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Srila Gurudeva Ki! JAYA!

Yama and Niyama February 27, 2006

Filed under: Main — Daniel @ 12:24 pm

Yama and Niyama

These terms are translated as ”effort and relaxation” or “exertion and rest”. This stage consists in mastering fundamental ethic and psycho-hygienic rules of a spiritual seeker’s life.

The first rule is called ahimsa — harmlessness. It means trying not to injure, as far as possible, any living being in deeds, words, thoughts or emotions.

This also includes the principles of ethically correct nutrition that we have discussed above and, which is no less important, getting rid of coarse emotions, which are the result of ill thoughts and often lead to rude words and actions.

Our ethical mistakes, including crimes, can be results of either our ignorance, lack of understanding of the Universal order and of our place and role in it, or of our indulging in emotions of spite, condemnation, resentment, anxiety, fear etc., which are manifestations of our lower self sticking out.

Destroying one’s lower self by way of merging it into the universal Highest Self of the Creator is one of the important tasks on the spiritual Path. This kind of work begins with the inner fight against all vicious manifestations of one’s lower self, first of all those that exist in the field of emotional reactions. Penitence is an important tool in accomplishing this task: the sincere repentance for ethical mistakes that one has committed, accompanied by the mental analysis of those problem situations and finding the best ways of resolving them.

Many people do not grasp the essence of the principle of non-condemnation. Condemnation in reality is an emotion, a form of anger. Identification and discussion of other people’s mistakes, as well as an intellectual analysis of them are not at all condemnation. Analysis is necessary since this is what helps us not to repeat someone else’s mistakes. But while performing this type of analysis one should be free from any kind of anger emotions.

Emotions are states of the energy of consciousness. They emanate beyond the body, thus creating energetic environment for surrounding people and other beings. People who live in coarse emotional states produce a destructive and pathogenic environment for those around them. Communicating with such people can cause severe energetic lesions and diseases, especially in children.

But people who live in refined states of love make everything around their bodies healthy, spiritualized and elevated; they heal with their mere presence. And the stronger their love and more powerful their consciousness — the larger space they spiritualize — up to a planetary scale.

A spiritual seeker can achieve a full control over his emotional sphere only through working with his chakras and other energetic structures and then through merging himself (as consciousness) with Consciousness of God. But he should start making efforts starting from the beginning of the Path.

Sathya (truthfulness) is a second rule of yama. Jesus Christ said about this concisely: “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’” [10]. We can deserve respect from people and from God only if we behave in this way.

But there are cases, where we cannot tell the truth, because this will harm someone. In such instances it is better to evade a question…

But if we lie, we become sinners before God and captives to our lies before people, since we will have to apprehend a disclosure and to live in anxiety, instead of state of steadfast pure peace.

The third rule is asteya — non-covetousness, renunciation of a desire to possess something that belongs to someone else. We should totally concentrate on the cognition of God. Craving for material objects, especially those belonging to others, is an utter perversion of the true orientation of consciousness, which at the same time leads to harming other people.

The fourth rule is aparigraha — limiting one’s possessions to necessary things. Unnecessary things only distract our attention from the essential: from being focused on attaining the state of Mergence with the Creator.

Brahmacharya — the fifth rule — literally means “acting in Brahman (the Holy Spirit)”. This implies renunciation of one’s “earthly” desires (except for attending to elementary needs of one’s body) and redirection of one’s attention to God, to searching for Him first with one’s mind and then with one’s developed consciousness.

This rule implies sincere renunciation of seeking earthly fame and honors, of accumulating the things that are unnecessary in the world of Brahman and of embellishment of the body.

Some people interpret Brahmacharya rule only as celibacy (sexual abstinence). But this is too narrow of an interpretation. Besides this, sexual continence is even unnecessary provided that one regards sex as a spiritual act. On the contrary, celibacy can lead to prostatitis in men, energetic “fading” of women and result in consciousness growing “callous” — in both. It really does not contribute to progress on the spiritual Path. What is important is not abstaining from sex, but freeing oneself from being obsessed with it and from sexual contacts with inadequate partners.

The sixth rule is — saucha — maintaining purity of the body. The main thing here is washing the whole body with warm or hot water and with soap — daily, if possible. This cleans one’s skin from deposits of perspiration salts, which upset normal functioning of the whole organism. Let us remember what we feel after taking a good bath, especially if we have not washed the body before that for a long time! This is the state of comfort that we can and should create for ourselves every day by washing up in the morning.

Saucha also implies brushing one’s teeth and so on.

There are also special therapeutic saucha techniques, such as enema or an abstersion of the nose and of the nasopharynx by drawing in salted water. There is no reason for using them regularly.

It is also not advisable for all people to practice cold water showers. This is beneficial as a tempering or a toning up procedure. But for those who at the moment need to establish themselves in peace and harmony it could do harm.

The seventh rule is mitahara — pure nutrition. This has already been discussed in detail above. Here we will mention only that one should take food in an emotionally favorable environment. In no circumstances should one eat on the background of conflict conversations or bitter arguments, as well as in presence of malicious or irritated people. One may perform a meditation before taking a meal in order to harmonize one’s inner state. An Orthodox prayer “Heavenly Father” suits this purpose very well. The prayers/mediations from book [9] that God granted to us can also help perfectly.

The eight rule — santosha — is constant maintaining of a positive emotional attitude. If we feel presence of the Lord and devote our lives to Him totally, if we do not act out of self-interest, if we know that He is constantly watching us, leading us, teaching us, that He creates difficulties for us so that we could learn and then Himself helps us to find solutions to the problems — why would we not live in a permanent joy?

“You are doing your job, I am controlling events”, — this is what He taught the author of this book once [9].

The ninth rule is svadhyaya — philosophical speculations, conversation and readings that make for a thorough comprehension of the meaning of one’s life and of the Path to Perfection.

“Direct your mind at Me…” — this is how Krishna defined the first steps that a man should take on his Path to God [10].

The tenth rule — tapas — implies any kinds of self-restraint and self-constraint for the sake of overcoming one’s vices. Among other things tapas teaches us a spiritual discipline as well as to follow the principle “it should be done!” as opposed to “I do only what I want!”

The eleventh rule is Ishvarapranidhana. This implies feeling that everything that exists is pervaded with Consciousness of the Creator (Ishvara), feeling of His constant presence inside and outside one’s body, bodies of other people and also material objects, seeing Him as the Teacher and a Witness of everything that one does and that happens to one.

There are also four very important rules:

kshama — tolerance to those who thins differently than one;

daya — mercy, kindness;

arjava — simplicity, lack of arrogance;

hri — humble thinking of oneself, also a lack of:

self-admiring, self-pride because of one’s actual achievements, and

conceit — self-praise on account of one’s imaginary virtues.

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