Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Other Yoga (Part 9.)

This is the ninth post on the subject of yoga inspired by a talk by Upasani Maharaj. Nine posts are a lot, but still the question remains; what is yoga? It seems simple enough; traditionally the word yoga means union—union of the soul with the Oversoul, the atma with Paramatma, or the drop of the Ocean with the Ocean of God.

He returns to the door from which he first came out, although in his journey he went from door to door.” – Maulana Shabistari as quoted in God Speaks, by Meher Baba, page 170

Creation itself can be considered to be the yoga by which Unconscious God achieves Self-consciousness—becomes conscious God. Meher Baba tells us that this achievement is assured for every soul that enters creation, but that the journey is an odyssey that takes many forms and many lifetimes.

 To the question, “What is your yoga?” Meher Baba simply replied, “My yoga is you go!” in other words, the imaginary  gross, subtle, and mental bodies that apparently encapsulates the soul on its journey of acquired consciousness must be removed once that consciousness has been achieved.

The mind is a great and a wondrous thing that has brought you to the door of the King—then, like shoes at a holy place, they must be removed and left at the door.” – J. Rumi

 But how can one remove those shoes—those gross, subtle, and mental bodies that the soul has identified with from the very beginning?  In other words, how can an individual lose their-self with their-self in order to experience their-Self? Gurdjieff once said, “It is like trying to jump over your own knees!” That is why, the help of a Sadguru is necessary.

When a Sadguru actually bestows his kripa, one experiences this change in himself—experiences that the Asat Prakriti (non-natural Prakriti) that does all sorts of actions responsible for the affairs of and in the world, has left him and that the One Original Primary Prakriti (the natural Sat-Prakriti) has taken a form and entered his heart.

“Then, in accordance with the qualities of that Original Prakriti, he begins to experience his gross (physical) body spontaneously performing various actions with regard to the spiritual path and the good of the world—actions that are opposite to the common ways of the average human being.

“The ways of the first Prakriti were experienced for births on end, but when the other Prakriti—the result of the Sadguru’s kripa—begins to possess one’s self and when one begins to see her work, one begins to wonder at the happenings. When the first the Asat-Prakriti left me, and was replaced by the Sat-Prakriti, I passed through all this peculiar experience.” The Talks of Sadguru Upasani-Baba Maharaja, Volume II, Part B, pages 540-541

There are teachings and there are teachings. The teachings of the world are one thing and the teachings of the spiritual path are another. But there is another teaching, the teachings of the Perfect Masters and the Avatar. These teachings are often opposed to both the worldly teachings and the spiritual teachings. For one steeped in the teachings of the world, the teachings of the Perfect Masters and the Avatar may appear to be wrong—even insane—and to even admit their possibilities, a monumental suspension of one’s  ‘truths’ and belief is required.

What worldly minded person could hear these words by Hafez and not balk at their implication?

Befitting the fortunate slave, carry out every command of the Master without any question of why or what.”

About what you hear from the Master, never say it is wrong; because, my dear, the fault lies in your own incapacity to understand Him.”

I am the slave of the Master who has released me from ignorance; whatever my Master does is of the highest benefit to all concerned.”

For the worldly minded person, spiritual teachings may be easier to swallow, because at the heart of spiritual teachings is still the ego. One does not have to give up desires to embrace spiritual teachings, for the goals of spiritual teachings are still ego based, albeit different. When one realizes that money, fame, fortune, worldly power do bring happiness, they may begin to desire the experiences and powers of the higher planes of consciousness, and indeed, if one begins to investigate these experiences and powers they cannot help but be impressed.

But the Masters tell us that all these experiences and powers of the higher planes of consciousness are not the Goal, and that in relationship to the Ultimate Experience of the Goal, the spiritual experiences of the planes are still nothing more than excrement.

Hafez once explained that there is a desert and a lush garden next to each other. The lush garden is the worldly life and the desert is the spiritual path. Hafez said that in order to follow the Beloved, one must walk on the sword’s edge between the garden and the desert. But is this possible? Yes, but not without the kripa of the Master and this kripa requires a connection and this connection is love.

Now personally, I am but a beggar sitting below the Master’s table waiting and waiting for another crumb to drop. So, without doubt, the final words should go to the One Lamp that is the light of all lamps:

“Pure love is not a thing that can be forced upon someone, nor can it be snatched away from another by force. It has to manifest from within, with unfettered spontaneity. What can be achieved through bold decision is the removal of those factors that prevent the manifestation of pure love.

“The achievement of selflessness may be said to be both difficult and easy. It is difficult for those who have not decided to step out of the limited self, and it is easy for those who have so decided. In the absence of firm determination, attachments connected with the limited self are too strong to break through. But if a person resolves to set aside selfishness at any cost, he finds an easy entry into the domain of pure love.

“Need for bold decision:

“The limited self is like an external coat worn by the soul. Just as an individual may take off his coat by the exercise of will, through a bold, decisive step he can make up his mind to shed the limited self and get rid of it once and for all. The task that otherwise would be difficult becomes easy through the exercise of a bold and unyielding decision. Such a decision can be born in his mind only when he feels an intense longing for pure love. Just as someone who is hungry longs for food, an aspirant who wants to experience pure love must have a intense longing for it.

“True love awakened only by Master:

“When the aspirant has developed this intense longing for pure love, he may be said to have been prepared for the intervention of a Perfect Master -- who through proper direction and necessary help ushers him into the state of divine love. Only the Master can awaken pure love through the divine love that he imparts; there is no other way. Those who want to be consumed in love should go to the eternal flame of love.

“Love is the most significant thing in life. It cannot be awakened except by coming into contact with the Incarnation of love. Theoretical brooding on love will result in weaving a theory about love, but the heart will remain as empty as before. Love begets love; it cannot be awakened by any mechanical means.” Discourses, by Meher Baba, 7th ed, pp. 397-398Copyright 1987 AMBPPCT

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Sunday, January 08, 2017

The Other Yoga (Part 8.)

Meher Baba explained the difference between the first soul to realize God and all subsequent souls to realize God, “With regard to those souls who attain God-Realization subsequently (after the first), the two requirements stand, inner poise and adequate adjustment with everything in the universe.”Beams From Meher Baba, page 29

He later went on to explain that adequate adjustment with everything in the universe would have to include the adequate adjustment to any living God-Realized being in existence in the universe at the time of a soul’s realization by acknowledging the Perfection of these God-Realized beings and accepting any assistance that was rendered by them.

Upasani Maharaj said, “The power of the Sadguru is always there in existence; a Sadguru never takes his devotee through any Hatha. On whomever He wants to bestow His kripa, he takes away from him—relieves him—of the Asat-Prakriti that is responsible for the affairs of and in the world, and He replaces that Prakriti with the natural—the Sat-Prakriti—responsible for bringing the world into existence. That is what the Sadguru does.” The Talks of Sadguru Upasani-Baba Maharaja, Volume II, Part B, page 541

Prakriti is one of those words that have no easy equivalent in the English language; perhaps this is due to the fact that the idea of Prakriti does not really exist in the Western mind.

The Western mind understands the universe to be something concrete—something material—and that this material is real. But contrary to this notion are the teachings of the Avatars and the Perfect Masters who tells us that it is a combination of fine imagination and false consciousness that makes up the embodiment of the embodied soul, and by extension, the universe that the embodied soul finds itself in.

Prakriti is a state that the soul temporarily finds itself in between its unconscious reality as God and its conscious reality as God—and that this temporary state is necessary to acquire the consciousness that distinguishes the second state form the first. The matter that makes up this temporary state is not in question here, but the reality of that matter is.

The words Sat and Asat are a little easier to digest. Sat means knowledge—real knowledge—knowledge of reality—while Asat means false knowledge—the knowledge of ignorance.

And so, in light of these distinctions, Upasani Maharaj’s statement becomes very clear;  “… he takes away from him—relieves him—of the Asat-Prakriti that is responsible for the affairs of and in the world, and He replaces that Prakriti with the natural—the Sat-Prakriti—responsible for bringing the world into existence.”

Before moving on with Upasani Maharaj’s talk on the other yoga, I can’t help but wonder, does not this adequate adjustment with everything in the universe that Meher Baba spoke about, i.e.  With regard to those souls who attain God-Realization subsequently (after the first), the two requirements stand, inner poise and adequate adjustment with everything in the universe,” not only apply to those fortunate souls who are standing at the immediate threshold of God–Realization, but also to all of us who have heard of the existence of God in human form in the forms of the Avatars and the Perfect Masters?

In other words, when one experiences the universe as something real and themselves as beings who are limited and not eternal, unknowing and not All-knowing, vulnerable and not All-powerful, etc. and do not have any direct experience any beings who are not perceptibly different than them-self, then what constitutes an adequate adjustment to those beings who claim they do? Does merely saying, “I believe,” or “I don’t believe,” constitute adequate adjustment, or perhaps is adequate adjustment found more in the words of the Perfect Master Kabir who said, “Until you experience it, it is not true!

(To be continued.)

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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Other Yoga (Part 7.)

When it’s time has come, the prey finds the hunter.” – Old Persian saying

The Avatar and the Masters never hide from anyone, they wait. As Hafez said, “You yourself are the veil between you and the Beloved; tear off that veil and you will see God!”

The veil is the mind, more precisely, it is the mind filled with all it impressions. Upasani Maharaj once defined the Jivatma (the embodied soul) as “that pure celestial soul identified with the projections of the mind.”

It takes many lifetimes in the human form to loosen that identification with its projections; in other words, for the king to lose his identification with being a king and for the beggar to lose his identification with being a beggar; for the man to lose his identification with being a man and for the woman to lose her identification with being a woman. The pendulums of duality are nearly endless, but in the end it all comes down to the pure celestial soul becoming un-identified with any and all of the projections of the mind.

The real Masters wait and wait and wait, sometimes until the veil is completely removed, sometimes until it is sufficiently loosened, and sometimes, for the rare aspirant, until whatever whim or design motivates the Master’s grace. They wait, but are not idle—they are always working behind the scenes.

God never hides from us; we hide from God, behind the veil of our own impressions. Much is made of God’s incredible suffering for our sins. The Greek word for sin is hamartia, the word we find in the New Testament; it means to miss the mark. Impressions distort the vision of the mind and cause it to mistake the object and disturb the aim.

Still, one might ask, why does not the infinitely powerful God in the form of a Perfect Master or the Avatar just remove the veil? The subject is very deep and subtle. Shams e Tabriz said, “The tale of love must be heard from love itself, for like the mirror, it is both mute and expressive.”  

A candidate for the priesthood was being examined by a bishop. The question was about the omnipotence of God. The candidate said that although God is infinitely powerful, still He could not do everything. The Bishop was a bit taken back by this remark and asked the candidate to explain. The candidate simply replied, “God cannot beat the ace of spades with the deuce of clubs.”

It’s a good story, but what does it mean? On one level, to beat the ace of spades with the deuce of clubs would destroy the game, and if the game is destroyed there can be no winners or losers. Fair enough, but is there more to it? Like, what is the game, and why a game at all? Games are considered to be amusements, diversions, pastimes—who is being amused and diverted? Is not life much more serious than that? Apparently not, though is sure seems to be at times.

So I take you to a movie and say, “Remember this is only a movie; it is not real; though it seems very realistic. You will see many things, some beautiful, some ugly, some inspiring, and some appalling, but I want you to remember that none of it is real—it is just a dream.

 Well we all know what happens when we go to a movie; how we get drawn in; how we react physically, emotionally, and mentally. If it is a good movie it is so hard to remember—to keep from getting drawn into it.  How much more difficult would it be to remember if, in fact, we were not sitting in the theater watching the screen, but instead, we were ourselves in the movie—like on the Hollowdeck of the Starship Enterprise?

And yet that is how it is, and more... Life is like the Hollowdeck, and we live and die over and over again on it, and the Master keeps telling us to not get drawn in, to not react, that it is all a dream, that it is not real. It is like He throws us into the water and tells us not to get wet. Very difficult indeed, if not impossible, unless the Master is sitting with us in the theater, reminding us all the time, and distracting us from the movie. In fact, that is how it is.

So there we are, sitting in the theater with the Master, watching the movie, but as Meher Baba reminds us, “You and I are not we, but one.” And so, it is God, the One Eternal God, who sits in the theater as both the Master and the embodied soul, as both the Beloved and the lover, as both God and man. It is like a game that He plays with Himself in order to Realize Himself, to realize the truth of His own words; “You and I are not we, but one.”

Meanwhile, in the movie, He plays many roles, swings on many pendulums of duality, sometimes experiencing a lifetime as a beggar, sometimes as a king, but always as a seeker of Himself. In His talk on the other yoga and the natural way, Upasani Maharaj reveals how Divine perfection is always working just behind the screen.

When Hatha yoga is practiced bit by bit, the study extended over many a lifetime, ultimately it is completed and then resembles the natural stage. Still, even then, that person has to take another birth, because he has reached that stage with force, with Ahamkara, while the original state is devoid of any Ahamkara.” The Talks of Sadguru Upasani-Baba Maharaja, Volume II, Part B, page 540

In other words, he is like the man in the Gospels who attends the wedding without the proper attire and therefore, must take another birth. Upasani Maharaj explains;

As such, when he attains that higher state, he remains in that state and also takes a birth as a king and enjoys all the princely pleasures. It is such persons who come to earth as kings, but such persons are very few. These days it is a group of persons that rule instead of the king; all these persons obviously belong to the Yoga-bhrashta class, and that is why they rule.” – Ibid.

And so it seems that impressions (sanskaras), either bad or good will continue to collect if even there is slightest vestige of identification connected to an action, and even when the soul is ready for Union, those impressions, bad or good, have to be wiped away. As mentioned in an earlier post;

The saint is bound by a golden chain, and the sinner by a spiked one, but the goal is to be free of all chains.” – Meher Baba

In the next post, Upasani Maharaj gives examples of what those final lifetimes looks like and how the Master’s guidance serves the purpose of unbinding the golden chains of good, and the vestiges of the spiked chains, in order to free the soul to experience the  Infinite Knowledge, Power, and Bliss that was, is, and always will be, its destiny and rightful state.

(To be continued.)


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Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Other Yoga (Part 6.)

It is like we are always living one lifetime behind because the lifetime we are presently living is, as Meher Baba says, “the consolidated mold of the impressions of our previous life.”  The physical form, the environment, and the time of each lifetime is taken in order to experience the impressions—the sanskaras—that were created in the previous lifetime.

But the act of expressing and experiencing these impressions, if done with Ahamkara (pride—attachment—identification), creates new impressions—sanskaras—that cannot be expressed and experienced until the next lifetime. And so a nearly endless progression of lifetimes is assured.

Actions performed with Ahamkara are what Upasani Maharaj calls forced actions as opposed to those He calls natural actions. He then explains what happens when Hatha yoga is of the forced category and how, over lifetimes, can reach its full measure and become natural.

When the study of Hatha yoga reaches its full measure, then it becomes one with the natural ways; till then, all the actions therein are of a forced type and not natural.” The Talks of Sadguru Upasani-Baba Maharaja, Volume II, Part B, page 539

He goes on to explain what happens to a practitioner of forced yoga who discontinues or happens to die before their practice achieves completion and becomes natural.

If, however, a person has to discontinue their study for some reason, or dies during the study, such a person is called Yoga-bhrashta and they get their ensuing birth in a royal or rich family to enjoy the pleasures commensurate with the punya (blessings accrued from previous good or Satvika actions) they had accumulated. After they expend away their punya in this way, they again become as they were to begin with, prior to their study.

“As a person begins to enjoy princely pleasures as a result of the punya accrued from his Yoga-sadhana (practices), he normally acts in various ways while having them and these actions are generally of an adverse nature leading him to suffer, and that is why, as the maxim ‘Rajante Narakam Ghoram’ suggests, that at the end of enjoying as a king, due to many faulty actions performed by him during his rule, he has to descend down to the worst hell to pay for all those actions; in other words, he becomes bound down permanently to the chain of births and deaths.

“But, on the other hand, instead of doing many an action on his own, if the king sticks to a Satpurusha, rules according to the rules laid down by his forefathers, rules because he has to, and treats his subjects as his children, then such a man, without being affected by any of the actions he commits, becomes qualified for that Godly state with the help of that Satpurusha.” The Talks of Sadguru Upasani-Baba Maharaja, Volume II, Part B, page 540

Yoga means union; this union is understood to be union of consciousness with the Eternal Self, or Soul, or God—the various terms mean the same thing. Why does one begin the practice of yoga?  In these days, perhaps only a few would say to achieve union with God. For many people the answer is to find the peace that come with a tranquil mind, or to achieve a healthy body, or to acquire some powers, but at the bottom of these desires is not the common goal to be happy?

But the real Masters, the Ones who have achieved the Ultimate goal, always remind us that powers, or health of body or mind, do not bring the real and lasting happiness that comes with the union of consciousness with the Eternal Self.

The train is going somewhere, we are not driving the train, but the Destination is assured. There is nothing wrong with seeking a measure of comfort along the way; didn’t Meher Baba often remind us to “not worry, be happy?” The real question, however, is how to live in such a way that brings happiness and yet does not create new bindings?

And the answer can be found in those words of Upasani Maharaj when He said, “But, on the other hand, instead of doing many an action on his own, if the king sticks to a Satpurusha, rules according to the rules laid down by his forefathers, rules because he has to, and treats his subjects as his children, then such a man, without being affected by any of the actions he commits, becomes qualified for that Godly state with the help of that Satpurusha.”

For is it not obvious that to live and act in the world without Ahamkara is impossible if one is living and acting to please oneself and not one’s Self? What did Gurdjieff say?  It is like trying to jump over one’s own knees.” And so, is not the only solution to somehow enter into a relationship with One who is already out—already Eternally Free—and to begin to live and act only to please that One?
That is what the Masters are saying, but again the question remains; how to find such a Master and how to stick to that Satpurusha?

The saint is bound by a golden chain, and the sinner by a spiked one, but the goal is to be free of all chains.” – Meher Baba

(To be continued.)

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