Advanced Yoga Practices
Lesson 93 - Changing Times
Date: Fri Jan 23, 2004 1:23pm
Q: I feel like meditation is going good, and I just took up spinal pranayama which is proving to be challenging to get through the clunky startup as you call it. With all the other things you introduced, I feel like I am going underwater. So many wonderful practices, and me so inadequate to do them. I doubt my worthiness for all this, yet I have so much desire to pursue the path to the end. I wish I had started this twenty years ago. I am going crazy with impatience, yet I know if I push too hard it could make problems. What should I do?
A: You are doing just right taking it one step at a time. While your emotions may be raging for the divine, you are clear on what must be done in what order, and what you can undertake now and what you can undertake later. And you will. It is coming together just right. Just take it one day at a time. You will know what to do next.
You suffer from a most blessed disease — intense bhakti. We should all have this disease. If we all did, the world would be transformed in one generation. I know it may not stem your impatience to hear that, but that is how it is with bhakti, you know. When we become acutely aware of our separation from the divine, we crave yoga like mad. We become mad for God. It is a blessed condition to be in. It will get much better as your experiences of union advance, and they will as you continue with daily practices.
Bhakti will continue to increase in all of us as time rolls on. There are powerful forces at work that are putting the spiritual winds at our back. All we have to do is put out the sails in the form of practices, and the spiritual winds constantly fanning our nervous system will do the rest.
Let’s step back for a minute and take a look at the big picture that we are all part of. We are living in very interesting times. Back in the 1960s, Bob Dylan sang, “The times, they are a-changing.” It was certainly true then, and it is even more true now.
Depending on which astrological approach you consider, the earth has been, or will soon be, entering a “new age” of enlightenment. In Sanskrit, these ages are called “yugas.” The new one may have started over a hundred years ago. Or it may be starting now. It has been a popular topic since those early Dylan days. But an emergence was occurring in the world of yoga long before then. The start of a new age is not an instantaneous event. It starts with a long gradual build-up, and it keeps accelerating as momentum grows. Quite a lot has happened already, and we are whisking along at an ever-increasing pace.
Around the turn of the last century, Vivekananda, a leading disciple of Ramakrishna, came to the West and planted the first seeds of yoga that found some fertile soil and sprouted. Twenty years later, Paramahansa Yogananda came and found even more receptivity than Vivekananda did. By the time Maharishi Mahesh Yogi came along in the 1960s, a whole generation of disaffected baby boomers was ready to jump into yoga in a big way, with a little help from the Beatles, of course. Since those days, hundreds of yogis have come to the west from India, and thousands of “next generation” western yogis and yoginis have stepped up to the teaching podium. Actually, in the past couple of decades, things have gotten a bit muddled, a bit confused. So many different approaches to yoga have come up that it is hard to know which brand of yoga is the real one, if there is even such a thing as “the real yoga.” Will the real yoga please stand up? There are many volunteers for this exalted position, of course. Some have even gone to court to stake their claim on your nervous system. There have always been those who would like to be in charge of your gateway to heaven. Well, never mind that.
So, in a century we have gone from having no yoga to having so many different kinds that we are looking at a proverbial yoga “Tower of Babel.”
That’s okay. It is a good thing. Obviously, it can’t stay splintered in a thousand pieces like that forever. Sooner or later it will be distilled down to something (or several somethings) that the average ready-to-become-enlightened person can grab hold of. In the next few decades the name of the game is going to be, “consolidation,” “integration,” “optimization,” “simplification.”
Pick any of those, and you will have the idea. It will be the scientific method that will produce this distillation of the knowledge of yoga, so the widespread application of it will become practical.
When personal computers first came out, you needed to know an archaic language like, “BASIC” or “DOS” to get anything done. Computing was an esoteric world for geeks. Then the mouse and graphical user interface came along, and suddenly the doors to easy computing were flung open for everyone. It was a revolution.
This has been the story with many applications of knowledge over the centuries. It starts out with a few “geeks” who establish a beach head in applying a type of knowledge. Then, later on, some researchers figure out how to make it easy for everyone to apply the knowledge. It nearly always boils down to simplifying the user interface, the main controls, so anyone can apply the knowledge with good results. Useful technology is “user friendly.” Remember the Wright Brothers? Remember Henry Ford? Remember Thomas Edison? They all simplified the interface between users and the application of powerful knowledge.
This is what is going to happen with yoga. It must happen. Millions of people are feeling the spiritual winds rising inside them in this new age, and the sails of practice must be pulled up. It is time for the full range of yoga knowledge to be made user friendly.
Nothing is new in yoga. All of the components of practice have been around for thousands of years. Natural principles don’t change. The human nervous system has always had the same natural abilities. There have been enlightened times in the past when yoga has flourished. In darker times, the vision was less clear about the possibilities in us. There was heavy doubt, superstition, and fear. But a few have always been playing around with applications of yogic knowledge. Doing it in secret in the darker times, because they’d get strung up if they got too public with their endeavors. They have been the “geeks” of yoga, you know. The pioneers who created the esoteric traditions. We owe much to the great old-time yogis. They have given us the seeds of knowledge necessary to proceed full speed ahead into the new age. Now it is up to this generation, and the coming ones, to develop and utilize simplified interfaces with the human nervous system utilizing yogic knowledge, so many will be able to take up yoga practices and have good success.
The new age is not just about the spiritual winds coming up behind us from the cosmos. The enlightenment game is not a spectator sport. We have to get in the game if we want to have the benefits. We have to put up the sails of practices to take the ride. As we do, this earth will continue to become a better place. As we bring the reality of pure bliss consciousness and divine ecstasy into the earth plane through our practices, everything will change. There will be light and love rising everywhere in abundance. It will not be an ideological occurrence. It will be a real energy transformation, palpable to all who live on the earth. With nervous systems everywhere becoming powerful radiators of pure bliss consciousness and divine ecstasy, no one will be left in the dark. Lingering doubts will be swept away. The winds of bhakti will carry us ever forward. All we have to do is keep up the sails of our daily practices. Our nervous system will take care of the rest.
The guru is in you.