the entire universe, a fraction of a fraction of an immeasurably large space.
Our solar system with its 8 planets Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.
For those who really want to understand the universe we have to enter the domain of extremely large numbers. The distances within our own solar system are already enormous. Earth is part of a collection of nine planets, including the lonely outer dwarf planet Pluto. The distance from the sun to Pluto is, on average, 5 billion kilometers. If we were to travel by spaceship at the impressive speed of 60,000 kilometers per hour, then we would need to travel for 10 years to cover this distance. But if we zoom out further, then our solar system disappears into nothing. Our collection of planets is a minuscule part of a much larger entity; a galaxy called the Milky Way. The distance from one side of this system to the other side is 100,000 light years. One light year is the distance that light travels in one year at the speed of 300.000 km per second, or 9.4 trillion (9,400,000,000,000) kilometers. If we continued to travel in the spaceship that took us to Pluto at the same speed, it would take us 1.8 billion years to travel from one side of the Milky Way to the other.
Nevertheless, we would still be safely within our own star system. However, if we ventured to travel to our next nearest major star system, the Andromeda galaxy, then we would have to cover a distance of 2.4 million light years. If we continued to travel at this same speed, it would take us no less than 43.2 billion years! These distances are simply beyond human comprehension. We can hardly pronounce such numbers, let alone imagine them. Who does not, from time to time, look up to the stars in the sky and wonder with slight apprehension where it all ends?
The Andromeda star system is located at a distance of 2,4 million lightyears from our solar system.
As large as the universe is, however, so the inhabitants of this planet appear to be insignificant and small, and I am not just referring to our size. One only has to watch CNN to be faced with the crude facts; a civil war raging in one part of the world, some bomb attacks in another part, which is pretty much a daily menu of news facts. Of course, we also invent medication, we build sea walls and dams to protect millions from drowning and we create institutes that advance prosperity and social justice. Art, culture and science are also expressions of human activities, aimed at positive human development. However, looking at our own history, we mostly seem to be specialised in warfare and fighting each other. According to a New York Times article published on July 6 2003, over the past 3,400 years humans have been entirely at peace for just 268 years, or just 8% of recorded history. That means there were wars going on for 3.132 years somewhere on the planet. These wars have claimed between 150 million to 1 billion casualties. That’s not a very good statistic, and it says a lot about the human condition. The relative peace of the past 65 years is mainly due to the existence of nuclear weapons, which make it impossible for us to have large scale wars. While most wars, in hindsight and almost without exception, seem to be useless, a nuclear war is useless in advance. The so-called MAD doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction is an insurmountable obstacle to any potential aggressor based on even the most primitive calculations.
Nevertheless, smaller wars and battles continue as humans fight a complicated battle in their struggle for survival against real or alleged enemies and threats. This battle is fought with intensive emotions and is literally of vital importance to each individual. But placed into perspective, these great and small human activities take place against the backdrop of nature and the infinite universe. Only one hundred kilometers of atmosphere separate us from the unreal reality of this immeasurable, unimaginable universe. These one hundred kilometers above our earth are the boundaries of the tiny bubble in which earthly existence takes place. This tiny bubble, earth and its atmosphere, floats in an immeasurable ocean of cosmic energies of outright extra-terrestrial proportions.
The difference between the immeasurable universe and human worries is surreal. It is a remarkable contrast; the cold, uninterested magnitude of the universe set against the intense emotions and awareness of our minuscule existence, occurring simultaneously and of course, both equally real. But, what is ‘real’? Why does reality exist? Just like everyone looks at the stars now and then and wonders about the vastness of the universe, everyone will sooner or later also wonder why we exist and why everything around us exists. Sometimes reality seems unreal, intangible and even dreamlike whilst at other times reality feels like a strong and tangible presence. What is most remarkable is that reality appears to be inflexible and it does not seem to be interested in us or our well-being. Both the world and the universe just exist, distant and indifferent; at least so it seems. In the words of Richard Dawkins:
“The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.”
This causes humans many problems. We wonder, why is there something instead of just nothing? Why does reality exist the way it does? Why is reality at every level so immensely complicated? And why is reality permeated with undesirable things such as old age, disease and death and other types of suffering. Is there an explanation other then the one provided by Dawkins above, or is that it.
These questions lay the foundation for this book. They are the starting-point towards the question that defines the mystery of existence and that is the most important question that humans can ask themselves: Does God exist or not? Does existence – small or gigantic – spring from an unconscious and unintelligent chaos, or is it created by awareness and intelligence and does it have a purpose and a design? The answer to these questions provides an insight into the role and position of humans in the universe. Do our lives have meaning or is our existence toally lacking any purpose? Do humans exist with an intention, or do we just float around in the cosmos without ever achieving anything? Or, as the famous atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell put it so strikingly: “Man is an unfortunate accident, a sideshow in the material universe – an odd accident in a forgotten corner.”
Ultimately, we are of course all interested, out of normal self interest, in our own position and perspective in life. At the deepest level, this perspective is completely determined by the answer to the question of whether God exists or not.
Thanks to: NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team STScI/AURA
The Andromeda system is situated at an impressive distance of 2.4 million light-years away from us. This distance is nothing compared to the distance to NGC 1300, a spiral-shaped star system that is situated at a distance of 61 million light-years away from us in the Eridanus constellation. The star system has a cross- section of about 110,000 light-years; just slightly bigger than our own Milky Way.
Philosophical analyses has shown that this question, is the determining factor for the way we view reality and the universe. All philosophies can, in the end, be divided into two fundamental categories. The first category is atheistic in its core and states that the origin and the functioning of reality is based on chaos and coincidence. The second category is theistic in its core and regards the universe as an organic reality that was created and is managed by intelligence. Other philosophies that are essentially agnostic – and therefore do not explicitly state whether God exists or not – are often considered to be atheistic. In many cases, they will say that the intelligent coordination of the universe is an improbability. Therefore, they implicitly – and based on elimination – have a preference for chaos and coincidence as the most probable explanation for the origin of the universe.
Of course, within each of these categories there is a huge diversity of philosophies with many differences in nuance. Nonetheless, the dividing line is striking and this has an all-determining effect on all aspects of a philosophy, such as the theory of knowledge (epistemology), the theory on the nature of being (ontology), theories concerning moral values and meaning (ethics) and, in the end, the description or perception of our physical and scientific reality (physics and metaphysics). Indeed, social and political ideologies are also largely defined by this split. Denying or confirming the existence of God therefore leads to opposite philosophies and completely opposite answers as far as the origin and meaning of existence is concerned. Do our lives have a deeper meaning, or are our lives meaningless; a random evolutionary accident? Is man just a product of matter, or is there another type of energy that defines our consciousness and our individuality? Is death the absolute end of our lives, or do our lives continue beyond the boundaries of death? Is there a final heavenly (or hellish) destination past earthly existence, or is our short earthly existence the beginning, middle and end of the story? Theistic or atheistic philosophies will answer these questions in totally opposite ways leading to very different world perspectives which strongly affect everything we think, say and do. Even scientific disciplines such as physics and cosmology are strongly influenced, both directly and indirectly, by the dividing line between atheism and theism. As an interesting side note, it is precisely these sciences, combined with mathematics, that contain the initial answers to the question of whether the universe is governed by chaos or intelligence and thus, whether God exists or not. Given the impact this question has on our life, individually and in society, this really is the most important question that humans can ask themselves.
The images of this rich set of star systems are made by La Silla Observatory of the ESO in Chile. The thousands of star systems that are situated in this small area of the firmament provide us with a look into the distant past of the universe and makes us realise again how enormously large the cosmos is. Just underneath the bright stars in the centre of this image there is a group of star systems called Abell 226. The Abell group is situated at a distance of some billions of light-years away from us. Behind these objects there are even more star systems, they are less bright though, but still at even greater distances of about 9 up to 10 billion light-years. The light we see today coming from these systems has therefore traveled for 9 up to 10 billion years in order to reach us. This also means that we are looking back in time at a universe that existed 10 billion years ago.
This book attempts to answer this question, not by serving dogmas, but by critical analyses, based on philosophical and scientific research. This book compares the scientific and philosophical arguments in favour of the existence of God or against the existence of God and puts atheism against theism, chaos against design. It does this by focusing on some important changes in scientific thought, especially in the area of physics and cosmology where new and completely revolutionary discoveries have been made. These discoveries and insights reveal a universe that is infinitely complex, infinitely organized and infinitely mysterious. The level of organized complexity is so huge that this can only be explained logically by the presence of an all-pervading intelligence and an omnipresent awareness. Such an all-pervading intelligence can be called by any name and each label can be granted to it. God, of course, is the most obvious name: all-pervading intelligence and omnipresent awareness are qualifications that can only be attributed to God. The problem however is that the term God is burdened with a controversial history, created by humans. These are all controversies that, almost without exception, stem from ignorance, sectarianism, fanaticism or a corrupted desire for power. The intention of this book is to demonstrate, based on objective and scientific foundations, that intelligence and consciousness are the driving forces behind the universe, regardless of the burdened history of what that implies. This burdened history is what it is, but it does not alter the reality of these new scientific insights and the philosophical consequences of these insights. Where science directed humanity towards materialism and atheism over the past 200 years, we now see a way of thinking in the opposite direction. This direction is of a spiritual nature and implies a scientific rehabilitation of God. The facts that science has revealed over the past decades confirm that a universe without God is simply untenable, despite desperate and sometimes exotic attempts to do so. If we consider all the arguments, there can only be one logical conclusion: the universe is governed by intelligence and consciousness.
Whether God exists
This, therefore, is the central theme of the book, as the (sub)title indicates: ‘Intelligence or chaos: the misconception of atheism.’ This book discusses the scientific and philosophical arguments for and against the existence of God, atheism versus theism, and in scientific terms, intelligence and design versus chaos and coincidence. There will be few people who do not know the term ‘God’, but on the other hand it is a concept with a wide range of interpretations. Therefore, it is important and necessary to define and describe the concept of God. With respect to this, I do not intend to get caught up in analyses and definitions that are too technical, but I intend to focus on the general, common meaning of the concept God. This meaning is mostly associated with the manner in which the nature and the being of God is described. For instance, is he personal or impersonal; is he one with his creation and the universe or is he transcendental and outside of his creation? Is he personally involved with the universe or is he in control at a distance? What are his qualities and attributes? There are mainly two visions regarding the being and the nature of God, monotheism and monism.
Within these categories are several schools of thought with important nuances and differences, but this book will primarily deal with the core concepts. Monotheism states that one divine Supreme Being exists that has personal, transcendent characteristics. Monotheism also states that the world— the universe— is an emanation and creation of God. According to this vision, both God and his emanations are eternal energies. The Christian doctrine deviates somewhat from this view, since creation is not considered to be an emanation, but as something that was created by God out of nothing. This is called ‘creatio ex nihilo’ by Christian theologians. Here, but also in other aspects, there are nuanced differences between the various monotheistic traditions. What the different monotheistic schools do agree on is the absolute unity of God, which is at its core both personal and transcendental. Within this unity there is, however, a multitude of diversity: first of all, between God and His energies, and accordingly, between His energies mutually. This principle is the essence of monotheism.
In Christianity the unity of God is not entirely without controversy; the doctrine of the Trinity states that God is really three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and not one person. Effectively, and implicitly most Christian theologians see God as fundamentally One, yet simultaneously many, or three in this instance. Despite this nuance, Christianity is generally accepted as a monotheistic religion. Quoting the words of Jesus in John 5.44: “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?” Jesus was clearly of the opinion, as was official Jewish doctrine at the time, that God is one.
Richard Dawkins during the launch of his campaign in 2008, where London buses were decorated with atheist slogans.
Monism also states that there is one divine Supreme Being. The difference is, however, that this Supreme Being is impersonal by nature. The monotheistic God is often associated with an impersonal, all-embracing, undifferentiated, and infinite state of pure energy, made of pure and impersonal consciousness. According to monism, it is only this state of absolute unity that is real and the universe, with its diversity and multitude, is just an illusionary reflection of this divine energy.
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are considered to be monotheistic religions. However, despite many misconceptions, Hinduism is also, at its core and by origin, a monotheistic doctrine. The philosophical core of Hinduism is mainly founded on the Vedanta philosophy, which is of a monotheistic nature. On the other hand, Buddhism and certain movements within the Vedanta school, such as Advaita Vedanta, are monistic by nature. The famous Dutch philosopher Spinoza (1632 – 1677) was also a monist who saw the world as the expression of an underlying, all-embracing and impersonal reality. Spinoza identified this underlying reality with God. The doctrine of Spinoza was an important influence on the thinking of Albert Einstein. Einstein believed in Spinoza’s image of God: ‘… a God that revealed Himself in the systematic harmony of the universe’. He did not believe in a God that interfered with the fate and the actions of man.
The two main movements, monotheism and monism have numerous variants such as pantheism, panentheism, polytheism, and deism. The first, pantheism is a variant to monism. According to pantheism, God only manifests Himself in the universe and does not differ from the universe in every respect. Deism and panentheism are sub-divisions of monotheism. Deism is a movement that has been popular amongst Western scientists and emerged as a result the scientific revolution in the 17th century followed by the Enlightenment in Europe and the United States during the 18th century. Deism is a form of monotheism, with the distinction being that the deistic God does not interfere directly in the world, in human affairs and nature. The latter is, according to deism, governed by the laws of nature, which were ultimately created by God. Panentheism is a concept that is perhaps not quite so familiar. It means that God is transcendent and above creation and, at the same time, He is immanent and manifests Himself in creation. Effectively, it is not really different from monotheism, which also acknowledges the simultaneous transcendence and immanence of God. Polytheism, the believe in many gods and goddesses, is sometimes a disguised form of monotheism. The pantheon of gods are effectively demi-gods and part of a divine hierarchy. For instance in Hinduism demi-gods are charged with ruling and managing the universe on behalf of, and in the service of the supreme God. Other traditions such as the polytheism found in ancient Egypt, Greece or Rome are truly polytheistic, whereby the different gods and goddesses are considered to be separate entities each with their own individual powers.
In the following treatment of theism and atheism, I primarily refer to the two main groups of theistic philosophies, which are monotheism and monism. For the sake of convenience, I indicate both traditions in this book as theistic. In later chapters, the differences between these two traditions will be explained further.
In religions and theistic philosophies, in both monotheistic and monistic variants, God is defined as the Supreme Being, almighty, all-knowing, omnipresent, eternal and infinite: the creator and maintainer of the universe and of all life in the universe. Furthermore, God is described as loving and merciful. A theistic world view assumes that such a being, in whatever shape or form, exists. Moreover, this implies that the universe is an organic unity, governed from an intelligent and conscious centre.
The four propositions of atheism
The atheistic world view denies the existence of such a Supreme Being and denies that the universe is an organic unity governed by an intelligent centre. Apart from admitting that there are some basic, blind laws of nature, atheism claims that the universe consists of an infinite number of material particles that reside in an infinite and empty space. Since the particles are fundamentally separated by space, they are independent and therefore on a large scale governed by coincidence and chaos. Atheism also denies the existence of another reality, apart from or next to the material reality. One of the most leading advocates of this worldview is, without question, the ethologist and biologist Richard Dawkins. He even placed atheistic advertisements on London city buses. In his book ‘The God Delusion’ he defines atheism as follows:
“An atheist in this sense of philosophical naturalist is somebody who believes there is nothing beyond the natural, physical world, no supernatural creative intelligence lurking behind the observable universe, no soul that outlasts the body and no miracles – except in the sense of natural phenomena that we don’t yet understand. If there is something that appears to lie beyond the natural world as it is now imperfectly understood, we hope eventually to understand it and embrace it within the natural.“
Another atheistic thinker Dawkins quotes is Julian Baggini. He explains atheism in his book ‘Atheism, A Very Short Introduction’ as follows:
“What most atheists do believe is that although there is only one kind of stuff in the universe and it is physical, out of this stuff come minds, beauty, emotions, moral values – in short the full gamut of phenomena that gives richness to human life.”
Based on these definitions, but also based on the definitions of other atheistic thinkers, atheism is founded on four propositions or basic assumptions:
The universe consists of material particles that exist independent of each other and that move independent of each other within the infinite void. The total of the movements and interactions of these particles is governed by coincidence and chaos, combined with a number of simple and blind laws of nature. This is also called ‘pluralism’.
There is no central intelligent coordination within the universe and the universe is not an organic unity. There exists nothing apart from or outside the perceptible, physical material reality or the world of matter.
Proposition 1 and 2 together are also called ‘materialism’.
3. Even if there were to be a beginning of the universe, the origin of the universe has to be ultimately simple. God is by definition a complex being and, therefore, He cannot be the ultimate cause. The existence of a complex being such as God would demand that He would have been created by something else.
4. The universe is imperfect from a human perspective. That imperfection manifests itself most clearly in the presence of useless suffering that each living creature is faced with. This contradicts and undermines the position of God as almighty and merciful.
The first two propositions together are called ‘materialism’; it holds the view that matter is the only real substance in the universe. In this view, it is also emphasized that matter may be one substance, but that this substance is split up into innumerable particles. These particles are separated from each other by empty space. Materialism states that this combination of material particles and empty space is eternal and that there is a no cause for this.
The third proposition makes an exception to this, since it does state that there is a possible cause of the universe. This proposition claims that, should the universe have a cause at all, then this cause must ultimately be simple. This proposition is very relevant since modern cosmology assumes that the universe did have a beginning and has not always been there, nor will it always be here.
The fourth proposition is the most important one, since in the end most atheistic arguments can be reduced to this, or are indirectly derived from this. Consciously or unconsciously, atheists refer to the issue of the imperfect universe and the suffering in the world as the most probable reason why God could not exist. In the following chapters, the above-mentioned four propositions will be discussed in detail and refuted one by one relying on scientific and logical arguments.
Quotation of Einstein, cited by Fred Hoyle in ‘The Intelligent Universe’ Richard Dawkins
Bertrand Russell “Religion and Science (Oxford University Press, 1961)
Richard Dawkins in the “God delusion” page 35
Richard Dawkins in the “God delusion” page 34
Join us near the costal ‘historical monument’ town of Paraty, Rio de Janeiro State ~ Brazil
The Eco-Village and the Hotel Dharma Shala are in the mountainous jungle on the coast of Rio.
The Eco-Village has: Many waterfalls in the mountains, near gorgeous preserved beaches; vegetable gardens, cows, exotic tropical birds, wild bananas, tropical fruit trees, fresh ‘ahimsa milk’ and a beautiful temple.
The Retreat offers: Vegetarian and Vegan organic meals Daily hikes to different waterfalls Chanting & Asana Yoga classes Ayurvedic teachings Vegetarian & Vegan Cooking classes Kirtan (spiritual music sessions) ‘Cinema and the Psyche’ workshop
Massages, one to one therapy with the Ayurveda, Natural Medicine Doctors and Counselors, day or half-day visits to the historic town and preserved beaches nearby can be arranged but are not included.
We will also have music and other performances during a bonfire on the last night.
HOSTING AND GIVING SEMINARS
ARADHANA DEVI DASI: Chanting Yoga ~ Mantra Meditation MATTHEW JOSEPH MORREALE: Cinema and the Psyche workshop. ‘Cinema and the Psyche’ is an exploring into the nature of cinema, the psyche and how they interrelate. KIRTAN: (spiritual music) bhajan leaders from Brazil
ROOMS ~ SEMINARS ~ PRICES Seven Days and Six Nights
For Prices, Packages and the booking form to secure your place, please contact us.
Package prices include all seminars and workshops, its certificates and all meals. Not included: Flights and pickup /drop off at the Rio de Janeiro International Airport. Pick-ups with our Van (12 persons) cost $60 each way.
Is ‘Chanting Yoga’ a science? Can we trace the origin of chanting? Do we need to understand what we are chanting? Can the power of sound alter cellular and molecular structure – the DNA encoding etc.? I don’t know how to sing or chant, does it really matter? How much it will cost me?
Facts about ‘Chanting Yoga’
Thoughts are silent sounds.
Chanting Reduces Anxiety and Depression by balancing the nervous system.
Traditional Yoga, Ayurveda, and Sanskrit sources have demonstrated millennia ago the multidimensional effects of chanting yoga.
We become Compassionate to all living beings.
The effects of chanting boosts the immune system and can be rationally explained.
Chanting and heart healt
There are a number of different “sciences” behind chanting. Some of these are the “hard” sciences such as physics and psycho-acoustics. In order to sustain its findings, such sciences require a deep rational thinking, which is just a small aspect of the vast intelligence. In contrast, the Spiritual sciences such as the different yogic practices that work with sound, are evaluated with a much subtler aspect of the intelligence. Much has being written about this since yoga in its various modalities has moved to the west.
Recently, many doctors and scientist are becoming interested in the Chanting yoga phenomena. The following are just a few of the all increasing health professionals convinced of their therapeutic effects:
Dr. Herbert Benson states that chanting helps induce a “relaxation” response which causes reduction in heartbeat, brain waves and respiration.
Dr. David Shananoff-Khalsa believes that mantric recitation enables the tongue to stimulate the acupuncture meridians inside the roof of the mouth.
Dr. Ranjie Singe found that the chanting of specific mantras caused the release of hormone melatonin, and is investigating the importance of this in the healing process. So far, he has found that there are many benefits including shrinkage of tumors and enhanced sleep.
Can we trace the origin of chanting?
I have found that virtually every culture and tradition includes chanting and singing in their spiritual and health practices. Recitation of prayers is found worldwide and has been with us since the dawn of humankind. We find this common pattern in Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Islamic and many other cultures. Whether it is a shamanic or pagan tradition, you will have some aspect of chanting that could be considered Sacred chanting in their rituals and prayers. Sometimes these chants are used to invoke Divine entities. Other times they are used for healing or to ask for some boon such as bringing rain. In my experience, chanting is most commonly used to bring the gross fulfillment of desires.
Do we need to understand what we are chanting?
Anyone who has cultivated the habit of chanting will realize that chanting gives a pleasure that transcends the senses and elevates one beyond the boundaries of time and space. Chanting delivers us from our sense of dependency on temporal enjoyments which are always fleeting and limited. Chanting will move one past this unfulfilling existence to one’s true nature and destination regardless of whether one knows the meaning of the chant or not. I once heard it said: “as music has charms to soothe a savage beast, so the spiritual sound of chanting soothes the restless mind.”
Can the power of sound alter cellular and molecular structure- the DNA encoding etc.?
A great deal of research has been done recently into the power of sound. As a result of this research, it was proven beyond a doubt that sound can alter molecular and cellular structure.
In the 1960’s, a medical doctor named Hans Jenny conducted experiments which showed that sound was able to actually create form in various substances such as sand, plastics, liquids, and water. He would place these substances on a steel plate and then using a crystal oscillator, vibrate these plates with sound. Quite astonishingly, the various substances took on the most organic looking shapes—they looked like microscopic organisms or underwater life. He called this work Cymatics.
A Japanese scientist, Masuru Emoto, demonstrated that water molecules are actually affected by sound and our intention. Intention concerns our thoughts and feelings. Intention is the energy behind the sounds that we create. Mr. Emoto found that clean water looked like a snowflake, very geometric. Polluted water looks like mud. Mr. Emoto has taken photographs of polluted water, which at first look like mud. After a priest has chanted over this water, new photographs were taken again. This time, the water looks like a snowflake, the sound and intentionality has restored it to its natural harmonious shape.
The work of Fabian Maman, a French acupuncturist and sound healer, has taken Kirlian photographs of hemoglobin blood cells that were exposed to different sounds. In particular, he took photographs of blood cells exposed to an ascending chromatic scale created on a xylophone. Each note effected the cell differently, creating a different shape and different Kirlian color.
The information above represents a small sample of the work that has been done to demonstrate that cellular structure and energy are effected by sound.
I don’t know how to sing or chant, does it really matter?
The good news is that one does not need to be a good singer or even know anything about music. Chanting is not about singing in the usual sense. It is not about memorizing complex lyrics. It works whether it is done alone or in a powerful group kirtan. It works whether it is done softly or in full voice, as long it is from the heart and with the belly. Although for enhanced effect, one can add eye-focus and a gentle hand mudra, and eventually you may wish to go to a singing classes, these simple steps can easily be included later. The key is to simply begin chanting.
How much it will cost me?
Here is more good news, chanting is absolutely free. All one need do is try and enjoy. It won’t work if you don’t do it! All that is needed is some time and an open heart. The benefits of chanting cannot be established through reasoning and intellect. It can only be experienced through devotion, faith and constant repetition of the chanting.
Facts about chanting Yoga: “Thoughts are silent sounds”.
More and more people are aware that our thoughts reflect and affect our mood, our attitude and our general health. Our thoughts are silent sounds–a type of vibration. The more refined our thoughts, the more elevated our vibration.
The entire universe was built on sound (Word), which is nothing but vibration. By vibrating a certain combination of sounds, we tune in to different levels of our intelligence, specifically, consciousness. Thus, chanting mantras is a conscious method of controlling our moods, and in turn, our frequency and resultant all-around radiance, much like changing the channel on the television.
Chanting Reduces Anxiety and Depression by balancing the nervous system
By combining sound, breath and rhythm, Chanting Yoga channels the flow of energy through the mind-body circuit, adjusting the chemical composition of our internal states and regulating brain-hemisphere imbalances, contributing to a natural abatement of fear and despair–emotions that underlie both of these common afflictions. By balancing the nervous system, chanting regulates the chronic stress and tension that is the norm for many people in today’s hyper-stimulated lifestyle. By balancing the endocrine system, chanting normalizes hormone production, which balances our moods and overall sense of well-being.
Traditional Yoga, Ayurveda, and Sanskrit sources have demonstrated millennia ago the multidimensional effects of chanting:
During the practice of Chanting Yoga, the breathing (prana) cycle is altered to a greater or lesser extent depending upon the number of syllables and consonants of the particular mantra. Through this process, one is able to influence the Subdoshas of Vata namely prana, udana, samana, vyana and apana. This in turn, will bring balance to oxygen-blood ratios, thereby improving the following: a) nutrients absorption; b) optimum function of organs of actions; c) general circulation including the blood flow, the lymphatic system and nerve impulses, and elimination via excretory organs.
Sound (akash), Breath (prana), and Matra (rhythm) combined with Dhyana (meditation) directs harmoniously the flow of energy (prana or Chi) through the (shrotas) body channels. This will adjust and balance Agni (metabolism) and homeostasis. As a result, the physiology known in Ayurveda as doshas (Vata), (Pitta) and (Kapha), the dhatus, and malas are functioning in harmony. Chanting helps one to deal with stressful factors and brings an overall sense of well-being and relaxation. This in turn, triggers a cascade of beneficial influences which aid our General Health (Swasta Vrita).
We become Compassionate to all living beings
Chanting transcendental mantras brings an understanding of ourselves as one and different from God (Sadhaka Pitta). It awakens our original nature and love within us. As George Harrison has said often in his Bhakti practice, this type of chanting is “a direct connection with God.” When our spiritual identity is awakened, we experience the unity and diversity of all life. Our capacity for compassion naturally grows, allowing our daily lives to be free of conditional mistakes such as blaming others, hate, jealousy, envy and pride. With the elimination of these negative concepts, all that remains is pure love.
The effects of chanting boost the immune system and can be rationally explained
Perhaps the key to rationally understand the power and effects of chanting on human physiology are the upper palate, the movement of the tip of the tongue and breath.
The Upper palate is at the base of the hypothalamus, which is the control center of the physical body. It regulates communication between the Doshas Vata and Pitta and its sub-doshas (the nervous system and the endocrine system). My own repetitive experience found that the hypothalamus controls the entire nervous system (Vata ).
The tongue taps certain points along the roof of the mouth, sending signals to the hypothalamus. These signals regulate the chemical activity streaming into all parts of the brain and body.
Breath adjusts all the rhythms of our body, such as the familiar circadian rhythms; but also the lesser known ultradian rhythms, which monitor the smaller-scale energy cycles that occur throughout the day. Due to our hectic life style our nervous systems are often overtaxed. These rhythms are thrown out of balance. However, through the art of chanting we begin to bring a state of balance. When breath and sound are working together, we realize the magnificence of Life and how God became sound. One will also realize also that words are only approaching the tip of even greater benefits!
Chanting and breath brings positive effects on the parasympathetic nervous system (the nervous system that tells us everything is ok). These effects are multiplied and the healing response is triggered, which translates into healing and stronger immunity.
Chanting and heart health
According to the Heart Math, chanting is known to promote general wellbeing, and it is great benefit for the cardiovascular system. One reason for this may be that singing demands a slower than normal respiration, which may in turn affect heart activity. Coupling of heart rate variability (HRV) to respiration is called Respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA). This coupling has a subjective, as well as a biologically soothing effect, and it is beneficial for cardiovascular function. RSA is seen to be more marked during slow-paced breathing and at lower respiration rates (0.1 Hz and below). In this study, we investigate how singing, which is a form of guided breathing, affects HRV and RSA.
Rhythm: Through repetition of the mantra, patterns of sound are inscribed onto the brain. The unconscious becomes the conscious. The automatic becomes the deliberate. The mindless becomes the heartfelt. The repetition frees us from our destination-fixation, that desire to rush to the end. The repetition is the whole point. Through repetition, the mantra washes over us, as the waves in the sea gradually get us wet.
Projection: When we chant from the navel point while articulating the mantra, we not only stimulate the upper palate, but we vibrate the central channel by which prana, or life force, flows. For millennia, yogis have referred to this as the shushumna. This dual process is said to move us into the realm of anahat, or unconditional love.
So far everything looks great, but how long will it take to achieve this promises?
Everybody is unique, so how long it takes will depend the degree of dedication and determination over a period of months and years. Although we experience glimpses of the above mentioned benefits almost the same day, this taste will encourage us to go deeper into the chanting Yoga. In the guidelines below, you will be given an idea of what can be accomplished in a certain period of time. This will help you to set realistic goals.
Reprogramming our habits
“It takes 40 days to break a habit; 90 days to gain the new habit;
120 days and you are the new habit; 1,000 days and you are Master of it.”
Chanting from minutes to hours will bring the following benefits:
3 minutes affects the electromagnetic field, the circulation and stability of the blood.
7 minutes begins to shift brain patterns, and the magnetic field surrounding the body increases in strength.
11 minutes begins to change the nervous and glandular systems.
22 minutes sees the three minds (i.e., the negative, positive and neutral minds) come into balance and begin to work together; the subconscious mind begins to clear.
31 minutes allows the glands, breath, and concentration to affect all the cells and rhythms of the body. Endocrine secretions are completely balanced as is the ethereal energy of the chakra (junction points of physical and spiritual centers).
62 minutes changes the gray matter in the brain. It stimulates the frontal lobe of the brain, as well as the pituitary and pineal glands. You work through the physical body, the emotions and mental states, stimulating higher, more subtle aspects of the self. The subconscious “shadow mind” and its psychological projections become integrated.
2 1/2 hours changes the psyche in its co-relation with the surrounding magnetic field so that the subconscious mind is held firmly in the new pattern by the surrounding field. You totally remake your psyche. These changes persist throughout the day and are reflected by positive changes in mood and behavior.