Category: Spiritual-development

Why Astrology Can Help Us

You might wonder why I have put this topic under “Science” since the scientific community rejects astrology as a pseudy science.  But astrology, properly understood, is a science. In the words of Carl Payne Tobey, a known astrologer, astrology is a mathematical study of biological and psychological dynamics. It is the oldest known science, and all other sciences appear to have been its children. It comes to us out of prehistoric times, and suggests the existence of a prehistoric civilization enlightened far beyond our own in some respects.

Astrology is scientific in its mathematical calculations, in its consistency of interpretation, and in its direct correlation with the heavenly bodies.  At the same time it is a spiritual art because it can explain the paradoxes of existence and reveals the life-plan of individuals.

The earliest astrological records still in existence, tablets dating back to around 17 BC, show simple planetary movements such as solar eclipses with accompanying predictions of  famine, feast or war and other big events. In regions as diverse as the Middle East, the Far East and Central and Southern America  the planets visible to the naked eye—Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn—were observed, and even looked upon as divine gods.

Astronomer-astrologers made rough predictions based on the planets, as they moved forwards, sometimes halting and sometimes going backwards in the sky. The libraries of the Assyrian kings around 7 BC overflowed with collections of thousands of astrological predictions recorded on tablets.  You can find more examples on this site.

Modern textbooks carefully conceal the fact that the greatest minds they glorify are those of the astrologers of history. Some of these astrologers have been Aristarchus, Aristotle, Plato, Pythagoras, Hippocrates, Copernicus, Kepler, Sir Isaac Newton, Paracelsus, Tycho Brahe, Benjamin Franklin, and many others. And famous followers of astrology were Shakespeare, Goethe, Catherine de Medici, Elizabeth I., Louis Pasteur, Carl Jung, Winston Churchill, John P. Morgan, the Reagans, Donald Reagan, the Blairs, and John P. Morgan. Modern astronomers like to teach us that Copernicus discovered that the earth was not the center of the solar system, but Copernicus was merely going back to a defense of Aristarchus, who proposed as early as the 3rd century BC that the Earth revolves around the Sun and who might have learned it from the work of Pythagoras who lived 500 B.C.

Astrology sees mankind as being not only influenced by hereditary factors and the environment, but also by the state of our solar system at the moment of birth. The planets are regarded as basic life-forces, the tools we live by as well as the basis of our very substance. These planetary forces take on different forms, depending on their zodiacal position and on the way they relate to one another.

Most of us know our Sun signs. But the Sun Signs are just the beginning of astrology. Astrology is as expansive as the heavens and as unique as you.  All 12 signs appear somewhere in your own birth charts and all the signs and planets influence all of us, no matter what our Sun sign is. Their energies “dance” together in many different ways making our life easier or create challenges. Based on the date, place, and time of our birth, the planets and signs in the houses of your birth chart create a metaphor for you. Learning how to read an astrology chart can give you insight into and discovering more about yourself. It shows you how your planets in their signs and houses can help you understand more about yourself and your life.  It explains not only what all those symbols for signs and planets mean, but also how they connect with your everyday life, why you do what you do, feel like you do and work where you work.

Fate is the lessons we need to learn in our life and they are unavoidable. Astrology connects your outer world to your inner world to reveal your potential but how you manifest your potential is where free will comes in. Sometimes manifestations are easy, sometimes there are energies that make manifesting our potential more challenging. We have to understand that nothing is going to stop us from learning our lessons – if we ignore them, life’s circumstances will continue to present us opportunities for learning until we get it.

We have to understand that the planets work to help us help ourselves. By applying pressure, planets help us to overcome inertia. At other times, they help us to see unproductive or even self-destructive behavior that we may have never noticed before but that we can fix. Astrologers believe that we must be accountable for our actions and recognize that we do have choices.

There are many websites where you can find detailed information about all the signs, planets, houses, and aspects.  On some of them you can find  articles and/or free lessons.  Excellent sources are the Correspondence Course in Astrology by Carl Payne Tobey and the site from Hank Friedman.

I am just giving you a quick overview of the basics hoping you get interested in astrology, hoping that you find a good and experienced astrologer who can be a great help on your path to Self-Knowledge.

Signs (Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces) are the “how” of astrology and all zodiac signs appear in every person’s chart. Planets (Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto) are the “what” of astrology. They represent various energies of a person, including one’s mental and emotional nature, desires, vitality, soul, will, consciousness, and subconscious, as well as the people in one’s life.

The houses are the “where” of astrology. Each of the 12 houses encompasses a specific arena of life and is the stage where the dramas of the planets unfold.

Each zodiac sign has one of two energies, coupled with one of three qualities and one of four elements and creates unique picture.

The two energies are yin or yang:

Yang – masculine/direct/assertive/extroverted (Aries, Gemini, Leo, Libra, Sagittarius, Aquarius) Fire/Air Yin – feminine/indirect/passive/ introverted (Taurus, Cancer, Virgo, Scorpio, Capricorn, Pisces) – Earth/Water
Specific Holistic
Positive Negative

The three qualities are cardinal, fixed, or mutable.

Cardinal (Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn) Fixed (Taurus, Leo , Scorpio, Aquarius) Mutable (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, Pisces)
Independent Persistent Adaptable
Impatient Consistent Flexible
Go-Getting Reliable Mercurial
Efficacious Focused
Self-starters Determined

The four elements are fire, earth, air and water.

Fire (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius) Earth (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn) Air (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius) Water (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces)
Energetic Practical Intellectual Emotional
Courageous Skillful Social Intuitive
Passionate Down to Earth Thoughtful Romantic

The aspects are angles the planets make to each other and to other points of astrological interest (such as the ascendant)  and are measured by the angular distance in degrees and minutes.  Only certain angular relationships are regarded as aspects, and these are said to have intrinsic qualities – they are said to be “harmonic”, “dynamic” or “neutral”. These relationships influence how the planets work together.There are disharmonious aspects such as Opposition and Square and harmonious aspects such as Trine and Sextil.

By interpreting the roles of these players (the planets) and their qualities (the elements, signs and houses) and creating a synthesis, astrology is able to present a complete and comprehensive picture of the person and his potential, based on the natal horoscope.

Your Sun sign represents your self, your willpower, and your creativity; the ascendant, or Rising sign, is the sign that was rising over the horizon at the moment of you birth chart and represents the “you” that the outside world perceives, as well as your personality traits, needs, and physical characteristics. Your descendant, located on the cusp of your seventh house, represents how you channel your energy through partnerships and relationships. Your midheaven, or M.C., represents your ambition, career, or social role and public image. It’s the highest point that the Sun reached on the day of your birth and is located on the cusp of the tenth house. Your lower heaven, or I.C. is the point on your birth chart that represents your life’s foundation and psychological roots and is located on the cusp of the fourth house.

Remember, not all lawyers, doctors and accounts are the same and there are many astrologers who don’t really know what they are doing.  But if you find a good one he can give you insights and you can choose to make something of them!

 

 

Dying to Be Me by Anita Moorjani

Ms. Moorjani reveals in the first part of the book details about her early life experiences.  She recalls her memory of overhearing an adult conversation expressing the disappointment in having a female child.  She shares with us that she had been the object of rejection and bullying in the private schools in Hong Kong she attended because of her Indian looks and Hindu religion and that she suffered feelings of rejection and fear. We learn that after many attempts by her parents to match her up with an acceptable husband, she finally found her true love,  a man who accepted her independent thinking.  She describes her fear of cancer because a closed friend and a relative succumbed to this disease after agonizing treatments.

In part two, titled “My Journey to Death and Back” she tells us about her battle with cancer.  We learn that these four years were a living hell of fear and anxiety except for a brief respite in India at an Ayurveda retreat, from where she returned in a improved state of health.  But the benefit was short lived when she encountered the negativity of her friends and family.  Within a few months she was rushed to the hospital unable to breathe or even lift her own head and soon lapsed into a coma.  In chapter 8 she talks in detail about her near-death experience and the feelings and revelationsCompare with Proof of Heaven associated with it. In this state she understood that her body was only a reflection of her internal state and that her inner self was aware of its greatness and connection with All-that-is.  She realized that all she had to do was to be herself without judgment or feeling that she was flawed.  She understood that at the core, our essence is made of pure love and that everything is perfect, just as it is.

She continues to describe how she healed quickly after coming back from the coma.  After the experience she felt a deep love and connection with everyoneCompare with Theosophy under Philosophy and felt that she had completely overcome her fear of everything.

She felt that she had come back for some greater purpose that was going to help others and it became clear that she had to share her experience with talks and eventually writing this book. At the same token she describes that she could not relate to many people or maybe that others could not relate to her, that she lost interest in news and politics and what her friends were doing.  But she was able to enjoy other things, lke a sunset and that she saw divinity in everything. She felt strongly that she did nor have to do or pursue anything for it to happen. She just had to be herself, fearlessly. That way she was allowing herself to be an instrument of love.  People were taking life to seriously, which is what she used to do. She felt incredible compassion, and the love was unconditional and she no longer viewed death in the same way as others did and it was hard for her to mourn anyone.

She found her path by listening to her inner voice and trusted her inner guidance.

She started to sit with herself, walked in nature, listened to music until she got to a centered place where she felt calm and collected.  Because of her experience she strongly believes that we all have the capacity to heal ourselves as well as facilitate the healing of others.

In part three of the book she explains what she has come to understand.  The main ides are that the reasons for people’s illness lie in their personal journey and are probably related to their individual purpose; that fear was the cause of her illness; that we already are what we spend our lives trying to attain, but don’t realize it, that many people do things just to get other people’s approval, that she did not know what was important to her. She realized that she was on the other side not in a state of thinking, but of being.  It was pure consciousness. She explains that awareness means realizing what exists and what’s possible without judgment and that awareness does not need defending. Her near-death experience was a state of pure awareness, which is a state of complete suspension of all previously held doctrine and dogma. In addition, the very act of needing certainty is a hindrance of experiencing greater levels of awareness.  In contrast, the process of letting go and releasing all attachment to any belief or outcome is cathartic and healing. She emphasizes numerous times the importance of self-love.

She believes that we incarnate to experience and evolve this physical universe and our own lives within it. All the answers lie inside of us. She felt strongly during her near-death-experience that we are all connected to the Universal energy and that we are all One with it. She always looks at the emotions behind her everyday decision to determine whether her actions stem from “doing” or “being”. Is it fear or passion? If everything she does is driven by passion and a zest for living, then she is “being”.  Despite her vision she does not feel the need to change anyone else, let alone the world.

She does not worry anymore about trying to get things right or complying with rules or doctrines. Whichever path we choose is the right one for us, and none of these options are any more or less spiritual than others. By following our internal guidance, we find what’s right for us. She finds meditation very helpful but one should do what resonates on a personal level. The feelings about ourselves are the most important barometer for determining the condition of our lives. It’s important how we feel about ourselves while facing difficult times. It’s about trusting the process when we face difficulties and not being afraid to feel anxiety, sadness or fear, rather than suppressing everything until those emotions pass. It’s about allowing myself to be true to who I am. Because of this, the feelings will dissipate and occur less and less frequently. It is important to allow yourself to be in your own truth. It’s important to do what is uplifting to us.

She ends the book with a chapter of questions and answers.

Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow by Elizabeth Lesser

I don’t know exactly why, but this book really spoke to me. If you are going through a personal crisis, you should definitely read this! The author offers a humanistic understanding of what it means to seek, grow, evolve and endure until we can each transform. She illustrates how difficult times really can help us grow by giving us the story of her first marriage and including stories of others who have gone through their own struggles in life. Through a combination of meditation, psychotherapy, and prayer Lesser has developed a guide and toolbox of practices that help us “transform terror into revelations” in a believable and down-to-earth way.

The book is divided into 6 sections: I.The Call of the Soul; II. The Phoenix Process; III. The Shaman Lover; IV. Children; V. Birth and Death; VI. River of Change.

When she writes about her personal story she shares the moment when she realized that it was time for her to find out what she really wantedCompare with Your Own Identity under Psychology – not what my husband wanted, what she thought her children needed, not what her parents expected, and not what society said was good or bad.

She points out that some of us need a cataclysmic event to find our way toward “the center of our own existence” and that many of us get out of bed in the morning and begin where we left off the day before, “attacking life as if we were waging a campaign of control and survival.”

She tells us that when we finally surrender to a painful situation, when we stop fighting the fear and heartache, we give over the reins to something greater and reminds us that we can’t solve a problem using the same mixed-up thinking that got us into the mess in the first place because that will keep us swimming around in tight little circles of indecision and fear.

She explains that the journey into the woods of change and transformation is an inner one and that betrayal, illness, divorce, the demise of a dream, the loss of a job, the death of a loved one – all these can function as initiations into deeper life.

She shares with us that the most generous and vital people are those who have been broken open by change, or loss, or adversity.  When difficulties come our way, we don’t readily seek out help and compassion because we think others might not understand, or would judge us harshly or take advantage of our weakness.

We have to realize that none of us are models of perfect behavior: We all betrayed and have been betrayed; we have been know to be egotistical, unreliable, lethargic, and stingy and we all worry about everything from money, to kids or terrorism.

In her opinion every single person on Earth hurts; it’s when we have shame about our failings that hurt turns into suffering.

She discusses fear in one of the chapter saying that going beyond fear begins when we examine our fear: our anxiety, nervousness, concern and restlessness. If we look into our fear, the first thing we find is sadness beneath the nervousness. And when we cry we reach the first tip of fearlessness. We need to accept that sorrow and grief are natural aspects of the human condition. We should not waste precious energy felling ashamed of our mistakes or embarrassed by our flaws. Our errors and failings are chinks in the heart’s armor through which our true colors can shine. If mistakes provide the best opportunity for discovery and evolution, why do we go around trying to look so sure of ourselves all the time? She suggests that the point where science and religion meet could be called the soul. The soul is the ageless longing for truth that send scientist into the lab and seekers onto the spiritual path.

In part II she describes the Phoenix process, where we can reproduce ourselves from the shattered pieces of a difficult time. When there is nothing left to lose, we find the true self. But she reminds us that it takes work to use crisis and stress as vehicles of transformation. She quotes Victor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor who said, that it not the meaning of life that matters, but rather the specific meaning of a person’s life at a given moment.

In a story about a woman who has multiple sclerosis and a seriously ill child she points out that it is never either-orCompare with the mental level of consciousness in The Ever Present Origin under Philosophy, but both, and more.  It’s not life or death, but life and death, health and sickness, good and bad. We also need to understand when we go through a painful time of our life, that we do not have control but we do have a choice – the Divine wants us to go down into the dark waters, but also wants us to come up to the light.

In another story we learn that by failing to accept our suffering, the pain we feel will be much more acute and harsh.  There are three major hurdles to overcome in crisis: dealing with pain; working with your attitude; and using the crisis as a wake-up and cleanup call. When we are dealing with pain you have to ask ourselves what really matters to us in life, what precisely do we need to learn, change, and transform within ourselves. From whom or what will we take our direction and motivation? Life’s deepest experience is the joy that fills our hearts when we love and give to others.

When we die, what really will matter is how much we loved – our children our mates, our families, our friends, everyone we knew, everyone we traveled with us during our brief visit to earth.  What will matter is the good we did, not the good we expected others to do.

Her comment in chapter 4, that if we would like to pursue a Phoenix Process of the highest order, we should raise children, made me smile. Parenthood is in her words a never-ending journey down a wide river of worry and love; and sometimes it is tedious and unpredictable, demanding yet ever-changing. She sees parenting in all its stages as a spiritual path with mystic twists and turns. Whatever we want to be transformed in our psyche will be revealed as we parent. She admits that too much giving to children is not a gift. Rather, it’s a taking away. It denies children the skills they will need for life outside the bubble. To trust who our child is, and not who we think he should be or what the world wants him to be – that perhaps is the single greatest gift a parent can give. She shares some of her own experience of parenting and points out that her kids needed her resistance in order to push through their own fears of independence and responsibility.

She tells us that we won’t be able to become an adult without witnessing the miracles of birth and death. Her mentor taught her that studying death can help each of us to become someone who has a great capacity for being solid, calm, and without fear. Grief is the proof of our love, a demonstration of how deeply we have allowed another to touch us.  In her opinion life is full of possibilities to her because she is not afraid of death.

We have to embrace all the changes in life, become comfortable with uncertainties, trust the eternal life force that is flowing within us and understand that in order to save the world we must serve the people in our life.

In the last chapter the author provides tools such as meditation, psychotherapy, working with teachers and healers and prayers to deal with all the pain, grief and unexpected changes.  She includes a prayer from the TheosophistSee also Theosophy under Philosophy Annie BesantI summarized her book Initiation under Spiritual Development which she uses when the destructive behavior of her fellow human beings fill her with sorrow:

O Hidden Life! Vibrant in every atom
O Hidden Light! Shining in every creature;
O Hidden Love! Embracing all in Oneness;
May each who feels himself as one with Thee,
Know he is also one with every other.

 

 

 

 

 

The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling by Stephen Cope

I enjoyed this book tremendously because it gave me a much better understanding of the Bhagavad Gita. The author centers the book on this ancient Hindu text, and the concept of dharma, one’s true calling in life. He uses the story and characters in the Gita to frame  different biographical chapters about famous people, among them Jane Goodall, Walt Whitman, Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Tubman and Mahatma Ghandi, who have followed their dharma and serve as perfect examples of how to find one’s own and why it is important to do so. Cope includes in this book everyday stories about following the path to dharma, his own personal story  and how this all affected his own life and that of his friends.

The Bhagavad Gita is a wonderful teaching on the problems of doing and a guide how we can authentically express who we really are. Cope states the Bhagavad Gita was written precisely to show us how to make the world of action an arena for spiritual development.

Chapter by chapter he explains how we know to what actions we are called in this life. He addresses the issue of doubt, certitude, and fear of closing certain doors when one pursues his/her dharma. He tells us, that the only way to get to certitude is to look more and more deeply into our doubt – “to shine light into the dark corner of our self-division”.

He describes the central pillar of the path of action – to look at your dharma, to do it full out, to let go of the fruits and to turn it over to God.

He quotes Thomas Merton who said, that every man has a vocation to be someone, but he must understand clearly that in order to fulfill this vocation he can only be one person, himself.

Numerous times the author points out, “If you bring forward what is within you it will save you, but if you do not, it will destroy you”. He warns us of leading a life founded on self-betrayal, which we recognize if we feel a growing emptiness inside. Lack of interest, lack of enthusiasm and a lack of soul-connection to work are typical warning signs. He also explains that in the end no one really cares what we are doing with out life so we have to make sure that life is working for us.

At the same token he admits that dharma always involves at some point a leap off a cliff in the dark and that failure at one point is part of all great dharma stories. Careful attunement to dharma will demand that we reinvent ourselves periodically throughout life.

In his words, “Our actions in expression of our dharma – my actions, your actions, everyone’s actions – are infinitely important. They connect us to the soul of the world. They create the world. Small as they may appear, they have the power to uphold the essential inner order of the world.”

 

 

How to Know Higher Worlds by Rudolf Steiner

Rudolf Steiner has written many books and most of them can be downloaded for free. This website focuses on highlighting the multi-faceted genius of Rudolf Steiner and you can find the most comprehensive index to his work in English or German through this link. On this particular site you can also find many titles by Rudolf Steiner and you can sort the listing by popularity, original publication year, title, average ratings and number of pages.

I picked “How to Know Higher Worlds” for this site for several reasons. It is (so far) my favorite book by Rudolf Steiner and it easier to read than some of his other works. In addition I agree with the statement in the preface of the third addition that “the more open-mindedly we compare spiritual science with the positive accomplishments of science, the more we recognize the complete agreement between the two to be.” I also find the foreword as well as the afterword by Arthur Zajonc excellent. You can find the book for free on the web.

In the foreword Arthur Zajonic states that “we live and act within a world whose deeper aspects are hidden from our physical senses” and points out that we “possess other faculties which, when cultivated, can lift the veil that separates us from spiritual knowledge.” The book charts a meditative path that leads both to inner peace and to enhanced powers of soul, and finally to the lifting of that veil. It offers an introduction to the inner life and to an inner discipline that can heal and transform us profoundly.

The teaching of humility and compassion frames the whole book. We learn that every sound spiritual practice begins with moral and that esoteric schooling never has as its goal the accumulation of spiritual treasures for personal gain; on the contrary the goal has to be placed at the service of others if we want to achieve anything. We find out that we will not find the inner strength to evolve to a higher level until we accept that there is something higher than ourselves. In addition we can never forget that higher knowledge has to do with revering truth and insight. A soul that learns feelings of devotion and reverence changes its aura.

Once the context of self-less love is established, meditative practice can unfold within it. We learn that one’s inner life no longer swings from one extreme to another when we meditate and we can begin to sense the dawning of a “higher self.”

The reader can find many exercises to prepare the soul for challenges that are different from those that arise during the course of our sense life. Perhaps the most important are those aimed at developing the six soul qualities essential for a healthy and balanced life within the super-sensible: 1) clarity of thought, 2) mastery of the will, 3) equanimity of feeling, 4) positivity, 5) openness, and 6) the establishment of harmony among these five.

As we faithfully execute exercises described in the book, soul capacities are cultivated which lead to the first experiences of a super-sensible kind. What is the character of these initial experiences? Although the path for every individual is unique, certain characterizations can be helpful, especially as false expectations often allow the real promptings of the spirit to pass by unnoticed.

Here is the book in more detail:

  • Self-contemplation: Create moments of inner peace for yourself, and in these moments learn to distinguish the essential from the non-essential. The practice has to be sincere, rigorous and simple. Focus on things during that contemplation which are different from the objects of our daily life. Such moments will give us the full strength to complete our daily tasks. We have to tear ourselves really completely from daily life during those moments. We should allow ourselves to have joys, sorrows, worries, experiences and actions to pass before our soul and look at them from a higher point of view, as if they belonged to another person, view ourselves as strangers, with an inner tranquility of a judge. Eventually we include things that have happened in the past. This way the Higher Self reveals itself. This way our whole life may become more peaceful and we might act with more self-confidence and start to be able to guide ourselves (examples: anger, patience).
  • Life speaks in the world of thought: This Higher Self then becomes the inner ruler directing our life outside. If other people can make me angry I haven’t found my inner ruler yet. Outer things have to reach me how I have chosen. Eventually our view is directed to those that are higher than ourselves. Removed from our daily round we become deaf to its noise. Dialogue with the spiritual world will fill our soul. This quiet contemplation is very important and we must develop a living feeling for this silent thinking activity and we will love to hear what streams to us from the spirit. Then we will start to work with these thoughts like objects! And we will understand that what is revealed to us is more real than what is around us. We experience that life speaks in this world of thought and that hidden beings speak to us! That way the outer world is suffused with an inner light.
  • Gnosis or Spiritual Science Meditation (Contemplative Reflection): Our thoughts should be clear, sharp and precise. We should fill ourselves with high thoughts. We should read writings that came from meditative revelations. Then we start to form new ideas about reality. Trivial experiences are woven with great cosmic beings. Meditation produces that way strength for life, not indifference. Meditation is the way to knowing the essential and indestructible center of our being. This way we can learn to know about past lives.
  • Three Stages:
    1. Preparation to develop spiritual senses:

Direct the soul’s attention towards certain processes in the world around us (growth, fading, buds, withering away etc.). If we see a blossoming, we need to focus on it alone and listen what is has to tell us. We must look at things actively and precisely; afterwards watch the feelings and the thoughts associated with it in inner equilibrium. Eventually this might lead to new thoughts and feelings. And then do it also with something withering. That way we discover the different thoughts and feelings with each one. They might be compared with sunrise and rise of the moon. That way the astral plane begins to dawn. It conjures different lines/spiritual forms before our souls. That way we might learn to see things that have no physical existence.  That leads to “orientation” –  understanding that feelings and thoughts are actual and furthermore how these can have an effect. Therefore, we should not daydream or muse. This approach will lead to important feelings that will help us to orient ourselves in the spiritual world.  We also must direct our attention to sounds distinguishing between the sound of animate and inanimate objects, distinguishing between pleasant ones (bells) and bad ones (screams of animals).  Sounds communicate something that’s outside of our soul which we must immerse into. But we must disregard what the sound is for us and focus on what is happening from whom the sound comes. That way we learn a new language from the soul and begin to hear with our souls. We also have to learn how to listen when people speak. On the path to higher knowledge listening skills are extremely important and we have to quiet our inner life when we do it and stay silent, even if we disagree. We have to silence any judgement.  We need to exclude our personality and opinions. That way we learn to unite with the being of the other person and enter into it. This way sound becomes the medium through which we hear and perceive soul and spirit. That way one also learns to hear sounds from the spiritual world.

We also need to absorb the teachings of esoteric researchers.

  1. Illumination to kindle the spiritual light:

During this process we also develop to awaken certain feelings and thoughts. We begin by examining different physical objects in a certain way. We could compare a stone with an animal and watch the feelings that come into our soul from them and they will be different from the stone and the animal. That’s how organs of clairvoyance are formed. We should do the same thing with plants and will observe that the feelings from plant are in the middle between stone and mineral in intensity and nature. The organs built up that way are spiritual eyes. The gradually let us see souls and spiritual colors. The range of colors in the spiritual world is much greater than in the physical world. After illumination the soul unites with the spiritual world under all circumstances and so it leads to initiation.  But we should not forget our daily responsibilities over these exercises.

We need patience, courage and self-confidence on our path for Higher Knowledge. We should not give up if we don’t see success right away.  Sometimes we are further than we think. If we have the feeling that we are on the right path, it should be cultivated and nurtured because it can become a reliable guide. The esoteric student must become conscious of soul and spirit as the ordinary person of his body. You must give your feelings and thoughts the right direction.

We place before us a small seed from a plant. We must think intensely. First we must establish what we see with our eyes by describing the seed in detail. Then we ponder what will happen if we plant the seed and visualize it and realize that nothing would happen with an artificial seed. Within the seed is the force of the whole plant. The real seed contains something invisible that’s not in the copy. The invisible will become visible. And whatever we think we must feel! Eventually we will discover a new force within us which creates a new perception. The plant is herewith revealed to us in a spiritual manner. We must remain clear-headed and make sure we have not lost our balance and that we still remain the same in our daily relationships. Steady inner calm and a clear mind must be preserved.

Further we can place in front of us the mature plant and meditate on it decaying but it has produced seeds that will produce something we don’t see yet. So there is something in the plant we can’t see. Again this will grow a new perception.

Then we might be able to see the spirit everywhere.

When we have discovered spiritual perceptions in ourselves through these exercises we can go and contemplate on other human beings. But we have to work on the integrity of our moral character as well. We can’t use the knowledge gained for our self-interest or evil ends. Adhere to the occult rule: “For every single step that you seek in knowledge of hidden truth, you must take three steps in perfecting your character toward the good.” When we that do we can practice following: Focus your attention to a person who had a strong desire for something and dedicate ourselves to observing this memory. What feelings does that mental image awaken in our soul? Let those feelings rise up. After many attempts we might be able to have the same feelings as the corresponding soul. This feeling produces a force in the soul. This force then becomes the spiritual perception of the other person’s soul state (astral embodiment). And: “Know to be silent about your spiritual perceptions.” Give yourself fully to the perception but don’t ponder too much. Always remember that thoughts are realities and value the other person! We must be filled with profound awe for every other person.

Candidates for initiation have to bring two additional characteristics: Courage and fearlessness. We need to find situations to cultivate this. Think: “All fear is useless. I must not let it take hold of me.  I must think of only what has to be done.” We need good nerves and strength. Our individual, like the world, contains destructive and constructive forces. As initiates our own souls will be revealed to us. Students must not lose strength in face of such self-knowledge. We must learn not to be discouraged by failure. We also need to learn the true name of things.

  1. nitiation initiating the relationship with higher spiritual beings:

Initiation is the highest kind of training.  We have to be mature enough for the training. Candidates have to pass through trials.

  • Fire trial – things burning away and learning to read occult sign writing: The first trial is to achieve a truer level of perception of the physical properties of inanimate objects, plants, animals and human beings. How do they reveal themselves to our spiritual ears and eyes? Many have already learned to bear disappointment and suffering with calm, magnanimously and without losing strength. The object of the fire trial is to gain more self-confidence, greater courage and quite a different kind of magnanimity and endurance. During that phase initiates are still able to return back to normal life. If we decide to continue, a particular kind of writing, customarily used in occult writing, is revealed to us. The writings actually reveal the actual secret teaching. This occult script is inscribed forever in the spiritual world. A soul force develops to help us decipher events. Through the signs of the occult writing we learn the language of things. For the first time we experience complete certainty in the observation of the Higher World. Through this language we learn of certain duties we have not known before. Some people have gifts bestowed upon them and act unconsciously as helpers of the world.
  • Water Trial – acting in higher realms without the support of outer circumstances – losing ground like when we swim in deep water: “All prejudices must fall from you.” In the second trial we have to show that we can act according to these standards. We must act based on perceptions we made based on our orientation and illumination. If we can recognize our duty and are able to execute it correctly we pass our trial. We can see that from the changes in colors, sounds and figures that our spiritual ears and eyes can perceive because we are told ahead of time what these figures are supposed to look like. We have to act according to our spiritual perceptions and our readings of spiritual scripture. It will provide us with the opportunity of self-control, to take care of duties even though inclinations go into another direction. We have to understand that our wishes do not take change the realities of the world. We have to have complete power over ourselves.We also need sound judgement. We need to distinguish true reality from illusion. We can’t be attached to our own opinion. We are about to lose all doubts concerning the Higher World. The worst enemies are dreaming, fantasizing and superstition.
  • Air trial – the third trial is without a tangible distinct goal. But we have to develop absolute presence of mind and rely on ourselves. Everything is up to us. Nothing can give us the strength but us. Here we have to act promptly and decisively. We must discover the “Higher Self”. We need to listen to the spirit. We can’t lose ourselves. We learn to act decisively and without hesitation.Temple of Higher Cognition (Wisdom). Here we have to swear an oath never to betray the secret teachings. We learn how to apply the secret teachings, how to place them at the service of humanity. We don’t need to conceal them but to present them tactfully and in the right way. We need to discover ourselves what needs to be done in each situation. That’s when we receive symbolically the “potion of oblivion”.  We are initiated into the secret of action uninterrupted by the lower memory. We have to judge every experience by its own merits. But the memory of the old can be useful. The second is the “potion of memory”. This enables one to keep higher mysteries always in mind.

Practical Considerations:

We are creating order with this training to gradually see and breathe with the soul and to hear and speak with the spirit.

In this chapter Rudolf Steiner looks at some practical approaches of esoteric development. We need to train our capacity to be patient. Impatience is extremely paralyzing for the higher faculties latent in us. We need to realize that we can’t achieve insights overnight. But we should be content with even the smallest achievement and be calm and detached. We can’t fight impatience the usual way, we have to surrender to a thought repeatedly: “I must do everything I can for the education of my soul and spirit, but I will wait calmly until the higher powers feel me worth of illumination.” That way our gaze becomes calm and our movement steady and our decisions become definite. We don’t get bothered by people who insult us. Growth does not happen through great outer events but through steady inner growing. Longings and cravings must be silenced. And we can’t never wish it for our own ends.

That requires that we need to be honest with ourselves in the depth of our soul. We really must look at our weaknesses and mistakes honestly. We must let curiosity vanish from us and stop asking questions. We should ask questions only to help us perfect our being. We should not aspire to something until we know what is right in the given domain. We must learn to learn without ulterior motive.

Anger hides a lot from us because it builds a wall. Once we don’t feel anger the inner eye in the soul can open. We also must overcome fear, superstition, prejudice, vanity, curiosity, the urge to gossip. We need to learn the differences between race, gender etc. but always without prejudice. We should speak after we have refined and purified our thought. We must learn to listen even if the other person has prejudices. We have to be careful when to voice our opinion.

Abide in calm single-mindedness and solitude.

“One day when I am ready for it I will receive what I am to receive.”

If possible we should do the training in nature.

Requirements for Esoteric Training

The spiritual path is not an easy one and requires work. Esoteric has to do with the development of our inner life.

The requirements are:

  1. To improve physical, mental and spiritual health. Pleasure should only be a means to health and life. Clear calm thinking and reliable sensations are essential. We should avoid exaggeration and one-sidedness in our judgements and feelings.
  2. We feel ourselves as part of the whole of life. E.g. if a teacher has issues with a student he should first check if he is the problem. We should even look at criminals differently. Social or political demands are fruitless. Political activists ask things of others but not of themselves.
  3. To understand that thoughts and feelings are as important as actions.
  4. We must acquire the conviction that our true nature does not lie without but within.
  5. Steadfastness on following through on a resolution. In the higher world love is the only motivation for action. To be esoteric students, we must be prepared for this life of sacrifice and service.
  6. To develop a feeling of gratitude for all we receive.
  7. Always to understand life as these conditions demand. Everything in our inner life must develop through something in the outer world. There must be an outward expression. To believe in and love humanity is the basis for all striving for the truth. To combat wickedness is to create good. Love for the work not the results move us forward.
  8. Esoteric training depends on learning. Remember to listen to others!

Some Effects of Initiation

Authentic spiritual training forbids any groping in the dark. Those who do practices will experience changes in their so-called “soul-organism”. A spiritual seer can see the chakras. In more developed souls the colors of the chakras are vibrant and the chakras in motion. The seer can get quite a bit of information. Specific soul activities are connected with the development of these sense organs.

To develop the throat chakra, we proceed as follows: We direct our attention to 8 soul processes we usually don’t pay attention to.

  • The first soul process concerns the way in which we acquire ideas or mental images. We need to pay attention to our ideas or mental representations and begin to see a specific idea in the outer world. Each one must become meaningful to us. We must eliminate false ideas from the soul.
  • The second soul process is how we make decisions – after well-reasoned deliberation.
  • The third soul process concerns speech – every word should have substance and meaning.
  • The fourth soul process concerns the ordering of our outer actions. Our affairs should fit other and events around us. We should not disturb others. Our activities should integrate harmoniously into our surrounding.
  • The fifth one has to do with the organization of our life as a whole. We need to live in harmony with nature and spirit.
  • The sixth soul process has to do with human striving or effort. We need to know our abilities and act in accordance to our self-knowledge. We should always try to perfect the performance of our duties.
  • The seventh soul process involves the effort to learn as much as possible from life. We can also learn from watching others.
  • In the eight soul process as esoteric students we should periodically turn and look inward, take counsel with ourselves, shape and test our principles, mentally reviewing what we know, pondering about the meaning of life, weighing our obligations. Don’t think or say something untrue, because it destroys a bud in the throat chakra.

On the esoteric path, we must be aware that what matters is not “good intention”, but what we actually do. When living in this way has become second nature to us, then the first signs of seeing or clairvoyance will appear. We shouldn’t talk about our practices or experiences too much.

We can develop the twelve-petal heart chakra similarly.

We have to realize that the perceptions provided by the various spiritual or soul senses differ in character. The throat chakra perceives as a form both another soul’s way of thinking and the laws according to which a natural phenomenon unfold (a vengeful thought looks like an arrow, a nice one maybe like a flower). The heart chakra perceives warmth and coldness of soul.

In esoteric schooling sense organs are developed together. Everything growing and maturing radiates soul warmth, everything undergoing death has soul coldness.

This is how the twelve-petal heart-chakra is formed:

  • Practice of the control of our thoughts: We pay attention to directing the sequence of our thoughts. The thoughts have to follow logically. Give thoughts a meaningful and logical direction.
  • Practice of the control of action: Act logically and based on principles.
  • Cultivate perseverance
  • Develop forbearance (or tolerance) toward other people, beings and events. We must suppress all unnecessary criticism of imperfection and evil but seek to understand. We have to try and put ourselves into other people’s shoes.
  • We must develop openness and impartiality toward all the phenomena of life. We must learn to approach every being with trust. We must be willing to revise our opinion if necessary. We have to have faith in our goal.
  • We must achieve a certain balance/serenity in life. We should strive for inner harmony. We should be as prepared to deal with misfortune as with joy.

In the end these are the six attributes a person seeking initiation has to develop. We also have to be very patient.

The development of the ten-petal solar plexus chakra requires cultivating soul care of a particularly subtle and delicate kind. We have to control and master the sense impressions themselves. We have to become conscious of the reasons we start to remember things, see the unconscious relationships. This lotus flower allows us to perceive deeply hidden soul qualities. We should only focus on those things we want to focus on. We can practice by focusing on only one thought. Or if we feel antipathy to something we combat that feeling.

For all of this we need strict self-discipline and practice meditation.

The development of the six-petal 2nd chakra is even more difficult. We have to become conscious of our Self in such a way that, within this consciousness, body, soul, and spirit are in perfect harmony. We need to purify ourselves so that we don’t do anything that does not serve our soul and spirit. Our passion should follow the right course on their own. But we can’t deny anything if we are not ready for it. We have to have patience and renounce and that might be a much greater accomplishment.

The development of the six-petal lotus flower brings us into relation with beings of the higher worlds, but only with those whose existence is also revealed in the soul world.

We also have to develop the higher organs. The development of the “soul body” enables us to perceive supersensible phenomena. We must be able to hear what is called the “inner world.” For that we also have to develop the ether body, the subtle body that is seen by clairvoyants as a kind of double of the physical body, an intermediate stage between the physical body and the soul body.

To study the ether body, we have to “remove” from sight the physical and soul body as clairvoyants. The tiny currents of the human ether body are in constant movement and without esoteric training these currents and movements are completely independent of our will and consciousness.

The goal of our development is now to form a kind of central point (organ) near the physical heart from which currents and movements spread in manifold spiritual colors and shapes.

Students should set aside time for these practices so they can become filled with them. But we must always keep our feet firmly on the ground.

This way we will enter the world of spirits and will be able to better understand the words from great teachers.

Spiritual Science speaks of four faculties that have to be developed before going on to higher knowledge.

  1. To distinguish between truth and appearance in our thinking
  2. To value truth and reality in relation to appearances
  3. To develop the six qualities:
    1. Control of thought
    2. Control of actions
    3. Perseverance
    4. Tolerance
    5. Faith
    6. Equanimity
  4. To develop the love for inner freedom

But mere intellectual understanding of these faculties is quite useless. They have to be integrated into the soul and good habits have to be established. Even the smallest acts and the least chores have a significance and we need to be conscious of it.

To attain higher knowledge, we must become free of looking at things in a personal and limited way. In order to serve humanity, we have to perfect ourselves.

At one point the sixteen-petal lotus (throat chakra) enables us to see spiritually the beings and forms of the higher world. That’s when we can see how our thoughts and feelings could influence those forms. Passions are directed at the outside world but in the mirror image it appears like an assault on the person harboring the passion.

To proceed further we have to see our own soul spiritually. And we need to really understand that the path to higher worlds has to lead through careful self-knowledge.

The two-petal flower (6th chakra) in the eye region helps us to get a connection between the higher I and higher spiritual beings.

Students of the inner path receive insight into the higher self and into the doctrine of incarnation of this higher self into a lower self. Religious ceremonies give us outwardly visible images of spiritual processes.

An indication that we have reached the stage of development is our dream life.  Instead of containing only echoes of our daily life the images start arise from a world unknown to us before. At the beginning, they still express themselves symbolically. They begin to mix with images and events from another world. We need to understand that in addition to our ordinary, conscious life, we also lead a second other unconscious life in the dream world. But only the development of the chakras, the lotus flowers, makes it possible to inscribe manifestation that don’t belong to the physical world.

We need to become conscious of what we perceive in the dream world and carry this into our waking life.  And we must grow into our higher self and consider it a real being and understand that the body is only an instrument for our higher self. We need to be careful not to become fanatics though. Those who have developed spiritual organs of perception can see and perceive things that others can’t.

Human life unfolds in three alternating states – wakeful state, dream state, dreamless sleep. In occult science, the dream state has significance; we open the sense organs of the soul. What happens in dream sleep is a kind of seeing. In deep sleep impressions are received by the ears. And deep sleep experiences might become clear and vivid to us. Eventually we can transform previously unconscious states of sleep into full consciousness and it’s a new revelation to us. At that point consciousness is unbroken.

In spiritual development, we must accept what we are given and never force anything.

The soul lives and acts uninterruptedly in the higher worlds and draws inspiration from there. This higher life remains unconscious in most human beings.  As esoteric students, we outgrow the need to be led and need to lead ourselves. But we do become liable to errors. That’s connected with dangers which we can avoid by following necessary precautions.  And we have to remember that forces hostile to life exist.

Our task is the transformation of the earth.

The dangers are:

  1. Willful violence
  2. Sentimental luxuriating in feeling
  3. Cold, loveless striving for wisdom

 As we develop the threads connecting the three basic powers – thinking, willing, feeling – are disconnected and function separately and are not functioning on inherent law but by the individual’s awakened higher consciousness. That way we can confront events dispassionately. We can attain complete mastery over thinking, feeling, and willing. At the same time, we have full responsibility for them. But this separation can lead us to deviate from the path. One reason is that the three powers might not be developed equally which is not as important when they act together and are regulated by the higher laws of cosmos. This way a will may run rampant; feelings could fall into raptures of religious self-gratification, thinking could lead to coldness and avoiding contact with ordinary things.

We should make sure that our daily life is not overly exhausting and seek out situations for which our strength is adequate. We should avoid anything that should bring this kind of disharmony into our life. We need to ensure complete self-mastery.

There are two” guardians of the threshold”, the lesser and the greater. The first one we meet, when the connections between willing, feeling and thinking begin to loosen in the etheric and astral body.  The second one we meet when this happens on the level of the physical body, especially the brain.

Then dying becomes a conscious experience and is experienced differently than before – like taking off a garment.

We are also part of a family and nation and when we encounter the guardian of the threshold we also understand that work we have to do for our group souls.

We will have the task from then on to illuminate the darkness in front of ourselves. After crossing this threshold our being begins to become transparent to us. We will understand invisible causes.

After that we are met by the greater guardian of the threshold. At this point the organs of feeling, thinking and willing have become instruments under the control of the soul.

 

The Yoga Sutras by Patañjali

As mentioned before, this translation is by T.K.V. Desikachar and I have added comments to some of the sutras in parentheses.  But I would like to add a comment from the commentary of the sutras by Swami Satyananda Saraswati in “Four Chapters on Freedom“.  He explains in the book that “modern psychology tends to regard the mind as the source of awareness and consciousness”, but that according to Patanjali the “mind cannot be the source of the consciousness because it too can be perceived as an object (see sutra 4:19).  While modern science tends to regard mind and consciousness as the expression and manifestation of matter, yoga claims that matter is controlled by mind, not mind by matter.

Chapter 1 – Sāmadhipādah

This chapter defines Yoga and its characteristics and discusses the purposes of yoga, the problems encountered in reaching the state of Yoga and ways in which these problems can be handled and the mind can be harmonized. It consists of 51 verses

1.1 Here begins the authoritative instruction on Yoga.  (Introduction of subject matter and explanation that the author has studied it in depth)

1.2 Yoga is the ability to direct the mind exclusively toward an object and sustain that direction without any distractions. (Definition)

1.3 Then the ability to understand the object fully and correctly is apparent.

1.4 The ability to understand the object is simply replaced by the mind’s conception of that object or by a total lack of comprehension.  (A disturbed mind can’t follow directions)

1.5 There are five activities of the mind. Each of them can be beneficial and each can cause problems.

1.6 The five activities are comprehension, misapprehension, imagination, deep sleep, and memory. (Each mental activity has its own characteristics)

1.7 Comprehension is based on direct observation of the object, inference, and reference to reliable authorities. (In a state of Yoga, comprehension is different from comprehension at other times)

1.8 Misapprehension is that comprehension that is taken to be correct until more favorable conditions reveal the actual nature of the object. (The aim of Yoga is to recognize and control the causes of misapprehension)

1.9 Imagination is the comprehension of an object based only on words and expressions, even though the object is absent. (Past experiences contribute to this mental activity)

1.10 Deep sleep is when the mind is overcome with heaviness and no other activities are present.

1.11 Memory is the mental retention of a conscious experience.

1.12 The mind can reach the state of Yoga through practice and detachment.

1.13 Practice is basically the correct effort required to move toward, reach, and maintain the state of Yoga. (Having a competent teacher)

1.14 It is only when the correct practice is followed for a long time, without interruptions and with a quality of positive attitude and eagerness, that it can succeed.  (Need of positive, self-disciplined attitude).

1.15 At the highest level there is an absence of any cravings, either for the fulfillment of the senses or for extraordinary experiences. (Reaching a state of detachment; danger of temptations of arrogance in our skills).

1.16 When an individual has achieved complete understanding of his true self, he will no longer be disturbed by the distracting influences within and around him.

1.17 Then the object is gradually understood fully. At first it is at a more superficial level. In time, comprehension becomes deeper. And finally it is total. There is pure joy in reaching such a depth of understanding. For then the individual is so much at one with the object that he is oblivious to his surroundings. (Achieving perception at the deepest level).

1.18 The usual mental disturbances are absent. However, memories of the past continue.

1.19 There will be some who are born in a state of Yoga. They need not practice or discipline themselves. (Very rare)

1:20 Through faith, which will give sufficient energy to achieve success against all odds, direction will be maintained. The realization of the goal of Yoga is a matter of time.

1.21 The more intense the faith and the effort, the closer the goal.

1.22 Inevitably the depth of faith varies with different individuals and at different times with the same individual. The results will reflect these variations. (Part of the human condition)

1.23 Offering regular prayers to God with a feeling of submission to his power, surely enables the state of Yoga to be achieved.

1.24 God is the Supreme Being whose actions are never based on misapprehension.

1.25 He knows everything there is to be known.

1.26 God is eternal. In fact he is the ultimate teacher. He is the source of guidance for all teachers: past, present, and future.

1.27 In the way most appropriate to the qualities of God. (With the greatest respect and without any conflicts)

1.28 In order to relate to God it is necessary to regularly address him properly and reflect on his qualities. (Mechanical prayer is worthless)

1.29 The individual will in time perceive his true nature. He will not be disturbed by any interruptions that may arise in his journey to the state of Yoga.

1.30 There are nine types of interruptions to developing mental clarity: illness, mental stagnation, doubts, lack of foresight, fatigue, overindulgence, illusions about one’s true state of mind, lack of perseverance, and regression. They are obstacles because they create mental disturbances and encourage distractions.

1.31 All these interruptions produce one or more of the following symptoms: mental discomfort, negative thinking, the inability to be at ease in different body postures, and difficulty in controlling one’s breath.

1.32 If one can select an appropriate means to steady the mind and practice this, whatever the provocations, the interruptions cannot take root.

1.33 In daily life we see people around who are happier than we are, people who are less happy. Some may be doing praiseworthy things and others causing problems. Whatever may be our usual attitude toward such people and their actions, if we can be pleased with others who are happier than ourselves, compassionate toward those who are unhappy, joyful with those doing praiseworthy things, and remain undisturbed by the errors of others, our mind will be very tranquil.

1.34 The practice of breathing exercises involving extended exhalation might be helpful.

1.35 By regular inquiry into the role of the senses we can reduce mental distortions.

1.36 When we inquire into what life is and what keeps us alive, we may find some solace for our mental distractions.

1.37 When we are confronted with problems, the counsel of someone who has mastered similar problems can be a great help.

1.38 Inquiry into dreams and sleep and our experiences during or around these states can help to clarify some of our problems.

1.39 Any inquiry of interest can calm the mind.

1.40 When one reaches this state, nothing is beyond comprehension. The mind can follow and help understand the simple and the complex, the infinite and the infinitesimal, the perceptible and the imperceptible.

1.40 When the mind is free from distraction, it is possible for all the mental processes to be involved in the object of inquiry. As one remains in this state, gradually one becomes totally immersed in the object. The mind then, like a flawless diamond, reflects only the features of the object and nothing else.

1.42 Initially, because of our past experiences and ideas, our understanding of the object is distorted. Everything that has been heard, read, or felt may interfere with our perception.

1.43 When the direction of the mind toward the object is sustained, the ideas and memories of the past gradually recede. The mind becomes crystal clear and one with the object. At this moment there is no feeling of oneself. This is pure perception.

1.44 This process is possible with any type of object, at any level of perception, whether superficial and general or in-depth and specific.

1.45 Except that the mind cannot comprehend the very source of perception within us, its objects can be unlimited.

1.46 All these processes of directing the mind involve an object of inquiry. (They also involve preparation, gradual progression, and sustained interest)

1.47 Then the individual begins to truly know himself.

1.48 Then, what he sees and shares with others is free from error.

1.49 His knowledge is no longer based on memory of inference. It is spontaneous, direct, and at both a level and an intensity that is beyond the ordinary.

1.50 As this newly acquired quality of the mind gradually strengthens, it dominates the other mental tendencies that are based on misapprehensions.

1.51 The mind reaches a state when it has no impressions of any sort. It is open, clear, simply transparent. (Such comprehension is not sought. It comes inevitably and nothing can stop it. It cannot be described in words)

Chapter 2 – Sādhnapādah

This chapter deals with the problem of human limitation, illusions and consequent miseries and the philosophy which formulates the general method of freeing the human soul from these afflictions.  It  describes the qualities necessary to change the mind effectively and also deals with the preliminary preparation for leading the Yogic life and the first five of the eight parts of the technique into which the system of Patanjali is divided. It consists of 55 verses.

2.1 The practice of Yoga must reduce both physical and mental impurities. It must develop our capacity for self-examination and help us to understand that, in the final analysis, we are not the masters of everything we do. (This leads to the discovery of our inner being)

2.2 Then such practices will be certain to remove obstacles to clear perception.

2.3 The obstacles are misapprehensions, confused values, excessive attachments, unreasonable dislikes, and insecurity.

2.4 Misapprehension is the source of all the other obstacles. They need not appear simultaneously and their impact varies. Sometimes they are obscure and barely visible; at other times they are exposed and dominant.

2.5 Misapprehension leads to errors in comprehension of the character, origin, and effects of the objects perceived. (Providing examples such a the most important learning might prove useless at some point)

2.6 False identity results when we regard mental activity as the very source of perception. (Because they can change)

2.7 Excessive attachment is based on the assumption that it will contribute to everlasting happiness.

2.8 Unreasonable dislikes are usually the result of painful experiences in the past connected with particular objects and situations.

2.9 Insecurity is the inborn feeling of anxiety for what is to come. It affects both the ignorant and the wise. (May have a base in past experiences and might be the most difficult obstacle to overcome)

2.10 When the obstacles do not seem to be present, it is important to be vigilant.

2.11 Advance toward a state of reflection to reduce their impact and prevent them from taking over. (E.g. prayer, discussion with a teacher, or even a diversion)

2.12 Our actions and their consequences are influenced by these obstacles. The consequences may or may not be evident at the time of the action.

2.13 As long as the obstacles prevail they will affect action in every respect: in its execution, its duration, and its consequences.

2.14 The consequences of an action will be painful or beneficial depending on whether the obstacles were present in the concept or implementation of the action.

2.15 Painful effects from any object or situation can be a result of one or more of the following: changes in the perceived object, the desire to repeat pleasurable experiences, and the strong effect of conditioning from the past. In addition, changes within the individual can be contributing factors. (Changes may be unrecognized)

2.16 Painful effects that are likely to occur should be anticipated and avoided. (Yoga helps to increase clarity)

2.17 The cause of actions that produce painful effects is the inability to distinguish what is perceived from what perceives.

2.18 All that is perceived includes not only the external objects but also the mind and the senses. They share three qualities: heaviness, activity, and clarity. They have two types of effects; to expose the perceiver to their influences, or to provide the means to find the distinction between them and itself.

2.19 All that is perceived is related by the common sharing of the three qualities.

2.20 That which perceives is not subject to any variations. But, it always perceives through the mind.

2.21 All that can be perceived has but one purpose: to be perceived.

2.22 The existence of all objects of perception and their appearance is independent of the needs of the individual perceiver. They exist without individual reference, to cater for the different needs of different individuals.

2.23 All that is perceived whatever it is and whatever its effect may be on a particular individual, has but one ultimate purpose. That is to clarify the distinction between the external that is seen and the internal that sees. (Ensure that we determine an object’s effect and influence on us)

2.24 The absence of clarity in distinguishing between what perceives and what is perceived is due to the accumulation of misapprehension.

2.25 As misapprehension is reduced there is a corresponding increase in clarity. This is the path to freedom.

2.26 Essentially the means must be directed toward developing clarity so that the distinction between the changing qualities of what is perceived and the unchanging quality of what perceives becomes evident.

2.27 The attainment of clarity is a gradual process.

2.28 The practice and inquiry into different components of Yoga gradually reduce the obstacles such as misapprehension. Then the lamp of perception brightens and the distinction between what perceives and what is perceived becomes more and more evident. Now everything can be understood without error.

2.29 There are eight components of Yoga. These are:

  1. yama, our attitudes toward our environment.
  2. niyama, our attitudes toward ourselves.
  3. āsana, the practice of body exercises.
  4. prānāyāma, the practice of breathing exercises.
  5. pratyāhāra, the restraint of our senses.
  6. dhārāna, the ability to direct our minds.
  7. dhyāna, the ability to develop interactions with what we seek to understand.
  8. samādhi, complete integration with the object to be understood.

2.30 Yama comprises:

  1. Consideration for all living things, especially those who are innocent, in difficulty, or worse off than we are.
  2. Right communication through speech, writings, gesture, and actions.
  3. Noncovetousness or the ability to resist a desire for that which does not belong to us.
  4. Moderation in all our actions.
  5. Nongreediness or the ability to accept only what is appropriate.

2.31 When the adoption of these attitudes in our environmental is beyond compromise, regardless of our social, cultural, intellectual or individual station, it approaches irreversibility.

2.32 Niyama comprises:

  1. Cleanliness, or keeping our bodies and our surroundings clean and neat.
  2. Contentment, or the ability to be comfortable with what we have and what we do not have.
  3. The removal of impurities in our physical and mental systems through the maintenance of such correct habits as sleep, exercise, nutrition, work, and relaxation.
  4. Study and the necessity to review and evaluate our progress.
  5. Reverence to a higher intelligence or the acceptance of our limitations in relation to God, the all-knowing.

2.33 When these attitudes are questioned, self-reflection on the possible consequences of alternative attitudes may help.

2.34 For example, a sudden desire to act harshly, or encourage or approve of harsh actions can be contained by reflecting on the harmful consequences. Often such actions are the results of lower instincts such as anger, possessiveness, or unsound judgment. Whether these actions are minor or major, reflection in a suitable atmosphere can contain our desires to act in this way. (Prevention is better than cure)

2.35 The more considerate one is, the more one stimulates friendly feelings among all in one’s presence.

2.36 One who shows a high degree of right communication will not fail in his actions. (Communication with sensitivity and without hurting others)

2.37 One who is trustworthy, because he does not covet what belongs to others, naturally has everyone’s confidence and everything is shared with him, however precious it might be.

2.38 At its best, moderation produces the highest individual quality.

2.39 One who is not greedy is secure. He has time to think deeply. His understanding of himself is complete.

2.40 When cleanliness is developed it reveals what needs to be constantly maintained and what is eternally clean. What decays is the external. What does not is deep within us.

2:41 In addition one becomes able to reflect on the very deep nature of our individual selves, including the source of perception, without being distracted by the senses and with freedom from misapprehension accumulated from the past. (Dirt deep inside a person cannot be changed as easily as dirty clothes)

2.42 The result of contentment is total happiness.

2.43 The removal of impurities allows the body to function more efficiently.

2.44 Study, when it is developed to the highest degree, brings one close to higher forces that promote understanding of the most complex.

2.45 Reverence to God promotes the ability to completely understand any object of choice.

2.46 Āsana must have the dual qualities of alertness and relaxation.

2.47 These qualities can be achieved by recognizing and observing the reactions of the body and the breath to the various postures that comprise asana practice. Once known, these reactions can be controlled step-by-step.

2.48 When these principles are correctly followed, āsana practice will help a person endure and even minimize the external influences on the body such as age, climate, diet, and work.

2.49 Pranayama is the conscious, deliberate regulation of the breath replacing unconscious patterns of breathing. It is possible only after a reasonable mastery of āsana practice.

2.50 It involves the regulation of the exhalation, the inhalation, and the suspension of the breath. The regulation of these three processes is achieved by modulating their length and maintaining this modulation for a period of time, as well as directing the mind into the process. These components of breathing must be both long and uniform.

2.51 Then the breath transcends the level of the consciousness.

2.52 The regular practice of prānayama reduces the obstacles that inhibit clear perception.

2.53 And the mind is now prepared for the process of direction toward a chosen goal.

2.54 The restraint of senses occurs when the mind is able to remain in its chosen direction and the senses disregard the different objects around them and faithfully follow the direction of the mind.

2.55 Then the senses are mastered.

Chapter 3 – Vibhūtipādah

In this chapter Patañjali describes the capacity of the mind. The highest state is freedom from disturbances of any sort and at any time.  The chapter discusses the results that those who practice yoga can achieve and also discusses the dangers of these changes. It consists of 56 verses.

3.1 The mind has reached the ability to be directed [dhāranā] when direction toward a chosen object is possible in spite of many other potential objects within the reach of the individual. (Not possible when our minds are distracted)

3.2 Then the mental activities form an uninterrupted flow only in relation to this object. (dhyāna)

3.3. Soon the individual is so much involved in the object that nothing except its comprehension is evident. It is as if the individual has lost his own identity. This is the complete integration with the object of understanding [samādhi].

3.4 When these processes are continuously and exclusively applied to the same object it is called samyama. [Note: These three together [dhāraṇā, dhyāna and samādhi] constitute integration or saṃyama]

3.5 Samyama on a chosen object leads to a comprehensive knowledge of the object in all its aspects.

3.6 Samyama must be developed gradually.

3.7 Compared to the first five components of Yoga [sutra 2.29] the next three [sutras 3.1, 2, 3] are more intricate.

3.8 The state where the mind has no impressions of any sort and nothing is beyond its reach [nirbījah samādhi] is more intricate than the state of directing the mind towards an object [samādhi].

3.9 The mind is capable of having two states based on two distinct tendencies. These are distraction and attention. At any one moment, however, only one state prevails, and this state influences the individual’s behavior, attitudes, and expressions.

3.10 By constant and uninterrupted practice the mind can remain in a state of attention for a long time.

3.11 The mind alternates between the possibility of intense concentration and a state where alternative objects can attract attention. (The difference between the states is much less)

3.12 The mind reaches a stage where the link with the object is consistent and continuous. The distractions cease to appear.

3.13 As it has been established that the mind has different states [corresponding to which there arose different attitudes, possibilities, and behavior patterns in the individual] it can also be said that such changes can occur in all the objects of perception and in the senses. These changes can be at different levels and influenced by external forces such as time or our intelligence.

3.14 A substance contains all its characteristics and, depending on the particular form it takes, those characteristics conforming to that form will be apparent. But whatever the form, whatever the characteristics exhibited, there exists a base that comprises all characteristics. Some have appeared in the past, some are currently apparent, and others may reveal themselves in the future.  (The significance of sutras 3.9 to 3.14 is that everything that we perceive is fact and not fiction. But these facts are subject to change)

3.15 By changing the order or sequence of change, characteristics that are of one pattern can be modified to a different pattern

3.16 Samyama on the process of change, how it can be affected by time and other factors, develops knowledge of the past and the future.

3.17 Samyama on the interactions between language, ideas, and object is to examine the individual features of the objects, the means of describing them, and the ideas and their cultural influences in the minds of the describers. Through this, one can find the most accurate and effective way of communicating regardless of linguistic, cultural, and other barriers. (Our memories and imaginations can influence our comprehension)

3.18 Samyama on one’s tendencies and habits will lead one to their origins. Consequently one gains deep knowledge of one’s past. (When the roots are known we can reexamine our lifestyle for the better)

3.19 Samyama on the changes that arise in an individual’s mind and their consequences develops in one the ability to acutely observe the state of mind of others.

3.20 No. The cause of the state of mind of one individual is beyond the scope of observation by another. (We can only see the symptoms)

3.21 Samyama on the relationship between the features of the body and what affects them can give one the means to merge with one’s surroundings in such a way that one’s form is indistinguishable.

3.22 The results of actions may be immediate or delayed. Samyama on this can give one the ability to predict the course of future actions and even his own death.

3.23 The results of actions (kCompare with Self-Healing, Yoga and Destiny by E. Haich and Theosophy by J. Algeoarmas) may be immediate or delayed. Samyama on this can give one the ability to predict the course of future actions and even his own death.

3.24 Different qualities such as friendliness, compassion, and contentment can be inquired into through samyama. Thus, one can learn how to strengthen a chosen quality.

3.25 Samyama on the physical strength of an elephant can give one the strength of an elephant. (Comparable strength)

3.26 Directing the mind to the life-force itself and sustaining that direction through samyama, results in the ability to observe fine subtleties and understand what is preventing deep observation.

3.27  Samyama on the sun gives wide knowledge of the planetary system and the cosmic regions.

3.28 Observation of the different phases of the moon, its eclipses, and the path it travels, takes us all over the sky and thus encompasses all the visible stars and their constellations.

3.29 Samyama on Polaris gives knowledge about the relative movements of the stars.

3.30 Samyama on the navel gives knowledge about the different organs of the body and their dispositions. (The naval is considered the seat of some bodily forces)

3.31 Using the throat as a point of inquiry for samyama provides an understanding of thirst and hunger. This enables one to control their extreme symptoms.

3.32  Samyama on the chest area and inquiry into the sensations felt there in different physical and mental states gives one the means to remain stable and calm even in very stressful situations.

3.33 Samyama on the source of high intelligence in an individual develops supernormal capabilities.

3.34 Anything can be understood. With each attempt fresh and spontaneous understanding arises.

3.35 Samyama on the heart will definitely reveal the qualities of the mind. (This is only possible if we are calm)

3.36 The mind, which is subject to change, and the Perceiver, which is not, are in proximity but are of distinct and different characters. When the mind is directed externally and acts mechanically toward objects there is either pleasure or pain. When at the appropriate time, however, an individual begins inquiry into the very nature of the link between the Perceiver and perception the mind is disconnected from external objects and there arises the understanding of the Perceiver itself.

3.37 Then one begins to acquire extraordinary capacities for perception.

3.38 For an individual who may revert to a state of distraction, this extraordinary knowledge and the capabilities acquired through samyama are worth possessing. But for one who seeks nothing less than a sustained state of Yoga the results of samyama are obstacles in themselves.

3.39 By inquiring into the cause of this rigid situation binding the mind to the individual and examining the means of relaxing this rigidity there is great potential for an individual to reach beyond the confines of himself. (The range of mental activity can be extended to influence others)

3.40 By mastering the forces that transmit sensations from the body to the mind it is possible to master the external stimuli. For instance, one can tolerate water of any temperature or the effects of thorns or one can walk on unstable surfaces and even feel as light as a balloon.

3.41 By mastering samāna one can experience sensations of excessive heat.

3.42 Samyama on the relationship between the sense of hearing and space develops an extraordinary sense of hearing.

3.43 By samyama on the relationship between the body and space, and examining the properties of objects that can float such as cotton fluff, the knowledge to move about in space can be achieved.

3.44 By examining these phenomena and developing conditions when the mind does not confuse perception, there arises an extraordinary faculty with which one can probe other minds. In addition the clouds that obscure correct perception are minimized.

3.45 Samyama on the origin of matter in all its forms, appearances, and uses can develop into mastery of the elements.

3.46 When the elements are mastered one is no longer disturbed by them. The body reaches perfection and extraordinary capabilities become possible.

3.47 Perfection in the body means good features, attractiveness to others, physical firmness, and unusual physical strength.

3.48 Mastery over the senses is achieved through samyama on the ability of the senses to observe their respective objects, how such objects are understood, how the individual identifies with the object, how the object, the senses, the mind, and the Perceiver are interrelated, and what results from such perception.

3.49 Then the response of the senses will be as swift as that of the mind. They will perceive acutely and the individual will have the capacity to influence the characteristics of the elements.

3.50 When there is clear understanding of the difference between the Perceiver and the mind, all the various states of mind and what affects them become known. Then, the mind becomes a perfect instrument for the flawless perception of everything that need be known.

3.51 Freedom, the last goal of Yoga, is attained only when the desire to acquire extraordinary knowledge is rejected and the source of obstacles is completely controlled.

3.52 The temptation to accept the respectful status as a consequence of acquiring knowledge through samyama should be restrained. Otherwise, one is led to the same unpleasant consequences that arise from all obstacles to Yoga.

3.53 Samyama on time and its sequence brings about absolute clarity.

3.54 This clarity makes it possible to distinguish objects even when the distinction is not apparently clear. Apparent similarity should not deter one from the distinct perception of a chosen object.

3.55 Such clarity is not exclusive of any object, any particular situation, or any moment. It is not the result of sequential logic. It is immediate, spontaneous, and total.

3:56 Freedom is when the mind has complete identity with the Perceiver.

Chapter 4 – Kaivaypādah

This chapter deals with the philosophy and the psychology of Yoga in a general way. Patañjali presents in this chapter also the possibilities for a person with a highly refined mind. The mind is basically a servant and not a master.  This chapter on “onlyness” consists of 34 verses.

4.1 Exceptional mental capabilities may be achieved by: genetic inheritance, the use of herbs as prescribed in the Vedas, reciting incantations, rigorous austerities, and through that state of mind that remains with its object without distractions [samadhi].

4.2 Change from one set of characteristics to another is essentially an adjustment of the basic qualities of matter.

4.3 But such intelligence can only remove obstacles that obstruct certain changes. Its role is no more than that of a farmer who cuts a dam to allow water to flow into the field where it is needed.

4.4 With exceptional mental faculties an individual can influence the mental state of other beings.

4.5 This influence also depends on the state of the recipient.

4.6 Influence on another by one whose mind is in a state of dhyāna can never increase anxiety or other obstacles. In fact, they are reduced. (Not blind to the conditions of human suffering)

4.7 And they act without any motivation while others who also have exceptional capabilities act with some motivation or other.

4.8 Because the tendency of the mind to act on the basis of the five obstacles, such as misapprehension, has not been erased, they will surface in the future to produce their unpleasant consequences.

4.9 Memory and latent impressions are strongly linked. This link remains even if there is an interval of time, place, or context between similar actions.

4.10 There is a strong desire for immortality in all men at all times. Thus these impressions cannot be ascribed to any time.

4.11 These tendencies are both maintained and sustained by misapprehensions, external stimuli, attachment to the fruits of actions, and the quality of mind that promotes hyperactivity. Reduction of these automatically makes the undesirable impressions ineffective.

4.12 The substance of what has disappeared as well as what may appear always exists. Whether or not they are evident depends upon the direction of change. (Nothing can be annihilated)

4.13 Whether or not particular characteristics appear depends on the mutations of the three qualities.

4.14 The characteristics of a substance at one moment in time is in fact a single change in these qualities.

4.15 The characteristics of an object appear differently, depending upon the different mental states of the observer. (Example of temple)

4.16 If the object were indeed the conception of a particular individual’s mind, then in the absence of his perception, would it exist?

4.17 Whether an object is perceived or not depends on its accessibility as well as the individual’s motivation.

4.18 Mental activities are always known to the Perceiver that is nonchanging and master of the mind. (The mind changes, not the Perceiver)

4.19 In addition, the mind is a part of what is perceived and has no power of its own to perceive.

4.20 The premise that the mind can play two roles is untenable because it cannot simultaneously fabricate and see what it fabricates.

4.21 In an individual with such a series of minds of momentary existence there would be disorder and the difficulty of maintaining consistency of memory.

4.22 When the mind is not linked to external objects and it does not respect an external form to the Perceiver, then it takes the form of the Perceiver itself.

4.23 Thus the mind serves a dual purpose. It serves the Perceiver by presenting the external to it. It also respects or presents the Perceiver to itself for its own enlightenment.

4.24 Even though the mind has accumulated various impressions of different types it is always at the disposal of the Perceiver. This is because the mind cannot function without the power of the Perceiver.  (The mind cannot act on its own)

4.25 A person of extraordinary clarity is one who is free from the desire to know the nature of the Perceiver.

4.26 And their clarity takes them to their only concern; to reach and remain in a state of freedom.

4.27 In the unlikely possibility of distraction from this aim, disturbing past impressions are able to surface.

4.28 One must never accommodate even small errors because they are as detrimental as the five obstacles.

4.29 There arises a state of mind full of clarity concerning all things at all times. It is like a rainfall of pure clarity.

4.30 This is, indeed, the state free from actions based on the five obstacles. (But it is not a life without action. It is a life devoid of errors or selfish interests)

4.31 When the mind is free from the clouds that prevent perception, all is known, there is nothing to be known.

4.32 The three basic qualities cease to follow the sequence of alternating pain and pleasure.

4.33 A sequence is the replacement of one characteristic by one that follows it. This is linked to moment. A replacement of characteristics is also the basis of moment.

4.34 When the highest purpose of life is achieved the three basic qualities do not excite responses in the mind. That is freedom. In other words, the Perceiver is no longer colored by the mind. (Serenity in action as well as inaction)

Heal Thyself by Edward Bach

The main reason for the failure of modern medical science is that it is dealing with results and not causes. For many centuries the real nature of disease has been masked by materialism, and thus disease itself has been given every opportunity of extending its ravages, since it has not been attacked at its origin.

Disease will never be cured or eradicated by present materialistic methods, for the simple reason that disease in its origin is not material. Disease is in essence the result of conflict between Soul and MindSee also Laws of Destiny by H. Meyer under Psychology, and will never be eradicated except by spiritual and mental effort. No effort directed to the body alone can do more than superficially repair damage, and in this there is no cure, since the cause is still operative and may at any moment again demonstrate its presence in another form.

One of the exceptions to materialistic methods in modern science is that of the great Hahnemann, the founder of Homeopathy, who with his realization of the beneficent love of the Creator and of the Divinity which resides within man, by studying the mental attitude of his patients towards life, environment and their respective diseases, sought to find in the herbs of the field and in the realms of nature the remedy which would not only heal their bodies but would at the same time uplift their mental outlook.

Five hundred years before Christ some physicians of ancient India, working under the influence of the Lord Buddha, advanced the art of healing to so perfect a state that they were able to abolish surgery, although the surgery of their time was as efficient, or more so, than that of the present day. Such men as Hippocrates with his mighty ideals of healing, Paracelsus with his certainty of the divinity in man, and Hahnemann who realized that disease originated in a plane above the physical – all these knew much of the real nature and remedy of suffering.

Let it be briefly stated that disease, though apparently so cruel, is in itself beneficent and for our good and, if rightly interpreted, it will guide us to our essential faults. Suffering is a corrective to point out a lesson which by other means we have failed to grasp, and never can it be eradicated until that lesson is learned.

To understand the nature of disease certain fundamental truths have to be acknowledged.

The first of these is that man has a Soul which is his real self;See also Theosophy by J. Algeo under Philosophy a Divine, Mighty Being, a Son of the Creator of all things, of which the body, although the earthly temple of that Soul, is but the minutest reflection: that our Soul, our Divinity Who resides in and around us, lays down for us our lives as He wishes them to be ordered and, so far as we will allow, ever guides, protects and encourages us, watchful and beneficent to lead us always for our utmost advantage: that He, our Higher Self, being a spark of the Almighty, is thereby invincible and immortal.

The second principle is that we, as we know ourselves in this world, are personalities down here for the purpose of gaining all the knowledge and experience which can be obtained through earthly existence, of developing virtues which we lack and of wiping out all that is wrong within us, thus advancing towards the perfection of our natures. The Soul knows what environment and what circumstances will best enable us to do this, and hence He places us in that branch of life most suited for that object.

Thirdly, we must realise that the short passage on this earth, which we know as life, is but a moment in the course of our evolution. Our Souls, which are really we, are immortal, and the bodies of which we are conscious are temporary, merely as horses we ride to go a journey, or instruments we use to do a piece of work.

Then follows a fourth great principle, that so long as our Souls and personalities are in harmony all is joy and peace, happiness and health. It is when our personalities are led astray from the path laid down by the Soul, either by our own worldly desires or by the persuasion of others, that a conflict arises. This conflict is the root cause of disease and unhappiness. No matter what our work in the world – bootblack or monarch, landlord or peasant, rich or poor – so long as we do that particular work according to the dictates of the Soul, all is well; and we can further rest assured that in whatever station of life we are placed, princely or lowly, it contains the lessons and experiences necessary at the moment for our evolution, and gives us the best advantage for the development of ourselves.

The next great principle is the understanding of the Unity of all things: that the Creator of all things is Love, and that everything of which we are conscious is in all its infinite number of forms a manifestation of that Love. Thus any action against ourselves or against another affects the wholeCompare with Universality of the Golden Rule of Religion under Religion, because by causing imperfection in a part it reflects on the whole, every particle of which must ultimately become perfect.

So we see there are two great possible fundamental errors: dissociation between our Souls and our personalities, and cruelty or wrong to others, for this is a sin against Unity. Either of these brings conflict, which leads to disease.

Disease is in itself beneficent, and has for its object the bringing back of the personality to the Divine will of the Soul; and thus we can see that it is both preventable and avoidable. But It may not be the errors of this life, this day at school, which we are combating; and although we in our physical minds may not be conscious of the reason of our suffering, which may to us appear cruel and without reason, yet our Souls (which are ourselves) know the full purpose and are guiding us to our best advantage.

There are two great errors: first, to fail to honor and obey the dictatesCompare with Laws of Destiny under Psychology of our Soul, and second, to act against Unity. On account of the former, be ever reluctant to judge others, because what is right for one is wrong for another. It is obeying the commands of our Soul, our Higher Self, which we learn through conscience, instinct and intuition, that matters. The very nature of an illness will be a useful guide to assist in discovering the type of action which is being taken against the Divine Law of Love and Unity.

The real primary diseases of man are such defects as pride, cruelty, hate, self-love, ignorance, instability and greed; and each of these, if considered, will be found to be adverse to Unity.

The author continues to explain in more detail weaknesses such as pride, cruelty, hate, self-love, ignorance, instability and indecision; greed and the illnesses caused by these weaknesses. He further points out that the very part of the body affected is no accident, but is in accordance with the law of cause and effect.

In chapter four the author points out that for a complete cure not only must physical means be used, choosing always the best methods which are known to the art of healing, but we ourselves must also endeavor to the utmost of our ability to remove any fault in our nature; because final and complete healing ultimately comes from within, from the Soul itself. If we but sufficiently develop the quality of losing ourselves in the love and care of those around us, enjoying the glorious adventure of gaining knowledge and helping others, our personal grief and sufferings rapidly come to an end.

He reminds us that Love is the foundation of Creation and that in every living soul there is some good, and that in the best of us there is some bad. And he tells the readers that we shall ever have compassion and not offer resistance; for, again, by the law of cause and effect it is resistance, which damages.

In the next paragraph he continues to explain how to overcome weaknesses and after that points out that the materialism and circumstances of our age, and the personalities with whom we associate, lead us away from the voice of our Higher Self and bind us firmly to the commonplace with its lack of ideals, all too evident in this civilization. We must be on guard in the giving of help to other people, no matter whom they be, to be certain that the desire to help comes from the dictates of the Inner Self and is not a false sense of duty imposed by the suggestion or persuasion of a more dominant personality. It is the dictates of our conscience alone which can tell us whether our duty lies with one or many, how and whom we should serve; but whichever it may be, we should obey that command to the utmost of our ability.

In chapter five the author talks in detail about parenthood, which he describes as a sacred duty, temporary in its character and passing from generation to generation. He warns parents to be on guard against any desire to mold the young personality according to their own ideas or wishes. He emphasizes in this chapter again that every soul in incarnation is down here for the specific purpose of gaining experience and understanding, and of perfecting his personality towards those ideals laid down by the soul. For very many their greatest battle will be in their own home, where before gaining their liberty to win victories in the world they will have to free themselves from the adverse domination and control of some very near relative.

Bach believed that the true reason of man’s existence on earth has been overshadowed by his anxiety to obtain from his incarnation nothing but worldly gain. It has been a period when life has been very difficult because of the lack of the real comfort, encouragement and uplift which is brought by a realization of greater things than those of the world.

The real peace of the Soul and mind is with us when we are making spiritual advance, and it cannot be obtained by the accumulation of wealth alone, no matter how great.

The physician of the future will have two great aims. The first will be to assist the patient to knowledge of himself and to point out to him the fundamental mistakes he may be making, the deficiencies in his character, which he should remedy. The second duty of the physician will be to administer such remedies as will help the physical body to gain strength and assist the mind to become calm, widen its outlook and strive towards perfection, thus bringing peace and harmony to the whole personality.

Our spiritual advisers, true physicians and intimate friends should all be able to assist us to obtain a faithful picture of ourselves, but the perfect method of learning this is by calm thought and meditation, and by bringing ourselves to such an atmosphere of peace that our Souls are able to speak to us through our conscience and intuition, and to guide us according to their wishes.

Perhaps one of the greatest tragedies of materialism is the development of boredom and the loss of real inner happiness; it teaches people to seek contentment and compensation for troubles in earthly enjoyments and pleasures, and these can never bring anything but temporary oblivion of our difficulties.

It is in the simple things of life – the simple things because they are nearer the great Truth – that real pleasure is to be found. Another fundamental help to us is to put away all fear. Fear in reality holds no place in the natural human kingdom, since the Divinity within us, which is ourself, is unconquerable and immortal, and if we could but realize it we, as Children of God, have nothing of which to be afraid.

He addresses the issue, that science is unable to explain on physical grounds why some people become affected by disease whilst others escape and claims that fear, by its depressing effect on our mentality, thus causing disharmony in our physical and magnetic bodies, paves the way for invasion.  Therefore the real cause of disease lies in our own personality and is within our control.

The authors further recommends that we should treat our body  with respect and  Internal cleanliness depends on diet, and we should choose everything that is clean and wholesome and as fresh as possible, chiefly natural fruits, vegetables and nuts.care, so that it may be healthy and last the longer to do our work but without identifying with the body. Animal flesh should be avoided and sleep should not be excessive.

In all things cheerfulness should be encouraged, and we should refuse to be oppressed by doubt and depression, but remember that such are not of ourselves, for our Souls know only joy and happiness.

In the last chapter he summarizes, that our conquest of disease will mainly depend on the following: Firstly, the realization of the Divinity within our nature and our consequent power to overcome all that is wrong: secondly, the knowledge that the basic cause of disease is due to disharmony between the personality and the Soul; thirdly, our willingness and ability to discover the fault which is causing such a conflict; and fourthly, the removal of any such fault by developing the opposing virtue. For those who are sick, peace of mind and harmony with the Soul is the greatest aid to recovery.

In our Western civilization we have the glorious example, the great standard of perfection and the teachings of the Christ to guide us. He acts for us as Mediator between our personality and our Soul. His mission on earth was to teach us how to obtain harmony and communion with our Higher Self, with Our Father which is in Heaven, and thereby to obtain perfection in accordance with the Will of the Great Creator of all.

Thus also taught the Lord Buddha and other great Masters who have come down from time to time upon the earth to point out to men the way to attain perfection. There is no halfway path for humanity. The Truth must be acknowledged, and man must unite himself with the infinite scheme of Love of his Creator.

You can find a list and description of the Bach flower remedies on this website.

Proof of Heaven

In this book the author recounts his near-death experience (NDE) during a meningitis-induced coma. He says that he was encountering the reality of a world of consciousness that existed completely free of limitation of his physical brain.  He explains that the death of the body and the brain are not the end of consciousness and that human experience continues beyond the grave under the gaze of God who loves and cares about each one of us.

After describing the onset of the illness he continues by sharing what he saw during the seven days in the coma.  He also tells the readers the actions and feelings from family members and friends during this time.

In the ninth chapter he shares that he was able to instantly and effortlessly understand concepts that would have taken him years to grasp and explains concepts and feelings that are explained in works written by theosophists See Theosophy by John Algeo under Philosophysuch as the existence of more than one universe and the existence of higher beings. He further mentions more that once that Love is the basis of everything.

In addition he says that science, to which he has devoted to much of his life – does not contradict what he has learned “up there”.

For him the unconditional love and acceptance that he experienced was the single most important discovery.

In chapter fifteen he discusses the concept of consciousness and why we forget our trans-earthly identities.  He also points out that the physical side of the universe is a speck of dust compared to the invisible and spiritual part. He further explains that free will comes at the cost of a loss or falling-away from the universal love in which the universe is “literally awash” but that our truest, deepest self is completely free.

He adds that our role here is to grow toward the DivineCompare with The Heart of the Soul by Gary Zukov and Linda Francis under Spiritual Development, and that growth is closely watched by the beings in the worlds above.

Our eternal spiritual self is more real than anything we perceive in this physical realm, and has a divine connection to the infinite love of the Creator. In his words, this journey was not only about love,  but it was also about who we are and how connected we all areCompare with Overview Effect under Science – the very meaning of all existence.

 

Zen in the Martial Arts by Joe Hyams

These are the main ideas discussed in this book:

  • Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is Enlightenment (Lao-Tzu).
  • Nothing is impossible to a willing mind (Book of Han Dynasty).
  • To be patient is to have the capacity of calm endurance. To give yourself time is to actively work toward a goal without setting a limit on how long you will work.
  • As long as what you are doing at the moment is exactly what you are doing at that moment and nothing else, you are one with youself and with what you are doing – and that is ZEN, while doing something you are doing at the fullest.
  • Know your limits: You must learn to live in the present and accept yourself for what you are now. What you lack in flexibility and agility you must make up with knowledge and constant practice.
  • Power of mind is infinite while brawn is limited (Koichi Tohei).
  • Life unfolds on a great sheet called time, and once finished it is gone forever (Chinese Adage).
  • The mind is truly a source of power, and when mind and body are coordinated, ki manifests itself (like spontaneous flow of steady strength or energy).
  • Softness triumphs over hardness, feebleness over strength. What is more malleeable is always superior over that which is immovable. This is the principle of controlling things by going along with them, of mastery through adaption.
  • Control your emotion or it will control you (Chinese Adage).
  • The secret of kime (tightening of the mind) is to exclude all extraneous thoughts; thoughts that are not concerned with achieving your immediate goal.
  • The less effort, the faster and more powerful you will be (concentration and relaxation go hand in hand).
  • By visualizing success rather then failure, by believing “I can do it” rather than “I can’t”. Negative thoughts are overpowering only if you encourage them and allow yourself to be overpowered by them”.
  • To generate great power you must first totally relax and gather your strength, and then concentrate your mind and all your strength on hitting your target.
  • Karate is half physical exercise and half spiritual.

The Heart of the Soul by Gary Zukav & Linda Francis

Gary Zukov and Linda Francis explain that authentic power is the alignment of our personality with our soul. When we become our own source of worthiness, we will still do usual things, but not to influence or impress others. We will choose our intentions consciously. We will live in harmony with others while remaining true to ourselves.

It is knowing that the person we are with is the person we are supposed to be with.

The authors see emotions as currents of energy that run through us. We can not grow spiritually without learning how to detach from our emotions and understand them as products of the way energy is processed in our energy system.

We can not always change people or circumstances, but we can always change the way energy is processed in our energy system.

As we become aware of our emotions we also become aware of our curriculum in the Earth SchoolCompare with Theosophy under Philosophy. When we complete assigned classes, we are given the opportunity to choose other classes. Looking inward is an important step in the process of spiritual development. Our task as a student on Earth School is to work on ourselves, to change ourselves.

Gary and Linda explain in this book the seven chakras and provide in more detail the positive and negative showings.

They note that spiritual growth requires us to become aware of everything that we are feelingCompare with Depth Psychology under Psychology all of the time.

We are on the Earth in order to grow spirituallyCompare with Proof of Heaven under Metaphysics and to give gifts that only we are capable of giving. Those gifts do not originate in the outer world but in the deepest part of ourselves.

The authors say that anger originates in fear. It is the agony of believing that we are not capable of being understood, and that we are not worthy of being understood. Anger is resistance to the world not being the way we want it to be. Anger is pure frustration at not being able to arrange our life and others as we would like.

When we set the intention not to speak or act in anger, when we look for new ways to speak and act when we feel angry, we involve the assistance of the Universe and assistance comes to us.

The circumstances of our life always reflect the needs of our soul.