BHAKTI YOGA : THE PATH OF DEVOTION OR DIVINE LOVE
This path appeals particularly to those of an emotional nature. The Bhakti Yogi is motivated chiefly by the power of love and sees God as the embodiment of love. Through prayer, worship and ritual he surrenders himself to God, channelling and transmuting his emotions into unconditional love or devotion. Chanting or singing the praises of God form a substantial part of Bhakti Yoga.
Hatha Yoga: A Preparatory Process
Hatha yoga is a preparatory process of yoga. The word “ha” means sun, “ta” means moon. “Hatha” means the yoga to bring balance between the sun and the moon in you, or the Pingala and Ida in you. You can explore Hatha yoga in ways that take you beyond certain limitations, but fundamentally, it is a physical preparation – preparing the body for a higher possibility.
If we want to do Kriya Yoga, we always prepare people with Hatha yoga because without the body being prepared, it will not be able to take higher dimensions of energy. It will break. It is just like if your pipe is not ready and you pump in too much force, something is bound to burst. Hatha yoga, so to speak, could be understood as preparation of the pipe.
JNANA YOGA – THE YOGA OF KNOWLEDGE OR WISDOM
This is the most difficult path, requiring tremendous strength of will and intellect. Taking the philosophy of Vedanta the Jnana Yogi uses his mind to inquire into its own nature. We perceive the space inside and outside a glass as different, just as we see ourselves as separate from God. Jnana Yoga leads the devotee to experience his unity with God directly by breaking the glass, dissolving the veils of ignorance. Before practicing Jnana Yoga, the aspirant needs to have integrated the lessons of the other yogic paths – for without selflessness and love of God, strength of body and mind, the search for self-realization can become mere idle speculation.
Vedanta is that philosophy which comes from the sacred scriptures called The Upanishads. The Upanishads are the final part of the ancient texts known as the Vedas.
Veda means knowledge and Anta means end. Therefore Vedanta is said to be the philosophy which leads to the end of knowledge and too from the ending part of the Vedas.
THREE TYPES OF VEDANTA
Three main schools of Vedanta emerged: Dvaita – the dualistic approach, Advaita – the non-dualistic approach and Kevala Advaita – the pure non-dualistic school. The main exponent of Vedanta was the great sage Adi Sankara who was an adept of the Kevala Advaita Vedanta path.
VEDANTA AND JNANA YOGA
The beauty of Vedanta is that it transcends dry philosophy and mere intellectual concept. Vedanta is an actual life experience, a philosophy in practice. This practice includes the many techniques of Jnana Yoga (The Yoga of will and intellect).
KARMA YOGA – THE YOGA OF ACTION
Karma Yoga is the Yoga of Action. It is the path chosen primarily by those of an outgoing nature. It purifies the heart by teaching you to act selflessly, without thought of gain or reward. By detaching yourself from the fruits of your actions and offering them up to God, you learn to sublimate the ego. To achieve this, it is helpful to keep your mind focused by repeating a mantra while engaged in any activity.
PRINCIPLES OF KARMA YOGA
Karma Yoga is one of the four paths of Yoga. In this page are the key components that determine that any action will qualify as being Karma Yoga
“Karma Yoga is the selfless devotion of all inner as well as the outer activities as a Sacrifice to the Lord of all works, offered to the eternal as Master of all the soul’s energies and austerities.”
It’s not what you do that counts, it’s the attitude while doing it that determines if a job is a karma yoga job, i.e. a liberating job, or a binding job. Work is worship. Swami Sivananda advises us to “give your hands to work, and keep your mind fixed at the lotus feet of the Lord.”
Same as attitude. It is not what you do that counts but your real motive behind it. Your motive must be pure. Swami Sivananda says: “Man generally plans to get the fruits of his works before he starts any kind of work. The mind is so framed that it cannot think of any kind of work without remuneration or reward. A selfish man cannot do any service. He will weigh the work and the money in a balance. Selfless Service is unknown to him.”
DO YOUR DUTY
Often “duty” is referred to as “righteousness”. You will incur demerit if you shun your duty. Your duty is towards God, or Self, or the Inner Teacher who teaches you through all the specific circumstances of your life as they appear.
DO YOUR BEST
Whatever you have to do, do your best. If you know of a better way to serve, you must use it. Do not hold back because of fear of effort or because of fear of criticism. Do not work in a sloppy manner just because no one is watching or because you feel the work is not for you. Give your best. Try to do such actions that can bring maximum good and minimum evil. Do Karma Yoga increasingly.
GIVE UP RESULTS
God is the doer. You are not the doer. You are only the instrument. You do not know God’s intentions or God’s plans. God is the actor. The Self never acts, changes. It is only the 3 Gunas or qualities of nature which are playing. The way to realize this truth is to constantly work for work’s sake and let go of the results, good or bad. It is the desire for action that binds the individual. It is the detachment from action that will dissolve the karmic seeds. Detachment from results also means detachment from the type of job itself. There is no job that is inferior or superior to a different job. Don’t be attached to your job. Be ready to give up your job if necessary.
SERVE GOD OR THE SELF IN ALL
Do to others what you would like to be done to yourself. Love thy neighbor as thyself. Adapt, adjust, accommodate. Bear insult, bear injury. Unity in Diversity. We are parts of the same body. Practice humility in action. Beware of power, fame, name, praise, censure.
FOLLOW THE DISCIPLINE OF THE JOB
Each job is a teacher of some sort. You can learn different skills by doing different jobs. Each job has different requirements in terms of time, degree of concentration, skills or experience, emotional input, physical energy, will. Try to do whatever job you are doing, well.
Laya yoga is an ancient form of meditation, with concentration on energy centers or chakras. Sage Gorakshnatha, an ancient sage of Nepal, and a disciple of Matsyendranath is the founder of Laya yoga. There are five main energy centers in the spine and two in the head. Laya yoga attempts to locate these energy centers and channelize them through meditation.
Laya essentially means to dissolve all Karmic patterns or conditioning and merge into the transcendental reality. It also means deep concentration and making an effort to obliterate the ego, thereby rising to a higher state of consciousness, called Turiya.
Essence of Laya Yoga
Laya yoga involves techniques of meditation that cause the energy or Prana to move in certain ways, to awaken the Kundalini, the coiled up energy at the base of the spine. Laya yoga channelizes the energy forces in the Kundalini instead of merely controlling the mind. It is important that the Kundalini is activated through performance of asanas, practice of pranayama and making a conscious effort to guide this awakened energy in the spine and allowing it to immerse in the crown chakra.
The ultimate goal of laya yoga is to attain supreme consciousness through pranayama and breath control; it is a method to prevent fluctuations of the mind.
Therapeutic Aspect of Laya Yoga
The practice of laya yoga cleanses the mind and body. It uplifts the consciousness of the seeker. As most people live only on three levels of consciousness- material, egoistic and sensual- laya yoga opens us to higher levels of consciousness. It teaches the seeker to locate the different centers of the spine and meditate on them, thereby transforming the consciousness.
Raja Yoga, sometimes called the “Royal Yoga” is inclusive of all yogas, and its philosophy goes beyond the boundaries of the many styles of yoga today. Raja Yoga emphasizes the benefits of meditation for spiritual self-realization and the purposeful evolution of consciousness.
Raja Yogis Michele Hébert and Mehrad Nazari were drawn to Raja Yoga because of its authentic and inclusive nature. The spiritual focus of Raja Yoga was also the emphasis of their own spiritual master, Walt Baptiste.
“Raja Yoga is a science, art and a path in life to enhance,
enrich and strengthen our spiritual focus.”
Tantra teaches reintegration with the Whole and highlights life from a wholesome perspective. It, therefore, doesn’t ignore sexuality. It teaches the enhancement of sexuality from this wholesome sense so as to optimize living. Most everyday religion ignores or actively represses sexuality. This repressed sexuality can cause anomalies in life (cf. Sigmund Freud).
Many students come to Tantra to learn techniques to cover up for a perceived sexual inadequacy. Genuine Tantra addresses sexuality as sacred, a way that leads one to salvation (mokṣa). Therefore, Tantrics are serious about their sexuality and their relationships. Indeed, sexuality is not a physical act to a Tantric. It is the basis of their spiritual science. There are numerous sexual techniques, but when you actually have love—none of them is even relevant.
Many see Tantra as offering the only way to free us from the limitations of narcissism and isolation that besiege urban existence. There are several reasons for this. One is that however we attempt to harmonize ourselves, there is always the problem of harmonizing from a relative, ‘I-centered’ perspective. This is the nature of an uncultured identity.
Traditionalists believe that instead of grappling with this, it is actually important to ignore it. They provide other avenues for dealing with the self. Having a spiritual identity dissolves many problems of narcissism and the uncultured identity. We learn to relinquish all limitations (for instance, identity as a male or a female, or according to race or geographical location) and express ourselves as a wholesome self. This is the age-old reason for going through the process of initiation in the spiritual traditions. A spiritual identity frees our minds from identifying with a little self. This frees us from the little mind and enables us to express our Divine self. This identifying with the little self is known as the ego. With the vanishing of the little self, life itself offers abundance. There is an old saying which highlights this, “A carpenter sees the species of wood while a child sees a wooden toy.” If we drop our tie-ups with our egohood we can see as a spiritualist, outside the limitations of the subjective self. This is the goal of Tantra.