This 2016 Halloween season has many thinking how unloving, divided and back-biting our society functions. Viewing our leader's offensive conduct during the election process has us looking elsewhere for love and stability.
Turn off the politics, social media, and negative flow of ideas that affect thoughts. These influences block energy, intuition, and love.
The answers to our most important and personal questions lie within.
Calling upon Eastern philosophy is not out of disrespect toward our religious culture or lineage but adds to our education and experience. It is the most reliable method to understand the inner workings of our minds. India is recognized worldwide as a source for an unbroken succession of God-realized souls. These men and women carry ancient secrets throughout history and continue to guide seekers to self-realization.
Accepting the wisdom of sages or gurus demonstrates openness and does not indicate wrongdoing or conflict with our religious culture.
Unlike those who are satisfied with their religious education, others yearn for more, possibly a different perspective. So they seek wisdom from enlightened masters or take spiritual guidance from written texts such as the Vedas or famous gurus like:
Swami Sivananda, or
B K S Iyengar.
Many societies suffer needlessly from conflict between these two methods of searching for God, one being religious dogma the other being self-realization or consciousness studies. Because of this, they develop paranoia; therefore miss a great opportunity not only to become aware of their inner strength but also to enjoy the planet's diversity. Applying our faith to accept genuine Masters, regardless of religious affiliation leads the way to stable societies that can keep their history, culture, and uniqueness.
So, let's cross a bridge to new perspectives in our relationship with ourselves.
Following a spiritual path ensures success in both material and spiritual life.
Although many paths achieve spiritual strength,
four are notable in Indian philosophy that can prime a beautiful life filled with love and success.
~by viewing these four-ways as a checklist, we gauge optimal progression~
The central theme of the Hindu Epic, the Bhagavad-Gita, is to seek the spiritual path of devotion in the worship of the divine. The epic combines Bhakti yoga with other tracks namely Jnana and Karma (covered below), which liberates the mind. Acting like other religions, such as Christianity and Judaism, it looks towards an external source in the worship of a personal God. Regardless of whether the object of devotion is cosmic consciousness or Godhead, the goal remains the same: to recognize the truth of a Divine Spirit within the seeker.
The practice of devotion brings self-awareness and love of oneself. That personal experience opens the seeker's heart to universal intelligence we name as divine. The Bhakti Yogi continuously practices devotion, expanding it by living virtuously. He recognizes right from wrong and masters passions and desires. Progressively, the Bhakti Yogi continues to see God in all things and rises above the dualistic concept of God. Only then will he realize God dwells everywhere as the Whole while everything else is His parts.
Transformation of the Bhakti Yogi effects infinite knowledge, God-consciousness, and other Divine qualities. An important skill is recognizing one's intuitive powers. Intuition brings a unique experience of clarity, revealing specific life missions.
The three technical elements of Mantra, Tantra, and Yantra are also part of Bhakti yoga. Found in other practices too, these disciplines are intermingled in whole or in part to intensify and advance competency.
Karma is the most misunderstood term in yoga thanks to its various aspects and interrelationships. Teachings of Karma from the Bhagavad–Gita suggests it transcends the "ego motivation" thereby freeing the effect from narcissistic desire. Choosing this path, the seeker starts by preventing further accumulation of negative Karma; then, reverses the effects.
Karmic action refers to activities of the mind and body: from eating, drinking, walking and talking to thinking, concentration, meditation, and love; all are Karma. Only those actions performed selflessly, as an offering to God, are Karma Yoga.
Every action is followed by a reaction or result. No action is divorced from its result; no cause can disconnect from its effect. The purpose of Karma Yoga is to interrupt this dynamic cycle of action and reaction. Moreover, Karma is the character of an individual and the total works of his past actions.
Looking forward, the seeker's future reflects the mental and physical actions of the present. In this way, Karma shapes our destiny. Examples of karma yoga are selfless service, awareness of unconscious and genetic karma, and refraining from past behavior that generates negative karma.
The practice comprises meditation and proper action without ego expectations. Meditation brings a higher level of consciousness; where we become aware and able to clarify past karma. In this way, we may live in the present and move beyond history. This manner of living is "being present."
Success brings the seeker freedom and awareness by acceptance or responsibility for his destiny. Although he still faces karma results such as illness and death. Karma yogis act as masters, not as slaves; they have control over desire and passion, by directing these forces toward the highest ideals.
Jnana yoga, first mentioned in the Bhagavad–Gita, is the attainment of wisdom and divine intuitive knowledge that teaches unity. It asserts ideas or thoughts of distinction or separation are unreal or delusion. Moreover, God and man are different aspects of one universal reality. This non-dualistic approach of oneness does not worship God as an object, but as one's Self.
The path of Jana Yoga shows ignorance and misperception, but also shows the Soul as eternal, changeless, knowing, and free. Knowledge of the Self comes when selfless and noble works purify the intellect and heart. The explicit knowledge of the Self brings awareness of Absolute Truth. This intuitive wisdom discerned by meditation goes through a filter of reflection and is set with faith.
It is proven that yoga helps control the mind and senses. Raja Yoga entails a practice following the eight steps or limbs of Ashtanga yoga. The practice is ethics, posture, breath, and meditation. The contemplation aspect makes this school suited more toward the introspective and disciplined seeker. What establishes Raja an advanced practice is a need to keep ethical habits and commitment to meditation.
Ashtanga Yoga or eight-limbed yoga proposes a comprehensive guideline for living that advances a seeker on his path to self-discovery and keeps him living a balanced and healthy life. They include renunciations, observances, postures and breath practices, withdrawing of the senses, concentration, meditation and liberation.
Using knowledge empowers us and opens lines of communication between cultures. We know the purpose of eastern philosophy, specifically yoga, is mastery of the mind. It is as relevant today to accurately understanding our fluctuating cycle of thoughts. Whichever path is used, control of the mind is only possible when the cycles or habits weaken. One path should not be selected or considered better than the others because each is powerful and unique in solving the appropriate obstacle.
The particular path to follow depends on your habits, disposition and unique constitution. Whatever path you pursue, the mind should flow intuitively towards it with love and forgiveness.
Remember—the medicine suits the disease and stage. Always put love first, expanding and growing; love is the best cure of all.
To learn more about traditional forms of yoga and how to add these methods to your life please visit my website: http://www.SandZuid.com.
Sandra Zuidema is the author of the Yoga Affect Series. Yoga Affect: A Primer for a Beautiful Life and it's companion journal, Yoga Affect: A Guided Journal, both available on Amazon.com. To learn more about the series and please visit the website SandZuid.com