Monthly Message 
Hidden Treasure
Brian Afton
YogaBetsy Discourse #13
  Very little excites the human imagination so much as the prospect of finding hidden treasure and that penchant explains the popularity the Antiques Road Show on TV.  This is a program where people learn what the forgotten junk in their attics is really worth.

  There are many surprises on this program because so many people bring items to the show for appraisal without any real idea of their value.  In many cases family heirlooms thought to be of great value turn out to be worth very little.  In other cases things believed to be of small or modest value turn out to be very precious indeed.

  Practically everyone is glad to find a few extra dollars floating around.  Nevertheless, it must have been a bittersweet experience for some of these people to discover that they had been in possession of treasures of great value, things worth tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars, sometimes for decades without ever realizing it.

  Had these people only understood what they had in their possession when they were younger they could have liquidated the items and the interest alone would have made some of them millionaires 20 or 30 years before the Antiques Road Show even came along.

  How human it is to value things which are without value and how equally human it is to fail to recognize that which is of great value.    Every one of us has done both of those things at one time or another.

  Who, being the age they are now has not said, if only I had known then what I know now?  Who has not wished they had recognized the value of what someone was trying to tell them when they were much younger?

  The truth is that most of us are not very good at recognizing what is really valuable and what is not.  It has been said that wisdom is the result of knowledge plus experience, where a lot of that experience was bad.   When we are young we have no idea of how much of that “bad” lies ahead of us or  to what extent we will be tested by it.

  As it happens, there is no shortage of systems and strategies available in this world for dealing with the challenges of life.  Unfortunately most of us are poorly equipped to evaluate them even after 12 years of primary education and what is worse, we don’t realize that.  

  Of the various systems available to deal with the stresses, strains and travails of life Yoga is the oldest.  It is also probably the most misunderstood and under-rated method available to westerners at this time, and that is odd.

  You would think that in an extremely materialistic culture like the one which exists in America today anything which improved the physical body and contributed to health and youthfulness would be extremely popular and a major fixture in most peoples lives.  However, this is not the case.

  One recent study published in a major newspaper stated that alarming numbers of people would be willing to give up a decade of their lives simply to be thinner.  They did not care at all about how they were, only about how they looked.  The only thing which concerned them was that it would be easy and inexpensive.

  Living in the consumer society that we do,  this attitude is not hard to understand.  People today are taught and bombarded from every quarter that there is a purchase solution for every problem and want.  That they can buy and think and scheme their way through and out of every problem.  That if you have enough money and that if you are clever enough you can have anything you want and be anything you want.

  As it happens, none of that is true and the condition of the people around us is proof that it isn’t true.  While it is true that we live in an age of marvelous scientific achievement and greater abundance than has ever existed in all of history the great promises of unbridled consumerism have not quite panned out.  In spite of the vast output of goods and services that are greater than at any time in history, more people are more miserable and more fearful and more pessimistic about the future than they have ever been before.

  These people have yet to learn that what they are seeking lies within themselves and they will never be happy or satisfied with anything in this world until they realize that.   

  They are like Dorothy in the “Wizard of Oz”, who learned that she really had it all the time.  Like Lone Star in “Space Balls” who was told that The Swartz is in You.  Like the multitude who the Great Master Jesus told: “The kingdom of Heaven is in You.”

  The catch is, as it often says on the boxes of merchandise in department stores in very fine print:  “Some assembly is required!”.  This is where the Science of Yoga loses the interest of the masses because people are not interested in taking responsibility for their own lives and for the most part they are even less interested in engaging in anything which requires long and diligent effort especially when they are being promised quick and easy solutions to all of their problems at every turn.

  Unfortunately, there is no quick and easy solution to the challenges of life.  There are many paths, of course, even in yoga and even paths within the paths.  The six main paths are: 

  Bhakti yoga, the path of devotion,  the path of love and self surrender.

  Jnana Yoga is the path of knowledge.

  Karma Yoga is the path of selfless action.

  Kundalini yoga which includes hatha yoga, is the wisdom of the body.  The primal force, Shakti,  which lies sleeping at the base of the spine is raised up the energy channels until the consciousness is completely awakened.

  Raja Yoga is the path or system which leads along the eight runged ladder.  It is the most comprehensive path in which karma, bhakti, kundalini and jnana are combined.

  Sri Vidya in which the microcosm and macrocosm are understood is the highest of all paths and is very difficult.  It requires great philosophical understanding and the direction of a great teacher.  It can be dangerous without proper instruction.

  None of these paths is any better than the others.  Each of them leads to the same place but some of them are better suited to certain personality types than others.

  After much study under the direction of a Himalayan Master, Swami Rama, the founder of the Himalayan Institute, eventually became a renunciate which is a path of austerity including what we in the western world call celibacy.

  He noted, however, that this path was completely unsuited for most people and that while many attempted it virtually everyone who tried failed miserably.

  Swami Rama also indicated that many house holders, so called ordinary people with real world lives and responsibilities did succeed, proving that it was not necessary to renounce the world to develop spiritually.

  In the end, the measure of a person’s life does not lie with things they did not do!  It is not determined so much by what they rejected but by what they took into themselves. 

  Many schools historically have downplayed the importance of the body and even viewed it as an impediment to spiritual development.  Yoga views that position as a mistake.

  One of the things you may be absolutely certain of finding on the spiritual path is karma.  You will have to begin where you are, with what you are and with what you actually have within you.

   However, you have more than you think!  Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, like LoneStar in Space Balls, like the multitudes Jesus addressed you were given,  in the gift of your body,  all that was required to succeed in the journey of life though this world.

  Even if that body is now old and seemingly in a state of ruin it still contains a hidden treasure vastly more valuable than anything which has ever turned up on the Antiques Road Show.  One that is really golden; your energy system.

  Lying at the base of your spine is Shakti the coiled kundalini energy which remains asleep in most people.   With development,  this energy will rise up the energy channel through the 7 seven charkas resulting in enlightenment.

  Over the centuries many stories have filtered out of India and Tibet about the great sages living there who manifested many unusual powers called Sidda’s in yoga.   It is said that there is enough energy in the Shakti at the base of the spine to literally shake entire planets.

  Tonight, however, we engage in a more practical pursuit.  We will join in convocation and radiate joy and love into the world thus fulfilling a great need and demonstrating a great lesson.  Thus assembled and configured we are able to project a power into the world of vastly greater strength than anything we could possibly accomplish separately.  We will also see how some treasures must be given away to be realized.

 Copyright 2006  Brian Afton 2822 Grover Rd Olean, NY 14760