Kalpa Tree Press
Contemporary Classics in Vedanta


Selected Teachings of Swami Ashokananda
for Spiritual Practice

By Sister Gargi and Shelley Brown (Editors)

Trade Paperback, 192 pages
LCCN 2003116961
ISBN 0-9706368-3-0
Kalpa Tree Press


SHAFTS OF LIGHT is a valuable new guide to the practice of Vedanta and inner yoga: a priceless collection of spiritual instructions from Swami Ashokananda (1893–1969) to his close American disciples. Vedanta’s eternal truths come alive in Swami Ashokananda’s down-to-earth words of encouragement and advice. More than eight hundred passages shed light on the spiritual path, with a well-written introduction that informs readers about Vedanta and eases them into the disciplines described in the text.

Early chapters, such as those on conflicts and criticism, show how to cope with negative attitudes by strengthening inner resources; later chapters such as “Be Calm“ and “Meditate” guide readers toward a higher state of consciousness. “Whatever the topic for contemplation, the Swami’s lessons hit their mark in ways both witty and wise—“God doesn’t care a fig whether you meditate on Him or not,” he told his students, freeing them to practice from the depths of their own needs.

Shafts of Light” illumines the heart of spiritual practice—these authentic teachings can help readers of all faiths enjoy a deeper spiritual life.

“Swami Ashokananda was a brilliant and accomplished spiritual teacher in the West.”
“Swami Ashokananda’s words … ignited in his listeners the longing for realization on their own.”
“Swami Ashokananda brought courage and strength to hundreds of lives.”

SISTER GARGI (1912–2004) was a prominent literary figure and a respected monastic in the Ramakrishna Order. She wrote (as Marie Louise Burke) the six-volume classic Swami Vivekananda in the West: New Discoveries; recent books include her biography of Swami Ashokananda, A Heart Poured Out, and her spiritual memoir, A Disciple’s Journal.

SHELLEY BROWN, M.D. has edited and published Sister Gargi’s books since 2001. Dr. Brown is the author of Centred in Trutht: The Story of Swami Nitya-swarup-ananda. She is a well-known Vedantist who lives in New York.


(from the Introduction)

Words that Swami Ashokananda spoke in his lectures and classes—soul-stirring, numinous insights from the wellspring of his own experience—were noted down by his close disciples for their own spiritual practice. Selected passages from these notes are offered herein to other practitioners for the first time. Though delivered in his charming vernacular, Swami Ashokananda’s spiritual instructions embody the teachings of Vedanta at their most sublime.
. . . In Vedanta there are time-honored disciplines to control the mind, concentrate it, and bring it to a one-pointed meditation. To these Swami Ashokananda added fresh insights from his own spiritual experience. Groups of passages in the text clarify intuitive teachings such as these: “Meditation is not simply thinking about God. It is an actual perception of the presence of God,” and “Meditation is not imagination; it is the anticipation of the Real.” There are no set formulas on how to make the leap from thinking to meditation, or how to achieve God-vision (“It just happens,” he said)—but Swami Ashokananda’s instructions point the way.

(a few of Swami Ashokananda’s teachings from Shafts of Light)

“When you have exhausted all the powers of your will and still do not give up, something higher wakes up. More power comes. This is the secret of spiritual achievement.”

“Everything you do is a ritual. If your heart is in it, it becomes spiritual.”

“A strong person does not give up fighting. If you hold on, you will find that all the things that are against you now will become favorable.”

“In defeat do not give up. Meditate. Think of God as best you can. Steady, steady, don’t lose heart—be steady like a rock. The light of victory will be in your eyes.”

“The love in one’s heart sweetens everything.”

“Strength is love. Only the strong can love; the weak can only be sentimental.”

“The very fact that you have the courage to struggle will itself bring you liberation.”

“Don’t think small thoughts. Reach toward the sun, if you have the courage.”

“You are deep and profound. I you become superficial you are like dust scattered by the wind.”

“Concentrate, concentrate, concentrate: that is called willpower. Ordinarily, we let our energies poured out.”

“You will find that one day after your meditation you will feel full of power.”

Copyright 2005 Kalpa Tree Press


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Copyright 2005 Kalpa Tree Press