011. The Fundamentals of the Ethics of Yoga and Religion
Morality is an issue that raises a storm of controversy, not only in the circles of people who are interested in yoga, or practical religion, but also among ordinary, simple people, and even atheists. Ethics, or morality, generally deals with the attitude of a man to man, outlining sort of a collection of rules, or principles of our everyday conduct.
As a rule, the morality of yoga is associated with the principles of MAHAVRATTA, i.e. with the five principles of YAMA. They constitute the Great Oath, the Great Ascetic and Mystical Rule (Sans. VRATTA). Another part of morality are NIYAMA principles, which in fact are purifying practices that represent a fixed order of Moral Duties. As a result we receive Ten Instructions, and it is said that yoga practised without the observance of Yama and Niyama principles is futile and useless.
It is worth mentioning the fact that Yama and Niyama principles are provided in the second chapter of Yogasutras, written by Bhagavan Patanjali. This means that their practical observance is required from students of the Second Class of Yoga. Consequently, the Commandments do not belong to the First Class, i.e. to SAMADHI YOGA. The whole preliminary work in the yoga tradition does not comprise any ethics - related or moral commandments in the sense in which they are conveyed by KRIYA YOGA (the Second Class).
However, it does not mean that the First Class has no connection whatsoever with Morality. Ashtanga Yoga lets us build the foundation on which later, in the Second Class of Yoga, we can develop authentic and honest practice of MAHAVRATTA. In the course of fundamental practices representing the First Class there is an exercise on Four Divine Acts (S. ĆHATUR-BRAHMAVIHARA), which serve the purpose of purification and silencing the waves of thoughts and emotions that appear on the surface of Consciousness. While analysing these fundamental teachings concerning Morality, which are indispensable for the successful cultivation of Yama and Niyama, let us have a closer look at their presence in many spiritual and religious traditions.
BRAHMAVIHARA is a Divine Act described in the thirty-third verse of the first chapter of Yogasutras in the following words:
SUKHA-DUKHA PUNYĀPUNYA VISAYĀNAM
BHĀVANĀTAS ĆHITTA PRASĀDANAM".
This is a real treasury of knowledge and ethics-related practice, including a depiction of the state of mind (consciousness) to which this yoga-based exercise leads. BHAVANA suggests reflection, contemplation, or creation of something, as well as maintaining or nurturing.
ĆHITTA PRASADANA is a state of Purified or Silenced Consciousness.
ĆHITTA - the Consciousness (of the body, mind, and heart) remains in the state of Eternal (PRA) Being (SD), which is Immeasurable Purity, Eternal Tranquillity (PRASĀDANA), or the Vibration/Energy of the Name (NAM) of Eternal Silence or Being (PRASĀD).
Entering into such a State of Consciousness is only a basis for the study of Yama and Niyama in the Second Class of Yoga (KRIYA YOGA or TANTRA YOGA). Without foundations it is impossible to build a House that would be a lasting Spiritual Achievement. We already know what the signs of reaping the FRUIT (PHALA) of BRAHMAVIHARA practice are, so now we can delve into what and how (in what circumstances) we should practise. The Four Acts are part of practices the purpose of which is to make man closer to God and unify man with God. The series commences with defining the notion of ISHVARA - the Lord, the Ruler, God as the inward Ideal (Idam) for PURUSHA (the Higher Self).
Patanjali enumerates Four (ĆHATUR) Divine (BRAHMA) Acts (VIHĀRA) in the following sequence:
- MAITRI - benevolence, friendship, loving kindness, liking, love;
- KARUNA - sympathy, compassion, pity, empathy;
- MUDITA - satisfaction, enjoyment, joy, integrity;
- UPAKSZĀ - impartiality, tolerance, indifference, neutrality, tranquillity.
The last of the enumerated words - NĀM, indicates that the attributes are something that everyone who practises must become. An Ashtanga Yoga adherent must be permeated with these attributes and must constantly manifest them. Essentially, these Four Acts are the ways in which Divine Consciousness operates, they are the Virtues of Divine Embodiment. As a disciple, you must become the energy of Benevolence, Compassion, Satisfaction, and Impartiality. Everyday contemplation (reflection) on these attributes is an extremely advisable practice, which is indispensable for one who wishes to build a decent foundation for self-realisation in yoga and complete the First Class of Yoga.
Patanjali further indicates in what particular circumstances one ought to apply or develop the Acts (VIHARĀS) discussed, and he enumerates them in the following sequence, according to the respective Acts, or VIHARĀS:
- SUKHA - happiness, pleasure, goodness, welfare, comfort;
- DUHKHA - suffering, pain, unhappiness, torment;
- PUNYĀ - goodness, virtue, merit, integrity;
- ĀPUNYA - evil, sin, viciousness.
The word, which ends the enumeration - VISHAYĀNĀM, signifies the vibration of any entity (object, thing or being) that appears before our consciousness. The root word "ISH" points to any wishes or desires, which may be aimed at a subject by any entity (object, thing or being).
Consequently, the object, i.e. the person who practises, develops particularly Four Moral Acts in Four Directions or, in other words, towards the Four kinds of consciousness-related vibrations which come from beings or things in the right sequence. Now we shall discuss the situations in which one should particularly practise the proper VIHĀRA (Act, State).
MAITRI is benevolence, friendship, and goodness full of love, or kindness for all those who live happily. Everything and everybody who gives off the vibration (energy) of well-being, pleasure, and happiness should be treated with loving kindness. This means being good and benevolent towards all good and happy people. This means goodwill aimed at those people whose life is filled with well-being. SUKHA are all consciousness-related things, which are connected with comfort, pleasure, luxury, well-being, and happiness. This concerns both people and things. If we find something comfortable or fortunate, then we assume an attitude full of friendship and benevolence towards it.
This is the main idea of Jesus, who preached: "Love one another." He preached it to people who lived happily within His consciousness, to people whose life was based on well-being, as they had received everything they wished for, according to the principle: "One who asks, receives". He spoke to people who were His disciples, who rejoiced in their Lord. Consequently, the Maitri principle is a basic pillar of Jesus' teachings.
The community of Gautama Buddha's disciples was also recommended to show benevolence towards other devotees, as well as to develop kindness for one another. This attitude, as far as possible, similarly to the teachings of Jesus, was to be gradually expanded so as to encompass all beings. Gautama Buddha was quoted to have uttered the following statement in "The Path of the Supreme Purity": "We shall turn to the Four Directions, to the zenith and to the nadir, radiating to the best of our ability with Divine Love for all creation. Let no being feel hatred or malevolence, let each being experience tranquillity and happiness in their heart."
Maitri, i.e. Love, is defined in the above-mentioned Book in the following way: "Love is that, which wishes everyone all the best."
Jesus' disciples, later named Christians, received a practical tip: "A new commnadment I give onto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another" (St. John 13. 34). There are probably very few disciples of Jesus, i.e. Christians, nowadays. The text also suggests that prior to the times of Jesus (New Commandment), these teachings were not known in the Jewish tradition. Consequently, He must have brought them from a different source than the Tradition of his ancestors. Mutual Love of Christians spreads only among the members of the community formed by Jesus' disciples.
Maitri seems to be the bedrock or the central idea of the entire Brahmavihara. We shall see it in our further studies on the remaining Acts, the Divine Ways of Acting.
KARUNA means empathy, compassion and sympathy, it is the completeness of altruistic pity, benevolence orientated to all objects, things and people who cause pain and suffering, or who exist in the state of pain and suffering. DUHKHA (also spelled DUKKHA) is a whole case of misery and sufferings, a Pandora's can. This is an existence full of pain, the existential anguish of a soul trapped in matter, as the state of suffering and pain may be symbolically interpreted in this way. We send our sympathy and compassion to all those who experience and who generate pain, to everybody who torments and consequently creates the agony of pain and other tortures (also tiredness). This is a power, a spiritual vibration which gradually allows us to liberate, to redeem those who suffer their hardship.
According to the words of the Master from "The Path of Supreme Purity," Gautama Buddha's disciples practised Karuna in the following way: "We are filled with divine Compassion for all the creatures. Their pain is our pain and we say: This creature than I see has gone into the suffering, and so I wish warmly for him to be liberated from all sufering and pain and all pain to be gone and removed"
And this is the definition of Karuna provided by Lord Buddha: "Compassion is that which shivers when it sees the suffering of others, and is filled with the desire to bring relief and wipe out all torment."
Jesus, who also preached emphatic compassion, recommended that his disciples convey the Good Message, the Joyful News, which Gospel was. It is comparable to the teachings of Buddha on the cessation of suffering and the possibility of liberation and redemption from all anguish, hardships, concerns, and distress - from all possible sufferings. On the whole, the entire Gospel - the Good Message, as preached by Jesus, contains a profound study of the Four Noble Truths that had previously been preached by Buddha Gautama. The Gospel passes on teachings on the Presence of Suffering, the Cause of Suffering, i.e. Pain, Redemption, or liberation from suffering, as well as on the Path, or the Way of obliterating all the pain and its cause. Healing, which always accompanied their mission of teaching and their practice, was a significant aspect of the work that Jesus' disciples performed. Exorcisms of evil spirits, purification of lepers, healing of the ill, and even bringing the dead to life, are undoubtedly acts of mercy, or, in other words, Karuna. Jesus Himself is the best paragon of Karuna in displaying His merciful, benevolent attitude of altruism and helping those who suffer. He commanded His disciples to imitate Him and "to be merciful like God." "Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful." (St. Luke 6. 36).
The Act of Karuna may be called the active and actively operating God's Love for all beings that suffer. God sympathises with us and always wishes to help us. We become similar to Him, if we act similarly to the way He acted. Countless numbers of liberated beings that became redeemed from pain and suffering by Gautama Buddha also let us realise how immense and vast the Virtue of Karuna that he manifested, was.
MUDHITA is the third respective Divine Act (Deed), which consists in nurturing Satisfaction and Joy at all virtuous things (objects) related to consciousness. PUNYA, which is a circumstance in which the Virtue of Mudhita is cultivated, is exactly the Decency and Merit, as well as Goodness and Virtue. This Act is usually understood as Contentment with Decent and Virtuous Beings. We enjoy the decency of the respectable and the upright, we find joy in all good things that we encounter on our path.
Reflections on Joyfulness at all Goodness and Enjoyment of the Decency of upright and honest people are a keynote of the third Brahmavihara. Searching for good company which is formed by decent (upright, good and honest) people and enjoying their presence is a way of practising the fulfillment of the fundamentals of Yoga morality. Mudita is also an Act of contentment with the Virtues and Merits, which are Good.
Jesus used to say: "Be joyful, as the Groom is with You. How can guests at the wedding be sad if the Groom is with them?" This question is entirely rhetorical. The Spirit of Joy, as a charisma, was supposed to be a sign of reconciliation with Jesus. Jesus also indicates that the purpose is Joy in the following words: "When you are fasting, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance" (Matthew, 6. 16). The state of being gloomy and depressed is something that contradicts Joy. On another occasion Jesus says:"Share the Joy with Me, as I have found the sheep which was missing." Jesus enjoys it when every sinner who has converted has stepped onto the path of Decency and Integrity. Disciples of Jesus are particularly joyful when the lost sheep resume the life in Decency.
The disciples of Gautama Buddha practised the attitude of Mudita in the following way (according to "The Path of Supreme Purity"): "We encompass all creatures with Joy. We take joy in the happiness (decency) of everything. When we see a man who is loved and who loves we join him in his Joy and we send our merriment (joyful mood) to everyone. When we see no joy around us, we think about it and we create it with our feelings."
Buddha defines the feeling of Joy in the following way: "It is enjoying (taking pleasure in) everyone's happiness, without a shadow of jealousy or concentrating on oneself." Instead of envying people their merits, possessions, position, or decency, we take joy in everything they have achieved and the way they are. In this joy there is not a shadow of the desire to possess things or objects that belong to others. This is Joy which is full of disinterestedness and which is deprived of self-absorption; it is not pretended, but instead, it is sincere and true.
The Act of Mudita may also be understood as Taking Delight in the company of Decent and Good beings, as well as in all good and honest behaviour of other people.
Now the time has come to discuss the last Attribute of the Divine Acts - one that usually causes most controversy and confusion.
UPAKSHA is indifference to evil and malevolence, as Vihara may be simply understood. Such an attitude makes the hair of many disciples of spiritual paths stand on end, as it is considered to be spiritual. Be this as it may, APUNYA is evil, malice, sinfulness and all iniquity, wickedness, viciousness, everything that is evil and devoid of decency, all this, to put it in jocular terms, non-virtue. How can we remain neutral, indifferent and impartial to evil, wickedness and people who hurt others, who are malicious to others and who commit atrocious acts? This is a difficult practice for many people who don't understand the fundamentals of morality!
UPAKSHA means remaining calm, maintaining inner poise and neutrality in all situations, in which we have to deal with evil in all its forms and embodiments, i.e. with THE EVIL. Similarly to Maitri, which is the core, i.e. the Heart of Love, Upaksha is the crown and the fulfilment of Love. We shall see it in the teachings of the Holy Beings of this planet.
Jesus passes the following message on to his disciples: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in Heaven" (Matthew, 5. 44, 45). How should we cherish Love for all those who do us harm, who are our enemies and fight with us, for all those who persecute us?"
Jesus forbids us to take revenge on those who hurt and persecute us. "I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also." Well, mounting resistance means contradicting and fighting, and Christians are supposed to maintain non-resistance to evil. Thus teaches Jesus, and this is the very proclaimed indifference, impartiality, and, what is more, tolerance to evil. Jesus forbids us to take vengeance!
Jesus also teaches absolution, forgiving other people the harm that they did to us. So, here is the principle of absolving, forgiving all the wrong things they did to us. Therefore, another principle is the principle of forgiving all villains. "For if ye forgive even their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you" (S. BABA, Hebr. ABBA) (Matthew 6. 14). The duty of forgiving and absolving is mentioned here as one that must necessarily be fulfilled an indefinite number of times, symbolically: seventy seven times. Jesus also forbids us to judge, while to judge villains is a human tendency. "Judge not, that ye be not judged" (Mt. 7. 1 or Lucas 6. 37); "Condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven". (Lucas 6. 37). The whole teaching on good and evil serves the purpose of our retaining the freedom from evil.
"An evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh". (L. 6. 45). If you condemn evil and wickedness, if you fight against evil or if you praise evil, you prove to be a man whose heart is full of evil and wickedness, too. Apostle Paul continues the teachings of Jesus: "Thou are inexcusable, O man, whoseover thou are that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. But we are sure that the judgement of God is according to truth against them which commit such things."(Romans, 2. 1. 2). Therefore, the UPAKSHA teachings are wonderfully developed in the Good News, and we should observe this basic fundamental of Morality.
Forgiveness, absolution of all harm, tolerance to all wickedness, patient acceptance of all harm done to us without any willingness to take revenge - this is the everyday practice of the Fourth God's Act. We announce peace and we unanimously proclaim an armistice. In this way India gained independence!
Gautama Buddha of the Fourth Contemplation teaches us by uttering the following words: "We turn to the Divine Equilibrium (Neutrality) and to all living beings we send our tranquillity and brightness of thoughts." Equilibrium, i.e. tranquillity, and bright thoughts are defined by Gautama Buddha as "The Discovery of the Heart and the Core of Peace and life within them (within the Heart and the Peace)."
Gautama calls the fourth virtue the Most Beautiful of the Beautiful Ones. We may understand that Upaksha is retaining inner calmness, peace, and neutrality in situations in which we experience something evil, where a wicked deed is committed. We ought not to get involved in opposing evil, either in our heart or in thoughts, and, according to Jesus, even through our acts - hence the commandment to turn the other cheek. In this way we restrain ourselves from contact with evil - as recommended by Jesus in his comment, and we remain calm, according to the commentary of Gautama Buddha.
ĆHATUR-BRAHMAVIHARA, as this is the joint name which the yogis of India and Tibet have conferred on the Four Divine Acts, serve the purpose of attaining the Silenced, Purified Consciousness. In the Buddhist teachings these practices are referred to as BODHI ĆHITTA, i.e. the Enlightened or Awakened Consciousness. EMPATHY is a Buddhist accent, the emphasis on BODHIĆHITTA, and a Christian accent is LOVE and NON-JUDGEMENTAL ATTITUDE. Yoga originally recommends cultivating these as one practice consisting of four elements. When we become a vibrating being that manifests each of these attributes, then Buddhists say that we have attained the realisation of Bodhićhitta. Practical reflections conveyed by Buddha for the sake of His disciples constantly refer to this realisation, similarly to these suggestive, commanding instructions given by Jesus.
BRAHMĀVIHĀRA allows us to attain the quadruple liberation while simultaneously reaching the four states of Unchangeability or Lack of Limitations.
MAITRI is redemption through Love and Benevolence, which brings us into the state of Infinite Purity, i.e. Bliss. A Heart that loves is Free.
KARUNA is liberation of the Heart through Compassion, which brings us into the state of Infinite Space. The Heart, which becomes liberated through Compassion, experiences the space of limitless possibilities.
MUDITA means the liberation of the Heart (Consciousness) through Joy. Thanks to this we experience the state of Infinite Consciousness. Quintessentially, these are Omniscience and Omnipresence, in other words, the Unlimited Consciousness of Everything (and Everybody).
UPAKSHA is the liberation of the Heart through Equilibrium and Brightness of Thoughts, which means Neutrality and Impartiality. One reaches the state of Infinite Void, i.e. the SUNYA (TA) state. Emptiness, or Void, is the foundation of Enlightenment, Awakening. That's why Upaksha complements the realisation of Brahmavihra or Bodhićhitta.
From the point of view of Laya Yoga teachings, cultivating Bodhićhitta, or rather Brahmavihara, as concrete reflections and ways of behaviour in our life, leads to the realisation of four spiritual, divine energies called ĆHATURAVIRIA, which are, respectively, the following aspects of the Enlightened Consciousness (Bodhićhitta):
- PREMA - Divine Love, which is born as a result of cultivating Maitri;
- SATHYA - Divine Truth (Reality), which appears as a result of Karuna, i.e. Empathy;
- DHARMA - Divine Righteousness, which is the result of cultivating Joy at everything that is Decent and Good, i.e. Mudita;
- SHANTIH - Divine Peace (Cosmic Silence), the Soundlessness of Silence, arising as a result of incessant and eager realisation of the attitude of the heart and life, based on the principle known as Upaksha.
Maitri is like a seed, from which a complete and thriving Tree of Life grows and is then recognised as Bodhićhitta. Mutual Love that disciples show for one another, as well as mutual kindness among good and happy people, or love for everything which brings happiness and pleasure do not seem to be so difficult. Maitri is friendship among friends and benevolence among the benevolent ones. This is a pillar that must support each spiritual community.
PREMA is something much vaster, as in this case, the community of ones that practise, on various levels, is not only the whole humanity, but also the entire creation. This is an Unlimited Point of View. There is no way for sectarian attitudes or divisions to appear in an Infinite Awareness of Bliss and Void. PREMA is Love and Benevolence, which encompasses the whole existence, the entire creation.
BRAHMAVIHARA appears spontaneously and naturally as a result of practising reconciliation with God (Brahma, Buddha), or Guru (Lama, Spiritual Master). People who carry God inside them may be recognised by the fruit of Brahmavihara that accompanies their life. It is worth mentioning the fact that realisation of the previously mentioned Bodhićhitta state refers to the completion of the First Class of Yoga. The purpose of the First Class (Ashtanga Yoga) is The Awakening of Consciousness, i.e. BODHIĆHITTA. The Awakened Consciousness possesses the Intuitive (Feeling-related) Insight into the Truth, which in Yoga Tradition is called RITAMBHARA PRAJNA.
I hope that practising the Four Acts of Brahma (God) will prove to be easy and simple for you, so let me mention that it is not possible to practise efficiently in the Second Class (Kriya Yoga) without completing the First Class of Yoga. The graduation diploma for this part of the Yoga course is the fruit, by which one can always recognise an initiated Disciple. I believe that you will promptly attain the state of Silenced, i.e. Purified Consciousness (ĆHITTAPRASDANAM), in which the Intuitive Insight and its perfection become possible.
The ultimate perfection level in BRAHMAVIHRA is encoded in the manner in which Master Patanjali links words. MAITRI KARUNA MUDITO PEKSANAM means that the Four Acts constitute one vibration and are practiced as one whole. Although at the beginning we learn to develop and apply each of these attributes separately, in the end they blend to form one whole, one energy. The sequence of words reveals the sequence of preliminary work: consequently, we begin with Maitri, and we end with Upaksha, where NAM indicates the synthesis, melting of energies into one whole. In such a case we say that we have attained BODHIĆHITTAM!
The second melted word; SUKHA DUHKHA PUNYPUNYA VISHAYNM indicates that, among all four kinds of vibrations generated by the object of consciousness, which appears before us, we apply the above-mentioned attitude of Awakened Consciousness.
Be it happiness or hardship, be it pleasure or pain, bliss or suffering, be it good or evil, decency or viciousness, merit or fault, we maintain the attitude of the Quadruple Act of Divine Conduct. We may say that our entire Yoga Morality undergoes a test among these pairs of opposites that we may encounter in life.
The connections of words SUKHA and DUKHA indicate pairs of opposites such as: happiness and unhappiness, pleasure and pain, bliss and suffering, while the words PUNYA-APUNYA indicate pairs of opposites such as: good and evil, decency and viciousness, merit and fault. A Yoga disciple always retains Everlasting Love, Compassion, Joy, and Tranquillity. This is an unending stream of BRAHMAVIHARA. The state of existence of the Silenced, Purified Consciousness is virtually like this.
There exist certain special implications. If the Unpurified Consciousness attains four such Attributes in the course of practising Purification and Silencing, it means that manifesting these attributes is the natural state of our Pure Primordial Self. Consequently, these are PURUSHA Acts (The Higher Spirit), i.e. the Perfect Man. Jesus refers to God by using words such as The Only Good One, thus attributing the Highest Being with a particular kind of goodness. It reveals itself exactly as Brahmavihara.
Each man's conscience possesses an inborn, natural purity and therefore is fundamentally Goodness. Even the word CONSCIENCE (from the word SUMNA, SUMANANA) stands for nothing but Good Thinking or Good Recollecting. So, the man who is called "conscientious" is a man who "Thinks Well," and, what follows, who performs Good Deeds, as his conduct is a Divine Act (Brahmavihara).
"The inward man (Sans. PURUSHA) is prone to act in accordance with God's law (Sans. RITA)": this is the way in which Christianity teaches us through the words of Apostle Paul (Romans. 7. 22). "For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves." (Romans 2. 14, 15). Even Christian teachings indicate that the element of Goodness and Law, (The real) Nature exists in us as our natural, inborn, and pure form of ourselves. If a gentile - an unspiritual person, a complete atheist has a potential to reveal this Message Imprinted in his Heart; this should refer to potential disciples on a Spiritual Path even to a greater extent. PURUSHA is our Natural Essence.
BRAHMAVIHRA is a root and foundation of all kinds of BHAKTI YOGA, as well as a root and basis of each religion. The phenomenon of religion essentially arises from the natural need of each man. The principles of Brahmavihara may be found in every religion as its essential teachings. Each existing religion is called BHAKTI YOGA from the point of view of yoga. Practising the infinite Buddhist compassion, or practising the Christian Perfect Christ-like love are the manifestations of the same BHAKTI YOGA, the same Act of God's Mercy, which is perfected through our struggle with the vicissitudes of life.
Another pillar of Bhakti Yoga is the acknowledgement that our Guru - the living, physical manifestation of God - is identical with the Absolute. In this way KRISHNA becomes the Supreme Person of God, although He was only a human being. In this way Jesus is God for many Christians. In the very same way Buddhists dropped the concept of God somewhere on the way, as the concept of BUDDHA (S. BRAHMA, God) was identified with their living Guru, with Siddharta Gautama, who eventually came to be known as Buddha. It is worth remembering the fact that the concepts of BRAHMA, BUDDHA, and GOD are identical. The purpose of man is to attain perfection, Being the Image of God (S. PURUSHA), then Rama, Krishna, Jesus, Enoch and Gautama, all these beings may say: "I and Father Are One". Oneness is Yoga in its essence. I believe that the Fundamentals of Yoga Ethics and Morality will be applied in practice in order that the First Class of Yoga can be completed in accordance with its original instruction.
By climbing Kailas Mountain together, in order to reach the source of all Yoga, we make available to you this simple group practice, so that all people who are sincerely interested in yoga may effectively approach their destination, the Natural State of Being, the Perfect Man on his guard in the depths of the Heart.
The group meditation recommended here, which is characterised by pondering, reflection and feeling, is an ideal group practice for a community of people who are deeply and genuinely keen on LAYA YOGA. The leader, after he receives additional instructions on how to conduct the group, may make use of this instruction by reading its essential points aloud. The circle of those who practise Brahmavihara is usually referred to as BHAKTUĆHAKRA, and common meetings of the group are called Bhaktisadhana or Bhaktiyoga. The Master and Founder of all Yoga, SHIVA, together with his spouse, partner and friend named PARVATI, who used to be the first disciple and Female Master of Yoga, are called "Co-Heads" of the Kailash Mountain Ashram (Sanctuary) in the Laya tradition, or, in other words, SURYA GURU, which stands for Solar Teachers.
Both Shiva and Parvati appear under different names. Both of them are fully liberated Masters who patronise all those who truly want to become closer to God, all those who wish to realise their Own, Primordial Nature, which in yoga nomenclature is called PURUSHA - the Essential Being, the Perfect Man, the Pure Self, The Garden of Dawn, or the Source of Life. These Masters are joint mentors for sincere and trustful disciples.
Among many Names conferred on Shiva, his best-known ones are Names such as Jupiter (Master Jupiter), Babaji, Padmasambhava (Guru Rimpoche), or Jehovah. Shiva unifies all varieties and forms of yoga of all times. In the impending New Era the very unification and synthesis of all forms of yoga is supposed to play the major role.
Bramhavihara - Prathyaya is worth recommending as an individual, everyday meditation for all persons with a sincere and profound intention to lead a religious lifestyle, which is based on adoration, worship, and service offered for the sake of Lord and God. Buddhist Bhakti, who call it BODHIĆHITTA, apply this practice, which in fact is cultivation of the state of Awakened Consciousness. This Dhyana serves the purpose of full development of the entire inborn BHAKTI potential in every human being, which translates itself into Divine Acts or Activity of the Heavenly Father. This is a state of being and acting of Buddha, as well as Christ or Krishna.
Brahmavihara is a root and basis of each of the existing religions. The reason for this is that religion - Bhakti Yoga is based on Love, Compassion, Joy, and Tranquillity. Group practising of this Dhyana is bound to gradually bring about full Purification, i.e. the Silencing of the entire stream of our Consciousness. What we attain is the Pure Consciousness, or, as you may call it, the Consciousness of Peace and Quiet. The Pure, or the Awakened Consciousness is our Primordial and Natural state of existence.
Leave some intervals for silence in between particular points. Read the whole practice gently, from the Heart, and slowly, as if you were contemplating on it. Essentially, this is contemplation and feeling. Engage your intuitive perception to delve into the meaning of each VIHRA (Act, Deed).
1. ISHVARAPRANIDHANA. Reflect on God, the Highest Being, the Creator of Heaven and Earth. Submit yourself to God's guidance with full trust; seek your REFUGE in Him, in Ishvara - in Your Sovereign.
a) Chant OM (AUM) three times, as a result of which the Triple sound melts into a homogeneous syllable similar to Ľ sound. You become unified with Ishvara;
b) Repeat the following words three times, straight from the depth of your Heart:
""Let us Adored the Lord, our beloved and blessed God, full of supreme Wisdom and Cognition of the seven stages of Truth". HUM!
c) Recite the Refuge as many times as you wish, either in Sanskrit or in english:
OM BRAHMDHRAMASANGHANM (HUM)
"I take refuge in the Supreme Lord, in His Holy Teachings and in the Confraternity of the Aspiring Ones."
d) Chant (either sing or repeat) a mantra (vibration) which brings one into the state of complete Silence, or the Purification of Consciousness:
(The intonation ought to be begun with OM vibration, then you should repeat the mantra for the Purification of Consciousness, usually 108 times, and then close it by saying HUM).
2.ĆHATUR-BRAHMVIHRA. Four contemplations (intellectual meditations), which are four ways of silencing the mind (psyche, i.e. all these waves of consciousness-related experiences), are practised for 5-7 minutes each. These Divine Acts which are synchronised with the Awakened Consciousness manifest themselves as a perfect way to develop the intuitive perception or feeling (S. PRATHYAYA). One who contemplates (S. DHYANIN), fully concentrates on hearing and sensing, making use of all his body in order to perceive the depth of meaning hidden in each Brahmavihara.
a) Inside the Heart, inside the depths of our being we feel a throbbing source of love, which is benevolent and friendly towards all. We feel infinite goodness and kindness which pours out of our Heart. Then we feel all our natural potential for friendship and love.
b) The river of love, benevolence, and friendship pours out of us to reach all our fellowmen, people who practise with us. We feel profound benevolence towards al happily living people. We send our love to all the good ones. We imagine ourselves in situations in which we act with love, as we are embodiments of goodness and friendship.
c) We radiate waves of love and benevolence towards all creatures and events, towards all situations, both good and evil ones, and we do so with all the power of our Heart. We imagine that goodness, benevolence, friendship, and love encompass our entire city, country, continent, the whole world and then they spread further into the universe. We send our love in all possible direction, until we eventually become transformed into embodiments of Love (S. PREMA).
a) Inside our Heart, in the depths of our own being we feel a pulsating source of pity and compassion, we feel sympathy, which is orientated to everybody and everything. We feel the real state of existence of each object and each being. We start to perceive our heart as infinite empathy, as the ability to feel together with someone. We discover that compassion and sympathy are our natural state of existence.
b) We maintain the flow of the stream of sympathy and compassion for all beings that suffer: people, animals, and plants that we have encountered in our life. It is our most sincere wish for each creature that we have met on our path to become liberated from all the bonds. Let the permeating and thrilling waves of alleviating compassion bring relief to all the tormented beings.
c) With all our Heart we spread the waves of benevolent compassion, which have the power to bring relief to the entire world and dissolve all the pain and suffering. We bring relief to each person, to each living being that we think of compassionately. We encompass the whole world with our sympathising heart, which has the power of a remedy, which brings immediate relief. The stream of compassion liberates an infinite number of beings from the ocean of pain and suffering, and brings them lasting bliss and happiness. The whole suffering of the world disappears.
a) We concentrate on our Heart, with the feeling that deep inside us there is a source of joy and satisfaction. Righteousness and the virtue of goodness are the things which give us most joy. In our soul we feel complete joy at each good deed and at righteous and decent behaviour. We take joy in each honest act. We discover our inborn ability to enjoy each situation and to be satisfied with every moment of our life.
b) We feel joy and contentment flowing in a powerful stream from our Heart. Our joy spreads to our whole environment, our close and distant friends. A special stream of joy and bliss flows in the form of inspiration to people who are decent and grounded in the virtue of goodness and integrity. May profound joy always accompany them in their life. We take joy in the happiness and well-being of others.
c) We fill the whole world with generous and blissful joy, as well as infinite contentment, which streams out of the kindness of our heart. May everything proceed in joy towards integrity, righteousness, and goodness. We derive great joy from building the world of integrity and goodness, may all beings be happy, and may all beings live in prosperity.
a) Inside our Heart we find the most serene place. It is kind of a sanctuary of peace and quiet. With full commitment we try to experience this place fully, as it is a source of silence and equilibrium. We dwell inside this place in a state that guarantees us stability, tranquillity, and harmony. We immediately discard any burden by forgiving ourselves absolutely everything. We submerge ourselves totally in the source of inner silence.
b) Peace and quiet of our heart flow in all directions, spreading to our entire environment, all the events that took place in our life, filling up every moment. We become lenient and tolerant to all people and situations we find ourselves in. We proclaim Peace in all directions; we renounce anger, jealousy, and backbiting. We make a resolution to maintain neutrality, untainted hands, heart, and speech in every situation of our life. We feel stability and power inherent in silence and impartiality.
c) Silence flowing from our heart dissolves any desire to take revenge. We fill the entire space, our entire environment, our city, country, continent, and the entire world with this feeling. We imagine that the whole globe is an oasis of peace and forgiveness. All revenge and retaliation cease to exist. All resentment and aversion existing among people become dissolved in the stream of peace and quiet, which emanates from our heart. The world achieves a perfect balance and all beings are happy and full of optimism.
a) We feel the profundity of the Four Divine Acts with all our Heart. We experience the Nature of our Awakened Consciousness as a completeness of Love, Compassion, Joy, and Peace simultaneously. We experience Infinite Purity, Space, Omnipresence, and Void, which last for every minute of our life. We experience ourselves as a source of this divine morality - Love!
b) We accept all, both known and unknown people, into our Heart (Being, Psyche), in order that they could experience the state of Awakened Consciousness together with us. We particularly absorb with our heart our parents: our father and mother, as well as our siblings: sisters, brothers and our distant family.
c) We bring together the entire mankind and all the beings of our planet to form one family inside our Awakened Consciousness with the Four Divine Attributes.
a) Concentration on someone who has become both an ethical and moral example, and who is a paragon of integrity and an ideal to which we aspire. Let us remember the name of this being, let us visualise the person, particularly their look, let us try to approach the state of consciousness (the depths of their psyche and spirit) realised by that person. We may choose any being, a saint, a master, a prophet or and angel, whose essence we may find to be close to ours. We feel the Heart of this figure, we gaze into their eyes, as these eyes convey to us the profundity of what flows out of their heart. We try to experience the same state of existence as the ideal chosen by us.
b) We may contemplate on (repeat in our thoughts and with affection) the Five Great Oaths of BODDHISATVA), i.e. the Embodiment of Goodness, Awakened Goodness. This is a practice of the second class of Yoga, so it constitutes a development of Bhakti Yoga.
- I Swear to Refrain from Doing Harm with my Thoughts, Words and Deeds
- SATHYA - I Swear Always to Tell the Truth with my Thoughts, Words and Deeds.
- ASTEYA - I Swear to Refrain from Stealing with my Thoughts, Speech, and Deeds.
- BRAHMAĆHARYA - I Swear to Be Temperate in my Thoughts, Words and Deeds.
- APARIGRAHA - I Swear to Refrain from Possessing (Non-Attachment) with my Thoughts, Words and Deeds.
Mahavratta, the Oaths of Bodhisattva, constitute a foundation of yoga morality in the Second Class (Kriya Yoga, Tantra Yoga). So, in our BHAKTA work we focus on the right direction. On a different occasion we shall include a more comprehensive commentary as well as the description of SIDDHI (Miraculous Powers) that are born as a result of an authentic realisation of these five ethical principles.
c) We may mutually intone a vibration that brings us closer to our Teacher, to Ishvara, to God, to or Lord, Sovereign and Guru:
OM GURU or OM GURU DEV (24 to 108 times)
d) Collectively chanted HUM (which means that the practice is drawing to a close and in the Laya Tradition it is always said at the end of the cycle of spiritual exercises).
Prema sathya dharma shantih OM!
Acharya Lalit' Mohan G.K.
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