Monday, August 29, 2011

The Holy Science - The Last Chapter

This is my final blog post on Swami Sri Yukteswar's (only) book, The Holy Science. I've never encountered a book so abstruse (meaning deep but requiring depth to plumb) by one who I accept as Self-realized. Many a book can be found that seems abstruse or deep but only by obfuscation imitating realization. This is not one such book. While Sri Yukteswar's greatest disciple, Paramhansa Yogananda wrote and lectured in ways more transparent and attuned to modern culture and hence I recommend those writings (and those of his direct disciple, Swami Kriyananda), I can still appreciate the timelessness and the culturally transcendent vibration of The Holy Science. One can glean from its reading, therefore, a wisdom that touches the "cells" and the higher Self, bypassing the intellect's obvious inability to rationalize his writings into a "system."

In the last chapter of the book, Chapter 4, THE REVELATION, Sri Yukteswar pulls the veil from the eternal truth ("Sanaatan Dharma). He begins by describing three stages of "adeptship." The publisher's English translation uses this term "adeptship" which is rarely employed these days but which we can assume as "mastery" (self-mastery or becoming a "master").

The three stages are aligned with the physical body, the subtle (astral) body, and the causal body of the mind. Natural living can help purify the body. "Penance" (another somewhat out of date term) describes the purification of our feeling sense, or astral / electrical body. Patience is the way to purify the astral body. It is the art of remaining even-minded and cheerful under all circumstances. A yogi might say it is the calming of the chitta (the emotional and reactive processes). Sri Yukteswar uses the term "magnetic body" to describe the causal body and says that purification of the mind comes through the power of mantra. Wow: how are we going to understand these simple but incredibly deep solutions? Mantra is not just repeating a word formula. It is a vibration of consciousness. Mantras as we know them are portals to higher consciousness and should be used intelligently, with will power and devotion. True mantra is not merely recited but actually heard in meditation. A great of reverence and sacred tradition accompanies the giving of mantras from the guur or teacher to the chela, or disciple. Indeed, Sri Yukteswar says simply that one must learn these practices from one's guru.

This purification process is greatly aided by control of the breath and through techniques that would reveal to one the inner sound of Aum. Aum can, he writes, even arrest the decay of body cells. He says that the Aum sounds appears in different forms as we progress spiritually.

Through the development of the heart's natural love one magentically draws the blessing of a true guru. By practice of the do's and don'ts (yama and niyama of Patanjali), the eight meanesses of the human heart. He uses several terms for different stages: "pravartaka" is one who has begun his sadhana (spiritual disciplines) under the guidance of his guru. As the heart opens one becomes a "sadhaka" and becomes fit for ascetic posture and other practices given to him by his guru. As the devotee progresses and hears the Aum sound and grows in advancement he becomes a divine personage, a "siddha."

After this he passes through the seven centers of the spine (the chakras). In time and with depth one achieves supremacy over the seven "swargas" (or heavens) or spheres. By dissolving the four original ideas (see first blog) or the four manus, one achieves self-mastery and achieves oneness with God.

Certain powers may manifest in a master: the power of making the body (or anything else) small, or large, or light, or heavy, or achieving any object sought.

Swami Sri Yukteswar, the cold, calculating sage of wisdom, then concludes love is the ruling principle of spiritual growth and without out it, no progress on the spiritual path can be made.

I invite you to our four-part class series (4 Wednesdays) beginning September 7. We expect to have a streaming option for those at a distance. Please contact us right away if you would like to attend whether in person or virtually.


Nayaswami Hriman