Ahimsa Applied

Ahimsa or the principle of non-violence is the first of the ethical
teachings of classical Yoga. It is expected to be applied directly
in the life of an individual, in thought, feelings and in action.

Some factors would seem to require common sense and others require a little
conscious consideration, importantly remembering that gentle persuasion
is not weakness.

Commencing with our own physical training it relates to an attitude of
quiet persuasion rather than a bullying of muscle and sinew. It is believed
that the body intelligence responds to kindness and will co-operate to
extraordinary extent to please in physical exercises and controls. This is
why we should take care to elect the wisest path in the goal to control the
body and have a constructive purpose behind mastering Asanas, for instance.
To do otherwise can open the door to mindless performances of physical skill.

In this present outer world of material ambition, hostility, aggression and
violence beyond reason,gentleness is a rare quality and remains predominantly
to be nurtured to expression in the female nature, through the Moon aspect of
Hatha Yoga, just as strength is the province of the male.

Ahimsa is adopted in attitude towards others that can also be acceptance of
differences but is not to be applied with sacrifice of one’s own values and
freedoms. We must seek for wisdom in dealings with others and most of us
need to find time to meditate upon the complexities social life presents.

Ahimsa symbolises the dissolving of any idea of hurting, harming or wishing to
hurt, kill or harm any living creature whether by thought or action. This is
sometimes resisted by our reluctant emotions or feelings in the course of
self culture and self control encourage by the yogic teachings.

Ahimsa can be applied to indirect actions of others, such as the killing of
innocent animals and creatures which have the capacity to give comfort on one
hand when considered ‘pets’, or to provide food when eaten. However, it is not a
conscious decision of an animal to offer itself for our table,so must be considered in
the light of the human, its custodian. Those who understand and love animals wish
no part in their slaughter and consumption refrain from eating meat,as demonstrated
by the vegetarian who understands the spirit of Ahimsa.

Loving kindness inspires the life of spiritual people and is the heart of all human
growth in culture. In this, we must be also kind to our own self and avoid harshness
and cruelty of any kind and yet deal with the outer world that has different values.

In the face of all the concerns of material life, it is good to know that gentleness
and kindness can pave the path to eventual peace, both within and without.

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SHARING SPIRITUAL PRINCIPLES

To define the simple principles that all people over the world share – that is, the universal principles that guide humans how to live well – has the potential to eliminate the violence and chaos that threatens our existence and that of all life on our planet – if we choose to live by these principles.

By eliminating talk of our differences, a habit that has eroded our well being, and with a focus upon our shared ideals, the human culture and our present civilization could perhaps avoid catastrophe.

No longer can we avoid the fact that the resources upon which our lifestyle in the western world has depended are fast becoming depleted with no real evidence of a workable correction in practice.

That our materialistic society based on wealth, and motivated by greed rather than need has failed, is now a perception shared by those who care.

That religions have failed to unite the world is apparent and we know that failure will accompany any future effort that results in fragmenting our vast populations by aggressive or possessive attitudes claiming exclusive right to our Maker.

If we are to succeed we must act now and resist the old reactions that have destroyed world peace.

What are these simple principles we must act upon?
Any answers given will echo all that our great philosophers and citizens have declared, for example,

Honour our father and our mother – those who have given and nurtured our early life.
Know that male and female are equal and opposite in the natural and the human world.
Observe and preserve Nature and its laws.
Respect all natural life of which we are custodians.
Abstain from violence if we wish to arrive at peace.
Love one another in the spirit of brotherhood within the family of mankind.

At this time of year it is made a little easier to think of surrendering that which is worthless for the sake of true value. This naturally will include our participation in personal sacrifices as in combined determination of the whole of humanity to preserve the beautiful Earth and to express the noblest qualities of which human beings are capable. Let each of us begin today……..

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Karma

KARMA IN SOCIETY
The world in which we are living in the 21st century is not conducive to health of any kind. We have a struggle to survive- physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually – having chosen to rebel against or reject the fundamental values and ethics of our culture.
The destructive tendencies of mankind are now rampant in every sphere in society. There are changes that are not constructive and many have contaminated our personal living environment, ruined the refuge offered in harmonious family life and even caused nations to falter.
We hardly need to be reminded of the destruction of our natural physical environment with pollution being an issue on land, sea, and air.
Regarding the subtler areas of human function in the emotional and mental realms we must recognize that there are issues that are equally critical and even more important to our welfare and our future on the planet.
There is unrest or disease apparent on all levels but it is the massive outbreak of psychological issues evidence in depression, violence (self harm and to others), criminality and general aggression so that our societies are now a far cry from the peace, health and happiness we all dream about and wish to share.
However, as individuals and as a people we are responsible for what we have created in wonderful technological and social advances. We are also responsible for rectification of our wrongs, both as a society and as individuals. Only this fact can motivate us to offer our talents to the ultimate good of the whole.
Only sincerity of effort and great life law of Karma will determine the degree of our success.

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YOGA DEVELOPS LOVE OF GOD AND NATURE

The philosophy behind Yoga aims toward practical idealism

Self responsibility encourages keen natural interest in building a healthy body

Loving attitudes develop loving kindness that denies violent action

The Yogi aims to understand and love human nature

Some are dedicated to increase knowledge and satisfy their love of truth

All become enthusiastic to love their work or chosen life avenue to express and to be able to contribute their personal and unique talents.

Yogis love noble souls and respect wise leaders…..

They love and aspire to emulate the virtues and the qualities of those they admire

To Love the Creator above all …..and all Nature as the visible ‘outer garment of God’ is the ideal.

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CLASSICAL YOGA

Indian Vedic wisdom originated in remote antiquity and covers a wide range of knowledge including astronomy, mathematics, grammar, philosophy and physical health matters.
Yoga is one of the six classical schools of philosophy and was established as a system by the early Rishis and saints with Patanjali and Shankara being amongst those best known and followed ever since their written work dating several centuries before the time of Christ.
The science has since been developed further by the experiences and discoveries of generations of successive teachers or Gurus and by exponents who continue to apply simple natural laws relating to health and to human consciousness. This valuable science that has endured for so long, offers benefit on all levels of man’s being. It is an integral system with the purpose of combining knowledge of the body, personality, mind and spirit.
The aim of yogic philosophy is to assist an individual to spiritual realization of truths for himself or herself. It comprises several margas or pathways which have been designed to satisfy people with different approaches. For instance, an emotional person who seeks to realise God as Love will be attracted to incorporate the Bhakti marga of devotion. An intellectually inclined aspirant will no doubt be satisfied to develop the mind through Raja marga and someone wishing to know all about physical health matters will choose the path of Hatha Yoga. However, essentially all knowledge is to become integrated and all disciplines incorporated in the spiritual practice of the student which is known as his Sadhana.
Meditation is common to all yogic disciplines, not only for relief of stress but to stretch and expand the mind, enabling us to experience deep relaxation and peace as well as heightened states of consciousness.
The natural simplicity of yoga teachings attracts the attention of many people today who are searching for guidelines as to how to help themselves towards a healthier, happier, more meaningful and nobler way of living.

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DEEPER MEANING OF YOGA

Yoga is a system of training the body to enable free, rhythmic movement, developing good posture in walking, standing, sitting or an ability to take specific postures which are called Yoga Asanas. These are designed to benefit both the outer form as well as the wonderful inner natural mechanism with its miraculous powers of self healing and recuperation. Gradually as we go along, every organ and function is understood and with this knowledge it is possible to claim some degree of conscious control over it. Understanding the body mechanism gives one the power to keep and maintain its health. So physical health is the first consideration in Yoga and this aspect is called Hatha Yoga.

Maintaining health requires balance and depends upon a number of factors. Yoga outlines a course to follow which rules hygiene and cleanliness as first priority. By the various other disciplines, exercises and postures a healthful state is accomplished and often leads to the body remaining becoming more youthful and vital.  Certainly different ages require particular practices and adjustments made.

One of the exercises is Pranayama, or breath control, teaches us how we waste our life and energy through leakage of energies. Prana is the vital energy that is expressed in physical, emotional or mental activity.  Our vitality is affected by misdirected force and breath as occurs with emotional upsets and mental anxiety as well as neglected psychological disciplines and codes of living.  Through the study of pranayama we find greater relaxation as well as a practical tool to help provide us with the energy we desire for our purposes.

Desire is generally related to emotional energy and to our ultimate purpose to experience loving and happy states of consciousness.  Bhakti Yoga focuses upon love as the motivating force of our lives and encourages both passive and active expression of loving kindness, learning to extend the capacity to love beyond self and self- interest to embrace everything and everyone.

In order to discipline the total personality we need the benefit of mind control. This is the basis of Raja Yoga. We learn how to quieten the mind to know peace; to practice positive thoughts that will guide us in our actions; to meditate in order to be enriched by our intuitive thought and inspiration, and to draw upon the inner resources of the soul so that we know how to live true to ourselves.

In our disciplines the one that sounds simplest is most difficult.  We must learn to still our random thoughts. Then we can expect to experience the pleasure of creative free thought.

When we reach a stage of being in total harmony, having accepted and integrated the different facts of ourselves we know the beginning of fulfillment through Yogic practice.

Beyond this is to be in harmony with others by embracing spiritual wisdom that leads to wholeness and intimate knowledge of life. This increases to expand as our soul grows in understanding of Nature and our Creator and allows us to offer our own unique contribution to the world, a purpose for which we were born.

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SCIENCE OF LIFE

The Life Science of the Vedas of India encapsulates the wisdom of mankind to the extent that it provided the basis for future civilizations seeking to progress towards the ideal human existence. As with all human efforts to date, each civilization is successful only to some extent, and reaches a peak, only to collapse through the familiar personal problems and weaknesses that prove destructive to society as a whole and in doing this, we are deprived of an external system of support that encourages the good and overcomes evil.

Each civilization has succumbed, but the enduring guidelines and wisdom remains, to be inherent in the seeds of any new effort to create a heaven on earth, instead of the hells into which we tend to fall. The wisdom of the ages is based upon human experience within human cultures that function within and under the powerful laws of Nature that determine the larger issues beyond the personal capacity or vision of any individual human being.

The essence of these laws is benign. The purpose of human existence but dimly perceived by man and yet all things are designed to awaken both free will and its twin faculty of willingness to abide by Nature, as the wise and loving ‘parent’ or Creator of us all.

The first guidepost then is to study Nature and its laws and work within the pattern of the humble acceptance of the greater powers of life at the same time respecting the individual’s free will that is exercised when experiencing both the joy and the responsibility involved in making choices.

The Vedas of India are ancient and are thought to date back to the first civilizations of man, thousands of years, even millions of years ago. They establish the principles and outline the discoveries of human intelligence that provide answers to the innate questions common to each of us – who we are, why we are here. The teachings offer us purpose and vision of a path to a better future where man can fulfil his desires for material life on a beautiful earth as his home, develop the wisdom of his soul, and contribute personal innate talents and energies to the welfare of others and the ‘heaven on earth’ to which all aspire.

Through science we seek for truth in all avenues of learning, in any undertaking and in our feelings and actions as we find expression or demonstration of the truths we have found.

So it is with the Science of Life itself.

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SIMPLIFY YOUR LIFE

Through yoga we learn that better health comes through simple, natural practices aimed at self-care. The aim in Hatha Yoga is to take as much responsibility as possible for our own health. The body is regarded as the physical temple of one’s soul and we are its custodians.

Bhakti Yoga is concerned with our self culture of our heart or emotional nature and its disciplines are subtler but equally based on the simple philosophy of loving kindness towards our fellows and devotion to God. We try to keep our hearts pure and free from ill feeling of any kind.

Raja Yoga encourages the seeker for truth and knowledge that can be constructively employed and the elements in mind training are well known to those who study any science. Mental faculties are many and are employed not to make the mind supreme but that strong thought should serve the heart and emotional nature and give direction for a life of action.

There are other Margas or approaches but these three represent key ingredients in our personality. Our task is to integrate and harmonize these energies within ourselves.

In order to channel our life energies we are aided by a simple personal philosophy. Although Yogic philosophy and other traditional systems or viewpoints are of great interest and can help us, we are left to formulate our own. In this, we rely upon our intuition and use our personal choice to select ideas that bring us confidence and peace.

A simple philosophy that will assist us to refrain from negative action, thought and feeling is better than the most complex intellectual exploration. Our philosophy offers a blueprint or pattern for self culture that we choose as a reliable personal reference towards our ideal.

The age-old philosophy associated with Vedic teachings is ever present for our study and assistance. When we choose to call upon its great spiritual wisdom we will find that it
reminds us that greatness and simplicity usually go hand in hand.

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ANCIENT INDIAN ORIGINS – THE VEDAS

 The word ‘Veda’ means true knowledge. The Vedas are also known as the Ancient Wisdom or Sacred Doctrine and life teachings of the ancient Aryans. They were perceived to be of Divine origin, given to mankind at the very beginnings of the human race in order to establish rules for human society.

There is no real evidence of their date of origin and common references vary considerably between 5000 – 1200 B.C.  Scholars are still debating the issue.  However, tradition places The Vedas further back in antiquity than we care to consider, and certainly are known to be very much older than the Bible.

Their vast knowledge encompasses a wide range of subjects including astronomy, astrology, phonetics, poetry, grammar, ceremonial, history, medicine, scriptures, archery, art, music, architecture and philosophy.  Their language was pre-classical Sanskrit and the teachings were divided into 4 collections called the Veda Samhitas– these being the Rig-Veda, the Yajur-Veda,  the Sama-Veda and last, the Atharva-Veda.

 Ayurveda is referred to as the Science of life – the aspect of the Vedic teachings relating to health and healing. It is a system of medicine which is becoming well known in the western world and is being revived in India. Many of its methods correspond with the naturopathic disciplines and principles with the use of herbs, medicines and minerals and even gemstones in  non-invasive healing techniques to arrive at cure. Surgery is resorted to only at the last.

Vedanta means ‘the end of the Vedas’ and holds that all Truth is One and that all religions follow the same goal. It is a highly popular part of the teachings, incorporating the Upanishads or philosophical insights so frequently quoted. The word‘ Upanishads’ comes from ‘to sit’ and exchange wisdom at the feet of the Master Guru and to receive teachings of exoteric and also esoteric nature.

The principles of Yoga were incorporated in the Vedic culture and later formalized as one of the six classical schools of Indian philosophy, one that indicates the disciplines and principles whereby an individual can become conscious of his immortal being and the great Universal Intelligence of the Creator.

The followers of the Vedas over time became known as Hindus and it was the duty of the Brahmin priests and teachers to maintain and execute the principles on behalf of the race.

Their sacred language of Sanskrit is retained by scholars although adapted to Hindi as the national language now of India with Devanagari being its written form.

Throughout our recorded history, many have dipped into various aspects of this profound and ancient wisdom preserved in India. It can be seen to permeate throughout many cultures of the world and has inspired many philosophers of the western classical world, including Plato.

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Simplify Life

We learn that better health comes through purification of the body, body building, and self discipline to maintain youthfulness and vitality.  Simple practices require the inclusion of hygiene techniques, fasting, relaxation, natural diet, exercises to integrate mind and body, postural control and attention to correct upright body posture.

Some will choose to add further practices in breath control, muscular development, emotional discipline, mental exercises and spiritual self culture through meditation.

No matter how we specialize or what other disciplines we follow, the basic ones of health remain fundamental to our well being, just as common sense helps retain our mental balance.

So we are reminded to appreciate the importance of simple principles that help us to anchor the vital energies that will enable us to live as we desire, in quality of health and quality of our lifestyle.

In our philosophy loving kindness, truth and goodness play their part within our personal outlook that guide us to live in accordance with the moral codes and life knowledge we inherit from aeons of human civilization. To include a deep reverence for the Creator – the great Allness that is the spiritual Source of our being provides us with the ingredient of inspiration.

Whether our personal attitudes and choices, made from our power centre of free will, differ one from one another is of little moment when we share our common sense, our loving heartedness and our desire to live a constructive life by respecting and caring for the life of other living beings. We must consider all life, whether plants, birds, fish, animals, or human or indeed the very elements of Nature that sustain us – our beloved Earth, its waters, and its atmosphere.

By changing our focus from argument and criticism and aggression regarding our differences we begin to become free of the stress and strain created by our intense sense of individuality to find we expand in a common understanding, in attitudes of mind and in our hearts.

When our choices prove wise and take us along the path that leads us to be kind to ourselves and to others, and refrain from violence of thought, word and deed, we will naturally begin to feel at ease and freer to experience in consciousness knowledge of being an integral part of the greater universe. This brings with it a profound sense of ‘coming home’.   OM …….

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