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Index of Articles: by Gordon Smith

The Spirit of Mantra
Christian Yoga
Yoga or Religion
Awakening the Heart Chakra

Article by: Ted Lovett

Krishna's First Lesson to Arjuna - Reincarnation
(first published in the CYF Newsletter 1988)


The Spirit of Mantra

The word Mantra is defined in my Sanskrit dictionary as a sacred word or phrase of spiritual significance and power; hymns; "that which saves the one who reflects" (from the verb root man = "to think"); form of sound.

A mantra is a verbal formula, a sound structure of significance and they can be used to create, modify, or destroy gross material things. Anyone who has sailed in a ships fo’c’sle, or spent time in the army, will be aware of low type mantras of a repetitive and rudimentary nature, that can be threatening and forceful expressions of not always harmonious intent.

Mantras that are pleasant sounding, if not completely understood, are occasionally used in Yoga classes, as they help focus the mind and are often spiritually uplifting. Yoga Mantras are linked to the Sanskrit language and to a time when ancient seers divined the language and saw its sound structures as the underlying template that gives rise to the material world.

This awareness of the creative power of the word is not confined to Sanskrit as we read in St. John’s Gospel ch1.v1. In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. The Greeks had a name for this word, and it was Logos, which also means ratio, that is the ratio of all things.

Mantras can be said aloud, whispered, repeated mentally and the essence of the sound carried into the stillness that is beyond form, and it is these levels of application that can help us to understand them.

My own teacher Eugene Halliday, who had mastered the difficult Sanskrit language, when speaking about the transforming power of words, referred to consonants as personalised spirit and the vowels as representing pure spirit.

To have the spiritual insight to unlock the spiritual significance of words and mantra is an unusual gift and the Yogi who is competent to arrange a mantra is called a mantrakara. An important start to understanding the spiritual significance of words and mantra is to be clear about meaning, as words have different levels of significance. A passive vocabulary consists of words, that because of their emotional charge tend to control us and these can be powerful tools in the hands of those who have undertaken some motivational research and want to control or sell us something. An active vocabulary consists of words that we can clearly define and of which we have full control.

Clearly defined words help to raise our understanding to that level of Truth, which first gave them utterance. To unlock the spirit of mantra will

initially require the help of a mantrakara Guru, or a realised being able to guide our meditations, and unlock the spiritual significance of the many words and phrases we use.

For example: - the words ‘Praise Be To God’, starts with the consonant ‘P’ which can be represented as the Positing power of spirit, and when whispered, as form without substance.

‘R’ is representative of the principle of differentiation.

‘PR’ as power differentiation raises our understanding to the level of the ordering power of spirit, expressed as word or logos.

This ‘PR’ root is seen in the word Prana, which is defined by Vivekanada in his Raja Yoga, as the Infinite manifesting Power of the Universe.

This level of Jnana Yoga or knowledge, wisdom, is an important step on the way to liberation (moksa), with each letter of the alphabet a part of the sound geometry of the universe and of spirit moving into and out of form.

We are not all gifted with knowledge of Sanskrit or the insight to unlock the spirit of mantra, interestingly a visiting Yogi, told us, that it was not necessary to understand all the words, only to repeat the mantra. There could be some truth in this as mantra with its repetitions (japa), channels the thought processes of the mind, and its rhythmic intonation into the space and spirit beyond its formal patterns.

However, it is better to understand the mantra rather than approach it blindly and according to (Sakta) philosophy, a mantra is so called because it saves one who meditates on its significance.

It is interesting to note the relationship that exists between Mantra, Yantra and Mudra, as they are all aspects of each other.

Mantra is a specially structured sound symbol.

Yantra is the diagram or pattern formed by the underlying sound pattern and provides a way of looking at reality.

Mudra is the living embodiment of spirit and form and is occasionally seen in the gestures of sacred dance and meditation.

The ultimate purpose of mantra is the Divine marriage between the highest expressions of spirit and the material world.

Gordon Smith
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Christian Yoga

The greatest Yogi was Jesus of Nazareth, as he came to fulfil the law. Not the law of mortal beings, but the law and will of God. This condemned him to crucifixion, as he exhibited a level of free will that ran contrary to the establishment of the day. He spoke with authority, not the authority backed by man made laws, but with the authority of someone who spoke as one of the elect. Christ saw through and beyond the web of this world, with its trials and tribulations, and could with a glance or touch, relieve suffering and heal the sick. This was not an extra-ordinary gift for someone who was at one with the creator of all life, as he was at one with the Divine template, the truth that underlies and defines mortal existence. It is fallen man that distorts the true picture and the catalytic power of Christ’s vision, and presence that makes whole, hence Christ’s admonition, ‘go and sin no more’.

The true spirit of Jesus exists in everyone, and the practising Yogi, although not in the familiar words of the church, seeks to find the same spirit in him/herself.

Self recognition is the goal of the Yogi and ultimately continual Self remembrance. There are two aspects to the Self, like a two way mirror, one looks outward to the world, guided by the senses five. The other way of looking is inward into the pristine stillness, from which the soul was formed.

The outward and worldly looking, that can so easily captivate us and influence our self-development from generation to generation, we call the exoteric and because it is so often self-limiting, it is usually spelt with a small ‘s’. The reflexive techniques of inward looking to the guiding spirit within, the esoteric, releases us from the self-limitation imposed by the external world and awakens the soul to a more Conscious and visionary way of life and here we refer to the Self by writing with a large ‘S’.

The middle ground that mediates between the inner and outer worlds is the mesoteric and realm of the Observer, the watcher and Self conscious being able to break the dominion and interests of the temporal world, guided by the pure ground of the eternal, that has existed from before time.

The highest form of Yoga exhibited by Christ is the most difficult; as we have for generations invested so much energy in outward looking that it has become the habitual way of responding to stimulus. These energy patterns have become so habitual that they not only condition human behaviour, but also influence the energy patterns of the life fields of which we are a part.

Every thought in the human mind has an emotional charge, even hidden thoughts,

thoughts we would like to ignore and suppress, given the opportunity, still seek to find self-expression.

In this context, the words of Jesus "I and my Father are One", have a tremendous significance, as the Will of God, the Will of the eternal unchanging Self, is not the will of mortal beings with their limited perspectives, but arises from a vision that that encompasses all universes from the smallest to the greatest.

When you know yourself as Will, in the highest sense of the word, you can in accord with the greatest Yogi, truthfully repeat the words "I and my Father are One".

All Yogis work toward achieving this highest ideal of Yoga, Union with the Absolute Good, or Will of God, made understandable and possible by the Greatest Yoga, the Son/Sun of God.

This highest level of Raja Yoga, the Yoga of Kings, requires continual watchfulness, as most actions, no matter how well intentioned, have hidden within them, some private purpose, that will have some karmic debt to repay.

To become a disciple of the Greatest Yogi, is to become like Arjuna the Charioteer and hero of the Bhavadgita, as you will meet many friendly faces along the Way, called comfort and desire, and an easy life, couched in meaningful words, which when challenged by the immediacy of the Self, will burst like bubbles on the wind.

Gordon Smith
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Yoga or Religion?

Often we hear strong denials that Yoga is not a religion. Although the words Yoga and Religion are not originally of the same language, they are in essence related and as far as any words can be are synonyms.

The word Religion means to rebind, that is to bind back to the source. The ‘lig’ root in the word is found in words like ligature, meaning to bind. The word Yoga is used in a similar sense in that it means to yoke or join with the source of one’s being.

Most Yoga practitioners have no desire to offend the established church and when we hear of the occasional Yoga class being banned from a church hall. The statement often accompanies that Yoga is not a Religion. This can be made in all earnestness when the exercises are taken out of context and it is believed they belong in sports or keep fit category.

To the knowledgeable and discerning Yoga reaches far beyond matters that relate just to health and into the philosophical and spiritual realms in a way that no other practice can.

The Yoga Philosopher seeks to discover the link factors that exist between all manners of disciplines, ideals and different religious practices, so that a more holistic view of life is developed.

No matter how strong the denial that there is a connection between Yoga and Religion, for those who practise Yoga there will be gradual awakening to what is best described as the dawning of the spiritual. To concentrate on Hatha Yoga leads to a truer and nobler way of life, with improved control in all aspects of living. Even the most physically orientated individual can glimpse the way of the Bhakti, as without love for what we are doing there can be no real progress.

Recently I spoke with someone who had attended several Yoga classes and he thought that Yoga was somewhat selfish and self orientated. In

Some aspects he was right as Yoga is toward a higher selfishness that ultimately transcends the lower orientation of the self and ego.

Self-Realisation as the goal of Yoga is best expressed if spelled with a capitol ‘S’ rather than otherwise as it is the level of transcendence and immediacy of spirit that transcends ego.

If there is uneasiness about things Eastern why not practice Christian Yoga, as it will be discovered that as knowledge and understanding deepens, inconsistencies melt away and that there will be awareness of the best practice and with The Way, The Truth and The Life.

It is the quality of the Will that is of importance and The Way is the Will to the highest. The Truth is the light of Consciousness expressed as Logos or Word. The Life is the Love that works for the development of the potentiality of all beings.

This does not mean that there are different powers as the Trinity expresses the triune nature of an Absolute that is without limit yet complete in itself. Whether or not we use a traditional Yoga terminology or not, it is important that we define our terms correctly and clearly as this will help dispel fear. As ultimate reality id Divine Power that is only limited within us by lack of understanding and misrepresentation.

Yoga is about relationship between all levels and with each other. The Will of God includes the birds of the air, the fish of the sea as well as man. It is identification with difference that separates us from each other. Yoga is the opposite movement and is towards integration and understanding.

We speak in differing tongues and language but Yoga like the different spokes in a wheel links us into a harmonious whole, which is life itself.

Gordon Smith
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Awakening the Heart Chakra

Non-Yogic man is a divided being, caught in a body of ancestral inertias. It is a body, which for generations has had to fight for survival. During the Ice Age, to be aggressive and able to hunt the sabre toothed tiger and other wild animals was an admirable quality, as it ensured survival and food for the cave dwelling family.

Today the qualities of aggression and fierceness when they come to the surface in a civilised community, if at a football match or wherever, is no longer considered a virtue unless the nation be at war, when the fighting man resumes those qualities that ensure survival

The inherited tendencies in man to procreate and survive are very strong indeed and every man must recognise the tendency for his head to turn and his gaze follow every attractive girl that passes by. That which turns his head is patterned deep within his protoplasm and is the pressure of his ancestors seeking rebirth. The same can be said of the female who attracts the male in more subtle ways, with her interest in fashion and clothes. One is here reminded of the sea anemone, attracting the interest of every small fish that passes by. None of these qualities do we really associate with individual free will?

Reflexive Self Consciousness

Fortunately man has another quality and that is his ability to be reflexive and look deep within himself for the answers. To break identification with the inertic demands of the outer world has taken time and often with the guidance of enlightened teachers both religious and Yogic. These visionaries who can see beyond the limitations of the finite world have seen a greater purpose for mankind and have outlined the steps to be taken in order to put their houses in order whether Physical, Emotionally, Mindfully and Ideationally in order and reach the highest levels of Spiritual Self Awareness.

The Heart Chakra

The heart chakra lies central to the way we feel and its seed symbol (Yantra) is a six-pointed star, one triangle is pointing downward to the earth and the other apex upward. For the Nada Yogi listening for the inner sounds both physical and spiritual the H-ear-t is the centre from which we can listen to sounds of our ancestors, educators, parents etc, that still try to exert control at some level and those from a much higher spiritual source so that resolution can be found at the very centre of our being.

The Mystic Rose

Meditations of the heart are very much Bhakti meditations that enable us to mediate between the world of spirit and the temporal world of every day life, as the way we feel not only influences our actions but also the health and chemistry of the body. We have here chosen the rose as a Mandela for the heart chakra as it is a symbol of love and development, which when coupled with the light of consciousness can become a powerful link with higher levels of consciousness.

It is important to note at this stage that the foundations of Yoga i.e. the Yamas and Niyamas are well established otherwise the more refined levels of spiritual consciousness will find difficulty in finding resolution at the level of the physical and if not accepted can cause problems of a psychosomatic nature.

Meditation

When meditating visualise a rose at the centre of feeling within the heart, make it as beautiful and as perfect as you can. The rose is a creation of Intelligence and light, once established let the image of the rose fade back into the light from which it came, holding the feeling of perfection allow the image of the rose to return more beautiful than ever its light refining the way that you feel. Light is a symbol for consciousness and as the meditation continues, the form of the rose and the light or essence from which it arises will become inseparable and the whole body will become filled with light. The breath also will become peaceful and refined and experienced as a healing breath throughout the body.

Gordon Smith
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Krisna’s First Lesson to Arjuna – Reincarnation 

Introduction

Students of the Bhagavad Gita will be aware that the first lesson given by Krishna to his student, Arjuna, was on the topic of Reincarnation. This being the first lesson in Yoga it can be assumed that the topic is of first rate importance for a full understanding of Yoga philosophy.

Reincarnation or rebirth is a teaching which, in the West, was at one time accepted by the early church fathers but around about 553 A.D. it was pronounced a heresy with dire penalties for anyone who taught or discussed the idea openly.

To-day, in a climate of far greater freedom of thought, we find that the teaching has resurfaced and serious thought is now being given as to its validity. This has come about following recent academic research which is concerning itself with (a) people who have clear personal memories of past lives (b) reported revelations of such earlier lives through the techniques of hypnotic regression and (c) the migratory nature of consciousness which appears to occur as a result of out of the body experiences and near death experiences.

The present general interest in the subject is largely centred in its application to human lifetimes but the teachings of Yoga in the Bhagavad Gita go much further than this. They indicate that the natural laws underlying the phenomenon of human birth, death and reincarnation are reflections of a great Universal and Cosmic Law of Cyclic Recurrence. Hence there is found in the Bhagavad Gita a reference also to a vast system of Cosmology which tells of the coming into being of the Universe of which humans are part, its subsequent passing away and its coming into being again.

Thus the teaching of reincarnation, as taught by the Yogis, is consonant with those axiomatic statements to be found in all esoteric literature that "Life is One and Indivisible", that "man is a microcosm of the macrocosm" and that the great law is "As above-so below".

For the purpose of this article we shall take a look at the teaching from both points of view, i.e. the individual (The microcosmic) and the Universal (The Macrocosmic).

The Individual

The key statements made by Krishna to Arjuna are set out in Chapter 2 of the Gita and read as follows:-

"You (the inner Self) were never born – you will never die. Unborn, Eternal, and Immutable you do not die when the bodily sheaths are discarded".

"The bodies or vehicles which enclose the immortal spiritual self (that which we know as "I") are mortal but he (the Inner Self) who dwells in the bodies is Immortal and Immeasurable".

"As a man abandons worn out clothes and acquires new ones, so when the bodies are worn out new ones are acquired by the Self who lives within."

"There has never been a time when you or I or any of the people here have not existed-nor will there be a time when we shall cease to exist. So the wise grieve not for the living or the dead."

Comment

On reading this for the first time we are prone to think of it as all very fine and

encouraging, full of hope and giving meaning and purpose to life. But if we have no direct experience of the statements made we can only accept the idea of past, present and future lives on a basis of blind faith. But for the Westerner of to-day this is exceedingly difficult because we tend to want everything to be proved evidentially to our own satisfaction. And so we look to the scientist and researcher to provide us with such proof.

But can the scientist and researcher provide us with the irrefutable proof we seek? The classical Yoga texts say they cannot. There is a passage in the in the Katha Upanishad where it is stated that:-

"The Self (that which reincarnates) is not known through the study of writings or through the sublety of the intellect, nor through much learning

These books tell us that the proof of the teaching can only come about as a direct result of inner mystical experiences and that to have such experiences calls for the development of a level of conscious awareness which completely transcends our normal every day five-sense consciousness.

This transcendental state of awareness is known in Sanskrit and in the Yoga texts as "Samadhi" and in the West as Cosmic Consciousness. Students will recognise the "Samadhi" state as the end aim of the practice of the 8 limbs of Yoga and that this tends to be brought about by special types of meditational work.

The Universal

Reincarnation as a Universal Law is to be found in Chapter 8 of the Bhagavad Gita. In a few brief sentences it teaches that a Universe comes into manifestation and after millions of year’s passes away only to be followed in time by reformation and rebirth at another level.

The key sentences, taken from the translation by Prabhavananda and Isherwood are as follows:-

"There is day, also, and night in the Universe. The wise know this, declaring the day of Brahma a thousand ages in span and the night a thousand ages.

"Day dawns and all those lives that lay hidden asleep come forth and show themselves mortally manifest. Night falls and all are dissolved into the sleeping germ of life.

"Thus they are seen, O Prince, and appear unceasingly, dissolving with the dark and with the day returning back to a new birth, new death. They do what they must.

Comment

These passages are not elaborated to any great extent in the Bhagavad Gita itself. They can, however, be looked upon as a somewhat poetic representation of a vast system of Cosmology known to ancient sages called "the wise". It is also very apparent that they taught that all Life in the Universe is subject to a Universal Law of Cyclic Activity and Rest.

For more detailed information about this tremendous system of Cosmology we have to turn to other Eastern literature or the more modern writings of those who claimed to have had mystical or occult insights – people like Swedenborg, Blavatski, Steiner, Heindel and others.

In this literature we find that the "Day" period mentioned above represents the active outward life period of the universe whilst the "Night" period represents the period of rest, inactivity or death, which ever term is preferred.

Next we are told that the "day" and "night" periods of the Universal Cyclic periods are a thousand ages each. These periods, in Hindu literature, are known as "kalpas" and each "kalpa" is said to have a duration of 4,230 million years. But within this vast cycle there are lesser cycles which govern the coming into existence, passing away and rebirth of the Sun, Moon and Planets etc. Which in their orbits also affect the life of men and nations.

For example Rudolph Steiner in his work "An outline of occultism" tells us that our earth has been through three major planetary incarnations and is now in its fourth. It is now virtually halfway through a major septenary period. This is a teaching which is also found in the books written by H. P. Blavatski and Max Heindel.

It is interesting here to note that this huge cycle of Cosmic Days and Nights or periods of birth, death and reincarnation has a remarkable similarity to modern astronomical theory about the expanding and contracting Universe or the Big Bang theory put forward by present day physics and cosmology. Perhaps too the mysterious "Black holes" may have some relevance.

It is also noticeable that this cycle is also a parallel to the genesis story of the creation of the world in seven days and seven nights once we can accept that the Genesis cycle may refer to Cosmic Days and nights rather than the seven days of our calendar week.

In the second or third quotations at the top of the preceding page we are told that all those lives that lay hidden and asleep reappear in manifestation in the active (or day) period and then go back into a state of rest again in the next night period. Further this activity goes on unceasingly.

Thus the concept of the reincarnation teaching is that the life of the individual human being is one of those lives which has been in and out of manifestation throughout the whole evolutionary process.

The relationship of the individual and Universal aspects

When the teachings about the cycles of personal incarnations are seen in the context of the grander Universal scheme of the birth, death, and rebirth of the manifest Universe it is possible to see the teaching of Reincarnation against the background of the heart and core teachings of Yoga which is the Holistic concept of the "Fundamental Unity of All Existence".

The teaching is that that we as humans are part of and of the same nature as the Universe itself. We have evolved with it and can be said to have been there at the beginning and will be there at the end of all the unceasing cycles of Cosmic activity.

Ted Lovett. (First published in the CYF Bulletin Autumn 1988) Download Back to Index

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