Questions of Consciousness

When beginning to question ourselves we seek to be aware of the extent of our knowledge and feel confident to dip into that pool of knowledge we already possess.
When it comes to deeper issues rather than mere practical ones, we are less sure of ourselves. Most of us have not taken time to make a study of human nature and psychology that reveals that we have different layers and degrees of conscious awareness other than the two we are in the habit of describing as states of being “asleep” or “awake” and it is understandably the latter that is our main concern here as the realms of unconsciousness demand much deeper study.
So when we are in what we consider is our normal state of consciousness or wakefulness we are selective and free to choose to focus upon whatever we wish whether it is a mundane task or a serious intellectual study. So there is potential for great differences between us as individuals in our natural inclinations when combined with the power of free will and choice.
Whatever we choose as our focus to study; whatever we choose to consciously think about; we are increasing our self confidence as our knowledge and interest grows and most importantly our direct experiences in applying what we know. This is the hardest of all but is assisted by our ability to prioritise and to concentrate with perhaps the added vital ingredient for success – to add enjoyment to whatever we are doing.
Our first discipline then is to become aware of our thought processes, to understand them and to then learn to channel them as we harness them to our ultimate life aim or aims.
Consciousness expands beyond just being aware, to a deliberate exploration and development of our human mind and its talents and capacities. Our journeying from a degree of enquiry to certainties and from certainties to further paths that in turn promise us a degree of wisdom that allows us to live at peace within our own being.
It is experience that is our teacher as it is our intuition that points the way.
That somewhat misunderstood and mysterious faculty we call our ‘conscience’ is that part of our intelligence that saves us from dangerous or impulsive choices and we must consider as our ever present friend that reminds us to be aware.
Expansion of our awareness develops ever widening sensitivity towards nature and other people so that our personal consciousness or intelligence comes to embrace a wider and wider sphere…and to fulfil the limitless potential of human consciousness to embrace Life in its totality.

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CONSCIOUSNESS

The laws of evolution and growth encourage us all to expand and grow in consciousness towards eventual comprehension both of the internal realms of our own psyche and mental environment as well as the vast cosmic spheres of life outside our limited individuality.
Consciousness is the Experiencing and we are the Experiencer, functioning with a mixture and often a blend of sensation, emotion, thought and soul that constitute the ‘I’.
It is within the enduring and eternal aspect of the ‘I’, that we call the soul that resides the intelligence that blends all of our life experiences to arrive at a degree of wisdom. Here reside the true guideposts to help us learn and grow towards our finest capacity and expression as human beings.

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Perfection

Perfection has to be worked out- has to be accomplished.
Imperfection, limitation, death, grief, ignorance, matter are only the first terms of the formulary; they are the initial discords of the musician’s tuning.
Out of imperfection we have to construct perfection, out of limitation to discover infinity, out of death to find immortality, out of grief to recover divine bliss, out of ignorance to rescue divine self-knowledge, out of matter to reveal spirit. To work out this end for ourselves and for humanity is the object of our Yogic practice.

Sri Aurobindo

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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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SEEKING TRUTH

Because so many have gone before us and are confident enough to offer guidance or give us a hint of what is the key to life’s mysteries, we are injected with certain courage to go in a certain direction or follow a particular method. And because inevitably we must make any method our own if we are to arrive at our own understanding, we must be able to practise and so measure it by the results.

However, because in our culture complexity is the fascination, any philosophy that prescribes simple application of universal principles tends to be neglected, in spite of the thousands of reminders we maintain in our cultural records that teach us otherwise.

In seeking how to be healthy for instance, when once the physical natural laws for health are acknowledged, application must follow and this is difficult enough; to seek in addition to apply the psychological disciplines of emotion and thought that are required for our reason and for our happiness is even more demanding; to feel free to listen to the inner guidance of our own soul and intuition is given less time and attention; to seek to identify with our experiencing soul consciousness that allows us to feel at one with the great Universal Consciousness is the most rarified aspiration and yet the most fundamental Reality a human being needs to know.

It is not by thinking but by feeling that we experience and satisfy this spiritual need to arrive at truth. We may think we are alive – but we must feel we are alive. Our thoughts may guide us but it is only by feeling that we find the key, whether from within our internal world of intuition or by expanding our love capacity to embrace life, we seek for Life to embrace us.
And depending upon aspiration and our capacity to surrender to It, whether from within or without, Life will claim us in equal measure and we will discover the truth we seek…. when we are able to be still and our scattered thoughts are silent.

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YOGA FOR ALL AGE GROUPS

CHILDREN
Naturally any teaching must require certain modification and a selection of techniques that are most appropriate for the benefit of students of any age group and the practices of the traditional disciplines of Yoga are no exception.
For ease in teaching it is desirable for students to be grouped according to age as in other educational systems. This may be ideal but is not always possible and requires a certain number of students for this type of segregation. Separation of boys and girls in early years of say 3 years to 7 years is not usually necessary. Beyond this age is different.
Although general classes of children of various ages may be established, students will not be completely at ease unless with others of about the same age and it is worthwhile to consider a small nucleus class that will in time increase.

The teaching of Hatha Yoga is based upon the complementary character and interaction of electro-magnetic energies of nature that influence and maintain a balance in our physical and psychological health. The understanding of the pranas or positive and negative energies is fundamental in the philosophy and the practices related to the breath.

We all exist and function through the balancing of these natural forces and their natural expression through either male or female personalities, with the male to have the positive of Sun energies dominant and the female having the opposite Moon energies uppermost. In a subtle way these energies function by subconscious processes. In a more direct way, they are affected by our minds and state of consciousness.

It is as important for a boy to have an image of what he would wish to become in developing his manhood. Apart from his father as a role model, he needs to develop his own self image for the future – one based upon the warmth, strength, generosity and outgoing power that has the Sun as its symbol. Just as important it is that a girl follows the example of her mother as well as learning to develop the female virtues of gentleness, grace and sensitivity of an ideal woman symbolised by the Moon. This symbolism provides anchorage for establishing their values and influencing their behaviour.

The physical exercises in Hatha Yoga for boys are aimed at developing strength and will as those for girls concentrates upon flexibility and graceful movement. Both must learn the general exercises of traditional movements that develop full freedom of movement as well as muscular tone.
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TEENAGE YEARS
Teenagers , that is those from 13 – 17 years of age, have already been influenced by their home life, school life and the example of their peers to the extent that they often are so confident as to not be easily receptive to new ideas and will be more focussed upon the physical cultural aspects at commencement of their classes. However, by the wonderful benefits of relaxation practice they learn to release stress. By stillness of the mind and body in easy meditation they find the key to better concentration and discover a sense of their individual power to direct their lives and perhaps discover an increasing interest in philosophy.
Because of the importance of self discovery and self interest, it is relatively easy to introduce young students to the value of natural diet and consideration of avoiding killing of animals for food but it is not wise to emphasise the latter because of the necessity to respect their parents and the values in their home as not many homes have kitchens that are vegetarian.
There will be a natural inclination towards eating food that will build good health and a fine physique or a beautiful body and vanity helps sometimes to undertake what seems a difficult discipline or motivation toward changing habits.
These years however are of extreme importance in developing the intellectual powers and learning memory skills, exercising imagination and strengthening powers of concentration.
How to help these faculties is the demand made upon the yoga teacher who uses the time honoured techniques of classical Yoga.
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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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RIGHT ACTION – Karma Yoga

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RIGHT ACTION – Karma Yoga

Action requires decision making.
Helpful advice in such times directs us to do nothing that disturbs our inner peace of mind.
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LOVERS OF NATURE

“Once on lying down on the sward, I first looked up at the sky, gazing for a long time till I could see deep into the azure and my eyes were full of the colour; then I turned my face to the grass and thyme, placing my hands at each side of my face so as to shut out everything and hide myself.

Having drunk deeply of the heaven above and felt the most glorious beauty of the day, and remembering the old, old sea, which (as it seemed to me) was but just yonder at the edge, I now became lost and absorbed into the being or existence of the universe. I felt down deep into the earth under, and high above into the sky and farther still to the sun and stars. Still farther beyond the stars into the hollow of space, and losing thus my separateness of being, came to seem like a part of the whole.

Then I whispered to the earth beneath, through the grass and thyme, down into the depth of its’ ear, and again up to the starry space hid behind the blue of day…….”

Richard Jefferies from “The Story of my Heart”
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“The happiest man is he who learns from Nature the lesson of worship.”
Emerson

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Telepathy

Swami Vivekananda says –

…”There is a continuity of mind, as the yogis call it. The mind is universal.
Your mind, my mind, all these little minds, are fragments of that universal mind,
little waves in the ocean;
and on account of this continuity, we can convey our thoughts directly to one another.”
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