We live in an age of Ego! An age of the Individual. This is not a critique because former centuries, medieval times, was an Age of Serfs. These labels are not precise but they are like pointers: by "serfs" I mean that upward mobility, individual liberties, opportunities for creative advancement were rare, so rare that few even dreamed of them.
In this age, the age of Ego or Individual, we demand our rights; our freedoms; and the opportunity to pursue our dreams and desires. Just as some serfs might have become war lords or kings, so some individuals today are more like indentured serfs. It is a mixed bag but each age has its overriding character and ours is the age of ego.
In the great epic of India, the Mahabharata, one of the lead characters, named Bhishma,
Until that final supreme act of renunciation, the soul, identified with the body, can roam for countless lifetimes through the halls of an infinite and unending creation.
So it is that the ego claims for itself even its spiritual victories. We can, for example, find ourselves proud of our humility. Such is the paradox of the delusion of ego. Attachment blinds the ego so that even its idealism can turn to ashes.
This lesson is the story of the Sackler family: founders of Purdue Pharma, makers of the oxycontin opoid. Three brothers, Arthur, Raymond and Mortimer, set out to help to millions of people who suffer from chronic pain.
First Valium and later Oxycontin were supposed to be harmless and non-addictive. But their goals were quickly submerged by greed, dissolved in what became an irresistible high-energy marketing campaign. Their claims of harmlessness were false and before they could be called to account they had pocketed billions of dollars at the expense of countless lives and great suffering. The philanthropy of the Sackler family seemed at first idealistic but later presumably became a subconscious act of expiation. In the end, even their acts of philanthropy were disavowed.
In our age of reason, evidence, and science we imagine it is we, our egos, that are in control. We imagine that the history of humanity is one of emerging intelligence and power rather than a long decline from higher awareness of a long past golden age. Whether for good or ill, the ego claims or blames itself or other egos. Few see the hidden hand of karmic law and divine intervention silently guiding our destinies.
In our high handed sense of individuality we look back in time or even in the present time at those who conduct rituals, symbolic offerings and sacrifices, as acts of superstition. While superstition cannot be denied, perhaps such rituals are a residue of something deeper and more powerful leftover from a time long lost in history when humanity communed with God in nature. We scoff at sun worshipers but are we sure we know what we are scoffing at? Can we say for sure that images of the sun weren't but symbols for something far greater?
According to the teaching in India of the cycles of time, the Yugas, there will come a time two thousand years or so from now that human consciousness will begin to acquire mental power. In our present age, humanity suffers from memory loss and inability to concentrate. But long ago and to come again in future millennia exists an age where mental power is beyond what the grasp of the human mind in the present age. I am convinced that the practice of meditation is the beginning of a long period of transformation into the next higher age. Meditation enhances concentration and psychic ability.
In the next age, the third or Treta Age, Swami Sri Yukteswar, the guru of Paramhansa Yogananda, says that humanity will comprehend divine magnetism. He doesn't define divine magnetism because he says, as I've already quoted, it is beyond our grasp at this time. But he is speaking of the general run of human consciousness. Nothing prevents you or me from attempting to seek such comprehension.
What is magnetism and how is it created? When electricity flows through a wire, an electromagnetic field is created around the wire. That field has magnetic properties. Electricity, Sri Yukteswar says, is the animal current of magnetism: meaning it possesses very little intelligence! But when a human being concentrates with great intensity and for a length of time, even years, on a goal there is created a magnetism that draws toward himself the natural consequences of that magnetism, for better or worse.
Divine magnetism, then, would be a term that acknowledges that the intelligence, consciousness and will-power energy necessary to create magnetism comes from a higher level of consciousness than that of the individual. Paramhansa Yogananda said as much in his well known statement that "thoughts are universally not individually rooted."
So we return then to what appears on the surface as the vestiges of superstition: prayers of sacrifice and ritual offering. There was a time in descending Treta Yuga, which ended about 3,000 BC, when humanity had intuitive awareness of divine magnetism and could, by mental power, attune himself to accomplish whatever he sought. Let me quote from chapter three of the Bhagavad Gita:
10. Prajapati (God in the aspect of Creator) brought mankind into manifestation, and in so doing gave man the potential for self-offering into a higher (than human) awareness (through yagya). Along with this gift He enjoined mankind, “Whatever you desire, seek it by offering energy back to the source of all energy. Let this sacrifice (yagya) be your milch cow of fulfillment.”
11. (Prajapati continued:) “With this offering, commune with the devas (shining angels), that they may commune also with you. Through such mutual communion you will arrive at the highest good.”
12. (Prajapati concluded:) “By communion with the devas you will receive from them the (earthly) fulfillments you desire. He who enjoys the gifts of the gods without returning due offering (of energy) to them is, verily, a thief.”
The simple act of blessing your food before meals is both a holdover and yet also an affirmation of this universal truth. We might do this by mere force of habit, or, hopefully with conscious gratitude and recognition but it is symbolic of this all-but-forgotten truth. Our universe, our body and our life is the result of magnetic forces.
The Vedas, it is believed, appeared during the previous (descending)Treta Yuga. In the Vedas there exists a body of literature and ritual called the Karma Kanda. These are prayers and sacrifices for obtaining material and egoic goals. As human consciousness was steadily declining away from subtle awareness, these rituals were created that humankind would know from whence comes material sustenance, lest we forget entirely.
We live in an age where, for the most part, humanity, engrossed in the material world of reason and science, believes we are the doers of our fate. This is a good beginning but it is only a small part of the picture of human destiny. Enlightenment, Yogananda taught, is achieved by what is only 25% of our effort; 25% the effort of the savior or guru; and 50% the grace of God. While our effort is 100% of our will power the final goal takes much more. Even worldly success, when studied sensitively, depends on other people and the surrounding culture and circumstances. I believe it was the scientist, Max Planck who noted that scientific breakthroughs were achieved on the shoulders of those who came before.
Learn to tune into divine magnetism: first, the magnetism created by your own focused devotion in daily meditation; then, in the magnetism of offering all that you are, do and possess back to God in gratitude and for the operation of the divine will for your soul upliftment and the benefit of others.
Those who practice advanced pranayams like Kriya Yoga can relate to the divine intelligence in the astral body as the "shining angels" of the chakras. Magnetism results from the devotional practice of pranayam drawing to oneself higher awareness and the help needed to grow spiritually.
Magnetism rules our destiny: first the magnetism of our past actions, which is to say our karma. Then, the magnetism created by our present actions. But if we lack will power and focus, our magnetism will be weak. Meditation can help develop concentration and will power and when meditation, and every act we perform, is offered into the divine magnetism for guidance, we can only find increasing happiness. "Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven, and all these things will be added unto you!"
God is the Doer. We did not ask to be created. We did not create this vast and awesome universe. Let us tune into the divine magnetism that creates and sustains all life, however invisibly to our sense and to our ego-awareness. Fear not and complain not but do your best and leave the rest.
In divine friendship,