Thought Bite: What Is A Master?

Over the years, some friends on social media and elsewhere, who perhaps liked some words I've shared, referred to me as a "master." This always shocked me. You see, I've experienced a true master and I can tell you that I'm not one.

Historically, the word "master" refers to person who has mastered a discipline, such as a master carpenter, or a highly accomplished artist. One who has attained a high level of competency in any art may be considered a master by others in their field. Unfortunately, these days, the meaning of the word "master" is being diluted by the all too common practice of positioning oneself as a master or expert, for purely marketing purposes, based on nothing more than a desire to get hired.

A master of yoga is one who has accomplished yoga, that is, union with the True Self. Thus, a master of yoga not only has mastered various yoga practices, but has mastered himself and attained the goal of yoga, self-realization. This is a very high standard.

While most of us are the slaves of our mind's habits and desires, a true yoga master has freed him/herself from these chains and has undergone a thorough transformation from an ego-bound to a Divine-centered identity. Such a person is ruled by clear and stable wisdom rather than habitual mental patterns.

Such great masters, in addition to having vast competency in various practices, also gain what to the rest of us seem to be supernatural powers.

For example, in laboratory tests conducted at the Menninger Foundation, my teacher Swami Rama was able to make one part of his hand cold while simultaneously making another part of the same hand warm. He was able to stop his heart and start it again. Also, though at one point he appeared to be fast asleep, and his brain waves flowed in the slow delta waves of deep sleep, he was able to tell the researchers exactly what they'd been chatting about while he was "sleeping." These effects demonstrated his extraordinary control over his bodily processes.

Yet Swami Rama was far more accomplished than that. Let me share an experience I had with him.

One time, when I was in India at Swami Rama's ashram, Charles, one of my friends, told me "if during the night you mentally ask Swami Rama a question, he'll come and answer it."

Was this true? I decided to test it. So, that evening I focused my mind on a question that I'd been struggling with for months, and kept mentally asking Swami Rama for an answer until I fell asleep. The next morning, when I first walked out of my cottage, Swami Rama came right up to me, which he'd never done previously, and forcefully told me the answer to my question. Then he walked away, leaving me completely dumbfounded.

This experience was so unusual and hard to believe that it took me years to accept that he'd really answered my question. But he had.

Many people have told me of their personal experiences with Swami Rama, how his influence uplifted and changed their lives, how he healed their diseases, and how he tirelessly served humanity.

Being a yoga master is not a marketing strategy. A yoga master is one who has mastered yoga. This is why even Swami Veda Bharati, who is highly accomplished, does not allow his students to call him a master. If one calls himself a yoga master, or wrongly allows others to do so, it's likely he is far from true mastery.

This article is dedicated to my dear spiritual sister Gayatri Marx who lives the principles taught to her by Swami Rama.

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