Imagine all the apples that fell to Earth before Isaac Newton realized that every object in the universe attracts every other object. Of course, the Law of Gravity has always been in force, but it wasn't until Newton focused the creativity of his one-pointed attention on a falling apple that he (and all humanity) received the blessing of finally recognizing a perfectly obvious truth. In fact, grace always dawns when we demonstrate our willingness to sacrifice the limitations of our habitual way of seeing. As French novelist Marcel Proust aptly observed, "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes."
In 1993 my wife and I attended a talk by Swami Rama at his teaching facility in Pennsylvania. When we arrived, we were greeted by a woman who was brimming with excitement. "What's the cause of this enthusiasm," we asked? "There are very few people registered for this weekend's lecture and they're the right people," she replied. "Rumor has it that tonight Swami Rama is going to give us the 'secret teaching.'" I must admit it all sounded quite flattering, mysterious and even a bit tantalizing. In anticipation of what might be the revelation of cosmic secrets by a true yoga master, we arrived early, sat in the very first row--with head, neck and trunk straight in order to show the requisite respect to the teacher--and we listened very intently. What we heard, however, sounded very familiar. In fact, it was virtually the same lecture Swami Rama had given on many occasions--about how the habits of the mind alienate human beings from their own Divine Perfection. "But of course," we realized, "this is the secret teaching!" In fact, this simple message has been a secret from most people for thousands of years--even when they've heard or read it many times.
Listen how Jesus the Christ commented on the notion of a secret teaching two thousand years ago in the Gospel of Thomas: "I took my stand in the midst of the world, and in flesh I appeared to them. I found them all drunk, and I did not find any of them thirsty. My soul ached for the children of humanity, because they are blind in their hearts and do not see, for they came into the world empty, and they also seek to depart from the world empty. (Then) His disciples said to him: On what day will the kingdom come? Jesus said: It will not come by expectation; they will not say: 'See, here,' or 'See, there.' But the kingdom of the Father is spread upon the earth, and men do not see it . . . I am the Light that is above them all, I am the all, and all came forth from Me and the all attained to Me. Cleave (a piece) of wood, I am there; lift up the stone and you will find me there."
If, as Jesus the Christ suggests, the truth that leads to peace, happiness and freedom from fear is really right before us, why is such an enlightened state of consciousness so rarely experienced?
A brilliant young student, feeling proud of his great knowledge, once asked his teacher, Narada, a similar question. "Why is it," the student asked, "that everyone cannot know the Eternal truth, cultivate one-pointed attention, make discriminating choices and thereby end their sorrow?" Having both a great love for the disciple and an understanding of his limitations, the master agreed to share this knowledge, but only after the young man fetched a glass of water from a nearby house to quench Narada's thirst.
Eager to please his master, the disciple approached the house and knocked. To his amazement, when the door opened the most beautiful woman he had ever seen stood before him. As he gazed into her eyes, he fell deeply in love and the two soon married. In the years that followed, he and his wife found joy in one another, were blessed with healthy children and amassed considerable wealth and property.
But eventually his fortunes changed. Death snatched away the lives of his wife and children, and floods destroyed his property. He was left alone, poor and old. One night, as he sat brooding in his hut, there came a knock at the door. When he opened it, his master, standing before him, asked, "So? Where's my glass of water?"
When we ignore the Supreme Reality within, the senses, ego and unconscious mind habitually tantalize us with unending desires, fear and anger. When the mind operates in this manner, the decision-making process is corrupted, and the human being sacrifices the discriminative faculty of conscience in favor of the rapid-fire reaction of deep-seated, unconscious habit or compulsion. As a result, we rarely see the truth that can liberate us because the habits of the mind limit our vision.
To realize the secret teaching of yoga science that leads to peace, happiness and freedom from fear, you must first adopt a philosophy of life that recognizes you as a citizen of two worlds. Clearly, you are a citizen of the ever-changing material world of animal, vegetable and mineral matter. In this familiar environment, the body is your vehicle for action and your mind is your most powerful instrument for evaluating circumstances and motivating your body into action. For every action your body-mind-sense complex takes, a consequence results. Remember, however, that you are also a citizen of the distinctly non-material, yet profoundly real world of consciousness. Within this subtle world there exists an intuitive library of knowledge that unerringly identifies which of your possible actions will lead you to realize peace, happiness and freedom from fear, and which will lead to physical, mental, emotional and spiritual dis-ease.
Whenever your outer actions reflect the perfection of your inner wisdom, you will be led for your highest and greatest good. This is the secret teaching of all yoga.
The word yoga means union, and the science of yoga provides a reliable blueprint for building a trustworthy, ever-accessible bridge to your own inner wisdom. Through the testimony of their lives, the sages of every tradition are urging you to experience the blessings that are available to flow--right now--from the kingdom of heaven within. "When you make your own inner wisdom the basis of your thoughts, words and deeds," the sages promise, "you will experience the strength, courage, creativity and rewarding relationships that will enable you to fulfill your life's true purpose."
Leonard Perlmutter is a practical philosopher, author and gifted teacher who has studied yoga science for thirty years. He is founder and director of the American Meditation Institute in Averill Park, NY where he offers seminars and retreats on meditation, hatha yoga, holistic health, stress reduction, yoga psychology and philosophy
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