Dharana Nada Yoga, also known as shabd yoga, the discipline of listening to the inner sound current, is an effective means of fostering the development of one’s consciousness, a valid method for achieving evolutionary spiritual growth, an effective means of tapping into and experiencing a person’s innate inner bliss, and a certain means of furthering inner, self-awareness. In the words of one scholar, “Shabd yoga works!”.
Throughout history, Dharana Nada Yoga has been practiced all over the world by philosophers and mystics. These philosophers and mystics have subsequently become associated with various cultures and religious traditions. Evidence for the practice of shabd yoga is found in many places within the world’s sacred literature. Mostly for these reasons, the practice of this ancient method has taken on a religious veneer, including theological explanations and codes.
In this context, one must remember that a person’s ability to access the subtle realms of human consciousness through the practice of this technique is universal, being an evolutionary feature common to everyone. The innate ability of a person to tap into these subtle aspects of his higher, inner self, existed prior to the practice of shabd yoga itself. The technique’s simplicity belies the often-complex theological associations it is often burdened with.
The book, “Dharana Nada Yoga”, goes to great lengths in order to present the background and history behind the practice of this technique, including references found within religious literature, stemming from numerous traditions. Presenting these references is necessary, in part, in order to make a case for the widespread phenomenon of the practice itself. However, these religious associations are not necessary in order to understand, practice, or benefit from Dharana Nada Yoga.
In fact, these religious associations can be cumbersome. They can create a roadblock for some people who are in search of the benefits which can be derived from the practice of shabd yoga, but who are reluctant, for whatever reason, to want to associate with any kind of religiosity, or theological codes. A person can entirely throw out; disregard all associations with religion and theological references, and achieve precisely the same results as another person who practices the technique, while simultaneously embracing these same theological associations. The technique, as an effective yogic, metaphysical practice, stands on its own.
Regarding organizations involved in the teaching and training of people in the methods of practice, some have adopted a somewhat elitist, guru-centric position. They suggest that anyone who initiates the practice of Dharana Nada Yoga, and who wants to achieve the greatest benefit from said practice, must first become associated with a particular teacher or guru. In their view, anyone who receives instructions elsewhere, has a kind of second-hand status, and is unlikely to benefit from the practice.
In this context, there are two important factors to bear in mind; Anyone can benefit from the practice of Dharana Nada Yoga, regardless of how they come to learn the methods for practicing the techniques.
Choosing a teacher to learn these techniques is still an important decision, the same way it is important to choose a competent teacher for any field of endeavor. It is always beneficial to have someone instructing you who has either mastered the process himself, or who has a significant amount of personal experience with it.
In this regard, an experienced teacher is also advisable because: “shabd yoga works”. Anyone who takes on this practice, and applies himself to its mastery, will have a life of ongoing changes and surprises in store. Their consciousness will transform. Their spiritual bodies will develop, resulting from the activation of their spiritual senses. They will have new experiences, both mundane and subtle, which they may at times, not understand. Having a seasoned, experienced teacher to consult with, to help support one’s ongoing development, is a valuable asset.
Throughout the chapters of my book, the term, Dharana Nada Yoga, is employed in various places to describe the sound current practices of various masters and mystics. However, it should be kept in mind that they had their own terminology to describe this age-old spiritual practice.
The milieu of spiritual and religious traditions and teachers is replete with tales of successorship-related dramas and controversies. It comes with the territory. It’s a given. Debates over who is a rightful successor and who is not, has given rise to guru politics; my guru is better than your guru, etc.
In the case of my own teacher, Kirpal Singh, he did not name a particular individual to replace him. This has led to a proliferation of numerous teachers and unique groups, each devoted to teaching some form of shabd yoga. Swami Ji’s original Radha Soami group in Agra has experienced a similar branching of groups and proliferation of teachers. In the world today, there are now over a hundred teachers of shabd yoga. In fact, over the course of the 160 years of the Radha Soami movement, since Swami Ji began his public work, the pattern of succession has been multiple successors. The model of openly appointing a single guru as a successor to a living teacher hasn’t been the norm within Radha Soami. It’s been the exception.
Personally, I’m in favor of presenting this practice to a broader segment of the population. For that reason, I’m inclined to view proliferation in a favorable light. Of course, any new aspirant would be advised to be prudent in his selection of a teacher. The integrity and spiritual development of any prospective teacher should be taken into account.
There are two critical factors regarding anyone’s choice of a spiritual mentor.
The teacher also needs to have a reasonable degree of inner spiritual development, but I include this in the motives and sincerity of the teacher.
I have chosen the term, Dharana Nada Yoga, because it describes the ancient practice in a literal way, using the terminology of the language of yoga. Our popular, twenty-first century contemporary yoga is a marvelous component to Western culture. But contemporary yoga is missing something; a vital link to its past. It is missing the practice of Dharana Nada, the practice of listening to, and being consumed by the audible, harmonic current of life.
Now, the time has come to reintroduce it to yogis and yogic practitioners, everywhere.