Tag Archives: Philosophy

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Meister Eckhart

One of the reasons I picked this book is that I find the introduction by Oliver Davies very illuminating. He starts with an overview to Meister Eckhart’s life and explanations of his thoughts about Oneness, Creation, The Ground of the Soul, The Birth of God in the Soul, and Detachment. He further discusses his methods and the European intellectual tradition in regards to Eckhart’s work.

My favorite part is The Talks of Instruction because he explains his thought on true obedience, the most powerful prayer, the undetached people who are full of self-will, the value of renunciation, on detachment and possessing God, and how we should perform our works in the most rational way.  He tells us to make a constant effort in spiritual progress and how temptation to sin always aids our progress; explains the virtue of the will and what to do if we cannot find God. He continues by talking about sin, repentance; true confidence and hope; on the two kinds of certainty of eternal life, how to remain peaceful when confronted with oppression, how to enjoy food and cheerful company and he explains why God sometimes allows good people to be hindered. Meister Eckhart ends this book with thoughts on spiritual endeavor and how to find the right path.

In The Noble Man he explains that we possess in ourselves two natures, one that is body and the other spiritCompare with the concept of personality (body) and individuality (spirit) in Theosophy under Philosophy; he speaks of the nobility of the inner man, that is the spirit, and the worthlessness of the outer man, that is the flesh and that the seed of God is in us; he also points out that “it is in Oneness that God is found, and they who would find God must themselves become One.”  And he emphasizes that we have to know ourselvesCompare with To Know Yourself and Self-Healing, Yoga and Destiny under Spiritual Development in order to know God.

The German and Latin sermons are easy to read and cover different issues and passages from the Bible.

Statements from the German sermons that caught my attention included his recommendation to take note of our weaknesses and overcome them; that all the commandments of God proceed from love; that God is in all things, that he made all things and remained within them; that we should love our neighbors as ourselves; and that we should become free of ourselves and of all things. He tells us that our blessedness does not lie in our active doing, rather in our passive reception of God. His explanation in sermon 15 about Holy Trinity, that distinction within the Trinity comes from its unity, reminded me of the explanation of Elisabeth Haich in Initiation about the triangleSee page 244 in the free online-pdf version of the book or compare with Initiation under Metaphysics.

My favorite Latin sermon is the last one, a very short discourse about what we should bear in mind with respect to the words of prayer.

He repeats more than once that a relationship to the Good comes from within rather than without. He also rejects the importance of forms of worship and insists on an interior acceptance of self-love as a necessary precondition to the love of God and others.

 

The Undiscovered Self by C.G. Jung

Even though Jung is a psychologist I decided to place this book under philosophy because Jung shares in these seven chapters his philosophical view about the dilemma of the individual in modern society.

Jung starts by addressing the plight of the individual in chapter one. He explains that most people confuse “self-knowledge” with knowledge of their conscious ego personalities, but that the ego knows only its own contents not the unconscious and it contents, the real psychic facts that are for the most part hidden from them. That causes problems because we are defenselessly open to all kinds of influences. In Jung’s opinion there can be no self-knowledge based on theoretical assumptions, for the object of self-knowledge is an individual – a relative exception and an irregular phenomenon. If we want to understand an individual human being, we must lay aside all scientific knowledge and discard all theories and understand him as a human being because the individual is the true and authentic carrier of reality, the concrete man as opposed to the unreal ideal to whom the scientific statements refer. He warns of the psychological effects of the statistical world picture because it displaces the individual in favor of anonymous units that pile up to mass information.

Instead of moral and mental differentiation of the individual, you have public welfare and the raising of the living standard. The goal and meaning of individual life, which is the only real life, no longer lie in individual development but in the policy of the State. The individual is increasingly deprived of the moral decision as to how he should live his own life, and instead is ruled, fed, clothed and educated as a social unit, accommodated in the appropriate housing unit, and amused in accordance with the standards that give pleasure and satisfaction to the masses. Under these circumstancesCompare with Your Own Identity an Laws of Destiny under Psychology it is small wonder that individual judgment grows increasingly uncertain of itself and that responsibility is collectivized as much as possible.

He addresses the issue of religion in the next two chapters and predicts – correctly – that Communism will collapse from within. He points out that the West has considerable industrial power and defense potential, but that the biggest guns and the heaviest industry with its relatively high living standard are not enough to check the psychic infection spread by religious fanaticism.  The Churches stand in Jung’s opinion for traditional and collective convictions, which are no longer based on inner experiences but on unreflecting belief, which can disappear with time and under certain circumstances. Therefore belief is no adequate substitute for inner experience.

He ends chapter 3 with the conclusion, that common to the materialistic and the collectivist system is, that both lack the very thing that expresses and grips the whole man, namely, an idea which puts the individual human being in the center as the measure of all things. That is because both systems are comprised of hierarchical structures where the individual counts for nothing. Indeed, the self-knowledge or individualization that would produce true men and women capable of standing up to the hierarchy is actively discouraged.

In chapter four he explains that there would be no world without consciousness because the world exists as such only in so far as it is consciously reflected and consciously expressed by a psyche.  Consciousness is a precondition of beingCompare with Quantumphysics under Science. Thus the psyche is endowed with the dignity of a cosmic principle, which philosophically and in fact gives it a position coequal with the principle of physical being. The carrier of this consciousness is the individual, who does not produce the psyche on his own volition but is preformed by it and nourished by the gradual awakening of consciousness. He reiterates that the individual psyche is always an exception to the statistical rule.

Jung points out that the psychic situation of the individual is menaced by advertisement, propaganda and other influences; and that for the individual it is often difficult to act on his own insight instead of simply copying convention that agrees with the collective opinion.  He explains that people go on blithely organizing and believing in the sovereign remedy of mass action, without the least consciousness of the fact that the most powerful organizations can be maintained only by the greatest ruthlessness of their leaders and the cheapest of slogans. In this context he reminds us that Christ never called his disciples to him at a mass meeting and that Jesus and Paul are prototypes of those, who trusting their inner experience, have gone their own individual ways, disregarding public opinion.  The infantile dream state of the mass is so unrealistic that people never think to ask who is paying for everything.  The balancing of accounts is left to a higher political and social authority, which welcomes the task, for its power is thereby increased.

At the same token Jung warns that only the man who is as well organized in his individuality as the mass itself can affect resistance to the organized mass.

He further points out that it is not Christianity, but our conception and interpretation of it, that has become antiquated in the face of the present world situation.

In chapter five he addresses the rupture between faith and knowledge and explains that it is a symptom of the split consciousness, which is so characteristic of the mental disorder of our day. It is as if two persons were making statements about the same thing, each from his own point of view, or as if one person in two different frames of mind were sketching a picture of his experience. If for “person” we substitute “modern society”, it is evident that the latter is suffering from a mental dissociation, e.g. a neurotic disturbance. In view of this, it does not help matter at all if one party pulls obstinately to the right and the other to the left.  A relationship with both sides has to be established instead.

In this chapter he also addresses the specific achievement of the Christian epoch: the supremacy of the word, of the Logos, which stands for the central figure of our Christian faith. No one seems to notice the veneration of the word has a perilous shadow side. The moment the word, as a result of centuries of education, attains universal validity; it severs its original link with the divine person. Thus the word, originally announcing the unity of all men and their union in the figure of the one great Man, has in our day become the source of suspicion and distrust of all against all. In this context he also points out that people think they have only to “tell” a person that he “ought” to do something in order to put him on the right track. But whether he can or will do it is another matter.

Separation from his instinctual nature inevitably plunges civilized man into the conflict between conscious and unconscious, spirit and nature, knowledge and faith, a split that becomes pathological the moment his consciousness is no longer able to neglect or suppress his instinctual side. The forlornness of consciousness in our world is due primarily to the loss of instinct, and the reason for this lies in the development of the human mind over the past aeon. The more power man had over nature, the more his knowledge and skill went to his head,  the deeper became his contempt for the merely natural and accidental.

He starts chapter six about self-knowledge by stating that in order to answer the question if we have an immediate relation to God which will keep us from dissolving into the crowd we have to fulfill the demands of rigorous self-examination and self-knowledgeCompare with To Know Yourself under Spiritual Development. He reminds us of all the atrocities that have happened over the last decades and explains that men don’t deny that terrible things have happened and still go on happening, but it is always “the others” who do them.  But none of us stand outside humanity’s black collective shadow and we have to possess some “imagination in evil”, for only the fool can permanently neglect the conditions of his own nature and that this negligence is the best means of making us an instrument of evil. What is even worse, our lack of insight deprives us of the capacity to deal with evil. In Jung’s opinion people are largely unconscious of the fact that every individual is a cell in the structure of various international organisms and is therefore causally implicated in their conflicts.

In the last chapter Jung explains that the very fact that through self-knowledge, i.e. by exploring our own souls, we come upon the instincts and their world of imagery should throw some light on the powers slumbering in the psyche, of which we are seldom aware so long as all goes well. He tells us that the spiritual transformation of mankind follows the slow tread of the centuries and cannot be hurried or held up by any rational process of reflection, let alone brought to fruition by one generation. What does lie in our reach, however, is the change in individuals who have, or create an opportunity to influence others of like mind in their circle of acquaintance. Jung does not meant by persuading or preaching –he is thinking of the well-known fact that anyone who has insight into his own action, and has thus found access to the unconscious, involuntarily exercises an influence on this environment.

He concludes with stating that happiness and contentment, equitability of soul and meaningful of life – these can be experienced only by the individual and not by a State.

 

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.

 

Depth Psychology

Approaches based on depth psychology focus on the psyche, human development, personality formation, and individuation.  Individuation is a process of bringing our unconscious potential into a concrete living reality.  This process helps to secure a bridge between an individual and the unconscious as well as the individual and his/her wider community. By incorporating both an inner and outer exploration, one discovers a more potent sense of meaning and purpose in life.

In my research I found several articles by Dr. David Johnston, that are relevant for this website. Dr. Johnston is a psychologist who has many years of personal experience with Jungian depth psychology along with knowledge that aids in interpreting and understanding the unconscious. He mentions two of the books I have summarized on this website,  Jean Gebser’s Ever Present Origin and Jung’s Memories, Dreams, Reflections in some of his writings.

In his article Meaning and Jungian Depth, in which he discusses the nature of a meaningful life from the point of view of Jungian depth psychology, he writes that according to Jung a life is meaningful if consciousness is increased. Dr. Johnston continues to describe a life where consciousness is increased as one “where work and relational goals are transcended, becoming increasingly reflective of an inner need for more consciousness and, potentially, a vocation or meaningful expression of being.”

He explains that the “Self, that is the God or Godhead” is a “complex of opposites, including what we experience as good and evil” and that a person with a meaningful life is related to the Self and integrates into consciousness experiences of the opposites.  In other words, the process of individuation involves integrating new aspects of the unconscious into awareness and one’s activities in life, developing one’s character and discovering one’s inner essence.

Dr. Johnston provides in this article examples of how people have been able to enhance the meaning of their lives with the help of depth psychology by recognizing certain aspects of themselves and making the necessary changes but emphasizes that in all cases the individuals concerned had “something of a genuine religious and ethical attitude to life, which is of fundamental importance to leading a meaningful existence.”

He adds that even if one’s life is deeply meaningful, it does not mean that there is no suffering, or times when life seems random and senseless but by intuitively understanding “that life will once again make sense, that darkness will give way to light and that meaninglessness will prove to be contained in a greater meaning.”

In his article Jung, the Self and the Jungian Depth Psychological Worldview he elaborates further on the process of individuation and points out that “this process involves not only the transformation of individuals but also of the community” which implies the need of “a creative engagement of the individual in the life of the community.”

He also addresses the individuation process at the beginning of another one of his articles,  Individuation and the Individuation Process, and interprets individuation simply as the “developmental unfolding of the psyche over the course of a lifetime.”  He discusses in more detail how this process involves becoming more conscious of disparate aspects of one’s being including shadow qualities and the four functions of consciousness, thinking, feeling, intuition and sensation, along with the two attitudes, extroversion and introversion and deduces that this process will consequently lead “to a relative degree of wholeness, at which time the Self, that is to say one’s inner center of being, begins to direct one’s life. “

I found even more overlap with my research in his article Jung in Contemporary Context.  At the beginning he points out that we live in an “Age of ConfusionCompare with A New Earth under Spiritual Development” and refers to Hindu mythology and specifically the Bhagavad Gita which explain that the reason we are living in such confusing times is that people are no longer living according to eternal laws and therefore the Divine/God is preparing the way for a new age.

Dr. Johnston explains that in mystical literature and Hindu thought, the transcendent Self is considered to be “Brahman or God” but that Jung hesitated to make such metaphysical assertions and stayed with empirical experience.  Rather “than insisting that these experiences of the transcendent Self are experiences of God, he referred to them as archetypal experiences of the God-image.  Jung preferred to call it the God-image for the sake of a scientific attitude.”

In the same article Dr. Johnston writes that we are in the early stages of a major transformation in consciousnessCompare with The Ever Present Origin under Philosophy and culture and that Jung has stated once, that there is a transformation of the principalities and powers taking place or “in other words, a transformation of the archetypes, of the basic underlying patterns of life, and the way that we understand and relate to life and the world.” He continues to write, “the old ways are being transformed or destroyed, so the new can live” and states his belief that a more divinely oriented world is “already there in its early stages of manifestation”.

In the conclusion of this article he writes that “a New World is laboring to become manifest” and that “understanding Jungian psychology can be very helpful in gaining self-knowledge and consciousness and in encouraging fulfillment of one’s unique destiny.” He adds, that “there is the need to assimilate qualities of the chthonic spirit, which allows for the instinctive expression of the Divine Will in life and the potential to participate consciously in the New World.”

Websites I have used for this article are:

http://www.goodtherapy.org/Jungian_Psychotherapy.html#Depth%20Psychology

http://home.arcor.de/g.mackenthun/lect/keywords/key11.htm

http://www.pacifica.edu/whatisdepth.aspx

http://www.terrapsych.com/depth.html

http://www.cgjungcenter.org/?page_id=97

http://www3.telus.net/gusbear4/articles.shtm

Religion

Each of us connects with the word “religion” very specific ideas. The word religion (“respect for what is sacred, reverence for the gods,” “obligation, the bond between man and the gods”) is mentioned as a description of the religious life for the first time in Cicero’s  “De natura deorum”. Some modern scholars favor the derivation from ligare “bind, connect”.

There are two world traditions, which have formed the cultural and ethical basis of the world, as we know it. Both have an unbroken history going back thousands of years.

1) Abrahamic religions are the monotheistic faiths of Middle East origin, recognizing a spiritual tradition identified with Abraham, the founding father of the Israelites.

Judaism is the oldest Abrahamic religion, originating in the people of ancient Israel and Judea.

Christianity is based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. The Christian faith is essentially faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God and as Savior and Lord.

Islam is based on the Quran, one of the holy books, considered by Muslims to be revealed by God, and on the teachings of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

2) The Vedic tradition, also termed Dharmic tradition, are a family of religions that have originated from the Indian subcontinent. They encompass Hinduism and three other religions that have spawned from it—namely Buddhism, Jainism, an Sikhism.

Hinduism includes Shaivism, Vaishnavism and Shrauta among numerous other traditions. Hinduism includes a wide spectrum of laws and prescriptions of “daily morality” based on karma, dharma and societal norms.

Buddhism was founded by Siddhattha Gotama who aimed to help sentient beings to end their suffering by understanding the true nature of phenomena, thereby escaping the cycle of suffering and rebirth that is, achieving Nirvana.

Jainism is an ancient Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence for all forms of living beings in this world.

Sikhism is a monotheistic religion founded on the teachings of  Guru Nanak and ten successive Sikh. Sikhs are expected to embody the qualities of a Sant-Sipāhī—a saint-soldier, have control over one’s internal  vices and be able to be constantly immersed in virtues clarified in the Gutu Granth Sahib.

There are other religions that can’t be put into one of these two world traditions, among them Shinto (the indigenous spirituality of  Japan), Zaroastrianism (an ancient Iranian religion and philosophy), Taoism (a religious tradition that emphasizes living in harmony with the Tao meaning “way”, “path” or “principle”), Confucianism (an ethical and philosophical system developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius) and Baha’i Faith (a monotheistic religion emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind).

The development of religion has taken different forms in different cultures.  But we have to remember that the great teachers never founded a religion. It is the followers that established and promoted the different churches, replete with their own beliefs, dogmas, rules, rites, rituals and other governing persuasions.

Each great teacher emphasized different ideals and virtues.   The ideal is the selfless aspiration to help uplift humanity and a virtue is the fulfillment of the ideal.  In other words, an ideal is a virtue we promise to practice. In the end there is a basic unity of the world’s religionCompare with The Universality of Golden Rules in Religion even if they emphasize different ideals because any particular ideal includes all the others for its altruistic completion.

 

RELIGION TEXT IDEAL TEACHING TEACHER TIME
Hinduism Vedas Divine Duty, Wisdom Vyasa and Unknown +2000 – 600 B.C.
Judaism Torah Righteousness Moses ca. 1250 B.C.
Shinto Kojiki & Nihonji Godliness Unknown 660 B.C.
Zoroastrianism Zend Avesta Purity, Truth Zoroaster/Zarathushtra 660 – 583 B.C.
Jainism Siddhantha Angas Harmlessness Mahavira Vardhamana Jnatriputra 599-527 B.C.
Buddhism Tipitakas Compassion Siddharta Gautama Sakyamuni Buddha 580 – 483 B.C.
Taoism Tao Teh Ching Simplicity Lao Tzu 570 – 517 B.C.
Confucianism The 4 Books & The 5 Classics Altruism, Propriety Confucius 551 – 479 B.C.
Christianity Holy Bible Love, Forgiveness Jesus 105 B.C.
Islam Koran Divine Surrender Abulqasim Mohammed ca. 570 – 632 A.D.
Sikhism Adi Granth Devotion Guru Nanak 1469 – 1538
Baha’i Faith Kitab-I-Agdas Peace Mirza Husain Ali Nuri 1817 – 1892

 

Sources for this article:

Escudero, B. (1994). Basic Unity of the World Religions. Summar Sophia Series, Volume 4, Number 9

Jewish Virtual Library. Abraham. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/abraham.html

Renkewitz H. (1980). Religion aus Das Moderne Bildungsbuch.

Vedic and Abrahamic Thoughts. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://veda.wikidot.com/vedic-and-abrahamic-thought

 

 

The Bhagavad Gita

The Bhagavad Gita opens with blind King Dhritarashtra asking his secretary, Sanjaya, to narrate the battle for control of Hastinapura between his sons, the Kauravas, and their cousins, the Pandavas. The Kauravas are not the rightful heirs to the kingdom, but they have assumed control, and Dhritarashtra is trying to preserve it for his son Duryodhana. Sanjaya tells of Arjuna, who has come as leader of the Pandavas to take back his kingdom, with Krishna first as his charioteer until Arjuna surrenders to Lord Krishna and requests the Lord to instruct him.

Arjuna believes that killing is evil and that killing one’s family is the greatest sin of all and therefore puts down his weapons and refuses to fight.  Consequently Lord Krishna starts to explain to Arjuna why it is his dharmicthe moral transformation of human beings or behaviors considered necessary for the maintenance of the natural order of things duty to fight and how he must fight in order to restore his karmadeeds, actions.

Lord Krishna talks about reincarnationCompare with Quantum Physics under Science and The Gnostic Gospels under Religion and explains the eternal cycle of birth, suffering, death and rebirth. The purpose of this cycle is to allow a person to work off their karmaCompare with Theosophy under Philosophy and Self-Healing, Yoga and Destiny under Spiritual Development, accumulated through lifetimes of action. If a person completes actions selflessly, in service to God, then they can work off their karma, eventually leading to enlightenment. If people act selfishly, then they keep accumulating karmic debtCompare with To Know Yourself under Spiritual Development.

Krishna presents three main concepts for achieving enlightenment– renunciation, selfless service, and meditationCompare with The Yoga Sutras under Spiritual Development. All three are elements for achieving ‘yoga,’ the union with the Divine. Krishna says that the truly divine human does not renounce all worldly possessions or simply give up action, but rather finds peace in completing action in the highest service to God and without being attached to the outcomeCompare with The Four Agreements (the fourth) under Spiritual Development. As a result, a person must be aware of the three qualities of the mind – the three gunas – and avoid their traps: rajas (activity, anger), tamas (ignorance, lethargy), and sattva (existence, reality).

Sattva could be the hardest trap to overcome because it could captivate one with its bliss attained on this stage. It entails qualities such as harmoniousness, calmness of mind, a highly developed consciousness, the ability to control one’s emotions, prevalence of the state of subtle and joyful love, absence of egocentrism and violence. Krishna emphasizes that one has to go higher than sattva, to mergence with God, and this calls for new efforts, new struggle with oneself. It is impossible to bypass the sattva guna. It is impossible to merge with God without mastering the qualities inherent to this guna.

Krishna says that he who achieves divine union with him in meditation will ultimately find freedom from the endless cycle of rebirth and death.

Arjuna suddenly understands enlightenment when Krishna appears to him in his divine state, and now has complete faith in the yogic path. At that point Krishna reveals to him that love comes from a person’s selfless devotion to the divine, in addition to an understanding that the body is subject to endless rebirth until humans let go of their body’s cravings and temptations and aversions to end that cycle.

The Gita ends with Krishna telling Arjuna he must choose the path of good or evil, as it is his duty to fight the Kauravas for his kingdom. That way he is correcting the balance of good and evil, fulfilling his dharma, and offering the deepest form of selfless service. After hearing the instructions of Sri Krishna, Arjuna is ready to fight.

Sanjaya, after narrating this conversation to Dhritarashtra, predicts victory for Arjuna, the supreme archer, for he is surrendered to Krishna, the master of all mystics

There are numerous versions, commentaries and summaries online.  I have purchased the kindle edition of  Bhagavad Gita: The Song of God. The appendix of this edition contains an explanation of the cosmology of the Gita and explains concepts such as Brahman, the three aspects of Ishwara, Prakriti and points out that Hinduism accepts the belief in many divine incarnations, including Krishna, Buddha and Jesus, and foresees that there will be many more. I also have read the interpretation by Swami Chinmayanada which is excellent but very detailed.

You can find a more detailed summary of the Gita here. This review is inspiring and I found this site helpful for my summary.

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)

Overview Effect

On the 40th anniversary of the “Earth” photograph taken from space, “Planetary Connection” created a short video showing astronauts’s life-changing stories from seeing the Earth from the outside.

“They were realizing at some deep level the interconnectedness with that beautiful blue ball.”

David Lay
Philosopher

“The Earth is one system and we are all part of this system and there is a certain unity and coherence to it.

Frank White
Author

“The experience is of total unity and oneness.”

Edgar Mitchell
Astronaut

Here is the link to another spectacular video about our planet.

 

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.