What is the first thought that comes to your mind when you hear the word “Yoga”?
Usually the first thing that comes to mind are physical exercise where people twist, turn, stretch, and breathe in the most complex ways.
Having gained prominence across the world over the last century there are dozens of yoga schools and styles across the world. But is Yoga only about fitness and physical well-being? To put this into context, the science of Yoga is about 5,000 years old (if not longer) and even finds a mention in what is the oldest surviving spiritual literature in the world (i.e. the Rig Veda). What today is often associated with “Yoga”, is actually only a small part of entire body of knowledge. In reality Yoga encompasses a wide range of spiritual practices and techniques with one goal: to accelerate the evolutionary development of the soul.
So what really is Yoga?
The word Yoga comes from the Sanskrit root yug which means to yoke, to join, or to unite. It may be useful at this point to reflect momentarily on the meanings of the word. Whenever you talk about fastening or joining or uniting there necessarily needs to be two or more things to be connected or fused together.
Interestingly the origin of the word ‘religion’ lies in the Latin word ligare, which means to bind or to tie. Also if you talk about binding or tying something together there necessarily needs to be two or more things to be connected.
The question remains what are you trying to unite or tie together?
In order to understand concept of the so called “union”, it is important to understand your true nature. We are not physical beings which can have a spiritual experience. Instead we are spiritual beings having a physical experience. A deeper understanding of our true nature is has to do with an understanding of the concept of the soul.
The existence of the soul in part is substantiated by the fact that just about every religion has a concept in support of the soul. This universality of philosophical views about the soul points towards a collective belief about the soul’s existence. However there is debate around its nature.
Here is what Bhagwat Gita has to say about the soul in Chapter 2:
The soul never takes birth and never dies at any time nor does it come into being again when the body is created. The soul is birthless, eternal, imperishable and timeless and is never destroyed when the body is destroyed. Just as a man giving up old worn out garments accepts other new apparel, in the same way the embodied soul giving up old and worn out bodies verily accepts new bodies. The soul is eternal, all-pervading, unmodifiable, immovable and primordial.
Master Choa Kok Sui also emphasized the concept of immortality of the soul. The soul is indestructible and enjoys a certain continuity beyond the confines of time. The soul is a spark from the universal flame (referred to sometimes as the Divine Spark or the Divine Father). The Divine Spark itself comes from the Supreme God (referred in the Hindu tradition as Parabrahman and Ain Soph in the Hebrew tradition). The Soul is a small portion of the Divine Spark, which then incarnates, or takes a body, in the lower plane (the Earth) by extending a small portion of itself downwards.
The soul extends only a small portion of itself downwards when it incarnates to learn and evolve. Why only a small portion you may ask? In order to understand why this happens consider the following example. Suppose, for instance, that you would like to experience what fire feels like. An easy way to have the experience is to touch an open flame using a finger-tip (as opposed to jumping into a bonfire). The moment you were to touch an open flame you will learn about the nature of fire (which is to burn things). Likewise the soul can learn and gain experiences by extending just a small portion of itself downwards while taking physical incarnation.
As an extension of the Supreme God, our Soul is in a state of permanent health, a state of prolonged awareness, peace, love and bliss. The soul may not be perfect… but it is pure. We may not be consciously aware of it, but we inherently know that this resides within us. However, during the period of one physical incarnation, there is a temporary separation created. There is the Incarnated Soul (often described as the personality or lower self) and the Higher Soul (sometimes called the Higher Self or Divine Self). In fact, from the viewpoint of esoteric teachings, the human is defined as a soul with various vehicles including physical, emotional and mental bodies. A human resembles an inverted tree with its roots upward, rooted to the higher soul and ultimately to the Supreme God, which is evident in some of the teachings and practices of Kaballah and Hinduism and also in art crafts of Indonesia and Persia.
The purpose of Yoga is to accelerate the union of the Incarnated Soul with the Higher Soul. This phenomenon is known as “Soul-Realization”, “Enlightenment” or “Self-Realization”.
However Soul-Realization or Self-Realization is not a single step. According to MCKS, there are multiple stages of Self-Realization.
Stages of Soul-Realization
In the introduction of his book Achieving Oneness With The Higher Soul, MCKS has described the following stages of Self-Realization or Soul-Realization:
The first stage is when one realizes that he is the soul occupying various bodies; a spiritual being of divine light, love and power. This realization is however still in the intellectual level. The first stage happens when one realizes that he is not his physical body, not his emotions, nor his thoughts; the emotions and the thoughts are only products of the soul.
The second stage in this case happens when one experiences himself as the soul, during meditation or any other spiritual practice, not being able to feel his physical body. The spiritual practitioner may have an out-of-body experience where the soul uses the other subtle bodies and is able to travel faster than the speed of light. He further might experience the nature of the soul as a being of light, traveling in all directions.
In the third stage the yogi, as the incarnated soul, may have the experience of being united with the higher soul. He may further experience oneness with other souls, including other human souls, animals, nature and etc.
Last stage is the experience of oneness with God, where the spiritual practitioner experiences oneness with God and oneness with all. Such soul can be literally called a God-realized person.
There are many types of Yoga that introduce different means to make the oneness possible including Hatha Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Mantra Yoga, Raja Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Karma Yoga and Kundalini Yoga. Arhatic Yoga is another method of achieving oneness developed by Master Choa Kok Sui which is in fact a synthesis of different Yoga’s suitable for people with various backgrounds who want to pursue spirituality and at the same time live a normal life. No wonder Arhatic Yoga is called the Yoga of the 21st Century.
Achieving Oneness With The Higher Soul
For those who are interested in learning more about Yoga, spirituality, the nature of the soul and self-realization, we highly recommend that you enroll for the powerful workshop titled Achieving Oneness with the Higher Soul. This workshop provides a strong foundation to spiritual practice and provides us with techniques to enable us to become better human beings and raise our consciousness. Although we look different, we have different professions and ways of life, we are all beings of light who knowingly or unknowingly are trying to evolve and to realize our true nature. The knowledge and understanding provided in this short but powerful workshop makes this possible.