Yoga Gems - A Treasury of Practical and Spiritual Wisdom from Ancient and Modern Masters


How much do I want to read more? 9/10

What a nice quotation books about the wisdom from Yoga and in a wider sense, religions of thw world.


From the unreal lead me to the Real.
From darkness lead me to Light.
From death lead me to Immortality.
—BRIHAD-ARANYAKA-UPANISHAD

PREFACE

Yoga has produced a galaxy of extraordinary individuals who were not only spiritual giants but also philosophical and/or literary geniuses.
Each page in Yoga Gems features one or more authoritative quotations of practical wisdom that has been selected because it may touch your heart, inspire your spiritual life, or stimulate your thinking about deeper matters.

Themes include the value of silence; how to meditate; golden rules for living; how to infuse life with joy; creating hope; the importance of thinking positively; universal kinship; seeing the larger picture; overcoming suffering; dealing with grief, loss, anger, and jealousy; remembering one's true inner self; cultivating the good; developing self-discipline; the nature of love; cultivating patience, inner growth, caring, and so on.

“There is nothing more powerful than Yoga,” declares one medieval Sanskrit text.
Ultimately, however, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.
May this volume inspire you to explore the heritage of Yoga personally and practically.

INTRODUCTION

WHAT IS YOGA?

Yoga encompasses such a tremendous variety of approaches.
from the ancient Sanskrit language, means both “union” and “discipline.” Thus yoga conveys “unitive spiritual discipline” or “the spiritual discipline of integration.”
What the tradition of Yoga seeks to integrate is head and heart.
That realization is variously called Self-realization, God-realization, enlightenment, or liberation.
It consists in discovering a marvelous truth about ourselves: We are not merely a particular body, mind, or personality, but the very foundation of all bodies, minds, and personalities—in fact, of all animate and inanimate things in the universe.

The great masters of Yoga insist that we are first and foremost the One Being that is the ultimate substance of the universe. And that substance is pure Consciousness.
The masters of Yoga arrived at their insights about Oneness not through mere fanciful speculation but through direct realization.
Acknowledging Yoga's extraordinary heritage, Carl Gustav Jung remarked that it is “one of the greatest things the human mind has ever created.”

We master the art of Yoga as we gain self-knowledge and the capacity for self-transcendence. Searching deep into our mind and heart, we learn to exceed our ordinary boundaries and discover that we are immeasurably vast, surpassing even Nature itself.

THE QUEST FOR HAPPINESS

Who am I? What must I do? What is the purpose of life?
We all want happiness, but frequently or perhaps even typically we look for it in the wrong places.
We settle instead for temporary pleasures (“fun”), not understanding that pleasure is the obverse side of pain.
Our lives thus are often characterized not by happiness (ananda) but by suffering (duhkha)

Yoga digs deep into the reasons for this failure to tap into lasting happiness and shows us how to change our self-sabotaging behavior.
Yoga not only points the way out of the maze our mind tends to create but provides concrete practical means for doing so.

body and mind are a working team and therefore need to be kept in optimal condition.
Happiness, however, is not merely a brain function or mental state. It is who or what we are when our mental confusion is lifted and we have recovered our true Identity.
Happiness, or bliss, is of the nature of our spiritual Identity—the so-called transcendental Self.
What we normally experience as happiness is merely a physiological-mental reflection of that deeper happiness, which can never be taken away from us. It is our true Self. This is the central message of all branches and schools of Yoga.

A GLIMPSE AT THE HISTORY OF YOGA

The earliest evidence of yogic ideas and practices can be found in the Rig-Veda, a collection of over a thousand sacred hymns composed in archaic Sanskrit. For thousands of years, this hymnody was faithfully transmitted by oral tradition.

One of the most remarkable Yoga scriptures to teach an integrative path of inner renunciation combined with engaging the world and fulfilling one's obligations is the Bhagavad-Gita (“Lord's Song”).
This beautiful work, which Mahatma Gandhi called “My Mother,” was probably authored in its present form around 400–500 B.C.E. It combines Karma-Yoga (“discipline of self-transcending action”), Bhakti-Yoga (“discipline of devotional surrender to the Divine”), and Jnana-Yoga (“discipline of wise discrimination between the real and the unreal”).

Yoga assumed its classical form around 200 C.E. under Patanjali, the compiler of the Yoga-Sutra (“Aphorisms of Yoga”).
His well-known eightfold path consists of moral discipline, self-restraint, posture, breath control, sensory inhibition, concentration, meditation, and ecstasy. The goal, as with any form of Yoga, is spiritual realization or liberation.

Hatha-Yoga (“forceful discipline”), best known for its numerous bodily postures, which are designed to maintain or restore health and enhance physical vitality.

Mantra-Yoga, consisting in the recitation of potent sounds (such as the sacred syllable om);

Tantra-Yoga, consisting in extensive ritual practices and elaborate meditative visualizations (this approach is often misinterpreted by Westerners as a form of spiritualized sexuality);

Laya-Yoga (“discipline of meditative absorption”), consisting in practices that endeavor to awaken the “serpent power,” or kundalini, which is the universal energy as it manifests in a limited way in the human body.


1 MIND—MAKER OF DESTINY

The human mind is a wondrous thing. It can create disease or heal us. It can hurl us into hell (suffering) or elevate us into heaven (happiness).

in his very first sermon he explained: “Life is suffering; suffering results from egoic desire which is rooted in spiritual ignorance; the elimination of egoic desire and thus of spiritual ignorance brings the end of suffering; the way of terminating egoic desire and spiritual ignorance is the noble eightfold path.”
right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration, and leads to the extinction of suffering.

everything is impermanent and lacking a stable center (or “self” or “ego”).
Hundreds of great sages before and after him have testified to the same truth; yet we continue to behave as if our life lasts forever and as if everything revolves around us—the ego-personality. As long as we cling to these mistaken notions, we set ourselves up for suffering.

The Sanskrit word for suffering is duhkha, which means literally “bad axle hole.” With a bad or warped axle hole, the wheel will not turn smoothly. The word duhkha also can be translated as “bad space.” When we are out of touch with our higher nature, we are indeed in bad space, and whether we are in or out of touch is all a matter of the mind.

Although the Yoga masters are very sensitive to the omnipresence of suffering, they are not pessimists. On the contrary, you might call them the greatest optimists alive, for they firmly believe that all suffering can be completely overcome.
enlightenment occurs when we discover our true Identity—the eternal, supraconscious Self.

Amrita-Bindu-Upanishad, a medieval Sanskrit text:
"The mind alone is the cause of bondage and liberation for human beings. Attached to things, it leads to bondage. Emptied of things, it is deemed to lead to liberation."

Bondage means being bound by fear, anger, lust, jealousy, competitiveness, and all the other negative emotions and desires that drive so much of our conventional lives.

Yoga helps us overcome our psychological limitations and thus allows us to recover our innermost spiritual nature, the higher Self, which is eternally free and blissful.

As Swami Muktananda, a great modern master of Siddha-Yoga, once said, “You should welcome heartily the beneficent grace of the mind,” for it is the restless mind that starts you on your spiritual journey. It is also the mind, once mastered, that reveals the treasure locked away inside it: our higher, spiritual nature. That higher nature is variously called “transcendental Self,” “Spirit,” “God,” “Lord,” “Supreme Being,” “ultimate Reality,” or “Nirvana.”

TO GROW OR NOT TO GROW

Growing is the most important and essential endeavor that a human being can undertake. You can make and lose money; you can be promoted and demoted in the world. Never, at any stage, is there any certainty about what will happen to you in this life. However, there is one thing that nobody can ever take away from you—the growth you attain through your own search for Self-knowledge. Furthermore, this growth and understanding become the foundation that sustains you through any and all worldly difficulties, and that allows you—whatever the form of your physical experience-to find in life a continuously unbroken flow of total well-being.

—- Swami Chetanananda

BECOMING HUMAN

If we are honest with ourselves we see that we are not yet real human beings, not yet truly humane, compassionate, or sensitive creatures. We are not yet independent, aware, intelligent, mature, and responsible, with a concern for all life. Our basic values stem from the self-image—pleasure, power, wealth, and so on. They are the values of the self-focused mind trapped in its desires. We may refine this basic immaturity of the mind, make its indulgences more benevolent, its prejudices more tolerant, but at the core it persists.

—- David Frawley

LIFE IS PRECIOUS

We must never forget that our life is like a paper bag that a few drops of water could destroy. It is like a piece of thin glass that a little gust of wind could shatter. It is like a goatskin filled with air floating on a river, which would sink to the bottom if the air should go out of it. It is like a wall of sand that may collapse at any moment. Therefore, do not merely build castles in the air, but start building them on the ground. Every breath is precious, for once lost it can never return. Make hay while the sun shines. Take advantage of this human body so long as it lasts in searching for the One without whom the entire world is going adrift and astray.

The human form is an invaluable gift. We should avail ourselves of it for the purpose for which it is granted to us. Wife and children, food and drink, we have had in every life. The uniqueness of the human form consists in its ability to realize God as long as it is activated by life. Towards this end we must bend all our energies. This is our real work. The rest is all to no purpose.

—- Maharaj Charan Singh

YOU BECOME WHAT YOU THINK

As is one's thought, so one becomes. This is an eternal mystery.

—- Maitri-Upanishad

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU THINK

One day, an employee of a refrigeration company was accidentally locked up in the ice chamber of a freight train with a temperature of forty degrees below zero. No one heard his shouts for help. He was absolutely terrified and left a record of his suffering scribbled on the walls of the wagon. By the time the train arrived at its destination he had died. Significantly, his death was due not to exposure to subzero temperature but sheer fright, because on that day the refrigeration was not switched on at all. Such is the fate of those who allow their thoughts to be imprisoned in a cold, dark chamber.

—- Sri Ananda Acharya

MENTAL SUGGESTION

The mind is susceptible to suggestions. It learns whatever you teach it. If through discrimination you can impress upon it the joy and fullness of life in the spirit and the folly of worldly attachments, then your mind will devote itself more and more to God.

—- SwamiBrahmananda

MENTAL POWER

Fickleness is the very nature of the mind. But if it is endowed with indifference to worldly things and guided toward yogic discipline, it can be steadied in due course. The reason is that there is a power in the mind that, once it becomes interested in something, it quickly develops a fondness for it. Therefore you should coax your mind and create in it a liking for the bliss of the Self.

—- Jnanadeva

CONTROLLING THE BRAIN

This cerebral system will ruin you, unless consciously you learn to free yourself from it. This secondary powerhouse continually not only spends energy, but damnably interferes with the very creation of energy in the body.

—- Pundit Acharya

MIND CONTROL

You can learn to control your mind very well—because it is yours, but do not try to control the minds of others and make them dependent. When one becomes dependent, one suffers, so you should learn to be independent, and you should not make others dependent upon you.

—- Swami Rama

MENTAL PURITY

You are the master of your mind, and you have to keep it pure. Your responsibility ends there, the rest is God's business.

—- Swami Vijnanananda

THOUGHT AND ADDICTION

We have many addictions, which we may call habits and interests, or even skills and talents. Such addictions as drugs, alcohol or gambling are but the most evident forms of the addictive pattern of our entire behavior. Some of us are addicted to sex, others to food, others to business, knowledge, or even religious practices. Whatever we become dependent on to occupy our time or fill our minds is an addiction. All external seeking—whether for pleasure, wealth, status or knowledge—is not essentially different than the alcoholic looking for a drink. Thought is our most basic addiction and from it other addictions derive like branches. Thought is a habit, an unconscious mechanism of the mind. If you do not believe this, then try to control your thoughts, try to stop thinking. Obviously thought is not a conscious process but a compulsion. As long as we are ruled by thought we are addicts and our addiction must distort our perception of reality.

—- David Frawley

CHOOSE A SUBLIME IDEAL

If you dedicate yourself to a sublime ideal, your life will continually grow in richness, strength and intensity. It is like a capital investment: you place your capital in a Heavenly bank so that, instead of deteriorating or going to waste, it increases and makes you richer.

—- Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov

MAKING LIFE MEANINGFUL

Whether life in itself has a meaning or not: it is up to us to give it a meaning. In the hands of an inspired artist a worthless lump of clay turns into a priceless work of art. Why should we not likewise try to make something worthwhile out of the common clay of our lives, instead of lamenting about its worthlessness?

—- Lama Anagarika Govinda

RIGHT UNDERSTANDING

Just as one comes to ruin Through wrong eating and obtains Long life, freedom from disease, Strength and pleasure through right eating, So one comes to ruin Through wrong understanding But gains bliss and complete enlightenment Through right understanding.

—- Nagarjuna

RIGHT VIEW

Right view is vital to the intelligent pursuit of happiness. We are not talking about right view in terms of one person's or one group's views being superior to another's. Right view refers to the harmony of the knowing mind with the nature of phenomena as they actually are. How we view the world shapes how we act and feel in it. If we view the cosmos as personally hostile towards us, or disappointing, or meaningless, we are bound to be haunted by an anxiety which lurks in the dark recesses of our minds and periodically erupts into consciousness with disabling intensity. If we view existence as benevolent or at least benign, it is easier for us to relax into it; we might be more tolerant, more grateful, more gracious, and less inclined to be thrown off balance into the pain of negative emotions.

—- Ron Leifer

FROM IGNORANCE TO KNOWLEDGE

One must know that one is ignorant before one can begin to know.

—- Sri Aurobindo

THE MILK OF WISDOM

Like butter hidden in milk, wisdom dwells in all living beings. With the mind as the churning rod, one should ever churn out wisdom from within oneself.

—- Brahma-Bindu-Upanishad

TWO KINDS OF DOUBT

“Is it wrong to doubt? I don't like to believe blindly,” a student said. The Master replied: “There are two kinds of doubt: destructive and constructive. Destructive doubt is habitual skepticism. Men who cultivate that attitude disbelieve blindly; they shun the work of impartial investigation. Skepticism is a static on one's mental radio that causes him to lose the program of truth. “Constructive doubt is intelligent questioning and fair examination. Those who cultivate that attitude do not prejudge matters or accept as valid the opinions of others. In the spiritual path, constructive doubters base their conclusions on tests and personal experience: the proper approach to truth.”

—- Paramahansa Yogananda

THE LIMITS OF REASON

Reason is a finite instrument. It cannot explain many mysterious problems of life. Those who are free from the so-called rationalism and skepticism can march in the path of God-realization.

—- Swami Sivananda Saraswati

MENTAL CLOUDS

Doubts, like clouds, sail on the mental horizon occasionally. They can be dark and heavy or small and wispy. Sometimes they disappear, but often return unnoticed because of an influx of new experiences…. Impatience and restlessness create doubt, but the aspirant is warned that both prevent certain spiritual powers from developing. Remember that impatience is an expression of arrogance of some sort which, if allowed to linger, will undermine faith, hope, and will, and only strengthen the moods of depression. Arrogance is of the ego and is therefore destructive.

—- Swami Sivananda Radha

FAITH

Faith is the greatest asset of the disciple. If you have faith, you have everything; without faith, you have nothing. Faith is not a result of external observances, it comes by constant inner awareness, not of the sense or the turbulence and disturbances of the mind, but of the soul…. As you go deeper within and face the inner light, you become faithful. Where there is faith, there is power and enlightenment. A disciple lives by faith.

—- Swami Satyasangananda Saraswati

THE MIND MUST BE AWAKENED

The mind of ours which is absorbed in deep slumber has to be awakened, for the only obstacle that hinders the soul from merging in the Lord is our mind. The soul is of the essence of the Lord. It is a ray of the divine sun, a spark from the Supreme Being, a drop of the divine ocean. But entangled in the closely woven net of illusion (Maya), it has taken to the company of the mind. The mind itself is in the hands of the senses and is being constantly dragged by them in different directions. The result is that the soul, which is intrinsically pure and sublime, gathers coats of dirt and rust which cover its refulgence. Both mind and soul feel forlorn and unhappy. They are foreign to this land and have a natural inclination to go back to their source. So long as the mind does not return to its source… it does not free the soul. The latter remains powerless to realize its sublime nature and yearns in vain to go back to its home.

—- Maharaj Charan Singh

FOOLS AND SAGES

Fools are asleep; sages are always awake.

—- Vardhamana Mahavira

THE SECRET OF PROPER DISCERNMENT

Yoga never demands the sacrifice of our reason. It only bids us: use it a thousand times more. Yoga does not require us to give up our active lives. It says simply: act, but know how to act. Yoga does not by any means wish us to push our understanding aside. It only tells us: discriminate correctly and act fearlessly. Yoga does not expect us to flee from the world and to retire into the Himalayas. It assures us: the refuge you seek you will never find in the outside world. It is within you. Leave the stormy world of the senses behind you, raise your consciousness to the central point of your being and realize that here alone is the force, here alone is the peace and here alone the refuge you are seeking. Yoga teaches us: do not condemn the world. Deify the world by your deeds, purify the world by your utterances and ennoble the world by your presence.

—- Selvarajan Yesudian

PERFECT MIND, PERFECT HEART

A perfect mind comes from a perfect heart, not the heart known by a doctor's stethoscope but the heart which is the seat of God. It is claimed that realization of God in the heart makes it impossible for an impure or idle thought to cross the mind.

—- “Mahatma” M. K. Gandhi

THE HIGHEST HELP

Spiritual knowledge is the only thing that can destroy our miseries forever; any other knowledge removes wants only for a time. It is only with the knowledge of the Spirit that the root cause of want is destroyed forever; so helping man spiritually is the highest help that can be given him.

—- Swami Vivekananda


2 THE QUEST

Who am I? Whence do I come? Whither do I go? What must I do?
As Socrates observed, the unreflective life is not worth living. Yet, many people never pause long enough to ask Why am I alive?

The sages invite us to make self-reflection an integral part of our everyday living and not wait until disaster strikes. For then it could be too late to realign ourselves with the deeper purpose of human existence: to discover our true nature, which is the immortal Consciousness.

The quest is inherently paradoxical, for the great masters tell us that in our true nature we already are fully liberated and blessed with unalloyed happiness. But we do not know this, and even when we have encountered teachings that show us the truth about ourselves, we still do not experience our intrinsic freedom and bliss. To achieve liberation we must turn to consistent spiritual practice, for which there are no substitutes.

Because of this inbuilt paradox, the quest can be both exciting and frustrating. It can be exciting because there are desirable new vistas and possibilities, and it can be quite frustrating because the mind can see far ahead, but without the medium of steady discipline it cannot transport us to those new places.

The quest thus turns us into seekers. Since our contemporary culture offers us little spiritual guidance, our search will likely take us in all kinds of directions. Many of our explorations will dead-end, but even those apparent failures contribute to our inner growth, as long as we continue to keep our desire for self-knowledge alive.

In due course, we will discover a path that appeals to and makes sense to us. Then our quest becomes more focused, and instead of merely looking for we start finding ourselves. One day, this journey of self-discovery will flower into full-fledged Self-realization, the recovery of our true nature as pure, blissful, eternal Consciousness.

IN SEARCH OF LIGHT