AGNI YOGA WEB TV
„THE 10 PILLARS OF THE PRACTICE OF AGNI YOGA“
Ladies and Gentlemen,
welcome to our new Series on “The 10 Pillars of the Practice of Agni Yoga”.
We assume that you have studied the Series "Introduction to Agni Yoga" (Broadcastings 1 - 13) and the Series "Experiment Immortality" (Broadcastings 1 - 5). Without the basic knowledge conveyed there, the meaning and the purpose of the everyday practice, to which we now turn, is barely comprehensible.
We had said in previous Broadcastings: The aim of Agni Yoga is to bring forth a new step of evolution, the New Man and the New World. The basis of this new construction is the principle of infinity - or, applied to man, to you and me: The transformation of the old into the new, immortal man, who is not a perishable physical but an eternal spiritual being.
Spiritual beings – souls - live very differently from material creatures! As new men, you will have to find a new way of life, which is suitable to your dignity and greatness, to your immortality. Agni Yoga says:
People are ready to suffer the discomfort of any night-lodging for the sake of tomorrow's festival, but they are unwilling to harmonize earthly life with Infinity. (AUM 284)
The immortal man brings forth a higher culture. That means: He lives by higher customs, by higher laws than those which apply in the prevailing materialism. As Wittgenstein says so aptly:
Culture is like the rule of a religious order.
What we shall be describing now is not an abstract theory, but the actual practice of our Tabenisi-Ashram, tested here for many years. We shall show you a lifestyle that ensures a more complete development of the divine within us than does the life of the old man.
We invite you to participate in this New Construction! The New Man and the New World become a reality everywhere, where this rule of the 10 pillars is being practiced!
1. The 10 Pillars of the Practice of Agni Yoga
Today, we shall give you an overview over the 10 pillars of the practice of Agni Yoga. In the following Broadcastings, we shall go into the details of each of these 10 elements.
The whole picture you see here:
The practice of Agni Yoga consists of a threefold spiritual discipline: The defence of the higher consciousness, the rhythm of the day and the nourishment according to spiritual principles; of the three life principles obedience, living in two worlds and selflessness; and of four spheres of life, namely Highest Communion or meditation, service to the common good, service to the neighbour and self-perfection.
Let us now look in short at each of these elements:
2. Threefold spiritual Discipline
Modern man does not like the word "discipline". He understands it as external compulsion and pointless drill. We, however, mean by "spiritual discipline" something completely different:
We had already said in an earlier Broadcasting (Series "Introduction to Agni Yoga", Broadcasting 12 "The Mission of Man"): To create the New Man and the New World is equivalent to establishing the rule of the spirit - over ourselves and in the world.
In this sense, "spiritual discipline" means: Do what your higher, spiritual being wants. Listen to the voice of the soul - which is synonymous with: listen to the voice of your heart. And enforce what the spirit wishes you to do - against the laziness of the body and against adverse circumstances.
One of the key paragraphs of the Agni Yoga consists of six words only:
Discipline is the beginning of everything. (Leaves of Morya’s Garden II, 250 [253; Part Two XI 4])
This sentence you should firmly keep in mind. The first step on the spiritual path was at all times, and remains today, in all religions, faiths and higher teachings, spiritual discipline.
Let us speak about Lord Buddha. People do not realize the foundation of the Teaching of the Blessed One. The foundation is discipline.
Spiritually and bodily the monk of the community was striving to hold on to the path. In the first years he endured a heavy probation. He was forbidden to mortify himself with ascetic practices, but he was enjoined to conduct the battle under the sole command of the spirit. Thus austerely did Buddha instruct His disciples. Verily, they knew joy only in spiritual battle; that is why the thorns of the path are spoken of.
Only when the will of the disciple had become leonine, and a silver bridle of the spirit gleamed upon the feelings of the disciple, only then did the Lord lift the veil slightly and assign a task. And then gradually the disciple was initiated into the mysteries of knowledge. (Leaves of Morya’s Garden II, 250 [254; Part Two XII 1])
If you want to start with the practice of Agni Yoga, you must submit to the rule of the spiritual disciple that has been practically tested for millennia and was proven over and over again.
Out of such men, disciplined and trained by austere renunciation of everything personal and consequently virile and fearless, did Gotama Buddha desire to create workers for the common welfare, creators of the people’s consciousness and forerunners of the World Community. (Helena Roerich, Foundations of Buddhism)
Discipline simply means purposeful behaviour: You refrain from anything that prevents the achievement of your goal. In this sense, no Olympic athlete and no concert pianist will ever have success without discipline; the same applies to the spiritual disciple.
I entrust you to reject everything that dishonours the communion with Us. (Agni Yoga 183)
Spiritual discipline means to abstain from lower pleasures in order to attain higher ones. For example: If you wish to perform a beautiful meditation in the evening, you may previously eat little and light food only. You have to decide between the material and the spiritual pleasure - you cannot have both at the same time.
Is it not by renouncing the thing of lesser value or those pleasures whose edges have become dulled to the cloyed senses, that the narrow path to the Gods is made plain? (From the Mountain Top I, Lesson “Renunciation”)
Our habits are our second nature. Only discipline can change our nature and make us truly New Men - because that requires overcoming old habits and establishing new ones.
One must manifest discipline of spirit; without it one cannot become free. To the slave discipline of spirit will be a prison; to the liberated one it will be a wondrous healing garden. So long as the discipline of spirit is as chains, the doors are closed, for in chains one cannot ascend the steps. One may understand the discipline of spirit as wings. (Leaves of Morya’s Garden II, Foreword)
Of course, ultimately important is not the outward appearance but the inward development. It is equally true, however, that external and internal matters are inextricably linked. The purely external discipline influences the inner, mental attitude: Every externally won victory over the lower self (for example compliance with the rules relating to the agenda of the day or to diet) strengthens the spirit.
You can notice from your own experience how the outer becomes the inner, the inalienable. (Heart 198)
Consciousness - the inner attitude - and discipline - the outer affirmation - must be mutually reinforcing.
After some practice you will find: The daily discipline helps and supports you more than you have to endure it.
The discipline of good is a self-generated joy. (Supermundane 559)
3. Defence of the Higher Consciousness
The spiritual discipline begins with the formation and the defence of the higher consciousness.
We had repeatedly worked out in previous Broadcastings (Series "Introduction to Agni Yoga", Broadcasting 2 “The Significance of Consciousness”): Man is what he thinks. He who thinks like a chicken, behaves like a chicken and therefore is only a chicken, even if he outwardly looks like an eagle.
This means: If you want to be an immortal, you must first form the consciousness of an immortal, defend it and act accordingly in the world.
We had already cited as an example: Become aware that you - your real self - are inviolable. Form on the basis of this knowledge an attitude of complete fearlessness. And do not lose this consciousness and this attitude, not even for one moment - otherwise (namely as long as you actually still have fear) you are not yet an immortal.
It is crucial that your transformation into an immortal, spiritual being proceeds regardless of the external circumstances. This will only succeed if you effect this transformation inwardly, in the spirit, in your consciousness, and defend it there. Only then will you be able to act with the superiority of the New Man in all outward circumstances.
4. Rhythm of the Day
If you know even just a little about the great saints and heroes of faith of human history, from Pythagoras and Plato, over Benedict and Ignatius of Loyola, up to Gandhi and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, you see: They all have set up and exemplified a firm order of the day for themselves and for the community in which they lived.
Here, too, we are not talking about mere external rules, on the contrary: To accustom yourself to a certain rhythm of the day has the one and only sense to allow the life of your higher, spiritual being to develop! You must wrest from the earthly life, from all its obligations and distractions, at least a little time in which your soul may unfold.
In addition, only with a fixed daily rhythm, is it possible to do justice to all four spheres of life alike and to spare every day adequate time for Higher Communion, service and training.
To set up and comply with a strict agenda of your own, against all the odds, is a first step towards establishing the rule of the spirit over the circumstances!
5. Nourishment according to spiritual Principles
The spiritual communities of all times, all nations and all religions have always obeyed certain rules about diet.
This does not only aim at keeping your body a healthy and suitable tool. Much more important is not to impede the growth of your soul by inappropriate – for example too heavy or too voluminous - food.
To set up and comply with strict rules about diet, against the appetite of the body, is a first step towards establishing the rule of the spirit over yourself!
6. Three Principles of Life
The vow of the spiritual disciples of earlier times, the monks, contained the three promises of obedience, poverty and chastity - symbolized by the three knots in the rope of their habit.
The new age demands of an Agni Yogi to live in in the middle of the world. His more up-to-date life principles are therefore: Obedience, living in two worlds and selflessness.
Modern man does not like the word "obedience". He associates slavish submission and considers obeying incompatible with his freedom. The look of the new man is completely different:
We are practicing obedience to the cosmic laws, which are, after all, valid always and everywhere. In truth, to be guided by them does not affect your freedom. It is on the contrary the only way for you to achieve your freedom, namely not to fail, but to move forward.
As the Bible, the Koran, the Bhagavad Gita and other Holy Scriptures, Agni Yoga contains an abundance of instructions about how we can ascend. It would simply be foolish not to follow this higher wisdom. It would be unwise not to listen to the advice of the Elder Brothers of humanity: They are ahead of us, they stand already there, where we still want to go, and they show us the way up there.
Finally, we had talked about the need of your choosing a teacher and following him on the path (Series "Introduction to Agni Yoga", Broadcasting 5 "The Hierarchy"). That must become a practical reality of your everyday life. But why should you look for a teacher, when you then do not listen to him? And why should he bother to provide teachings if you decide not to do what he tells you?
8. Living in Two Worlds
In earlier times, the monk left the world in order to live a holy life in solitude. Those days are gone. Our task is to live a holy life in the midst of the world.
However, this does not change the fact that your soul, as a spiritual being, is a stranger, an alien on the material level. If you want to be a soul, if you want your soul to live the life of a spiritual being, you have to learn to live in the world of the soul (for example during meditation).
The disciple on the spiritual path lives in two worlds, in the spiritual and in the material world. He visits his homeland regularly, even before his death. In the one world he seeks knowledge, ideals, instruction, guidance, strength and comfort; in the other world he has to transform the ideas received into material reality.
We had already said (Series "Experiment Immortality", Broadcasting 1 "The Treasure"): Selflessness is the practically most important characteristic of the new man, because an improvement of the conditions on earth requires above all to overcome the ruling egotism.
Today, the spiritual man must not be poor. On the contrary, it is quite desirable that he owns land, houses, factories and the like – but only if he uses them properly, namely entirely selflessly and solely in the interest of the common good.
10. Four Spheres of Life
Finally, we come to the question: What does the new man do all day? With what does he occupy himself?
Agni Yoga says: First of all with the communication with the Higher World, with the teacher - a practice also called "meditation".
Also Jesus, being asked what the greatest commandment is, said: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul and with all thy mind. (Matthew 22, 37)
Second follows the service to the common good.
The third sphere of life is the service to your neighbour.
Only at the very end you yourself come into play - but not in order to have a good time, but to perfect yourself.
Note that the conventional order of the old man is just the opposite: He thinks first and foremost of himself, then perhaps a little of his family, barely of the common good, and not at all of the Highest.
This classification of the life of an Agni Yogi into these four spheres goes back to the following wonderful paragraph:
Divide everything into four shares: the first—for the Highest; second—for the Common Good; third—for your neighbour; and fourth—for yourself. But the hour comes when only three parts remain, for the fourth will be swallowed up by the second. Such divisions are called fiery. Nothing but the heart can indicate the boundary lines between them. But let the sequence be flamingly inscribed. (Fiery World II, 457)
This makes clear that the fourth sphere - caring about yourself - could one day become unnecessary, because self-perfection has the only sense to enable you to serve the common good even better.
The more you practice Agni Yoga, the more you will find: A satisfactory, successful life crucially depends upon your equally realizing all these four spheres of life: The one is lacking the selfless service, the other is still to be made suitable for such a service, a third one is lacking, with the Higher Communion, the direction into which his endeavours should go, etc.
Let us now briefly look at each of these four spheres of life.
11. Highest Communion ("Meditation")
Coming to the first sphere, Agni Yoga does not like the term "meditation". At least not when it means several hours of passive, unproductive sinking into a real or imaginary "Nirvana", possibly combined with the neglect of one’s worldly obligations. This will most likely be an escape from the harsh reality, or a subtle kind of egotism.
For the Agni Yogi, "meditation" means the Communion of the soul with its home, the spiritual world. Through this connection flows down to you comfort, strength, joy, knowledge and guidance.
The Higher Communion provides your soul with spiritual food, namely inspiration, high thoughts, ideas and ideals, as
Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (Matthew 4, 4)
Helena Roerich has exemplified and taught us this highest form of Agni Yoga meditation: She has received, through her purely spiritual conversations with her non-incarnated teacher, a real treasure for humanity, namely the books of Agni Yoga with their thousands of pages. We should imitate her and learn
to hear the voice of the Invisible Teacher. (AY 174, 181, 185).
The Higher Communion is the only true joy of a spiritually-minded person.
12. Service to the Common Good
In this second sphere of life, you strive to realize the New Construction, the progress of evolution, the creation of the New World. Here, you make your specific, individual, irreplaceable contribution to the enforcement of the rule of the spirit in the world – at the place where you happen to stand, in your everyday life.
The study of the Teaching and the connection with the Higher World remain imperfect and fruitless if they do not lead to practical work. The thoughts and ideals that you receive are meant to be implemented and made a reality in the everyday material world!
13. Service to the Neighbour
The third sphere of life is about the needs of the persons with whom fate - not by chance! – brings you into contact: family, relatives, friends, acquaintances, neighbours, work colleagues and all others who require your charity. Here you will find an abundance of everyday needs and a wide range of urgent work.
The spiritual path can be started nowhere else than in your small, personal, seemingly insignificant surroundings. The obligations arising therefrom must under no circumstances be neglected; on the contrary they show you the first steps of your ascent.
In the last sphere of life, you have to learn and to practice to continually perfect yourself, to ascend to ever higher levels of the Hierarchy.
We can speak of a spiritual education by your teacher, which alone renders you capable to make your contribution to the realization of the plan of the Hierarchy on earth.
On this field of work, you seek primarily to expand your consciousness, to refine and to spiritualize yourself, to educate your heart, and to free yourself of bad qualities and habits.
To conclude this Broadcasting, a final word: Agni Yoga is not practised far away from the world behind monastery walls or in an ashram in the Himalayas, but in your normal everyday life. None of you will have to leave the life conditions, in which he - not by chance! - was placed. You will receive instructions, advice, orders for execution in the world and tasks to practice - but all this solely for the use in everyday earthly life. Therein lies the great beauty of this Teaching.