Monthly Message 

The Path of Renewal

YogaBetsy Yoga Center Discourse 26:
Brian Afton

  The equinox is historically a time of renewal when light returns into a darkened world and at such a time it is appropriate for us to consider where we are, and where we are going. As we have told our yoga students many times: It is of little use to build our bodies up only to have our own minds tear them to pieces.

  The energies and laws responsible for the creation of this universe existed long before the dawn of the Christian Era and in fact, long before there even was a world. In each age people have assigned names and characteristics to these energies and laws resulting in the formation of various religions reflecting their level of understanding at that point in time.

  Religions have always been our way of coping with a world we do not understand very well. All the great religions and mystic paths of this world, now and in the past, have had their own version of what amounts to being the ten commandments: a list of rules for living life and coping with this world and when they are actually understood, they are simply very good advice.

  Most people equate yoga with doing contorted postures and looking like the latest media star but the reality is that the postures are only on the third rung of an eight rung yoga ladder and that yoga itself is a much deeper, more powerful and far more ancient science than they suspect.

  The postures are very important because we cannot relax unless we are strong enough to do that and because a weak body will be a distraction that makes attuning with our inner intelligence and ability very difficult.

  We all have questions about life but the answers will be useless unless we ask the right questions. This is why it is important to learn from an authentic tradition and why there is a definite path in Sri Vidya and the yogic sciences. By climbing the 8 rungs of yoga we engage the five Yamas and five Niyamas which amount to being the ten commandments of yoga and following the ten commandments.

  The eight rungs begin with the Yamas which are the restraints, the second rung is the Niyamas which are the observances, the Asanas which are the postures are on the third rung, the forth rung is Pranayama or control of breath which is the vehicle of our life energy, the fifth rung is Pratyahara, sense withdrawal known to most people as relaxation and actually the first stage of meditation, the sixth rung is Dharana or concentration which leads to the seventh rung Dhyana which is the meditation itself. The final rung is Samadhi, or self realization.

  The five Yamas or Restraints are Ahimsa or nonviolence, Asteya or nonstealing, Satya not lying, Brahmacharya is usually translated as celibacy but actually means avoiding misuse of the senses and preservation of energy, and finally Aparigraha is avoiding the hoarding of material and emotional possessions which includes recycling memories and living in the past. We only have power in the present moment. The future is not manifest yet and the past is gone. We cannot change it but can waste our energy there.

  The five Niyamas or observances are Shaucha, purity, Santosha, contentment, Tapas is the discipline or spiritual practice required to transcend our physical and mental limitations. Svadhyaya is self study, and Ishvara Pranidhana is trustful surrender to God, known by its ancient name of Ishvara in the Sri Vidya tradition. This is not a different God than the Christian God, it is simply a different name and understanding.

  Our existence here is complicated by the fact that we enter this world with a body so weak we cannot even hold our own heads up and an immature brain which is still growing and quickly fills up with a great deal of stuff we would be much better off without.

  There are many reasons for this. What the average person does not realize is that our thoughts are inexorably being built into our own bodies and lives, and that many of these thoughts were not our own thoughts and ideas, but those programmed into us by our parents, the media and our culture. What we are taught, beginning in infancy is inexorably built into our bodies and mentality where it is executed as habits. In yoga these are called vasanas and samskaras: Our habits and the grooves those habits carve into us.

  This is a very serious situation. The infant and young child learns very quickly but has no means to validate what is being impressed upon it and even believes this early programming was of its own doing and choice. Moreover, habits are executed automatically. They bypass reason with the result that a decision is made long before any thinking has actually taken place. In fact, most people are operating on that basis most of the time. They are not thinking at all, they are recycling the same thoughts and habits over and over and over without recognizing that fact. They are what the Buddha would have called; not awake. Moreover, in the 2500 years since his lifetime, that is still where the majority of humanity lives most of the time: not awake and a pawn in a tide of events and forces beyond their understanding and control.

  The primary obstacles to awakening are the Kleshas or the five afflictions. The first of these is Avidya or our complete ignorance of just about everything and what is worse, most of us do not even suspect the depth of our ignorance.

  Asmita is a false sense of self identity, mistaking the mind which is actually a tool meant to perceive and operate in this dimension with consciousness and our real nature and self. The mind is a tool of the consciousness and not consciousness itself. We are not our memories and thoughts, what is observing them is.

  This ignorance Avidya, and something called Asmita, false self identity, lead to Raga or attachment and entrapment into the phenomenal world of memories and perceptions. This leads to Dvesha or aversion and hate as we renew and relive unpleasant memories and imagine others while trying to live in our minds instead of our consciousness. It is much easier for us to project all of our problems onto others than to see and correct them in ourselves.

  And finally we face Abbinivesha or death which is an opportunity to cast off our bodies and to prepare the ground for newness. We will not be completely freed from what we have done during our lifetimes but we are given a chance to begin again. Unfortunately most of us try to relive the same life over again and again just as most people recycle the same behaviors in this world again and again.

  Now, contrary to what is taught in fundamentalism our bodies are not bad. We are here to learn the purpose of the objective world, to obtain knowledge of our essential nature and to become established in it. Originally many lives ago the illuminative quality of our consciousness was identical to the pure consciousness from which we originated but during the journey though life and the material world we developed false self identity, attachment and accumulated karma which must now be dissolved. All of our actions in this world have consequences and we are held accountable for them because, among other things, they change us.

  Everyone is going to die but the measure of a persons life will not lie with the things they did not do. It is determined by what they took into themselves and if we die without understanding the life in the body and the soul in the body this life will have been wasted.

  One path to advancement is found on the 8 rungs of yoga while adhering to the Five Yamas and Niyamas which are not punishment of an angry God but a method of enlightenment and rising beyond the limitations of the earth plane. Each step will empower us and bring us closer to the eternal light and rouse a great power now sleeping deep within each of us which few people even suspect exists.  There are, however, some other techniques which can assist us in all of this.

  For this to make sense you must understand that the ancient languages like Hebrew and the much older Sanskrit were different than English is today. In English an A is just an A. This is not the case in the older languages like Sanskrit and Hebrew. Each letter has a meaning in its own right. It is also a number and it has phonetic value, an energy peculiar to it.

  Thus the vowel sound AUM has many depths of meaning as well as a blend of special energies. In our language this corresponds to the word Amen, which is generally used improperly by most of us. Both of these words, Amen and AUM, are, in fact, words of great creative power. 

  In yogic practice these sounds are associated with certain energy centers in our bodies to produce certain results including an elevation in the level of our consciousness. The words must be pronounced properly, and with the correct intention while concentrating our energy by use of breath into the proper area.

  AUM is, in fact, composed of some other sounds. The Ah sound, the Oooo sound and MA. For our purposes here tonight we want to hold the Ah sound at the naval chakra, Oooo sound at the heart center and the MA sound at the throat chakra. 

  Now, when we hold certain kinds of thoughts a condition is established around us which attracts a kind of energy called grace, a power that lies far beyond anything we, ourselves, are capable of generating. What we are doing is receiving an energy from a higher source. This is sometimes called grace. It is also known as the power of the holy spirit though it has other names as well. 

  By any name, it not only empowers and develops us but the mere existence of this condition among us raises the power of everyone and everything around us. Moreover, because of our configuration in this temple and because of our intention in being here it is a power of vastly greater magnitude than we could possibly hope to generate as a group of separate individuals. 

  We do not need to save the world. We do not need to point out or correct the faults and imperfections in others. We need only to remove them from ourselves. We need only, in the days and weeks ahead rededicate ourselves to that task. We need only to accept that grace which will flow here this night because of our convocation and invocation and allow it to flow into the world though us. 

  To initiate this process tonight we will begin with the AUM chant by using its component parts. These sounds are, again, Ah, Oooo, and Ma, which are to be focused with our concentration and breath at the navel chakra, the heart center and the throat center respectively. We will do this three times. 

First visualize a ball of golden light at your navel chakra.

  Now visualize a ball of golden light at the heart chakra.  

Now visualize a ball of golden light at the throat chakra. 

  First I will demonstrate the chant once. Ah, Oooo, Ma. 

  Now concentrate on the ball of golden light at the navel chakra and chant the sound Ah.

  Concentrate on the ball of golden light at the heart center and chant the sound Ooooo.    concentrate on the ball of golden light at the throat center and chant the sound Ma.

     (repeat twice more) 

  Now, direct your concentration to your third eye center located at the pituitary gland at the center of your skull or behind the two eyebrows.

The sound for Grace Light is Arut Perum Jyoti which is Sanskrit for the light of God and Tani Perum Karunai which is Sanskrit for A gift of God, you cannot buy it, you cannot earn it, it is a gift. 

Concentrate on your third eye center and Listen to the sound. 

 Arut Perum Jyoti, Arut Perum Jyoti, Tani Perum Karunai, Arut Perum Jyoti   Arut Perum Jyoti, Arut Perum Jyoti, Tani Perum Karunai, Arut Perum Jyoti   Arut Perum Jyoti, Arut Perum Jyoti, Tani Perum Karunai, Arut Perum Jyoti 

  Now direct you attention to your heart center and allow the light to flow down from your third eye center to the heart.

  Concentrate on the heart center and listen to the sound. 

Arut Perum Jyoti, Arut Perum Jyoti, Tani Perum Karunai, Arut Perum Jyoti 

  Your body is now infused with the grace light. 

  Having received the light, you are now expected to give the light. Let our united circle radiate peace, joy and love into the world.




8 Rungs of Yoga

YamasŚThe Restraints

NiYamas--- The Observances

Asanas---The postures

PranayamaŚControl of Breath mastery over Prana Shakti

Pratahare---Sense Withdrawal (relaxation)



Samadhi---Self Realization

Five Yamas:




Brahmacharya---No misuse of senses/preserving energy

Aparigraha---No hoarding of material/emotional possessions (living in the past)

Five NiYamas




Svadhyaya---Self Study

Ishvara Pranidhana---Trustful surrender to Ishvara.

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