Esoteric Science and Philosophy

Esoteric Science and Philosophy

EIGHT MEANS OF YOGA -  THAT LEADS TO ENLIGHTENMENT

 

Patanjali tells us that: “When the means to Yoga have been steadily practiced and when impurity has been overcome, enlightenment takes place leading up to full illumination.”

When we study the “eight means of Yoga” and the “five Rules”, we can see the requirements and stages of the spiritual life on the Way of Integration. Here [adapted from sutra 28] are given instruction as to the method to pursue if full yoga, union, or at-one-ment is to be achieved. The work might be described as twofold:

1.       The practice of the right means whereby union is brought about,

2.       The discipline of the lower threefold man so that impurity in any of the three bodies is eradicated.

This steadfast application to the twofold work produces two corresponding results, each dependent upon its cause:

1.       Discrimination becomes possible. The practice of the means, leads the aspirant to a scientific understanding of the distinction existing between the self and the not-self, between spirit and matter. This knowledge is no longer theoretical and that to which the man aspires, but is a fact in the experience of the disciple and one upon which he bases all his subsequent activities.

2.       Discernment takes place. As the purificatory process is carried on, the sheaths or bodies which veil the reality become attenuated and no longer act as thick veils, hiding the soul, and the world wherein the soul normally moves. The aspirant becomes aware of a part of himself, hitherto hidden and unknown. He approaches the heart of the mystery of himself and draws closer to the “Angel of the Presence” which can only be truly seen at initiation. He discerns a new factor and a new world and seeks to make them his own in conscious experience upon the physical plane.

It should be noted here that the two causes of revelation, the practice of the eight means to yoga and the purification of the life in the three worlds, deal with the man from the standpoint of the three worlds and bring about [in the man’s physical brain] the power to discriminate between the real and the unreal and to discern the things of the spirit. They cause also certain changes of conditions within the head, reorganize the vital airs and act directly upon the pineal gland and the pituitary body. When these four:

1.       Practise,

2.       Purification,

3.       Discrimination,

4.       Discernment,

Are part of the life of the physical plane man, then the spiritual man, the ego or thinker on his own plane attends to his part of the liberating process and the final two stages are brought about from above downwards. This six-fold process is the correspondence upon the Path of Discipleship, of the individualizing process, wherein animal man, the lower quaternary [physical, etheric, astral and lower mental] received that twofold expression of spirit, atma-buddhi, spiritual will and spiritual love, which completed him and made him truly man. The two stages of development which are brought about by the ego within the purified and earnest aspirant are:

[1] Enlightenment. The light in the head, which is at first but a spark, is fanned to a flame which illumines all things and fed constantly from above. This is progressive, and is dependent upon steadfast practise, meditation and earnest service.

[2] Illumination. The gradually increasing downpour of fiery energy increases steadily the “light in the head”, or the effulgence found in the brain in the neighbourhood of the pineal gland. This is to the little system of the threefold man in physical manifestation what the physical sun is to the solar system. This light becomes eventually a blaze of glory and the man becomes a “son of light” or a “son of righteousness.” Such were the Buddha, the Christ, and all the great Ones who have attained.

 

THE EIGHT MEANS OF YOGA ARE:

 

[1] THE FIVE COMMANDMENTS:

1.       HarmlessnessPhysical acts—He hurts no one and injures nobody.

2.       Truth—Physical nature—Use of speech and of the organs of sound in the formation of a man’s belief regarding God, people, things and forms.—Before the voice can speak in the presence of a Master it must have lost the power to wound.

3.       Abstention from theftPhysical acts—The Disciple is precise and accurate in all his affairs and appropriates nothing which is not rightly his.

4.       DesirelessnessAstral Nature—Any impulse which concerns the forms and the real man and which tends to link him to a form and to the physical plane is regarded as the satisfaction of a form of incontinence or a desire [like sex].

5.       Abstention from avarice—Desirelessness on the mental plane—Contentment of the mind has to be attained before the mind can be so quieted that the things of the soul can find entrance.  

[2] THE FIVE RULES

1.       Internal and external purity—every sheath has its densest and most tangible form and this must be kept clean.

2.       Contentment—here the mind is set at rest in a state of mind wherein all conditions are regarded as correct and just, and as those in which the aspirant can best work out his problem and achieve the goal for any specific life.

3.       Fiery aspiration—this quality of “going forth” towards the ideal or of straining towards the objective must be so profound in the aspirant to Yoga that no difficulties can turn him back.

4.       Spiritual reading—through study to arrive at the thoughts that words convey—this is of an astral and mental nature.

5.       Devotion to God—to bring the lower personal self into a life of obedience and service to the Master within the heart.

[3] RIGHT POSTURE

[4] RIGHT CONTROL OF LIFE-FORCE

[5] ABSTRACTION

[6] ATTENTION

[7] MEDITATION

[8] CONTEMPLATION

If you follow the Eight Means in this order they will eventually lead to full enlightenment.

The FIVE COMMANDMENTS are simple and clear and yet, if practised, would make a man perfect in his relationship to other men, to supermen and to the subhuman realms. These commandments are curiously complete and cover the triple nature; in studying all these means we shall note their relation to one or other part of the lower threefold manifestation of the ego. [Physical, emotional or mental.]

The FIVE RULES, govern the life of the lower personal self and form the basis of character for the man who wants to do practical Yoga to develop the centres. The commandments and the rules must first be kept, and when his outer conduct to his fellowmen and his inner discipline of life is brought into line with these requirements, then he can safely proceed with the form and rituals of practical yoga, but not till then. And only while he concentrates on the other six means of the Total Eight Means of  Yoga. 

Commandment 5, abstention from avarice or desires on the mental plane is the one of the basic spiritual values that has made the greatest impression on my mind because we must learn to overcome all the physical and emotional vices by using the mind. The path of the mind is the one that is the path of least resistance for me. This sutra leads to sutra 33, which states: When thoughts which are contrary to Yoga are present there should be the cultivation of the opposite.

Here we are given the aim and the solution, or the entire science of balancing the pairs of opposites in the following translation: “When transgression hinders, the weight of the imagination should be thrown upon the opposite side.” Easy to do but very hard to remember when you have to.

Because the mind is our connection to the soul, most of our work should be done on the mental plane. If the mind is not ready, you are not yet ready for this work. Before contentment of the mind can be achieved it first has to contemplate and understand a lot of things. It must first reach some stage of knowledge and wisdom to become a working tool and to be content. Satisfy the mind first, then it will be content and then you can use it.

It is desire for form of some kind which brings the spirit into incarnation. When desireless is present, then the three worlds can no longer hold the yogi. We forge our own chains in the furnace of desire and of a various longing for things, for experience and for form life. When contentment is cultivated and present, gradually these chains drop off and no others are forged. As we disentangle ourselves from the world of illusion, our vision becomes cleared, and the laws of being and of existence become apparent to us and are little by little understood. The how and the why of life are answered. The reason for and the method of physical plane existence is no longer a problem, and the yogi understands why the past has been and what its characteristics are; he understands the reason for the present life cycle and experience and can make practical application of the law each day, and he knows well what he has to do for the future.

Thus he frees himself, desires nothing in the three worlds and re-orients himself to the conditions in the world of spiritual being.

 

MORE ABOUT DESIRELESSNESS [Commandment no 5]

 

Desirelessness on the mental plane—Contentment of the mind has to be attained before the mind can be so quieted that the things of the soul can find entrance.  

Our desire for material things and comfort in life plays a great part in steering us through life and through evolution. [A necessary tool] Eventually we get to the stage where it has done its work and has become a burden and an obstacle, in our spiritual progress, which has to be overcome. In Agni Yoga we learn that: Yoga will shed light on many concepts. Can one remain without desires when even the spirit is incarnated according to desire? Desires are like sparks of motion. Then what does it mean that a yogi is freed of desires? Let us take the precise meaning of the words: a yogi is freed, not from the possibility of desires but from their burden. He feels himself free because he is not a slave to desire. On the path of goal-fitness, a yogi discriminately abandons desires in the name of the most essential. This facility for change creates the liberation of the yogi. Nothing hinders his progress. [259]

We are told, on our path of liberation, to abstain from mental avarice and to be content in whatsoever state we find ourselves. We are also told the virtues of divine discontent. Let’s take a look at this paradox and how we can overcome our desires. In the Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali we can find the following information on overcoming desires.

Avarice, greed or desire in this case deals with the sin of covetousness which is literally theft on the mental plane which may lead to any number of physical plane sins and is very powerful because it concerns mental force and is a generic term covering those potent longings which have their seat not only in the emotional body, but mainly in the mental body. The opposite or the remedy to this problem here is contentment which has to be attained before the mind can be so quieted that the things of the soul can find entrance. 

It is desire for form of some kind which brings the spirit into incarnation. When desirelessness is present, then the three worlds can no longer hold the yogi because we forge our own chains in the furnace of desire and of a various longing for things, for experience and for form life. As we disentangle ourselves from the world of illusion and the chains drop off, our vision becomes cleared, and the laws of being and of existence become apparent to us and are little by little understood.

The how and the why of life are answered. The reason for and the method of physical plane existence is no longer a problem, and the yogi understands why the past has been and what its characteristics are; he understands the reason for the present life cycle and experience and can make practical application of the law each day, and he knows well what he has to do for the future. Thus he frees himself, desires nothing in the three words and re-orients himself to the conditions in the world of spiritual being.

To reach this state of knowledge which leads to mental contentment, we need fiery aspiration. This quality of “going forth” towards the ideal or of straining towards the objective must be so profound in the aspirant to yoga that no difficulties can turn him back. Fiery effort [not contentment], steady persistent longing and enduring faithfulness to the ideal visioned are the sine qua non, of discipleship. These characteristics must be found in all three bodies, leading to the constant disciplining of the physical vehicle, the steady orientation of the emotional nature and the mental attitude which enables a man to “count all things but loss” if he can only arrive at his goal.

Through fiery aspiration and through the removal of all impurities, comes the perfecting of the bodily powers and of the senses. Aspiration and purification are going together and leads to the developing of the etheric centres and the awakening of the Kundalini fire. It is called forth when he can, from his heart, send forth the call for fire, embodied in the words:

“I seek the Way; I yearn to know. Visions I see, and fleeting deep impressions. Behind the Portal, on the other side, lies that which I call home, for the circle hath been well-nigh trod, and the end approacheth the beginning.

I seek the Way. All ways my feet have trod. The way of Fire calls me with fierce appeal. Naught in me   seeks the way of peace; naught in me yearns for earth.

Let the fire rage, the flames devour; let all the dross be burnt; and let me enter through that Gate, and tread the Way of Fire.”

The breath of God is felt as the cleansing breeze also and is the response of the soul to the aspiration of the disciple. The soul then “inspires” the lower man.

Sutra 31 of Part IV rings out like a bell and a clarion call to those who venture on the path of union with the soul. “When through the removal of the hindrances and the purification of the sheaths, the totality of knowledge becomes available, naught further remains for the man to do.”

 ASPIRATION, MEDITATION AND SERVICE

 

 ASPIRATION:

Patanjali gave the following:

[1] Internal and external purification, contentment, fiery aspiration, spiritual reading and devotion to ishvara [God],  constitutes the Five rules.

[2] Through fiery aspiration and through the removal of all impurity, comes the perfecting of the bodily powers and of the senses.

Aspiration, as one of the five rules, governs the life of the lower personal self and form the basis of the character. The yoga practices which so much interest the western thinker and aspirant, and which lure him on with their apparent ease or accomplishment and richness of reward [such as psychic unfoldment] are not permitted by the true guru or teacher until these rules [and the five commandments] have been established as controlling factors in the daily life of the disciple. When his outer conduct to his fellowmen and his inner discipline of life is brought into line with these requirements then he can safely proceed with the forms and rituals of practical yoga, but not till then.

Fiery aspiration, the quality of “going forth” towards the ideal or of straining towards the objective must be so profound in the aspirant to yoga that no difficulties can turn him back. Only when this quality has been developed and proved and when it is found that no problem, no darkness and no time element can hinder, is a man permitted to become the disciple of some master. Fiery effort, steady persistent longing and enduring faithfulness to the ideal visioned are the sine que non of  discipleship. These characteristics must be found in all three bodies, leading to the constant disciplining of the physical vehicle, the steady orientation of the emotional nature and the mental attitude which enables a man to “count all things but loss” if he can only arrive at his goal.

Thus, you can see that fiery aspiration leads to the domination of the physical man so that every atom of his body is afire with zeal and endeavour. It is the sublimation of karma yoga, which resulted in the awakening of the four centres below the diaphragm. Through fiery aspiration this force must be carried to the centres above the diaphragm. Now the fiery ordeal is undergone and the entire lower nature is passed through the fire. This is the first meaning and the one with which the aspirant is most concerned. It is called forth when he can, from his heart, send forth the call for fire, embodied in the words:

“I seek the way, I yearn to know. Visions I see, and fleeting deep impressions. Behind the portal, on the other side, lies that which I call home, for the circle hath been well-nigh trod, and the end approacheth the beginning. I seek the way. All ways my feet have trod. The way of Fire calls me with fierce appeal. Naught in me seeks the way of peace; naught in me yearns for earth. Let the fire rage, the flames devour; let all the dross be burnt; and let me enter through that Gate, and tread the Way of Fire.”

In the realm of the soul, the breath of God, is felt as the cleansing breeze also and is the response of the soul to the aspiration of the disciple. The soul then ‘inspires” the lower man.

The second meaning has of course direct reference to the work of the kundalini or serpent fire at the base of the spine as it responds to the soul vibratiuon [felt in the head, in the region of the pineal gland, and called “the light in the head”] mounting upwards, it burns out all obstructions in the spinal etheric channel and vitalizes or electrifies the five centres up the spine and the two in the head. The vital airs within the ventricles of the head are also swept into activity and produce a cleansing, or rather eliminating effect therein. With this the student has as yet nothing to do, beyond seeing to it that as far as in him lies, the aspiration of his heart is of the needed “Fiery” character, and that the steady purification of his physical, emotional and mental nature, proceeds as desired. When this is the case, the response of the soul will be effective and the consequent reactions within the etheric centres will take place safely, under law, and normally.

 

MEDITATION:

Early in experience, after the attainment of the highest the lower nature has to offer, man begins to meditate. Disorderly at first are his attempts, and sometimes several incarnations may go by in which the Higher Self only forces the man to think, and seriously to meditate at rare and separate intervals. More frequently come the occasions of withdrawing within, until there arises for the man several lives given to mystic meditation and aspiration. Later comes ordered occult meditation, based on law.

The aim should be the development of the habit of meditation all the day long, and the living in the higher consciousness till that consciousness is so stable that the lower mind, desire, and the physical elementals, become so atrophied and starved through lack of nourishment, that the threefold lower nature becomes simply the means whereby the Ego contacts the world for the purpose of helping the race. The main function of meditation is to bring the lower instrument into such a condition of receptivity and vibratory response, that the Ego, can use it, and produce specific results.

Meditation is the means of bringing to the unit under development the capacity which will produce:

1.       Abstraction, or liberation from form.

2.       Creative power

3.       Direction of energy, through an act of the will.

4.       Future constructive activity.

By means of meditation, a man finds freedom from the delusion of the senses, and their vibratory lure; he finds his own positive centre of energy and becomes consciously able to use it; he becomes therefore, aware of his real Self, functioning freely and consciously beyond the planes of sense; he enters into the Plans of the Greater Entity within Whose radiator Capacity he has a place; he can then consciously proceed to carry out those plans as he can grasp them at varying stages of realisation; and he becomes aware of essential unity…..Freedom to work on any Path must be gained by occult meditation; freedom to escape beyond the ring-pass-not is also thus attained.

Patanjali  gives the following :

[1] The consciousness of an object is attained by concentration on its fourfold nature: the form, through examination; the quality, through discriminative participation; the purpose, through inspiration and the soul, through identification.

Thus, the statement “as a man thinketh so is he” is based on occult facts….As the aspirant chooses with care the “objects” upon which he will meditate, he through these objects, builds himself a ladder by means of which he arrives eventually at the objectless. As his mind assumes increasingly to meditative attitude of soul, the brain becomes also increasingly subjugated to the mind as the mind is to the soul. Thus is the lower man gradually identified with the spiritual man who is omniscient and omnipresent. This meditative attitude is assumed through a fourfold process;-

1.       Meditation on the nature of a particular form.

2.       Meditation upon the quality if any particular form.

3.       Meditation upon the purpose of any particular form.

4.       Meditation upon the soul. The One who uses the form.

Thus through these four stages of meditation upon an object, the aspirant arrives at his goal, knowledge of the soul, and of soul powers. He becomes consciously identified with the one reality, and this in his physical brain. He finds that truth which is himself and which is the truth hidden in every form and in every kingdom of nature. Thus he will eventually arrive [when knowledge of the soul itself is gained] at a knowledge of the All-Soul and become one with it.

 

SERVICE

 This Law of Service was expressed for the first time fully for the first time fully by the Christ, two thousand years ago….Today we have a world which is steadily coming to the realisation that “no man liveth unto himself” and that only as the love, about which so much has been written and spoken, finds its outlet in service, can man begin to measure up to his innate capacity…..

Service is usually interpreted as exceedingly desirable, and it is seldom realised how very difficult service essentially is. It requires exceedingly hard work, because it necessitates deliberate effort, conscious wisdom, and the ability to work without attachment.

Service is a soul instinct….it is the outstanding characteristic of the soul, just as desire is the outstanding characteristic of the lower nature. It is group desire, just as in the lower nature it is personality desire. It is the urge to group good. It cannot, therefore, be taught or imposed upon a person as a desirable evidence of aspiration, functioning from without, and based upon a theory of service. It is simply the first real effort, evidenced upon the physical plane, of the fact that the soul is beginning to express itself in outer manifestation.

In rendering service there are three motives to keep in mind:

1.       A realisation of God’s Plan of evolution, a sensing of the world’s dire need, apprehension of the immediate point of world attainment, and a consequent throwing of the total of one’s resources into the furtherance of that end.

2.       A definite personal goal of achievement, some great ideal – such as holiness of character – that calls forth the soul’s best endeavour; or a realisation of the reality of the Masters of the Wisdom, and a strong inner determination to love, serve, and reach Them at all costs. When you have this intellectual grip of God’s Plan, coupled with a strong desire to serve the Great Ones, in physical plane activities will come the working out.

3.        A realisation next of one’s innate or acquired capacities, and a fitting of these capacities to the need appreciated. Service is of many kinds, and he who wisely renders it, who seeks to find his particular sphere, and who, finding it, gives effort gladly for the benefit of the whole, is the man whose own development proceeds steadily. But nevertheless, the aim of personal progress remains secondary.

 You must see to it that your attitude towards all teaching is that of willing service, with no thought of self. The growth is spiritual realisation, and the lifting of humanity, is that which is of moment, and not your own personal growth or development, nor your own satisfaction at receiving special and new information. You will grow, and your soul will take increasing hold upon its instrument, when your mind and effort are turned towards group service, and when your tongue is rendered harmless, through the inflow of love.

Service itself is definitely the result of a tremendous inner happening, and when that result is brought about, it will be found to have produced a number of creative secondary causes. These are, primarily, a change in the lower consciousness, a tendency to turn away from the things of the personal self, to the larger issues of the group, a re-orientation which is real and expressive, and a power to change conditions[through creative activity] which is the demonstration of something dynamically new. The first effect of the inflowing force of the soul, which is the major factor leading to demonstrated service, is to integrate the personality, and to bring all the three lower aspects of the man into one serving whole. The man becomes aware of his power and capacity, and, having pledged himself to service, he begins furiously to serve; he creates this, that, and the other, he is a channel for the expression of the force which is driving him. He will submerge his personality tendencies, his ideas and his ambitions, in the greater good of the whole, and self will be lost to sight.

The problem of all disciples today is to achieve successful activity in their chosen task of competent citizenship and life occupation and yet, at the same time, to add to that at any cost a practical life of service…..Let simplicity be your guide, and one-pointed love your major objective. Choose a field of service which has its definite limits, and work – mentally and physically – within those limits. The completion of some self-appointed task within the field of karmic limitation and of environment, where your destiny has cast you, is all that is required of you. Let your service lie within the field of contact where you find yourself, and reach not out over the entire planet.

Basically, your task is to aid the work which the Hierarchy plans to do, to find the ways and means whereby that service can be wisely rendered, to discover the manner in which world need can be met, to finance that share in the work of the Brotherhood to which you have been assigned by your soul, and to do your part in developing those human attitudes which are needed if true peace is to be found in the world.

“I play my part with stern resolve; with earnest aspiration; I look above, I help below; I dream not, nor I rest; I toil; I serve; I reap; I pray; I am the Cross; I am the Way; I tread upon the work I do, I mount upon my slain self; I kill desire, and I strive, forgetting all reward. I forgo peace; I forfeit rest, and in the stress of pain, I lose myself and find Myself, and enter into peace. To all this I solemnly pledge myself, invoking my Higher Self.  [From Archive XIII of the Masters’ Records.]

 

 

CONCLUSION

Thus, as you can see,

The first effect of the inflowing force of the soul is to integrate the personality, and to bring all the three lower aspects of the man into one serving whole. This leads to Service, which is a soul instinct….it is the outstanding characteristic of the soul and is definitely the result of a tremendous inner happening. It also leads to aspiration, which is the beginning of the proses of integration and a soul-personality relationship.  If we do not aspire we will not achieve. It is in reality the soul that “inspires” the lower man.

As the work of learning to serve proceeds, and the inner contact becomes more sure, the next thing which will occur, will be a deepening of the life of meditation,  and a more frequent illumining of the mind by the light of the soul…Thereby the plan is revealed….you ask what your service is to be. That, my brother, will grow out of your meditation. Your own soul must guide you and inspire you. Meditation is the tool. Thus, aspiration, service and meditation go hand in hand. I think it is a three ray activity:

1.       First ray            – aspiration       – will.

2.       Second ray      – meditation      – love-wisdom.

3.       Third ray          – service             – active intelligence.

 

Based on the work of AAB and DK in: THE LIGHT OF THE SOUL.

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