Yoga in the West; a reminder at Easter 2014
The technique of Yoga in the West is the technique of the development of an individual centre of free-will, the individuated human being, and by implication the relation between the individual and the individual’s infinite source, God.
Here at Easter time, we are given an opportunity to understand something of the technique of Yoga in the West. In the East, and here we are not merely implying geographically, the yoga technique of development implies looking to the west. In the West however, the technique implies looking to the East, and in this context the sense that the sun, the source of light(symbolically, consciousness) and life(power) on Earth, rises and has its origin daily in the east. Psychologically, we may say that the source of intelligence, light and life, rises and develops from the East, and establishes itself, sets, in the West. Here is a mystery.
A few people nowadays are interested in the origins of individual development, in contrast to mass culture development. The celebration of Easter is a Christian festival, but its origins do not lie merely within the organisation of a church or group, rather as an enquiry by certain human beings to the source and origin of their existence. Some individuals are interested in their origin psychologically and spiritually, rather than only ancestrally and genetically.
We in the West, have derived our term ‘East’, from a Germanic root austr ‘east’, also connecting to the Latin Aurora and Greek Eos, both meaning ‘dawn’.
Western peoples in establishing the orientation of their sacred buildings and architecture from ancient times, place a window in the position where the dawn sun shines into the building or architectural space. There are many reasons and significances for this orientation, but psychologically and spiritually the motivation is for the reconnecting of the individual with the source and origin of his being, the resurrection of consciousness out of the darkness and suffering and deprivation of private existence, back into the freedom and life and light of his original source. Even scientists of modern times consider that the source and origin of being and of man as he exists, comes out of the light, sunlight/starlight.
Metaphors and allegories across the world, since ancient times, consider that man as an individual, has fallen out of relationship with his source and origin. Inside the individual, there has been a fall of consciousness out of relationship with the original infinite source consciousness, down into a finite, deprived, limited state. Careful thinkers over time have described this as a fall from universal consciousness, into finite egoic consciousness. Let us see how we may symbolise this and understand its implications as an individual.
If we draw an eye surrounded by a circle, the O[circle] around the eye is the peripheral interest of the eye.
It is as far as that eye has bothered to interest itself.
Your interests go out from you into infinity, to a distance determined by your self-definition.
You define yourself and you define how far from your definition will become effective.
Other people are doing the same thing.
‘You’ are precipitating ‘Your world’ without knowing it.
You go about saying “I must understand the world”.
That is exactly the opposite of what you want to be doing.
What you have to do [as an ‘individual’] is understand ‘You’.
Why? – For what reason are you precipitating ‘this’ kind of world?
This kind of world which you precipitate is an ‘egoic world’.
Why are you making it ‘this shape’, and not ‘that shape’?
You have a ‘motive’ in you. [Your motive is ‘that which is moving you’.]
“I have divided myself from my absoluteness” – Daman.
“I named myself as separate” – Naman.
“I gather myself together [yoga] to the best of my ability.”
“If I complete my self-gathering together [yoga] – what do I find? – Nothing – except myself – the divider, the namer, the gatherer – myself.”
You never, ever in the whole of your existence have, or ever will know anything other than ‘you mobilising you’. You, motivated by your appetite, your desires, your interests.
You with your appetite have imposed on you.
‘So why should I go looking for enlightenment elsewhere? – It’s inside.’
We are living in a world where ‘definition’ [finite limitation] has been made by ‘interested appetites’. These “interested appetites” have defined situations – and put “Trespassers will be Prosecuted”, “Private – Keep Out”, “Beware of the Guard Dog”. This is the great mystery in a nutshell.
Easter in English, is from Eastre, the English goddess of Light and Spring whose festival was celebrated at the vernal equinox. In the southern hemisphere of course it is the autumnal equinox, where it becomes necessary psychologically, as winter closes upon us, to look within for the source of light rather than from an external source.
‘West’ is from a Germanic branch we, ‘down’, which is Latin vesper, ‘evening’ and Greek hesperos, ‘evening’. Western psychological orientation is symbolic of materiality, extroversion of consciousness outside oneself into the gross material world, into the waters of life and living externally, as opposed to the spiritual sun of introversion, the East. West is connected with the general meaning for the word ‘down’, as man begins his life in the waters of the world and then progresses to the realisation of the spirit arising out of the experience the waters of life offer him, at the completion of his development. At the western end of a church for instance is a baptismal font containing water symbolic of the womb and beginnings of life from which an individual develops materially, and through progression moves towards the east, the source of light and intelligence.
The entry to the cathedral, church, chapel, temple, place of development, is through the great West door, passing through the nave or native beginnings, being cut adrift at the navel(the source of physical succour up to physical birth), the gaining of a great deal of practical experience through prodigality, followed by a change and maturing of the heart, approaches the transept and shoulders. The transept, has always symbolised the transfixing, or cross fixing of spirit in matter, eternity in time, and as the example of Jesus Christ’s life shows, and that of the great yogis and true saints, of divinity in humanity. The sacrifice of limited human consciousness to the unlimited divine consciousness is every man’s inner work in his life, and the crucial(cross) moment is the change of heart.
At the point of ‘change of heart’ man passes into the coveted Sanctuary – the ‘straight way and narrow gate’, by ascension to the place of inner development and true light, through meditation and eventually contemplation of his source, the light of pure consciousness, divine consciousness, through reflexive Self-consciousness(samadhic contemplation) of the divine within one’s own being. The ascension of transcending rational and material values in samadhic contemplation is the final yoga or union with the source and origin of being, where a man bears his own fruit, the culmination of a life process, and has and requires no further external reassurance.
A short time after Ascension comes Pentecost or Whitsuntide. The ‘wit’ in Whitsuntide is the pure wit of higher intelligence, higher consciousness, having one of its roots in Sanskrit Veda ‘knowledge known as ‘seen’ by the rishis(seers)’, and vidya ‘wisdom, meditation, insight’, coming into the Latin videre ‘to see’. In direct contrast to this conscious looking is avidya ‘ignorance’, the ‘refusal to look’, refusal to wake up, by burying of interest and consciousness in the material utilitarian values of the external world, the world of the 5 senses, the passions, and lower mind. The Whitsuntide is the final process in the individual’s spiritual development, the white sun of enlightenment.
Beginning with the dead husk of ‘consciousness identified with a physical body’, passing through the years of naiveté, climbing over the stumbling blocks of nescience and ignorance, transcending the desire for mere pleasure of the senses and overcoming the aversion to difficulty behind which truth resides, the death of the passions and the lower mind, coming to the ‘change of heart’, to the crucifixion in Golgotha in the place of the skull, then the ascension, resurrecting to the place of Christ and the attained Yogi, the man who knows what to do without trying from himself, and the space of spiritual illumination and full reflexive Self-consciousness with the source of all beings. It is said that the ancient mysteries and initiations at one time raised the individual to this realisation ‘artificially’. But with Christ’s sacrifice, responsibility was given to each man his own latent capacity for reflexive Self-consciousness, the power of each individual through development to make his own ascension to enlightenment.
Easter is both a solar and a lunar Festival. The timing of the festival is measured by the moon, and in the southern hemisphere it falls on the Sunday following the first full moon after the autumnal equinox. This constant changing and moving, lunar influenced, refers psychologically to the instability brought to the individual by external events, which in turn give rise to erratic internal changes; the feeling flux due to 5 sense stimulation acting upon recorded emotional states within the psyche; variabilities and reactions within the lower mind with consequent mental chatter, and inability to quieten the mind at will; and the constant modifications of the individual’s egoic self-image. All of these modifications of mind and emotion have to be sacrificed, giving rise to a gradual awakening and arising of consciousness out of identification with the physical earth body, the emotional and mental states of the lower mind and ego, and returning consciousness to its source, symbolised by a return to the east.
The East, the light, we may say, is the source of wisdom and truth as found everywhere in fairy story and myth, religion and divine philosophy, essential art, true yoga and mysticism. The imagery, the technique, and the practice is the same, that of a search for the light of divine intelligence and life power, the source of greatest sufficiency and efficiency, symbolised outwardly by the sun, as being the aim of every true individual development, and every true yogi.
The human body can be equated roughly with the cross and the form of the building. The crossing is the heart, over which is the ‘lantern‘(an open structure at the top of a tower in a church or cathedral, or temple, over the transept), allowing light to fall onto the transept. After a certain degree of development in the right direction(from west to east), an individual begins to sense a source of light and intelligence operating through their life, apparently from outside. But having crossed the transept it becomes possible to identify with an inner immanent source, correspondent with the original transcendence source of all beings. (note here, we are not confusing this inner source with the egoic self-conscious centre, the lower or false self, the identified Jiva, within an individual) Certain eastern teachings call this true inner source the Atman or Higher Self, and in the West it is called the Immanent Spirit symbolised fully incarnate in Christ, “the light that lights every man that comes into the world”. This is the true orientation of individual development, true yoga, and the essence of yoga in the West. It begins individually with a long lonely road of prodigality and conscious lower self-will, and culminates in the full development of reflexive Self-consciousness and higher Self-realisation.
What will you meditate upon this Easter?
Perhaps even how to steal your mind from the distractions of everyday living, and the stresses of working life?
Or will you give a little time to meditate upon or contemplate, your source of light and life and pure consciousness, your original source, reflexively as the great yogis do?
Will you pass from your native desires, cut your fixation on the mundane, let go of your private limited wants and needs; food, family, amusements, enter upon a change of heart, cross the transept, and go into a relation with the source and origin of your being?
An individual can no longer rely on institutions and society to carry him, by guarantee, if he chooses to develop into the true east, the mystic east, the source of light and origin of being.
The whole work of the initiation mysteries was simply to restate the original freedom that man had. It was cornered by a few people for their own ends. They have tried to justify themselves by saying “so few people want it”. But the number of people today who say that they are dissatisfied with dependence upon other beings is alarmingly great. The number of people today who can strike even against their own organisations devised to strike; so that we can have strikes within strikes within strikes – right down to the individual within the individual, to the individuated impulse.
Love when it is gaining its end is always intelligent joy.
But when this same love is frustrated, the frustration turns the same love into hate. So that hate is simply love deprived of its object. As long as the supreme object of ‘individual freedom’ is defeated, then there will necessarily be hate in that person. Hate against the restraining forces that come from outside.
The elimination of hate from an individual can only occur when the individual knows enough about himself to dare to be himself. Which is saying that universal love is possible for an individual. An individual can love the whole universe, and all the forms within it, only when, and necessarily when, he is no longer dictated to by them.
A Happy Easter to all…
by Malcolm H Clark with excerpts and insights from the teachings of Eugene Halliday
Some Aphorisms applicable to the Easter Message – from Reflexive Self-consciousness by Eugene Halliday
- We may say that feeling is our state when we know the field of our experience, feeling is field-awareness. To feel is to know a field-state.
- The objects in the field of sentience are limited or finite. The field itself is not. Every thing, every definable idea, every temporary feeling, state or emotion, may be considered as a finite datum within a sentient field itself infinite.
- The field must be said to be infinite because every limited object in it may be represented by a circle, and every circle, no matter how large may have another larger circle drawn round it, and so on to infinity. The environment of a thing is always larger than a thing and is in principle ultimately infinite.
- The Infinite Sentient Field must be conceived to be the source of all beings…
- The ultimate source and origin of our being is sentient and conscious.
- To become conscious of our source is to become conscious of the source of all beings and all consciousness. It is to become consciousness itself, and reflexively self-consciously so.
- To confine our consciousness to the consideration of the finite objects of our five special sense organs is unnecessarily to limit its scope. The sentient field is itself infinite. To concentrate consciousness fully upon a particular object within that field is to deprive oneself of the knowledge of what lies beyond that particular.
- To rescue oneself from the self-imposed ignorance of the particularising consciousness one has only to remove the stress placed by consciousness upon the particular and replace it in its source.
- The particularising tendency of the lower mind is a product of the over specialising activity of the five special sense organs, an over activity initially imposed on them by the external stimulus situation.
- It does not need a great deal of thought to see that full concentration on a given finite thing deprives us of data beyond it. The mind which merely sees separate particular things, and not their world context, is a mind deprived of universal concepts which could confer order upon this sense data. All contents of consciousness are functions of power. To confine oneself to particular sense percepts is to deprive oneself of the energy contained in concepts of universal validity.
- The reflexive Self-conscious man knows these things and more. He knows that reflexive self-consciousness is the beginning and the end of the journey into time and particularity. He knows it is the beginning because the Absolute has always from eternity reflexed upon itself in its own non-difference. He knows it is the end because, after having lost it and entered the time process, man is driven by the Absolute to regain it. The Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, are the same.
- In between the beginning and the end stretches the time process. Within this process, in this realm, fallen man who has not yet returned, must receive the education which will bring him, the man who in leaving his source left himself, back to himself again in the supreme all power-conferring act of reflexive Self-consciousness and Self-realisation.
- Once returned, man with his catalytic creative-consciousness, will gaze forth upon those of his brothers who have not yet returned, and by the power of his sentience and reflexive Self-consciousness will be able to create in them the awareness of their position, which will place them at the point at which he once stood, the point of decision to return.
- To gain reflexive Self-consciousness a certain exercise must be practised, in principle continuously, in early practice probably intermittently. The exercise itself is simple. But this is not to say that it is, for man in his usual orientation, easy. The battle to overcome the inertia of man’s established direction, his generally ego-centred attitude, will not be easily fought. Nor should it be. The prize is too high to be gained easily.
- Here is the exercise. When one is looking at something, or considering an idea or experience, a feeling or emotion, or performing any action, one must say to oneself, “It is the Self which is consciousness itself which is looking at this thing (or considering this idea, etc.). This Self I am. I return to the Self.”
- On saying, “It is the Self which is consciousness itself,” one must make oneself aware that the Self is consciousness itself, awareness, sentience.
- When saying, “looking at this thing,” one must make oneself aware of a directional flow of attention from the consciousness to the thing.
- On saying, “This Self I am. I return to the Self,” one must focus oneself again on the consciousness and again become aware of a directional flow of attention, but now from the thing back to the consciousness-self.
- This back-flow of consciousness to the Self is what we mean by reflexive Self-consciousness. It is the key to man’s freedom.
- To practise reflexive Self-consciousness is to change the whole quality of one’s perception and conception of the world. It is to rescue oneself from identification with the object-world and thus from slavery to the law governing that world. We cannot get lost in the things and events of the world or in ideas or emotional states if we are reflexively Self-consciousness. And when we are not lost we have found ourselves, and the Self of all selves.
- The reflexively Self-consciousness man sees the same world he saw before, the same world other men see. But he sees it not in the same way. He knows what Blake meant when he said, “The fool sees not the same tree the wise man sees.” He sees the myriad-branched tree Yggdrasil, but not as other men see it. For he does not fall into identification with any particular branch of it. He sees this tree in the nervous system of the body he uses as a reference centre, as he sees it in the driving radiating forces of macro-cosmos.
- The reflexively Self-consciousness man sees the world wholly without falling into identification with any particular part of it. He is not identified with it, not inclined towards it, not enslaved by it. He can use it, as the Taoist uses an empty vessel to put things in. He can create within it by the catalytic creativity of his awareness, his sentience, his consciousness.
- The identified man, on the other hand, in the act of identification, goes under the law which governs the object with which he identifies.
Read and download the full book Reflexive Self-consciousness here >>