Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Four Yogas as described by Meher Baba in the Intelligence Notebooks

(Some readers have suggested that I put some of my longer series of postings in order to facilitate the reading experience. So, over the next few days, I’ll do a little house-keeping on some of my longer blogs starting with the most recent.)

The Four Yogas as Described by Meher Baba in the Intelligence Notebooks.

In what have come to be called the Intelligence Notebooks, Meher Baba describes the four yogas. In the next few postings I will attempt to convey the sense of Meher Baba’s teaching on the subject.

The Intelligence Notebooks are available online at and I would highly recommend to anyone who is interested in the subject of the four yogas to go to the source and read what Meher Baba actually said. He begins to talk about the four yogas at the end of page 158. The four yogas are Karma Yoga, Dnyan Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, and Raj Yoga.

All of the yogas have one thing in common and one common purpose and that is to free consciousness from impressions (sanskaras) and so if one needs to refresh himself on the subject of sankaras I can refer them back to Baba’s Discourses, the Intelligence Notebooks, and God Speaks, and my postings on the Divine Theme.

Meher Baba first described Karma Yoga; He said, “In this yoga the Infinite Mind does Karma (i.e. takes the experience of Subtle and gross universe through Its subtle and gross body) by the subtle and gross body according to the past impressions attached on it. But whilst doing the Karma (i.e. while taking the oopabog — the experience — of those fine impressions that are attached on It in Subtle and gross form, and thus spending them) It remains unaffected. It does not become anxious of the result. It neither becomes happy by success nor miserable by failure. It only does the Karma as duty…”

In the example of a king and a beggar, the king is not at all affected by being a king and feels neither haughty nor great. He merely discharges his duties as king without being affected by success or failure, accolades or insults. The beggar, likewise, lives the life of a beggar, free from anger or envy, unaffected by insult or difficulties.

The science behind Karma Yoga is this: In the normal process of experiencing impressions, using our example of the impressions of a king and a beggar, new impressions are created that have to be experienced that set the stage for the beggar to be reborn a king and the king to be reborn a beggar. Meher Baba calls this process the spending of impressions. Here, the spending consists of exchanging impressions — one gets rid of some impressions, but in the process, gets new impressions.

It could take thousands, even millions, of lifetimes on this pendulum before it begins to dawn in the consciousness of the king that although he is a king now he has also been a beggar before. Likewise, it could take thousands, even millions, of lifetimes on this pendulum before it begins to dawn in the consciousness of the beggar that although he is a beggar now he has also been a king before. With this awareness come the realization that if I have been both beggar and king, then, in fact, I am neither, I am something else, I am the “I” that has been having the experiences, I am the dreamer who has been having this dream, I am the dreamer and not the dream. It is at this point, and only at this point, that one would naturally be able to, “… remains unaffected. It does not become anxious of the result. It neither becomes happy by success nor miserable by failure. It only does the Karma as duty…” And what is this “one” this “I” that realizes it is neither beggar nor king? Meher Baba calls this reality “the Infinite Mind.”

I am the Infinite Mind of Infinite Intelligence, beyond all dualities and all experiences of dualities; I am birthless, deathless, and timeless. I am Infinite, Eternal Bliss, I am that I am!

Millions and millions of lifetimes are needed for this inevitable state to be reached; what then is the role of the four yogas in the process? Must be to speed it along, to facilitate it, but how? How does one actually “do” this yoga? Perhaps to merely know about it, to know what it is we are going through and why is enough; perhaps the knowledge of the yoga and the process is all we need?

Bhakti Yoga

“Through bhakti yoga the mind loses its consciousness of the bodies and so of the universe. In this yoga, the Infinite false mind (jiv) thinks Itself separate from the Infinite Intelligence (Paramatma) and worships and loves it and thus becomes engrossed in It and unconscious of the body and the universe to the proportion of Its engrossment in It. The more the mind loves and worships It the more It becomes engrossed in It, and so the more It becomes unconscious of the bodies and the universe. And when It becomes engrossed in it most, i.e. loses completely the consciousness of Its bodies and the universe, then It becomes one with It (Paramatma), (i.e. becomes Shiv), i.e. the worshipper and the worshipped become one…” (Intelligence Notebooks page 167.)

I lived through the 60’s, the so-called hippie days, and the plethora of spiritual trips that abounded in those days. For me, it was a beautiful time filled with more questions than answers, but the questions I entertained were filled with light and promise.

My own experience of Bhakti Yoga could be expressed in the image of a bunch of hippie seekers with long hair, colorful clothing, and out of tune guitars, chanting “Hari Rama, Hari Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hari Hari,” and moving and swaying with drug induced ecstasy.

Then too, there were the followers of the Krishna Consciousness movement who shaved their heads and joined ashrams and spent their days, supposedly, in devotional practices.

The former seemed to me naïve and the latter just not my trip, but in truth I really had no idea what Bhakti Yoga was or was trying to accomplish — not until I read Meher Baba’s description in the Intelligence Notebooks.
Like Karma and Dnyaan Yogas, this Bhakti Yoga is no easy matter. Just try to keep your mind on God, or Bliss, or Infinite love, for anything more than a few seconds, and notice how you can’t do it — how your thought keep returning to the mundane, or what Baba calls “the bodies and the universe.”

So Bhakti, or worship, means the turning away of the mind from the bodies and the universe to the Self…

The aim and end of these four yogas is the stopping of the mind in the thinking conscious awake state, i.e. the changing of the falseness of the Infinite Thinking to the realness in the thinking i.e. the getting rid of the sanskaras completely in the conscious state…

Thus in karma and dnyaan yoga the mind tries to gain consciousness of the self by getting rid of sanskaras; whereas in raja yoga and bhakti yoga the mind tries to gain consciousness of self either by stopping its thinking, as in the case of raja yoga: or by changing the rukh (face) or the attitude of Its thinking, as is the case with bhakti yoga… (Intelligence Notebooks)

So it all comes back to those pesky sanskaras — the dust of God’s journey to consciousness — the dust that covers the mirror and keeps Him from seeing Himself.

And when It becomes engrossed in it most, i.e. loses completely the consciousness of Its bodies and the universe, then It becomes one with It (Paramatma), (i.e. becomes Shiv), i.e. the worshipper and the worshipped become one…

As we will see in the coming posts, Meher Baba has much more to say about Bhakti Yoga — about how the mind can sustain Its engrossment in Paramatma (God) and loses completely the consciousness of Its bodies and the universe.

Speaking about the difficulty of Bhakti Yoga, Meher Baba says that in the beginning, while enjoying the state of absorption in Paramatma (God), the sanskaras are not experienced, but they do remain, and when the yogi comes down from his state of absorption he begins to become conscious of those sanskaras and begins to take their experience. Really, how could it be otherwise? If I’m thrown into the water, do I not have the desire to swim to the surface and breathe?

Of course, the goal is not to remain in a temporary samadhi (state of absorption) or trance state, the goal is to realize Paramatma — God — Self — eternally, and for this all sanskaras must be wiped away. In the case of the Karma yogi, if the yogi can remain in the state of complete absorption for long enough — and we are talking here not in terms of day, or years, but of lifetimes — then the sanskaras will eventually be starved and die, because the food that sustains sanskaras is our consciousness of them, and the thing that propagates new sanskaras is the taking of the experience of the old sanskaras.

About this, Meher Baba says;

“Through either of these yogas (Bhakti and Raj) the sanskaras may disappear in time, although (this) is almost impossible (which many times requires many lives even to complete this yoga for getting rid of the sanskaras) but by the Sadguru Kripa (the grace of the Sadguru (God-Realized guru) the sanskaras disappear in a second, i.e. the mind is stopped in a second i.e. complete engrossment is gained in a second i.e. Self consciousness is gained in a second.”

And this is, in my opinion, the most important statement of all, for it clearly suggests the supremacy of the path of following a God-Realized Master over all forms of yoga, spiritual paths, religions and teachings. As Adi K. Irani once said about following Meher Baba, “traveling any of the paths is like journeying by bull-ox cart, while following the Avatar or Perfect Masters is like journeying by jet plane.”

“… but by the Sadguru Kripa (the grace of the Sadguru (God-Realized guru) the sanskaras disappear in a second, i.e. the mind is stopped in a second i.e. complete engrossment is gained in a second i.e. Self consciousness is gained in a second.”

All in all, the Intelligence Notebooks dedicates about thirty pages to the subject of the four yogas (Karma, Dnyaan, Bhakti and Raj) and nearly twenty of those pages are devoted to Bhakti Yoga alone. Meher Baba goes into quite a lot of detail on this yoga and so I again I remind my readers that if they are interested they can, and maybe should, go to the source and read the entire discussion for themselves.

It is not my intention to give an exhaustive analysis or even a complete summary of any of these yogas. My aim is to create an opportunity for my readers to stop and really consider what Meher Baba is saying and perhaps realize that this whole subject of the yogas, not to mention what is called the spiritual path, is no easy matter, no part-time study that one merely fits into their daily lives, no go to church or yoga class one day of the week and say amen or shanti. Can there really be any other response, when one really hears what Meher Baba is saying, not just hears but really hears; that their ideas and beliefs will be irreparably shattered and crumbled into dust?

Bhakti means love; active love is devotion, so in Bhakti Yoga mind becomes so absorbed in God as the object of this devotion that mind loses consciousness of the universe and the bodies it has been associating with. But this object, this God, is a big subject, and in the remainder of the discussion of Bhakti Yoga, Meher Baba focuses on three important considerations; the qualities of the object of devotion itself, the motive behind the devotion in the first place, and the level of the devotional practice

On the big subject of God (Paramatma) as the object of the mind’s devotion, Meher Baba divides God(Paramatma) into three states:

1. Impersonal God (Parameshwar)
2. Personal God (Ishwar)
3. Sadguru (pratyaksha or physically living master)

So Meher Baba is saying that in the practice of Bhakti Yoga:

1. Mind can worship Parameshwar (Impersonal God). Parameshwar is God in the state beyond creation, beyond even the Creator, and wholly and solely without any consciousness of Self or creation. By necessity this devotion would have a negative quality in that Parameshwar being without any attributes or qualities can only be pondered in relationship to that which It is not, i.e. not the stars, not the world, not even the embodiment of Self in the form of the Avatars or Perfect Masters i.e. whatever the mind thinks is Paramatma is not Paramatma.

2. Mind can worship Ishwar (Personal God). Ishwar is that state of God engaged in the activity of creating, preserving, and destroying the creation. As Ishwar, God is unconscious of Himself or his creation. When one worships Ishwar, he worships Brahma, Vishnu, or Shiva — Afridgar, Parvardigar, or Fanakar. Of note here is the worship of the Preserver — Vishnu — Parvardigar — for the embodiment, the personification, of this state of God is none other than the Avatar — the Christ — the Ancient One. This worship of Ishwar in the state of Preserver includes not only the worship of all past forms of the Avatar i.e. Ram, Krishna, Zoroaster, Buddha, Mohamed, and Jesus, but all past Perfect Masters (Sadgurus) as well.

3. Finally, Mind can worship Personal God in the state of a living Avatar or Sadguru.

Devotion to any of the three forms of Paramatma yields, in the end, the same result, namely of the elimination of all sanskaras while retaining consciousness, but in the short run do yield fundamentally different results.
One way or another they all talk about it: Brahma dreams the creation; Jesus told His disciples “Stay awake! Do not sleep!” Gurdjieff always reminded his followers that they were asleep and needed to wake up; Meher Baba once told a group of meditators that they were asleep and even being in His presence and even with Him right there telling them they were asleep, they were still asleep.

The path from God’s deep dreamless sleep to His fully awake I am God state runs through the state of dreams — the state of creation — the state of birth and death — the state of duality — the state of ignorance — the state of illusion.

Yoga is what happens when one gets the inkling that he is asleep — that his life is a dream. It is then, and only then, that he begins to experience, depending on his karma, the desire to no longer be in the state of sleep and dreams or the desire to experience that which is beyond the state of sleep and dreams.

With the exception of doing Sadguru Bhakti (pratyaksha) of the physically living master, all the types of yoga represent efforts one makes on their own to awaken. If the state of sleep and dreams is understood as a prison, then these forms of yoga represent the path the prisoner follows to freedom.

In Karma Yoga the prisoner continues to live the prison life, but without becoming at all attached to the pains or pleasures of prison life.

In Dnyaan Yoga the prisoner refuses to let his mind motivate any actions at all connected to prison life. In essence, he goes on a total and complete hunger strike and partakes of none of the possibilities of prison life that present themselves to him.

In Bhakti Yoga the prisoner trains his mind to avoid the prison itself by focusing the mind on that which is beyond the prison to such an extent that the prison itself eventually vanishes. It is only in the category of Sadguru Bhakti that the prisoner actually communes with One who has already escaped i.e. the Sadguru, and therefore gets help from outside.

Meher Baba brings out a very interesting distinction, the distinction between doing the yogas with and doing the yogas without motive. Thinking a little on the subject leads, I believe, to the realization that the only possible yoga that could be done without motivation is Sadguru Bhakti. The other yogas have to be motivated by something, whether it is the desire to escape the prison or the desire to be in the state of freedom beyond the prison or even to make life within the prison somehow more palatable.

Of course, even Sadguru Bhakti is not automatically free of motivation, but it is only in the practice of Sadguru Bhakti that it is possible to remain motiveless; and it is here that Meher Baba speaks of love.

To follow a Sadguru, not for what He may give you, but wholly and solely for love itself — for love of the Master — that is the highest motiveless motivation a yogi can have — that is the highest Bhakti. What is this love? How can it be explained? Call it what you will, unconditional love, divine love, but can one fathom it? Shams e Tabriz (Rumi’s Master) said,

“The tale of love must be heard from love itself, for like the mirror, it is both mute and expressive.”

The second yoga is called Dnyaan Yoga.

“In this yoga the mind (Infinite Mind) tries to check Itself from experiencing Its fine impressions in gross form. The desire, which means the sanskaras in subtle form that can give the subtle experience, appears; but the mind checks this desire from being fulfilled…This means that the mind does not take the gross experience; and so the fine impression is experienced subtly or spent. In short, the mind checks itself from taking the gross experience.”

If you remember, in the previous post on Karma Yoga, the Notebook is very consistent with the capitalization of the words Its, Itself, etc. This is, of course, not usual, but I believe that the capitalization is there to suggest that there is a Reality, a Divinity, that is taking the experiences of what we call life in order to gain and perfect the consciousness necessary for the Real I to experience Itself. Here, in this first sentence, mind is not capitalized yet Itself is. I think that this might be to suggest that Infinite Mind is working through the limited false mind.

“In the ordinary general human case, the mind spends the past sanskaras and gathers new ones and so does not become free from the sanskaras. In karma yoga, the mind spends the past sanskaras but does not gather new ones and so becomes free from the sanskaras. In dnyaan yoga, the mind does not spend the sanskaras and does not collect new ones too, but kills the past sanskaras.”

In Karma Yoga, the subtle and gross experiences are not checked, but the mind remains aloof from any and all consequences resulting from those actions, i.e. pleasure/pain, praise/blame etc. This seems, at first thought, to be much more difficult than simply checking the gross action in the first place.

But Baba says that this yoga, Dnyaan Yoga is very, very, difficult and a more thorough introspection leads to the conclusion that this checking of the experience — not expressing the sanskara in the form of desires in gross action — is not quite the same thing as what is more commonly understood as simple repression, and I believe the difference comes down to motive.

In simple repression there is a kind of choice that is made based on what course of action (or non action) will yield the least pain. I might really want to blow off work today and go to the movies but I also know it would probably lead to getting fired. And so I eschew the act of blowing off work because something in me knows that the pleasure gained from going to the movies would be outweighed by the consequence of getting fired.

In Dnyaan Yoga there is none of this internal bargaining. Here, the yogi can have only two legitimate motives; the desire to be free of (to kill) all impressions and the second is to have the experience of union with God.

“In this yoga the mind takes the subtle experience of not taking the gross experience of the past fine impressions or sanskaras; and so this creates new impressions quite opposite to the old impressions which are then killed by the new ones. In this yoga (i.e. by this process of not taking the gross experience or killing carnal desire, nafs kushi) the mind creates such new impressions so as to kill the old impressions.”

Do you want to know about desires? Try to sit still for twenty minutes and watch your breath. I don’t mean to merely be aware of your breathing — actually watch it (sense it), go in and out. Sense it as it turns from in to out and from out to in. What happens? For most people, after no more than a few seconds, if even that, they stop watching (sensing) because they start thinking about other things. Notice these other things — the I wants, the I needs, etc. Notice the pleasure and pain associated with them. Behind every thought is a desire. Can you image a real Dnyaan Yogi — what it really is he is attempting to achieve?

Anyone familiar with the teachings of Meher Baba knows that He uses different metaphors in order to convey the Divine Theme i.e. the Ocean and the Drop, the Deep Sleep, Dreaming, and Waking States of God, etc.

In the Intelligence Notebooks, Meher Baba uses the term Infinite Intelligence to represent God in all His states of consciousness.

What is intelligence? It is the capacity to know.
What does intelligence desire to know? Himself.
What kind of intelligence can know God? Infinite Intelligence.

How is knowing accomplished? Through the act of thinking.
(For Meher Baba, thinking and consciousness are the same.)

What is necessary for thinking? Mind.
Intelligence thinks through mind.
Infinite Intelligence thinks Infinitely through Infinite Mind.
Only Infinite Intelligence thinking Infinitely through Infinite Mind can know Itself.

In the previous post I suggested the exercise of following the breath. Any “normal” person who does this becomes aware of their thoughts — more importantly, they become aware of the fact that they are thinking—that “it” is thinking. This “it” equals mind.

And so the person realizes that mind is thinking and it become obvious that they cannot stop it.

Mind just loves to think, mind is born to think, mind wants to be in charge, and mind is used to getting its way. Mind has been thinking in us for so long — so many millions of lifetimes in the human form, not to mention in the millions of pre-human forms from stone to insect to fish to bird to animal.

And what is mind thinking? Meher Baba tells us that mind’s thinking has two parts. First, mind thinks itself and its world. To use another of Baba’s analogies, mind dreams itself as stone, insect, fish, bird, animal, and human being — dreams its existence and it life.

And what’s the second thing that mind does? It takes the experience of itself as stone, insect, etc. In other words, mind creates itself and its world, and then mind takes the experience of itself and its world.

If one could stop his mind from thinking, he and his world would disappear, would cease to exist. But remember we are now talking not about Infinite Mind but limited mind, illusory mind, the illusory mind takes itself to be everything that in Reality it is not. If illusory mind could be stopped and yet Infinite Mind could think, It would think the One and Only Real Thought, “I am God — I am Infinite Intelligence — I Am That I Am.”

Raj Yoga is the fourth yoga that Meher Baba describes in the Intelligence Notebooks. Among yogis, Raj Yoga is considered the highest form of yoga. Raj Yoga is involved with the techniques of pranayam (control of the breath), meditation, and concentration. The aim of Raj Yoga, and therefore the aim of all of these practices and techniques, is to stop the mind.

Meher Baba says, “In this yoga, the Infinite Mind goes on taking the experience of the subtle and gross universe through Its subtle and gross bodies according to Its past impressions (sanskaras) enjoying and suffering and thus collecting new impressions of enjoyment and suffering.”

What Meher Baba is suggesting here is that like the Karma yogi, the Raj yogi also experiences his karma, but unlike the Karma yogi who practices the technique of non-identification with the success or failure of his actions and thereby stops the formation of new impressions, the Raj yoga takes the experience of his own impressions and thus creates new impressions.

What the Raj yogi does, however, is to cultivate the taste of the experience of his practices and to learn to prefer that taste over the taste of the enjoyment and suffering of his own impressions.

“But in raj yoga It (Infinite Mind) enjoys Itself in trying to stop Itself from thinking by the process of pranayam, meditation, concentration, etc…”

Meher Baba goes on to say that the more the mind makes progress through it practices, the more it loses consciousness of body and universe and in that way the sanskaras are wiped out.

“And in the end, through this yoga, mind and soul meet, i.e. mind becomes soul; the same jiv (embodied soul), when it becomes devoid of sanskaras, becomes Shiv (God-realized soul).”

The more of Meher Baba’s messages, talks, discourses, etc. I hear and read, the more I come back to the one assertion that it is the destiny of every soul to one day experience that it always is, has been, and will eternally always be God.

Meher Baba tells the story in different ways using different imagery, metaphors, and similes. He speaks about the drops of the Ocean realizing themselves as the Ocean; He describes God as existing eternally — experiencing Himself eternally — in the three transcendent states of deep sleep, dreaming, and awake; and in the Intelligence Notebooks He refers to God as Infinite Intelligence who both loses and realizes Himself through the process of thinking.

Meher Baba explains that the beginning begins with the first thought, “Who am I?” and ends in eternity with the first real answer, “I am God!” He says that in between the first thought and the real answer are the innumerable false thoughts and false answers that false mind proclaims “I am stone; I am insect; I am fish; I am bird; I am animal; I am man.”

How beautifully the poet Master Maulana Shabistari puts it when he proclaims,

“He returns to the door from which he first came out, although in his journey he went from door to door.”

In the Intelligence Notebooks Meher Baba reveals to us that consciousness is thinking. For many of us, this was rather difficult to grasp — consciousness is thinking. When we think, we are conscious, and when we stop thinking we are not conscious at all. So, what Baba is telling us is that false thinking must end and in the end must remain only the one real thought, “I am God!”

The purpose of the four yogas is to, one way or another, stop the mind from thinking falsely and to do this all sanskaras needs to be eliminated, for it is the sanskaras that make the mind think falsely. Reading about the four yogas shows just how daunting a task this is. It can go on and on for lifetimes — millions of lifetimes even. Complicating matters even more we are still living in the darkest of times — the Kali Yuga — the most difficult time to make efforts that lead to the Goal. But God in his Infinite Mercy gives us His gift of the Avatar and Sadgurus whose presence in our midst accomplishes more for us in a mere moment than thousands of lifetimes of our own practices and penances.

The mind, the mind is such a tyrant and just a moment of simple honest observation is all that is necessary to be convinced of this fact. It never lets us alone. It is always engaged in telling us how important it is, how we can never live without it; it interpolates itself into our every experience and demands that we do its bidding, and it makes us believe that it — that we — are never wrong.

I remember some years ago I was at Meher Baba’s Pilgrim Center in India. I was up on Meherabad Hill standing under the overhang that covers the simple benches that are placed at the threshold of Meher Baba’s Tomb. It was just before evening arti. Arti at Meher Baba’s Tomb consists of reciting the three prayers that Meher Baba dictated; the Parvardigar Prayer, the Prayer of Repentance, and the Beloved God Prayer. Artis dedicated to Meher Baba are song after the prayers.

So, when I arrived people had already gathered and the benches were already filled with people. I stood at the back of the group in a place where I could see into Baba’s Tomb. Everyone was quiet, absorbed in their own thoughts, until a small commotion broke out among the people on the benches closest to the threshold of Baba’s Tomb.

Apparently a snake had been seen slithering in front of the entrance. They believed it to be a kind of Racer common to the area — a very poisonous snake. There was a tall Shepard standing near-by — a villager in traditional white linen with a cranberry colored turban. I thought for sure that he would do something, but it seemed that he wanted no part of the snake at all.

But there was an Indian man sitting on one of the benches — a man from one of the many groups of Indian followers of Meher Baba who travel from all over India to spend a day or two at the Pilgrim Center.

Seeing what going on, the man immediately got to feet, grabbed the top of a small box that had been used to carry flowers to the tomb, and walked over a quickly scooped up the snake and carried it away to the field behind the tomb.

I was quite taken by the man’s bravery. He never hesitated to act and after he discarded the snake he returned to his seat on the bench and seemed quite peaceful and calm — at least for a few minutes until and a woman sitting on the bench directly behind him accidentally kicked her foot against her bag that was under the man’s bench, inadvertently pushing it lightly against the man’s leg.

Well, feeling something on the ground moving against his leg, the man literally leaped into the air and screamed; obviously his mind had been still thinking about the snake — attached to the snake — attached to his deed. How could it be otherwise?

“The mind is a great and wondrous thing,
til it brings you to the door of the King,
then like shoes before crossing the threshold
of a holy place are no longer necessary
and removed and left at the door.” Rumi