There are many various spiritual aspects of Yoga. Yoga is a journey of realization and revelation. It is a spiritual homecoming to KNOWING the REAL YOU that is the True Self. Knowing the True Self is the purpose of spiritual yoga.
The father of Yoga, Patanjali says it this way:-
Yoga is a journey of the self to the Self through the self—Sutras of Patanjali.
This is the journey of union of the person with the universal Self through surrender of the personal sense of self.
In the experience of surrender, which is a journey of letting go, the sense of the personal self does not disappear. It is that you no longer identify yourself as being the persona (the mask).
This is a detailed exploration of the subject and I have therefore broken it down into different sections that you can jump to by way of internal page linking.
Spiritual Aspects of Yoga Menu
- Introduction to Spiritual Yoga.
- 7 Aspects of Spiritual Yoga
- How to Begin the Practice of Spiritual Yoga (Coming as from 19th Oct 2019)
Let me begin by sharing what I understand by the term “spiritual aspect.”
What is a Spiritual Aspect of Yoga?
Spiritual Aspect of Yoga Symbol
My definition of a spiritual aspect of yoga is,
Anything that allows you to consciously move beyond the sense of yourself as a separate individual into union with the Divine.
The true purpose of yoga is to awaken within you the revelation that you and the Divine are never separate, have never been separate and will never be separate.
Yoga is really a revelation beyond this sense of separation from Divine Union.
My passion is to invite the awareness of this non-separateness.
The mystic poet Hafiz says it this way.
I wish that when you are lonely and in darkness that I could show you the astonishing light of your own Being _ Hafiz.
This is my wish.
It comes out of an experience of being introduced to Yoga by my mother when living as a teenager in Northern Ireland during what we call The Troubles.
The Winding Stairs
On the winding stairs
My mother gave me a book.
Inside was a treasure
I did not know I had lost.
Now, oft times I think of my mother
How come she knew
the treasure was mine.
I was brought up in Northern Ireland in a Christian tradition and within a fundamentalist Christian culture. The key focus of this fundamentalist teaching was, “You are a sinner.”
This never did sit right with me.
It made me feel guilty even when I had done nothing wrong. Later, after years of inner exploration I understood the true meaning of the word, “sinner.”
It relates to a feeling we all have. It is a feeling that is part of being human.
This is the feeling of being separate. In that sense, we are all sinners. It does not mean you are bad. It is a word that acknowledges the primary reality of everyone’s life.
Yoga, and the spiritual aspects of yoga, take you on a journey into the revelation beyond separation where you and the Divine dance together.
This is living the real life. This dance is forever happening and you are a part but never apart from this eternal dance of Love.
7 Spiritual Aspects of Yoga
The lotus flower blooms most beautifully from the deepest and thickest mud.” – Buddhist Proverb
One of the fun ways in which I explore writing articles for this site is to come up with a series of inter-linked ideas.
The 7 spiritual aspects of yoga that I share with you here are all linked in that each aspect begins with the letter ‘P.’ I interrelate each of these spiritual aspects of yoga in what I call Presence. This is the feeling of union with the Divine Life.
Let me first list these 7 spiritual aspects of yoga, and then I will explore each of these individually.
The 7 spiritual aspects are:-
I have listed these in a way that is related to the 7 major chakra system.
This follows a premier map of energy alignment, balance, and healing that you may find interesting. The above list of spiritual aspects is another way of exploring this major 7 chakra system.
In the 1st Half of Life, which is also the 1st of three stages of life, the focus will be on establishing your personal sense of self. The things you gain and the accomplishments you achieve, or do not achieve, will measure your prosperity.
You will tie your prosperity to your sense of personal self-worth. It is out of this personal sense of self-worth that prosperity manifests.
This is most people’s understanding of prosperity with its challenges, struggles, and strife.
This is a necessary 1st stage. You create the personal self to allow it to express the Universal through you and as you.
This 1st stage of prosperity is where most people get stuck. This includes those who practice yoga as we understand it in the West.
Here is a kind of Prosperity 101 class.
It is dependent to a large degree on outer circumstances and your primary belief system. This primary belief system is mostly unconscious.
Why are you so enchanted by this world, when a mine of gold lies within you?” ~ Rumi
This is prosperity driven from the sense of the personal self. It is the only way of viewing prosperity that they teach us.
Yoga for Prosperity
Laksmi Symbol of Prosperity
In the 2nd Half of Life (after 35 years) you may question the reason you are here. This is when most people begin living a real yoga lifestyle.
If this does not happen, you will remain tied to the sense of the personal self with all its drama and trauma.
Being identified with the personal sense of self is the meaning the the Biblical declaration:-
For whosoever shall save their life shall lose it.—Matthew 16:25
Do not take this invitation literally.
It does not mean you give up living your personal life. It means you turn around and live your life differently. You live from Presence rather than from ego.
If you continue to identify with the personality (the mask) you lose the magical opportunity to live from beyond the personal. This is your true Magical Mystery Tour (The Beatles).
In order to take the Magical Mystery Tour, which is the journey of real yoga, you have to:-
- Know who you are.
- Know why you are
- How to give it all away
Who you are is not the time-bound limited personality you think you are.
Who you are is the infinite, eternal impersonal Presence of the Divine. It doesn’t mean you lose yourself as a person. It means you KNOW yourself to be infinitely more than a mask (a persona).
You KNOW yourself to be Everlasting Love (The Love Affair)
To experience yourself as Everlasting Love is to KNOW who you are. You are a unique outpouring of infinite love. This in the words of the modern mystic Joel Goldsmith is your “supply.”
This is your true prosperity. It is your true resourcefulness. It is truly fulfilling.
You align with and flow from source energy of which you are a part but never apart from. The result is that you live a life that you pour away.
Prosperity is like a rosebud. As it expresses its true nature, its fragrance attracts all. Prosperity is always present within. – Yogi Bhajan
You are in free flow and are truly a free bird (Lynyrd Skynyrd) This is your joy as a free expression of Divine will. You and Source energy are one dance.
You are living effortlessly as an expression of infinite love within the limitation of form. Your body becomes a temple and a channel of expression of Love’s purpose.
You manifest into the world what is intended to be manifested through you. You are blessed and can bless (W. B. Yeats)
You are no longer living from the dictates of the never-ending demands of the voice in your head. Your intention and your quest each day is to FEEL in tune with the Infinite within you.
This is the still small voice within that KNOWS what you have need off rather than what your personal overthinking mind thinks it needs.
True prosperity is where you are given what you need for all eternity and you pour it away from a sense of true fulfilment.
Passion for Yoga
Passion for yoga, as a spiritual aspect of yoga, relates to passion for union of the personal with the Universal. This is not a passion that is over-emotional. It is a longing moving from the centre of your being.
This passion for yoga is a feeling. It is a feeling of connection. The less there is of the personal sense of self the move impassioned your life. You live from an energized enthusiasm.
The word ‘enthusiasm’ means to connect with the Divine. It derives from “Theo” meaning “God.”
Writing in Being Beautiful—Learning to Treasure the REAL You I share this journey into impassioned living in this way:-
This is how a passion for yoga, meaning yoga in the real sense, unfolds.
You begin with feeling encouraged. The word ‘encouragement’ derives from the root of the French word ‘cour’ meaning “to enter the heart.”
This begins a spiritual approach to Yoga. The practice of yoga is to open the heart to the higher energies of the Divine and allow them to flow through you and manifest the Love you it intends you express.
This journey of yoga for passion is a feeling experience. It is a spiritual embodiment experience. It is not an experience of belief but an experience beyond belief.
As you commit to living from the spiritual dimension of yoga, your energy moves into the more expansive energetic of excitement.
You are aligning with the true purpose and meaning of yoga and life. You FEEL your alignment with Love’s Presence.
As the German mystic Meister Eckhart advises, you experience the higher flowing into the lower. The energy of the higher chakras is flowing through the heart chakra into the lower chakras associated with the personality.
This excitement is not because of entertainment or other outer distraction. It is because you are In Tune with the Infinite that is your True Self.
You are feeling in alignment with Y-E-S- Your Energy System. The major seven chakras are becoming balanced and aligned.
In the words of the modern American mystic Joel Goldsmith writing in The Infinite Way:-
… is living out from the center of our being, as in the idea of unfoldment from within, rather than accretion. It is the giving sense rather than getting; being rather than attaining.
The giving sense is beyond sensational.
It is not giving to get. It is you being given through. This is nothing quite as exciting. This feeling of being given through is the real Law of Attraction in operation. It is the real Secret of Secrets.
This being given through is real personal empowerment arising from alignment with that which is beyond the personal.
In the 1st Half of Life personal empowerment is about self-improvement and self-growth. It is developing the sense of “I, me and mine.”
This is ego development and enhancement. It is learning various skill sets and ways of doing your life and achieving. It is establishing a set of beliefs that form your core sense of personal self.
Establishing a clear ego identity is the 1st stage in living your life. However, many spiritual seekers focus on avoiding this necessary part of the journey into yoga.
They call this, “Spiritual bypassing.”
It is where the seeker practices avoiding the material world. They often refer to the material world as an illusion. (Maya)
Some fundamentalist Christian sects look forward to the end of the material world.
They assert that the world will end in rapture on Judgement Day for the chosen few. The rest of us can go to hell in a basket.
In a direct experience of Yoga, you realize that you are in the world but not of the world. You transcend the world by being in Love with this dance of form.
You are here to bring Heaven to Earth and not avoid the experience of living as a human being in the form of a body.
Ease and Effortlessness
As you let go of having your life driven from the separate sense of the personal self, you enter flow states.
In sporting parlance you enter, “The Zone.” For the runner, this means they become the running. The dancer becomes the dance and the musician the music.
The businessman or woman, they become the deal. This is the real deal. It is more of a happening than a doing. The Beach Boy’s sing it in this way:-
Good vibrations are happening to me.
These good vibrations are where you feel your connection to Source energy. This is where you open to the Field beyond right doing and wrongdoing.
When you align with Y-E-S, there is no right doing and no wrongdoing because you are being done through by the Cosmic Force of Love.
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and right-doing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.
Your life may not be devoid of struggle, but you now recognize such a struggle as a sign of non-alignment.
It takes commitment and courage to come into such alignment. What if living at ease and effortlessness means you have to trust the unknown and follow the call to realize all you are created to become?
Ease and effortlessness are a sign you are tuned to, what in popular culture is called The Law of Attraction or The Secret.
In following these spiritual aspects of yoga, the difference is that you are learning not to manipulate the Universe but how to become Love’s servant.
This makes all the difference.
This leads you into the next stage of living, and the next sign, which is expectation.
At this stage of living a REAL Yoga lifestyle, your sense of yourself is becoming more aligned with Presence than with personality.
The poet Norman MacCaig shares this understanding in his lovely paradoxical poem entitled Presents.
I give you an emptiness,
I give you a plenitude.
Unwrap them carefully –
one’s as fragile as the other –
and when you thank me
I’ll pretend not to notice the doubt in your voice.
when you say they’re just what you wanted?
Put them on the table by your bed.
When you wake in the morning
they’ll have gone through the door of sleep
into your head. Wherever you go
they’ll go with you and
wherever you are, you’ll wonder,
smiling about the fullness
you can’t add to and the emptiness
that you can fill.
When you are open to the direct experience of the emptiness that is forever full, you will begin to have the lovely experience of expectation.
Expect that you will pour forth all that Creation gifts through you.
Be empty of your personal agenda and have the Universal agenda fulfill you.
Expectation differs from the practice of Cosmic Ordering as taught in the popular teaching of The Law of Attraction.
You experience real attraction to the degree you feel less separate from Source. This is not the way the Law of Attraction is taught.
It would be much less popular and more effective if they instructed you in the magical art of disappearing into the emptiness that is forever full.
You cannot fake expectation.
Expectation blooms like a flower in its own time. It is a very reassuring feeling. It is living in alignment with the Biblical understanding of the REAL Secret:-
It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. – Luke 12:32 KJV
The Kingdom is not a place you go to. It is a state of Being you live from and pour all your true pleasure from.
Expectation correlates with the experience of effortlessness.
You learn that the most empowering part of manifestation is to do nothing and let NO-THING do through you.
Do not equate NO-THING with nothing. NO-THING is the invisible field of Infinite potential out of which all things arise.
Your connection to this field of infinite possibility requires that you trust and have faith. This is not blind faith attached to a belief system.
This is faith in not knowing and faith and trust in the unknown. You move from knowledge, to not knowing to being known through.
Then expect to have miracles done through you but do not push the river.
Enthusiasm is when you delight (off the Light) in Being and feeling how the Light of Love flows through you.
This is the astonishing Light of your own Being (Hafiz) that you are blessed to KNOW and live from.
This is what you wish to bless others with and from. You know such a way of Being in the world is the answer to most unnecessary suffering in the world.
There is the recognition that enthusiasm is something that comes through you because you live from the True Self. It happens not because of what you do but because of who you are beyond the personality.
You bring Heaven to Earth. You are a channel of Grace. This is your purpose. You are now aligned with the eternal purpose of Love.
There is nothing more exciting. There is nothing to be more enthusiastic about. It keeps expanding into the NO-THING-NESS that is Everything.
One day, and it is a Holy day, you enter a state of Presence. There is no more of the personal you. There is only Love. This is union and Yoga. In a beautiful quote from Rumi:-
The dewdrop merges with the Ocean and the Ocean merges with the dewdrop.
When you live from Essence, you are enlightened. To use a Christian term you have, “Put on put on the Mind of Christ.”
To live from Essence is to live your Buddha-nature. It is to live in the Tao.
Do not confuse the Mind of Christ with the personal mind of Jesus of Nazareth. The Christ Mind has always been and will ever be.
Any enlightened individual from whatever tradition or culture they come is a Christed Being.
The Christ Mind is not exclusive to Christianity. The Christ Mind is the 1st born of Creation.
There are no words to point toward this way of living in the world other than to say you know that you are eternal.
The Biblical instruction below invites you to live from Essence:-
Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind – Romans 12:2 KJV
Renewing your mind means that you give up the personal mind (ego) for the Universal Mind – The Christ Mind.
Living from Essence means you are moving from eternity into time. This is what it creates you to KNOW and live from.
This is the KNOWING of union and yoga.
The renewal of your mind can only happen through the core practices of meditation, prayer or contemplation.
Any teaching that does not invite you into this direct KNOWING of the True Self is NOT sharing with you the full and magnificent invitation called Yoga.
Thus you will not KNOW the astonishing Light of your own Being. (Hafiz).
Therefore, I ask that you ensure that your practice of yoga incorporates a commitment to these seven spiritual aspects of yoga.
During the 1st Half of Life, your focus is on the development of personal power. This is self-improvement and self-growth. This is a necessary focus to develop your ego.
However, most people get stuck in this phase of life.
If you are blessed, you will experience a midlife crisis. It will not feel like a blessing and may take you deeper into a sense of separateness and despair.
This midlife crisis calls you to take the adventure into that which is beyond your identification with “I, me and mine.” You are called into the adventure of REAL Yoga.
If you are blessed, you will realize there is a power beyond your overthinking mind that will guide you in finding true happiness and fulfilment.
Power of I am versus I AM
The way to access this REAL power is a journey of paradox. It is a journey of letting go. It is a journey into trust and faith in the paradoxical power of silence.
In developing access to this real power, you listen to the Still Small Voice within that is your true power.
It is not the power of your overthinking never at rest personal mind. The personal mind has its function.
It can plan a holiday. It can sort out your finances. However, it cannot empower you with meaning and purpose nor give you true happiness and fulfillment.
Only your FELT connection to Source will fulfill you and empower you.
Feel the Force Luke—Obe One Kenobi to Luke Skywalker in Star Wars
This FEELING connection to Source gives you the power to destroy the Dark Star. This Dark Star is the symbol of your feeling of separation from Love.
In reality, there is no destruction of this darkness although it feels that way. There is only the dark, disappearing by reason of your enlightenment.
The true Yogi or Yogini realizes their true power is in living in alignment with Universal Intelligence.
This is your personal “I am” living in union with “I AM.” This I AM expresses fully when the personal sense of “I am” allows.
The Yogi or Yogini gains power when they commit to living the mantra or prayer:-
Not my will but Thy Will be done – Luke 22:42
Finding peace is when the journey of REAL Yoga gets really exciting.
This is where you are moving into a different peace. It is not the peace of the world. It is the peace beyond opposites and a peace beyond understanding.
This peace is not of your overthinking personal mind. There is no such thing as peace of mind arising from the voice in your head. This is because the personal mind is dualistic. It is for many a house divided against itself.
The peace that real yoga invites is the peace of a purified heart. This begins with a serious commitment to the True Self and to shadow work.
Shadow work is where you learn to forgive all of those aspects of yourself that you do not love.
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
— Jellaludin Rumi
translation by Coleman Barks
This guide from beyond comes through the heart. It comes through the personal self that has surrendered its will to power. This opens you up to experience the Will to Love.
You have now come to a place where you are on the Road Less Taken (Robert Frost). This gives you great hope, but you need to base this hope on real faith rather than on blind faith.
Real faith is the willingness to enter the unknown so you are KNOWN through.
Blind faith is where you accept wisdom teaching based on concepts without KNOWING their truth through direct personal experience.
There is no longer the need to believe because you KNOW.
To live a faithful life, be comfortable with not knowing. Become empty. Follow the way of self-emptying, which is the way of kenosis.
Kenosis is the commitment to self-emptying into Love.
This is real Yoga. It is heart mind and soul in union and living from the Silence of Inner Knowing.
This is peace of heart and mind. It is the peace of the soul in alignment with the Oversoul. You KNOW where your true purpose, passion and prosperity lie.
They lie within you awaiting the willingness to allow their expression.
Your task is as Rumi so eloquently says:-
Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. – Rumi
This not so much a task of self-improvement but of shadow work and self-acceptance.
The main barrier is clinging to the sense of the personal self as being who you are.
Poetry is the language of the soul expressed through the heart. It is the language of union.
The other languages associated with spiritual yoga are the languages of paradox, parable, koan, riddles, myth and archetypes.
These are not the language of the intellect.
The intellect cannot comprehend this kind of language because this language is not dualistic but wholistic.
Paradox and parable, riddle and myth take you beyond your overthinking mind. Therefore Rumi says:-
Trade logic for bewilderment- Rumi
Osho says the same thing when he refers to how we relate to life as living as logic choppers.
We reduce everything whole into words and concepts, and then we think we know what living life is. Life is not a logical phenomenon. And the intellectual lives through logic; hence, he never fits with life and life never fits with him. Life is not at a loss; the intellectual himself is at a loss.He is always feeling like an outsider — not that life has expelled him; he himself has remained outside life. If you cling too much to logic, you can never be part of the living process that this existence is. Life is more than logic: life is a paradox; life is a mystery.–Osho
The true Yogi or Yogini speaks a different language. This is the language that invites union.
The Sufi mystic Hafiz says it this way:-
Why not become one who lives with a full moon in each eye speaking that sweet moon language that every other eye in the world is longing to hear.–Hafiz.
That sweet moon language, like the moon, is feminine. It is not the language of power politics. It is not the language of patriarchy.
It is the language of allowing (feminine) that lights up the darkness.
The darkness is a life lived from identification with separateness of the individual personal self. It is the idea that you are separate from the Light when in fact you are an eternal expression of the light.
And draw us near
And bind us tight
All your children here
In their rags of light
In our rags of light,
All dressed to kill
And end this night
If it be your will
Leonard Cohen – If it Be Your Will
This invitation to KNOWING the Light within is the language of the Yogi. This is all that the real yoga teacher is interested in.
What else to talk about other than the majesty of who you truly are and why you are? This is to speak of your true purpose.
Your purpose can be stated in this way.
Your purpose is to follow Love’s Purpose.
This is your primary purpose as opposed to your secondary purpose.
When your heart and mind are energetically aligned with Love’s Purpose, you relax. You are at ease. Your heart is at ease and your mind is at peace.
You do not have to push the river of success. Your joy is simply to be in flow. This is kenosis. This is self-emptying.
You are awakening from the dream of separation.
Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily Life is but a dream.
You are a unique dream of the Universe. Your purpose is to awaken from the dream of separation into the reality of union.
This is the best thing you can ever do, both for yourself and for others. You are not then the blind leading the blind. You bring real peace on earth.
Living your life as Love’s servant is your primary purpose. Your secondary purpose is how that primary purpose expresses through you.
You show your secondary purpose through your natural talents. It is what you love to express in the world.
It does not necessarily represent the work that you do or the career path you follow. My true secondary purpose was to be a yoga teacher, writer, folksinger, and storyteller.
Because in the 1st Half of Life I did not have a mentor, I became an accountant.
All was not lost because I did accounts for various Buddhist centres and related charities and workers co-operatives. All these needed the skills of an accountant.
In the 1st Half of Life and throughout midlife, I did not follow the instruction of Rumi, which aligns the primary and secondary purpose of life.
Let the beauty of who you are be the work that you do.–Rumi
Most individual purpose (secondary purpose) is not driven from KNOWING the of Beauty within. We do much of our work from a sense of being driven by necessity.
When you work from inner beauty, it is real work.
It is not work that you do but Love in Action moving through you. It is you living as a Wu-Wei Dancer.
You and Presence are one dance.
This is the final but never-ending stage of union at least on the level of this earth plane. Different traditions give this stage different names.
- Buddhist Tradition–Enlightenment.
- Christian Tradition–Salvation.
- Hindu Tradition–Yoga.
For most of us, this learning to live as the Eternal Presence of Love is a gradual process of awakening.
This is the journey of spiritual awakening mapped by the mystics of all traditions. These are the KNOWERS of the way.
They are not the believers in the way who cling to signposts and who remain logic choppers.
Living from Presence is a great grace. It is an amazing grace. The paradox is that the less there is of you (kenosis) as the overthinking, logic-chopping, time orientated personal self the more amazing your life becomes.
You open to miracles. A real Yogi or Yogini expects to live a miraculous life. They live the paradox of stepping outside of time into Eternity. They are in the world but not of the world.
The underlying premise is that the greatest “miracle” is the act of simply gaining a full “awareness of love’s presence” in one’s own life. – A Course in Miracles
There comes the time of awakening to the full awareness of Love’s Presence.
The dewdrop merges into the Ocean and the Ocean into the dewdrop (Rumi). There is no more thinking unless needed. There is manifestation as required to express the glory of the Divine.
What to think when Love is creating all things out of the magical infinity of NO-THING.
Logic no longer rules as a house divided against itself. Wisdom rules the house of your Being. Love is in the driving seat of your wild and precious life (Mary Oliver).
This is the journey of spiritual yoga and spiritual union. The next part of this article shares with you a beginner’s guide to steps on the path of spiritual yoga.
How to Begin to Practice Spiritual Yoga.
Coming to this page as from 19th October 2019