Y O G A – D E F I N I R E
Sometimes known in the West under vulgarized and degrading forms, YOGA is a true science of the human being that also constitutes an extremely rigorous spiritual discipline. The word YOGA comes from the Indo-European root that can be translated into Romanian as “JUG” or to unite, to together, to merge, to put in unison. In Sanskrit, the original meaning of the word YOGA is “harness”, which corresponds to a representation of the human psyche considered to be led by some naravasi ways (faculties of the senses, passions), who strive to master the leader of the chariot (intellect, BUDDHI), and the hats correspond to the mental (MANAS).
This image is mentioned in the oldest writings of oriental wisdom, THE UPANISHADS, and in their vision, the powerless soul could be irretrievably led into the abyss, if he could not use YOGA, the method that will allow him to master the horses and even to descend from the chariot, or in other words to free himself.
The oldest systematic exposition of the YOGA system can be found in patanjali’s text YOGA-SUTRAS (II century BC). Being extremely condensed, this text is basically only a straightener who always had to be accompanied by certain secret oral teachings. That is why, for the one who has not practiced or does not practice YOGA, this text remains mostly enigmatic. ************************************************************************
YOGA AS THE METHOD OF LIBERATION In the East, the purpose of life being the improvement or, in other words, the spiritual maturation, which alone allows the human being to escape the cycle of rebirth and death, YOGA, as a method of liberation, obviously plays a central role. Such an achievement can only be achieved through the prior recognition and control, acquired thanks to a very strict methodology, of the constituent elements of the human being, especially of those who transmigrate after death, the subtle body, which does not dissolve, only after the final liberation, when it will not survive, purified, only the intellect, the absolute and unconditional Consciousness, “PURE BEING – PURE CONSCIOUSNESS – PURE BLISS” (SAT-CHIT-ANANDA). By attaining liberation, the supreme individual essence, ATMAN, identifies, without disappearing, with the Supreme Principle, PARAMATMAN, or BRAHMAN (GOD). Whatever the ways put into action by the different forms of YOGA, all of them aim without exception at this unique, supreme goal. ************************************************************************
ABOUT CONDITIONING IN EASTERN AND WESTERN VISION (PHILOSOPHY) Nowadays, through YOGA, a more just knowledge of oriental thinking becomes possible. The East has already entered the circuit of history and European consciousness is stimulated to take a little more seriously the philosophies of the peoples present in History. On the other hand, more and more the European consciousness is made to be defined by reference to the problems of temporality and historicity.
For more than a century, a large part of the European scientific and philosophical effort has been dedicated to the analysis of the factors that “CONDITION” the human being. Thus it could be shown how and to what point man is conditioned by his physiology, by his psyche, by his heredity, by his social environment, by the cultural ideology in which he participates, by his subconscious – and especially by History through his historical moment and through his own personal history. This latest discovery of Western thought, namely that man is essentially a temporary and historical being, that he is not – and cannot be – than what History has done, still dominates European philosophy. Analyzing this aspect, however, we must note that the problems that have passionate or passionate about the European consciousness also prepare it to understand as well as possible the Oriental spirituality; even more than that, they incite her to use for her own philosophical activity, the millenary oriental experience.
Let’s try to explain ourselves: The HUMAN CONDITION isthat which formed or forms the object of European philosophy. Within it was analyzed especially the temporality of the human being, because temporality is the one that makes possible all the other “conditionings” that, in the last instance, make man a CONDITIONED BEING, giving birth to an infinite and evanescent series of “CONDITIONS”. It is precisely this problem of human conditioning (and its corollary most often neglected in the West “DE-CONDITIONING”) that constitutes the central problem of yogic and oriental thought.
Starting with YOGA and continuing with the UPANISHADS, the East was seriously concerned only with one problem: the structure of the human condition. (This, moreover, made it often and not without reason, that the entire Oriental philosophy was and still is EXISTENTIALIST). Looking from this point of view, the Westerner will be interested in learning:
1) what the yogic philosophy thinks about the multiple CONDITIONINGS of the human being
2) how YOGA approaches the problem of human temporality and historicity
3) what wise solution this finds in the case of anguish and despair inevitably triggered by the awareness of our temporality, the true matrix of all “conditionings”.
Considered from this point of view, YOGA was oriented with an otherwise almost unparalleled rigor, towards the analysis of the human being. From the very beginning we must add that it did this not in order to reach an exact and coherent explanation of man as for example was done in nineteenth century Europe, (when it was believed that man can be explained by his hereditary or social conditioning), but especially to know where the conditional areas of the human being stretch, for TO SEE IF THERE IS STILL ANYTHING BEYOND THESE CONDITIONINGS.
Precisely for this reason, long before the psychology of the depths, the wise men and yogis of the East were interested in exploring the obscure areas of the subconscious. They thus found that physiological, social, psychological, cultural, and religious conditionings were relatively easy to delineate and consequently to control; the great obstacles for the spiritual and contemplative life appearing due to the activity of the subconscious through the so-called SAMSKARAS and VASANAS, “impregnations”, “residues”, and “potentialities” that constitute what the psychology of depths designates by the contents and structures of the subconscious.
In fact, in the case of yoga system, it is not this programmatic anticipation of certain modern psychological techniques that is very precious, but its use in practice in order to “DECONDITION” the man. For the simple knowledge of the “CONDITIONING” systems could not, in the case of the YOGA system, find its finality in itself: it was important not only that these conditionings were known, but even that they were controlled in order to be transcense. For this reason, YOGA effectively acts on the contents of the subconscious in order to “BURN” them. Those who practice YOGA assiduously convince themselves quite quickly through its methods, how to reach these surprising results.
And these often astounding results should interest even Western psychologists and philosophers. Studying objectively with great attention the extraordinary results that appear through the correct practice of the yogic methods of exploring the psyche, the Westerner who will have the curiosity to do this, will be determined to consider that in front of him opens an unsuspectingly vast and fertile perspective. Through the open confrontation with the yogic tradition, an immersive experience regarding the higher states of consciousness and the awakening of the fabulous potentialities of the being gradually becomes accessible to us. Once faced with this formidable chance, it would be at least reckless, not to benefit more and more from it. As we have shown before the problem of human conditioning – or in other words: the temporality and historicity of the human being – has been found and is found at the center of Western thought, and the same problem has obsessed, from the very beginning, yogic philosophy.
It is true, however, that in YOGA we will not meet the terms “History” and “historicity” in the sense they have in the West and also in the yogic texts we will rarely meet the term “temporality”. What is important, however, is not the identity of philosophical terminology because it is enough for the problems to be homologable. In this direction it has been known for a long time that yogic thinking gives considerable importance to the concept of MAYA, which is often translated as “illusion, cosmic illusion, mirage, magic, becoming, unreality, etc.”. But if we look at things more closely, we realize that MAYA is “illusion” because it is “becoming”, “temporality”: becoming cosmic without a doubt, being also a historical becoming. Thus, it appears quite obvious, as YOGA he did not ignore the connection between illusion, temporality and human suffering, and as soon as we realize that the yogic sages have generally experienced this suffering in cosmic terms, we easily realize it, reading it with the attention it deserves that they referred especially to human suffering as a becoming conditioned by the structures of temporality.
We can also note that what modern Western philosophy calls “TO BE IN A SITUATION”, TO BE CONSTITUTED DUE TO TEMPORALITY AND HISTORICITY”, has as a correspondent in the yogic thought, THE EXISTENCE IN THE MAYA. Thus, if one comes to homologate the two philosophical horizons – yogi (Oriental) and Western – everything that Yoga has thought about MAYA presents for us a certain actuality. Reading carefully, for example, the famous text of oriental wisdom BHAGAVAD GITA we realize that in it, the analysis of human existence unfolds in a language that is familiar to us: MAYA is not only cosmic illusion but also, in particular, historicity; not only existence in the eternal cosmic becoming, but especially the existence in Time and in History.
For the BHAGAVAD GITA, the question was raised, to a certain extent as for Christianity, in these terms: how can the paradoxical situation created by the double fact that man, on the one hand, is in Time, being doomed to History, and on the other hand he knows, that he will be “cursed” if he allows himself to be seized and exhausted by temporality and historicity? Faced with this dilemma, he therefore intuits that he must find, as quickly and at any cost as possible, continuing even to exist in this world, a harmonious path dating of everlasting happiness, which will make him have access to a transhistoric and timeless plane. Considering things from this point of view, we find after reading this text that all the solutions proposed in BHAGAVAD-GITA represent different applications of the YOGA system. The wise solution proposed by the East in the situation of the anguish triggered by the discovery of our temporality and historicity, the ways of giving of transcendence and plenary happiness thanks to which we can exist in this world without letting ourselves, “seized” and “exhausted” by Time and History, involve more or less the theoretical and practical knowledge of certain forms of YOGA.
We must emphasize, however, that in the case of the YOGA system , it is not a question of simply accepting one of the solutions offered by the Orient. Everyone can realize that a spiritual value is not acquired like a new brand of automobile. Practicing YOGA we will realize that here we are neither talking about a philosophical syncretism, nor about a so-called “Indianization” and much less about that “spiritual” hybridism inaugurated by the Theosophical Society and continued, even aggravated by the countless contemporary “spiritual” pseudo-orientations such as the New Age movement.
Gradually practicing the stages of the YOGA system, the Westerner comes to know and understand through direct experience an extraordinarily valuable thought, which had a leading role in the history of universal spirituality. Practicing YOGA, the great discoveries of Indian thought will be easily recognized, under and despite the disguise of philosophical jargon. We consider, for example, that it is impossible to overlook one of the greatest discoveries of India’s yogis, which is CONSCIOUSNESS – WITNESS or in other words the consciousness released by its psychophysiological structures and their temporal conditioning, consciousness THE SPIRITUAL LIBERATION, of the one who managed to escape temporality and detaching himself, knows the true and beatifies freedom. The conquest of this absolute freedom, of perfectness, is the goal of all indian philosophies and spiritual techniques. Especially through YOGA, through one or some of the many forms of YOGA, India considered that it could ensure the access of the human being to this SUPREME FREEDOM. This is the main reason why it is worth attending these courses to practice YOGA. *****************************************************************
I N T E L E P C I U N E A S I Y O G A In the yogic conception the wisdom is everyone’s, it is not a reality of the general’s order. It can be taught and even awakened. The East alone, especially through YOGA, has tried and is trying through proper training in yogic schools of wisdom, to teach wisdom. The West instead tries to awaken wisdom, and more often than not awakens it through culture. Culture with its discretion and indeterminacy, awakens does not teach.
Here are, for example, the four virtues that the wise Plato enumerates in “The Republic”: courage (ANDREIA),practical wisdom (SOPHROSYNE), theoretical wisdom (SOPHIA) and the spirit of justice (DIKAIOSYNE). Can courage be taught now in the West? Not! Instead it can be awakened. The Oreint alone, through YOGA, has secret unsuspected ways, which seem at first sight for the ignorant Westerner genuine miracles, through which, for example, it can be taught, this being able to be checked directly, practically, by each of those who fold to a certain adequate training, sufficiently maintained.
In this direction we can rightly say that at present the WEST THROUGH ITS GLOBAL LEVEL OF UNDERSTANDING CAN BUT DOES NOT KNOW, AND THE EAST BY ITS GLOBAL LEVEL OF UNDERSTANDING KNOWS BUT CANNOT. Yoga often talks about BODY-SOUL-SPIRIT. The body is being in the concrete, physical real version. The soul is the being in the version of the more or less subtle elements. Spirit is the version of being as being, or in other words as immortal SCINTEIE of the ABSOLUTE, present in every man.
Man is made in the image and likeness of God, and this means that every being has three engagements:
1) The incarnation of the physical reality
2) Animation of the physical reality
3) Transcendence of the physical reality.
Transcendence is the passage beyond a limit or in other words exceeding a given level. Transcendence makes it possible to access an external and superior principle. The transcendent was considered a reality superior to individual things, to ordinary intelligence, to the common, banal level of humanity, being often identified with divinity. ************************************************************************
Y O G A I N T E G R A L A YOGA andntegrala is an intelligent combination of traditional specific methods used for the harmonious development of every aspect of human life: physical, emotional, mental, intellectual and spiritual. Integral YOGA is a scientific system that combines different branches or forms of YOGA in order to achieve a complete and full flowering of all the superior latent potentialities of the individual. Every human being aspires with infocare to achieve true and lasting happiness.
The path or ways in which a human being tries to find happiness vary depending on its characteristic level of development. For this reason she can aspire to happiness only by satisfying the physical, emotional and intellectual aspects of her personality. In such a situation, eventually his own experience will show him what the wise men and the great yogis have proclaimed since ancient times, namely that happiness cannot be based on what is in its fleeting or ephemeral nature.
True and lasting happiness can only be attained by knowing what is permanent and eternal, or in other words, the Divine who is the Supreme Master or Essence of all beings and the source of life. This reality has been given names such as: Self, Ultimate Nature, BRAHMAN, Cosmic Consciousness, Infinity, Self-Work, NIRVANA, etc. Since it is infinite, it can be experienced only when the individual goes beyond or in other words transcends his limited personality. In yogic conception, the body, emotions, mind and intellectual must be developed at an optimal level in which they function full of health in a perfect harmony with each other. Only then does the human being get to live a happy life and even use them exactly as bridges to transcend their limitations and to experience the Divine.
Several branches YOGA *** HATHA YOGA that involve: special gymnastic postures with complex beneficial effects (ASANAS), deep relaxation (SHAVASANA), control and rhythm of breaths through breathing (PRANAYAMA), fundamental purification procedures (KRIYAS), mental concentration procedures that aim to make the body as supple and relaxed as possible. All these concerted exercises increase vitality, ensure full health and help cure various diseases. Through a proper diet, the physical body is gradual and completely purified and this makes impurities and toxins to be eliminated, at the same time creating conditions that vitamins and ologoelements can be better used and assimilated by the system. By doing so, the body and the mind are completely purified and the practitioner soon acquires control over the mind and because of this he finally reaches the supreme goal YOGA which is the realization in Himself of the Supreme Absolute.
KARMA YOGA – It is the path of the detached action that makes it possible to spontaneously put the aspirant in unison with the cosmic, infinite divine energies. Here, by carrying out the daily activity, without attachment or the desire to acquire the fruits of the action, KARMA YOGIul constantly purifies his mind and accelerates his inner progress. When the mind and heart are purified enough, KARMA YOGIul becomes a perfect superconscious instrument through, and in which the Divine manifests itself in order to realize through its environment different actions in manifestation. Always acting in this way, animated by this sublime spirit of giving, the yogi transcends his individuality and experiences the Divine Consciousness.
BHAKTI YOGA This is the way of boundless love and loving giving to God, to a Divine Incarnation, to a spiritual teacher or to the divine creation that exists in any human being in the form of The Supreme Self (ATMAN). Through a constant love, both in thought and in feeling, relentlessly put in the suljba of divorce, the human being eventually merges with the infinite divine love and transcensing his limited personality reaches the state of Cosmic Consciousness. The path of BHAKTI or the unspoken devotion in which we focus all our love on DIvin or its various manifestations can be easily practiced by anyone. All that is needed then is firm faith and a constant remembrance of God through the love we give him most of the time.
RAJA YOGA This is the path of intense concentration, deep meditation and full control of the mind. This form of YOGA is based on moral and ethical improvement and on a complete control of the senses that gradually leads to a perfect concentration and meditation through which the mind can be calmed and freed from unwanted mental turmoil. In such a phase when this state is firmly realized all limitations are transcense and due to the complete fusion with the Divine Macrocosmic Mind, the yogi experiences the state of Over- Consciousness or ecstasy known in YOGA as SAMADHI.
MANTRA YOGA It is the way of putting ineffable resonance with certain sublime and subtle energies of the divine manifestation through the emission of a certain sonorous syllable that facilitates the unison, and which are known as MANTRAS. MANTRA it is therefore a sound structuring that represents a particular aspect of an energy or hidden sphere of manifestation from the Macrocosm. The adequate mental concentration during the emission of a MANTRA facilitates the appearance of an ineffable state of resonance or unison in the entire being of the yogi who will thus be placed in an ineffable and deep connection with the Divine Reality that that MANTRA represents.
JNANA YOGA It is the way of higher intellectual knowledge and wisdom. It consists of a perfect self-knowledge of self-knowledge and detached self-analysis that gradually leads to a full spiritual awakening. JNANA THE YOGI acquires from the first stages the knowledge of his Supreme Self (ATMAN) and ceases to identify with the body, psyche, mind and ego. Through the full revelation of his immortal Self (ATMAN) he completely identifies himself with the Divine Essence within his being and recognizing everywhere the Divine Essence of everything around him realizes the Uniqueness of ecstasy. I
n conclusion: we can say that INTEGRAL YOGA is a synthesis of all forms of YOGA. Its main objectives are a perfect body, full of health and vigorous; clear, strong, calm and controlled mind; intellect refined, awake and sharp as a sharp blade of steel, a heart full of love and compassion capable of empathetically living the elevated states of others, a life full of sublime aspirations dedicated to the well-being and happiness of others, in which the aspiration of realization of the immortal inner Self permanently predominates ATMAN. ************************************************************************
H A T H A Y O G A HATHA YOGA or the path of consonance and full balancing of the complementary solar and lunar energies, aims at the awareness and harmonization of the receptive-feminine and emitting-masculine aspects, present at the different levels of the human being emphasizing their equalization and polarization in order to achieve a perfect state of health and vitality. Approaching HATHA YOGA, the persevering practitioner becomes again and remains young and supple. He discovers true relaxation and self-control. HATHA YOGA has proved extremely useful to westerners especially because it gives surprisingly beneficial results.
In most civilized countries, thousands of papers have appeared and even specialized institutes have been opened in which an impressive range of YOGA techniques are taught and studied, some of them having therapeutic applications in the case of many diseases. More and more there is talk about YOGA. This is not at all surprising when one finds out the extraordinary advantages that result from its perseverance practice. It is wonderful to note that this method discovered thousands of years ago by the wise men of India seems to have been conceived specifically for the man of the twentieth century.
Anxiety, stresses, depressions of all kinds, physical or mental nervous tension, sudden fatigue, all these problems and many others that threaten us are solved on a perfectly natural path through YOGA with the help of latent availabilities that otherwise lie unused in ourselves. If HATHA YOGA enters the training program of cosmonauts and is even mandatory for many Olympic teams, this is proof that it confers a huge vitality, doubled by an exceptional self-control.
Among other things, HATHA YOGA eliminates fatigue: 5-10 minutes of properly executed deep relaxation give a feeling of revitalization and exuberant lucidity much more intense than more hours of sleep. Through postural practices (ASANAS) and other HATHA YOGA procedures you will find that you keep or find yourself a supple, balanced, young body. The approach of the different YOGA techniques is gradual, easy and after being assimilated under a rigorous supervision it can be continued with the same success to be practiced by yourself at home. With this method that you will practically assimilate to HATHA YOGA, in the first phases everyone without exception can benefit from some advantages such as: – the science of a genuine rapid relaxation, deeply revitalizing – the youth of the body through tone and suppleness – a vitality much increased by deep oxygenation and assimilation of various respiratory procedures specific to YOGA – a perfect physical balance that will increase your resistance to shocks and will allow you to eliminate certain minor disorders or affections such as: insomnia, migraine, overweight, anemia, etc. ************************************************************************
C O R P U L F I Z I C In the yogic conception it is considered to be an error to underestimate the value and significance of the physical body. For the one who knows, for the one initiated in YOGA, the body is a fascinating microuniverse in which a complex game of indescribable depth unfolds. For this reason, especially the knowledge, or even better said, the conscious experience of this body is of paramount importance for the yogi and for all those who want to follow the path of desavirsirii and self-knowledge. The obstacle that the physical apparently represents for the spiritual is not an argument for rejecting the physical. Because what is our greatest difficulty if we do it intelligently, will become the biggest and best opportunity. The ultimate triumph, success, occurs easily when the body gets to be perfect.
Therefore, a true yogi will not ignore the body and will not make his cancellation or rejection indispensable the condition of a perfect spirituality. The yogi manages to make the so-called metaphysics a set of simple revelations and spiritual experiences. For him, each of the power foci of the universe effectively corresponds to a center of resonance in its inner microuniverse analog. Pcorrectly cooled for a sufficient period of time, YOGA makes it act synergistically through an ineffable resonance, a lot of inner factors of the being, which, combined with each other in a precise order and with measure, allow the appearance of grandiose effects. From the very beginning of this course, you will feel the first effects of YOGA practice and you will be enthusiastic about this immobile gymnastics that rests and revitalizes instead of getting tired, generally giving you an extraordinary state of balance. ***********************************************************************
A S P E C T E T E R A P E U T I C E Regarding the therapeutic applications of the HATHA YOGA System, we mention that YOGA is always based on treatments adapted to the causes of disorders. YOGA (through its specific therapeutic methods, perfectly natural), does not attack the symptoms (as in many cases does the current medicine which is almost a symptomatic medicine) but the causes of the diseases. Whether it is sinusitis or problems related to menopause, the role of the one who will use certain YOGA procedures is to effectively treat the origin of the observed disorders and not just their manifestations alone.
Combined with the ancient methods of the Indian millenary medicine – Ayurveda, the HATHA YOGA therapeutic procedures make possible the healings of many diseases. Among the most resounding successes of the HATHA YOGA system applied in combination with Ayurveda medicine we can mention: headaches, spine problems, joint pains, balance problems, breathing problems, digestion, heart, circulation, sexuality (frigidity, impotence) of pregnancy and gynecology.
YOGA IN PSYCHOTHERAPY Regarding the application of YOGA procedures in psychotherapy, we mention that it gives excellent results in cases of: hysteria of anguish (phobia), difficulties of social and professional adaptation, mild depressions, alcoholism, drug addiction, sexual inhibitions, disorders of sexual dynamics, couple problems, emotional immaturity, neuroses, emotional disorders (sentimental failures, feelings of guilt), phobic and depression disorders with suicidal ideas, psychosomatic problems, inferiority complexes, shyness. ***********************************************************************
E P I L O G Agitation and calm are present in being together. Agitation generally comes from the physical body. In order to achieve a full state of harmony we must immerse our soul in the Infinite, before, during and after each action. By doing so, we will achieve beatific calm. For the pure and intuitive being, it appears obvious that we are born to realize the Supreme Self, or in other words, the Consciousness of God in us. In order to achieve this much faster, it is very good that we think as often as possible, whatever we do, to the Divine. Practice transforms the human being, allowing it to become perfect. One gram of practice is worth tons of theory. The theory directs the aspirant to the outside, while the practice directs him to the inwards.
The theory alone causes the individual to remain agitated and selfish. The correct spiritual practice gives him beatific inner peace and frees him from his awkward and limiting ego. Practicing and practicing again, so as to get to feel as deeply as possible the presence of the Divine in every cell of our being, in every breath, in every sound we hear, in every being we see, in every thought that comes to mind and even in the state in which the yogi’s breathing is suspended, we will get to feel the presence of the Divine as well in the one who enemies us as well as in our friend in any beloved being. In doing so, we will remain firmly anchored in The Divine Omnipresence, in the Divine Omniscientity and in the Divine Omnipotence, even when we are preoccupied with the affairs of this world. ******************************************************* ”
LIFE IS SOMETHING IMPOSSIBLE. IT SHOULDN’T EXIST, BUT… IS! IT’S A MIRACLE THAT WE EXIST, THAT THERE ARE BIRDS. IT IS TRULY A MIRACLE, SINCE ALMOST THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE IS DEAD. MILLIONS OF STARS, MILLIONS AND MILLIONS OF SOLAR SYSTEMS ARE DEAD. ONLY ON THIS LITTLE PLANET, THE EARTH, WHICH IS ALMOST NOTHING – IF YOU THINK ABOUT THE PROPORTIONS, IS JUST A SPECK OF DUST – HAPPENED TO BE LIFE. THIS IS THE LUCKIEST PLACE IN ALL OF THE MANIFESTATION. CINTA BIRDS, TREES GROW, GIVE FLOWERS, PEOPLE ARE HERE, LOVING, CINTIND, DANCING. SOMETHING ABSOLUTELY UNBELIEVABLE–ON THE SCALE OF ETERNITY–HAS JUST HAPPENED.” BHAGWAN SHREE RAJNEESH ‘THE PURPOSE OF LIFE” Who are we? What are we? What is the purpose of our existence on this planet? What exactly is our relationship with God, with Nature, with all the other beings on the surface of the earth? What does the word mean: God? How do we live our lives? What is the connection between life and death? What happens to us after death? But before birth? Have you ever, until now, asked yourself all these questions? Probably each of us, at least once in our lives, has faced them. Can we live our lives in all its fullness without trying to find the most appropriate answers to these questions?
The answer is negative, because to live your life without a purpose, without a goal as conscious as it means to live an almost useless life, without meaning. Yogi Sathya Sai Baba expresses this fundamental truth in his own humorous style:“There are four fundamental things for which man must have an interest: who am I, where do I come from, where do I go and how long will I stay here? The four VEDAS (Sacred Scriptures of the East) provide true answers to all four of these problems. Any spiritual investigation starts with the above questions and wants to find the right answers. Suppose, for example, that in a postal box is inserted a letter without the address of the recipient and without that of the sender. Of course, it won’t get anywhere and it’s a loss that you come to this world if you don’t know where you came from and where you’re going. The letter will arrive at one of the collection points of the waste paper.”
Unfortunately, however, most people today lead their lives in this way. They follow as blind the precepts dictated by a confused and superficial society, not thinking deeply about the meaning and purpose of their lives. Can a passenger reach his destination if the driver does not know this address? How could society and the individual in it find true wholeness and contentment if it is generally not known where exactly this wholeness resides? Cuum can anyone decide how to live, how to act, how to love, what to do with his time, whether to be moral or not, what to eat, in what direction to focus his efforts, energy, thoughts, etc., if he does not know what the goal of his life is?
Nowadays, responsible for this great confusion, for the lack of moral values, for the great conflicts that always take place and for the violence and suffering that characterizes mankind now, is precisely this ignorance of nature, of its connection with the environment, with the cosmos and its purpose in the world. And precisely because of this ignorance present in most people today, life is something far inferior than what it could be if human beings paid a little more attention to their inner living.
All religions proclaim that the sole and supreme purpose of life is reintegration, reunion as the original source of life in the universe: God. The word “religion” (religon) comes from two Latin words: “RE” (again) and “LIGERE” (to bind). Religion, therefore, signifies a process of man’s revelation from God. This implies, however, that once upon a time, at the beginning, man was closely connected to the Divine. The separation of man from God has been presented literally through hundreds and thousands of myths, stories and parables, from different cultures and religions of the world. It is immediately noticed that among all these creations there are amazing asemamari. The reality in fact of the fog of the whole world, and therefore of man, as well as of his connection with God, remains probable for a long time still an unfathomable mystery to our rational minds. This is because such truths are placed beyond the duality of the rational mind and that they can only be intuited, perhaps, by means of models, examples, stories, or parables, each of which fails to reveal the phenomenon itself entirely.
Total reality can be experienced only when the mind has transcended the ephemeral condition during a deep meditation, or during an ecstatic state, or in the high and elevated processes of creation, that is, – in short – only when the feeling of the presence of self, as a separate entity and of the ego within us, is abundantly abolished, eliminated, the individual plunging into the unspoken bliss of the Absolute. In the following we will only try to approximate the answers to these vital questions, answers that will have as a foundation the yogic way of thinking. Of course, there can be additions to these answers, as pertinent as those that will be offered by us, to the questions asked above.
We hope that these models and examples will constitute true steps of a ladder towards the acquisition of a full spirituality. And when we finally reach the experience of Oneness, we will throw away the ladder we have climbed, we will be limited in any way by the different systems of thought, philosophical, or by our own beliefs. But until we get there, the ladder is absolutely necessary for us to be able to constantly and firmly transform ourselves into beings with increased mental and emotional maturity and with a spiritual consciousness as high as possible. Whatever the reason, man feels in this world as a separate entity. Thus, he sees himself isolated from God, nature, and other beings.
But according to the philosophy of yoga, this is nothing more than an illusion. Perpetually, man is seized by the terrible power of illusion, called “MAYA”, imagining therefore that he exists as an entity separate from everything that surrounds him. Maya is the illusion power of the Divine, which makes man forget his true eternal, omniscient, beatific nature. Lying from the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, man could no longer perceive unity. Thus, now, he is no longer aware of his divine nature, which has therefore remained waiting, in a latent state, as a seed always ready to sprout if given a little water and given the necessary conditions.
Ignoring his own nature, man is forced to identify with what he sees, that is, with his body, with his mind or personality. All beings come from a single source, although- viewed on the surface – they tend to identify with something illusory, separate and isolated from the rest. The example of the wave, often used in such explanations, seems to us the most appropriate in this case as well. Each wave, in the case of contemplation of the sea, appears to us as an entity separate from the other waves. However, this momentary condition represents only the surface of a temporary reality that, after a certain time, will cease to exist as the waves sink back into their original source: the OCEAN.
The basic, eternal, immutable reality of the wave from which he was born and in which he will return is the ocean itself. All the waves appear from the ocean and plunge back into it. But even when the wave exists as such, it is always in contact and has its true, basic nature in the ocean that generated it. Therefore, man is like the wave, and the Divine is the ocean. All individuals represent momentary and partial expressions of one and the same God. We all exist in – and identify with – our physical and mental forms, temporary, but we will eventually have to give them up completely. Our true and eternal reality before, during and after our appearance as separate personalities constitutes, in fact, the Divine Basis of all life.
The purpose of our lives, therefore, appears to us as the need to remove the illusion of separation caused by identification with the “nature of the wave” in order to finally achieve UNITY with everything that surrounds us through identification with the NATURE OF THE OCEAN. When we see another person and we feel revulsion, ambition, fear, jealousy, envy, minie or hatred, we do nothing but be continually blind to this uniqueness, we do nothing but amplify ignorance of the truth, producing suffering both for ourselves and for others around us. The feeling of love, of brotherhood, of joy, brings us closer to our fellow human beings instead and helps us overcome this isolated and vulnerable position.
Another example that will help us better understand the connection between man and his Creator is that of the ritual of resurrection in the Greek Orthodox Church performed at the celebration of Easter.Biserica is in darkness, because all the lights are off. The priest comes out of the altar and comes forward, raising upwards a light whose flame represents the One LIGHT from which the other lights are born. Believers approach with the unseen lights. Each luminary has, potentially, the faculty of burning in the same way as the first enlightenment. Thus, all the illuminations in the church are lit from that single light held in the hand by the priest. The only light becomes, therefore, more, just like the One becomes billions of beings occupying the Earth.
Although all the luminaries were ignited from that single and initial flame that we can imagine that existing by itself, uncreated and unconceived yet it has not lost its brightness and size at all. Thus, although God himself has manifested himself in all things and beings in the universe, yet he is not at all less infinite than he was at the beginning, for whatever and no matter how much we take out of the infinite, it will always remain in place infinitely. Now if we take one of these flames and bring it closer to the original flame we will see that they will become a single flame again. Although there will be two illuminations, there will be only one light. Likewise, man has the potential to reunite at a spiritual level with GOD the ONLY one with whom, moreover, he is essentially the same. In reuniting with the Universal Spirit, man unites with all beings. Then the distinction between Man, the environment that surrounds him and God disappears, and he perceives himself as one and the same with the Whole, with the Whole.
Another helpful model for our understanding is the wheel with spite. In the center of the wheel are all the quirks. The farther we move away from the center, the greater the distance between the spite will be, so it’s absolutely impossible for the spite to meet on the circumference of the wheel, yet all these spites come together in the center, regardless of the distance to the circumference. By analogy, God is the center of the Wheel, where all individual beings come together. The wheel can’t exist if the wheels don’t come together in the center. On the other hand, individuals and the society to which they belong cannot be unrelated to the life of creation and central sustenance, which we call God. As we move towards circumference, we move further and further away from the inner, spiritual levels of being, towards an outer and superficial personality and towards a physical life that separates people into individual entities. But no matter how special or distant they may be from each other, all individuals are bound to that spiritual, unique center, whether they admit it or not.
Each individual can choose between either identifying and focusing on the surface differences between himself and other people, or doing the same, but towards the inner uniqueness of his spirit. This union cannot be achieved on a physical level, for here every being is distinctly separate and unique. In order to experience spiritual union, one must overcome the physical and mental levels. In this direction, our attempts to unite with others, on a physical, emotional and mental level, for example through verbal communication, sexual contact, dance, etc. can be useful. But true spiritual union can only be experienced when any trace of identification with our body or personality disappears with perfection.
Let’s give now only one more example of the connection of the world with GOD, as he was expressed by SWAMI SIVANANDA: “You represent the image of the supreme ATMAN (spirit), the image reflected in the body and which is a part of PRAKRITI (the physical world). The original Divine Spirit, the individual spirit – which is the image of the first – and the objective world, of which the body represents a small particle, constitute three entities also called: ISHVARA – JIVA – PRAKRITI (God – individual – the world). Success in the path of spirituality is evident and is achieved when you are able either to deny the objective world as an illusion or to recognize it as nothing but the Supreme Spirit himself. When the mirror or the world disappears, the image or the personality disappears.
So when the mirror is removed, two entities actually disappear: the mirror itself and the reflection that it can generate. Then you will truly immerse yourself in the Divine. Through this example, we observe that the Divine is the only eternal Reality. The world in itself, as well as the man who is an integral part of it, are only simple, false images that we see when we look through a mirror. The basis of the physical world (PRAKRITI or NATURE) is the mirror that creates a false image of the only reality underlying creation and which reveals itself under countless beings and objects. When one becomes able to pierce this temporary and illusory reality, he loses – also – the reality itself, thus identifying himself with the only original Reality, which is only non-image, God. The individual realizes then that it is only a reflection of the Absolute. Thus we could understand that the universe itself is nothing but the body of the Divine, the Universal Spirit, while the human body represents the physical manifestation of the individual spirit.
The word YOGA means UNION, UNION, FUSION. This union is the fusion of the individual spirit (JIVATMAN) with the Universal Spirit (PARAMATMAN; BRAHMAN; GOD). It can be done in multiple ways, depending on the inclinations and tendencies of each individual. This truth is expressed by SWAMI VIVEKANANDA in a very concise and simple way: “Every soul is potentially Divine in its essence. Our ultimate goal is to manifest this divinity from within us through the control of nature, both outwardly and inwardly. Do this by work, by ardor, by psychic control or by philosophy, do it through any of these or others and you will be truly free. So here are essentially the simburs of religions.
All the other doctrines, dogmas, rituals, books, temples, or forms, are but secondary details.” Thus, the purpose of life on earth is to reawaken in one’s own being the latent divinity in it, to remember the unity – latent now – with the Divine and with everything that is in the Universe. Throughout history, a multitude of methods and techniques suitable for achieving this desideratum have been promulgated. At their core are generally action, adoration, psychic control and philosophy. Let’s briefly review each of these main directions, because they will be dealt with more broadly later. By ACTION, SWAMI VIVEKANANDA does not refer to the daily service. He understands the unselfish service in the service of others and society. This is where charity and help come in without the slightest thought of reward and even avoidance of any thanks and manifestations in this regard.
The one engaged on such a path will have to avoid any sense of self-importance, which cannot be consistent with his detached sacrificial action. This path is called KARMA YOGA and it can – and really must – be practiced by all those engaged in the world’s clenching. Even the simplest and most routine actions, if offered to God, of course not expecting any reward, become KARMA YOGA. Thus, slowly, the egotistical needs and tendencies are gradually removed, and the individual learns to identify with the needs of others precisely through his disinterested service towards them. He therefore becomes a universal being by directing his activity for the good of all that surrounds him, refusing to orient himself to his own pleasure and comfort. In fact, all YOGA systems are aimed at eradicating the identification and eliminating the ego’s desires, so that the individual can identify with the universal nature from his own inside and inside the others.
WORSHIP is an important part of any religion, perhaps especially cultivated in Christianity. Through it, all the emotional energies are strictly supervised and withdrawn, suppressed even, from the various inferior temptations, this cumulation being directed instead, through an intense love and concentration towards the Divine present in one of its human forms or towards exemplary beings such as Jesus, Krishna or Shiva. In this way, physical love, desire, and lust are transformed into an unbounded love for God. The emotional nature is universalized through the love of the Divine existing in every deed. Love is the force of attraction that unites people or any other beings. Here, then, is how man and God are unified by love for the Divine. Usually, it is expressed in hymns, prayers, honors, through inner communication with God, as well as by keeping in mind all the time the name and form of the one chosen to represent the Divinity. When two love each other, everyone’s name stays in the mind of the other, so it is a natural thing for the one who loves God to constantly think of Him, to have a perpetual dialogue with Him, as someone else, for example, would discuss with his parents, his girlfriend or his friend. This is the path called BHAKTI YOGA.
RAJA YOGA is the path of meditation and full psychic control. Later we will discuss in detail this form of YOGA. In short, however, it signifies a process of gradual control of the behavior, of the body, of the vital or sexual breathing and energy, of the senses and finally, of the mind itself. This gradual development of the higher faculties will culminate in the perfect control over the mind and its immersion in the ecstatic SAMADHI state. So, through a rigorous behavioral control, through a certain austerity, as well as through various other techniques meant to purify the mind and the body, the individual prepares himself to finally merge with the universal source of the whole life.
JNANA YOGA or PHILOSOPHY is the way of self-knowledge. This knowledge is obtained here through discrimination and detachment. Becoming detached from any habit, being or thing, desires, possessions and selfish relationships, it is possible to discriminate between temporary personality and body, on the one hand, and pure, eternal, immutable consciousness and spirit on the other. This knowledge of inner identity, located above and beyond the changing body and mind, helps the individual to detach himself from his body and mind. Discrimination and detachment work together to free man from false identifications and to make him become a universal being through the thought process. These thoughts will gradually lead him to the experience of his unification with all life in the universe and to the awareness of his own divine nature.
And now let’s summarize this first sketch regarding the philosophy of the YOGA system:
1. Man is an eternal Spirit whose attributes are: eternal existence, pure and unlimited consciousness, infinite happiness.
2. This spirit also called the Supreme Self was, is and will always be in full union with the Divine, with all other souls, as well as with nature itself.
3. Maya or illusion represents the power that hides this truth of man’s true nature and his state of full union with God.
4. Because of man’s ignorance of the truth, he identifies with his body, mind and personality, attributes which are, moreover, only temporary vehicles on earth, necessary, however, when the path of full reunification in the Absolute is sought and followed.
5. Man’s purpose in life is to recognize and reexperience this union with the Divine; in this way, he will be able to fully manifest his latent Divine potential.
6. Thus, we descend from God and find ourselves in the process of returning to the same source of the original creation. But despite our blindness, we have never, in fact, left the union with the Absolute. This is apparently only, because of our inability to perceive, for now, the Truth, a truth that signifies the ocean rather than the wave, the center and not the circumference, the original light and not the multitude of temporary and changing images.
7. Each of us can direct his thoughts, actions and energies towards this purpose, of diminishing the ego and of manifesting the spiritual potentialities latent in man through disinterested service, through adoration, psychic control, philosophy, or through any combination of these or other leading paths