AGNI YOGA WEB TV
INTRODUCTION TO AGNI YOGA
The Significance of Consciousness
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am glad to welcome you to Broadcasting 2 of our Series “Introduction to Agni Yoga”!
Our topic today is the significance of consciousness. This brings us to one of the central themes of Agni Yoga: Next to “psychic energy”, “expansion of consciousness” is probably the most frequently used term of the Teaching. We shall now see why our consciousness is so important.
1. Material Conditions of no Significance
When I ask you, who sit here in front of me: “What is important for your life,” you will tell me about a large number of so-called “objective circumstances”, such as:
The place where you live, the house in which you live, the people and the state to which you belong, your profession, your family, relatives, friends and acquaintances, the events of life with which you are confronted, the people you meet, luck or misfortune in the everyday affairs, poverty or wealth, success or failure, war or peace, the weather, the growth of the national product, the development of your career, the scope of your last salary increase, a change of the government and numerous other events more, like birth and death, sickness and health, etc.
You may be surprised to hear: For an Agni Yogi, all these external matters are of no importance. We have realized that they are basically without any weight of their own: They gain importance for our life only after we have viewed them through the spectacles of a system of values. According to these values, we classify the material facts as good or bad, useful or harmful, luck or misfortune.
Take death: For people who are caught up in a materialistic world view, it is the greatest misfortune. You are understandably afraid of your death, because you see it as the end of your existence, the complete erasing of your personality. The death of a loved person throws some of you in despair for years and even drives them to the fringe of suicide.
For us immortals, however, death means the transition to a higher, more comfortable level of existence. It means the return to our homeland and the reunion with our true spiritual relatives. So we are actually glad about our death!
Or think of the needs, worries, sufferings, obstacles and difficulties that are given to everyone abundantly in this earthly life: Materialistically minded people threaten to be broken by these blows. We students of Agni Yoga, however, understand them as tests of our progress and as opportunities to continue our spiritual ascent. We welcome them joyfully as our spiritual brother Seneca did: He actually advised: Long for a difficult life instead of an easy one, in order to practice your mental powers and to put the strength of your spirit to the test.
You see: The same apparently “objective circumstances” gain a completely different meaning for our life, depending on what kind of consciousness we have! Happiness turns into unhappiness, unhappiness into happiness - solely according to the mental position we take with respect to the events.
2. Consciousness creates the World
The reality, the world in which we live, is created and influenced only slightly by the outer circumstances, but mainly by our own consciousness. What really matters is not the external, material, but the inner, spiritual world in which you live. According to the latter you decide what meaning, what sense you attach to the constantly changing earthly conditions.
The thoughts, the ideas that we harbour about death, God, sin, the consequences of sin, the meaning of life, the meaning of suffering, and other existential questions, determine our existence to an incomparably higher degree than death or suffering itself.
One of the most important teachings of Agni Yoga is:
Each one creates the world in which he lives himself.
Similarly, Schopenhauer has said aptly:
“In the same environment everyone lives in a different world.”
Or a popular wisdom runs:
“If you do not build heaven in your own heart,
you will not find it anywhere else.”
Whether the world that you create yourself is sublime and great or low and mean, depends on the height and wideness of your consciousness: A man with a high level of consciousness will live in a beautiful world: Who is able to accept misery and death with equanimity, has already raised himself on a higher step. If you have learned to smile at them, you inhabit the highest possible sphere - namely a world where there reigns everlasting joy!
We will discuss in later Broadcastings in detail how you can create your own heaven - regardless of the circumstances.
3. Consciousness creates Man
Not only the world in which you live, but also that what you yourself are is determined solely by your own consciousness:
Whether the conditions finish you off or whether you master them - this is a question of thinking, of your mental attitude:
One is a slave who is pushed by circumstances to and fro like a leaf in the wind, who breaks down upon resistance and finally sinks into the swamp of chaos.
The other is a king of the spirit who sits sovereign on the throne of his higher self, above all circumstances, who unswervingly goes his way, how ever the external conditions may be set out, and who even grows through the difficulties of life.
The difference between king and slave lies solely in the wideness of their consciousness: A high spirit asserts itself in all situations of life and even increases his strength through fighting with obstacles.
We can say: Man is what he thinks! Through the uplifting and refinement of your thoughts, you can uplift and refine yourself.
4. Two Examples
Let us never stay in the abstract. Let us look at two specific examples:
One of the most important quotations from the books of Agni Yoga is:
A wise philosopher, having been sold into slavery, exclaimed:
"Thanks! Evidently I can pay back some old debts." (Br I, 273)
This is a saying of Plato, who indeed was once for sale on the slave market. You cannot imagine drastically enough the humiliating position of one of the greatest thinkers in world history: There he was touched by unclean hands, his body examined for fitness, perhaps by checking his teeth, there was haggling for his price, there he was threatened with the lowest work and the worst possible living conditions, perhaps on a galley.
Who among you would not despair in such a situation? Many would complain to God and lament “Why me?” But Plato even thanked the higher powers.
Why? Because he knew the law of karma (of which we shall speak in an upcoming Broadcasting). Because he knew: It had a deep sense that precisely he was put into this position. Maybe he was offered an opportunity to settle some old debts: This is an ascent, a relief - so indeed a cause for joy and gratitude!
Or another example of the present time:
Do you know this man?
How would you rate him? Apparently a fairly coarse fellow. Someone whom you would not want to meet in the moonlight. Maybe a gangster boss from Chicago?
And now you see the same man - and recognize him immediately:
Do you know what lies between these pictures? Over 25 years of imprisonment on Robben Island, one of the worst places in the world! Most others would have perished in this ordeal. Mandela, however, knew very well that one was trying to break him. He designed a counter strategy for himself and his fellow prisoners that proved to be stronger than the most terrible circumstances. Read his autobiography “Long Walk to Freedom” to learn the details.
For us, the decisive point is: Mandela saw and seized an opportunity. He actually used the terrible conditions in order to grow spiritually: He went into prison as a relatively coarse type and returned from this most horrible of all places as a truly great, wise man with always a superior smile on his lips.
None of us has to endure anything comparable. So let us take an example. Let us not complain about the external circumstances. Let us create our own world, our own, small, inner paradise. Let us use what ever happens to us in order that we raise up to the height of a king of the spirit. Then we can always be smiling, no matter what happens. Then we can really be a higher creature. This is solely a question of our thinking, of our consciousness of our mental attitude.
We find confirmed: Our thinking creates the world in which we live: A man with a high level of consciousness, who thinks sublime, turns all suffering into joy and therefore lives in a beautiful world, regardless of the outer conditions.
We find confirmed: Man is what he thinks. A man with a high level of consciousness, who thinks sublime, transforms himself into a Great Spirit (Mahatma).
One of the main concerns of Agni Yoga is that you realize: Your true being is not dependent upon the external conditions: If Nelson Mandela thinks like a king and manifests a corresponding attitude, he is a king - even in prison!
If, on the other hand, he thinks, feels and acts in a not kinglike manner, he is, according to his true inner nature, not a king - even if he happens to sit on a throne.
5. Consciousness as true Wealth
The body dies. All intellectually accumulated knowledge is lost with death.
But the consciousness is part of our eternal individuality and stays with us beyond death for our further everlasting way.
If you have acquired a royal aura, then this is a property that does not adhere to your mortal body, but to your immortal soul. This achievement is part of your true eternal being. As opposed to outer titles, you do not lose this (inner) dignity if you die. You will bring it with you at your next incarnation on earth, even if you should then appear, like Jesus, not as a king, but “only” as a carpenter.
We see: Consciousness is the real wealth of man. A true treasure that we can expand further and further and let grow more and more from life to life. Unlimited growth is possible only on the spiritual plane.
Of this speaks Jesus when he says: Do lay up treasures in heaven (on the spiritual level), where they cannot be taken away from you. Do not lay up treasures upon earth (in the material world), where they rust or are being stolen by thieves (Matthew 6, 19, 20).
6. Saving the World through a new Consciousness
Today, if people want to improve the world, they think almost exclusively about money: Schools, the health system, the conditions of life: People think that one should only pump more money into the system, and then everything will be better soon.
This is a fatal mistake, as we shall later see in detail. An example: A really good teacher requires almost no material resources. Crucial for a good education of the students is the spirit which prevails at a school, not its financial facilities.
Another example: The fight against injustice and the destruction of our planet will only be successful if people put off their selfishness. This is a question of mental attitude, which you cannot modify with all the money of the world.
Agni Yoga therefore says: The expansion of consciousness comes first. Only new thinking will renew the world.
Let us listen to Albert Einstein:
If you think so, as you have always thought,
you will act so, as you have always acted.
If you act so, as you have always acted,
you will produce, what you have always produced.
- which means: you will change nothing.
The decisive change in the condition of mankind is not caused by external, technical measures. The true progress consists in the expansion of consciousness, which leads to a new way of thinking, which in turn brings about better deeds.
Therefore, it is a priority to raise our own consciousness and that of our fellow men, and to awaken the sense of truth, justice, beauty and love. Only then will we be able to truly change something for the better in this world.
Thank you for listening, and I hope to see you again at the next Broadcasting, which will deal with the expansion of consciousness.