Hatha Yoga System
Why the system was developed – that of Hatha Yoga to enable the body to last long enough to study of the deeper purposes and the higher spiritual Laws behind life and arrive at a satisfactory degree of knowledge of the universe. To aspire in this way, we must first have health if we wish to enjoy many years of life enquiry.
Psyche has Seven Sheaths – Koshas
These are the layers of the human psyche -the material or physical sheath, the energy body or vital sheath, the emotional self, the lower mental sheath (practical), the higher mind (intellect), the soul, and the spiritual identity. It is wise to study the etheric and physical in relation to the whole psyche. The first provides our protective shield and the flow of prana through the nadis and vital channels will be found to have close correspondence with traditional acupuncture and the defined nervous system of today.
Yogic Approach to Psychology
Western approach to psychology arrives at knowledge through analysis and the Yogic way is through synthesis – they are opposite approaches. However, to discipline and train any aspect of our nature gives us control over it. This applies whether it is commanding the physical body, asserting our mind over our emotions or training our minds through mental exercises, concentration and imagination. The supreme control of mind is considered to be the cessation of restlessness and ability to calm our ocean of thought that it may reflect clearly the truth of things. It is when our mental activity ceases that we can become aware of our inner voice of intuition that serves us as our ultimate guide.
The human psyche is understood as not merely the personality (lower self) but the over- riding, directing, individual intelligence that we know as our soul (higher self).
The practices of Yoga are designed to integrate these aspects of ourselves.
Teaching Ancient Wisdom
Patanjali was first in writing of Yoga techniques as far as we know. Before that time, knowledge passed on from Guru to chela through unbroken traditional lines of the ancient wisdom. It was the chela’s privilege to personally inherit valued spiritual knowledge and had to prove his worthiness, unlike the indiscriminate, mass distribution of knowledge as it is today. Such knowledge was then linked with a deep sense of responsibility.
The Master Guru or Adept chose his pupils, or chelas as we are reminded in the saying “When the pupil is ready, the Master comes. Along with other traditions, there are many modifications and changes in present day practices and teaching, but the spiritual principles endure.
Truths of Life
The essential natural laws and truths of life do not change whether expressed through the Vedic lore or the ancient texts of great religions and passing philosophies. These spiritual insights have not changed for thousands of years – unlike the many divisions and eruptions within religions and cults of many kinds. The degree of understanding and expression of the those truths is left up to the wisdom of the modern western teacher.
Devotion to the teacher and to God was once the keynote essential to a happy transmission of spiritual knowledge from teacher to pupil through the language of the heart.
We have developed as a materialistic humanity to the point where we seek to function from the mental level of the intellect. We may wish to reach the Source – but each one for himself. Personal devotion is limited and spiritual devotion is difficult for many.
The very simplicity of Yoga teachings, because of the fundamental truths which are accented, has a universal appeal and provides a technique for better physical, emotional and mental health – the three which are essential before ever the spiritual life can become a known reality.