by Owen K Waters
In "The Book of Secrets," Deepak Chopra updates the Vedic spiritual paths in a way which aligns these paths with the modern Western lifestyle.
According to the Vedic tradition, each person can choose from four paths to obtain unity consciousness. The word 'yoga' is an ancient Sanskrit word meaning "union with God." The four paths, or yogas, seek unity through thinking, feeling, acting and being. They are traditionally called:
People may pursue one or more paths at once. In fact, Raja Yoga, which literally means "The King of the Yogas," embraces aspects of all the other three paths. It achieves this by the fact that meditation transcends and includes the end result of what the other paths - thinking, feeling, and acting - are trying to reach, which is the essence of being.
You could say that meditation is a short-cut to spiritual union, or unity consciousness. Instead of working through actions, thoughts and feelings, you go right to the end result and become enlightened by inner awareness, by inner beingness.
The Four Paths to Spiritual Unity:
The path of knowledge begins with concentration upon a subject or an object. When long, focused attention is given to a subject or object, intuitive information begins to enter into your awareness. While intuition is your link to inner guidance, it can also provide knowledge directly from a physical object via the subtle senses. For example, if you saw a piece of previously-owned jewelry for sale, you could pick it up and feel it in your hands through your physical sense of touch. At the same time, with a little focus and some quiet time, your subtle sense of touch could enable the transfer of the object's memory into your awareness. Intuition is the gateway to inner connection and the wisdom that it brings. By following the thread of knowledge, through intuition and then deeper into your inner connection, you experience glimpses of the unity consciousness within.
The path of feeling is traditionally thought of as one of devotion to God. Deepak Chopra defines it more lucidly as love in its various expressions - the love of self and family evolving into the unconditional love of humanity. Then, in its highest expression, the yearning heart finds fulfilment when the individual reaches for unity with God, with the heart of Creation.
The path of acting is traditionally one of monastic service. Again, Deepak Chopra updates this definition with a practical, modern interpretation. Right action, he says, is action guided by a force beyond the ego. Personal attachment to your own actions gives way to non-attachment through performing God's actions, or inwardly, spiritually-inspired actions. This eventually leads to fulfilment, he points out, when your surrender is so complete that God runs everything you do.
The path of acting can be recognized in today's popular idea of following your inner joy, i.e. your inner, spiritually-inspired path of action. Your 'dharma' brings your destiny. Dharma is your inner path based upon your inner nature, your pattern of existence over many incarnations. If, deep down, you are an artist, a musician, a poet or a scientist, then that is probably your dharma, your inner pathway to spiritual consciousness - the one that you explore in every incarnation when the opportunity arises. It is vital to know your personal destiny, your personal path. Meditation will reveal it, and keep filling in the details, as you follow your unique personal path back to spiritual unity.
The path of being, Deepak Chopra says, is a cultivation of self beyond ego. A growing awareness of the "I Am" presence within, your pure and simple inner sense of existence. There is a renunciation aspect to this path, and he redefines that as renouncing your old perceptions, rather than renouncing your possessions. These days, let's face it, it would be a little hard for most people to get to work with no car and no clothes!
Possessions, he points out, are only an outward expression of what occurs within. Even the ancient tradition of wandering as a monk with a begging bowl is, after all, an outward expression of what has transformed within. When you renounce the belief that the outer world has power over you, then you begin to create your life from your inner joy.
States of being along this path include the realization that your life has a purpose, that you are a unique individual and that you are guided and cared for by your inner self, by your connection with all that is.
These inner realizations dawn and develop when you practice regular, daily meditation. The practice of meditation, as Raja Yoga points out, is the fast track to spiritual awareness.
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