Yoga Lessons for Developing Spiritual Consciousness, by A.P. Mukerji, , at sacred-texts.com
The way is long; yet despair not, awake, arise and stop not until the goal is reachedKatha Upanishads.
Life is a constant accumulation of Knowledge. The vast majority of humanity are the pushed and a few are the pushers. The latter class have learned to grip the good in everything and turn it to account. Some have lived to purpose in the world of matter, some in that of Spirit. They do not seek, but are sought after, do not weep but are wept for; do not want but are wanted. They have gripped this Lesson:Knowledge is power and Power moves the world. They have acquired knowledge by inner concentration upon certain problems and then applied the same with a cautious, a straight aim, and they have hit the mark.
Such indeed is the result of the right exercise of Knowledge. Now knowledge has many aspects. Some strive for the material side. of things, some for the Spiritual; ninety-nine per cent of the former to one of the latter. No blame is attached to either class. We must all of us follow our own bent. We are for the Spiritual and will therefore see how we can live the Positive Life from the Spirit's viewpoint. We are like so
many pearls strung upon a band of gold. The band of gold is the great Universal spirit and each pearl is a point, a centre of consciousness in and through which the Spirit is trying to realize Itself.
We are half devil, half divine. Sheathed in our coat of flesh, our powers hooped in by the physical form, we cannot expect to come face to face with the Infinite. But there is within us, behind us, before, above and around us, God's Spirit, and we can realize our relation to it by putting ourselves En rapport therewith. To accomplish this grand event "to which the whole creation moves" the East Indian practises Yoga, and so gradually unfolds his spiritual consciousness.
We have tried elsewhere to give our readers a faint idea of this subject. Let me give you a few lines from a leading writer. The great distinguishing character of this stage is his consciousness of the Oneness of All. He sees and feels that all the world is alive and full of intelligence in varying degrees of manifestation. He feels himself a part of that Great Life. He feels his identity with all of Life. He is in touch with all of nature. In all forms of life he sees something of himself and recognizes that each particular form has its correspondence in something within himself. This does not mean that he is bloodthirsty like the tiger, vain like the peacock, venomous like the serpent. But, still, he feels that all the attributes of these animals are within himselfmastered and governed by his Higher Selfbut still there. And consequently he can feel for
these animals or for those of his race in which the animal characteristics are still in evidence. He pities them but does not hate his brother however much that brother's traits may seem undesirable and hurtful to him. And as he feels within himself all the attributes of the higher Life as well as the lower, he realizes that he is unfolding and growing into these higher forms, and that some day he will be like them. He feels the great throbbing life of which he is a part to be his life. The sense of separateness is slipping from him. He feels the security that comes from this consciousness of his identity with the All Life, and consequently he cannot Fear. He faces today and tomorrow without fear, and marches forward towards the Divine Adventure with joy in his heart. He feels at home, for is not the Universe akin to himis he not among his own?
Such a consciousness divests him of Fear, Hate, condemnation. It teaches him to be kind. It makes him realise the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man. It substitutes a "knowing" for a "blind belief." It makes man over and starts him on a new stage of his journey, a changed being.
No wonder that one in this stage is misunderstood by merely intellectually advanced people. No wonder that they often consider him to be a man functioning on the plane of Instinctivity, because he fails to see "Evil" in what seems so to them. No wonder, that they marvel at his seeing "Good" in things that do not appear so to them. He is like a stranger in a strange land and
must not complain if he be misjudged and misunderstood.
But there are more and more of these people every yearthey are coming in great numbers and when they reach a sufficient number, this old earth will undergo a peaceful revolution. In that day man no longer will be content to enjoy luxury while his brother starves,he will not be able to oppress and exploit his own kindhe will not be able to endure much that today is passed over without thought or feeling by the majority of people.
And why will he not be able to do these things? may be asked by some. Simply because the man who has experienced this new consciousness has broken down the old feeling of separateness, and his brother's pain is felt by himhis brother's joys are experienced by himhe is in touch with others.
From whence comes this uneasiness that causes men to erect hospitals and other charitable institutionsfrom whence comes this feeling of discomfort at the sight of suffering? From the Spiritual mind that is causing the feeling of nearness to all of life to awaken in the mind of men, and thus renders it more and more painful for them to see and be aware of the pain of others because they begin to feel it, and it renders them uncomfortable and they make at least some effort to relieve it.
The world is growing kinder by reason of this dawning
consciousness, although it is still in a barbarous state as compared to its future condition.
The race today confronts great changesthe thousand straws floating through the air show from which direction the wind is coming, and whither it is blowing. The breeze is just beginning to be feltsoon it will grow stronger, and then the gale will come which will sweep before it much that man destined for the ages. And after the storm man will build better thingsthings that will endure.
Have you noticed the signshave you not felt the breeze? But mark you thisthe final change will come not from Hate, Revenge or other unworthy motivesit will come as the result of great and growing Lovea feeling that will convince men that they are akin; that the hurt of one is the hurt of all, that the joy of one is the joy of allthat all are One; thus will come the dawn of the Golden Age. (Ramacharaka's Advance Course in Yogi Philosophy).
This thenthe Spiritual Consciousness and the enfoldment thereofis the motive prompting to the practice of Yoga. Some start in for practice before they have realized this aim. They have seen, heard of, read of some one possessed of Psychic Powers and their morbid tendency to sensationalism has fired their imagination. They are anxious to possess these Powers and rule their brother-man. They are anxious to make others tremble before them. They are anxious to strike terror to the hearts of others. These men do not know
that they are taking a blind leap into the dark and terrible chasm of Black Magic. They do not know that any thought or action which consciously or unconsciously intensifies the sense of separation; causes friction between man and man; causes pain to the souls of others and lights the Hate-Flame of anger and impotent fear in their brains, is a retarding force and exerts a tremendous pull downwards upon their evolution. Such a motive has in it the germs of selfishness and the dark powers of black passion. Such a motive will bring untold pain, suffering and ignominy. It is the result of a Rajasic nature, where the intellectual powers are strong and the glow of passions arising from the desire to rule is fierce and destructive. These are the followers of the Left-hand Path. Their wills are strong as iron, their natures intense and implacable, their hearts cruel and devoid of gentle feeling, their passions seething and persistent. Yet all these will and must be shattered to tiny bits when set against the Great Will which is first the Fount of Love and Compassion and then bids everything to be governed by the Law of Love.
The modern craze after hypnotism has a dark side to it. Back of all hypnotic influence there is the subtle power of suggestion, personal magnetism, a powerful personality; and all these things are purely and simply the results of organized thought-Force and a trained Will-power. Now these two forces, namely thought-force and will-power, govern all the universe. When
they are spiritualized, that is to say, when their action is subjected to the controlling influence of the Law of Love, they command an irresistible position. They strike where daggers fail,of course, they may as a rule work both ways, for good or for evil, and, in either case, their subtle power makes itself felt. However, this subject is very wide and not within our province. I simply want to call attention to the pitfalls of Hypnotic Power and warn you against making use of or allowing yourself to be controlled by any such malign and insidious influence.
Now you who read this might view it all from a sensational standpoint and wish to practice hypnotism, although, of course, I do not believe it, for if you desire such power, your character must be dwarfed and Yoga is a path bristling with thorns for a selfish man. But student, sternly curb and kill out by determined and scientific training all such propensities. They are daggers to stab you, thorns to pierce your feet; they are the efforts used by the order of Black Magicians to retard your evolution. Before entering this Path, weigh, measure, gauge and study your character and build it up along spiritual lines, and these false desires will vanish as the mist before the sun.
While commenting on this great sinthe sense of separatenessthese words in the Light on the Path ring in my ears. Let me quote them in full: "Seek in the heart the source of evil and expunge it. It lives fruitfully in the heart of the devoted disciple, as
well as in the heart of the man of desire. Only the strong can kill it out. The weak must wait for its growth, its fruition and its death. It is a plant that lives and increases throughout the ages. It flowers when the man has accumulated unto himself innumerable existences. He who will enter upon the path of power must tear this thing out of his heart. Then the heart will bleed and the whole life of the man seem to be utterly dissolved. This ordeal must be endured. It may come at the first step of the perilous ladder, which leads to the path of life; it may come at the last. But, O Disciple, remember that it has to be endured; and fasten the energies of your soul upon the task. Live neither in the present, nor in the future, but in the Eternal. This giant weed cannot flower there; this blot upon existence is wiped out by the very atmosphere of Eternal thought."
The first duty of the initiate is to guard against this "Source of evil"which is really the sense of Self-righteousness and the exalting of our own personality above that of others. It is refined animalism. It is intellectual pride and Egoism. Its climax is Black Magicthe giant weed. It belongs to the lower part of ourselvesthe passionate side of us, from which proceed hatred, jealousy, malice, desire for revenge, self-glorificationand these tend to the setting up of a dividing wall between man and man. We contract ourselves by such practices. We are thereby building up a shell around the soul, which it cannot transpierce.
[paragraph continues] You who take so keen and deep an interest in the Occult forces of nature will, by the study and practice of Yoga, in time develop a higher form of consciousness, far above the average of humanity. Naturally this unfoldment will transmute your inner nature into a tower of strength and your mesmeric influence shall gradually circle out from a smaller to an ever larger sphere. This is inevitable. Then comes the crux of the situation. Will you develop a Will that is potent with the strength of the All-God? that is flexible at need; rigid at need; ever strong to save and motived by the highest, the best and the noblest within you? When that great spiritual giant, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa was lying very ill at the Cossipur Garden, Pandit S. T. is reported to have said to him "Sir, I have read in the Shastras that Saints like you can cure diseases of the body at will. You will be free from all your ailment if only you concentrate your mind upon the SpotRamakrishna Swami was suffering from cancer in the throatwith the will that it be cured. Won't you try it once? Now listen to the noble reply of this perfect soul. "O, how could you say such a thing, being a Pandit yourself? Can I ever be inclined to remove the mind, that I have given up to Sachchidanandathe Essence of knowledge, Existence and Blissfrom Him, and turn it to this frail cage of flesh and bones?" This is renunciation.
It is a general law of Occultism that the White magician should never use his powers for the accomplishment
of personal ends, thus striking in at the very root of selfishness. In India the Spiritual Healer will not even drink a glass of water from the hands of the man whom he has treated. "I want nothing for myself." This is his calm, dignified and cheering speech. In the presence of such a man the lion and the lamb shall play together. The most vicious of brutes shall roll in submission at their feet; the most wicked men shall be struck dumb with awe and reverence on contact with their pure and spiritual aura. Nought out of or in the universe can injure them. This is the great power that shields the Yogi in the densest jungles of India. He is a centre of Love and Power and he knows absolutely no fear. It is the thought-magnetism of such men that brings immediate and complete relief. They are strong as rock. They raise not their hand against anything and nothing can go against them. They are living examples of the Law of Non-injury. This mighty power of Love, compassion and Non-injury is deeply imbedded in our nature. Encourage it and it shall grow. It is our very nature. After man has run the gamut of all ephemeral and sensual experiences, he falls back upon this heaven of peace.
"Look for the flower to bloom in the silence that follows the storm, not till then. It shall grow, it will shoot up, it will make branches and leaves and form buds, while the storm continues while the battle lasts. But not till the whole personality of man is dissolved and meltednot until it is held by the divine fragment
which has created it, as a mere subject for grave experiment and experiencenot until the whole nature has yielded and become subject unto its higher self, can the bloom open. Then will come a calm such as comes in a tropical country after heavy rain when nature works so swiftly that one may see her action. Such a calmness will come to the harassed spirit. And, in the deep silence, the mysterious event will occur which will prove that the way has been found. Call it by what name you will. It is a voice which speaks where there is none to speak; it is a messenger that comes, a messenger without form and substanceor it is a flower of the soul that has opened. It cannot be described by any metaphor. But it can be felt for, looked after and desired even amid the raging of the storm. The silence may last a moment of time or it may last a thousand years. But it will end. Yet you will carry its strength with you. Again and again the battle must be fought and won. It is only for an interval that nature can be still."Light on the Path.
The blooming of the flower is the silence in the Spiritual awakening we have already spoken of. We have to concentrate our attention upon this. The first step to this illumination is Love. This is Bhakti Yogathe religion of Love. "Love God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy mind and with all thy strength." And "thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." This is Love. No maudlin sentiment; the intense, burning love of the heart which sees all as one.
[paragraph continues] No man who is a slave to love's oppositehatredcan have MuktiFreedom.
Then there is Karma Yoga. He who has lost the self has gained the self. This is the Yoga of unselfish action; service to others, men and animals, for the mere joy of it. The worker cares not for results, cares not for himself, but goes on putting forth his energies for the sake of others. It is selfless, sustained action in the interests of humanity.
In Raja Yoga, the mind of man, concentrated inwards, becomes Self-illuminated. The Raja Yoga is the master of mind par excellence. He sifts the grounds of psychology, develops his mind, purifies, trains and controls his nerves, opens up the centres of force in his body, conveys same into the brain and finally transcends it. He then goes on conquering plane after plane of consciousness till at last there comes a stage when he feels as if he were Everything and everywhere. This is IlluminationSamadhiand when the Yogi has achieved this he has achieved all. The eternal PilgrimManhas trodden the vast cycles of existence and come back home. The son has been united to the Father.
Gnyana Yoga is the Yoga of Wisdom. Here the intellect is at its best. The philosopher, the logician, the man of Reason, have their work cut out for them here. They must split hairs of argument, gain knowledge of the workings of matter, Energy, Force, mind-substance,
and reasoning the interaction of these, finally arrive at an intellectual conception of the Absolute.
Let me add here that the reports of the intellect are by no means to be condemned as inevitably fallible as some philosophers have said for when your intellect contemplates some special line of thought for some considerable length of time, there pours in from the intuitive side of your consciousnessthe Larger consciousness as some psychologists have called ita flood of light which reveals all facts connected with that field of thought.
Once a philosopher met a mystic and when after an interview they parted, the philosopher said "All that he sees, I know" and the mystic remarked "All that he knows I see." We must develop all round. Unless a man's intellect is illumined by Gnyana, he cannot have any conception of the Riddle of the Universe; unless he has this knowledge he cannot realize his relation to the absolute. He is as a man groping in the dark. He cannot, in the absence of such recognition, experience the joy that surely results from the love and service of humanityfor the Lord shining within, changes the face of this world; shows me how I am one with others and by no means different; until the Higher Self unfolds through the training of Raja Yoga and dominates "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, the pride of life" no progress is possible and progress in the control of the Lower Self comes only through Raja Yoga.
It is time we came to the proper appreciation of this
fact. Turn once again to the Light on the Path and read this attentively and follow it. "Seek it not by any one road. To each temperament, there is one road which seems the most desirable. But the way is not found by devotion alone, by religious contemplation alone, by ardent progress, by self-sacrificing labor, by studious observation of life. None alone can take the disciple more than one step onwards. All steps are necessary to make up the ladder. The vices of men become steps in the ladder, one by one, as they are surmounted. The virtues of men are stepsindeed, necessarynot by any means to be dispensed with. Yet though they create a fair atmosphere and a happy future, they are useless if they stand alone. The whole nature of man must be used wisely by the one who desires to enter the way. Each man is to himself absolutely the way, the truth and the life. But he is only so when he grasps his whole individuality firmly and by the force of his awakened spiritual will, recognises this individuality as not himself, but that thing which he has with pain created for his own use, and by means of which he purposes as his growth slowly develops his intelligence, to reach to the life beyond individuality. When he knows that for this his wonderful complex and separated life exists. Then indeed, and then only he is upon the way. Seek it by plunging into the glorious and mysterious depths of your own inmost being. Seek it by testing all experience by utilizing the senses, in order to understand the
growth and meaning of individuality, and the beauty and obscurity of those other divine fragments which are struggling side by side with you and form the race to which you belong. Seek it by study of the laws of being, the laws of nature, the laws of the supernatural, and seek it by making the profound obeisance of the soul to the dim star that burn within. Steadily as you watch and worship its light will grow stronger. Then you may know you have found the beginning of the way. And, when you have found the end its light will suddenly become the Infinite Light."
Let the reader study and re-study this beautiful passage and formulate the ideals of his life along these lines.
The mental motive temperament, in my opinion, is the best fitted organically for the rapid unfoldment of spiritual susceptibilities. Here the lower organs of alimentiveness, Amativeness and Bibativeness are generally under the control of the Higher Brain Centres. Here the mind predominates over the body. Their emotions are vivid and intense. They possess great aptitude for mental activity such as is induced by no other temperament. Their physical constitution is equally fine and possesses an instinctive loathing for all gross and immoral practices such as bind a man's thought, to the physical and carnal side of life; their thoughts are quick, clear and lean to the idealistic side of things. They often overstrain themselves and are very impulsive. This class of men should live as much in sunshine
and open air as they can. Their sex-nature also should be kept clean and pure from childhood. Parents should never hurt their feelings nor impose conventional doctrines upon them for they will never submit to any domineering and are generally considered "queer" by coarse-fibred people because of their meditative turn of mind. These are, if well-trained, or if simply saved form the society of immoral men, the best types of men. Their eyes are, as you may notice, almost always very expressive because they are given to abstract thinking and much idealism. If you belong to this class, do not think badly of yourself if the world does not understand you, for you are far advanced and have a much more highly-organized brain than men can in their present stage of unfoldment rightly appreciate. You must learn to control your emotions or you will find yourself tossed roughly about in this rough world. "You are" as a friend humorously put to me, "from another sphere" and your soul is seeking to view life from "finer" sense planes. Do not condemn yourself if people call you an impractical dreamer. It simply means that the physical senses have little attraction for you and your introspective mood implies the stirring of finer sensibilities within you. Your indifference to worldliness is the result of satiety and I for one do not condemn myself on this score.
As knowledge of the inner life increases one finds but small reason for frequent self-condemnation. By this it is not implied that you should be proud and haughty
and all that. Even such a thing as "spiritual pride"the feeling of conscious chastity and psychic attainmentthe "I am holier than thou" feelingshould be guarded against. Such a thing is sure to have its fall. Many so-called spiritual teachers who "spring up, grow, and then go to seed" are really victimised by this feeling. What is meant is that you should not hypnotize yourself into a false sense of undue humility, shyness and nervousnessthings which sap your moral strength so that you cannot look another man in the face. Remember, friend, it is no sign of spirituality to allow others to dupe you, to "bite you in the face" and sit upon you. You should on such occasions stand up to such men and by your bearing give them to understand that you are by no means a vacuous fool or a brainless scapegoat, but that they must "keep off or you will wax dangerous."
Do not sit with or have anything to do with men who have no sympathy with your views. They must either come up to your level or they are welcome to go their way and leave you in peace. Do not go out of your way to correct others. Do not unnecessarily meddle with the affairs of people who are self-sufficient. Do not feel disturbed if people make fun of and scoff at your cherished ideals. Let them. It matters not. They do not realise the depth of their ignorance and hence their dogmatising, care-crazed peacock-like attitude. You may safely trust time to bring light to them.
Let me recall to your mind Hamlet's most truthful
words. "Pure as ice, chaste as snow, thou shalt not escape calumny, and truly even the Great Christ was maltreated, so what of our puny selves."
The student should cultivate "Indifference." Many have complained to me of being forced by sheer pressure of circumstances to live in the constant society of men who are given to obscene and immoral practices.
I can quite understand the position of my friends. Such things are really painful to a growing soul and to avoid them thousands seek the forests of India lest "the world, the flesh and the devil" should awaken responsive vibrations within them and spoil matters. But all cannot do it and the time is fast approaching when the general race-consciousness shall take a higher range and obviate the necessity of such isolation.
However we may, for the nonce, call to our aid the habit of shutting ourselves up in absolute reserve when forced into such society. Do not let us hate them because that would be a serious breach of the Occult law of Love, but withdraw your attention and sit perfectly still. This is a good way of training your will-power and you should make use of it to the best possible advantage.
But should they by overt act try to shake you off your balance, then I do not see any harm in "putting up a fight" and when once driven to this step, do not desist till you have reduced your tormentors to final and unconditional surrender. All this may sound to some very "Unspiritual" but, "Even a worm shall turn,"
and I must warn my readers against the will-weakening habit of allowing others to make fools of them.
Hold your forces in reserve and turn them into proper channels. One of the society drills so common amongst men is to visit one's friends for a little "gossip" and an inane time of senseless laughter. Such a practice is declared to be a means of relaxation. But I solemnly warn and forbid my readers against all such forms of indulgence. Leave weak-minded fellows to think of such relaxation. You and I simply cannot afford to demoralise ourselves by such follies. However we hope to tell you a little more of all this in our next chapter on character building proper.
Men are like so many toys in a toy house. One blow and they go to pieces. It is not a bit of use covering a hideous carrion with a mass of roses. Our very love of God is often candidly speaking, the outcome of fear. As Judge Troward in his "Lectures on mental science" says: It is a hidden form of hate: and I endorse his statement. The eternal one has never given us cause to stand in awe of him. It is ignorance alone that leads from pitfall to pitfall, and Ignorance is the absence of Love. Let us then drill these facts into our brain. Let us think these thoughts till they become flesh of our flesh and the bone of our bone. Let us awaken the electrifying force of the Higher soulthe AtmaShakti and GnanaDrikshtithat alone can supply us with exhaustless force to wing the Spirit that would break its cage and fly to Peace which is Perfection.
Let O Student, the fire of the spirit course through your views. Nought can crush you. Drive and thrash out of your brain all thoughts of fear and worry. Know yourself and thereby know everything. Be yourself and thereby be everything. Conquer yourself and thereby conquer everything. Tremble not at the task. That which quakes and quivers is of the flesh and yours is the grand onward march from Passion to Peace. Difficulties are only as a spur to effort. It is not the greatness of a difficulty so much as the feebleness of our spirit that bars our progress. Face them and they fly. Quail not. Quail not. These things touch not the Permanent self. They are the incidents of our relative personality. There is never a rigid barrier between a difficulty and its breakdown. Square your shoulders and apply them to this wall of Illusion. See how it vanishes before you. I say again: Be yourself: Know yourself: conquer yourself: trust yourself: and nothing can long ensnare your manhood.