Article by Lynn Fraser, reprinted from Yoga Center of Calgary newsletter.
Real spirituality comes from self effort, sincerity and inner wisdom.
We are citizens of two worlds, the internal and external. If we can’t tear ourselves away from attachments to the material world, we will never explore the inner world and find a balance between the two. We can train the mind to understand the internal needs, motivations, desires that move us in the external world. We let the external world affect us more than it should, for example when we take other people’s judgments as part of ourselves.
Yoga is a science by which we learn to know ourselves by researching our inner realms. It helps us explore not what to be but how to be. Faith develops with the help of reasoning based on our own direct experience.
We can enjoy and live in the external world yet still structure our lives so they don’t create barriers to self unfoldment. Externals ultimately don’t satisfy our desire to know ourselves from within. Within the eight rungs of yoga are paths suitable for all types of people.
One size jacket doesn’t fit everyone.
This is also true for religious beliefs and spiritual paths
Karma yoga is service. Actions performed with love give us freedom. Mother Teresa is a good example of karma yoga.
Bhakti yoga is love and devotion which can lead to the highest state of ecstasy. It is the path of the heart, not of the mind. Jesus was a bhakti, overflowing with love for all.
Jnana yoga is the path of knowledge. Here we use the mind to discriminate the real from the unreal, asking “who am I?” until we realize the Truth. It is called the path of the razor’s edge.
Kundalini yoga, a subject of great interest in the west, involves learning to awaken the dormant power within. Included in kundalini yoga are hatha yoga and pranayama, nada yoga, mantra yoga and Sri Vidya. Kundalini yoga involves a long and sincere practice of purification and expanding your capacity or the flood of energy released could harm you.
Raja yoga is systematized and scientific, works with the eight limbs or rungs of yoga and includes the other paths. Raja yogis control and direct all their energy, desires, emotions and thoughts to the centre of consciousness and attain samadhi. It is suitable for a variety of people and is a good place to start the practice of yoga.
All paths lead to the same height from where everything is clear. The first step on all paths is to resolve “I will, I can, and I have to”. Practicing with self discipline gives us self confidence and the strength to face life and live fully. Working gently and systematically, we find peace and joy and calm. These signs are clear indications of progress.
The paths differ but the goal is only one.
Resources: Choosing A Path, Swami Rama, Himalayan Institute Press
Contact: Lynn Fraser [email protected]