All Yogic approaches account for surprise and/or grace.

Part 9 of “How do you Qualify Yoga?

About a year ago, I was facilitating a workshop and met someone who is now a dear friend.  Our connection was instant; he had been raised a devout Hindu and was very complementary about my ability to simplify teachings he had previously learned.  We culminated our discussion with the idea that, assuming you subscribe to belief in Saṃsāra, how it took everything we had done up to that moment to even be in that workshop–to even be discussing teachings which were, at one time, only available to the chosen few.

According to Swami Rama, “…There is also the activity of grace. Grace is the impulse or the impetus of the energy to dispel darkness. There is the grace of the scriptures, from the wisdom that has passed down from others. There is the grace of the teacher, who imparts that wisdom and helps bring it to life in the student. There is the grace of God, or pure consciousness, that is alive and ever present in everyone’s life. Integral to these three graces is the grace of oneself, having the will to undertake a purposeful journey in life, to do the spiritual work of life, and to prepare oneself.”

What is the source of the impulse?

According to the mahavakyas:

  1. Brahma satyam jagan mithya–Brahman is real; the world is unreal
  2. Ekamevadvitiyambrahma–Brahman is one, without a second
  3. Prajnanambrahman–Brahman is the supreme knowledge
  4. Tat tvam asi–That is what you are
  5. Ayamatmabrahma–Atman and brahman are the same
  6. Aham brahmasmi–I am brahman
  7. Sarvam khalvidam brahma–All of this is brahman

If Brahman–which is an arbitrary word for the Center of Consciousness, the nameless apex, or whatever you wish to call it–and we are one and the same, the source of the impulse is from within.  We heard it said before, “You are who you are seeking.”  Ironically, the picture above says “to serve another”–there is no other.  There is only one.

There is no need to anthropomorphize the Center, I am not suggesting “someone” is pulling strings.  But, to paraphrase Ma Tri, when you done all the preparatory work, when you have gone deep enough in your meditation, eventually it is a surrender and grace that carries you the final distance.

Hence, meditation, affirmative prayer, contemplation, and gratitude–try to do some every day.

The closer we come to Enlightenment the more ordinary we become

Part 8 of “How do You Qualify Yoga?”

Toward the One,
the Perfection of Love, Harmony, and Beauty,
the Only Being,
United with all the Illuminated Souls,
Who form the Embodiment of the Master,
the Spirit of Guidance.

I find such comfort in this prayer from the Sufi master, Hazrat Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan.  Especially when I contemplate the line, “all the Illuminated Souls who form the embodiment of the Master”.  Pause to savor that concept.  There is not one Master, there is not one path.  When the Buddha was asked, “who are you”?  He replied, “I am awake”.

Self-realization is an experience shared by numerous individuals from numerous traditions.  One can argue that the Buddha, the Christ, and Rumi were all describing the same level of consciousness with different words.  To believe that the omnipotent Ultimate Reality is confined to one tradition belittles it.

One hallmark on enlightened Masters is simplicity.  Not merely renunciation; because like a dry drunk, mere physical renunciation without renouncing internally is playing a role.  Internal renunciation is the letting go of the attachment to the outcome; yet continuing to strive for ultimate Reality, as described in my previous post.

All illuminated Masters incline towards simplicity.  Furthermore, the closer they are the less they are drawn to the fleeting transient world.  They taste what is “real” and tasting leads to savoring.  What could be more satisfying; to know the Ultimate Reality or to go on with the mundane temporary–even if it is stimulating to the senses.  Everything “out here” is subject to change.  The only constant is that core, “the perfection of love, harmony, and beauty”.

All Yogic approaches require the implementation of Discipline and Detachment.

Part 7 of “How Do You Qualify Yoga?

People think that sadhana–the yogic path–means the day-to-day process.  In a way it does, it is what practices you do (meditation, breath work, etc).  But, abhyasa is the moment to moment committment to this way of being and living.  It’s the cultivation, not obsession, of remembering your committment to reach Yoga.  But, all of the work you do has to be done with surrender–if you expect an exact outcome you are living in the world of control.  Control is an illusion.  There are many factors affecting us at any given time; our karma is coiled and spiraled in ways we cannot imagine.  So we do the work, we commit to the path, and we let go.  We make mistakes and we try again.  Life throws curve balls and we still meditate, contemplate, pray, and offer gratitude.  We are not bargaining with the Center of Consciousness– we are trying to connect to it.  Although, the irony is, we are never away from it.  Let the trials help you remember that every moment is Holy and Divine.

From Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati

The Silence

enjoy_the_silence_by_archnophobia

From the Gross to the Subtle is proud to present our third guest blogger: the esteemed Cecelia Smith.  Please contact us if you would like to share lesson, personal experiences, meditations, and poetry from dharmic traditions and mindfulness.  Thank you for blessing us Cecelia.

THE SILENCE

Silence is of inestimable value in creating the place of change we are destined to inhabit. As our silence grows, so does the attributes of the One Being into whom we are transforming ourselves. Most of us are not yet capable of being in the Silence for extended periods of time. That is as it should be at this point in our development. Although, we may meditate for long periods of time, our moments of true Silence are very brief. Every second of linear time spent in true Silence is vast in the change it brings and the momentum it builds in our ongoing expansion. Each second of true Silence adds to our store of Silence and makes it easier for us to achieve that ultimate Silence in which we know ourselves as One Being.

That point, that second of transforming Silence is very close, and gets closer with every brush we make with the Silence. We feel it as a tremor, an awesomeness surrounding everything we do. We become excited in our anticipation of the revelations of ourselves, the One Being, Humanity. This excitement shatters our individual Silence, but in no way touches or disturbs the collective Silence we augmented by our entrance of the Silence. Second by second it grows. Second, by second, we are drawn closer to our objective; second by silent second we are a little more awake. The split second which transforms separate ego based individuals into the Great Being of Humanity is so very close. It is said in sacred writings that “no one knows the minute, or the hour when the Son of Man comes.” That is the truth.

We are building the habitation for the Son of Man on a second by silent second basis. The excitement is almost unbearable. The suspense so great, that some of us rush ahead. The Son is not ahead. The Son is not behind. The Son (translated SUN) is within the silent seconds we spend in the Silence. The magnificence of the raising Sun draws strength and substance within the Silence, getting bolder with every second spent within it. This Silence is an act of grace. We pray, we meditate, we sing, we dance, we expect and we love, all doing all building, all calling for the Silence to overtake us. Then it does and we remember. The truth of who we are dawns within our consciousness. We are astonished by our beauty and grandeur. Then we retreat from the Silence enter the world of doing again, leaving behind a Silence grown larger by our silent presence. The birthing of the Sun of man draws ever more close.

Enter The Silence Now and Become the Sun.

” I have written almost all my life. I write because I must. Words pile up inside my head and the only outlet for me to have is to write. I choose to share some of these writings in my blog ‘motivated in spirit” to inspire first myself and then others. It is my hope and prayer that you find these blogged words inspirational. Thank you… In the deepest love, Cecelia”

Cecelia’s home blog is:

Motivated By Spirit

A motivational blog to remind ourselves of our grandeur and Divinity.

http://motivatedinspirit.blogspot.com/

 

 

All Yoga Paths Subscribe to Dharma

images

Part 4 of “How Do You Qualify Yoga

Please let me forewarn you, this may be a polarizing post.  Humans, on many levels, enjoy their misidentification with nonself (to borrow a Buddhist term).  We cling desperately to all that we are not–all that we are attached to.  The ego is a collection of false identities, which the teachings of Yoga systematically deconstruct.  The ego gets particularly obnoxious when we perceive we are being told that we are doing something “incorrectly” (or at least differently from how it was intended).

Dharma is a Sanskrit term which is utilized in many traditions; however, it has no true English translation.  Dharma can mean, law, right-way, and order; Feurestein ascribes it to morality.  Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Hinduism are all called “dharmic traditions (or religions)”.  Truthfully, there really is no “religion” called Hinduism.  Hinduism is a term that originated from the British trying to describe the various traditions of the people Sindhu River.  Hinduism is a collection of philosophies, among them: Shaktism, Vaishnavism, and Shaivism–all of whom, like the branches of Yoga, describe the Ultimate Reality in different ways.  Sanatana Dharma means the “Eternal Way” (or law, morality, etc.).  It is the wellspring out of which the dharmic traditions sprung.

Yoga and Sanatana Dharma cannot be separated.  Their lines are intrinsically blurred.  While it’s possible to practice Yoga and still adhere to other religious tenets–Christianity is very much a Bhakti Yoga practice–the origins are one and the same. Conversely, it is possible to be a Hindu and not practice Yoga; however, they originate from the same source.

All types of Yoga (not mere asana practice), have a dharmic component.  In some paths the tenets are spelled out in recommended actions and restraints.  In other paths, there is a call towards looking inward towards ones own moral compass.  Regardless, there are no Yogic recommendations towards: competitiveness, hyper-sexuality, greed, or lying.  However, that is often the case in the contemporary Yoga scenario.  Studios are selling expensive clothing, hyper-mobility is lauded, scant dress is praised, and teacher’s don’t have a personal sadhana.  It’s not a judgement, you aren’t bad if you’re doing these things.

Yoga is not about a punitive deity waiting to judge–it’s about becoming so clear and so aligned that you wouldn’t want to do these things.  Patanjali calls this the “great vow”.  It is not about becoming pious either; but, there is nothing wrong about being aware of what Yoga is and is not.

Yoga Has Many Branches

circle-chart-small-YELLOW-WDDS

Part 3 of “How Do You Qualify Yoga?”

Sorry for the delay in posting this–full-time life happens…

Go back to the bumper sticker I mentioned in post 2 of this series, “I Love Yoga”; we have clarified, ad nauseam, Yoga is the Ecstatic State–Yoga is Union.  But, even in philosophical circles, it can also mean the practices and the path that lead to the State.  If I asked the driver what type of Yoga they practiced they may say, “I do Power Yoga”, “I do Vinyasa Yoga”, perhaps, “I do Ashtanga Yoga” (that is a whole other posting– Ashtanga classically denotes the eightfold-path of which posture is only one rung), or, “I do Bikram Yoga”.  All of these are styles, some debatably more than others, under the umbrella of Hatha Yoga.  Let’s park that for a moment and come back to Hatha…

Again, Yoga is a liberation teaching.  Unquestionably, the goal of Authentic Yoga is to end the continual cycle of birth and rebirth, to realize the True Self and attain Enlightenment.  I know that it’s heavy; but, it’s true.

No how are you going to do that…

The Yogis, in their infinite genius, have devises several avenues to this Penultimate Goal.  They are based on your inclinations and where you are in your life.  But, the goal of all is the same–YOGA.

According to Georg Feuerstein, and other scholars (there is debate of the number of paths), they are: Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Tantra Yoga, Mantra Yoga, Hatha Yoga, and Raja Yoga (Authentic Ashtanga Yoga)–I am focusing on the “Hindu” Yoga Pantheon.  We can debatably add: Buddhist Yoga and Jain Yoga, too.

I will briefly summarize each path and provide links for further reading.  Notice each definition refers to the Ultimate Reality as the Goal.  I would at least need to do a full posting to do each one any justice–let’s see what the future holds…

Karma Yoga: A major branch of Yoga, expounded in the first third of the Bhagavad-Gita, is the liberating path of self-transcending action. All actions are given selflessly (seva) with the understanding that all actions come from the Ultimate Reality.

Jnana Yoga: A major branch of Yoga, expounded in the second third of the Bhagavad-Gita, (and numerous other texts, such as the Upanishads) which is based on the cultivation of wisdom as the path to liberation.  This wisdom is derived through direct experience of the Ultimate Reality as the Transcendental Self (atman) and  through constant discernment of what is real and what is unreal.

Bhakti Yoga: A major branch of Yoga, expounded in the final third of the Bhagavad-Gita, (and numerous other texts, such as the Bhagavata Purana ) is the path of liberation through devotion.   Through cultivation of this deep devotion, Bhakti, the seeker connects with the Ultimate Reality as a Supreme Being or Supreme Person.

Karma Yoga: A major branch of Yoga, expounded in the first third of the Bhagavad-Gita, is the liberating path of self-transcending action. All actions are given selflessly (seva) with the understanding that all actions come from the Ultimate Reality.

Tantra Yoga: By far the most complicated branch of traditional Yoga.  Tantra focuses on the feminine energy (shakti) as the source of the Ultimate Reality.  Broadly speaking Tantra can be broken down into two categories: Left-hand, which uses ritual and deities, and right-hand which is practices internally without ritual and iconography.  However, as with many other traditional teachings, Tantra has often been reduced to a mere mockery of itself with focus on increasing sexual prowess.

Mantra Yoga: A major branch of Yoga, which is sometimes grouped as part of Tantra Yoga.  This path uses mantras as a path to Ultimate Reality.

Hatha Yoga: A major branch of Yoga, the most renowned in the West, which is sometimes considered to be a part of Tantra. Hatha Yoga was developed by Goraksha and expounded in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika.  In the HYP, one-quarter of the text is dedicated to postures (of which only four asana are described), one-quarter to cleansing and breath lengthening (shatkarma and pranayama), one-quarter to seals and locks (mudras and bandhas), and one-quarter to samadhi (the direct experience of Ultimate Reality).  

Raja Yoga: A major branch of Yoga, considered to be the most complete methodology of practice.  Raja Yoga is also known as Classical Yoga or Ashtanga Yoga (the eightfold path).  This classic treatise of this tradition is the timeless Yoga Sutras, codified by Patanjali.  The text describes the entire practice and potential experiences of meditation practice.  As well as outlines the eightfold path of sadhana: yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi–which lead to direct experience of Ultimate Reality.

Despite the many branches the goal is the same.  If Ultimate Reality is not the goal, it’s not Yoga.  Now what is Ultimate Reality?  That’s for the sadhaka to decide… See the chart at the beginning, it’s a question mark…

Love Maker, Earth Mover

skull

The old rule, are you ready to break it?
Convention just isn’t strong enough to make it
It collapses under the weight
of a new world order played out in faith
enlightened by a good man worthwhile
An indigo child running wild
sparkling eyes so sweet, noble to the core
No story quite like this has been written before
He speaks kindly and clearly to every man
He’s a language that everyone understands
He’ll stay with you come whatever may
Staring down the impossible, he always sees a way
So simple yet so profound is his gift
No need to struggle, he’ll lend a hand and just lift
this burden into the ether and off your shoulders
He’ll laugh with you as you grow older
A hero that wants only your favor in return
A fireman to rescue you as this world burns
A great example that equalizes the good books
A man that forces you to take a closer look
at the version of truth you’ve chosen to greet
and if you look both ways before you cross this street
you’ll surely see his gorgeous, speeding karma
blow by brilliantly and run right over your dogma

Hand In Glove

Holding each other’s hand
so we are whole, not just a part of.
Shiva and Shakti be damned.
They’ll not survive the night,
when we leave them in favor of
serenity in our guiding light
beckoning from within, not above.
Unravelling dualism’s intricate plan
to decode the illusory distinction
between pigeon and dove.
Arriving at the promised land
of tomorrow, accomplished in love.

Profession

cloud

I’d like to talk to you
about a lucrative career opportunity!
It offers fulfillment through good work
and can provide the raise you’ve been waiting for.
It requires no experience, but is quite life changing.
It’s impossible to be overlooked for promotion,
you are your own boss, and everyday feels like a vacation.
The meetings are spectacular.
It’s a new and different endeavor with each breath.
It’s exactly what you’ve dreamed of, been searching for,
and the answer to the questions that keep you up at night.
First off, you’re hired!
Just keep doing what you’re doing –
but fight hard to hold it all in a place of pure love.
Let negativity go and hold each moment
in a bright clear light.
You may not notice anything at first.
But, give it a year of sincere effort
and you will have the wealth of life you knew you deserved.
This work will reward you with perfect happiness.
If you make this career change for entirely selfish reasons –
it doesn’t really matter.
The benefits are universal and undeniable.
Love and let love be our future.
Do it for you!
Do it for me!
Let’s watch our children flourish
in the indigo of our perpetual prosperity,
an ever-glowing example of a lovely life’s work
that endures and continues to elevate.