Unit II.  Spiritual Journey, Need for Meaning


1.  The spiritual journey, need for meaning
2.  Stages of the spiritual journey
3.  The spiritual journey according to Yoga
4.  The eight rungs of Raja Yoga
5.  The person
6.  Kleshas
7.  Positive emotions and feelings
8.  Types of Yoga - roads to God
Materials needed: Newsprint or large sheet of paper.

Book needed: Ashtanga Yoga Primer

Practices and Exercises:

Ashtanga Yoga 
Yoga Philosophy

Although we all speak of the spiritual journey as if there were somewhere to go, there is actually no such place. We are all already enlightened. The problem is that we don't know it, can't believe it or can't recognize/realize it; and we may suffer a tremendous sense of isolation as a result. That is why it is often referred to as Self-realization or simply Realization. We say an enlightened person is "Realized." Since we are somehow blocked from this knowledge, there must be an obstacle. This obstacle is called "Maya" in Yoga which means ignorance, illusion or delusion. We aren't what we think we are - literally. The metaphor that is often used is that we are covered by many veils of illusion or misperception. And, in this context, the spiritual journey consists of removing these veils one by one until we can see clearly who we are.

The Christian tradition says, "The kingdom of God is within." This means we must go within, introspect, examine ourselves in order to find what we are seeking. This internal Being may be conceived of as God, the Higher Self, the Holy Spirit, Christ consciousness, Essence, Being, etc. The problem with this view is that it conceives of the Ultimate Being as smaller than ourselves as if we could contain it. It is rather more likely, it seems to me, that we are in the "Heart of God" as Gibran in his book, The Prophet (Gibran, 1953, p. 15), maintains. In any case, going within is a legitimate part of the so-called journey.

Use of the word "journey" probably means that we feel a sense of progress as we work on ourselves and seek the Divine One(ness). And there are, indeed, several views of the sequence of events that occur when one begins the search. The chakra system represents one of them and is the one we will be using as a scaffold. Two others deserve note: The stages of identification according to modern psychology and Yoga psychology which will be explained in Units 3 and 4.

Stages of the Spiritual Journey

At first glance, the idea of overcoming all of our social conditioning and finding our way back Home may seem overwhelming. And indeed it would be if we tried to do it all at once and on our own. This is especially true since the ego has a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. However, most of the mystical traditions and teachers have set up an approach to the problem that lays out a series of steps one at a time in a linear fashion - like a journey - so that we can feel a sense of accomplishment and progress as we move along. This is also so that we know what to do next and can tell when we have finished some part of the task that we have been attempting to master. Hence, we talk about "being on the path." It is really astonishing how similar these different paths turn out to be when they are examined in depth. What follows is a brief outline of some of the similarities in different approaches.

Awakening. Generally, the first step in the journey is an awakening. Something or some event

causes us to literally wake up and begin to ask questions about our lives. It might be a severe illness, loss of a job, death of a loved one, unexplained depression, or a sense of meaninglessness. For some, it is a spiritual emergency, a sudden psychic opening that threatens insanity. It is a call to come Home. However, sometimes we try to go back to sleep. The illness is treated, we find a new job, we mourn our loved one or we have therapy for our depression. This is a miscarriage of spiritual intent, and the next "call" may be more shattering, so that we pay attention.

When we do pay attention, there begins a process of "groping." This usually involves trying to find a teacher and/or a discipline that will give us a sense of direction on the path. We need to find out more about where we want to go and how to get there. It's a trial and error process because the right teacher is one who can speak to us directly, reach the inner child that is seeking the Light. Since teachers have to operate through a personality while they are on the earth plane, not every one will be compatible. And the teachings must appeal to our minds, so that we can concentrate on them and relate them to our own personal experience. Therefore, the "groping" may have to go on for quite a while, often for years before we can settle down and make a commitment to a particular path. However, a commitment is essential to help us over the rough spots.

Once we settle into a discipline, the real work begins. Spiritual development is not like social, emotional or personal development although it follows a predictable course that is lawful in the universe. It is more like a process of dehypnotization. We have been seduced by our social development to believe things about ourselves and about life that make it possible to belong to the groups that support us and provide the essentials for survival. This enables human beings to live together with a minimum of conflict, but it narrows the range of perception and reduces consciousness to a mere fraction of its potential. We lose higher consciousness as a result of social learning over time because our minds are taught to run on automatic pilot. Furthermore, we develop an ego to keep our minds in the accepted track and that dulls our senses so we forget what we are missing. An existential fear is established to guard the perimeters of perception, so we don't stray into forbidden territory. We fear for our lives if we don't conform to the social regulations to which we have become accustomed. We are taught to be separate and to value our autonomy and independence. This is called ego-identity. That we are nearly frozen with loneliness is overlooked or rationalized away. We try to forget it in our human relationships, not recognizing it as a call to come Home. The elastic bond to the Divine One stretches tighter and tighter and becomes more and more painful as we move further away from our Source.

It is my belief that our separations and consequent losses of consciousness begin at birth and are continually magnified until we become the clones of civilization. We give up our spiritual identity for the relative security of belonging to social groups. Then we find, too late, that these groups cannot give us what we most desperately need, connection to the Divine One. We may resist along the way, and many of us do. But the punishment for resistance is abandonment by others; and, as small children, we are helpless to support ourselves or to stand alone. So the damage is done before we are big enough to defend ourselves. The separation is total long before adulthood is reached.

The separations can be described, and they follow a developmental sequence that fits neatly into the social and cultural ones that have already been documented by developmental psychologists.

Figure 1

The model (Figure 1. Consciousness Loss and Self-Realization) shows a gradual loss of consciousness beginning at birth until a culmination sometime in adulthood. This is paralleled by a growth of ego control and increasing dominance of rational thinking that results in the emergence of the false self otherwise called personality. The losses of consciousness are accompanied by a series of breaks: the initial one from Spirit followed by: soul loss, a broken will with a loss of genuine choice, and a broken heart, often in that order. These losses occur as a direct result of social conditioning as will be shown later in the guidebooks. The point of crisis is reached, usually in mid-life when the peak of alienation manifests as the meaninglessness mentioned above. Someone has said that neurosis is the norm in our society, and that if one is not depressed, one is not paying attention to what is going on. So we may break down into neurotic behavior, or psychotic in the extreme, or we may become depressed or just generally dispirited. At this point, if an awakening takes place and is honored, the spiritual journey begins and is accompanied by a gradual reemergence of consciousness, soul retrieval, recovery of the authentic self, empowerment and ultimately Self-realization. The price that is paid for this development is surrender of ego control and selfishness. This is compensated by an increase in intuition and discrimination, the balance of right and left hemispheric functioning, integration of the personality with the Higher Self and a sense of wholeness and equanimity. The culmination of the journey is unity consciousness, an awareness of the continuity of personal identity with all of creation and the Godhead.

Purification. Liberation, another name for Self-realization, can be thought of in two senses: 1) freedom from cultural conditioning and 2) freedom to choose how to manifest our divine identity. Self-realization is the experience and reclamation of divine identity. There is a difference between knowing it rationally or believing it, if one does, and the experience of it. If rational knowledge were enough, we'd all be easily enlightened. The trick is to experience it; and this is not possible without clearing the way, cleaning up our acts, so to speak. So, the second step on the path is purification, the removal of all the conditioned blocks to the experience of unity consciousness. And this is the really hard part because the ego puts up a massive resistance to challenge or removal of its accustomed powers. Here is the need for a teacher, someone who can be objective and close all the escape hatches because ego's diversions are only equaled by its ignorance of what the person can become. Since ego is a product of the culture, it is not in touch with the inner realities of the spirit and soul. It may feel the pain, but it is not privy to the processes of release from that pain. It must be brought into a state of cooperation with and surrender to the higher powers that govern the unseen realms to which we seek access.

There are, generally speaking, two routes back Home. One is the dualistic one in which a person seeks union with the Divine One. The assumption here is that I am separate from the Divine One and I wish to be reunited with It. This is typical of beliefs in the western hemisphere: Christianity, Judaism and Islam. The other view is a monistic one in which a person seeks to realize his/her identity with the Divine One. Here the assumption is that there is only One reality, and everything and everyone is a part of that One. "I am That," in other words. This is typical of beliefs in the eastern traditions, Hinduism in particular. Buddhism refers to the Source as the void (sunyata) or no-self which is the container or ground of all creation.

A distinction must be made between religion and mysticism. Religions are founded when an individual experiences unity consciousness and then tells his/her followers about it. Stories or myths are generated about who we are, why we are here and what to do about it. Religious rituals and practices spring up and are coded. A priesthood emerges. Power and hierarchy become important. Group worship of God in a sacred place is usually a central focus.

Mysticism, on the other hand, is about what to do to regain consciousness of unity, and its focus is on the individual's spiritual development. There is a whole body of knowledge about how to subdue the ego, control the chattering mind and focus attention in a manner that will lead to higher states of consciousness. There is a countless number of spiritual practices all of which will lead to enlightenment. Every religious tradition has its mystical practices (and they are very similar) usually reserved for the clergy. They are not taught to the layperson for obvious reasons.

It is of primary importance to recognize that this journey can only be made successfully by mature adults in good psychological health. This includes a healthy ego. Socialization practices are necessary to maintain order in the society. So they must not be undermined. However, we may achieve insight into them and, at the same time, correct those aspects of them which have separated us from the birthright of all human beings - recognition of our own divinity.

Fear of chaos has prevented us from this investigation for far too long. This is a fear initially generated by various authorities which subsequently has been encultrated into the population at large. It is a fear of loss of control if we as individuals are trusted to be responsible with the knowledge of who we truly are. This basic lack of trust is endemic in western society. We need not subscribe to it.

Exercise: Lifeline.

This exercise is designed to help you discover the major themes of your own development and may lead directly or indirectly to helping you find out the purpose of your life.

Directions: (Read all of this section before beginning work, so you can plan your layout and tools.)

Get a large piece of paper, newsprint is ideal. With the longest dimension of the paper placed vertically in front of you, draw a vertical line down the middle of the page. Put "0" at the bottom of it - this is your birth date - and "present age" at the top of the line. On this line put the ages at which significant events occurred in your life, crises or turning points that is. You will know what they are because they stand out in your memory. Some may be painful, some delightful, but they will all seem to be larger than life. On the left side of the line write down what the event was, e.g., "my sister was born." On the right side of these points, write down what the basic significance of this event was. For instance, I felt rejection so I wrote "rejection."

When this is completed, look over the lifeline and see if there are any repeating themes; and, if so, connect each of the same ones with another line. You may color code these if you like for clearer perception. This will give you a view of some of the issues that have been important for you in this life and also whether they have been resolved or not. If you want to put jobs, life passages such as college or marriage, lovers, etc. on the line later in order to provide a context for the main events and it doesn't feel too confusing, feel free to do so. I would definitely color-code these to keep them separate. And go over the main events in black liner if you add extra items. You might want to make some notes in the margins of your paper of the insights you have gained. If there is someone you can confide in, share your lifeline with them and explain what you have discovered about yourself. You may also share the entire exercise with this person, having them do it also. Make notes in your journal about what you have learned.

The Return. I mentioned that mystic paths follow the same general design in all traditions, but I only gave you two of the stages: awakening and purification. According to Underhill (1961) in her book on Christian mysticism, there are nine identifiable stages in the spiritual journey: Awakening of the self, Purification, Illumination, Voices and Visions, Recollection and Quiet, Contemplation, Ecstasy and Rapture, Dark Night of the Soul, and The Unitive Life. Of these, Awakening, Purification, Illumination, Dark Night of the Soul and The Unitive Life or their equivalents are most often found in other traditions.

Joseph Campbell (1968) in The Hero with a Thousand Faces outlines stages of the journey as follows: The Call to Adventure, Threshold, Kingdom of the Dark, Tests (and helpers), Supreme Ordeal, Reward or Boon (Illumination), Sacred Marriage, (Union) Recognition by the Father-Creator, Divinization (Apotheosis), Return to the world bearing the gift. He has based his model on a study of myths throughout the world. You can see the similarities to Underhill's model. Both involve a call or awakening, purification (tests), illumination, an experience of darkness and terror (representing loss of higher consciousness or loss of the connection with the Divine) and unity (unitive life or sacred marriage and apotheosis).

Spiral Model   Another, simpler way of looking at this that is also useful comes from Jill Purce's book, The Mystic Spiral. She has traveled all over the world and collected images of the spiral motif that represents the journey of the soul which is "the longing for and growth towards wholeness" (Purce, 1974, p. 13). The diagram she uses is shown in Figure 2. Spiral Model of Development. 

If I may be allowed to deviate slightly from her interpretation, I would like to use a Sufi saying to make this diagram more relevant to our purposes. The Sufis say, "God Himself says, 'I was an hidden treasure and I longed to be known, so I created the world that I might be known.'" (Feild, 1983, p. 69 ) This is the Divine One speaking from Its position as the only being in existence. We are all part of this One. I am That. The aloneness in this statement is very apparent.

One can imagine that the Divine One is the original point in our diagram at the top. It extends Itself in the line to the point at the bottom of the diagram which is Its creation: you or me. Our journey then is the winding of consciousness up toward the One. The first half of the return spiral is growth and development in the world as given by the psychological models. The second half is the spiritual journey as given by the chakra system. The first half is loss of higher consciousness and increase in worldliness and ego control. The second half is gain in consciousness and restoration of the authentic Self. Note that the change occurs usually at that point where we have had an opportunity to experience our distance from the Divine One and our loneliness to the full, and also that the distance of our conscious awareness from the axis of our god self or Source is greatest then. We are drawn by our longing to come Home, seeking it first in the world and finally in our Source.

The Hindu model using a complex system of mythology offers a similar tension between the unmanifest aspect of the Divine One (represented by the god Shiva) and the manifest aspect of creation (represented by the goddess Shakti). The axis of the diagram is analogous to the spine in the body along which are seven major energy centers called chakras. Shakti is said to be sleeping in the first chakra (analogous to the bottom point in Figure 2) and, when awakened, ascends through the chakras as they are progressively opened to reunion with her lover (Shiva or the Godhead).

The chakra system will be more fully explained in each of the guidebooks.

The Spiritual Journey According to Yoga

As an introduction to the spiritual journey according to Yoga, we will look first at the Eight Rungs of Yoga. These were first put together by Patanjali around 500 BC in The Yoga Sutras which outlines the spiritual practices that lead to enlightenment or liberation. The Yoga Sutras is a classic in spiritual literature, and I urge you to read it someday. Probably the most user friendly version of it is presented by Taimni (1975). According to Patanjali, "Yoga is the stopping of thought waves in the mind."(Dass, 1977, p. 2) When this finally occurs, we experience a boundless peace and happiness which is called samadhi.

The Eight Rungs of Yoga are presented in the Ashtanga Yoga Primer (Dass, 1977) and are meant to be followed in roughly the order given. The yamas and niyamas represent the clarification with which we will be engaged in the first few guidebooks. Asana is the same thing as Hatha Yoga which is familiar to most people. It is the practice that links body and mind through the use of postures and the breath. Pranayama, a breathing practice, enables mastery of the breath and prana, also known as the life energy. Pratyahara is the withdrawal of sense perception, screening out the outside world; so the focus of attention can go within. Dharana or Concentration is learning how to focus attention on an object in order to unify consciousness. Dhyana or Meditation is learning how to open or unfocus the mind to enable expansion of oneself, to develop "spacious mind" as they say in Buddhism or to receive the Presence of the Divine One. This is an extension of Concentration which is sometimes called singlepointedness. Contemplation or Samadhi is the experience of unity consciousness or loss of duality in perception; for example, there would be no discrimination between subject and object.. All is now One.

Exercise: Ashtanga Yoga

Read the Ashtanga Yoga Primer and reflect on it. How do its teachings relate to what you already know? Have you experienced any of it? Where and how? What is new to you in it? What attracts or repels you? What in it causes those reactions? Write a short one or two page paper that reflects your experience with this point of view. The following outlines will supplement the text and give a flavor of how these ideas are put into practice. (Words in parentheses are the original sanskrit term.)

In the following sections, I will be enclosing the Sanskrit names in parentheses for those who are interested. If you aren't, just overlook them.

The Eight Rungs of Raja Yoga

This is a very brief outline of one of the Yogic approaches to the spiritual journey. Others will be presented in Unit 4. You might want to compare this with the Ashtanga Yoga Primer.

I. Right Attitudes (Yamas). These define a person's proper interaction with the environment. They are moral principles and abstinences that tell us how to live, or they give us the right ethical attitudes needed for the reintegration and unification that is the essence of Yoga.

A. Non-violence (Ahimsa). This means non-injury, respect for life and the other person's spirit, and non-interference with others' processes. It applies to thoughts as well. Note how you can injure with thoughts. Thoughts do create reality. This is a primary admonition and is the basis for all other yamas and niyamas.
B. Truthfulness (Satya). This refers to non-lying, non-cheating, openness, and awareness. However, if you are put in a bind, you can refuse to respond or to respond as expected. You can also refuse choices offered to you by another, and you can refuse to be put in a compromising position.
C. Non-theft (Asteya). This means to live your own life as well as not to take something that belongs to others. We should avoid manipulations, give credit to others, be generous, make positive responses, be clear about our own purpose and direction in life, learn to say "No," and avoid stealing ideas, time, energy or goods. We should say only positive things about others and avoid gossip. Focus on the Light of others and see the Higher Self as a witness.
D. Continence (Brahmacharya). This refers to moderation: control of sexual energy, non-sensuality, refining senses to a higher level, bringing quality into life, toleration and refinement. We should especially avoid extremes which lead to injury and abuse.
E. Non-dependence and Non-Greed (Aparagraha). This has to do with renunciation, canceling the need for accumulation, attention, love, possessions, results, psychic powers, competition and comparison. It means giving and sharing.
2. Observances (Niyamas). Observances open us to God and quiet the mind so the still, small voice can be heard. They tell us how to Be in the world and represent the right actions that come from the Yamas or right attitudes.
A. Purity (Saucha). This means purity: cleanliness of mind, body, speech and spirit. Clarity.
B. Contentment (Santosha). This is acceptance, being open to Divine guidance, positive living without wishing, inner faith based on inner knowing, and being open to flow. It also involves that hope which is expectation without attachment, appreciation of common things, recognizing differences but assigning equal value to all, uncoloredness (lack of measurement and evaluation), and being happy with what comes to us. Equanimity.
C. Austerity and Self-Discipline (Tapas). This has to do with body conditioning (will), Hatha Yoga, refining the senses, controlling appetites, organizing our energy in the direction of inner transformation, willingness to suffer for our principles and working hard to achieve our goals.
D. Self-Examination and Self-Study (Svadhyaya). This refers to Jnana (mind) Yoga and involves reflection, examination of personality (Who am I?), examination of motives, desires, aversions and self-will in order to overcome ignorance, inquiring into our deeper Self, and questioning the validity of our self-image and egoistic drives.
E. Surrender to the Divine (Ishwara pranidhana). This refers to Bhakti Yoga and means attentiveness to God, devotion, prayer, awareness, sensitivity, God-fearing, awe, the seed of new growth, meditation, reverence, and surrender to the Divine force as the only efficacious power.
#C, D and E are the basis of the three Yoga paths of action (Karma Yoga), knowledge (Jnana Yoga) and devotion (Bhakti Yoga) respectively.

3. Posture (Asana). This is what most people think of as Yoga. Asana refers to Hatha Yoga and its attendant postures. It means learning how to develop a good, comfortable seat with a straight spine as well as taking a seat in life, i.e., making a commitment. Asana balances body, mind and spirit and leads to harmony, reflection and openness to messages from the body consciousness. It develops body and cellular consciousness.

4. Breath Control (Pranayama). This means control of prana and breath, as well as the flow of consciousness between body and mind. It is a yoking process.

5. Withdrawal of the Senses (Pratyahara). Certain practices teach us how to withdraw the attention of our senses from outward objects to within in order to quiet ourselves. It involves sublimation of psychic energy. It's a discipline of attention.

6. Concentration (Dharana). This is learning how to fix the mind on something, to develop singlepointedness or no mind as it is called in Buddhism.

7. Meditation (Dhyana). This means directing the flow of attention toward God. It calls for really intense concentration that enables an opening to the Divine essence.

8. Contemplation (Samadhi). This is another name for superconsciousness, a sense of unity with all there is.

Yamas and Niyamas are moral training, discipline and character development. Hatha, Pranayama and Pratyahara are bodily disciplines. Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi are mental disciplines. All are designed to lead to purification, clarity and discrimination.

The Person

The Yogic idea of how the person is created differs enormously from the western view. In the first place, we are composed of five different bodies (koshas) that interpenetrate each other. They represent five distinct levels of functioning (from densest to subtlest). You could think of them as concentric circles with the physical body as the densest one of the five (almost as if it precipitated out) and the bliss body as connected with all of existence or creation. The Johari (1987, p. 19) book you will be reading in the fourth unit depicts this with the bliss body in the center probably because people tend to think of the Divine within. However, I think it makes more sense to put it as the outside ring, so we can show our connection to all Beingness. In addition, when a psychic views the person, there are concentric rings of energy and color around the visible physical body which are believed to be the energetic, mental and spiritual bodies. In any case, all of the bodies interpenetrate each other so all of the above is true. A diagram is only a mental tool, after all.

Take a moment and draw yourself a picture of this. Make five concentric circles and, starting at the center, label them according to the list below.

l. The Body (Annamayakosha). This is the physical body we all can see.

2. Energy (Pranamayakosha). This refers to the underlying atomic structure of reality that supports the body and looks like it. It is sometimes called the etheric body. Many people can see this if they relax their eyes. Often called the aura. The Chinese meridians, and the sushumna and chakras are in this body.

3. Lower Mind (Manomayakosha). This part of our minds gets its information from the senses and it interacts with energy. The lower mind can become habituated and is analogous to the sensory-motor system in the brain. It is partly conscious and partly unconscious. Pain, pleasure and sensory input are received and processed here. We recognize through sense data what is happening in the outside world, so this body enables our contact with the physical world. I believe this is also the mind that we call intellect. It is the conditionable mind studied by psychologists.

4. Discriminative Mind (Vijnanamayakosha). This is also called Buddhi or the Higher Mind. This part of mind is associated with discriminative ability, and it can go beyond time and space. It can't be conditioned. It is associated with intuition which can recognize what is: direct relationships between cause and effect. However, it, too, needs training.

5. Bliss (Anandamayakosha). This is the ability to recognize the eternal Self: Satchidananda (Sat = Existence or Beingness; Cit = Consciousness; Ananda = Bliss). It yields contentment and the recognition that everything is as it should be, i.e. in perfect harmony.


(Sources of Trouble)

As you might have expected, Yoga recognizes that all is not paradise in our lives and that there are sources of trouble in human life. Some of the more important ones to remember follow. We'll be running across these concepts repeatedly.

l. Ignorance (Avidya, Maya). This means we are pleasure-oriented and have lost contact with the Higher Self and God-consciousness. It also means we have lost touch with who we really are, we are ignorant of our true identity. This type of ignorance causes us to be judgmental, hierarchial, (e)value-oriented, with ego in control, and to be relatively unconscious most of the time. It is basically lack of awareness.

2. Personality (Asmita). This is a collection of individualized aspects or roles or temperaments (each with its own ego) that make up our illusion that we are a separate self. It is sometimes called identity: who I think I am. These personality aspects are held together, coordinated and governed by the ego. We need personality to relate to others, but should keep it as a tool and not identify with its aspects, nor identify with mind either. Ego (in the Yogic sense, Ahamkara) is the sense of I-amness, a tendency to center control within the personality. In the yogic system, it specifically means self-will, self-gratification, need for control, egotism, egocentricity, self-centeredness, willfulness, and wanting to have my own way.

The Yogic term doesn't refer to the integrative functions that we call ego in psychology. As long as we are embodied, we will have some ego and need it to keep our personalities together else we would risk psychosis. The trick is to keep it as a servant. We need to learn how to use personality with awareness. Strong emotions and desires come from personality, not from the Source.

3. Attachment or Desire (Raga). This means attachment to pain or pleasure, or the outcome of efforts, wanting and grasping. It is usually backed up by the emotions meaning that we react emotionally when we don't get what we want. It perpetuates and maintains the sense of self (I-amness or Ahamkar). As we become separated from God and the universe, we lose faith in the fact that our needs will be supplied; so desire is usually attached to objects in the world. Below the object level, we have only a flow of energy. We learn to want specific objects (things, people, feelings, conditions, experiences, etc.). We have come to believe that getting what we desire leads to pleasure and that deprivation leads to suffering. All of this is called attachment. Therefore, it is wise not to identify with motivations or roles. According to Yoga, suffering is directly correlated with attachments, whereas the spiritual is what gives meaning to life.

4. Avoidance or Aversion (of pain, worries, hatred, etc.) (Dvesha). Aversion is also a result of attachment. When you hate someone, it means you are attached to them, albeit negatively. We usually feel like we need to control negative consequences which also means lack of trust. Look at the symbolism in what you desire and also what you want to avoid. Acceptance of things or conditions we wish to avoid might conceivably lead to a revised perception of them as feedback or as teachers.

5. Possessiveness (Abhinivesha). The fear of death and letting go, and love of material life leads to attachment to people, emotions, ideas, places, etc. So who possesses who? Do I really enjoy this or do I fear losing it, having it stolen, etc.? Could I give it up, or share it? Why do I need it? Possessiveness is the result of fear of change and transitions.

Elimination of ignorance would be the easiest way to get rid of the kleshas or sources of trouble. It is possible to give up needing and wanting and to then let go, allow and trust God and the universe. Negative emotions come out of learned dependence on objects of desire because we create expectancies out of our desires. Then when they don't materialize, we suffer: pain, anger, fear, depression, pride, envy, jealousy, etc. We feel disruption of harmony. These emotions are not bad; identification with them is what is wrong (e.g., "I am angry" rather than "I feel angry." If an emotion is appropriate, one can act on it, then walk away from it. However, keep in mind that the inner source of control springs from non-attachment. Therefore, renunciation of results is a central theme of Yoga.

The basic problem is knowing who we are. We need to stop identifying with self and personality. Both suffering and our enemies give us lessons that provide useful feedback about the attachments that sidetrack our search for wholeness. We are already perfect. Everything we need is in us already. Infinite need is the gap between mind and consciousness. We can't fill that gap with finite things. We can only tune in and focus the mind.

Life is like a river. Damming its flow creates pain. Opening, freeing, allowing and letting go allow the Self to manifest and return to the ocean (God). Being grateful to the Lord is the only thing we can do that doesn't create blocks.

Positive Emotions and Feelings

It seems only fair to give you the positive side of the picture. Yoga makes a distinction between emotions and feelings. Emotions come from ego frustration or lack of self-gratification and are, more often than not, unpleasant while feelings come from the heart as a result of opening the heart center. Feelings come from our transcendental nature that needs higher knowledge, growth and a return to the Source. So they bring balance and joy to the body. Some of these feelings are:

l. Love. This means compassion or an energy flow out from a center (agape) and it frees us from pain. Selflessness is its tool and giving is its method. It requires nothing in return and is unconditional. It naturally flows into and out of an open heart. Divine Love draws us to Itself if we are willing.

2. Joy. Joy is our birthright though sometimes we lose sight of that fact in the hectic hustle and bustle of everyday life. Laughter brings harmony and balance to the body because at the moment we experience it, we aren't attached to anything. Not taking oneself too seriously is good for the digestion.

3. Tranquility. This refers to inner contentment, balance, harmony, peace. It entails a clear mind, sense of who I am and my role in the universe, and spiritual balance. It occurs when there is no emotional tension or disturbance and its tool is meditation. When we are tranquil, we can go to the Bliss center where the real power is. Another name for tranquility is equanimity (cf Buddhism).

4. Will. This is the ability to regulate the flow of energy as a function of knowledge and consciousness. Habits only work on the unconscious level. Will, with a capital "W" is a prerequisite for the spiritual journey. It is self-will coming from the ego that causes trouble. It's important to make this distinction.

5. Grief. I am adding this feeling because it also comes from the heart as a response to suffering. When we lose someone we love, the heart connection is broken. Grief work enables the repair, and restoration of balance and harmony to one's life after bereavement. Grief may also be a heart response to the suffering of others. On the other hand, self-pity and suffering due to not having one's own way come not from the heart but from the ego.

Types of Yoga - Roads to God

Yoga takes into account that people differ in their temperaments and their spiritual journeys. So there are many different kinds of Yoga from which to choose the one that is most compatible for your journey. This list is by no means exhaustive or comprehensive. It is just given so you know there are choices available. We will be studying all of them as we go along.

l. Raja.* This is the Royal Road. It refers to an attempt to make direct connection with God or the Divine One through meditation.

2. Kundalini (subset of Raja Yoga). This Yoga leads to self-mastery, one learns how to control Kundalini energy. Development of greater awareness leads to Self-realization or enlightenment: I am That, and to the evolution of consciousness. This type of Yoga offers us the chakra system and is a good place to begin because it deals primarily with the purification stage of the journey.

3. Hatha (subset of Kundalini and Raja Yogas). This is what most people think of when they hear the word "Yoga." It is a kind of body work that leads to bodymindspirit unity and body consciousness.

4. Jnana.* This is the path of knowledge, study and learning. It includes self-study or self-examination.

5. Bhakti.* This refers to the path of love, devotion, service and worship.

6. Japa (subset of Bhakti Yoga). This is mantra chanting or repetition of God's name.

7. Karma.* This is the path of selfless service, renunciation, action and work.

* Integral Yoga. The starred paths together make up Integral Yoga, but all lead to Self-development, i.e., elevation of consciousness toward Unity.

Exercise: Yoga Philosophy

Write a two or three page paper on how these Yoga concepts work in your life. One way to do this is to just make a list of them and find one or two examples of each. For example: Ahimsa - I don't eat meat, I don't offer advice.


Campbell, Joseph. The hero with a thousand faces. Princeton, NJ: Bollinger Series XVII, Princeton University Press, 1968.

Dass, Baba Hari. Ashtanga Yoga primer. Santa Cruz, CA: Hanuman Fellowship,

.Feild, Reshad. Steps to freedom: Discourses on the alchemy of the heart. Putney, VT: Threshold Books, 1983.

Gibran, Kahlil. The prophet. NY: Knopf, 1953.

Johari, Harish. Chakras: Energy centers of transformation. Rochester, VT: Destiny Books, 1987.

Purce, Jill. The mystic spiral: Journey of the soul. NY: Thames & Hudson, 1980.

Taimni, I. K. The science of Yoga. Wheaton, IL: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1975.

Underhill, Evelyn. Mysticism: A study in the nature and development of man's spiritual consciousness. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1961.

Unit 3. The False Self is your next step. Now that you've assessed your own life journey, it is time to review how the false self comes to be. This involves an overview of the psychological development of ego and personality. You will also be introduced to Almaas' ideas about Beingness and separation and have a sample of the Sufi and Buddhist perspectives on mysticism.

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