Sri Yukteswar's (SY) book was written at the behest of the deathless avatar, Babaji and it shows the underlying universal themes of spirituality especially as between the Christian bible and the teachings of Sanaatan Dharma (the revelations of the rishis of India). Throughout the text he proffers quotations from the Old and New Testaments in juxtaposition to the sutras that he quotes.
In Chapter 3 (this is our fourth blog article), SY gives the necessary attitudes and practices that lead to the goal (see prior blog article). In sutras 1 - 4, SY enumerates the basics: even-mindedness under all circumstances, the study and intuitive contemplation of truth, and inner communion with the Holy Spirit in the form of the AUM vibration.
In sutras 5 and 6, SY states that Aum is heard through the cultivation of the heart's natural love. (There are specific meditation techniques that can hasten and deepen one's experience of Aum.) To commune with Aum takes courage, concentration, and devotion (and self-offering: an aspect of devotion).
It is most curious that a sage of "cold, calculating" wisdom would aver that the heart's natural love is the "principal requisite" to salvation. This divine and unconditional state of consciousness removes the fluctuations of desire and emotions, including giving strength and vitality, and expelling germs and viruses! The heart's natural love allows one to achieve true understanding and, most importantly, it magnetically draws to one the Godlike company of "divine personages."
Without the heart's natural love, one cannot live in harmony with nature or with God, SY counsels. This love gives to us courage to follow the directives and counsel of the "sat" (or true) guru. We can recognize, honor, cherish, and love those who dispel our doubts and avoid those who increase our doubts.
While others seek God in images, stones, in the heavens above, or in nature below, the Yogi seeks God within his own Self. To keep company with a true guru goes beyond physical proximity. More important is to hold the guru's presence in one's heart.
Moral courage is also strengthen by observances of the do's and don'ts of spirituality (taught by Patanjali as the "yamas" and the "niyamas").
SY then launches into a discussion of "What is Natural Living?" In this analysis he examines the teeth of humans and concludes that man is a frugivor, or fruit-eating species. This is confirmed by the relationship of the length of human bowels in relation to the length of the human body (as measured from mouth to anus). Frugivor includes vegetables, nuts, and grains.
He writes then of the calming lifestyle that brings the power of sexual desire into natural balance, and which then engenders, in turn, vitality and health. He speaks of the health value and natural instinct for fresh air in our dwelling places.
SY moves then to Sutras 12-18 in which he describes the eight bondages, or meannesses, of the heart. He lists them as hatred, shame, fear, grief, condemnation, race prejudice, pride of family, and smugness. Their removal leads, he writes, to "magnanimity of heart." This allows one to move to the next stages of the 8-Fold Path (of Patanjali): asana, pranayama, and pratyahara.
Asana is that pleasant and health filled state of the body induced by good posture and that, as a result, we can feel and think clearly.
Pranayama is described in way that far transcends the usual descriptions given in raja yoga: control over death. When we can consciously rest the involuntary nerves we can stop the decay of the material body (heart, lungs etc.).
In Pratyahara, SY describes how sense fulfillment never satisfies us. We are left hungry for more. By contrast, when we withdraw our attention from the senses inward toward the Self, we satisfy the heart's natural inclinations immediately.
SY goes on to address the 3 highest stages of the 8-Fold Path which, together, are described by Patanjali as "Samyama." By this latter term, SY means "restraint" or overcoming the egoistic self and the exchange of individuality for universality. This process includes the intuition of the heart to perceive truth, the steady concentration which results in merging with the object of contemplation and the inner communion with God as the Word (or Aum). He calls the latter "baptism" and "Bhakti yoga."
Next is described the castes, or different states of consciousness, of humankind. The dark heart, or sudra (servant) class, thinks the physical world is the only reality. This state is expressed in the evolution of human consciousness in the Kali Yuga (or dark) cycle of evolution. Interestingly, SY skips now to the Kshatriya (or warrior) class as the stage in which man struggles to know the truth and in which he is caught between the higher and lower states.
Next SY describes the states of consciousness prevalent during each of the four cycles of the yugas (described in his Introduction and in an earlier blog). He says that the consciousness of the second age, Dwapara Yuga, includes an appreciation of the finer, subtler forces of creation. In the Dwapara state the heart becomes steady and devoted to the inner world of these finer forces.
In Treta Yuga, the third age, we can comprehend magnetism and the heart, or Chitta. Man is said then to belong to the Vipra, or nearly perfect, class or Treta. Lastly we reach the "great world," or Maharloka, where the heart is clean and we become "knowers of Brahma" or Brahmans in the age of Satya (truth) Yuga.
SY concludes his third chapter (The Procedure) with a description of the 3 highest spheres of consciousness and the achievement of final release, or Kaivalya.
Thus is described the universal path to freedom in God.
Don't forget: our 4-part class in the Holy Science begins Wednesday, September 7, 7:30 p.m. at the Ananda Meditation Temple Register online for a 10% discount at www.AnandaSeattle.org. We are still working on streaming that class for those at a distance. If you are interested in the latter possibility, please contact us.