The Laws of Spiritual Development
Translated from Russian by Mikhail Nikolenko
Now we are going to discuss the laws of yoga formulated in part by our predecessors and in part — in the process of work of our School.
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The first of them is the law of LOVE.
From the very beginning and till the very end of our spiritual advancement we have to learn Love! It is not enough to desire to learn Love! It is not enough to learn the precepts of Love by rote!
There is a love “from the mind” and there is a love “from the heart”.
The former is a necessary preparatory stage on the Path of mastering love: we have to develop a strong desire to become able to love and we should first try to comprehend this intellectually.
But the love “from the heart”, that is, an emotion born in the anahata chakra, is the stable foundation on which the Divine Love can be grown — subtle, wise, powerful, and all-embracing.
The whole spiritual Path consists of mastering love, for it is not possible to learn to love the Creator if we do not have a developed ability of emotional love! And let me repeat once again that love cannot be developed unless we have a developed structure generating this psychical state — the spiritual heart!
Therefore, harmonious development of a student of a spiritual School is ensured only in the case when work with the spiritual heart is given the highest priority.
Love is that which unites man with man, allows one to find harmony with the whole of the environment in the multidimensional space, that which being fully developed allows one to reach the union with God.
Man has no other possibility to realize the supreme religious precepts set forth in the New Testament, in the Bhagavad Gita, and in other Messages of the Creator to people — other than through developed Love!
That School is the true one which professes the principle of Love.
“God is Love”, taught Jesus. What does this mean? It means that if we are to fulfill the principal precept of the New Testament: “Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect!”, we must here, on the Earth, in these bodies transform ourselves into the Divine Love.
In other words, we have to learn to love each other, all beings, the entire Creation — as God loves. Only then can we merge into Him and become Him, a Part of Him.
God constantly tells people about this Mergence [20-22,25]. In the Bhagavad Gita, for example, there are the following words of God: “Direct your thoughts to Me, submerge yourself as a consciousness into Me — verily then you will live in Me!”. Jesus said the same to His disciples (it is written in The Book of Thomas the Contender Writing to the Perfect of the Apostle Thomas): through our religious efforts we must merge with the King (that is with God-the-Father) forever . The same was taught by Babaji and is being taught now by Sathya Sai Baba [20-22,25,34,41,42,60, and others].
So the Teachings of Jesus Christ and the Avatars working in India and in other countries agree in what concerns both the final Goal as They define it and the methodology of spiritual progress. These Teachings of different Avatars complement one another very well. The same truths are expressed in them in slightly different languages and this helps us to comprehend them.
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The second law is the law of gradual development.
What are the differences among people? We are used to seeing the differences in the age and sex of our bodies, color of the skin, ethnicity, and so forth. However, all this is not as important as, for example, differences in the psychogenetic age — the age of the soul, which lives many times in different material bodies on the way to its final and full self-realization.
The knowledge about this was lost in mass Christianity, though Jesus Christ did teach this. For instance, Jesus said that John the Baptist is Elias who came but was not recognized. Due to this misunderstanding the modern mass Christianity lacks an integral, strictly scientific concept of man’s evolution as well as a serious methodology of spiritual development.
So there is a distinction between people by the age of the soul. Another distinction — is how people have used the possibility of self-development given to them in their incarnations. For example, some are diligent in studying while others are lazy. There are also those who prefer rowdy behavior — instead of studying…
People differ very much from each other from the point of their desires and abilities. Taking this into account, we can understand why God encourages development of different spiritual trends and schools on the Earth. The more numerous they are the greater number of people can choose for themselves the program of self-development optimal at the given moment of one’s personal evolution. In this they acquire both positive and negative experiences. And gaining the latter is no less important!
Let us remember: only a well-experienced and therefore wise person can quickly advance on the spiritual Path. Yet how can one become like this? — Only by gaining life experience…
So everyone needs one’s own methods at the given moment. And the fact that some people have gathered for having a class in yoga does not mean that all of them will come together to Perfection. No, they may go a part of the Path together, and after that most of them will disperse in search for their own ways. And again they will make both correct and erroneous steps, suffer because of the latter, watch mistakes of other people, learn from their mistakes — which is not as painful as learning from our own mistakes.
No one has a right to coerce someone else to go a certain path, because everyone is free to choose one’s own path! God precisely declared it through the Quran: there must be no compulsion in religion! .
… There are various schemes reflecting regularities in man’s spiritual growth. There are schemes of psychotypes expounded by Gurdjieff , or the scheme given by Yukteswar , or the stages of psychogenesis described in the Bhagavad Gita .
Now let us consider one of such schemes known in Hinduism.
At the beginning a person — both in psychogenesis (development in a series of incarnations) and in ontogenesis (individual development within one incarnation) is a student. At this stage people are unable to create anything on their own. They are learning, learning, for example, by helping others in the capacity of a servant (in the widest and positive sense of this word, not just as a domestic help).
Later, having acquired a lot of knowledge and experience, having developed an intellect, one becomes a grihastha (householder).
A grihastha is a person who after reaching a certain age in the current incarnation has his or her own household and family, is able of supporting materially not only oneself but also others and has raised children. A person who is “standing firmly on the feet” — that one is grihastha!
But grihasthas can be of different scales. That is a grihastha can be “minor” and “major”. A “major” grihastha is the one who, for example, heads a whole spiritual direction. For such a grihastha his or her “family” is all his/her followers, or all people of the Earth.
Many religious trends and Schools lack this idea of the regularity of man’s development and make attempts to bring all adepts immediately to the state of sannyasi (monk) which is only detrimental to them.
… In Hinduism there is one more scheme, described in the Bhagavad Gita — the stages of varnas.
The first stage in it is analogous to the stage of a student of the previous scheme. At the beginning, one is not capable of doing anything on one’s own. One’s social role can be only auxiliary. By rendering help to others, one learns. On this stage, one is called shudra.
The next stage is vaishya. This includes peasants, craftsmen, merchants, that is people who are successful in managing their own business. Such people are grihasthas.
Then they become kshatriyas — leaders. This is a still higher execution of the grihastha’s functions, an ascent to the next stage of social activity. It is on this stage that such aspects of Perfection as Wisdom and Power can be developed best, and also the background for expansion of Love is created.
A true grihastha-kshatriya must possess both strong intellect and power, which cannot be developed merely by lifting weights. Only then he or she can advance successfully.
One has to master all these stages in order to become able to cognize Brahman (the Holy Spirit) and become in this way a member of the brahman varna.
There are no stages leading to Perfection other than these. That is why it is necessary to emphasize that the tendency to prematurely abandon social activity is wrong. Only by going through many earthly situations, can we acquire that which is absolutely indispensable on the final stages of approaching God.
… According to the three main aspects of Perfection, there are three directions of spiritual work.
The first is the ethical one, represented by two stages: karma yoga — the teachings about ethically correct action, and bhakti yoga — the teachings about love-devotion to God.
The second is the intellectual direction: jnani yoga.
The third is the psychoenergetical direction represented by hatha yoga (preparatory stage), raja yoga (work with the organism’s energies) and buddhi yoga — the stage where the consciousness is developed on the scale much larger than the size of the material body. Buddhi yoga is the highest stage on the spiritual Path. It is at this stage that one realizes in full the cognition of God and Mergence with the Creator.
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The third law is the law of three octaves formulated by George Gurdjieff . It states that only that one can advance quickly and surely on the spiritual Path who works in three directions simultaneously. The first direction is concrete work on changing oneself. The second direction is spiritual help given to some particular people. The third direction implies taking an active part in the life of a spiritual association of people — a spiritual School, a community, a group — and experiencing oneself as a member of it.
If one of these “octaves” is omitted, that is if we do not work in one of these directions, then unavoidably our development comes to a standstill.
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The fourth law is the law of sinusoid.
Each spiritual ascent is inevitably followed by the tendency of descent. This is manifested especially clearly in the psycho-energetical aspect of the development. After we have had an achievement, we begin to lose the attained level. But if we desire, we can make efforts and super-efforts on coming back to the height achieved! In this way we can secure ourselves on the levels we have reached. And thus God tests our yearning for Him by taking away our achievements for a time. By these means He also prevents us from moving at a speed which is too high for us. In other words, thus He checks how much we need our last achievements at present.
And let us remember that it is God Who fulfills this law for us. It is He Who puts us to trial by taking away that which He Himself has given us. He does this to make us stronger in our achievements, to make us firmer, so that we do not “break” under the burden, which is beyond our capacities yet.
So, they who are capable and willing to advance quickly and ceaselessly can successfully go through descending parts of the path if they know about this law.
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The fifth law is the law of moving into the depth of the multidimensional space on the Path to God.
We already know that God is not in the sky and there is no sense in flying into space or in climbing mountains in search for Him. There is no localized God there. He is present there, of course, but not to a greater extent than anywhere esle. The Divine Consciousness is present everywhere, both outside of our bodies and inside them. But one can perceive It only through mastering the ability to submerge into the depth of the multidimensional space.
This path starts with the refinement of the emotional sphere, with refusing coarse emotional states, with mastering the ability of living in positive emotions only, with purging the organism of coarse energies. The latter is impossible without switching to the killing-free diet. The killing-free diet is also in accordance with the Bible’s commandment “You shall not kill!”.
Contributing to the task of refinement is attunement with subtle states of nature, with corresponding works of art, communication with children, with spiritually advanced people.
Helpful for this task is meditative work, techniques of raja yoga and later of buddhi yoga, including work on places of power.
Let me stress that only a strictly monotheistic worldview comprising the knowledge about the multidimensionality of space, the worldview where the Creator is understood as the Primordial Consciousness existing in the subtlest plane of the universe — only such a worldview allows one to quickly traverse this Path.
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The sixth law is the law of intellectual readiness.
The higher truths that we are discussing now cannot be understood by people who are on the initial stages of their evolution in human bodies as well as by those who are moving with the “downward” stream. One has to have a preliminary intellectual readiness for encompassing each new portion of the high spiritual skills.
In this process it is very important to know that the one who is desirous to receive new initiation into sacred knowledge has to harmoniously develop in all three directions: intellectual, ethical, and psycho-energetical. If this harmony is violated and one’s development goes on just along the latter line, then it can be only detrimental. For example, a weak intellect can break under a load induced by penetration into the depths of the multidimensional universe.
Let me also note that adequate ethical development is not possible if the corresponding intellectual basis is absent. Otherwise, one gains only a superficial understanding of the ethical principles.
An example of this can be the use of the commandment “You shall not kill!”. Whom and when is it forbidden to kill?
Only I must not be killed?
Or I must not kill as well?
But what if I am attacked?
And what if a war is waged?
And if my friends are attacked?
And what about animals — should I not kill them also?
Is it permitted to kill mosquitoes?
And what about killing plants for food and other needs?
Similar “difficult” questions can be asked concerning any of the 10 commandments received by Moses. And all these questions God asks us in theoretical and practical tasks in the School called “Earth” as we gain maturity.
Another example is observance of the commandment “Do not steal!”.
One can refrain from stealing money and property of other people.
But what about stopping to steal the freedom of other people when we impose our will on them — how many of us reach this level of ethics?
And what if we consider the same approach to our relationships with animals?
And what about stealing bioenergy from other people when we desire something from them?
And how can we reconcile the commandment “Do not commit adultery!” with the commandment of the New Testament “Give to everyone who asks of you!”?
Also, it is quite difficult to abstain from the sin of judging others! But first of all, it is necessary to understand the distinction between judging and critical evaluation of other people’s actions.
And what about “righteous wrath” or the “right” of “denunciation”, which some people “legitimatized” contrary to the prohibition to judge? Do we realize that “righteous wrath” and “denunciation” pave the road to hell just as the anger of condemnation does? The ones who go to hell are not those who formally “sinned” once or several times, but those who have accustomed themselves, while living in the body, to coarse emotional states, who have not learned the emotional cordial love, and have not refined themselves through tenderness — fearing, maybe, to “commit a sin”!
And they who try in some Catholic countries to deprive others of the right for abortion — are they not even greater sinners than those having abortion?
All these are complicated questions of ethics; to solve them one has to have a developed intellect. And it is so easy to frighten people of weak intellect by their “deadly sin”, cast them into the abyss of chronic fear and thus doom them to hell!…
… And so many difficult questions arise in those who are getting acquainted with life in other spatial dimensions! It is so easy to become confused and get lost there!
There is no sense in trying to teach junior schoolchildren the things that are studied in universities! The same is true with spiritual work. For receiving confidential knowledge, a student must be mature enough.
First the student has to master the skills of a grihastha. Only a kshatriya can become a brahman!
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The seventh law is the law of power in subtlety.
It is important to know that we have to develop not coarse power, but refined one.
Therefore, one should be taught refinement first and only then — power.
Harmonious development of one’s power begins with making the body healthy, lithe, pure, physically strong. This can be achieved through hatha yoga and other systems of body training.
The second stage is the development of bioenergetical structures of the organism: chakras and hara. This is a stage of raja yoga.
The third stage is buddhi yoga, where a student, who is prepared in every aspect, crystallizes the consciousness and practically cognizes the highest spatial dimensions.
Let me emphasize that it makes sense to develop the aspect of Power only if considerable potentials of Love and Wisdom are accumulated. Otherwise, possessing power may be extremely harmful.
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The eighth law is the law of aspiration to God. Let me cite the following words from the Bhagavad Gita: “Fix your mind on Me, submerge yourself as a consciousness into Me — verily then you will live in Me!”
In Hinduism there is a very valuable likening of our senses (functions of the organs of sense) to tentacles (indriyas). When looking at something, we stretch “tentacles” from our eyes and touch the object with them. When listening we do the same from our ears... Even when we think about an object, we direct the indriyas of the mind to it.
On the religious Path, the task is to direct the indriyas of the mind and later on the indriyas of the consciousness towards God in order to finally merge with Him. The latter is realized through the methods of buddhi yoga: it is they that allow one to radically solve this problem.
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The ninth law is the law of destroying the “I”. The ultimate goal of man — Mergence with the Creator — can be achieved only through taming of the lower “I”.
This is realized with the help of special techniques of buddhi yoga. A preparatory stage for it is mastering the state of Nirodhi — one of the steps of Nirvana, when the consciousness is transferred into the state of “non-I” or total reciprocity.
But it makes sense to strive for realization of this task from the very beginning of the Path by fostering humility, lowliness in oneself.
Let us note how much attention Jesus Christ paid to this direction of spiritual work with His disciples. It is described in the New Testament and presented in an integral form in our book Ecopsychology .
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The tenth law is the law of breaking ties with everything worldly.
Realization of this principle results in attainment of the state of Mukti (Moksha). It is reached through mastering the techniques of control over the indriyas and destruction of the lower self in the state of Nirodhi.
The state of Mukti can be achieved only through the methods of buddhi yoga preceded by the stages of raja yoga.
… Let me emphasize that it makes no sense to try to realize this without having mastered the preceding stages of personal growth in worldly affairs and on the path of the spiritual ascent. Merging with the Creator must be necessarily preceded by fulfillment of the tenth law.
On all stages of the spiritual ascent man may remain involved into the social life, what was demonstrated by Krishna, Gautama Buddha and after Them — by Jesus, Babaji, Rajneesh, Sathya Sai Baba, and Others.
The social role of such Adepts becomes more and more perfect as They advance on the higher stages of the Path, because They act not out of personal interest or attachment to the activity itself — but for the good of all, using ever-growing Wisdom.