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
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
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.