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Nine approaches to spiritual practices

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  • Swami J
    ************************************** Swami J s Newsletter (Address and subscribe/unsubscribe info below) ************************************** July 14, 2001
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 14 8:01 AM
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      **************************************
      Swami J's Newsletter
      (Address and subscribe/unsubscribe info below)
      **************************************

      July 14, 2001

      Dear Friends,

      The science of yoga is described by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras.
      Three of the sutras (sentences or verses; literally "threads") talk
      of nine different kinds of yogis or students, whether they are slow,
      moderate, or quick, and whether (within those three) they are gentle,
      middling, or intense in their practices. This can seem so simplistic
      as to be easily overlooked. But there's something very practical in
      this, which goes far beyond merely categorizing people.

      Examples will help. Imagine a monk who goes off to the forest to do
      meditation, contemplation, and prayer. We might think of this person
      as one who is on the fast track to enlightenment (being the quicker
      of the three choices of slow, moderate, or quick). But the other
      three dimensions ask of intensity (gentle, middling, or intense). How
      is the time used? What if such a monk uses very little intensity?
      What if such monks just waste their time, sitting around daydreaming
      or gossiping with their monk friends? They may be on the fast track
      to enlightenment in the sense of time, but that time may be of little
      value if not well utilized.

      Many students of meditation who live in the busy world feel they do
      not have time for their practices of meditation, contemplation, and
      prayer. It can easily seem that the deeper practices and experiences
      are reserved for the monks. Or, it can seem like since there is not
      enough time now, these practices can be done later in life, when
      there is theoretically more time, such as after the children are
      grown and gone, and retirement from career comes.

      However, there's another choice, at the other end of the spectrum.
      Imagine a person with a full-time job, a spouse, a couple children,
      and the many activities that go along with such a lifestyle. Imagine
      that those few, precious minutes of silence in the early morning and
      late evening are used wisely, as a time of transition between the
      outer and the inner, and that during those times the challenges of
      the day are simply let go of, while the Deeper is remembered with
      full devotion and love. Imagine that more and more, during the day,
      one simply "remembers" their inner Self, Truth, God, the divine, or
      whatever you choose to call it. And imagine that the day is lived in
      a spirit of selfless-service to others, whether family, friends, co-
      workers, clients or customers.

      Ask yourself this: "Am I, and my lifestyle such that I better follow
      the fast track, the middling path, or the slower path?" Be honest
      with yourself.

      But then, most importantly, ask yourself "How am I willing to use my
      time for practice of meditation, contemplation, and prayer? Will I
      use my small amount of private time effectively, lovingly, and
      intensely? Or, will I waste my precious quiet time? Will I learn the
      principles of meditation in action, of karma yoga (the yoga of action
      in the world), so that I may intensely (though gently) do my
      practices right in the middle of daily life, so as to not need so
      much extra time? Am I willing to practice self-awareness all day
      long, and to `remember' That which is within?"

      Ask yourself this question, "Which is better, to be a monk in the
      forest, with lots of time which is wasted, while dreaming of the
      world, or is it better to be at home, living with family and friends,
      while quietly remembering the Himalayas in the heart?"

      You may even find that just a little bit more time creeps into your
      day.

      May your meditations today bring you a glimpse of peace, happiness,
      and bliss.

      In loving service,

      Swami J
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