AGNI YOGA WEB TV
„THE 10 PILLARS OF THE PRACTICE OF AGNI YOGA“
1st Pillar: Defence of the Higher Consciousness
Ladies and gentlemen,
welcome, how nice that you are once more watching our program!
Today, we are starting the daily practice of Agni Yoga; or the practice of immortality; or, in other words, a way of life that is compatible with our new dignity as immortal men. The first of the ten pillars of this practice is the defence of the higher consciousness.
You see again: Agni Yoga is a spiritual yoga. Here, the spirit, the development of your consciousness come first.
1. Gain Immortality: A spiritual Exercise
The transformation into the new, immortal man must first and foremost take place in your consciousness. We had already said: Man is what he thinks. Only someone who thinks like an immortal, can appear as such in the world, and thus be an immortal creature.
You must achieve your immortality regardless of the external circumstances. As long as you are unable to act like a spiritual being in all circumstances into which you have been exiled, you are not yet an immortal.
As unusual as it may sound, it is true nonetheless: To gain immortality is a spiritual exercise! The New Man differs from the old one in particular by the fact that he forms a consciousness of his immortality and preserves the respective attitude in all worldly situations.
2. New Thinking
You become an immortal by getting used to a new way of thinking: Identify yourself with your soul. Think at every moment, never forget: “I am not a material, but a spiritual being. I am a soul.” Then your corresponding appearance in the world will result by itself.
As we had already discussed, this new thinking runs: “I am not a temporal but an eternal being. I am not a woman or a man, as my true self is sexless. I am not a German, an American or a Russian, for my eternal self incarnates in the most diverse people and is, therefore, a citizen of the world. I am not a Hindu, Moslem, Christian or a Jew, because my higher self appears in a variety of religions. My real home is the world beyond of the soul,” and so on.
We are infinite, not temporary. (Heart 515)
As we had also already said, the new thinking runs further: You do not think any longer: “I am hungry” when your stomach growls, but: “My vehicle asks for fuel – does it really need some already now?” You do not think, when your body has been injured: “I feel pain”, but: “My tool seems to be damaged - how can I fix it?”
If you get into the habit of this new way of thinking and if you act accordingly, you will transform your nature over time and actually develop from a physical to a spiritual creature - because you think, feel, speak and act as a spiritual creature does.
3. New Qualities
We had already said: Your true self is immortal and therefore inviolable; no one and nothing can do it any harm. Your soul is by its very nature fearless, completely free and selfless. This spiritual being stands, through the power of a superior smile, over and above all material conditions. It actually enjoys the various difficulties, obstacles and struggles of everyday life, because only through them it can grow.
This means: In order to become a soul, you have to develop a number of qualities: As long as you still show, for example, fear or selfishness, you actually are not yet an immortal.
This is, at first, a step in the development of your consciousness, an inner process. Here, within yourself, your new attitude (fearlessness, power, joy, selflessness) is to be formed. As a next step, you need to test, to practise, to confirm and to prove this spiritual achievement in the material world.
4. Shift the Consciousness to your higher Self
If you want to become immortal, you must withdraw your consciousness from the body and shift it to your higher self, as the following drawing shows:
You must learn to think, to feel, to speak andto act as is required by your spiritual being.
The crucial question is: From where are you being ruled? As long as your consciousness rests in the body, you will be thrown to and fro by its earthly worries and material lust. If your consciousness moves out of the body and into your higher self, you stand above the earthly turmoil; then the spirit determines your thoughts and actions on the physical plane.
The mere acquisition of wonder-working powers can never secure immortality for the student of Occult Science unless he has learnt the means of shifting gradually his sense of individuality from his corruptible material body to the incorruptible and eternal Non-Being represented by his seventh principle. Please consider this as the real aim of Occult Science and see whether the rules you are called upon to obey are necessary or not to bring about this mighty change. (Mahatma Letters No. 131 of 26.06.1882
When you change your identity and turn from a material to a spiritual being, you - your true self – slips, so to speak, into a different skin: Your consciousness leaves the body and enters the soul. That is as if your spirit takes possession of a foreign body, for example of the body of another human being or of an animal - only that the soul is not a physical body, but an object of the subtle world.
See it this way: The soul exists. But it is like a dead shell, as long as you do not fill it with your consciousness. Only then does it come to life, may appear in the world and speak and act through the physical body.
When your consciousness remains in the body, it will expire with its death. When it is transferred to the soul, it goes on living on with it after the death of the body. Only thus can the promise of eternal life, known by all religions, come true.
5. Rule of the Spirit
We had already said: To gain immortality means to establish the rule of the spirit over oneself, namely to express only the higher self, the Divine of our nature. As long as you allow the body to rule your thoughts, feelings, words and acts, you appear in the world not as a spiritual, but as a physical creature.
Plato said (dialogue "Phaedrus"): Our true, eternal self is like a charioteer, who must steer and control the horses of his chariot. The four horses of this quadriga are the physical body, the body of emotions, the body of instincts and the body of thoughts (the so called lower tetrad, see Series “Introduction to Agni Yoga”, Broadcasting 11 “The Subtle Constitution of Man”)
Constantly, one of these horses is trying to break out and have his own way: The physical body calls for pleasure, the body of feelings indulges in his moods, the body of instincts reacts aggressively or is longing for reproduction, whereas the body of thoughts constantly harbours the most diverse ideas. Incessantly the higher self is busy trying to tame them all.
The hands of your spiritual self should be at the helm of your personal nature as surely and persistently as the hand of the captain is never withdrawn from the control of his boat. (Teachings of the Temple, Vol. II, Lesson “The Crossing of Swords”)
If you leave the rule to the horses – to the lower, mortal self -, the chariot misses its destiny. The charioteer – the soul - must set the goal and prevail over the intentions of the horses.
This continuous engagement with the lower, transitory part of our nature is a purely internal process: A spiritual battle within ourselves and with ourselves! Are you – your true, eternal self - the ruler, or are you being ruled? This is being decided solely within your own consciousness.
6. Loss of the higher Consciousness
The problem is: You may form the higher consciousness of your immortality purely mentally, in the privacy of your room, relatively easily. But as soon as you go out into the world, you fall back into your old habits:
On returning to the lower physical world, man forgets his higher nature as though it were a dream. A bridge must be found to prevent the loss of consciousness. (Hierarchy 397)
If you fail at something, you feel weak and desperate - even though you, as an immortal being, have an eternity of time at your disposal to learn and to try again.
If other people cause you harm or offend you, you feel injured - even though your eternal self is not affected by this kind of attacks. The little soul repeatedly feels violated, even though it is inviolable. Such weaknesses you need to overcome mentally, in spirit, in your consciousness.
It is beautiful if someone can always carry within himself lofty thinking. (Supermundane 651)
When people leave you, you feel lonely - although the higher self, in his world, has a multitude of spiritual friends and soulmates.
You worry about the body and tomorrow's survival. This is wrong thinking which you need to correct. For your immortal soul, it is better if your mortal shell lives shortly but rightly, instead of long but wrongly.
One can get used to thinking about the grandeur of life as to food or drink. (Agni Yoga 407)
You continue to resort to worldly comforters like eating, drinking, possessions, amusements or distractions in a vain attempt to overcome your moods – although, in principle, you know exactly that this will only make your recovery more difficult, because you thereby weaken your spirit instead of strengthening it.
These examples show: You need to design a strategy for the defence of your higher consciousness. You need to recognize and correct at once every thought and feeling that is not compatible with your dignity as immortal men.
7. The three Pillars of the Defence of the higher Consciousness
The first practical step towards the defence of the higher consciousness is to establish, during the course of the day, three pillars which give you support:
We in Tabenisi start in the morning, before we do anything else, with a short meditation: In silence, we actually transform ourselves in spirit into eternal, spiritual beings. We take the firm resolution to keep up this transformation during the day, which means to act not as material, but as spiritual beings in the world - for example fearlessly, superior, joyfully and selflessly. We consider the mistakes of the past days and develop a strategy to avoid them today.
From this powerful position we Tabeneser descend down to the earthly life. Not only to fulfil our earthly obligations, but also with the higher target to actually and practically confirm our transformation into immortals. We facilitate our task by remembering that we have to perform a short run only, until we reach the next pillar at noon.
During a storm one should at least know the whereabouts of the longed-for harbour. (Supermundane 688)
At noon, all Tabenisi takes a short break. We remind ourselves and confirm once again that we are immortals and strive to appear as such in the world. Then we come already to the last run of the day, the second descent to the world in the afternoon.
In the evening, we take another time for meditation. Again, we perform in silence the transformation. In addition, we give to ourselves an account of the proceedings of the day: Were we able to keep our resolutions? What mistakes did we commit? How can we do better tomorrow?
If you imitate this practice, your day, too, may rest firmly on these three pillars. At least at these three times of the day you really are a spiritual being. The runs in between are short and not too difficult to bridge. Gradually, you will learn to use better and better the time in the world as well for the effective implementation of the transformation.
8. Constant Vigilance
The next spiritual exercise for the defence of the higher consciousness is to develop permanent vigilance:
Your high position as an immortal, as a new man of the next step of evolution, is constantly at risk. Our ancestor, who began with the gigantic project to rise onto two legs, initially kept falling down again and again on his four paws. Likewise, we today are falling back over and over again to the familiar, old patterns of vulnerability, fear, weakness, sadness or egoism.
This means: The charioteer must not for a moment leave his four horses unattended. He has to intervene immediately and take countermeasures if one of them breaks out and thus threatens to throw the whole chariot out of its course.
It should not be thought that, in his consciousness, an Arhat could lose sight of the Guiding Will even for an instant. He becomes 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. But this solemnity is not easy in the confusion of the atmosphere. (Fiery World I, 196)
At stake is nothing less than the struggle of your higher existence for survival! The soul comes under the wheels when the horses prevail and elope! As in old times a sword fight was necessary for the defence of the physical personality, so today we must learn the spiritual martial arts in order to protect our supermundane life.
This means: You need to be aware at every moment of the danger of being thrown down from the high pedestal onto which you have placed yourself. However, when your vigilance has ceased for a moment and you have fallen down, you can minimize the damage by immediately getting up again.
You must make a habit of this permanent vigilance - just like the animals, such as birds or mice, who constantly scent in all directions and are always on their guard against enemies. By changing your habits, you will actually change your personality!
9. The Messenger
Here is an example:
When does the envoy of a great king lose his positon? When he has to visit disgusting, hostile to the spirit circumstances in order to reach the receiver of his master’s message? No. When he has the misfortune to be thrown into prison by the recipient? Not even then: A captivated ambassador still remains an ambassador: As long as you act as a representative of a higher power, you take part in its dignity, how ever the external conditions may look like.
The individual Soul knows it is one of the sexless spiritual beings which came from higher spheres to redeem gross matter. (Teachings of the Temple, Vol. II, Lesson “Twin Souls”)
Only when the ambassador loses the consciousness of his great task, when his will is broken, when he does not manage to summon the strength and the discipline to preserve the dignity of his office at every moment and in all circumstances – only then does he fall down to the level of those whom he was supposed to raise and to liberate. This he can avoid only by preserving the constant, vigilant consciousness of his high position.
10. Preserve one single Identity on all Levels
The defence of the higher consciousness must go one step further:
We had already said: Your soul walks an eternal path through a variety of material and non-material worlds, existences and planes of being. Your current earthly personality - Mr. Smith or Mrs. Watson - is perishable. It will cease to exist already in a few years from now. Therefore, it is not your true identity.
All of us have to get rid of our own Ego, the illusory apparent self, to recognize our true self in a transcendental divine life. (Mahatma Letters, Letter of the Maha-Chohan, 1881)
You must learn to see these different existences not as separate lives, but as the one, single uninterrupted life of your eternal individuality, which only takes place in various worlds and by making use of different, each of them transient tools (bodies).
One may regard the 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, there is only one life. (Agni Yoga 450)
The exercise just discussed to shift your consciousness to your higher self, requires a further step: Extract your consciousness from your transient, earthly personality! Do not identify yourself any longer with Mr. Smith or Mrs. Watson! Practice to view your eternal, spiritual individuality as your real, your true self!
You are not Mr. Smith or Mrs. Watson. You are a quite different, a physically not visible and not tangible being. Let us give this spiritual creature, to identify it, a name of its own, for example “Anima” (you will obviously choose a better name for yourself) - then we can say: You are “Anima”.
“Anima” uses Mr. Smith or Mrs. Watson for a short period of time in order to be able to appear on earth. “Anima”, however, discards these personalities once their natural end is reached. “Anima” then chooses a new vehicle to continue to operate on the next level it reaches, the world beyond.
According to Helena Blavatsky, 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 II, Stanza X, “No Devils outside Humanity”, p. 247)
As long as your consciousness remains in a transitory personality (Mr. Smith), you are mortal - as this personality comes to an end. You then form in a later earthly life a new, once again mortal personality of its own (Mrs. Watson), unconnected with the previous one. Thus you split up your eternal life into many separate, each of them perishable existences.
Only when you achieve to constantly preserve the new, higher consciousness, your true identity as “Anima”, in all the material and spiritual worlds into which you are exiled on your eternal way - only then you are really immortal.
The achievement of true immortality is the maintaining of consciousness on all four planes of existence. (Helena Roerich, letter of 11.06.1935)
You need to learn to be “Anima” always and everywhere: In heaven, where she acts with a subtle body, on earth, where she is incarnated in a physical body, back in heaven, down on earth again, and so forth: One and the same uninterrupted identity on all material and non-material planes of existence - that is immortality!
11. Create your eternal Individuality yourself
What do you have to do in order to preserve the higher consciousness, your new identity as “Anima” through all transitions? First, you must, in addition to the formation of the consciousness of your immortality, in a further step create your higher identity yourself.
Your physical body was laid for you into the cradle. Your true, spiritual, timeless individuality you need to form yourself.
On this divine plan each one is the builder of his soul, and the architect of his own immortality. (Teachings of the Temple, Vol. II, Lesson “True Knowledge”)
Animals are almost featureless in the other world, because they have not yet developed a consciousness of their spiritual existence and are therefore unable to mould their spiritual being.
Man, however, has gained this consciousness and now must go ahead to shape his higher self - in accordance with a picture which needs first to be invented by himself.
You have to form an ideal pattern, and then mould the soul substance by or into that ideal. (Teachings of the Temple, Vol. II, Lesson “The seven Builders”)
We had already said: In the spiritual world, the home of the soul, you can be anything you want to be, because there you form yourself by means of your own thoughts and feelings. So make up your mind: How should “Anima” look like? Who or what do you want her to be? According to which image do you want to model your eternal individuality?
One possible choice of a higher existence is the one of a spiritual disciple of a great teacher. This is an identity which you can fill out on all planes of existence and in all worlds. If you want to follow this path, you need to find out how such disciples have looked like at all times, and then to form yourself according to this ideal.
One of the duties devolving upon the accepted personal high Chela of the Great White Lodge is the formation of such an ideal in his mentality (generally built according to the concept of his Master), and using some moments of his hours of meditation to planting the seed – the first causes - of that which will eventually be his permanent Self. (Teachings of the Temple, Vol. II, Lesson “Karma”)
This is a purely mental process, which initially takes place in your consciousness alone and only later needs to be tested, practised, affirmed and proved in the material reality.
We shall go into the details of this exercise in later Broadcastings. To give you at least an idea how to proceed practically, we can say today: You - your higher, spiritual being - actually are a disciple, if you go to see your teacher regularly (if possible every day in the morning, at noon and at night) - of course in spirit! If you report to him for service and training. If you receive from him instructions, tasks and assignments and execute them in your everyday material life.
12. Let your Soul grow
You have to raise the eternal individuality chosen by yourself like a little child. For the time being, your soul – which you have only just discovered – is still a baby, which is driven by the circumstances or by his physical tool, the body, back and forth like an infant on a big horse.
Your spiritual being has to become so great and so strong that it is able to control the acts of the four mortal bodies as the charioteer controls the four horses of the quadriga.
Ultimately, it is the goal of the spiritual discipline to let grow the soul, so that it develops from a small to a Great Soul - a Mahatma.
This is a process that takes place independently of the material conditions within your consciousness. The struggle for survival, education and growth of your eternal individuality goes on solely within yourself, in the spirit.
Mastery is reached by the realization of victory over self. Conquering self, the victor will rise. (Leaves of Morya’s Garden I, 437 )
Only when you have won this spiritual battle, you can bring the resulting achievement - a mature soul - to bear in the outside world.
We shall discuss in more detail in a later Broadcasting how to promote the growth of your soul. Today, one exercise should suffice: Take some resolution - for example to change your eating habits or to realize an idea, a dream. Put this spiritual plan into tangible reality. Inevitably, you will meet opposition, either within your own interior or in the world. By struggling with these resisting forces, your spiritual being will grow and become bigger and stronger.
Let us listen to one of the most important statements of Helena Roerich:
The joy of battle is a fundamental note of Being. Through struggle comes the great power of spirit and the great gift of immortality. (Helena Roerich, letter of 13.05.1931)
At the end of this Broadcasting, let us sum up as follows: The first pillar of the practice of Agni Yoga requires: Not to lose for a moment the consciousness of your new dignity as an immortal man, and to meet every situation of your material life with a corresponding attitude. Only then you are really an immortal.
Next, if you want to make progress on the spiritual path, you need to form, to educate and to raise your true self, your eternal individuality.