We often here about “mukti” or “liberation” in spiritual circles. In this blog post, I wanted to address this topic from a Yogic/Vedantic perspective. The good thing about this approach is you don’t have to believe in Gods or Deities’, while it doesn’t hurt if you do. Everyone is welcome in this path. But, you will have to walk this path alone though the Universe may send some guidance through some means from time to time. I have took these teaching from varied sources – books and blogs of different Masters. I have listed these in the references and also in the post so that readers can visit the site for further reading if they are inclined. You might have to get more information from these sources, but theory aside, a period of 3-6 months of consistent practice will give better idea of what these Masters are talking about.

1. What is Liberation?
Liberation is a state of Being where we are not bound by anything and we feel full and content within ourselves. Usually, we feel very
attached to or we are dependent on something outside ourselves for our fulfilment – it might be a person, a place, an identity or 
possessions. When we are liberated, we don’t need many things from the outside or external world for our happiness. We feel rich internally. It doesn’t mean we are careless or don’t fulfil our responsibilities. But, our life doesn’t come crashing down if we don’t have those external things. 

2. What prevents Liberation?
The main obstacles to liberation are:
(i) Unfulfilled desires: If you notice, when we have desires, we feel discontent in our heart and are restless to obtain the object of our desire. As soon as this desire is satisfied, we feel content for a while, until another one pops up to re-experience the same object or another, and we again feel discontent again. This cycle of endless desires and fulfilment keeps us entrapped in a cycle of karma when we are in the body. If we die with unfulfilled desires, we keep taking new bodies to fulfil our unfulfilled desires.
(i.i)How to deal with Desires?
Just close your eyes for a few moments and see your desires in your mind’s eye without pushing them away or judging them. Note them down. You can do following things with each of them – let go of unwanted or trivial ones, and fulfil those that are important for you and you feel you can’t let go of. The fewer the desires the more lighter and liberated you feel. 

(ii) Soul contracts and unfinished businesses
This is difficult to believe, but I have come to understand that before we take birth, we will be in an astral plane where we would have made “contracts” with other souls so-to-speak that we will perform a certain role with them. If you don’t perform these roles well, we will have to come back again on Earth to perform it. In addition, if there are some unfinished businesses, eg: you owe someone “X” amount or you haven’t kept up a promise you made, you would have to come back until that is fulfilled.

(iii) Inclinations
Even if you don’t have a strong desire, if you have an inclination for some things (eg: inclination for food, or knowledge), you might have to come back to Earth to take up another body until you transcend or fulfill those inclinations.

If we are we are alive and in the body, and we are in a state of Being where we don’t depend much on something external for our happiness, we can call
ourselves “Jivan Mukta”, i.e., liberated while living. The degree to which we are liberated in life is reflected in the amount of “silence” or “inner peace”
we feel within our minds. If something or someone if bothering our minds, we are not yet “un-hooked” from them and that chains us. We can ourselves look upon several of these and take actions on liberating ourselves from them.

If a soul reaches such a state of completion or fulfilment when it is leaving the body, then we can term it as “Liberation after death” (Videha Mukti).
Fully liberated souls move on to “Satya Loka” after death from where they do not have to take a new body in planet Earth to finish off further unfulfilled
desires. They are free form the cycle of Birth and Death.

3. Mental Attitudes for Liberation
There are several helpful mental attitudes one can maintain to lead a liberated existence. These can be found in many of the Yama/Niyamas of Yoga
Sutras of Patanjali. Personally, I don’t look at them from a religious or moral perspective as religious these only create further bondage by adding heavy layers of guilt and regret if we don’t conform to them sometimes. I just view them as something we can adopt to keep our inner world neat and clean.

Acceptance : The more we accept mentally a situation or a person, the lesser we resist, the lighter our mind feels. This just means we do what
we can in a given time (not being passively accepting everything), but for our own mental health, we avoid resisting something. If you can’t accept something, just avoid that person or situation so that there is less impression of discomfort in your system and you feel freer.

Non-possessiveness : We are very emotionally attached to our positions, possessions and relations. We feel we are them or we own them. In reality, none of these are “ours” at any given moment, and they can be snatched away from us at anytime. If we have a feeling that we possess or own something, we feel deeply emotionally attached to it and experience immense pain when we are separated from it.

Dis-Identification: We often have a strong identification with our personality. We feel we are the self-image that is in our mind and which we project to the world. But, the Real “I” is not our assumed “I” which we project on to the relative world. In absolute terms, we are pure consciousness experiencing a body playing many roles in the world.

4. Practices
Some practices help get the mind gradually under control and they gradually help reveal what is in our inner world, which we have to work slowly to untangle and clean our inner world. Keep in mind, you will have to do any practice consistently for 3-6 months to experience tangible results. Certain truths about yourself gradually reveal themselves over time, and you begin to get to know yourself at a deeper level more and more.

Mantra Chanting or Japa

 Pick a mantra of a deity of your liking, and start chanting it everyday for a few times gradually increasing the number. You can chose Gayatri Mantra, Panchakshari mantra, or Rama Taraka mantra, or SoHam mantra to get started with. Start with 10 per day, and increase it to 108 or more over time. The spaces from thoughts will be gradually filled with the vibration of the mantra and we feel blissful after a while. I would recommend to get started with silent Japa for a while as this will help neutralize the verbalizing or chattering tendency of the mind. Later on, one can proceed to silent meditation.

There are umpteen methods for meditation that can be from observing the breath to meditating on the heart. I recommend trying something like a free app like  Heartfulness to start with – they teach you meditation on the heart and give transmission of energy called “pranahuti” that helps you reach peak states of meditation in 30-40 minutes as opposed to sitting hours together as Yogis of yore needed to. Nobody has the time nor inclinations to sit for hours nowadays. Later on when you get into a groove, you can just learn to sit in the silence without any guided meditation. Silence is your real nature.

The information mentioned above is enough to get started on your journey of liberation. But, we all are different, and we need different amounts of theory and practice to get better idea on these concepts. Furthermore, I personally found reading books and blogs from multiple authors on the same topic helped get a better grasp of the concepts. You will have to read and you can watch a lot of videos online from different Masters and find the ones that ‘clicks’ for you.

5. Some references/Further Reading

  • On Acceptance  : Acceptance includes coming to terms with all parts of oneself and other people. This is from Spiritual Master Mohanji’s Website. There are several other teachings on his blog that you may find useful on liberation. This tradition has only one final goal – liberation which is total dissolution of one’s world and returning to our original state. He has several videos on YouTube that might be of help too. If your sole goal is liberation, not vision of diety etc., then you might want to check out his teachings and meditations.
  • On Self-Condemnation :From Swami Rama Teachings website. That website has enough teachings to last for a lifetime for anyone in their spiritual journey. Best thing is all the teachings in the website are completely free, like the other best things in life like air and sunlight ;-). His teachings are crystal clear which will especially appeal to people with scientific bent of mind. I wholeheartedly recommend all his books especially for beginners – his gentle tone and clear instructions are a breath of fresh air in the realm of spirituality. Path of Fire and Light Vol 2 is a great book to start with. Himalayan Institute website and books by Pandit Rajmani Tigunait are also priceless in helping one get a better understanding on mantras and spirituality in general.
  • Yoga Sutras of Patanjali  : From Swami Jnaneswara Bharathi and Chip Hantraft. In addition to the Sutras, this website which is from a student of Swami Rama of the Himalayan Tradition. This contains all the info you could need on Yoga, Tantra or Vedanta with zero religious coloring. All info is completely free too!
  • SD Crash Course Series in My Story – :  This an entire series on Santana Dharma and Sri Devi Om’s journey to Mukti. I think it’s pretty comprehensive and systematic.
  • Bhagavad Gita : Free online translation of science of Liberation from Sri Krishna by Swami Mukundanada. There are other translations by Indian and Western authors that you might find appealing.

All Masters and traditions have a lot of common themes with some variation in their teachings. But each have their own methods/techniques or Sadhanas. They all say fill you mind with positive and noble thoughts, and your heart with compassion, kindness, love and other divine qualities. Then  your Sadhana will have more effect. Start walking from wherever you are by reading and practicing every single day, then you will understand subtle aspects over time.

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