[This initial text is the Introduction Story of Shum, a transcript of Bodhinatha talk given on Gurudeva Jayanthi Day, January 5th, 2007 and has no audio.]
In the summer of 1968, Himalayan Academy conducted an Innersearch Travel-Study program to Ascona, Switzerland. I was working on a little book called The Advaitin. The book was about refined states of experience deep within the inner realms of pure consciousness, just before one merges into the Self and after one comes out of that state. The book was unfolding beautifully, but upon rereading what had been written, I thought, “This is very understandable to me but it is going to be so difficult for beginning students to understand. There are no words in the English language for what I wish to portray. Unless my students have had deep experiences themselves, it will be difficult for them to believe in the reality of the inner man, simply because there are not enough words to describe it.”
I realized English is limited in describing inner realms. It is difficult for the beginner to believe in the reality of the inner man unless he has had positive experiences himself, simply because there are not enough words to describe it. Everything that is really “real” is named in English, and the intellectual mind begins to grasp, take hold of and believe in those areas of mind that have a proper name. Even before the individual experiences them, he can intuit the experience. At our Ascona summer retreat, this theory that unfolded from within was going ’round and ’round in my mind, and I began looking through several sanskrit dictionaries to locate certain words that could be used in “the Advaitin”.But in three dictionaries, each translator had translated each of the words in a different way. I threw up my hands at this and said, “This is going to make it more confusing for my beginning students than if we didn’t use Sanskrit,” simply because of the translations.
The feeling began to come that what was really needed was another language, a new, fresh language, one giving me a vocabulary that we could use to accurately describe inner states of consciousness. Two or three days later we traveled to Venice, Italy, for a few days’ excursion. This idea of a new language was still very strongly in my mind. So, I went deep within myself, and wrote down a message of instructions dictated by one of the Mahadevas to my outer self. The Mahadeva explained how and where to go within to be able to unfold another language. My instructions were, “You go within the ooda current which is found within the sushumna.” That is the current of mind flow where language exists.
In following the instructions, my spine lit up in a beautiful pale yellow and lavender light. The yellow and the lavender intermingled, one color coming in and out of the other. It was just beautiful! But I only found one end of the ooda current, so did not have any results in Venice. Three days later, after returning to Ascona, I found both ends of the ooda current while working within myself. Then, in meditation, after coming out of nirvikalpa samadhi, I heard the tones of the swadisthana, the anahata and the ajna charkas. Within two hours of meditation, the script, the fundamental alphabet of 18 sounds and the syntax–as well as some of the basic vocabulary all came through, words such as sim-shoom-bee-see, vum-tyay-oo-dee, ka-reh-ah-na were among the first. The first word to be uttered was Shum. Shum now names the mystical language of meditation. As fast as I could, I wrote it all down and ran downstairs to one of the monks shouting, “I have it! I have it! Here is our language!”
Because of the immediate need for a vocabulary of fifty or a hundred words for me to work with during the innersearch travel study program, I was eager to proceed in bringing through the new language. Shum started out in a very simple way and I said, “fine, now we will have ten, fifteen, twenty or maybe a hundred more words soon to work with. These new inner concepts will be marvelous inner teaching tools.” However, in the days that followed, this ooda current became stronger and brighter. I didn’t tell anyone about this at the time, except for two or three of the Saivite monastics who were with me in Switzerland.
I began working day and night. The structure and script for the language began to refine itself, and vocabulary started coming through right from the inner light. I would see light within my head and see little images or letters in the Shum script drop down, one after another, and line up. Then I would read the word, like “ka-na-sim-nee” and know what it meant, and then write the shum word with the meaning in English. Vocabulary flowed out like this for two or three weeks. In Nice, in Southern France, the whole concept of leoonasee, the psychic nerve system, and aleekashum, the warmth and psychic heat of the body, came through. I saw how in a word of several images, the moving of the accent from one image to another changes the meaning slightly as far as going into the depth of the same area of the mind, the next deeper area and the next refined area,
Then, later, on our Innersearch in Paris, more Shum developed. Upon returning to the United States, I had a vocabulary of about 300 words, and every day even more were coming through. Finally, the images stopped dropping out of the inner light, and I heard the meaning of the words clairaudiently, almost as if someone were speaking to me. Sometimes they would come in reverse–English first, Shum second.
The vocabulary and the structure of the language developed very quickly, but what was more important, the perspective of the Shum language was now available. I began to realize that each language has its own point of view, or position of awareness, that comes into effect when one is speaking that language. In English and other European languages, our awareness is out in the material world. It seems to be located outside of the physical body, looking back at the physical body. From that perspective, a person, if he is daring enough, might be able to fathom the inner areas of the mind like looking through a little keyhole. But often the external world is so distracting, one does not even bother to try to look within.
The meditative perspective of the Shum language is deep within the mind. It is called shumeef. In shumeef, we have the consciousness that we are the center of the universe. We see light within the spine as the central pole, and then open our eyes and look out into the world.
From the shoom-eef perspective, the story of the seven dimensions of the mind was unfolded. The first dimension of the mental spheres is inside things that we can see and touch. The second dimension includes all things that we can see and or touch and this includes physical as well as astral. The third dimension is our relationships to those things. The fourth dimension, our ability to look through the third dimension and find out what is going on between people and people, and people and their things. From the fourth dimension we can look into the other inner dimensions of superconsciousness. There are fourteen dimensions of the mind, but in the shum language we concentrate and centralize only around the first seven of these dimensions. I was told by the mahadeva that another language closely related to shum would come later called tyeif and it would name areas within the eighth to the fourteenth dimensions.
Shum has had wide acceptance and grown into a marvelous teaching tool, because within the structure of the language is contained the entire Saiva Siddhanta philosophy. It has within it the perspective man had to hold make the advaita siddhanta philosophy of the ancient rishis alive and vibrant today As soon as I released a little bit of Shum to my students, they began teaching it all over the country. Two universities wanted to teach the Shum language in their philosophy departments.
Shum is mostly spoken within a person. When a meditator has an inner experience, he can call it by name in Shum and draw a map for himself, showing how to return to the same inner state again. Shum is not designed to replace secular languages, like French or English, which are conceived to completely address all the detailed needs and concerns of physical and emotional life. Also Shum, as a working language, is still in its formative stages.
The following year, we returned to Switzerland and I experienced the tremendous breakthrough of mambashum. These are Shum maps for meditation that enable a devotee not only to plan out where he is going to go inside before his meditation begins, but also to make memos along the way as it progresses and afterwards when it is done.
That year, nashumeef moolingmee shum came through as well. This special collection of Shum words opened the door to speaking Shum during the day. It became possible to remain in inner states while getting things done around the ashram or in the home, without having to use another language. It was easy and fun. nashumeef moolingmee shum made things look simple and allowed one to deal with the world without getting drawn too far out into it.
That same year in India, I did more work on Shum at Sandakphu, a tiny camp located 12,000 feet high in the Himalayas, 15 miles from the Tibetan border. There, some of the most profound states were unfolded and recorded as mambashum. Sixty-five devotees were with me. Our intense meditations there inspired us deeply.
We found that the study of Shum provided concentration practices and powers better than any other system in the mystical arts and meditation techniques. Mystical experiences began to develop between myself and devotees, as we would go into the same area of the mind and experience, hear the same sounds and see the same colors.
The vibration the language makes when a group is speaking it is in itself uplifting. When chanting Shum, all one has to do is listen inwardly to the tones of the chakras, and let one or two out orally while chanting. We made a great study of speaking the Shum language. Students chanting Shum found that just by uttering the tones, awareness was drawn into an expanded state.
A mantra vibrates the inner areas of the astral body and the soul body. This allows the soul body to come through the astral into the physical. All this does not have to be understood to occur. It will just happen naturally. You do not have to consciously know the meaning of a Shum chant or even a conversation in Shum for it to have an effect on your inner nerve system.
Before the advent of Shum, we did not encourage group meditation at Himalayan Academy. During a group meditation, there were usually several who meditated quite well while others let their minds wander here and there, going into a half sleep or becoming distracted. This caused a strange vibration to occur. Now, we have very uplifting group meditations in Shum. In fact, at our monastery in Kauai, we begin every day with a Siva puja followed by a guided group Shum meditation which lasts about 45 minutes.
One person, speaking only Shum, gently guides the entire group into and out of deep meditation. All individual awarenesses flow into the same areas of the inner mind at the same time. The Shum words give a strong and supportive direction to all present. When this begins to happen successfully, the vibration in the room becomes very strong, more potent and intensely more satisfying–for the group helps the individual, and the individual helps the group.
[Audio begins here. Bodhinatha reads from the book “The Advaitin” mentioned in the introductory story on shum.]
This is Gurudeva’s booklet, “The Advaitin.” It’s the one the one that has it’s subtitle: “The Little Book that Started It All”. It’s the book that Gurudeva was writing in 1968 that inspired him to develop his own language, the Shum language of meditation, which we’ve been talking about recently. So, he felt that the booklet, though well written, was difficult for someone to understand who hadn’t had that type of experience. So, that insight led him to develop a whole new language, Shum language, to solve that problem. But today we’re just reading the booklet itself.
“THE ADVAITIN,” June 10, 1968
“The Advaitin had been scheduled to be written for some months. However, in Switzerland on the shores of spectacular Lago Maggiore at our Ascona Ashram in the summer of 1968 seemed to be the time and the place. The words flowed from my pen as the mind enhanced by the constant insight to this Self, unraveled itself as would a ball of well-rolled yarn.
Thirty-three students traveling with me through Europe on our 1968 Innersearch Switzerland summer study program inspired the format of The Advaitin by their constant striving to penetrate the within. Well rewarded by clear white light experiences, they peruse further into Savikalpa Samadhi and inquire of me deeper into the realms of the Nirvikalpa Samadhi experience. The state where the experiencer and the experience are one. In an effort to unravel some of the mature changes that take place after such a happening, The Advaitin seems to be the answer. Therefore, this book has been written for all those who seek a new look at religion, who wish to believe in what they think and know to be true. Here the Vedic advaita philosophy holds the answer, not only for the practicing yogi but for the layman as well. In short, the advaitin believes that God is a greater intensity than any aspect of the mind, than even the clarity of the mind known as the clear white light. He believes that when once realized, he then has tapped the fullness of his potential and from this new vantage point can work to develop various aspects of his mind, bringing the advaitist mood of reference through even his base emotions. The ‘Self,’ being another word for God, is beyond the mind. ‘Man is not man, man is God,’ are some of the advaitin’s statements. They may seem ego-bent and filled with creating a new minority, but when thought through, one quickly sees the truth they contain when related to a real life pattern and wonders how possible could life have been looked at, how possibly could life had been looked at in any other way. To these bright sadhakas this book is dedicated. May it serve to beacon them onward from the consciousness of death to immortality.
All of the planned, thought-through philosophies derive their concepts through breakthroughs into expanded consciousness. These breakthroughs, well-recorded through relating them to prior concepts, form the philosophies we know today. The supreme breakthrough of the advaitin into Nirvikalpa Samadhi sustains the philosophy known as advaita without the necessity of recording experiential insights in the rational mind.”
I’ll read that sentence again, that’s a deep sentence.
“The supreme breakthrough of the advaitin into Nirvikalpa Samadhi sustains the philosophy known as advaita without the necessity of recording experiential insights in the rational mind.”
So, what Gurudeva’s saying is the experience itself is the point of reference without needing to document it in words
“And we go on from there with a new point of unthought-out reference supplementing the rational mind with current insights which it has no time to record. This is because experience can only be recorded as it happens and referred to after. Whereas, constant experiencing can only be lived, recorded constantly in its happening but never referred to. This is the aftermath of Being. This is the aftermath of Being That which was fully realized. When a chela attains Nirvikalpa Samadhi, the mind reacts in a certain way. A rebirth of the psyche occurs. The constant experience begins of that which was experienced. The laws of the related difference of concepts change, and the mind looks like being at the other end of the tunnel of consciousness looking out. Whereas before the Happening, the mind was at the opposite end of the tunnel of consciousness looking in.”
So that’s a point we can all relate to, that usually when we explain deep meditative insights we explain them as if we’re coming in from the outside. That’s how we explain it. Start here–we go in, we go in, we go in, it looks like that. But Gurudeva’s saying you can also do it the other way. You can explain things as they look, in coming out. Which relates more to the tyaf perspective.
“The flow of actinic energy through the constant changing force field of mental forces activates these odic force fields during an experience of Nirvikalpa Samadhi. This activation must be controlled through previous sadhanas, disallowing an influx of force that would deter succeeding experiences of Nirvikalpa Samadhi, perceptive insights into the overall nature of the mind, mind and Self as expounded through advaita yoga. This in turn brings out of the mind many comforting feelings as the advaita point of reference is gained.
All thinking people formulate their conclusions from one singular point of reference. Generally it is dvaita, dualistic in context. The pure advaita point of reference concedes positive conclusions backed by occasional intuitive flashes. Hence advaita yoga is in fact healthy for the mind of man.
Beginning with the foreground of the average life span, we see lapses of consciousness in the generative functions of the mind. This is caused, no doubt, by all of the time spent in allowing dvaita thinking to penetrate the feeling nature. However, when schooled in advaitism, the same mind structure just referred to can change its format and condense its issues and without hesitation relate all thinking, as well as feeling, to its base concept of the Self beyond the mind yet felt through mind even before a partial actual realization occurs.”
So what Gurudeva’s thinking, saying, is that you stay young through Realizing God, I guess. Interesting point of view.
“To cause advaita yoga philosophy to be a lifeline in one’s life, he must only be capable of thinking through the processes of subjective reasoning. Later some questions will be raised to stimulate this process of reason one must enter into, and exact methodology for bringing forth the advaita concepts in the mind into felt reality.
Not all persons, of course, are able to conceive of or accept the advaitin point of view. The mind is too superstitionally cluttered with dvaitic threats upon their own personal peace and future to dare look further. The process of disbelief is, therefore, almost automatic, and rejection final. Hence the two, advaita and dvaita, will always exist in the human kingdom. Man raising in consciousness from darkness into light has only to perceive his ancestors as they, too, sought through the lower, ebbing layers of the mind to bring forth from within themselves factual knowledge based not only on inductive thinking but the actual birth of experience. The format, therefore, is that to make a philosophy live vibrantly in mind and spur him on into its experiential states, its opposite must occur, causing the competitive whirl of the senses as they seek consciously conscious states.”
So, Gurudeva’s saying that its the challenge of controlling the mind that motivates us to control it and go deeper. In other words it’s hard to control the mind, it’s very active and dynamic, so dealing with that activity and dynamism here is what eventually leads to a control of the mind.
“As the advaita philosophy is looked at under the cold eyes of reason, it stands no chance of being realized in the personal life scope of the student. He must struggle first with his nature and clear an advaita pathway through many phases of the mind. First relating all experience through the summing-up process of reason, then clearly and unyieldingly define all his actions and way of life to the advaita path to enlightenment. This is difficult, and few really make the necessary strides beyond belief in advaita thinking. But even those who formulate a new point of reference through subjective reason live a grander and fuller life far from the superstitious dvaitic entanglements of the lower mind.
Talk to yourself and convince yourself of the logistics of the paramount factor that mind in all its various phases is form, even as protruded in light. Form is vibration; and yet beyond any possible vibration of consciousness is the Self beyond form, hence more intense than consciousness of time and space. Once sitting quietly in a meditative state, thus talking this over with yourself, trying to prove out the theory as well as disprove it, habit patterns of the subconscious begin to change radically, as preconceived, perhaps even unthought-out concepts held in faith begin to break, altering this mind structure. Yes, a newfound freedom, a lightness of body and mind, a true sense of religion occurs as the advaita principles begin to penetrate the mind structure and displace erroneous impressions.
‘Thou art That,’ the sages tell us and often never go on to explain the That, the Self. This Self within the very cellular structure of man can actually only be talked about but must become a constant Nirvikalpa experience to be realized. ”
So that’s fairly deep. Think I’ll stop there. This came up in a much simpler context recently. Was talking to a father and son, the father’s probably oh forty-five, fifty years old and the son’s around twenty two and the son was going to M.I.T. So bright young man. The father had recently taken up the study of Vedanta and was particularly interested in the pursuit of the meditation: “Who Am I?”
So that’s a common meditation you know, reflecting on who am I, and the deepest answer of course is, I am God. So we were talking about that and he was asking, you know, can my son, is my son too young to practice who am I? Is this a concept just for older people. That’s what he was asking me. So I said: “No, no one is too young. But it needs to start with a basic principle.” And then I gave him the principle of: positive self concept. I created nine principles for raising children. They all began with a “P” like: positive self concept, profound self confidence, prejudice free consciousness, you know there’s about nine of them. And so the key one, the base one, is a positive self concept. So we talked about that and I’m making sure that your children, no matter if they’re young or old, have a positive self concept because that’s the first step toward being successful in the pursuit of who am I which is what this is about, the advaita perspective that in our essence we are God.
So, sometimes in growing up experiences we encounter are not supporting a positive self concept. So the most common one is the corrections received by parents. Some parents seem to delight in telling their children they’re stupid. You know, you’re stupid and worthless. You’ve done something wrong again and that’s what they hear as they grow up for years and years. You know, you’re stupid, you’re worthless, everybody’s smarter than you are. Why didn’t I have a smarter son? Why didn’t I have a more obedient daughter? You know that kind of negative self concept sometimes is a way of life that children experience and quite often it can be reinforced in schools, where the teachers again are not very supportive in their correction and they’re telling the students they’re stupid.
So what we like to do is distinguish between the person and the behavior. The behavior is stupid, the person is never stupid. The behavior was wrong, the person was never wrong. So you know, that is the ideal form of correction and you can even say it when the child is old enough to understand or even in an adult situation. It can work in an office if you’re the supervisor and you have staff that you’re training. So, a way of doing that to distinguish between the person and the behavior is something like this you say: “Well that was sure a stupid thing you did but, you’re such a smart person I know you’ll never do it again. You know, so I used the word to it, you wouldn’t necessarily say the behavior was stupid but I used it to exaggerate the point. You know the person is smart no matter what he does. The behavior is stupid. So, the person is so smart in fact, that just doing something wrong once he’ll never do it wrong again. Like that, you know you distinguish.
So, the first requirement therefore, in following this pursuit of who am I or finding out our deepest identity with God is to make sure we have a positive self concept. So how do we know if we have a positive self concept? A positive self concept is demonstrated in our attitude toward daily life. We wake up in the morning and do we feel things are going to go well? Do we feel life is fine? Do we feel we’re going to be adequate to meet the challenges that are going to come to us during the day? Or do we wake up in the morning, we’re kind of overwhelmed by everything. We say: “Oh no, another day, this is going to be terrible” and you know we’re always worried and lacking confidence.
So you know, we need the former state of mind and fortunately teachers such as our Guru have given us the tools, the methods for changing from a negative self concept to a positive one, which we won’t go into this morning, not enough time. But the basic idea is that if we have a negative self concept, a small one or a big one, or sometimes it comes, sometimes it goes you know. To whatever degree, we can get rid of it. It’s not us. It’s just an accumulation of impressions we have acquired through growing up, primarily from our parents. That’s what impresses us the most in growing up is how our mother and father treat us. Secondarily from others such as teachers. And when we get older, even at work if that’s happening, impressions at work can reinforce it. So we need to get rid of that and end up with a positive self concept about our outer self. That’s our outer self, it’s not our inner self. But if we don’t have a positive concept about our outer self, we won’t be able to find our inner self. You know, we go inside and all we find is negativity. All we find is self doubt. We don’t find anything positive. So, we need to go inside and find happiness and joy and the sense that we can accomplish things and that’s a positive self concept.
So, Gurudeva has a simple teaching, simpler than this one, that explains our divinity in an understandable way and we all have a soul. And as a soul you know we all are a soul. In English you had tend to do that. You say you have something which you actually are. You don’t say we have a soul; we have to say we are a soul. We all are a soul, living in a physical body and as a soul body, we are distinct from others. Distinct from other people and distinct from God. Gurudeva describes the body of the soul as looking like the physical body but made out of light, spiritual light. That’s our, that is us as a soul body. So, inside that soul body, which Gurudeva calls the essence of the soul, is where we are identical with God. So, to see our identity with God we have to go inside the soul, right? To the very core of us. If we can get there, that’s where the advaita principle that man is God exists. And if, when we come out from that we lose it. We go into dvaita, we go into dualism where we are separate from others and we are separate from God. Then if we go back far enough, we can go into monism or advaita and then we come out. So, depending on where we are in consciousness, we’re either a dualist or a monist. We’re either a dvaitin or advaitin at that moment, based on where we are in consciousness because these are experiential truths.
And that perhaps is Gurudeva’s strongest message here is that, it’s not enough to accept the philosophy, I Am God, the soul is God, we need to experience it. Accepting it is only a first step toward realizing it. It’s like acknowledging a mountain is there is the first step toward climbing it, right? We don’t see the mountain, you won’t think about climbing it. Say: “Oh there’s a mountain there, wouldn’t it be fun to climb to the top? I have nothing else to do today, you know. Got on my hiking shoes, let’s climb.” So have to see the mountain to be motivated to climb it. So you have to see the concept in this case that man is God or if we can go deeply enough into our soul, into us as the soul, we’ll experience God. Meaning we’ll see our identity with God.
And there was a very simple way that our Paramaguru would put that he–Yogaswami of Jaffna Sri Lanka–he didn’t talk in lots of philosophical terms he liked to put profound truths in simple words. So unless you understood what he was talking about you might not realize it was profound. So he would say: “I am in you.” That’s how he would greet people: “I am in you.” So, what did he mean? He meant he was aware in the essence of his soul and from that point of view, he was permeating everything, he was everything and he didn’t see any difference between himself and others. He was a living advaitin. He didn’t see a second person. He only, everything he saw was himself. That’s a living advaitin. So, he would also put it another way which was a little simpler to grasp, he would say: “How many people are here?” Course you know what do we have, maybe thirty-five? From one point of view the answer is: “Well thirty-five swami.” But of course if someone said that he’d say: “No there is only one.” That one is a obvious one right? OK there’s only one. What does he mean there’s only one. Well he means that if you go deeply enough inside yourself you get into the conscious where there’s no division between you and everything else. You’re in the consciousness, just oneness. In other words just as you know we take it for granted, our consciousness permeates our entire physical body which it does unless someone has an injury. But you know it’s a very strange feeling; I’m sure all of you have had it at one point or another you know, you wake up in the morning and you’ve cramped your arm, you touch your arm and it feels like somebody else. Cause you’ve cut off the nerve temporarily and your consciousness isn’t in your arm even, and it doesn’t feel like you.
So, we’re so used to our consciousness permeating our body; we may not think about it but, just like that you know, we have a picture of Siva with the Universe within Him. So it’s a way of trying to say that just as our consciousness permeates the physical body so does God as consciousness, permeate everything, the entire Universe. And as omnipresence exists within us as the omni-essence of our soul, so if we can go into the essence of our soul deep enough we experience the consciousness that permeates everything. And so just like our normal consciousness permeates the physical body our superconsciousness or divine consciousness, satchidananda, permeates every body and everything. And Gurudeva gives a key on that, he says: “It’s easiest to experience in those that are close to you.” So if you want to become omnipresent start with your friends and family. See if you can feel no difference between yourself and them and then work out from there. And it’s easier with people you like than with people you don’t like. It’s very hard to see God in someone you don’t like. Well start with those you like and once you get really good at that, then you can also see God permeating those you don’t like but it takes more practice.
Thank you very much.
Aum Namah Sivaya
[End of transcript.]