Swami Satyananda Saraswati speaks about different methods of spiritual teaching on his arrival at Mangrove Mountain Ashram, Australia in November 1980.

Nowadays, people from all walks of life have a better knowledge of yoga than ever before, because they have been attending yoga classes for many years. This method of learning in a class situation is called tuition, and it is the most prevalent way of imparting knowledge to students. History, geography, mathematics, philosophy, science and yoga are all taught in formal classes where a teacher stands up in front and speaks, while the students remain seated and listen. The teacher speaks from an intellectual point of, view, repeating what he has learned from books and tutors. He does not speak from his spirit or his personal experience.

In ancient India, there was another concept of learning, known as transmission, whereby the student did not depend on the external aid of the senses. This process was completely internal. In tantra, transmission was the traditional method used to pass down the teachings from guru to disciple. In this way a direct link was established between the original preceptor and the disciple receiving his knowledge perhaps hundreds or even thousands of years later.

The main difference between these two systems is that one is intellectual while the other is intuitive. One is based on concepts gained outside from study, logic and experience. The other is a form of inner attunement, resulting from a highly charged energy spark entering one of the psychic centres of the brain.

Today, in spite of years and years of yoga training, many people have hardly grown spiritually. Their greed, pride, prejudice, fears and complexes still remain the same. This is because they have been learning yoga through an intellectual process and have not been able to imbibe it spiritually. Consequently, they have not yet transcended the weaknesses of life or managed to stabilize the state of happiness.

When a disciple or aspirant learns yoga through transmission, he comes to live in his guru's ashram. He does not attend any classes, but just by living in a yogic atmosphere, he learns yoga in spirit. Through the process of living with the guru, a state of communion develops and the disciple's consciousness expands inwardly, enabling him to imbibe the knowledge of his guru.

Living with the guru does not mean living in his room. If you live with a guru, it means you live with him spiritually. When I lived in Rishikesh with my guru, I seldom met him, but still, every moment I was living for him and with him. Rishikesh ashram covers a wide area and the room where I stayed was so far away from where my guru dwelt, that if I had to walk there twice a day, I would be exhausted. But from dawn to dusk, in every action I performed, I felt my guru was there. You know how, if you love someone, he lives in you and you live in him, well, this is the situation between guru and disciple.

So you see, there are two ways of imparting knowledge. You have experienced learning yoga by means of tuition. Now, however, you should stop trying to learn yoga intellectually, and start imbibing it spiritually. To explain this process, I will give you an example. From an electrical powerhouse, the electricity travels to a transforming station. From the transforming station it travels to different electrical poles and into your homes. Now your homes are connected with electricity, and it is entirely up to you whether you switch on the power or not.

Similarly, in spiritual life, the power line is connected, the switch is there, but it is up to the disciple whether he makes use of it or not. When people come to the Monghyr ashram to learn yoga, I generally meet them occasionally, either once a day or once a week. But mostly they feel that as a guru, I am neglecting them. Just because I do not see them and speak with them every ten minutes, they think I'm not teaching them. But after many years of teaching yoga through formal classes, I now feel that physical contact is not the final means of communication. The guru and disciple must talk to each other in different realms, through the method of transmission.

Experimenting with transmission

Last September, at the request of the European Union of National Federations of Yoga, I stayed at Chamarande, the site where they are developing a new yoga university. During the week I spent there, we experimented with transmission. Then, when I went to Zinal to conduct a seminar on tantra, we also experimented with transmission. Swami Amritananda and other swamis were the poles of transmission. They used to take classes, give lectures and hold Satsangs, and I was hardly ever there. I stayed alone in my room in hibernation.

When the mind becomes quiet, the sensory channels are plugged, and the ego is dissolved for some time, then the power of the soul or spirit becomes very, very strong. It knows no geographical barriers, no psycho-emotional distances, and man can meet with man and hearts can talk to hearts.

In one of the Upanishads it is said that the atman or spirit is homogeneous silence. How do you experience this? Not by the sensory or psycho-emotional communications, but by tuning yourself into silence. This is what you must all do to experience the process of transmission. You don't have to become rigid at all, and you don't have to put on that serious 'Sunday face'. Be as bright and as natural as you are. The barrier is not in spirit, because spirit is one. The barrier is in man's mind because he has individualized it. Just as you have attained a personal home, wife, child, name and religion, in the same way, you have developed the concept of a personal mind. Once you surrender this personal mind, then the mind becomes homogeneous and is called the cosmic mind.

So, try to put aside your personal mind and be as relaxed as possible. This can be done through Satsang, kirtan and spiritual discourses and by trying to simplify your mind, habits and lifestyle. I will try to be with you all the time, not physically of course, but spiritually.