10. A Unified Picture Of The World. Part 6

Yoga Ladder – The Paths Of Spiritual Evolution

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The word “Yoga” means to link – linking of our consciousness with the Supreme Absolute Truth. Various types of yoga systems are described in the Vedic literature, which are named according to the particular method adopted. When the linking process is predominantly in performing fruitive activities, it is called karma-yoga, when emphasis shifts to empirical study of scriptures, it is called Jnana yoga and when it is predominantly in a loving devotional relationship with the Supreme Lord it is called Bhakti-Yoga, which is the ultimate perfection of all yogas (Bhagavad Gita 6.46-47).

The material world is meant for the gradual purification of the conditioned souls, through the process of sacrifice. By this process, the conditioned souls can re-awaken their spiritual consciousness, which they have forgotten. The Yoga Ladder is the Supreme Lord’s system for facilitating this.

1.KARMA- KANDA: (No spiritual objective). This is the first step in the elevation of a conditioned spirit soul. By encouraging regulated sense gratification, it brings animalistic people to a platform of religiosity. Karma-kanda purifies the practitioner by making him practice some regulations, which brings detachment that fosters knowledge. It brings him to the Vedas, which also contain Jnana (knowledge) and Upasana

(worship) sections. By practicing yajnas (sacrifice) and getting results, it gives him faith in sastra (scriptures). It makes him associate with Brahmanas (those who are engaged in the cultivation of spiritual knowledge) who can give him knowledge. After bringing one to the Vedic path and giving one faith, it will naturally lead him to examine the Jnana (knowledge) sections and Upasana (worship) sections, because the sense gratification of karma-kanda inevitably leads to frustration. This leads to the next step, karma-yoga.

2.KARMA-YOGA: At the beginning of this stage, the aspirant is frustrated with living for sense gratification and wants to advance spiritually, but is still too attached to completely stop working for himself. Therefore, one starts karma-yoga on the sakama (with desire) stage.

2.1. SAKAMA-KARMA-YOGA: (Spiritual objective with material desires). Here one will work in the world, but will still be attached to some of the fruits for himself. Out of a desire for purification, he will give up some of the fruits of his labor. The practice of sakama-karma-yoga leads one to the stage where he is completely detached to the fruits of his activities (nishkama- karma-yoga)

2.2. NISHKAMA-KARMA-YOGA: (Spiritual objective) Here one has some fixedness in transcendental knowledge. Generally, the aspirant at this stage is detached from the fruit of his labor, but is still attached to the work itself.

3. ASHTANGA-YOGA: (Spiritual objective) This is a yoga system which helps one to achieve just as that obtained by nishkama-karma-yoga. There are two stages in astanga-yoga, viz., Yogaruruksu (the beginning stage) and Yogarudha (the advanced stage). These are further divided into eight steps (asta means “eight”, and anga means “parts”).

Of the eight steps in astanga-yoga, the first two are yama and niyama i.e., following the prohibitions and regulations. After one learns to strictly follow the rules and regulations, he begins to practice asanas, sitting postures (what people commonly call hatha-yoga). While the asanas are being mastered, one begins pranayama, breathing exercises. The breath is intimately connected with the mind. Therefore pranayama helps to control the mind. When the mind is controlled, the aspiring yogi advances to the practice of pratyahara, withdrawing his senses from their objects. When he becomes detached, he practices first dharana, then dhyana, different intensities of meditation. Such meditation leads to the final stage, samadhi.

Different transcendentalists attain distinct kinds of samadhi. In samadhi, the mind and consciousness are fully focused on the Absolute. The jnani focuses on the Brahman (the impersonal, all pervading aspect of the supreme) the Patanjali yogi on Paramatma (the localized aspect of the Supreme who is situated within the heart) and the bhakti yogi on Krishna (the Supreme Lord with all His opulences, one who has a spiritual form composed of eternity, knowledge and bliss).

In the beginning stage, one works in nishkama-karma-yoga while simultaneously practicing ashtanga-yoga. That purifies his heart. When the aspiring yogi becomes elevated in his practice, he gives up nishkama-karma-yoga and begins dhyana or intense meditation on the Supreme Absolute Truth, Krishna.

4. JNANA-YOGA: (Spiritual objective) Here, the aspirant gives up all social obligations in pursuit of spiritual advancement. This is not recommended by Krishna because one must be highly qualified to fully give up work (Bhagavad Gita  5.2).

5. BHAKTI-YOGA: Is a quality that can permeate any of the stages that involve a spiritual objective, but is generally fully entered into after the jnana stage. All other yoga systems are means to come to Bhakti Yoga.

In Bhakti-Yoga there is an element of external activities (karma yoga), the element of philosophical understanding (jnana yoga) and meditation elements of Ashtanga yoga, but the distinctive feature of Bhakti-Yoga is that all this activity is not done for one’s own sake, but for service of God. Another words, bhakti yoga is an activity at the deepest level, the level of the soul, while the other systems of yoga involve only the external structure – the physical and subtle body.

In a strict sense, yoga means Bhakti, which is love and devotion, since originally we were connected with God by love and devotion. This is the deepest connection on a soul level. All other forms of yoga are only a means, while bhakti yoga – is both a means and a goal. After all, what is the activity of a soul  in the spiritual world, when he had exhausted all his karma and philosophically became aware of God, and reached the pinnacle of meditation?

In this liberated state there is only one thing left and that is development of the eternal loving relationships between a pure soul and God, which is the basis of bhakti yoga.

The love of God is visible to us in His continuous care of our material and spiritual well-being. Even the most helpless forms of life have their food and everything necessary for survival and reproduction.
And those souls who have received human body, are like children who have reached school age, and now can learn. They have risen above the physical survival meant for animals, and are able to begin the process of spiritual education.

As the educational system takes care of different levels of students, creating tutorials for different classes, similarly God gives the same spiritual knowledge, adapting it to different people, taking to consideration the level of human development.

God already loves us, and the goal of human life lies in the fact that we would also activate our love for Him, which we have traded for problematic relations with the material world. This process begins with the fact that we receive the spiritual knowledge through the flow of divine revelation, coming from above. With the help of this knowledge, a person becomes aware of his spiritual relationship with God. And then comes an understanding of the need to serve God.

The Spiritual Practice

Usually people serve to what they consider themselves a part of.
If a person considers himself to be a part of the family he serves his family, if he considers himself to be a part of a corporation, he serves the corporation. But if he starts to realize himself to be a part and parcel of God – he will serve God.

In this way the spiritual goal of life begins to shape up, which culminates in returning back to God. To achieve this goal one has to learn more about Him. The Vedas give us unlimited information about His various forms and incarnations, His abode, His qualities and pastimes. It is important to learn about it now in order to clearly understand one’s spiritual future.

How to make a transition from our relationship with matter to the relationship with God? Can we abruptly quit our relationship with this world? What about family and work?

Most people are not capable of this, and therefore Vedas recommend a gradual transition to the spiritual life. So we start with the use of our karma in our spiritual life. For example, if a person has artistic abilities, he can use them in service to God.

Those who cannot relate their occupation directly to service of God, may use a portion of their earnings in the maintenance of temples or a preaching mission, like for example, in the publication of religious literature.

If a person has no excessive finances, then the easiest way to engage one’s body and life in the service of God – is to start to sanctify one’s food daily. Every day we cook something for our families and ourselves. With the help of spiritual knowledge, we can make this mundane routine into a spiritual ritual.

The Latin word “ritual” comes from the Vedic language – Sanskrit. In Sanskrit, the word “Rita” means “truth” and “ritual” is a process by which the truth is revealed to us.

Purification of Food

By itself, food has a divine origin, and no technology can ever reproduce a single grain . Although the chemical structure of the grain is not so complicated and it is quite possible to reproduce it in laboratory conditions, there will be no life in this grain.

Life is not a product of chemical interactions, as it is a manifestation of the energy of the soul.

So, in our food consumption we are dependent on a higher power of God, and therefore sanctification of our food through the ritual of offering it to God is the natural expression of our gratitude. The idea of food sanctification exists in all traditions, but the Vedas give us more detailed instructions on this matter.

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The animal food like – meat, fish, poultry and eggs is obtained by violence, and therefore carries the energy of ignorance. The food doesn’t consist only of the chemical elements and calories, but carries also particular information.

When a person kills an animal for food, the energy of violence and fear remains at the cellular level in the body of an animal and then enters the human body, which adversely affects his state of mind and health.

Therefore, the Vedas recommend only food in goodness, which doesn’t involve any violence. This diet includes grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables and all kinds of dairy products.

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Vegetarian food makes a person healthy, vigorous and hardy. In order to understand that a human doesn’t require any meat as the source of strength just look at the horses, bulls and elephants, which feed only on grass and grains. Rather, meat is a source of toxins and diseases.

The Vedas say that meat, fish and poultry is a permissible food for the primitive people who are not interested in spiritual development. Such people are usually atheists or worship some spirits, offering them the bloody sacrifices.

However, for the civilized people whose intelligence is more developed and who can understand their spiritual nature, the food should be in goodness.

The food, obtained by violence, inevitably hardens the heart of a human and this is incompatible with development of love of God.

People often object, saying that a vegetarian diet also means killing of fruits and vegetables. How is it fundamentally different from the animal killing?

First of all, the consciousness of plants is not as developed as the consciousness of animals and thus they do not feel the pain felt by animals.

Secondly, plant products are specifically meant for human consumption, as described in all scriptures of the world, while the meat eating is limited by temporary fasting, if not prohibited in some traditions at all.

Meat eating is forbidden for serious Christians during Lent. What is the purpose behind it? For the purpose of purification. If a person is able to purify himself to a certain extent for the period of 40 days, then how much purer he will be, if he gives up meat completely? And why would you contaminate your mind and the body after the purification process any way?

George Bernard Shaw called the bodies of flesh eaters as the “walking cemeteries.” And it is not just a literary metaphor, but also a fact of life. The intelligent person should not poison his body with corpse poison.

And besides that, if we do not collect and eat the harvest of grain, fruit and vegetables, it will simply rot, and an unmilked cow will be mooing dissatisfied. However, animals, fish and birds will not suffer if they do not end up on our dinner table.

The processing of vegetarian food with spiritual energy is quite logical. Indeed, in the preoperational process of our food we process it with more subtle elements such as water and fire. It is therefore quite natural that the final food processing must be done with very subtle energy – spiritual. This sanctified food or the food offered to God, changes its subtle structure, and it is scientifically confirmed.

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Everyone is familiar with the experiments with water by a Japanese scientist Masaru Emoto. ( You may watch the documentary in the VIDEO section of this website http://mcknowledge.info/hidden-messages-in-water/).

He was pronouncing different sound vibrations over the water, positive and negative. Then he froze the water, and studied the resulting crystals. Auspicious and spiritual vibrations engendered harmonic crystals, and the negative and aggressive vibration gave crystals disharmonic form.

And since all the foods contain water to some degree, the changes occur not only in the structure of water, but in a more dense substance.

The photo shooting of the aura with Kerlian camera shows that the aura of the sanctified food is big and bright, while the unsanctified one is smaller and darker.

These experiments show that the blessing of food is not just a mere ritual, based on a sentimental faith but the verifiable scientific process, which gives a positive result.

According to medical data, every 7 years, all cells are replaced through the metabolism, which means that the body of a man who for seven years has eaten the sanctified food, had not only renewed, but also spiritualized.

In reality this is reflected in the fact that people get less sick and have a more positive mood, and it is easier for them to comprehend the spiritual truths.

In the Vedic tradition, when we prepare our food, and we want to sanctify it, we should not try it in the cooking process. When the food is prepared, it should be transferred onto a separate plate and placed on the altar for sanctification. A few minutes later the food can be transferred back in the pot so that the whole preparation would be sanctified as well.

Then you can start eating. If there is no altar at home or you’re on the road, then you can focus mentally on the image of the Almighty and ask Him to accept your offering.

It is important to understand what exactly is happening at the moment of food sanctification. If we believe the scientists who conducted the experiments with water, reciting over it the names of Hitler or Mother Teresa, and then water itself reacts to these names and changes its crystal structure, showing the harmony or disharmony.

It would be naive to think that water, which is devoid of individual consciousness, is personally acquainted with Hitler and Mother Teresa, and therefore it differently estimates them through the structure of its crystals.

But if we accept the assertion of the Vedas that in every atom there is a localized form of God, called Paramatma, or super consciousness, then it becomes clear why the water reacts differently to different words or names. In fact, it is God who responds and who knows everything about everyone, and the water is only a kind of interface or medium through which God expresses his attitude to different personalities and concepts.

The sanctification of food is the simple process of spiritualization of one’s daily activities. It is also recommended to regularly study the ancient Vedic texts , the main ones are the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam. And the main practices that link us with God in this age, the Vedas proclaim the congregational singing of the Hare Krishna mantra (kirtan ) or individual chanting of this mantra on beads (japa meditation).

Hare Krishna mantra is found in the ancient texts of “Kali-santarana Upanishads” and is the most effective method of spiritualizing the consciousness of modern man.

In this mantra the name of Krishna is translated as all-attractive one, the name of Rama as all-blissful one and Hare – is the energy of love and service, which comes from God. By reciting this mantra, we ask God to engage us in the spiritual service, which will awaken in our heart a deep sense of intimacy with God and the original love for Him.

The Spiritual World View

If plants and animals live together quite harmoniously with nature, as they have no ambitions, then such a complex form of life as a human being having satisfied his basic needs, begins to search for higher meaning of life. And this is Freud’s theory of mental disorder.

Since we have come from nothing, then there is no objective purpose in life. Thus atheism and materialism deprive people of opportunities in its true and original sense, transforming life in a trivial pursued of the phantom mirage of elusive happiness.

Returning to the scheme of “a unified picture of the world” one can make three philosophical and practical conclusions, which are the common denominator for all spiritual traditions.

The first conclusion: God is the source of spirit and matter. Therefore, the soul and matter belong to him, and no one can claim ownership of anything. The property may temporarily fall into our hands, but if we do not use it in the service of God, then He in His form of time will take away everything from us. “God giveth and God taketh away.”

We come into this world with nothing and leave with nothing. Therefore, our only eternal value is a spiritual experience that we can obtain in serving God.

The second conclusion: Because we, as souls, originate from God, we remain forever connected with Him either through direct relationship of love and service, or through indirect relationship of karma. Therefore, in all circumstances we remain forever accountable. Awareness of this connection and accountability is an essential part of the learning process.

The third conclusion: Since we are connected with God through the relationship of natural love, and with matter – through the painful relationships of karma, then it is preferable to develop our relationship with God, which helps to reveal our inner potential. This should be our priority activity.

After all, relations with matter cannot give us anything but karma and three modes, from which most people choose ignorance and passion, rather than to choose goodness.

According to all religions God is one, but He is multi faceted. And thus between different spiritual traditions often there are contradictions.

But as a diamond creates multicolour hues by its different facets, so does one God reveal Himself to all the people in different ways according to their understanding and desires.

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