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According to the Yoga Sutras, the self arises from each person’s individual identity, and in order to achieve higher levels of spiritual growth, we must learn to use restraint with our self (or consciousness (citta)). Included in the composition of consciousness is the mind, intelligence, and ego. As humans, we often associate the self with “I”. B.K.S. Iyengar, the person that brought yoga to the West, has described the self as “the subject, as contrasted with the object, of experience”.
In Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Iyengar describes that “in the temples of India, we see a base idol, an idol of stone that is permanently fixed. This represents that soul. There is also a bronze idol, which is considered to be the icon of the base idol, and is taken out of the temple in procession as its representative, the individual self. The bronze idol represents the self or the individual entity, while the base idol represents that universality of the Soul.” While the bronze idol, or physical body, is the form that we show to the world, the base idol, or soul, is there deep within us as well. Essentially, each part of our selves is one in the same. One does not exist without the other. There is no dualism here.
Outward from the soul, there are several layers of self that we must take care to nurture in order to progress on our spiritual path. The most external layer, the physical body, affects the inner layers, down to the soul, and vice versa. When you watch a violent film, for example, you perceive the movie through your eyes and ears, and the effects of that experience permeate through to the inner layers of your being. An act of abuse against your senses is an act of abuse against your soul. On the other hand, when the soul is at peace, that energy will radiate out through your body and to those around you. Therefore, it is vital that we take the time to care for each layer of our being. This is the reason that many practitioners chose to abstain from meat, alcohol, drugs, etc. We must be aware of these layers and how they effect one another in order to begin to achieve greater levels of awareness and spiritual growth. Each layer is rich with different sensations, and through the journey through each layer, we are able to fully experience the soul itself.
According to Ayurveda, a traditional form of medicine native to India, each and every person has a dominate dosha, or principle, that determines one’s nature. The three doshas are Vatta, Pitta, and Kapha – Vatta being associated with air and ether, Pitta with fire and water, and Kapha with water and earth. Once you are able to determine your dosha, you can learn how to balance your body and mind in order to nurture your own basic nature.
What Is The Pineal Gland?
The pineal gland is a tiny gland tucked away in the center of the brain that is no bigger than a single grain of rice, but it has endured a long history of mystery and intrigue surrounding its function not only within the physical body but within the spiritual body as well. The gland itself produces melatonin, and it regulates our sleep/wake and seasonal cycles, but it is believed to be a way to develop higher levels of consciousness where we can access our intuition as well. In addition, the pineal gland produces its own DMT, a naturally occurring psychedelic compound. Ancient civilizations have called the pineal gland the Third Eye, or Anja Chakra, and its physical presence in the body, as stated, is in the center of the brain behind the middle of the forehead where the Third Eye is believed to be. One who is able to access the powers of the Third Eye is said to be able to pass through the gateway to other realms and dimensions, harness their own psychic abilities, and achieve a greater awareness.
How Does the Pineal Gland Become Calcified?
In order to activate the Third Eye and access one’s intuition, however, one must detoxify the pineal gland. In these modern times, our lifestyles have lent themselves to a host of problems for the pineal gland. When it becomes calcified, it is no longer functional. Calcification is the result of a concentration of calcium phosphate crystals from various sources. Here is a list of calcifying agents to avoid:
Halides (Fluoride, Chlorine, Bromide): Fluoride is one of the most common of these agents, and it is often found in toothpaste and tap water. To avoid the main sources of fluoride, switch to a fluoride-free toothpaste and drink natural spring water or filtered water. The following website can tell you whether your drinking water has been fluoridated: http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/MWF/Index.asp.
Calcium (Calcium Supplements)
Decalcification of the Pineal Gland
In order to decalcify the pineal gland, one must first prevent any further calcification (see section above) and then begin the decalcification process to undo any present damage. Here is a list of foods and supplements that decalcify the pineal gland:
Lemon (Citric Acid)
Apple Cider Vinegar
Activation of the Pineal Gland
Once the pineal gland has been decalcified, meditation and yoga are fantastic ways to begin to activate the Third Eye. For example, there are a number of free guided practices online. I wish you the best on your journey. : )
I would like to thank the website http://www.decalcifypinealgland.com for all of the information used as a source for this article.
This morning, I came across an American ad from the 1950′s that was promoting a drug to enhance women’s bodies in order to be more beautiful. Unlike modern standards, however, the ad was telling women that they need to gain weight in order to be appealing to men.
This ad made me begin to think about how much society’s ideas on beauty have changed throughout history, and how often. Marilyn Monroe, for example, was considered to be one of the most alluring women in America in her time… and she was a size 12. Also, let’s not forget when plump and pale was favored over skinny and tan because it meant that you were more wealthy and not forced to engage in manual labor in the sun. If we look back further in history, we find certain ancient cultures who have become known for their own depictions of women such as Venus of Willendorf who happens to be obese.
Even in this day in age, conceptions of beauty vary in different cultures. In Mauritania, mothers force feed their young girls couscous, dates, and other such foods in order to make them fat because that is what is considered ideal. These girls even attend camps whose purpose is to make them gain weight so that they will able to be married. Megan Fox would have a snowball’s chance in hell at finding a suitable mate there.
Conceptions of beauty, however, do not stop at weight alone. In some Asian and African cultures, women elongate their necks with rings, and there are people in Africa and the Amazon that still stretch the lower lip with a lip plate in order to signify a girl’s eligibility to be married.
Given these wide range of customs, it is heartbreaking that women go to such lengths to conform to what is considered beautiful by the masses at this point in time in history in this particular place in the world… from cosmetics with poisonous chemicals engineered from techniques that cause animal suffering to expensive and painful surgical procedures.
As cliche as it sounds, beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. Compliance with the present standards is irrelevant. History has proven that conceptions of beauty change and will continue to do so as long as the human race exists on this earth. True beauty lies within yourself and yourself alone.
Nowadays, we are bombarded with news of war, school shootings, rape, and religious persecution, among many others. In a world that seems to be running rampant with violence, what is the solution? Is there a solution? Do we need a mass paradigm shift, and if so, do ancient teachings still have a place in this modern world?
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is a sacred Indian text that describes a system of thought and practice – of ancient philosophies and disciplined meditation practices. The type of yoga prescribed by this text is considered to be classical, or Raja, yoga, and the sutras themselves describe a number of yamas (a set of virtues, or behavioral restraints, to be followed by the yoga practitioner). The first of these yamas is ahimsa. Followers of the Hindu tradition such as Gandhi have made the practice of ahimsa well known in the modern world through his nonviolent protests of British Colonial rule. Contrary to the accepted belief, however, the philosophy of ahimsa does not entail a mere refrain from violent activity but comprises a much more subtle practice which aims to realize oneness and achieve the highest level of purpose.
What is Ahimsa?
The word ahimsa itself translates from Sanskrit to “nonviolence”. Essentially, those who follow the path of yoga, and therefore, ahimsa, find that in the presence of these teachings, violent thoughts, actions, and emotions are abandoned. Through this path, the yogis assert, one attains moksha (comparable to enlightenment or nirvana). The virtue of ahimsa is considered to be the “Mother of all virtues” (Eberhard). The reason for this lays in the fact that all other yamas and niyamas necessarily follow from this foundational philosophy. The remaining yamas are truthfulness, not stealing, abstinence, and not coveting, and the niyamas include the cleansing of the body, suppressing desire, ascetic practice, study, and meditation on the yogic God (White 80). One may see how without the keystone of non-violence none of the other yamas or niyamas can be observed for to violate any of them would be to commit a violent act as understood by the yogis that practice it. For example, a lie is an act of violence of intent against another, to covet is a violent act against oneself in the dissatisfaction with one’s own station, and more easily evidenced, a physical act, such as the refusal to cleanse one’s body, directly does disservice to oneself.
In order to practice ahimsa, one must not only be conscious of oneself but the interconnections of the world as a whole. Through the interconnectedness of the world and all of its inhabitants, every action, thought, intent, or feeling has an effect that bears on all things connected to it, including oneself. Ahimsa encompasses a state of conscious action instead of instinctive reaction (Eberhard). Essentially, the individual must restrain from these unconscious actions in favor of being self-aware in thought and deed.
Himsa, or Violence
The reverse of ahimsa is himsa which has been said to be not only violence but the root of ignorance (Eberhard). Ignorance of the way that human beings affect the world is the cause of most violent acts. Very few times is premeditated physical violence the main manifestation of himsa that can be observed in the world. More often, one may see how thoughtlessness and ignorance begets attitudes of anger, hurt, and misunderstanding. At the root of violence is the absence of awareness and the denial of oneness.
The Role of Intention
The practitioner must refrain from aggressiveness not only with outward action but with intent as well (Ravindra). In all things, intention is key. One must not only desist in violent behavior toward other human beings but toward other beings and the environment and even oneself. It is on account of this reasoning that many followers of eastern traditions abstain from activities such as eating meat. It is not merely physical violence, however, that the practitioner must take into account, but, as mentioned, they must be responsible for refraining from the infliction of mental, emotional and spiritual violence as well. Oftentimes we inflict self-violence in mere thought when we look in the mirror and criticize our appearance or have negative thoughts about ourselves. Internal violence, even from within oneself, is considered to be reflected in the practitioner’s surroundings (Ravindra). In other words, a violent act upon oneself translates into violence in the world as a whole.
Ahimsa in The Bhagavad Gita
Many of the teachings regarding ahimsa are found in the Bhagavad Gita through a dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna at the verge of battle. This text is a Hindu scripture that is drawn from the Mahabharata. The epic concerns a prince, Arjuna, who is on the brink of the Kurukshetra War. The story takes place on the battlefield, and it consists of a conversation between Lord Krishna and Arjuna. Arjuna was called upon to fight with Krishna, and on the eve of war, looking upon the enemy lines and seeing his own family and friends, his mind was disturbed. The prince is hesitant to fight his own kin, but Krishna instructs him on his duty as a prince and a warrior while elaborating on the practices of yoga. (“The Bhagavad Gita”)
Within the Hindu system of belief, texts such as the Vedas, the epics Mahabharata and Ramayana, and the Puranas, among others, all depict violence. Nearly all Hindu gods and goddesses are adorned with weapons which are used by them not only to compel others but to kill. (Ravindra) However, in the Yoga Sutras, for example, ahimsa is prescribed as a necessary practice in order to follow the path of the yogi. This dichotomy can be seen as a disagreement in philosophy that is difficult to reconcile, though it is not. As stated, the Bhagavad Gita illustrates the subtlety of the meaning of ahimsa not understood in popular culture.
Krishna demonstrates these teachings when he advises Arjuna to kill his enemies in order to uphold his dharma (duty) and allow the world to be as it is instead of attempt to interfere with the natural order of things. At the same time, Krishna holds nonviolence as an essential characteristic of the spiritual pursuant, as stated several times in The Bhagavad Gita, as in chapter 16 verses 1 through 3, “The Supreme Lord said: … purity of heart, perseverance in the yoga of knowledge,… sense restraint, sacrifice, study of the scriptures,… Nonviolence,… abstaining from malicious talk, compassion for all creatures,… gentleness,… absence of malice,… these are the qualities of those endowed with divine virtues, O Arjuna.”
Krishna is instructing Arjuna to inflict violence in battle in order to maintain that which is considered more significant (Ravindra). As demonstrated by this tale, all aspects of subtlety within the practice of ahimsa must be accounted for if one is to achieve it.
Violence versus Force
There is, however, a distinction to be made between violence and force. Discipline, for example, exhibits the use of force, but it is not violent. For example, it would be more detrimental in the long run to refuse to punish a child because they will grow into an adult devoid of inner discipline. (Ravindra) Acts such as these are practices of ahimsa because they contribute to the elevation of the individual and by extension the world around them. According to yoga as explained by Patanjali, this line of logic should be applied to all practical matters. It is important to recognize that nothing is accomplished, internally or externally, without the use of force, or energy.
As taught by the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, ahimsa, or nonviolence, aims to realize the nature of existence through practice. One aims to achieve a state of conscious action instead of instinctive reaction. Through this, one must abstain from aggressiveness in all manner of being because it is not just physical violence that must be avoided but the infliction of mental, emotional and spiritual violence as well. The yoga practitioner must, above all, uphold their dharma and aim to achieve the highest purpose.
How can we, over 1500 years after this ancient text was written, pursue ahimsa in our own lives? Do we have a duty to do so in order to bring peace not only to ourselves but to the world around us? Or are these teachings outdated and not applicable in this modern world?
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