The student who has carefully acquainted himself with the fundamental principles of the Yogi Philosophy, as set forth in these lessons, will readily see that anyone who grasps and accepts these teachings, and makes them a part of his everyday life, will naturally live a very different life from one to whom this present earth-life is all, and who believes that death extinguishes individuality, and that there is no future life or lives.
It will also lead one to live his life rather differently from the person who believes that we are but creatures of a rather capricious Providence, having but little responsibility of our own, and that our “salvation” depends upon a perfunctory “belief” in certain teachings, and a set form of attendance at certain forms of religious worship. Remember, now, please, that the Yogi Philosophy has no fault to find with any form of religion – it teaches that all forms of religion are good, and each has its particular place to fill – each fills the need of humanity in some of its stages. It believes that no matter what form of worship is followed – no matter what conception of Deity is held – that every man really worships the One Great Intelligence, which we know under many names, and that the varying forms of such worship are immaterial, the motive behind each being the real test to be applied.
But the Yogi Philosophy, and, in fact, the teachings of all occultists, to whatever race they may belong, or what particular creed may be favored by them, hold that man is a responsible being, that he really makes his own conditions and bestows his own rewards and punishments, as a natural consequence of his acts. It also teaches that man cannot escape his own good, and that though he may slip backward a hundred times, still will he always make some little progress, and in the end will conquer his material nature, and then move steadily forward to the great goal.
It teaches that we are all God’s children, no matter what form of worship we may favor – that there are none of God’s children destined to be utterly cut off or damned. It teaches that we are punished by our sins instead of for them, and that the law of cause and effect brings its inevitable result. It emphasizes the teachings that “as we sow so shall we reap,” and shows just how and why we reap what we have sown. It shows how our lower desires and passions will weigh us down, and surround us with environments that will cause us to outlive them, and make us so thoroughly sick and tired of them that the soul will, eventually, recoil in horror from its past life of material grossness, and in so doing will receive an impetus in the right direction. It shows us that we have the Spirit always with us, anxious and willing to give us help and guidance, and that, through the Spirit, we are always in close connection with the source of all life and power.
Men are of varying temperaments, and the course that will best suit one will not be adapted to the requirements of another. One will seek progress and development in one direction, and another in a different way, and a third by a still different course. The Yogi Philosophy teaches that the way that seems to appeal the most to a man’s general temperament and disposition is the one best adapted to his use at the present time. They divide the Path of Attainment into three paths leading up to the great main road. They call these three paths, (1) Raja Yoga; (2) Karma Yoga; (3) Gnani Yoga; each of these forms of Yoga being a path leading to the Great Road, and each being traveled by those who may prefer it – but all lead to the same place. In this lesson we will give a brief description of each of the three paths, which together are known to the Yogis as “The Threefold Path.”
Some of the teachers treat what is known as “Bhakti Yoga” as if it were a separate path, but we prefer thinking of it as being an incident of each of the three paths, as “Bhakti Yoga” is really what we might call the “religious” form of Yoga, teaching the love and worship of God, according to how he appears to us through the colored glasses of our own particular creed. We fail to see how one may follow any of the several Yoga paths without being filled with love and reverence for the great Centre of all Life – the Absolute God – by whatever name we know it.
The term “Bhakti Yoga” really means the “way of devotion.” Let us trust that all our students, no matter which of the three paths they may elect to follow, will carry with them the devotion inculcated in the “Bhakti Yoga” of the particular religious body with which they are affiliated, and not feel that the “Threefold Path” calls for their renouncing that which has been dear to them from childhood. On the contrary, we think that a careful study of the Yogi Philosophy will awaken a new interest in religion, and cause many to understand much that they formerly but blindly “believed,” and will cause them to develop a deeper religious spirit, rather than a lesser one.
“Raja Yoga” is devoted to the development of the latent powers in Man the gaining of the control of the mental faculties by the Will – the attainment of the mastery of the lower self – the development of the mind to the end that the soul may be aided in its unfoldment. It teaches as its first step the care and control of the body, as taught in “Hatha Yoga,” holding that the body should be rendered an efficient instrument, and under good control, before the best results may be attained along mental and psychic lines. Much that the Western World has been attracted to in late years under the name of “Mental Science” and similar terms, really comes under the head of “Raja Yoga.” This form of Yoga recognizes the wonderful power of the trained mind and will, and the marvelous results that may be gained by the training of the same, and its application by concentration, and intelligent direction. It teaches that not only may the mind be directed outward, influencing outside objects and things, but that it may also be turned inward, and concentrated upon the particular subject before us, to the end that much hidden knowledge may be unfolded and uncovered. Many of the great inventors are really practicing “Raja Yoga” unconsciously, in this inward application of it, while many leaders in the world of affairs are making use of its outward, concentrated application in their management of affairs.
But the follower of the “Raja Yoga” path is not content alone with the attainment of powers for either of the, above uses. He seeks still greater heights, and manages by the same, or similar processes, to turn the searchlight of concentrated mind into his own nature, thus bringing to light many hidden secrets of the soul. Much of the Yogi Philosophy has really been brought to light in this way. The practice of “Raja Yoga” is eminently practical, and is in the nature of the study and practice of chemistry – it proves itself as the student takes each step. It does not deal in vague theories, but teaches experiments and facts from first to last. We hope to be able to give to our students, in the near future, a practical work on the subject of “Hatha Yoga,” for which work there seems to be a great need in the Western world, which seems to be waiting to be told “how” to do those things which have been stated to be possible by numerous writers who had grasped the theory but had not acquainted themselves with the practice accompanying the theory.
“Karma Yoga” is the “Yoga” of Work. It is the path followed by those who delight in their work, who take a keen interest in “doing things” with head or hand – those who believe in work “for work’s sake.” “Karma” is the Sanscrit word applied to the “Law of Spiritual Cause and Effect,” of which we have spoken in a preceding lesson. “Karma Yoga” teaches how one may go through life working-and taking an interest in action-without being influenced by selfish consideration, which might create a fresh chain of cause and effect which would bind him to objects and things, and thus retard his spiritual progress. It teaches “work for work’s sake” rather than from a desire for results. Strange as this may seem to many of our Western readers, it is a fact that many of the men of the Western world who have accomplished much, have really been possessed of this idea, without realizing it and have really worked for the joy of the action and creative effort, and have really cared but little for the fruit of their labors. Some of them say that they “have worked because they could not help it,” rather than from the mere desire for material gain. The follower of “Karma Yoga,” seems to himself, at times, as if he were not the real worker, but that his mind and body were doing the work, and he, himself – were standing off and watching himself work or act. There are lower and higher phases of “Karma Yoga”, which cannot be explained here, as each branch of Yoga is a great subject in itself.
“Gnani Yoga” is the “Yoga” of Wisdom. It is followed by those of a scientific, intellectual type, who are desirous of reasoning out, proving, experimenting, and classifying the occult knowledge. It is the path of the scholar. Its follower is strongly attracted toward metaphysics. Examples of the idea of “Gnani Yogi”- apparently widely differing examples – are to be seen in the great philosophers of ancient and modern times, and in the other extreme, those who have a strong tendency toward metaphysical teachings. As a matter of fact, nearly all students of the Yogi Philosophy are more or less attracted to “Gnani Yoga”, even though they be said to be following one of the other of the three paths. These lessons, for instance, are a part of the “Gnani Yoga” work, although they are combined with other forms of Yoga. Many Yogis combine in themselves the attributes of the followers of several forms of Yoga, although their natural tendencies cause them to favor one of the paths more than the others.
Of the three forms of Yoga, the second, or “Karma Yoga” is perhaps the easiest one to follow, for the student. It requires less study, and less practice – less of the research of “Gnani Yoga”, and less of the training of “Raja Yoga.” The Karma Yogi simply tries to lead a good life, doing his work to the best of his ability, without being carried away with the hope of reward he grows into a realization of the truth regarding his nature, and is content to gradually unfold, like a rose, from life to life, until he reaches a high stage of attainment. He does not long for unusual powers, and consequently does not endeavor to develop them. He does not long for the solution of the great problems of nature and life, but is content to live on, one day at a time, knowing and trusting that all will be well with him – and it will. Many of the “New Thought” people of America, are really Karma Yogis.
The Raja Yogi, on the contrary, feels a desire to develop his latent powers and to make researches into his own mind. He wishes to manifest hidden powers and faculties, and feels a keen longing to experiment along these lines. He is intensely interested in psychology and “psychic phenomena”, and all occult phenomena and teachings along similar lines. He is able to accomplish much by determined effort, and often manifests wonderful results by means of the concentrated will and mind.
The Gnani Yogi’s chief pleasure consists in metaphysical reasoning, or subtle intellectual research. He is the philosopher; scholar; preacher; teacher; student; and often goes to extreme lengths in following his favorite line of work, losing sight of the other sides of the subject.
The man best calculated to make general advancement along occult lines is the one who avoids running to extremes in any one of the branches of the subject, but who, while in the main following his own inclinations toward certain forms of “Yoga”, still keeps up a general acquaintance with the several phases of the great philosophy. In the end, man must develop on all his many sides, and why not keep in touch with all sides while we journey along. By following this course we avoid onesidedness; fanaticism; narrowness; shortsightedness, and bigotry.