Because of the ever-increasing interest in yoga and meditation, Science of Identity Foundation published this questions and answers with Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa discussing the origins and essence of its teachings.
Question: What are the origins of the Science of Identity Foundation’s teachings?
Answer: Science of Identity Foundation’s teachings are rooted in the foremost Hindu and yoga scripture, Bhagavad-gita (Song of God). The essential teachings of the Bhagavad-gita are that individuals should cultivate their love for God, their love for others, and use their lives for the well-being of others, being guided by the Lord within their hearts.
The teachings of the Bhagavad-gita have been handed down from one spiritual teacher to his disciples, and those disciples then have passed the teachings down to their students. For thousands of years, this was done mainly orally. But in more recent history, it has been handed down in writing/book form as well.
The chains of teachers that have been handing down the Bhagavad-gita in this way are known as sampradayas, or disciplic successions. There are many disciplic successions coming from Lord Krishna. I received the science of Bhagavad-gita from His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad, who was a disciple of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupad, who received this science from his spiritual teacher, Gaurakishora das Babaji, who received this science from his guru, and so on, back to Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who appeared in India 500 years ago to teach Kirtan, the easiest and most effective yoga method for achieving true inner peace and spiritual realization in this age of chaos (Kali yuga).
Coming in this disciplic succession, known as the Brahma Madhva Gaudiya Sampradaya, the Science of Identity Foundation was established to share the teachings and practices of karma and bhakti yoga so that individuals can easily understand, utilize, and apply such teachings and practices in their own personal lives to achieve greater inner peace and happiness, a more purposeful life, and a fearless death. Science of Identity Foundation and its teachers are passing down these teachings in a way which can be easily understood and applied by people in contemporary society. Rather than establishing places of worship or living facilities such as ashrams or temples, Science of Identity Foundation encourages self-study and self-practice in one’s own home or place of relaxation or work.
“Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who appeared in India 500 years ago to teach Kirtan, the easiest and most effective yoga method for achieving true inner peace and spiritual realization in this age of chaos (Kali yuga).”
Question: How can a person join the Science of Identity Foundation?
Answer: It’s not something one can join. Science of Identity Foundation teaches the science of yoga — the process of re-discovering your spiritual identity and then living a life based on that realization. So it’s not a religion in the sense of describing a group of people with a specific set of beliefs. When people talk about religion, generally they are talking about something that you can join or change.
By contrast, yoga is a process of self-discovery and of cultivating your love for God and for all living beings. You don’t need to join anything or declare your allegiance to anyone. In Sanskrit, there’s a term, sanatana-dharma, which means one’s eternal religion. In other words, what is your eternal function? What is your eternal identity? Who are you and where will you find happiness? What is your eternal purpose?
So real religion means a process of discovering of who you really are and then living a life based on that realization.
So on the path of Vaishnava Hinduism, the focus is not on joining a particular group or organization (including Science of Identity Foundation). Rather, the focus is on the application of the meditation practices and yoga principles in your personal life.
“In other words, what is your eternal function? What is your eternal identity? Who are you and where will you find happiness? What is your eternal purpose?
So real religion means a process of discovering of who you really are and then living a life based on that realization.”
Question: What is the difference between sanatana-dharma and religion?
Answer: The yoga term sanatana-dharma refers to that truth which does not change. It doesn’t have a beginning and it doesn’t have an end. It is the Absolute Truth, eternally.
The difference between sanatana-dharma and what is often referred to as religion is that you can join or be converted to a religion. It’s also something that you can leave — something you can quit.
For example, a person who feels “I am a Christian” can decide tomorrow that “I’m going to change my faith. I’m going to convert to become a Muslim.” Or a Muslim can convert away from being a Muslim to becoming a Christian, or something else.
This is different than sanatana-dharma.
Sanatana-dharma is the truth which exists whether you believe it or you don’t believe it. Sanatana-dharma means the eternal truth — the transcendental truth. So sanatana-dharma refers to that which “is,” and the person who is on the path of Yoga is on a quest to discover that truth.
How much of the truth we understand, or how clearly we see the truth, differs for each individual. But the truth isn’t changing. And it doesn’t have anything to do with believing or not believing. It doesn’t have anything to do with something to join, quit, or convert to.
A person does not become converted from being a Christian to being a follower of sanatana-dharma. Nor can a person convert from being a Muslim or Hindu or Buddhist to becoming a follower of sanatana-dharma — as if they are leaving one faith and joining another faith.
One cannot join sanatana-dharma. One cannot quit sanatana-dharma.
Understanding one’s true identity, and understanding one’s relationship with God and one’s love for God, has nothing to do with joining or quitting a particular faith.
Let’s say we ask someone if we can join their religion. They will tell us that we must undergo some type of conversion or joining process. A priest will conduct a ceremony and ask us some questions, and we declare our allegiance. We will declare that we are now believing in this religion and no other religion.
Sanatana-dharma is not like that. It is a whole different thing to engage in spiritual processes and practices that enable us to come to understand our true identity, and then apply this understanding of the truth of our identity in our life.
“One cannot join sanatana-dharma. One cannot quit sanatana-dharma.”
Question: So what is our actual identity?
Answer: Beneath our body and all its labels — its nationality, gender, color, age, the clubs we belong to, the religions or faiths we belong to, the political parties we may belong to, the family we belong to — what are we underneath all of that?
Our true identity is that which does not change, that which cannot change. If something can change, then that is not sanatana-dharma. That’s not our eternal identity. If we can change something, if it’s not eternal, then that’s not our true identity.
If we look at everything we think we are — how we identify ourselves — we can ask, “Did that have a beginning? Can it have an end? Is there a possible beginning to that, and is there a possible end to that?”
For example, someone might say, “I remember when I became a Christian,” or “I remember when I converted to being a Muslim.” If we can remember that we became something, then it means it is not eternal because it had a beginning.
And if it’s something that we can change, or we can leave it, then it is not eternal. It is not our eternal identity. If we can leave that identity behind, then it’s not our true self. It’s not our true identity. If we can become a Christian and then stop being a Christian, or if we can become a Buddhist and stop being a Buddhist, and convert to something else, then it means that is not our true identity because it’s not eternal. It has a beginning and it can have an end.
Some believe their true identity is a man or woman, but that’s not a fact. The fact is that you are the spirit soul. You have a male body or you have a female body, and that body had a beginning. Before you had a male body, you may have had a female body. Before you had a human body, you may have had an animal body — different kinds of bodies, different genders — none of which are your true identity.
Discovering your true identity is the process of Yoga. This is the science of identity, the science of discovering the truth of your identity. Your identity is something. Now, what is it?
When some people think of spirituality, they think of becoming something or changing something. “Should I become a Buddhist, or should I become a Hindu, or should I become this, or should I become that? Should I join this team or should I join that religion?” They are thinking in terms of labels.
If we can join it, then it is not sanatana-dharma.
What is your true identity, beyond all the layers — all the things that can change? Who are you? This is sanatana-dharma. Understanding your true identity, your relationship with God, and having a loving relationship with the Supreme Soul are the components of living who you are.
In other words, we can act on the platform of self-realization. We can lead an enlightened life, knowing who we are.
“When some people think of spirituality, they think of becoming something or changing something.”
Question: What is required to make spiritual advancement?
Answer: The first and foremost requirement to make spiritual advancement is sincerity. Spiritual practices are simple, yet it requires determination to maintain one’s spiritual practices and focus.
In this day and age, there are many material distractions that can make it difficult to make spiritual progress. So the Vedas, the ancient yoga scriptures, prescribe a very simple process for making spiritual advancement. Simply by hearing and repeating sacred mantras, such as the names and pastimes of the Supreme, you gradually become more and more purified and you develop a taste of spiritual happiness. The more you develop this taste, the easier spiritual advancement becomes and gradually you undergo the process of self-discovery, peeling away the layers of misconception. Just as you wash off the dust on a window that is preventing you from seeing what’s outside, so the repetition of sacred sound gradually purifies the layers of illusion that cover the mind and heart of the living being. Then you can perceive and thus understand things as they truly are, including yourself.
Everyone’s spiritual journey is an individual path. It is not something you join. Simply take this gift of mantra meditation and add it to your life.
“Everyone’s spiritual journey is an individual path. It is not something you join. Simply take this gift of mantra meditation and add it to your life.”