Mahayoga - Uniqueness and Benefits
We humans try to commune with God in many different ways. Many of us think of God as some kind of a super-human being with a body, who resides in Heaven, and supervises and governs the affairs of this world from a distance. Most of those who believe in this notion of God pray to him for material and spiritual benefits and some even try to meditate on Him in prayer. In most cases, this approach does not lead to communing with God, although the very notion of submission to a Divine Entity (God) helps a person reduce his ego and benefits him spiritually to some extent. It can result in communion with God only in those extremely rare situations when a person completely and unconditionally surrenders his body and mind (and thus his ego) to a seemingly external God, but in doing so pulls aside the physical and mental curtains that have kept him from being aware of God (Brahman) who has been residing within himself all this time.
Others, who have a philosophical approach to religion, try to think of God as a negation of the objective world. They try to keep their minds vacant and free from all worldly thoughts, thinking of God as an all-pervading abstraction as they attempt to commune with the sense of void (Shunyata) they believe He represents. This approach is exemplified by Jain and Buddhist philosophers some of whom have gone to the point of denying the very existence of God. In most cases this approach too does not result in communion with God because it relies on a person being able to conceptualize nothingness which is beyond the capabilities of our material minds. In those rare cases, when a seeker has become capable of losing awareness of his body and calming his mind after years of rigorous physical and mental practices, he experiences brief periods of complete mental stillness when he actually becomes aware of God (Brahman) within himself, but which his mind, when it becomes active again, interprets it as having experienced nothingness (Shunyata).
To a student of Yoga and Vedanta, the concept of God, or Brahman, is not a sense of void or abstract negation. God, or Brahman, to a Yogi is Sat-Chit-Anand – existence, consciousness and absolute bliss, the triple oneness! He is the omnipresent existence that pervades everything and underlies all visible/invisible and living/non-living objects, the basis on which all names and forms of objective creation appear to exist and move. Unfortunately, communing with God by developing a mental picture of the concept of God is also next to impossible, because our limited and finite minds are incapable of rationally grasping such a concept, and when we try to do so we inevitably move in the direction of thinking of God as an external presence or as voidness (Shunyata). Attempting to commune with God (Brahman) using our mind as a tool is like attempting to fly using a bicycle! It is the wrong device.
Some Yoga paths get around this problem by suggesting ways for fixing one’s mind on one’s own abstract and conscious self, with the idea that since one’s consciousness is also a manifestation of the Absolute Consciousness, focusing one’s mind on one’s own consciousness will eventually lead to communion with the Absolute Consciousness or Brahman. These practices can lead to communion with God but they also require years of diligent, rigorous and supervised efforts. Additionally, because these paths have the seeker actively “doing” the practices, the seeker’s ego tends to remain active and it often becomes very difficult for the seeker to let go of his ego as long as he remains the “doer”. And as long as the seeker’s ego remains active, his awareness of himself as a distinct entity keeps his awareness from merging with Brahman and thus from communing with God.
The Maha Yoga approach to communing with God (enlightenment) is quite different from these approaches. It is based on the understanding that God is not some kind of a super-human being who resides in a separate place called Heaven, but is in fact present in all of us, right here on this earth. Nor is God a negation of the objective world or “nothingness”, but is in fact the Brahman or Sat-Chit-Anand of the Yogi, the omnipresent existence that pervades and supports all objective creation.
But if God (Brahman) resides in all of us, why is it that most of us do not have the experiential awareness of God within us? This is because our constant preoccupation with our bodies, our minds and the material world results in us creating opaque covers/curtains (Koshas) that keeps us from actually experiencing God within us. Only when we are able to lose awareness of our bodies and our minds do we become capable of such an experience. Other Yoga approaches attempt to achieve this by focusing on the body or on the mind, but these methods are only effective when they can take us beyond the physical and mental planes on which they are based, which can only happen in extremely rare instances and only after years of rigorous practices.
Maha Yoga, on the other hand, explicitly recognizes the limitations of our bodies and minds to transcend themselves, and instead relies on a Siddha Guru giving a Sadhak (seeker) the actual experience of communing with God within the Sadhak himself. Such a Siddha Guru is someone whose awareness is constantly in Brahman, or Absolute Consciousness, giving him the ability to awaken the essence of Brahman in the Sadhak, i.e. the Sadhak’s Kundalini Shakti. Once a Sadhak’s Kundalini becomes awakened he experiences the blissful peace which saturates his body and his mind and he feels the tangible presence of God within himself.
All a Sadhak has to do following such an awakening is to sit for Sadhan diligently and regularly and to allow the awakened Kundalini Shakti to do what is needed for him to progress spiritually. The awakened Kundalini Shakti becomes his guide, and during Sadhan, and even otherwise, guides him through Yogic and other activities (physical and mental Kriyas) that take him along a path toward enlightenment. During Maha Yoga Sadhan the Sadhak should not “do” anything with intent, but he should sit quietly and in a relaxed state and observe the automatic physical and mental activities that happen to him. His attitude should be that of an “observer” (Sakshi) not a “doer” (Karta). Maha Yoga Sadhaks thus avoid the trap of remaining in the ego state, common to other paths which require the Sadhak to be the “doer” of various practices.
With diligent Sadhan, the awakened Kundalini spiritualizes the Maha Yoga Sadhak’s body and mind and takes him to a state where he begins to feel the presence of God within himself and in all creation and at all times. To such a person, God is not an external super-human being, nor an abstract idea or a negative concept such as “nothingness” (Shunyata), but a positive reality whose presence he experiences all the time. Such a communion with God surpasses all others and is therefore called Maha Yoga.