Notes from a past workshop:
Last week we discussed in a general way, the yogic view of life. Here are a few of the points we covered in review for those who attended and also for those who didn’t in case you’re interested.
Life on the material plane is a school we keep attending as long as it takes until we graduate from it. Eventually all souls “graduate” into freedom. All physical manifestation (even if not obviously sentient) are expressions of one consciousness which has divided itself to appear real and unique similar to the way light that shines through a projector makes images on a screen.
The “steps” along the path of yoga can be first understood as mile-markers that will eventually be met by all people as they mature spiritually. Universal qualities, like harmlessness, kindness, compassion, truthfulness, love for all, etc. shine brightly in great saints from many traditions.
By embracing these principles and practicing them with sensitivity the yogi seeks to expand their sense of “self” to include others beyond all the definitions that appear to make them separate from others. For example self-definitions like cultural, political, or religious affiliation can be considered helpful as long as our relationship with them is supporting expansion of our sympathy toward others, and could be worth reexamining if it does not.
Our effort to deepen self understanding, the purpose of life, and to be a positive force in this world are natural to our higher nature and can be thought of as being “dharmic”.
“Dharma” means right action. Universally it can be thought of as Divine Law, or Cosmic Principles that pervade all existence. Personally it is one’s highest path in life. It can be thought of as conformity to one’s duty or divine nature.
Science has shown that at a microscopic level there is little difference between a slice of bread and a stone. Essentially, they are made of energy. They appear more different/unique than they actually are.
In yoga, it is understood to be the same for our individual consciousness. The individualized experience each of us have is both real, and unreal spiritually. Each of us lives somewhere within the spectrum of complete self involvement, and complete unity with all. The more we identify ourselves as separate, more important, or more unique, the more we suffer emotionally and spiritually and even physically as a result. The more sympathy we have for others, the more we embrace them, accept them, love them and even serve them as our very own, the more freedom and health we experience. But, if our service and kindness develop within us a sense of pride, we are actually falling back toward ego separation, and can even strengthen its hold on us while outwardly we seem to be doing “all the right things” spiritually.
Paramhansa Yogananda said, “Pride is the death of wisdom“. On the path of yoga it’s a very important thing to watch out for and to respect. It is quite insidious in nature.
When working from ego (the experience of separation), sympathy, making time, and sincere interest for others could seem like work, or otherwise unnatural. If we try too hard to force our spiritual growth we suffer. Each of us needs to find their own particular balance at any time. This all evolves over time. It’s not something we read about and instantly become overnight.
Swami Kriyananda in The Art and Science of Raja Yoga says, “The most important thing for man to remember is that he must receive enlightenment; he cannot manufacture it.”
The act of receiving is subtle and it’s an opportunity all of the time. This is where we’ll begin our talk for the next meeting.