The Spiritual Life expresses itself in extremely personal modes. I find that its evolution becomes uniquely individual the farther one travels their path. We are truly all-unique manifestations of Spirit. As Teilhard de Chardin said, ?We are not humans having a spiritual experience; rather we are spiritual beings having a human experience?. The paths of Spirit ultimately bring a clear distinction between spirituality and the actions and rituals carried out in the name of religion. The paths of Spirit do indeed culminate in experiences that philosophies and religions call mysticism. From this perspective the seeker is led to say, ?Many are the paths, yet all paths lead to the One.? We are One in our essential nature.(1)
However, I find that to explain the Spiritual Path this one must use generalizations, which are seldom personally manifested. I find that this is the best I can do at my present state of view. So please bear with me and encourage me to find clarity with your suggestions for improvements on my presentations.
There are the three principle paths for a student to undertake. Having numerous representative teachers, scriptural texts, and living followers of these paths characterize each of the three traditional paths. I shall overview some important references to each to assist our mind’s comprehension of the apparent evolution of Spirit as She reclaims Her own.
Head ? Jnana Yoga Heart ? Bhakti Yoga Gut ? Karma Yoga
These three paths are representational of the most vital areas of life. We can see this perspective through the eyes of Ayurveda?s energetic perspective of our psyche ? head is vata, heart is kapha, and gut is
pitta.(2) The head is the path of intellect, seeking and finding Spirit as wisdom, Truth, timeless teachings. The heart is the path of devotion and higher emotions in which Spirit is expressed as love, faith, perseverance, and a connection to a greater sense of Self. The gut is the path of service as Spirit is found through acts of selfless service and doing one?s duty for the benefit of humanity. In all cases the path is rooting out the core experience of the human being that of identify with the body. According to Ramana Maharshi the central fact of ego is due to one possessing identification with their body.(3) Upon losing this experience the feeling of selflessness arises and with it the nature of the True Self shines forth. This produces the individual expressions of the Spiritual path in harmony with the individual?s predispositions.
When these predispositions are motivated by vata then awareness of intellect and mind predominate. When motivated by pitta then expressions of vitality and action are present. When kapha is active then we are focused upon emotional aspects of being.
Another aspect of this is to examine the concept of the 5 bodies or vital sheaths (koshas) as delineated in the Taittiriya Upanishad II, 7. The densest body, annamayakosha (that composed of food) is kapha in nature. When awareness clings here we are drawn to look at the sheath of physical sensations and decide whether our health is content or whether some form of physical activity is required. The second body, pranamayakosha, composed of prana, is vata in nature. When we are here our motivation becomes centered upon discerning the needs for vitality and emotional health. The third body, manomayakosha, is also vata in nature though of a more subtle form. In this place we disregard bodily and emotional input and focus upon the content of our thoughts. If healthy we consider the health of our thoughts and the need for meditation and uplifting input. The fourth body, vijnanamayakosha, is of the higher nature of pitta. Here discrimination has sorted out the vagaries of the mind and we are raised to the place of wisdom and seeking timeless teachings. The fifth body, anandamayakosha, is the subtlest sense of ego as self. Here one transcends ordinary awareness yet still possesses a personal identity with the activities of the higher emotions of bliss and joy. While they are commonly experienced in hindsight as transcendent, not of one?s own creation, these experiences are nonetheless still characterized with the sense of ?I attained this bliss?. It is only when the individual passes beyond these five bodies that the True Self is known to be selfless, free of any agenda about body, energy, mind or emotional concerns.
1)The most beautiful succinct expression of this fact is All is One. Anonymous Tamil author, translated by Valyai Subramaniam. Tiruvannamalai: Ramanasramam, 2000.
Ayurveda is the science of lifestyle and a crucial companion subject for yogis to learn. For a good overview of how to personalize Ayurveda see Robert Svoboda?s Prakruti ? Your Ayurvedic Constitution. For a more in-depth study see David Frawley?s Ayurvedic Healing.
Ramana Maharshi (1879-1950) is one of India?s greatest sages. His teachings are the apex of Yoga and are summarized in The Spiritual Teachings of Ramana Maharshi, with an introduction by Carl Jung. A catalog of books, videos, and a free bi-monthly newsletter are available at Ashrama@aol.com or call 718-575-3215.