The world is becoming a global village and the many varieties of religious experience flow between cultures. You would think that by combining the wisdom of the world’s saints that we could make the spiritual journey easier. However, this has not happened.
The saints of all the major religious traditions have left us with remarkably similar descriptions of the psychology of God. They describe the same transformation. However, they use different words to describe the same psychological transformations.
Saints of the Christian, Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist traditions have divided the spiritual journey into the same number of transformations with the same types of experiences.
They have each discovered the psychology of God, but this vital tool has remained hidden in plane view. Each culture uses different words to describe the same psychology.
Though the idea of God is a construct of human psyche, it is a construct based on a particular quality or characteristic indwelling the human psyche. Though there are many widely differing ideas of God in human history, the archetype named “God” is universal. Since human psyche is part of reality, the archetype-named-God is a part of God. The image of God within the human psyche is not merely metaphor, but even more real than the traditional Biblical interpretation has imagined it to be.
The psychology of God and the psychology of cosmos are one and the same.
To most of us, that will sound like an astounding idea. It challenges our belief systems at several levels simultaneously, but it presents the idea of deity which best fits this expanded view of the cosmos.
In speaking of the dynamic of cosmic consciousness, I am not implying a less than omniscient God, or seeking to diminish or “explain away” the concept of God. Quite the contrary. The quality of omniscience lies in the totality of God, a totality both physical and psychical, whose Mystery is considerably more than merely “ground of being”.
When westerners study with eastern saints we make only slow progress and rarely move beyond our human prejudices to embrace the psychology of God. When easterners embrace western religion they rarely rise to the levels shown by the many great Christian saints.
However, the saints of all the major religious traditions have left us with remarkably similar descriptions of the psychology of God. They describe the same transformation. However, they use different words to describe the same psychological transformations.
This is because each culture is based on only one part of God’s psychology. They have taken that aspect and explored it thoroughly, while ignoring other as aspects. Each culture holds so tightly to its vision that it makes it difficult, if not impossible, for them to learn from other cultures. Even when people from one culture study with saints of another culture they cannot succeed unless they understand the unspoken cultural assumptions that limit their spiritual experience and ability to be taught.
Look at the cultural assumptions that divide religious experience in East and West. These assumptions create negativity in the relationship between students and teachers, particularly western students and eastern teachers. Then we shall show how these cultural assumptions create feelings of negativity during the spiritual journey.
After we understand the problems that stand in the way of knowing the psychology of God, we shall look the spiritual journey and find that both eastern and western cultures have found that the human psyche undergoes the same series of transformations as different aspects of the human psychology move to the psychology of God. These series of progressions are the face of God that we can know. This is the basis of the psychology of God.
The psychology of God is different in each stage of the spiritual journey. Knowing when to use the images of each stage reduces the spiritual journey to a few steps that are easily taken.
This simplicity lies beyond culture, and is possible only when you move beyond culture. You can know the psychology of God only when you learn how to separate it from the human psychology that blinds you at every step of the way. Each stage of the spiritual journey has a different set of cultural and human barriers that must be clearly anticipated if a seeker is not to become needlessly entangled in a web of human diversions.
The steps to understanding the psychology of God are two-fold. First, we must understand how our cultural assumptions make it difficult to find the common element behind spiritual experience. Only then can we take the second step of seeing the common elements in all religious development, the transcultural psychology of God.
After we move beyond culture, we will find that the spiritual journey consists of a series of well-ordered transformations that must be traversed as the seeker experiences increasingly deeper aspects of God’s psychology. First, seekers must go beyond their outer personality – how their culture teaches them to look to human experience rather than the inner experience of God. Next, they must go beyond the boundaries of their personal ego. At that point, they experience God’s psychology, not their own. This is what most people call enlightenment. Most religious experience stops at this point.
However, it is possible to so identify with God’s psychology that the religious seeker leaves behind the human psychology and learns intimate details of how God works in this creation. This step beyond enlightenment is only religious experience that is also beyond cultural or individual prejudice. It is where the psychology of God clearly reveals itself in its most pure form.
The psychology of God has been hidden because of the unspoken assumptions that lie behind the spiritual experience of each person. Each culture has taken one aspect of God’s psychology and built their world of perception around that one aspect of the whole. We cannot communicate about God because each culture has been built on a different aspect of the psychology of God. Humanity is like blind men feeling different parts of an elephant that they cannot see.
Each person is incapable of seeing the whole and so they come to different conclusions according to what they feel when they put their hands on different parts of the elephant. Often these different aspects seem to be opposed to each other. And, ultimately, humanity fights with itself in the name God.
The many different cultures know that other cultures are based on aspects of God that seem to be totally opposed to the aspects of God that underlie their culture. Only when humanity comes to understand the psychology of God will this stop. We must see how the psychology of God must lead people through stages of development where differences are felt and important.
Therefore, to begin to understand ourselves, we have to be willing to, at least, open ourselves to Truth that the Lord actually dwells equally within each one of us and that we all are eligible to become one with Him, here and now; and that we already are the That.
Roughly five millennia after Indian mystics, intoxicated on the sacred drink soma, soared into the ecstatic trances that inspired the earliest yogic teachings, a new incarnation of this ancient spiritual technology has taken up permanent residence in the United States. And you don’t need me to tell you that yoga has made it big. You’ve already heard it from Oprah.
It is a little-known fact that Yoga first began in Africa, specifically ancient Egypt.
The current popularity of yoga in America is the culmination of at least two centuries of cross-cultural interactions between the East and the West. Now that yoga has crossed the Indian borders, it’s changing more rapidly—and more radically—than ever before. Yet like a long distance love affair, each side caught in the first blush of infatuation, it is a relationship that has been characterized as much by long-encrusted stereotypes and projections as by earnest respect. India is often seen as the eternal source of ancient wisdom, and the West is the golden gate to technology and prosperity.
Literally, Yoga means Union: linking with the Lord; experience or realization of the Lord, Unity, Oneness, Enlightenment etc. The word “Yoga” comes from the Sanskrit root “Yuj”, meaning “Join”. Thus, Yoga simply means the joining of the ego-self (Haume or the sense of “I, me, mine, you”) to the Higher, Pure Self within — our True Nature.
In other words, Yoga means Unity, Unison, Integration, Transformation, existing as an Indivisible Whole, complete merger with Totality etc. Thus, its the skill in thoughts, words and action that leads to the state of Perfection which is full of Bliss and totally free from the repeated suffering.
No two people think in exactly the same manner, no two people have identical ideas on things, which is a manifestation of individual reality.
However, there is universal consciousness that is beyond the scope of the normal realm of consciousness, or individual reality of people. Hence, the practice of yoga is a personality integration method that allows human beings to bind their individual transitory reality with the universal consciousness. The universal consciousness is stable and unchanging, unmoving, therefore, it is the substantial reality while human beings are existing in transitory phenomenon.
When this process is accomplished one can say that they have experienced the way things really are or have experienced reality; universal consciousness.
Yoga is the practice of binding individual consciousness with universal consciousness. This individual reality that you are experiencing is actually only a small reflection of your true nature and yoga is the practice of how to achieve the knowledge of one’s abiding and immortal aspect.
Yoga is not Islamic or Buddhist. Yoga has no religion. Yoga is not a religion. Yoga is Universal Oneness through different steps. The steps of Yoga are vary from kind of yoga to another and from country to another.
How does practicing yoga contribute to your wellness? There are many parts, or aspects to an individual that make up the whole being. Wellness is a term used to describe a condition, which represents the state of health at a given time. Most of our lives are experienced through our senses (seeing, hearing, tasting, touching and smelling). The senses allow us to experience and perceive everything that’s going on in the world outside of ourselves, outside of our bodies. But these senses are not the means that allow us to know the self (our self).
In Yoga, self-discovery is the quest for truth, which begins within each of us. If we manage to avoid the pitfalls of self-pity, we often seek solutions outside of our being. A good example of this is when we try to change others, and when others try to change us.
How will Yoga help you find your inner child? The two words “inner” and “child,” when combined, take on an identity of their own. Someone may think of a situation comedy, while another person may think of counseling sessions. In contemporary psychology, the words, “inner child,” usually refer to the childlike components of a person’s psyche.
In Yoga, we may call this the true self or the original self. The inner child is often suppressed and not allowed to do any creative thinking. In some societies, we are taught to suppress the inner child, which hinders the chance of self-realization, enhanced awareness, or a self-awakening.
Heaven forbid that we allow our childhood aspirations and creative thoughts to come to the surface of our being.
The romantic love that humans seek so desperately is an expression of and a way to fulfill our inborn, innate “urge to merge.” This yearning for wholeness, for completion, for union with another to achieve a blissful state of oneness, is one of the core aspects of human nature. It is the inborn urge that instinctively seeks wholeness through the union of male and female.
On a biological level, this instinctive urge to merge is present in animals as well as in humans. The human quest for merging, for union, our quest for love, takes place on several different levels-biological (instinctual), psychological and spiritual (evolutionary). As our human consciousness evolves, we are engaged in exploring and experiencing higher levels of love and union, with progressively deepening integration.
As human beings, we have an animal body, a human mind and divine potential. At our highest evolutionary level, humans are capable of going beyond romantic love, engaging the heart chakra and the higher centers of consciousness to achieve the ultimate fulfillment of our urge for union, to realize our divine potential.
We all know that Love is the elixir of life. It is the nectar that nurtures every level of our body and our being. It is what we seek in every form of relationship. We give “love” many names. We call it passion, romance, sex, acceptance or approval.
We believe that if we find the right “love” relationship, it will provide everything we need and want. We are desperate in our search for love. We explore every possible way to find it. We would give anything to get it and are willing to lose everything to have it. So, what makes love such a powerful force in our lives?
The power of love is its ability to harmonize, unite and integrate that which is in conflict, disharmony, imbalance, and fragmentation. When two people who are conflicted and unhappy fall in love they immediately begin to feel the enchanting impact of love.
Their internal conflicts and disharmonies instantly dissolve as they experience the unity, intimacy and ecstasy of love. When you are in love, the boundaries between you and your beloved naturally drop. You lose the sense of the separative ego and experience unity.
Thus the experience of love is the experience of oneness. The conflicting parts of our being begin to function in harmony and balance, which is music to our heart and soul. This is why the loving relationship is very consuming and keeps our attention engaged.
When we are in romantic love, it gives us relief from all of our past hurts and creates glorious dreams of the future. This profound psychological relief and extreme pleasure make romantic love more attractive and addictive than any other escape, entertainment or hobby.
Ironically, this one thing that we believe will give us the most fulfillment-love-is often what we find most elusive. At our current evolutionary stage, most human beings seek to fulfill the instinctive urge to merge through the lower three chakras.
This evolutionary urge to merge is what has led yogis throughout history to explore and discover ways to experience ecstasy and union. The meaning of the word ‘yoga’ is union and the purpose of the practice of yoga is to experience unity and oneness.
The final stage of Ashtanga Yoga-Samadhi-is the ultimate state of ecstatic union. In the same way that the reflection of the moon in a lake is not actually the moon, but gives us a hint of what the real moon is like, the union experienced in romantic or sexual love is a reflection of the profound experience of union that can be achieved through the practice of yoga.
The ecstatic union that we experience in our loving relationships can provide a foundation for the evolutionary search for the true and lasting ecstasy and unity of yoga.
The lower chakras function in a dualistic mode, that is, they see all of reality as dualities, divisions between self and other, between what I like and what I don’t like, between good and bad. When we are working through the medium of duality, we create separation and conflict in the very effort of trying to create relationship and unity.
In the realm of duality, we seek all fulfillment of our innate urge to merge through external activities or romantic relationships. We believe the source of pleasure and fulfillment exists only outside of ourselves.
The domain of duality is infested with ego-centered, separative interactions. We become consumed by the need to receive acceptance, approval and love from the other. Because the ecstasy of love we experience is perceived to be coming from outside, from the other, we naturally form a desire to return to it again and again and a simultaneous fear of losing it, creating dependency and addiction. The dependency turns into demands, expectations and manipulation. On this level, love is invariably accompanied by fear and our experience of ecstatic union can only be temporary.
For the human being, sex is not just a biological urge, but is always accompanied by psychological baggage. We may experience the union and ecstasy of love in the dating stage of a relationship. But because of the accompanying attachment, expectations and dependency, we try to manage and control the other on whom we depend to keep us in a happy, blissful state. When the other fails to fulfill our expectations, we either blame them or try to change them.
Despite of all attempts to experience union, a relationship operating from a lower chakra (dualistic level) eventually leads not only to separation from the other, but to separation and conflict within ourselves. However, experiencing love at this level can help us discover that such love can only come from the source within.
The experience of union is what we are looking for both in the practice of yoga and in a truly loving relationship. Love that makes you whole can only come from within. It grows through your ability to give love and receive love, rather than to expect love. Love is not something you can get from making demands, manipulating or controlling the loved one.
The true source of love is within and you can only experience love if you are in touch with this inner source.
When the urge to merge evolves towards the heart and higher centers of consciousness, it enters into a whole new dimension. In the heart (the fourth chakra), love is not sought in the duality dimension.
When we approach relationship from the higher centers, the focus changes from searching for love from others to connecting with the source within. Instead of demanding understanding, we become understanding.
Instead of asking for acceptance and recognition, we begin to accept and recognize the other. Instead of asking for love, we become loving.
Human love works on an exchange basis.
It is given with attachment to what I can get for what I give. It promotes separation and perpetuates conflict.
Divine love is given unconditionally, without expecting any reward in return. Pure divine love creates oneness.
Like any relationship there is a lot of work involved. A lot of time goes into a meaningful relationship. Your relationship with your breath is the most important. It is through the breath that life is sustained. Your breath rate is inseparably connected to your mind and body. Your body reacts to stimuli perceived by the mind and the mind reacts to sensations in the body, and both need prana (breath) to exist.
It is possible, through the practice of yoga, to enhance your relationship with your mind, body, and spirit. Through conscious awareness, breath regulation, physical movements, stillness, concentration, meditation, and relaxation one becomes aware of their real existence (essence), not the one perceived by the senses. This is self-discovery or conscious awareness. This is what yoga is all about.
Our mind, body, and spirit are all intimately connected. They together are who, and what we are. Our relationship with these dimensions of our existence is important to our wellbeing. The practice of yoga is a means by which these aspects of our self can be worked on, to bring wellbeing to the mind, body, and spirit.
It is through your relationship with the physical postures that you experience internal awareness and sensations. It is through those sensations that you recognize the mental connection to the body. It is through the mind that you become aware of the consciousness. It is through the consciousness that your relationship with your energy is experienced. It is through these relationships that wellness is enhanced.
A relationship is like a mirror. It reflects everything we have been avoiding. It has the power to reveal our divine potential as well as the darkest recesses of our shadow side.
Loving, intimate relationships have a tendency to stir up all our old hurts, traumas, insecurities, fears, and control issues. Sooner or later, we must recognize and embrace those parts of ourselves and our loved ones that we’ve been avoiding, suppressing and denying.
When we use a loving relationship as a mirror to see who we truly are and what we have been hiding from, we enter the process of Self-discovery that moves us toward internal integration. This promotes healing and release of all the blocks that separate us from our higher Self as well as from our loved ones.
This is the part of a relationship that provides us with an opportunity to discover our true Self; this is the yoga of relationship.
Only a relationship that is founded primarily on the intention to see yourself with greater objectivity and unbiased awareness will truly become an experience of the Self-discovery, unity and ecstasy of love.
To be in relationship with another is really about being in relationship with yourself. Every obstacle you encounter in love that appears to be coming from the other is actually a reflection of what you unconsciously harbor within. If you do not face all these obstacles with integrative awareness, the integrative power of true love will turn into fear and resistance. It is the presence of mindful awareness that helps you overcome the obstacles of the separative ego that keep you from experiencing the unity of love.
In the truly loving relationship, the process of Self-discovery progressively allows us to become free of ego-centered, separative walls and promotes deeper levels of divine love. This is exactly the purpose of yoga practice: to transcend the separative ego-sense, so that the individual self merges into the cosmic Self-God. In the Self-discovery process, either through yoga practice or a loving relationship, you encounter all that you have been trying to avoid in yourself.
This is at the core of the yoga of relationship. Whether you want to experience the fulfillment of the urge to merge through the medium of yoga or an external relationship, you must be committed to facing the obstacles that create conflict and division in your life, whether with loved ones or within yourself.
A relationship with others, particularly those we are closest to, is the fieldwork for spirituality. Spiritual practice does not belong just on the yoga mat or a meditation cushion. It must permeate every aspect of our lives, extend into every one of our experiences, from the mundane to the mystical.
Remember that the only real difference between relationship and yoga is that the ecstasy we experience in external love is temporary, while the ecstasy and union of yoga is a permanent and profound transformative process.
The first affects only a part of your life; the second impacts the whole of your life. The first happens in the field of duality where love occurs between you and the other. The unity sought through yoga happens between the male and female aspects of Shiva and Shakti within.
Fulfillment of the innate urge to merge can begin with romantic love but romantic love alone can never completely fulfill our inborn longing for union. If your loving relationship is based on an intention for Self-discovery, it is the basis of spiritual love. We can use our loving relationship as the foundation to explore, expand and experience the divine potential that leads to union-the ultimate experience of yoga.
Remember we are not what others see when they look at us. We are bodies with consciousness and spirit. Exploring the relationship you have with yourself is self-discovery, and through that you will come to know the peace that is inherent in all of us, our true nature.
When our body and mind are working effectively and efficiently we know wellness.
A qualified yoga teacher can help you to open the door into this realm of self-discovery; mine was my mother. The practice of yoga is an incredible journey that starts by going inside to find the self.
Through this you will come to find out that you are already perfect just the way you are. After all, if you can’t find it within yourself where else can you go to look?
Yoga allows us to reach our inner child, who has aspirations, innovation, and takes positive action toward a successful outcome. Most children are inherently happy. Children are not afraid to take action, fail, learn new skills, or adapt to new environments.
Why in the world would you want to find your inner child?
As, adults we often spend time creating and thinking, but it is disconnected from the inner child, our true feelings, or our aspirations. As adults we often live for duty. How else is the rent or mortgage going to be paid?
Most, adults have built their lives upon past success and failures, but that does not mean we processed the information correctly.
Finding your inner child can be like a natural shot of adrenaline. To find the true self can create a state of new found positive energy.
Yoga allows us to reach our inner child, who has aspirations, innovation, and takes positive action toward a successful outcome.
How many adults do you know who have given up on life because of past failures? Qualities such as: creativity, taking action, and self-confidence can disappear, if we believe that we are our failures. The important part of failure is to learn from it and alter our plans with a new solution.
Yoga classes are the perfect way to begin this journey. The practice of yoga is practicing wellness. As Madonna says “Yoga is a metaphor for Life.”
Live and Learn. We All Do.
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