From Caterpillar to Butterfly

Satguru-Sivaya-Subramuniyaswami-26There are no shortcuts to enlightenment, but there are detours. Impatience with the natural process is one of them. I am saying that impatient striving, the kind of striving that puts aside all common sense and says “I am going to get realization no matter what” is itself an obstacle to that realization which is not a something to get. We must work to perfect an inner serenity that can accept spending a lifetime or several lifetimes in search of Truth, that can accept that some of us are by our nature and unfoldment better suited to service and devotion, and others to yoga and the various sâdhanas. This is a far more enlightened perspective than the Western notion which subtly maintains that there is but a single life in which all the final goals must be reached. The eternal spiritual path, the way of God, is broad. It accepts all and rejects none. No matter where a seeker is in his inner development, the eternal path embraces and encourages him.

According to the Ågamic tradition, four categories of charyâ, kriyâ, yoga and jñâna are the natural sequence of the soul’s evolutionary process, much like the development of a butterfly from egg to larva, from larva to caterpillar, from caterpillar to pupa, and then the final metamorphosis from pupa to butterfly. Every butterfly, without exception, will follow this pattern of development, and every soul will mature through charyâ to kriyâ, through kriyâ to yoga and into jñâna. Charyâ, or karma yoga, may be simply defined as service. Kriyâ, or bhakti yoga, is devotion. Yoga, or râja yoga, is meditation, and jñâna is the state of wisdom reached toward the end of the path as the result of God Realization and the subsequent enlivened kundalinî and unfoldment of the chakras through the practices of yoga. The soul does not move quickly from one stage to another. It is a deliberate process, and within each stage there exist vast libraries of knowledge containing the sum of thousands of years of teachings unraveling that particular experiential vista.

The evolution of the soul through the stage of charyâ, or service, may itself take many, many lives. We see people every day who are working to be of service, to be more efficient, to be more useful to others. Charyâ is the state of overcoming basic instinctive patterns and learning to work for the sake of work rather than the fruits of our labor. It is the simple fulfillment of right action and the first step on the spiritual path. The instinctive mind at this stage of evolution is so strong that it must be governed firmly by external laws, external forces. Tendencies toward selfishness lose their hold on the devotee as he strives to become the perfect servant to God and mankind.

Worship during the charyâ stage is entirely external. As the devotee unfolds into the next stage, of kriyâ or bhakti yoga, he will want to worship and serve in the temple in more internalized ways. Singing the sacred hymns, chanting the names of the Lord and performing japa will become an important part of his devotion, which is partly internal and partly external. Kriyâ blossoms into its fullness when there arises in his heart a desire, a strong desire, to know and experience God.

It is through the devotees in the kriyâ, or bhakti yoga, stage of the unfoldment of the soul that we have all over the world today magnificent Hindu temples, built by people who have performed well, who have controlled their thoughts and actions, who have understood the laws of karma and the penalties of wrong action. They have avoided wrong action not out of fear, but because they have evolved into performing right action. As he matures in kriyâ, the devotee unfolds a more and more intense love of God, to the point that he may well shed joyful tears during intense moments of worship. When that love is constant from day to day, when it is strong enough that he is capable of surrendering his individual will to God’s Cosmic Will, then kriyâ or bhakti yoga has reached its zenith.

At this stage of kriyâ the devotee learns patience. He learns to wait for the proper timing of things in his life. He is in no hurry. He is willing to wait for another life, or for many more lives. There is no urgency. He trusts God and trusts the path he is on. He settles down, and his life comes into a balance.

In the stages of charyâ and kriyâ, the deep-seated impurities of the mind are cleansed as past karmas are resolved and a foundation laid for the third stage on the divine path, that of yoga. Yoga is a very advanced science. It cannot be sustained except by the soul that has unfolded into the fullness of charyâ and kriyâ and maintains the qualities of service and devotion as meditation is pursued. The devotee who has served God well now embarks upon finding union with God in his sanctum within.

In yoga, the devotee worships the transcendent aspect of God. He strengthens his body and nerve system. He disciplines the energies of mind and body. He learns to regulate his breath and to control the prânas that flow as life’s force through his nerve system. In this process, the kundalinî Sakti is lifted and the multi-petaled chakras unfold in all their splendor. Lord Siva now brings the earnest  devotee to meet his sat guru, who will guide him through the traditional disciplines of yoga on his inward journey. It is his spiritual preceptor, his guru, who takes care that he avoids the abysses and psychic pitfalls along the path. In this stage of yoga, the devotee looks upon God as a friend, a companion. Finally, one day, in his first samâdhi, he penetrates to the essence of being. In this ultimate experience, which remains forever beyond description, he has reached the union which is yoga.

Returning from this state of ineffable fulfillment, the devotee brings back into his life a new understanding, a new perspective. He is never the same after that experience. He can never again look at life in the same way. Each time he enters into that God Realization, that samâdhi, he returns to consciousness more and more the knower. His knowing matures through the years as his yoga sâdhana is regulated, and as it matures he enters ever so imperceptibly into the fourth and final stage of unfoldment, into jñâna.

One does not become a jñânî simply by reading philosophy. Understanding another person’s wisdom does not make us wise. Each has to experience the fullness of the path to enlightenment himself. The jñânî becomes one who postulates that what he has himself realized are the final conclusions for all mankind. His postulations are filled with assuredness, for he has experienced what the Vedas, the Ågamas and the Upanishads speak of. He has awakened the power and force of his own realization. He knows. He becomes the embodiment of that knowing, of the Truth he once sought as something other than himself. He finds within the scriptures confirmation of his realization echoed in the verses of rishis written at the dawn of human history. This matured soul sees reflected in their writings that same state of complete merging with the Divine that he himself has come to know as the timeless, formless, spaceless Absolute which he once worshiped symbolically as a stone image in previous life wanderings within the instinctive mind. He has removed the veils of ignorance, removed the obstacles to understanding. He has come into his true being, union with God, union with Siva, and in this serene state he sees God as his beloved, as that which is dearer to him than life itself, as he is consumed by that all-encompassing love. He has become the source of light and darshan which radiate out through the nâdîs and prânas of his being.

The final conclusions are that mankind is on a spiritual path as old as time itself, that this journey progresses from birth to birth as the soul evolves through the perfection of charyâ into the perfection of kriyâ, and from there into the perfection of yoga, emerging as a jñânî. This is the path followed by all souls. Whatever religion they espouse, whatsoever they may believe or deny, all of mankind is on the one path to Truth. It begins with the dvaita of charyâ and ends in the advaita of jñâna.

Excerpts from “Merging with Siva” by Sivaya Subramuniyaswami

The Higher Man

Satguru-Sivaya-Subramuniyaswami-26
The Intellect – Outer Ego

The intellectual mind works through the mechanism of creating, preserving and destroying thought forms. The intellect is the manifestation of a series of well-constructed thought forms. Therefore, the better a person is educated, the more distinctly and clearly does the intellect function. There are people all over the world today who are guided simply by the habit patterns of the instinctive-intellectual mind.

The intellect is not the totality of man. The intellect is not the full mind, it is only one part, about one-tenth of the mind. The subconscious and the super conscious make up the other nine-tenths.

The intellect which when developed into a strong intellectual sheath is able to control the baser emotions through controlled memory, controlled reason and controlled willpower, the three faculties of our ability to govern forces of nature. Neither overrate nor underrate the intellect, for it fills several important functions in life, the great experience.

Opinionated knowledge is a faculty of memory. We study, we listen, we hear and we quote the opinions of others. Opinionated knowledge is stored up in the memory gridwork of the subconscious mind. This provides security, or a platform, for the intellect, making it strong, developing an ego. Therefore, intellect is our ego. The ego separates people from people, nations from nations and the soul from realization of the Self.

“Your real education is the innerversity.” Let’s examine the real meaning, function and purpose of education. Education is not worn. It does not stick to you. It is not your collection of someone else’s opinions. Through education, you stimulate your intellect. Education is that which you bring out from within yourself as a result of your personal interest in the fulfillment of your birth karmas, or prârabdha karmas. Education means exposure to new ideas and old opinions, giving you the tools to explore your own opinions freely, make decisions, research and review them and advance your understanding of God, soul and world. This is education. It is not static. It is as fluid as a river. Or it should be. You have the choice, the ability, to remold your intellect any way you want. The great truths of life are a part of your being. They are within you. They unfold to you slowly as you evolve your comprehension of them. Yet, they are always there within you, waiting to be realized. The only real, permanent education is your unfoldment into the building of the intuitive mind through the control of the intellect.

Since the intellect is made fundamentally of thoughts which are ever creating, preserving and destroying themselves, the control of thoughts builds the intuitive mind. Intuition, knowing, awareness and understanding—these are products not of the intellect, but of the intuitive mind. The dedicated student who has applied himself seriously leaves college not with a “know it all” feeling but with an awareness of the limits of the intellect, and profound respect for the vast amount of knowledge that he has yet to discover or unfold. Conceit is a sure sign of insecurity; humility denotes awareness.

Observe the intellect as it is manifested in the world around you. You can see its limits. You can also see when it becomes a tool for the intuitive mind. Observations give birth to understanding, and understanding comes from your superconscious mind. Thus, the intellect must be developed to a certain extent and then controlled through the control of thought.

The intellect is the external ego, but it is only the external ego when it is in control and has cut itself off sufficiently from superconsciousness by becoming opinionated. When the intellect represents the ego, we say a person is unable to change his mind, no matter how much you try to convince or talk with him. He is stubborn, unyielding, even unfriendly if he becomes agitated or disturbed in his effort to hold the intellect together. Should the intellectual nature become disturbed, the astral body then takes over and the instinctive mind or the instinctive qualities are prevalent at that time. This is quite apparent in undisciplined people, because the intellectual nature is undisciplined.

The Intuitive Nature

Within man, and functioning at a different rate of vibration than the intellect, is found the power or the motivating force of the mind, the chakras, or force centers. There are seven of these basic force centers, which are stimulated into action and unfoldment by the ida, pingala and sushumna currents. The ida and pingala are odic psychic currents (the Chinese yin and yang) interwoven around the spinal cord. Directly through the spinal cord runs the sushumna current, which is actinodic. The ida current is passive odic force; the pingala current is aggressive odic force. The sushumna is an actinodic current. These currents govern the chakras. These currents are like the reins which will guide a horse as we ride in one direction or another.

The intuitive nature is composed of a greater amount of actinic energy than odic. It is formed by the sushumna current that runs between the ida and pingala currents up through the spinal cord. However, it is the state of mind that a yoga student must learn to identify as his own, so to speak. Until this time he usually identifies with the intuitive mind of his guru. One does not entertain thoughts when in this state of full awareness. In this consciousness, one views and perceives through the anahata chakra of direct cognition.

Soul Body, The Real You

Within all seven aspects of man lies the body of the soul, the actinic causal body, anandamaya kosha, the real you. The soul body has a form, just as the astral body has a form, but it is more refined and is of a more permanent nature. It is this body which reincarnates, creating around itself new physical and astral bodies, life after life after life. This process matures and develops the body of the soul. Hence we have old souls and young souls, depending on the maturity and unfoldment of the soul body, or depending upon the number of lives or the intensity of maturing experience which the individual has passed through.

The body of the soul is pure light, made of quantums. It is indestructible. It cannot be hurt or damaged in any way. Its mind is superconsciousness, containing all intelligence, and is constantly aware, does not sleep and is expanding awareness as the soul body matures. The body of the soul lives in the eternity of the moment, simultaneously conscious of past and future as a one cycle. The true nature, everlasting secure personal identity, is realizing oneself as the soul body. This is truly finding our roots, our source, our indestructible, ever-maturing soul.

However, it should be mentioned that the first great attainment to be striven for by the aspirant is the experiencing of inner light, which is taught to family people and renunciates alike, implying that he has enough inner dominion and control over the intellect that the radiance within the head or body is actually seen. This implies also a working control of the manipura chakra and a conscious awareness of the working of the anahata chakra of cognition, allowing a burst of actinic energy to the vishuddha chakra of love.

It must be said that many frustrate themselves by seeking realizations beyond their abilities, while not accomplishing the realizations that are within their abilities. We must remember that savikalpa samadhi relates to the anahata and vishuddha chakras, sustained by a purified intellect and a dynamic will. Whereas, nirvikalpa samadhi is of the ajna and sahasrara chakras and those above and is sustained by complete renunciation of the world to the point where the world renounces the renunciate.

Control of the mind builds the intuitive nature. By directing the flow of thought,  perceptively discriminating between actions, aware of attending reactions, the yoga student soon learns the use of his actinic power. In order to hold an expanded consciousness, this power must be brought into use, and when it flows through the intellect, it automatically changes the chemistry of the intellect while it begins to build the intuitive nature.

Excerpts from “Merging with Siva” by Sivaya Subramuniyaswami

The Path of Egoity

Satguru-Sivaya-Subramuniyaswami-26Anava Marga

Most people on this Earth are following a path of self-interest and selfishness. No doubt, it is the most popular path, and it has its own pandits and masters, who teach how to perfect the path of the external ego, how to perfect worldliness, how to perfect the trinity of I, me and mine, how to perfect self-indulgence.

Enamored with the senses, unaware of and thus not interested in dharma or his inner Divinity, a man surrounds himself with the pleasures and distractions of the world: women, wine, fine apparel, rare fruits and flowers and the intellectual diversions found in books and games.

One of these I call the ânava mârga, or the path of egoism. True, it is not a traditional path, but it is a path well worn, well known in all human traditions. In fact, you could say there are three such untraditional paths, three worldly mârgas: ânava, karma and mâyâ. The last two bonds, karma and mâyâ, are the first to begin to diminish their hold on the soul as one proceeds on the path to enlightenment.

The karma mârga is when the soul is totally enmeshed in the actions and reactions of the past and making new karmas so swiftly that little personal identity, or egoism, is experienced, like a small boat bouncing on a vast ocean of ignorance, the ignorance of the mâyâ mârga. And when these fetters begin to loosen, the ânava, the personal ego identity, thoughts of “me,” “my” and “mine,” should also begin to go, but often don’t. When karma and mâyâ begin to go, ânava often becomes stronger and stronger and stronger.

Here the realization comes that “Yes! I am a person on this Earth with the rights of all. I am no longer bound and harassed by experience. I can adjust experience, create new experience for myself and for others. I can be the controller. I am I.” The I becomes the realization and sometimes the end of the path of the karma and mâyâ mârga. The I, that all-important personal identity, so strong, becomes the realization of the small and limited “self,” which appears to be a big and real “self” to those who have found this path, which is not the spiritual path, but the path of grayness; while the karma and mâyâ mârgas are the paths of darkness. Ånava, the personal ego, finding oneself, with a small “s,” the personal identity, gaining intellectual freedom are all modern clichés.

To offset the negative with the positive better explains the positive. To understand the pure essence of ignorance, where it comes from, its values, beliefs and motivations, better defines the heights of wisdom out of which comes dharma and aspirations for mukti. We cannot advance on the path without a starting place. No race was ever won but that everyone began at the same place.

Self-Concern

The businessman on the ânava mârga is generous by all appearances, gives enough to gain praise, adulation and to make friends. In proportion to his wealth, he gives a pittance. There is always some attachment to the gift, some favor to be eventually reaped. The gift is a purchase in disguise.

Television is a window into the ânava mârga. We see extremely successful professional people who maybe have started on the ânava mârga and have bypassed it to the artful acting portrayal of people on the ânava mârga.

Before the ânava mârga, there is only confusion, unqualified thoughts, desires that are only motivative or directional, not crystallized into any kind of a concept that can be manifested toward a fulfillment. The confusion arises out of the drive for self preservation. All animal instincts are alive in such a human being. He does not hold to promises, does not seek to strive, is a proverbial burden on society. Society is made up of ânava mârgîs and those who live in the other mârgas. Deception, theft, murder, anger, jealousy and fear are often the occupation and the emotions of those living without a personal identity, a well-defined ego.
A personal identity and well-defined ego is the ânava, and the pursuit of the development of that is the mârga. Each purusha, human soul, must go through the ânava mârga, a natural and required path whose bloom is the fulfillment of the senses, of the intellect and all the complexities of doing. It is prior to our entrance upon the ânava mârga and while we are happily on the ânava mârga that we create the karmas to be understood and overcome later when we walk the charyâ and kriyâ mârgas. You have to understand before you can overcome. This is the time that we “do ourselves in” and later understand the all-pervasiveness of Siva, the laws of karma, dharma, sansâra. Yes, of course, this is the time the mischief is done.

Opportunism

The ânava mârgî looks at God from a distance. He does not want to get too close and does not want to drift too far away, lives between lower consciousness and higher consciousness, between the manipûra, svâdhish†hana and mûlâdhâra and the lower three, atala, vitala and sutala, which represent fear, anger and jealousy. He is guided by reason. That is why he can come into the other mârgas. Therefore, God is at a distance. He sees himself pluralistically, separate from God, coexistent with God. The higher chakras are dreaming benignly, waiting for the consciousness to explore them.

Only when someone begins to love God is he on the path of spiritual unfoldment. Only then is he a seeker. Only then does his budding love begin to focus on religious icons. Only then is he able to nurture his love into becoming a bhaktar and at the same time a religious person, a giving person. This is the charyâ path. We come onto the charyâ mârga from the ânava mârga. We come to Lord Ganesha’s feet from the ânava mârga. He is now the guide. The personal ego has lost its hold.

The ânava mârga, and the glue that holds it together, is ignorance of the basic tenets of Hinduism. There is no way one can be on this mârga if he truly accepts the existence of God pervading all form, sustaining all form and rearranging all form. There is no way this mârga could be pursued by one understanding karma, seeing his manifest acts replayed back to him through the lives of others, his secret diabolical thoughts attacking him through the lips of others. The ânava mârga does not include this knowledge. The dharma of a perfect universe and an orderly life, the consciousness of “the world is my family, all animals are my pets” is an abhorrent idea to someone on the ânava mârga, especially if he is casted by birth in this life. The ânava mârgî abhors the idea of reincarnation. To pay the bill of one’s indiscretions in another life is not what ânava is all about. There is a forgetfulness here. When you renounce your childhood, you forget that you ever were a child. You forget the moods, the emotions, the joys and the fears and all that was important at that time.

Self-surrender

The yoga mârga must come naturally out of intense bhakti and internalized worship. The intensity of bhakti is developed on the kriyâ mârga. The final remains of the ego are pulverized on the charyâ mârga, where Sivathondu, selfless service, is performed unrelentingly with no thought of reward, but a hope that the pu∫ya, merit, will be beneficial in the long run. The ânava mârga is easy to leave through total surrender to God, Gods and guru, along with seva, service to religious institutions. Surrender, prapatti, is the key.

It is not without a great ordeal and effort, soul-searching and decision-making that one mârga bends into the other or bows before the other before it releases the consciousness to go on. One mârga must really bend before the other before one can be released. Before entering another mârga, it is a matter of giving up, which is painful, most especially for the ânava mârga people, for whom suffering is no stranger.

Ånava people are always pursuing something, the fulfillment comes on the ânava mârga, and there is fulfillment, but in a never-stopping pursuit of fulfillment. As soon as we stop the pursuit of fulfillment, we become unhappy, empty, feel unfulfilled and, I might even say, at times depressed. The ânava mârga is the I-ness, me-ness, mine-ness; me, my, I. “I want, I give, I get, I collect.” I, me and mine are the key words here. The true ânava mârgî is the owner, the getter, the consumer, not always the producer, vulnerable to the emotions of fear, who uses jealousy as an asset to obtain.

There are two mârgas before the ânava mârga begins, within the realm of deep ignorance. Here reside the masses who live in confusion, the professional consumers who know the generosity of society, who will never in this lifetime manifest a desire, a goal, a thought for the future worthy enough to be accepted on the ânava mârga. They are the slaves of the ânava mârgîs, those whom, as slaves, they manipulate without conscience.

Pernicious Ego

Ånava is one’s personal ego, his identity and place in the world and position on the planet. If his motives are proper and the position is earned on account of good deeds, it is not ânava. But if, when praised, he takes credit for himself, it is ânava. Ånava is the tricky substance of the mind. It is behind every door, it’s peeking in every window. It is the first thing to come at birth and the last thing to go at death. To break the chain of ânava, the yoking to the Infinite beyond comprehension in any state of mind must be complete and final. And yet, while a physical body is still maintained, the ânava elf is still lurking in the shadows, saying “praise is better than blame, name must come into fame, and shame is to be avoided at all cost.” This is the ânava routine. It keeps people held down on the planet in the instinctive-intellectual mind of remorse and forgiveness and suffering the adjustments to circumstance that occur beyond their power of understanding.

If we were to admit that there are really seven mârgas, we would find that charyâ, kriyâ, yoga and jñâna are progressive states of fullness, and the ânava mârga, by comparison, is a static state of emptiness. This feeling of emptiness is a motivative, driving force of desire toward the attainment of the feeling of fullness. The feeling of fullness is the awakening of the higher chakras, of course. And the constant feeling of completeness is, of course, the permanent awakening of the sahasrâra chakra.

The path of the ânava teaches us what to do and what not to do. It creates the karmas to be lived through and faced in many lives to come. And when dharma is finally accepted and understood and the religious patterns of life are encompassed in one’s own personal daily experience, then and only then do we see the end of this path in view. So, the ânava mârga is definitely not a never-ending maze or a no-man’s land. Though a state of ignorance, it is still a state of experiential learning.

People try to fill their emptiness with things. They work so hard for their money, thinking, “Oh, when I can buy this object for my home I will feel fulfilled.” They buy it with their hard-earned money. A day or two later, after ownership has taken effect, the initial fulfillment of ownership wanes, and unfulfillment, which has always been there, takes over. There is no fulfillment in the instinctive-intellectual mind.

Bound to the Path

These days egos get gratified by going to heads of corporations, meeting important people and bowing before heads of state. It is on the charyâ mârga that we learn that rich and poor, the powerful and lowly are all purushas, pure souls, jîvas encompassed in a physical body. And on this mârga we learn to bow before God and the Gods. We learn that their home, their officiating place, is the temple, the home shrine and under sacred trees. Being in their presence makes the charyâ mârgî feel small. The first glimmer of the feeling of smallness is the first footstep on the charyâ mârga.

Those who are not successful in life yet, and experience the repercussion of karmas of past lives denying them things, experiences, security and wealth, are the ruthless ânava mârgîs. For those who have fulfilled their dharmas, and desire has waned for more—they don’t need more money, they don’t need more food, they don’t need more houses, they don’t need more respect—the ânava wanes of its own accord, like an old leaf on a tree turns color and falls to the ground. They enter the charyâ mârga and kriyâ mârga with matured respect and humility.

The one who has little desires the most. He takes issues with the smallest things. The instinctive desire to save face is ever prevalent in his mind, for his face is all he’s got. Even the jîvanmukta doesn’t like unjust criticisms, but he is bound by his wisdom to nondefensiveness, just, unjust, true or false. “Let them say what they have to say, and if it affects me, it is helping me on the way to my final mukti.” He would bless them for that. The ânava mârgî is not like people on the other mârgas, who have mixed feelings about these issues. The ânava mârgî is a prefect in retaliation. That comes as one of the powers or boons of living on this mârga, along with deception and the ability to lie one’s way out of a situation. And to save face, place and position, no matter how lowly they might seem, is the goal of life for the ânava mârgî.

Exiting the Anava Marga

There is a little of the ânava always with us right up to the moment of mukti. You don’t get off the ânava mârga. Individual ego slowly diminishes as the soul unfolds from mârga to mârga. Nandi the bull represents the ego, personal identity, and in a large traditional Hindu temple, we see many images of Nandi, getting progressively smaller as we approach the innermost sanctum. This indicates the soul’s progression toward God or the diminishing ego.

Self-preservation is a very important part of the personal ego. But then, later, as progressive steps are taken, spiritual identity fulfills the emptiness, as water fills up a container. Only at the moment that mukti occurs does the container vanish. Until then the ânava is like smoldering coals in a burnt-out fire. New wood can be thrown upon them. They can be fanned up. Detractors to a spiritual movement will often try to reawaken the ânava of its leader and kill out the rival movement by creating his downfall.

It is no accident that the Hindu sages can understand the ânava within man. Yes, of course, they passed through it themselves and are just tapping their own memory patterns, seeing the actions of others and knowing the outcome.

Without sâdhana, penance tends to be spontaneous, erratic; whereas consistent sâdhana is the regulation of penance. Now the soul begins dropping off the bonds of karma, mâyâ and ânava as it unfolds into bhakti, love. All this is not without being a painful process. Therefore, the protective mechanism of fear, which in itself is an avoidance process, is right there to help – in the chakra just below the mûlâdhâra. The presence or absence of spiritual surrender and willingness to serve shows whether a person is on the ânava mârga or on the charyâ mârga. Devotees on the charyâ mârga are striving to unfold spiritually and reach the kriyâ mârga. People on the ânava mârga are not striving at all. They are their own self-appointed teachers and proceed at their own pace. When we are on the charyâ mârga, we have a lot of help from family, friends and our entire religious community.  When we are on the kriyâ mârga, the entire Hindu community, the elders and others all get behind us to help us along our way. Then when we are finally on the yoga mârga, we have all the saptha rishis helping us. The sat gurus are helping, too, and all three million swâmîs and sâdhus in the world are helping us along the path at this stage. When we have entered the jñâna mârga, we are bringing forth new knowledge, giving forth blessings and meeting the karmas that unwind until mukti.

Excerpts from “Merging with Siva” by Sivaya Subramuniyaswami

Universal Love

Satguru-Sivaya-SubramuniyaswamiLove is the sum of all the spiritual laws. We may say that love is the heart of the mind. Universal love has nothing to do with emotional infatuation, attachment or lust. It flows freely through the person whose mind is unclouded by resentment, malice, greed and anger.

Pure love is a state of Being. Whereas everyone is running around trying to get love, it is found in giving. When a person begins to lose the idea of his own personality through concern for others, he will attract a like response to himself. The outgoing force of the soul in action brings freedom to the lower states of mind. The instinctive person is ordinarily so preoccupied with his own self, so wrapped up in his own shell, that he cannot give a thought to the welfare of another. He cannot give anything of himself. He is still far from any realization of the Self within. The action and reaction of the self-centered state of mind creates tension and discord in mind and body. Often, when the diaphragm is tight, the muscles are tense, breathing is difficult and your whole disposition is on edge. A person attains relaxation and peace through a benevolent act in which he loses himself in another’s happiness. The cycles of tension and release, tension and release – which are constantly given birth to in the instinctive and intellectual state of mind – are only broken as the unfolding soul expresses itself in devotion, breaking up the crust of personal concern and hurt feelings.

To suddenly relieve a person of all tension would be like making a poor man rich overnight. The instinctive mind feels lost and insecure under the impact of any sudden change in evolution. As the soul, the superconscious mind, or the light of God, begins to shine through the rest of the mind, the mind will either become reactionary or cooperative.
Some people have a terrible fight within themselves as the soul begins to shine forth, and yet their only lasting satisfaction in life is in the outpouring of their individual soul qualities.

When you can become fully aware of the states of consciousness through which you pass, there will be no one whom you cannot understand, no one with whom you could not communicate through the medium of love. Until you learn the operation of this law as the sum of all laws, you will continue to harbor contention, to prefer argument and to walk the path of difference. Through bhakti yoga, the yoga of devotion, the combative mind becomes erased, absorbed into the consciousness of the One Self, the Being permeating all beings. With the help of devotion, you can soar within. You cannot only pull away detachedly from unwholesome areas of the mind, but it is possible to keep yourself in an inward state of expanded consciousness.

The only real security comes from within. Gain security, and if your security comes from within you, you become unburdened. However, if one gains his security from the external mind, then of course he will not accept help if help is given. What is help anyway, but man sharing with man? Who is the helper and who is the one who is helped? You have often heard teachers say, “Every time I give instruction, I learn more than my students.” Is the teacher giving the opportunity to the students to learn, or are the students giving the opportunity to the teacher? Obviously, it is quite mutual. The external ego does not give us help. It only ramifies awareness into even more externalized areas of the mind. The mind of light, your super consciousness, is the only area of the mind where permanent bliss, security and steadfastness occur when awareness flows through it, even in the outer areas of your nature. The mind of light is the only thing that can uplift awareness, shuffling off the burdens of the external mind. It is the great teacher.

It takes great dedication, devotion and bhakti to disentangle awareness from that which it is aware of, to flow into and become aware of expanded areas of mind. The rewards are great. We are able to look over and through our expanded vision the totality of the exterior area of our mind and intuitively know the answer to the experiences that we are going through. And then we can focus, superconsciously, from our intuitive state of mind and look at the exterior world from a new perspective, from right within the very core of life itself. It does not take long. It does take one quality though – devotion. Devotion involves going deep enough to understand the great principle of the fulfillment of one’s duty. Who must be devoted to whom? Members of a family to their temple, a wife to her husband, a husband to his religion, children to their parents, the student to the teacher, the disciple to the guru. No matter what you are studying – mathematics, chemistry, philosophy, cybernetics, sociology, religion, a lifestyle – the professor should represent what you are going to be. That is why you are studying with him. Only through devotion will you be totally aware, open, free, inspired. Only through devotion will you become what you aspire to unfold within yourself.

Where do you get devotion? Not from the teacher. The teacher is only an awakener. He imparts knowledge to you, a vibration to you. He awakens you to the possibilities of the grandeur within yourself.

How do we unburden awareness from the external areas of the mind through devotion? Our attitude has to be correct. Only in that way can we manifest the qualities that we want to manifest.

Everyone has many different qualities and tendencies in his nature. Some are flowing freely. Others are suppressed. Others are repressed. Some are active and others temporarily inactive. Our tendencies formulate our attitudes. Our attitudes, once consistently held, stabilize our perspective in looking at life. The first step in unburdening awareness from the externalized odic-magnetic areas of the mind is to cause a bhakti, a love, a devotion, right within the nerve currents of your body.

Devotion and duty lay the foundation for the spiritual unfoldment that everyone is talking about in this age. We do not find the path in books. We find the path in how we handle our individual lives.

Bhakti yoga is the awakening of the love nature through the practice of devotion and giving. Giving begins new life. Giving is an essential for spiritual unfoldment, for until we give and give abundantly, we don’t really realize that we are not the giver; we are just a channel for giving. Abundance, materially and spiritually, comes to you when you cease to be attached to it, when you can take as much joy over a little pebble as you could over a precious ruby. The power of giving is a very great power, a great power that comes to you through yoga. You hear about yoga powers, the power of levitation, the power of suspended animation, but the truly great powers are the power of giving, the power of concentration, the power of the subconscious control over your mind, body and emotions, the power of universal love – practical powers that can be used today.

Why can’t you spiritually unfold until you learn to give and give and give and give until it hurts? Because that hurt is your block. Many people give, and they give generously, up to the point where they feel, “I have given a lot,” or “I have given too much,” or “I gave as much as I can give,” or “I will give more when I can,” or “I enjoy giving and I used to give a lot, but I can’t give so much right now.” These are the little blocks that come up within man’s nature and undermine man’s nature and bind him down to the depths of the negative areas of the subconscious mind. And then he can’t progress. Why can’t he progress? Because he can’t have devotion unless giving unfolds as his light.

The person who has a heart full of joy, even if he doesn’t have material possessions to speak of, always finds something to give; he gives what he has. He knows that he is not the giver at all, and when something comes his way, he gives of it freely. He is a vehicle for giving, and finally he is so full of abundance in consciousness that he knows he is not the giver, and he fulfills bhakti yoga in his life. If you give and give freely and spontaneously, you feel good about it, and if you do it again, you feel even better about it. But if you give and give selfishly, you feel bad about it, and if you continue to do so, you’ll feel worse. If you give and give spontaneously, you will awaken your inner nature, and spiritual power will flow through you, and you will merge with God within you. But if you give and give selfishly, by hanging on to your gift after you have given it, you close the door to spirituality. Giving is in many, many forms. Give freely, and your gift will come back to you, often doubled. That is the incomparable law of karma. Then this opens the door for another gift to be given. Your intuitive nature will tell you how you can give, when and where, and soon you will find yourself giving every minute of every day in the most
spontaneous ways.

Excerpts from “Merging with Siva” by Sivaya Subramuniyaswami

Words of Indian Saints Part #14

paramahansa yoganandaThe metaphysical method of physical transfer of disease is known to highly advanced yogis. A strong man can assist a weaker one by helping to carry his heavy load; a spiritual superman is able to minimize his disciples’ physical or mental burdens by sharing the karma of their past actions. Just as a rich man loses some money when he pays off a large debt for his prodigal son, who is thus saved from dire consequences of his own folly, so a master willingly sacrifices a portion of his bodily wealth to lighten the misery of disciples.

By a secret method, the yogi unites his mind and astral vehicle with those of a suffering individual; the disease is conveyed, wholly or in part, to the saint’s body. Having harvested God on the physical field, a master no longer cares what happens to that material form. Though he may allow it to register a certain disease in order to relieve others, his mind is never affected; he considers himself fortunate in being able to render such aid.

The devotee who has achieved final salvation in the Lord finds that his body has completely fulfilled its purpose; he can then use it in any way he deems fit. His work in the world is to alleviate the sorrows of mankind, whether through spiritual means or by intellectual counsel or through will power or by the physical transfer of disease.

Escaping to the superconsciousness whenever he so desires, a master can remain oblivious of physical suffering; sometimes he chooses to bear bodily pain stoically, as an example to disciples. By putting on the ailments of others, a yogi can satisfy, for them, the karmic law of cause and effect. This law is mechanically or mathematically operative; its workings can be scientifically manipulated by men of divine wisdom.

The spiritual law does not require a master to become ill whenever he heals another person. Healings ordinarily take place through the saint’s knowledge of various methods of instantaneous cure in which no hurt to the spiritual healer is involved. On rare occasions, however, a master who wishes to greatly quicken his disciples’ evolution may then voluntarily work out on his own body a large measure of their undesirable karma.

Jesus signified himself as a ransom for the sins of many. With his divine powers, his body could never have been subjected to death by crucifixion if he had not willingly cooperated with the subtle cosmic law of cause and effect. He thus took on himself the consequences of others’ karma, especially that of his disciples. In this manner they were highly purified and made fit to receive the omnipresent consciousness which later descended on them.

Only a self-realized master can transfer his life force, or convey into his own body the diseases of others. An ordinary man cannot employ this yogic method of cure, nor is it desirable that he should do so; for an unsound physical instrument is a hindrance to God- meditation. The Hindu scriptures teach that the first duty of man is to keep his body in good condition; otherwise his mind is unable to remain fixed in devotional concentration.

A very strong mind, however, can transcend all physical difficulties and attain to God-realization. Many saints have ignored illness and succeeded in their divine quest. St. Francis of Assisi, severely afflicted with ailments, healed others and even raised the dead.

Many people imagine that every spiritual master has, or should have, the health and strength of a Sandow. The assumption is unfounded. A sickly body does not indicate that a guru is not in touch with divine powers, any more than lifelong health necessarily indicates an inner illumination. The condition of the physical body, in other words, cannot rightfully be made a test of a master. His distinguishing qualifications must be sought in his own domain, the spiritual.

Numerous bewildered seekers in the West erroneously think that an eloquent speaker or writer on metaphysics must be a master. The rishis, however, have pointed out that the acid test of a master is a man’s ability to enter at will the breathless state, and to maintain the unbroken samadhi of nirvikalpa . Only by these achievements can a human being prove that he has “mastered” maya or the dualistic Cosmic Delusion. He alone can say from the depths of realization: “Ekam sat ,” – “Only One exists.”

“The Vedas declare that the ignorant man who rests content with making the slightest distinction between the individual soul and the Supreme Self is exposed to danger,” Shankara the great monist has written. “Where there is duality by virtue of ignorance, one sees all things as distinct from the Self. When everything is seen as the Self, then there is not even an atom other than the Self. . . .

Excerpts from the book by Paramhansa Yogananda “Autobiography of a Yogi”

Words of Indian Saints Part #11

paramahansa-yogananda

“It is never a question of belief; the only scientific attitude one can take on any subject is whether it is true. The law of gravitation worked as efficiently before Newton as after him. The cosmos would be fairly chaotic if its laws could not operate without the sanction of human belief.”

“All parts of creation are linked together and interchange their influences. The balanced rhythm of the universe is rooted in reciprocity,” my guru continued. “Man, in his human aspect, has to combat two sets of forces-first, the tumults within his being, caused by the admixture of earth, water, fire, air, and ethereal elements; second, the outer disintegrating powers of nature. So long as man struggles with his mortality, he is affected by the myriad mutations of heaven and earth.

“Astrology is the study of man’s response to planetary stimuli. The stars have no conscious benevolence or animosity; they merely send forth positive and negative radiations. Of themselves, these do not help or harm humanity, but offer a lawful channel for the outward operation of cause-effect equilibriums which each man has set into motion in the past.”

“A child is born on that day and at that hour when the celestial rays are in mathematical harmony with his individual karma. His horoscope is a challenging portrait, revealing his unalterable past and its probable future results. But the natal chart can be rightly interpreted only by men of intuitive wisdom: these are few.”

“The message boldly blazoned across the heavens at the moment of birth is not meant to emphasize fate – the result of past good and evil – but to arouse man’s will to escape from his universal thralldom. What he has done, he can undo. None other than himself was the instigator of the causes of whatever effects are now prevalent in his life. He can overcome any limitation, because he created it by his own actions in the first place, and because he has spiritual resources which are not subject to planetary pressure.”

“Superstitious awe of astrology makes one an automaton, slavishly dependent on mechanical guidance. The wise man defeats his planets – which is to say, his past – by transferring his allegiance from the creation to the Creator. The more he realizes his unity with Spirit, the less he can be dominated by matter. The soul is ever-free; it is deathless because birthless. It cannot be regimented by stars.”

Excerpts from the book by Paramhansa Yogananda “Autobiography of a Yogi”