THE FOUR PATHS OF YOGA- DOORS TO THE SAME PLACE-2010
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THE FOUR PATHS OF YOGA- DOORS TO THE SAME PLACE

Let’s start with a parable! One day a gyani, bhakta, karma yogi and kriya yogi, found themselves at a holy lingam under a lovely tree that was in their vicinity! As a discussion ensued forth, they could find no meeting point. The gyani was an intellectual who had understood God in-depth and had complete disdain for anyone who could not match his knowledge! The bhakta who was full of love and devotion, thought all the other yoga’s (gyan/kriya/karma) were just a waste of precious time which could be better utilized in prayer and devotion. The karma yogi considered all of them lazy, copping out and taking the easy way out with fancy philosophies, instead of doing the day- to- day work that necessary towards Self growth! And the kriya yogi knowing it’s all about raising ones energies saw the other paths as child play for amateurs!Just as they were about to leave in the different directions from which they had come, it started raining heavily and so they had no option but to stay and take shelter of the tree. However soon the wind picked up and the rain increased heavily so each of them moved closer to the lingam for increased succor and shelter. The fury of the storm became even more furious, the winds were blowing very strong and soon they were all hugging the lingam for support. Even as they all held on to the lingam together, arms widespread and touching, they suddenly felt a change, a pulsating, a presence  and became aware of the lingam coming alive. And almost simultaneously, they began to wonder what the special moment was about- why when they had pursued Shiva for so many years and nothing had happened- why was he revealing his presence now in the rain under a tree with these other yogis?  And then the ‘lingam’ spoke “At last the four of you have got together. Yes, each one of you has pursued me with complete focus and dedication through your chosen path, but this is what I was waiting for - the four of you to come together! Each ones path ripened you, yes, but it is only in My 4 aspects coming together within you, that I can reveal Self”

Now let’s explore this further! 

The four main paths to Self/God are usually known as gyan yoga, bhakti yoga, kriya yoga and karma yoga.  However they are not four different paths but four aspects of the one path to Self. Only the starting point differs, and based on your nature and sanskars, based on what you require one of the paths beckon you as you start this wonderful journey within. As one travels along their chosen path however, they begin to merge, and this is when the journey deepens.  Gyan and its in-depth understanding of the Oneness that permeates everything spontaneously leads to love (Bhakti)! And Bhakti naturally brings about a deep understanding of its beloved (Gyan)! This leads to an almost effortless expansion of ones energy field (Kriya yoga) and enhanced actions in day to day living (Karma yoga)! Indeed together they become the one path of Raj yoga, and life becomes a moment- to moment meditation, and one lives in increasing awareness of…as… Self.

This could work in any combination, through whichever door you entered! You could start with kriya- expanding /raising your energy field - whereby you personal consciousness  begins to touch,  merge and become one with  universal consciousness... and thus automatically ‘Its’ qualities of love, wisdom and appropriate actions in the Now.   Or let’s take the path of karma- as you live selflessly, you gradually dissolve the 'separate' self that you are (not), and automatically begin to merge with all that is… and thus love, wisdom, and energy expansion starts to happen! Ofcourse this is in brief, but the point is any path can be used as the door to Self Awareness!  

The best clue to determine which path is good for you, or required by you in the Now, is to see if you are drawn to it? Does it somehow beckon? Or are you doing it because everyone is doing it or telling you how good it is?! If it attracts you, it’s the best guidance that you need to explore this path! Do you enjoy its practices? Do they feel ‘natural’?  This does not mean there need not be effort or discipline, but the root of authentic discipline is 'being disciple to'...and being disciple to something arises from love and joyfulness. If a path doesn’t beckon, doesn’t call you, know it’s not for you in this now; but don’t shut the door, you may someday feel attracted to its experiences. Be open to it or be neutral, don’t shut self off from any thing! As you require a certain ‘path’…or aspects of it…it comes to you! This is another clue…you will come across it here and there, friends may suggest it…you may read something and get triggered towards it! Indeed, when a path has done its work, another may beckon…and it is here that one must not get stuck to the earlier path out of habit or conditioning! My journey took a sharp turn in 2000/2001, and in the beginning I would sometimes fret and feel unfaithful to my earlier phase…but one day deep in mediation, my ‘earlier’ Master came and danced the waltz with me and literally swung me into the ‘arms’ of the 'new' Master.... smiling from the edge of the dance floor till I whirled off with the ‘new’ Master! Ultimately 'they' are all one, and know which aspect of Guru Consciousness we require in the now! 

This understanding and openness also works the other way! If your friend, lover, family member is on a path other than you- which you may see as restricting or less rewarding as your own-  know it is not so- know it is what the other requires in this now! At deeper levels, each of us treads every path in what we may call past/future lives… (actually all lives are happening simultaneously) … and thus our higher self is a blend of this composite, from which/whom, we receive the wisdom of this larger composite … in each ‘current’ life too! The awareness becomes a big equalizer! We then feel free to listen to our heart and allow others to listen to theirs; we move away from feelings of superiority or inferiority towards different paths; we move from trying to convert each other…into sincere acceptance that each ones path is for their highest good in the Now!  

Now let’s go back to the parable and view the importance of the paths ultimately merging for each one of us! We usually think body, mind, heart, spirit …to be different parts of self but at its deepest they are only aspects of our one energy field. The body is simply the denser frequency. Whereas the mind, heart, spiritual self are finer and finer frequencies. Thus when we impact one- we impact all and thus each path enables us - at all four levels- opening us to the ‘other’ paths spontaneously. The masters and texts were smart –and often used this principle when they advocated any spiritual path/practice! Sometimes the carrot given to us to embrace a certain path/practice  was a better body/health… or a peaceful mind …or love…and so humans did the practice (chanting, awareness, meditation ,prayer  or whatever it maybe)…but actually it led to expanding your energy field and moving beyond self into Self! Sometimes they used the reverse carrot- it will make you ‘spiritual’ or make you ‘one with god’ and so you embraced the practice- but it also enabled your body mind and heart as well…your energy field at all levels…!

We are all a combination of body, mind, emotions and spirit/energy and just the way we cannot exist only as the mind or only as the body or as energy or feelings, our path too must ultimately be a combination! Each path (and its practices) enables the other! For example: Gyan = mind expansion = your energy field expansion = thus add some kriya and directly add to the energy work done by gyan = transformation! Kriya (rising energies) can also propel you out of stagnation when you feel you know it all!  Bhakti bestows on gyan a passion and all embracing quality, instead of it keeping you cold cut and dry…and separate! Or, Kriya which works directly with (raising/expanding) your energies, can be greatly enabled with gyan, as it has a base to take even ‘higher’! Bhakti may peter out like a love affair going awry, if not fired by the urgency and poignancy of rising energies; if not earthed in gyan, if not practiced in day to day life! Kriya, your flow of energies allows you to be in the flow…of karma yoga… day to day life! Or as kriya can enable a ‘higher finer’ energy field - you will attract like wise experiences in day to day life! We could go on and on…these are only examples…!

However, at its deepest, spiritual paths and practices are not about improving self; but dissolving self! They are not about ‘us’ at all, but about the ‘Presence’ within becoming increasingly tangible! They work by removing the blocks; physically mentally emotionally and energetically …so that once these dissolve…once ‘you’ are not present…Self is spontaneously present! Or we can say they all aid you to expand your energy field so that over time- you personal consciousness- merge with universal consciousness that you are! Again no separate you! Say it how you like! Best to sum it up through Nisarga Maharaj’s words: “Wisdom tells me I am nothing; love tells me I am everything; and I flow between the two” ......Ummm, even as I write this, I somehow feel my experience (currently at least) differs a bit and I would ‘tweak’ what the Great and Beloved Master shared by saying- Gyan/wisdom makes me aware I am everything; bhakti/  love makes me aware I am no thing; and I flow between the two;                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       or maybe even …Gyan/Kriya expand me into being one with Self/everything and in that the little me doesn’t exist;  and Bhakti/Karma enable me to be no thing…and in that the Self comes alive!

 

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