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Living the Yoga Life: Qualities of a Yogi

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Being without doubt is the mark of an adept yogi. How does he become free from doubts? By diligent sadhana, for sadhana eventually removes all doubts and establishes us in true spiritual insight. Then we know the unknowable and understand the incomprehensible. Without this preparation we will never free our minds from the patterns of samsara and attain Brahmajnana. Those who have no doubt find that this doubtlessness is the path to one-pointedness of mind, to perfection in yoga.

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Fearlessness (abhaya) is another trait of the yogi. Fear is a conditioned reflex in the human being, first because it is a survival mechanism and second because of lifetimes of fear caused by threatening situations. Consequently fear is one of the main tools of false religion because it appeals directly to the ego principle. Fear is a predisposition to weakness. (Often negative people think they fear what they are really attracted to and hoping for.) Negative energies almost always generate a fear response in those that feel them. Manipulative people usually try to instill fear in some manner before they begin their intellectual and emotional coercion.

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The yogi must never fear if he is to survive. This is directly opposite to the instinctive reactions of samsarins. It must be realized that to succeed a yogi must be going utterly against the current of things and must be striving to become a completely different order of being than he is at the present. That is a matter of evolutionary development.

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We usually have very mistaken ideas about the nature of humility. It is not having a low opinion of yourself, rather it is having no opinion of yourself, because in true humility you are absorbed in your opinion of, and desire for, God alone. If you try to get rid of the ego, you just obsess on the ego and thereby strengthen your ties with it. But if you seek and find God, the ego will melt away naturally like mist before the rising sun.

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Certainly no one becomes a real spiritual teacher by adopting all kinds of external paraphernalia, but a lot of fakes do, and make money at it. They put on different kinds of unusual clothes–vivid red, orange, and yellow–and wear a load of huge beads looped everywhere, and have elaborate tilak (sectarian marks) on their foreheads, and sometimes on other parts of their bodies, as well.

This is also the way of people who foolishly think that outward signs will produce the inward state, and who egotistically desire to be thought of as great yogis and fervent devotees. Swami Sri Yukteswar, Yogananda’s guru, detested this behavior, and sternly rebuked those who came to his ashram decked out in them. If anyone (even among his own disciples) protested his “bad manners” in doing so, he would firmly say: “Too much of a good thing is no longer good!”

On the other hand, real yogis have a simple appearance with no show or interest in gaining attention. There is a video of Swami Sivananda showing him with various well-known religious figures. Nearly all of them have some kind of theatrical costume, but there is Sivananda dressed so simply, without beads, tilak or any such things. He did not need them, for those with inner vision could see his glory. He did not need to make an impression on anyone, for he possessed Infinity.

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Most of us think that if we are sincerely mistaken about something it is no moral defect. But a false principle is an anti-truth and vibrates contrary to the universe, to life itself. This is demonstrated by the lie detector which registers abnormal and unhealthy conditions produced in the body when someone lies. A lie detector is actually a kind of dowsing device, a kind of backhanded truth detector.

The problem is that if we believe a lie we will perpetuate it by both word and deed. In this way we weaken the fabric of the cosmos and our own life sphere. Unawareness of the real situation does not make things right. We are harming ourselves and others and even the universe by believing and speaking untruth, even though in sincerity and innocence. Any breach of truth, whatever the reason, is harmful and produces mind- and soul-deadening karma.

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Truth has the exact opposite effect of falsehood. Truth strengthens our mind, body, life sphere and even the universe itself. Truth is Life. This is why Truth (Satya) is a cardinal principle of yoga philosophy. Truth is purifying, healing, empowering and uplifting.

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Habitual liars have nothing of truth about them, but are incarnations of falsehood. Such people are sociopathic, and should be avoided by anyone, especially those who seek higher consciousness.

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There no white lies or positive lies. All are destructive.

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Vyasa writes in the sixteenth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita that truthfulness is a trait of the divine personality and falsehood is a trait of the demonic personality.

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Without truthfulness in word and deed the spiritual path cannot even be entered, nor can this principle ever be abandoned on the way. Those who violate this principle are not on the Way of Truth at all. No exceptions are ever made to this rule.

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Those who engage in sadhana will steadily gain in inner strength, or virya. It is that accumulated power which fuels our flight to the infinite. Unhappily, “getting and spending we lay waste our powers” by involvement in the world, as Wordsworth said. But the yogi is like a wise bee, distilling his yogic experience and insight into practical means for furthering his realization.

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It is not enough to know mere words or theory. We must be able to manifest those words. We must know how to live what we know. Internal knowledge is not enough, external skill must be its proof.

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We have been conditioned for lifetimes by exoteric religion to consider that we have no ability to direct ourselves in our life, but must be told what to do by scriptures and “spiritual authorities.” But the very word for liberation, Kaivalya, means Independence. Authentic yoga gives us the experience we need to carry on our practice and to evaluate it, as well. And authentic yogis are not scripture- or teacher-driven robots. Because of the negative conditioning of Western religion many yogis are afraid to rely on their own experience. But it has to be done.

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Certainly when we have experienced the highest states of consciousness we will not be made to doubt by those that disagree with us, nor will we let them influence us. But along the way it is hard to practice self-reliance. Yet once we know for ourselves, we must not let anyone deflect us from our chosen course. As Jesus said in Revelation: “Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown” (Revelation 3:11).

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We sometimes have a regrettable propensity or inclination to let others tell us what we have and have not experienced, or what we are or are not. Humility is a cardinal virtue, but humility is not letting ourselves be bullied or controlled by others, including supposedly holy people.

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I well remember a yogi speaking to a group of Westerners and expressing his amazement at the number of people that would say to him: “I read it in a book” as though that settled the matter and it must be true because it was in a book. Laughing, he said: “So I am going to have to write a book for them to read and believe!” But even that would not work. What everyone needs is experience for themselves. Then there will be no doubts.

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We like to think that we are helpless victims, that we are tossed about by the ocean of samsara against our will. But the truth is otherwise. Only those who turn inward through yoga and perceive the truth of their inner being will begin to understand that it is their will alone that is causing the entire drama of their external life.

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Once we become proficient in yogic practice, everything tends toward realization and manifestation of the One. The mind and heart must become one-pointed both in and out of meditation. For that is our real nature.

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Those who cannot persevere will not attain inner spiritual realization. Yoga is a lifetime commitment, not just an additive to an already crowded life where little time can be spared for its practice. Yoga is never cheap or casual.

Next in Living the Yoga Life: This and That

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About to Living the Yoga Life–Perspectives on Yoga

Living the Yoga Life–Perspectives on Yoga

Living the Yoga Life–Perspectives on Yoga: Introduction

    1. Living the Yoga Life: Climbing the Ladder of Consciousness
    2. Living the Yoga Life: Sanatana Dharma, Sanatana Yoga
    3. Living the Yoga Life: The Atman/Self
    4. Living the Yoga Life: Bhakti and Jnana
    5. Living the Yoga Life: Brahman
    6. Living the Yoga Life: Ishwara
    7. Living the Yoga Life: Breath
    8. Living the Yoga Life: India and Sanatana Dharma
    9. Living the Yoga Life: The Importance of Independence
    10. Living the Yoga Life: The Intelligent Path
    11. Living the Yoga Life: The Internal Life
    12. Living the Yoga Life: Japa and Sound (Shabda)
    13. Living the Yoga Life: Japa with the Breath
    14. Living the Yoga Life: Jnana
    15. Living the Yoga Life: The Jnani
    16. Living the Yoga Life: Karma and Karma Yoga
    17. Living the Yoga Life: Kundalini
    18. Living the Yoga Life: Liberation
    19. Living the Yoga Life: It Is All Up To Us
    20. Living the Yoga Life: Madness, Divine and Worldly
    21. Living the Yoga Life: Manas (Mind) and Buddhi (Intelligence/Intellect)
    22. Living the Yoga Life: Buddhi Yoga
    23. Living the Yoga Life: True Masters (And Not)
    24. Living the Yoga Life: Maya
    25. Living the Yoga Life: Meditation
    26. Living the Yoga Life: Prana
    27. Living the Yoga Life: Raja Yoga
    28. Living the Yoga Life: Reincarnation
    29. Living the Yoga Life: Religion
    30. Living the Yoga Life: Samadhi
    31. Living the Yoga Life: Sadhana
    32. Living the Yoga Life: Dedication to Spiritual Life
    33. Living the Yoga Life: Self-realization
    34. Living the Yoga Life: Shivashakti
    35. Living the Yoga Life: Spiritual Experience
    36. Living the Yoga Life: The Spiritual Teacher
    37. Living the Yoga Life: Subtle Anatomy
    38. Living the Yoga Life: The World
    39. Living the Yoga Life: Worship
    40. Living the Yoga Life: Yoga, the Body and the World
    41. Living the Yoga Life: Dharma and Adharma
    42. Living the Yoga Life: Yoga–The Supreme Dharma
    43. Living the Yoga Life: Yoga Nidra
    44. Living the Yoga Life: The Yogi
    45. Living the Yoga Life: Some Advice to Yogis
    46. Living the Yoga Life: Qualities of a Yogi
    47. Living the Yoga Life: This and That
    48. Living the Yoga Life: Touch Not
    49. Living the Yoga Life: The Gita Speaks To The Yogi
    50. Living the Yoga Life: How It Is Done
    51. Living the Yoga Life: Use your mind
    52. Living the Yoga Life: Some things it is wise to avoid
    53. Living the Yoga Life: Things you should definitely do and have in your life
    54. Living the Yoga Life: Spiritual Reading
    55. Living the Yoga Life: Gorakhnath Speaks To The Yogi
    56. Living the Yoga Life: And A Final Word From Me
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