There are many spiritual paths to serve our individual needs based on our spiritual evolution and lessons needed. Though individuals are on different paths does not imply that any one individual is more spiritually evolved than another. Our primary concern must be in our own spiritual development as opposed to comparing ourselves to others! Making such comparisons may mean that we need to work more on being less judgmental of others and ourselves. What is important to keep in mind is that all true spiritual paths lead to a state of one or perfect, permanent union with the Divine (i.e. Samadhi, Moksha, Nirvana, Ascension etc). Yoga means union.
Please make a selection:
Paths, Procedures and Tools (Pranyama, Pratyhara, Meditation)
"Be still and know that I am The Great Spirit." Ps. 46:10
"The light of the body is the eye; if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light." Matt 6:22
"The Great Spirit is love and anyone who lives in love lives in The Great Spirit, and The Great Spirit lives in them." John 1:7,3
"And The Great Spirit said, behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed which is upon the face of all the earth and every tree in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for food." Gen 1:29
YOGAS: There are many yogic life paths to follow (the word "yoga" means "union"):
- Karma Yoga Path of Selfless Service
- BhaktiYoga Path of Love and Devotion
- Jnana Yoga Path of Intellect
- Laya Yoga Path of the Primal Force (Kundalini Yoga)
- Tantric Yoga Path of Embracing Life & Physical Body
- Hatha Yoga Path of Prana (Life Force)
- Raja Yoga Path of Fusion/Experience
All paths converge into The Great Spirit where the essence of all creation is concentrated. That point, the Bindhu, is zero; its center is infinite while all that lies outside the center is finite. In every living being, the Higher Self or Atman is infinite while the external body is finite. All of creation is a serious of actions, or changing processes, with a design; the design is based on the Law of Karma. Being a part of creation, regardless of our philosophical precepts (e.g. atheism, agnosticism, or theism), our lives also have a design which captures the processes we need to go through to further our spiritual growth, leading to self-realization or union with The Great Spirit. Life events are actually processes we go through which give us lessons or opportunities for the growth we need. The processes that we need are based on our present level of spiritual growth. If we don't master the lesson, the opportunity to learn that lesson keeps coming back at us. These recurring life events or opportunities may serve as clues as to which path is presently appropriate for us
. The paths are not discreet, but overlap in many areas. Some of the premises, procedures and tools cut across two or more paths (e.g. Hatha, Kundalini, and Laya Yoga). However, to preclude procrastination by the ego and resultant failure to make progress along any one path, the Sadhak (student) is advised to choose and follow only one path as opposed to dabbling in each path, without making any progress. A brief explanation of each life path follows.
KARMA YOGA: Karma Yoga is the path of action based on the Law of Karma, where a) action is unavoidable and b) the results of an action becomes a cause for another present and/or future action. Deciding not to act is an action in itself. Actions are performed at the mental and physical levels in the form of thoughts, speech and actions. In fact, all of creation is a serious of actions, or changing processes.
We all have within us energies to help humanity and all living beings. Through helping, we aid our own healing and growth. Every form of work which becomes our lot can serve as an action of liberation from desire, tension, anger, jealousy, hatred, greed, fears, and lust. Our acts become a form of worship to The Great Spirit (as manifested in our higher, ego less self) if they are performed with love and in the spirit of service, without any expectations of receiving something in return. Each act becomes a process of cleansing, a way of refining and eliminating our problems.
We create negative Karma (problems) by imposing expectations or demands (in exchange for our services). These expectations and demands eventually lead to resentment, fear and hatred, especially when the other party cannot meet them. When we work to serve others (thus serving our Higher Selves as opposed to the ego self), we must remain unattached to the results of our actions and without any expectations. We want nothing but to serve; therefore, we have no reason to fear or hate or to become angry. When our actions are performed with the right mental attitude, skillfully, and out of devotion and love, our actions become spontaneous expressions of love rather than an expressions of fear or competition or jealousy. Thus, we are then truly serving our Higher Selves and The Great Spirit. Service to others is service to our Higher Selves. This service is true Karma yoga that frees us from our past Karma while precluding the creation of new Karma, resulting in our Moksha or liberation/freedom from Karma.
BHAKTI YOGA: Bhakti Yoga is the path of love and devotion to The Great Spirit. Jesus Christ followed this path. Love of The Great Spirit means unconditional love and acceptance of others and ourselves. When we love others, being manifestations of The Great Spirit, we are in fact loving The Great Spirit. Our love of The Great Spirit can also be expressed by acts of worship and devotional prayers and chanting (Japa), coupled with heart centered meditation. Using these techniques, we may also reach the transcendental state of oneness with The Great Spirit.
JNANA YOGA: Jnana Yoga is the path of knowledge and wisdom obtained through study of the scriptures and self. This practice employs such tools as self- reflection, meditation, and renunciation of desires and attachments. By intellectual understanding of internal reality, external reality, and the self in conjunction with meditating on the unity of all things (living and non-living), Truth (The Great Spirit) becomes self-evident. Intellectual understanding is transformed into direct experience of Truth where we become one with that truth.
LAYA YOGA: Laya Yoga is a path involving primal energy (Shakti or the female principle) known as Kundalini. The techniques used are physical and similar to the Hatha Yoga asanas and some Tantric practices. These physical techniques are intended to purify the body and arouse and move the force of Kundalini up through the different energy centers (Chakras) where, at the crown center, it unites with the Higher Self (Shiva or male principle), and we enter a state of "Being" with The Great Spirit prior to creation.
TANTRA YOGA: Tantric Yoga comes from the ancient Sanskrit root word meaning "to weave" our lives. There are two traditional schools of Tantra, one being Hindu and the other Buddhist (Tibetan). Regardless of the tradition, Tantra is a way of life which involves embracing fully all aspects of life, advocating that oneness, Samadhi, or union with The Great Spirit can be obtained by physical means, using the body. Tantra is greatly misunderstood by the western world who view it as merely a sexual practice because some of the rituals involve the body, working with sexual energy, sometimes culminating in sexual intercourse (union of Shakti and Shiva).
However, Tantra is predicated on the precept that we learn and grow by fully experiencing whatever life process we are presented with. Tantra is the antithetical to fear; Tantra involves leaping into our life processes and all our thoughts, actions, and feelings associated with the processes, including negative feelings and fears, to openly examine and deal with them. For example, by expressing anger (in a safe way and place) as opposed to denying or repressing it, we can learn to let go of it. The 12-Step program for addictions is based on the fundamentals of Tantric philosophy. For example, until we embrace our addiction and admit we are an addict, we will never learn how to deal with our addiction.
HATHA YOGA: Hatha Yoga is the path of Prana (Life Force). Like Laya and Tantric Yoga, Samadhi is effected through the body by practicing the following: a) vegetarian diet; b) body purifications; c) ancient physical postures (asanas); d) breathing exercises (Pranayama); and d) meditation. Some view Hatha yoga as a means or tool for preparing the body and mind for meditation as opposed to a distinct yogic path. Consequently, Hatha Yoga, as a preparatory technique, serving to eliminate psychic disturbances manifest in the physical body, is included as a practice in most of the paths. Hatha Yoga is based on the theory of a "subtle body" which parallels the "gross body" (physical body). The subtle body is an energy body which generates the life force called Prana (breath of life). Prana moves through a network of channels (Nadis) and energy centers (Chakras) which exist at the level of the subtle body. The Nadis include Susumma, Ida, and Pingala. The Susumma is the cental channel, running vertical through the body; the Ida is the smaller channel to the left of the Susumma; and the Pingala is the smaller channel to the right of the Susumma. The Ida and Pingala end in the regions of nostrils, corresponding respectively to the left and right nostrils.
CHAKRAS: The Chakras which are innumerable energy centers or vortexes within the subtle body. However, there are seven principle chakras which correspond to nerve complexes running along the spine. These primary Chakras are presented below. (SAMADHI = PURE CONSCIOUSNESS)
- by CHARKA, CORRESPONDING NERVE COMPLEX, COLOR, SENSE, DISEASE AREA, FACULTY or EMOTION, ELEMENT
- Sahasrara; Crown of Head; Violet, ---; Spine, Cerebral Cortex; Understanding; Thought
- Ajna; Third Eye (Pineal Gland); Clear; Indigo; Mind ; Eyes, Nose; Intuition, Light, Discrimination; Light
- Visuddha; Throat; Blue; Hearing; Thyroid, Mouth, Throat; Surrender, Creativity, Receptivity; Ether, Air
- Anahata; Heart; Gray, Pink, Green; Touch; Circulatory; Love, Nurturance; Air
- Manipura; Solar Plexus; Yellow, Red; Sight; Digestive; Competition, Aggression, Ego Survival, Control; Fire
- Swadhisthana; Intestinal; Orange, White; Taste Urinary, Reproductive; Sexuality, Pleasure, Specy Survival; Water
- Muladhara; Root; Red, Yellow; Smell; Colon, Bowel; Insecurity, Fear, Individual Survival; Earth
Through exercises (Asanas, Kriyas, Mudras, Bandhas and Pranyama) which permit the channeling of Prana and the activation of the Chakras, expanded states of awareness are reached, culminating in Pure Awareness or Samadhi for master Yogis.
RAJA YOGA: Raja Yoga is the systematic, majestic path of direct experience, codified and systematized by the Indian sage Patanjali over 2000 years ago (approximately 400 B.C.) into a collection of 196 aphorisms know as "The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali". Much of modern psychology (e.g. psychosomatic illnesses and the mind-body complex) has its origin in the Sutras which assert that there is a spirit beyond the mind-body complex which exists in perfect awareness independent of the physical and mental bodies. Our task is to realize that perfect, universal awareness (spirit) while in the physical mind-body.
Raja Yoga is also known as Astanga Yoga, meaning the path of eight limbs which the Sadhak or student must systematically master through direct experience. Raja yoga, as a philosophy and practice, encompassing teachings from other paths. Contrary to the principle of unquestioning faith, Raja Yoga is based on the scientific method; students test the hypotheses by their own experience before accepting them. Practicing Raja Yoga is like climbing an eight-rung ladder; the student progresses to the first rung and discovers the next rung, proceeding on until the last rung is fully experienced wherein the student unites the individual soul with the cosmic soul, attaining a state of perfection and oneness with the ultimate reality (Samadhi). The eight steps follow:
EIGHT LIMBS OF YOGA: 1) Yamas: non-violence, non-stealing, non-lying, non-attachment, non- sensuality; 2) Niyamas: study (self & scriptures), contentment, austerity, devotion, and purity of mind; 3) Asanas: Hatha positions (kriyas, mudras, bandhas, asanas); 4) Pranayama: control of breath/prana; 5) Pratyahara: withdrawal of mind from sense objects; 6) Dharana: concentration; 7) Dhyana: meditation; and 8) Samadhi: absorption into Atman (Universal Awareness/The Great Spirit). To proceed on this or any path, the student should first meet the following four pre-requisites sought in a pupil.
FOUR QUALIFICATIONS OF A PUPIL:
- Viveka: discrimination between real and unreal;
- Vairagya: renunciation of desires and attachments;
- Shatsampatti: demonstration of the 6 behavioral treasures: a) Sama - calmness, b) Dama - self-control, c) Uparati - self-settledness,
- Titiksha - forbearance, e) Samadhana - complete concentration, f) Sraddha - faith); 4) Mumukshutwam: longing for liberation.
FROLICKING IN GOD: The four attitudes (known as "Frolicking in The Great Spirit) necessary for attaining the Niyama "purity of mind" involves a demonstration of the following:
- Friendship and love towards those who are happy;
- Compassion towards those who are in suffering;
- Happiness at seeing others virtuous and making spiritual progress;
- Indifference towards weakness, stupidity, and evil in others while helping out of compassion and love.
NAMASTE! (I greet the Divinity in you and surrender my ego to you!). Love Emmie