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Self Reliance or Divine Providence, That is the Question

Posted by on Sep 19, 2012

Head, Heart & Hands

“There’s a Divinity that shapes our ends,
Rough-hew them how we will.” – Hamlet, Shakespeare

I call on my own guru’s wisdom, the founder of the Bihar school of yoga, to address this interesting question which has come up in the life of a dear friend, as well as my own. Swami Satyananda told us in his integral approach to yoga that, “we must use the qualities of head, heart, and hands or the intellect, the emotions, and action in order to integrate the physical, psychological, and spiritual dimensions” of the self. This is primarily a tantric teaching, but it echoes through many Hatha yoga schools.

In order to access all these components of the self – in order that we might integrate them into the Divine Expression of Self, he suggested we utilize:

  • Kriya yoga, which is a form of austerity in which the tapas are minimized. Kriya yoga can also contain bhakti yoga, which is a form of selfless devotion to a deity which represents your higher self.
  • Kundalini yoga, which is the cultivation of latent energies, which lie dormant as Kundalini Shakti in the lowest chakra, Mooladhara, and are activated through Sushumna, or the crown chakra to color our experience of reality.
  • Mantra repetition, also called Raja Yoga
  • Laya yoga, which is absorption in an object during meditation practices, such as the breath or a lit candle

Each of these yogas has its own set of practices, aimed at developing the hands, the heart and the head. The tapas, for example, of kriya yoga are described in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and are a means of training the senses, surrendering the ‘colored’ impressions of thought (meaning those tainted by ego) and studying oneself in the context of yogic teachings, or jnana yoga. There are ten senses to train. They are called karmendriyas and jnanendrias, respectively. They include cognitive awareness, which are ‘not to be trusted’ and more profound awareness, which should be embraced.

Kundalini yoga includes the use of pranayama, and yoga kriyas as outlined by Mahavatar Babaji, and Lahiri Mahasaya. These practices were made popular by Paramahansa Yogananda in his famous book, Autobiography of a Yogi. Pranayama is a big component of realization utilizing kundalini methods and are referenced extensively in Paramahansa Yogananda’s book.

Mantra repetition utilizes the bio-acoustics of sound, to awaken higher states of consciousness. describes mantra this way:

The human consciousness is really a collection of states of consciousness which distributively exist throughout the physical and subtle bodies. Each organ has a primitive consciousness of its own. That primitive consciousness allows it to perform functions specific to it. Then come the various systems. The cardio-vascular system, the reproductive system and other systems have various organs or body parts working at slightly different stages of a single process. Like the organs, there is a primitive consciousness also associated with each system. And these are just within the physical body. Similar functions and states of consciousness exist within the subtle body as well. So individual organ consciousness is overlaid by system consciousness, overlaid again by subtle body counterparts and consciousness, and so ad infinitum.

Laya yoga is purely concentrated thought or meditation. It is the yoga of absorption. It has Shaivic roots, but has been practiced for centuries by multiplicities from Indian yogis to Tibetan lamas to Chinese and Zen monks. It is said that Samadhi is obtained through Laya yoga. It is both the dissolution of self and the merging of self with Divine. It is what allows a union with Supreme Consciousness and is considered a branch of kundalini yoga as well, called Dhyana. It is understood among adepts, that the steps of Hatha yoga are just preparatory ones in order to keep the physical and mental vessels clear enough to successfully practice the steps of Laya yoga.

So, to answer back to Hamlet’s query, we must use both the physical will and the divine thrust of our Absolute Self to reach bliss. Our head, heart, and hands must all be involved in order to transcend the illusions of this world. Shakespeare did remind us, after all, that all the world is just a stage.

About the Author

Christina Sarich is a musician, yogi, humanitarian and freelance writer who channels many hours of studying Lao Tzu, Paramahansa Yogananda, Rob Brezny,  Miles Davis, and Tom Robbins into interesting tidbits to help you Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World.

This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.


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