About Yoga by Dr. Ashok Babaji
While some are interested in mystic knowledge many would like to know of simple practical practices derived from it that can lead to evolution of their souls towards greater peace and happiness. Such practices may be called yoga for that is what yoga is, the evolution of the soul to its original infinitely powerful and blissful state from which it arose.
Mind and body are temporary acquisitions of the soul that change from time to time within a life as also from life to life. They are assets acquired by a soul for its journey through space and time, each in accordance with its needs and desires under the supervision of the Universal Consciousness. When a soul has evolved to its highest possible state, it unites with the Infinite Eternal Soul. It then longer needs a finite mind and body that is a limited and small thing in our vast infinite universe.
Different yoga practices have some common elements but differ in emphasis and details. Each person is unique and requires a different path for progress. Thus while one human may suffer from violent tendencies and needs to work on that first and foremost another may suffer from a chronic physical ailment that needs to be dealt with before embarking further on a journey towards joy and bliss.
Many a mystic, including Meister Eckhart, has remarked that while theologians may argue, debate and quarrel, mystics of the world speak the same language. It seems there were debates and disagreements between different religious sects even at the time of Patanjali 2500 years ago. He is regarded as the father of yoga and has avoided references to any religion in his text on yoga. Thus while practices for development based on religions may differ because of their history and rituals, yoga is free of religion and any such encumbrances. It is free of religious dogma, ritual, mythology or practice. In fact practices such as chanting on rosary beads or otherwise common across major religions of the world have their basis in mysticism rather than religion. What differs is the chosen mantra that may be derived from terminology of different religions.
Patanjali, in his brief text – Yoga Darashan - or About Yoga, written with extreme brevity of words – has summarized many available yoga practices of his times. Incidentally the yoga of physical exercises and postures popular in the modern era is just an eighth part of yoga described by Patanjali, the ashtang yoga or eight parts of yoga. This eight-part yoga embraces within it many other forms of specific yoga practices adapted by seekers through the ages. We shall presently describe the first four parts of this eight part yoga. They are useful for the vast majority of humans while leaving the other four parts for advanced mystics to pursue.
The first part of yoga has been named yama by Patanjali. In includes overcoming animal like instincts that souls bring from their animal past into human bodies. These are violence, lying, stealing, greed and pure physical lust devoid not just of procreation but also love – an animal physical thing. Rapists who force sexual encounters on others belong to those worst afflicted by this last animal weakness. Things like violence and stealing are needs of lower animals necessary for their survival but not for evolved beings like humans. They prevent a soul from evolving to yet higher levels.
The second part of yoga has been termed as Niyama. It includes practices that help a human to become civilized and worthy of the human mind and body. These include cleanliness, contentment and gratitude for what the universe provides all life, discipline and order, a continuous evaluation of self to remove weaknesses and to strengthen good qualities. Most important is trust in the Universal Soul that creates and oversees all life as well everything else in the universe. Discipline requires a human to formulate principles for all that he needs to do in order to survive and journey through life. It starts from basics such as what to eat, what not to eat, when to eat, when to wash, sleep etc. To conduct one’s life by whim and fancy is to be a wild like animals of the forest. Once a human has formulated rules for living, he must follow these to the extent possible. However, it does not mean that such rules cannot be changed. In fact they have to be changed from time to time based on circumstances and experience but as long as a rule exists the idea is to follow it until a new one replaces. Up until the time a soul becomes human, the Universe takes care of its development and evolution just as parents take care of the needs of an infant. However, once a soul reaches the level of an adult human some of this responsibility is left to the human to pursue if it wishes to evolve further.
The third part of yoga is Asana or the development of physical abilities so that one is not distracted in one’s journey from physical discomfort or ailments except for brief and temporary episodes of sickness that all must suffer. The various yoga postures and physical exercises popular in modern age are different forms and ways to achieve this goal.
The fourth part of yoga termed as Pranayama is to do with breathing practices. Various forms of these have been developed through the ages including mindful breathing by Buddha.
As mentioned we shall not presently go into details of the other four parts because they concern advanced mystics. These last four parts include being still in mind and body and returning the consciousness to its universal source. One simple yet powerful aspect of these latter four parts of yoga is however useful for all. It is the chanting of holy and sacred names, also known as Jap in common parlance of the Himalayas.
Some have viewed the eight part yoga as eight steps to be followed in succession. This is an erroneous understanding, for these eight parts and parts within it are holistic in nature and contain the entire yoga. Perfection in any one part leads to perfection in all other parts. Nevertheless, reasonable progress is required in all parts of this yoga in order to carry any one part to its final goal of perfection. For most humans, such perfection is not possible in a single life time or even several but the essential thing to understand is that any progress on this path of yoga leads to greater happiness and empowerment.
Many different types of yoga are combinations of one or more parts of yoga. Thus a powerful yoga termed Karma Yoga in the sacred Hindu text – The Bhagavad-Gita – is a combination of some aspects of the second part of yoga as described by Patanjali. It involves doing one’s duty, the right thing, while being contented with whatever outcome the universe grants. It is to focus on employing the right means in whatever one does and not bothering about the result as opposed to the path of evil where emphasis is placed on the result and not the means.
In subsequent posts this author shall describe two modern forms of yoga that emerge from different combinations of some parts of the eight part yoga. The first is Entropy Yoga by Ashok Babaji- this author - and the second is – Kriya Yoga by Babaji Hairakhan a modern mystic that appeared in the Himalayas between 1971 and 1984 and whom this author owes much and loves much.
While entropy yoga sets up a person to become empowered and efficient in whatever one does it does not lead to bliss in itself. It is a necessary state but not a sufficient one. Adding kriya yoga of Baba Hairakhan to it completes the practice in order to attain the highest possible state of yoga in the simplest possible manner as suitable for modern times. These have been described by the author elsewhere earlier but shall be described in this blog again soon.