Aspects of the Practice of Agni Yoga
Dedicated to the past, present and future Practicians of Agni Yoga
1. Immortality: A State of the Consciousness
Whether you are immortal, depends on your consciousness:
As long as your consciousness rests in a transitory personality, you were in the last earthly life Mr. Smith, you are in this life Mrs. Brown, and you will be in the next life Mr. Miller. Then you are still mortal, because you lead many separate and each of them limited existences.
Instead, you have to move your consciousness into your soul and identify yourself with your eternal, spiritual being. Let us call this being, in order to give it a name, "Anima".
Immortal you are when you manage to continuously maintain the consciousness of "Anima" in the material as well as in the other, spiritual world.
You always have to be "Anima": In "heaven", on the way down to earth, during the short earthly life in the body of Mr. Miller, and when returning to the spiritual world; at the next descent, in the next earthly life, at the next ascent, etc. This eternal up and down is only the one single life of your eternal spiritual being "Anima".
You can practice this keeping of one consistent state of the consciousness on all levels of existence by trying to consciously go to sleep, to act consciously in the Subtle World and to return consciously into the body in the morning.
The yogi knows not death, for the awakened consciousness experiences no interruption of existence. The retention of consciousness in his varied sheaths makes the yogi's achievement vital to life. (Agni Yoga 175)
One may regard a chain of incarnations as a sequence of separate lives, but it is better to look upon the entire chain of incarnations as one life. Truly, life is one; from the moment of mastering the human consciousness, life with all it involves does not cease. If people could grasp the wholeness of life, they would sooner learn goal-fitness and responsibility. (Agni Yoga 450)
The number of people who preserve vivid continuity of consciousness when passing into the Subtle World, even into its middle strata, is not so overwhelmingly large. Reaching a state of conscious continuity of existence, or of the preservation of a complete consciousness in all the bodies and in all the spheres, is the greatest achievement of the Arhat. This is what is called Amrita, or true immortality. That is why all the efforts of the Great Teachers are directed toward the broadening of the consciousness of humanity. (Helena Roerich, Letters Vol. I, letter of 11.01.1935)
Immortality is that gift which allows the same great personality to step at will from one worn out body into another. (Helena Blavatsky, Secret Doctrine, Vol. II, Part 1, Stanza X)
2. Life in Heaven: A State of the Consciousness
To live in heaven does not mean to dwell at a certain place - it means a certain state of the consciousness!
When do you live in paradise, in the highest possible world? When you can maintain joy of being in all circumstances!
He who complains about death or the obstacles, difficulties and hardships of everyday life, lives in a fairly low world.
He who can endure with serenity all these adversities, already lives in a higher world.
If you can rejoice about everything which you encounter - because you look at it as an opportunity for further spiritual ascent, or as a trial sent from your teacher -, then you live in the highest world, how ever the external circumstances may look like into which you have been exiled.
Therefore Schopenhauer says: "Even in the same environment everyone lives in a different world."
And the saying goes: “If you do not find heaven within your own heart, you will look for it in the outer world in vain.”
Or the Bible: “The kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17, 21)
And Agni Yoga: “Each spirit creates his own world, and the beauty or ugliness of the created world depends upon the quality of his consciousness.” (Infinity II, 719 )
“The Fiery World is primarily within us, if only we discern its abode!” (Fiery World I, 354)
3. Will I go to Heaven?
If someone asks you: "Will I go to heaven?"
Ask him: "Do you already live in heaven?"
You should not postpone the life in heaven until after your death. You can live in heaven already now.
You even have to learn to live in heaven already now. A heaven is a community of souls. If you are unable to live during the earthly incarnation in such a way as it is common in the community that you regard as your heaven, you will not be able to live in that way after your death either.
If you do not enjoy today to live as it is customary in your heaven, you will have no pleasure in such a way of life after death either.
He who sees the ashram of a great teacher as the highest conceivable world and his heaven, has to prove already on earth that he is suitable and worthy of a life at such a high place.
4. Transformation into a Soul
Question: I do not advance with the transformation into a soul. I rarely hear my soul tell me what to do or to leave. I do not know whether I am already a soul or not.
Answer: "Transformation into a soul" is not entirely the right expression. Let us refine the concept:
Your soul, your spiritual being, your Eternal individuality already exists. But it is not an earthly, but a creature of the Fiery World.
This being, also known as Fiery Body, is in almost every human beings still underdeveloped, like a baby. In the spiritual world, it is formless like the animals, it is like an empty shell and hardly capable to live. It exists, but is not aware of itself and therefore unable to act and to use its forces.
Our task is to shape this being and thus awaken it to its life. Because it is not a physical, but a spiritual being, this must be achieved with the help of our thoughts.
You must first define: Who or what shall be my Eternal Individuality be? An immortal, a spiritual disciple, a teacher, a spiritual warrior, a co-worker of the Hierarchy, a king of the spirit ...?
Such an identity requires certain qualities. Your soul, for example, is only a king of the spirit when it feels, speaks and acts like a king at every moment, in all, even the most oppressive circumstances.
So you must strive to equip the spiritual part of your being with these attributes. Over time, you will see how your Eternal individuality grows and then also reveals and expresses itself.
But for this to happen the fiery body has to be sufficiently formed. Of course, the fiery body always exists, but it may be chaotic and unconscious. (Heart 258)
5. Transformation into a Soul: Basic Exercise: Look at Yourself
The simplest exercise to support your transformation into a spiritual being is: Look at yourself, at your body, from above, with the eyes of your Eternal individuality, as you look at a stranger: What does the body do? What does he want? How does he feel?
So you begin to bring your eternal spiritual being, which is different from your body, to life. The soul is now actually active by observing the body. Thereby, you put the eyes of your soul into function. You begin to see not with the physical eyes, but with the inner senses of your Fiery Body.
This is similar to the well-known near-death experiences, when the soul, which has almost left the body, looks from the ceiling at the doctor who operates the body on the operating table. Since our Fiery Body is a little bit larger than the physical body, we can perform the observation from above without leaving the physical body.
6. Transformation into a Soul: Use your higher Senses
If you want to become an immortal, you must learn to use the abilities of your spiritual being. The second, more challenging exercise for this is:
After the spiritual eye, awaken to life the other senses of your higher self by using them, above all the heart. For example, with the straight-knowledge of the heart, you can recognize the nature of another person: can you trust him, does he mean well with you, or does he make pleasant words only?
Even a well-trained intellect does not help in such a question.
Saint-Exupéry already proclaimed the great truth: „One sees clearly only with the heart; what is essential is invisible to the eye.“
Allow this phrase to melt on your tongue: To approach the essential, that which is really important in your life (faith, love, hope, trust, meaning), you must develop your spiritual being and its possibilities of cognition!
Listen to your heart in every situation: instead of "listening to the voice of the soul" we can also say: "listen to the heart": the spiritual, eternal, divine within us expresses itself via the heart.
If you are not sure how you should behave, what your Eternal Individuality wants you to do, ask the pure feeling of your heart.
The more closely you follow what this inner voice tells you, the clearer it will speak to you in the future.
7. Transformation into a Soul: Use your spiritual Forces (1)
The next more challenging exercise:
Begin to control your body from above, just as the rider directs his donkey. Let the body carry out the will of the soul, just as the donkey follows the rider's will. Observe calmly, as if it is a stranger, what the body wants, where it strives. Then you decide what he gets and where he goes.
In this way you use the spiritual forces of your soul, whereby it begins to live and its power begins to grow.
8. Transformation into a Soul: Use your spiritual Forces (2)
The need to control the body through your eternal individuality not just relates to the purely material side of your being, but also to your thoughts, your feelings and your instincts.
From Theosophy comes the helpful idea that, besides the physical body, there is a body of feelings (astral body), a body of thoughts (mental body) and a body of instincts.
Your higher self has to control these bodies as well, just like the physical body! You should identify with your physical body, and not with your thoughts, your feelings or your instincts either.
So you have to direct four perishable bodies, like the charioteer the four horses of his chariot.
In practice, this means: learn to observe your thoughts, feelings and instincts like those of a stranger from above, from the position of your true, eternal self.
Then, from the perspective of the higher Self, you to decide which thoughts, feelings and instincts you admit and which you reject, which ones you follow and which ones you disregard.
Not "I" - my Eternal Individuality - thinks or feels. It is my body of thoughts or my body of feelings -parts of my perishable personality- that thinks or feels. "I" direct this thinking and feeling!
Begin by rejecting negative thoughts or feelings and replacing them with higher ones. Try to spend a day without negative thoughts - you will see how difficult this is!
By establishing the rule of the spirit over your thoughts, feelings and instincts, you exercise the powers of your Eternal Individuality, which thereby grows and becomes ever greater and stronger.
9. Retain the State of the Consciousness “Immortal Man” and “Living in Heaven”
We had said: To become an immortal, a New Man of the sixth race means to attain a corresponding state of the consciousness.
We also had already said: To live in the New World, in Heaven means to attain a corresponding state of the consciousness.
If this is so, then the task of becoming a New Man and of living in a New World is quite different from what most of you think:
In the morning meditation, you can establish relatively easily the state of the consciousness of a non-material, spiritual being and of living in your personal Heaven (for example in the Ashram of your teacher).
Then, all that is required, is “only” to defend this high state of the consciousness in your worldly life against all attacks and not to allow yourself being dragged down by anything or anyone. This requires constant vigilance.
It should not be thought that, in his consciousness, an Arhat could lose sight of the Guiding Will even for an instant. He proves to be a simple mortal, if he does not always solemnly bear the chalice of achievement. The power of His heart becomes dormant as soon as He ceases to feel the Hierarchic thread in His hand. In this realization of constant vigilance lies the uniqueness of an Arhat. (Fiery World I, 196)
10. Overcome Injury, Depression or Irritation
Question: I am hurt, depressed or irritated. What can I do?
Answer: These feelings are expressions of your perishable personality. Look at them with the eyes of your Eternal Individuality, as if they were the injury, depression or irritation of a stranger.
Then you realize: Your Eternal Individuality has no reason for such feelings: The cause for them is small and void in the face of eternity. The cause for them is a reason for joy because it offers to you an opportunity for further spiritual ascent.
11. Man or Woman?
You think you are a woman? You think you are a man? This is a pardonable error, but here you fall victim to Maja, the illusion of matter!
Your true self, your soul, your Eternal Individuality is genderless like an angel. On the material level, it sometimes incarnates as a man, sometimes as a woman. It is a synthesis of both.
Never disparage the other sex. Thereby you humiliate yourself. Better try to acquire the best qualities of both principles.
12. American, Russian or German?
You think you are an American, a Russian or a German? Here you fall victim to Maja, the illusion of matter!
Belonging to a particular people is an aspect of your perishable personality. Your Eternal Individuality, your immortal soul is born on its eternal way into the most diverse nations.
What a madness when Palestinians and Israelis mean that they have to hate each other and to wage war against one other: He who was born as an Israeli in this life can become a Palestinian in his next incarnation, or might have been a Palestinian in his previous life. The hatred is, therefore, directed against one's own (!) (past or future) people!
13. Jew, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim or Christian?
You think you are a Jew, a Buddhist, a Hindu, a Muslim or a Christian? Then you fall victim to Maja, the illusion of matter!
Belonging to a particular religion is an aspect of your perishable personality. Your Eternal individuality, your immortal soul, is born on its eternal way into the most diverse religions.
You, your true self once lived in the Muslim, it lives today in the Christian, and it will live in a later life perhaps in a culture shaped by Buddhism.
So, if you place one religion higher than the others, you automatically belittle your own (!) (past or future) religion.
What a madness, when people wage war against each other because of religion: They fight in truth themselves! It is nothing but ignorance that causes so much suffering!
14. Life is Movement - at a furious speed!
“Due to the motion of the Cosmos, it is impossible to remain immobile. There is either backward or forward movement.” (Agni Yoga, Book Community 127)
The place where you are just now standing takes part in the rotation of the earth around its own axis (once a day). This movement proceeds at a speed of about 1,700 kilometres per hour.
The place where you are standing takes further part in the rotation of the earth around the sun (once a year). On this track you are moving with the earth at a speed of about 108,000 km/h.
The earth is part of the solar system. The place where you are standing, therefore, takes part in a third movement, namely the rotation of the solar system around the center of the Milky Way. On this course, you are advancing at a speed of 900,000 km/h.
Finally, the Milky Way – and you with it – travels through the universe at a speed of 2 million km/h.
A being that races through space at such unimaginable velocities must not remain immobile in spirit. There is no rest. Life is movement, standstill is death – physically as well as spiritually.
15. Think as the Soul Thinks
Man is what he thinks! If you want to transform into an immortal, you must learn to think not like a physical, but like a spiritual being. Your Eternal Individuality thinks in a different way than your perishable personality. A good example of this New thinking of the New Man is given by Helena Blavatsky:
“Eat only when you are hungry and drink when you are thirsty, and never otherwise. If some particular preparation attracts your palate, do not allow yourself to be seduced into taking it simply to gratify that craving. Remember that the pleasure you derive from it had no existence some seconds before, and that it will cease to exist some seconds afterwards; that it is a transit pleasure, that that which is a pleasure now will turn into pain if you take it in large quantities; that while there is another object that can give you eternal bliss, this centering your affections on a transient thing is sheer folly; that you are neither the body nor the sense, and therefore the pleasure and the pains which these endure can never affect you really, and so on. Practice the same train of reasoning in the case of every other temptation, and, though you will often fail, yet you will achieve a surer success.” (Helena Blavatsky, Some Practical Suggestions for Daily Life, No. 1)
16. You are –- an extraterrestrial being
The homeland of your true Self is the world beyond. From there comes your Eternal Individuality in order to temporarily incarnate on the material plane. There it returns after the death of your body. There it lives much longer than on earth.
You have to form a completely different picture of yourself: Your soul is a supermundane being from the Higher World, a kind of extraterrestrial creature, which a temporary mission has exiled to a primitive planet. You will of course live down here according to the customs and laws that are in force in your homeland.
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