I am going to write about Yoga in order to clarify what has been grossly misleading about this very popular subject, hoping it will allow one to get a fresh look at this millennia old science. It is literally meant for the few people who have a burning desire to know the SELF.
Yoga means to "yoke' or 'unite' the outer self with the inner SELF, the Atman· with the Paramantman. You with God. You are an Atheist? Then it means to unite your inner nature with the outer nature. Christians sometimes have a hard time going along with the idea of being so presumptuous that we can be One with God, yet it was Jesus who said, "Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father in Heaven is perfect."
The quest for realization has led man, from the beginning of time to the present day, to tackle this Herculean task in all manners of ways, none of which, except for some few Gurus, have really explained in detail, the one pointed attention needed to dissolve ones state of 'otherness' in order to arrive at that state of ONENESS - and remain there. Intuitive insight has, for a few, awakened the "vision" of God enough so that the steep climb along the razor's edge becomes not at all what at one time, would incur abject fear, but now instead a great joyful longing- to lose their life, their self identity - in order to unite with the great 'Cause'.
YOUR SPIRITUAL PRECEPTOR
As the old saying goes: "When the student is ready the Master appears." It is true, in varying stages of a student's development, that someone always comes along to help in his quest for Truth. It takes little else other than retrospection to discern who the people were, over your lifetime, who have been paramount in framing and moulding your state of consciousness to the point where the Great Vision is beheld. It is in this state of maturity that your true Master will appear to you, and by the same token, you will recognize him.
It is for these people that these words are meant. The true seeker cares little for protectiveness, and the moment he sees that care by others, is acting as a soporific to his Spiritual growth, he will jump from it as if his feet were on a bed of hot coals. In this regard I am thinking of the number of people who join and belong and cannot break away from an ashram type of life, or some communal type of living which could, and does, act as a soporific to the unsuspecting neophyte.
All of our experiences are important and have been brought about by our own doing; Consequently we should cherish them and learn from them, but rather the opposite has become true for many, and the trap having been set, and the will to struggle free from some of the protective Spiritual societies not being quite strong enough, one gives up so to speak, and accepts the inevitable, and literally deadens his desire for the Quest. It is very difficult for these people to unite with the Atman, for they have been blinded by all sorts of sense- conditioned reflexes, which even they aren't aware of.
These conditioning factors have made dupes of the neophyte in that he must be entertained to some degree, by activity of the mind and body. Thus we have numerous schools, therapy groups and proud teachers who are more interested in quantity and profit than in directing the seeker to THAT which lies just behind the border of mental fluctuation.
First of all, your Guru will not accept payment in any form. He will not accept gifts or donations. You can- not buy your way into the Eternal. He will not be praised or adulated, and should you think it may be of some help to your unfoldment to behave in such a manner, he will knock it out of you. If you show behaviour which exemplifies ignorance he will knock that out too. You may not like it but mature students know it is for their own good.
To look up to your Guru means just that - you are 'looking up' from a down position'. As he himself is One with all life and firmly united in God, he doesn't look down on you. Your Guru will not show off any of the powers that, by Grace , have been given him, but will in fact relinquish them as quickly as possible. These are the siddhi powers. These powers are a hindrance to any one who wants God only. He will not tell you that he is your Guru, for he realizes that there is only one Guru and that is the one inside you, therefore he cannot be separate from you. It is you that makes him your Guru, and in his presence you will be driven inwards to the Inner Self which is the heart centre.
He will take you silently and in total stillness to the inner chamber of what Ramana Maharshi calls the Hridian centre. It is enough to say that your Guru will be an ordinary man. Only you, by your Spiritual maturity will begin to take notice of the extraordinary light that is emanating from him. A light that eradicates once and for all that which is called Avidya, or ignorance. It's in this eradication of Avidya that the dawning of Viveka or Spiritual discernment, arises.
It's true enough that many people have a mistaken outlook on what a Spiritual master should be, what he should look like and funnily enough, even to the state of his health. One of the greatest of all Spiritual Gurus, Paramahansa Yogananda, was afflicted with ill health, yet it was he who came to the west and taught the science of Yoga, and especially that most wonderful of Yogic techniques - Kriya Yoga. He wasn't interested in the body, only in as much that he could use it as an instrument, through Divine Grace, to teach Yoga and work out to some degree a disciple's karma. This kind of transference is done quite often.
Ramana Maharshi was racked with cancer of the shoulder. He, once again like Yogananda, threw off the bonds of the flesh long ago and resided continuously in the state of - God Union. Ramakrishna was another who developed cancer of the throat. This great 19th century Bhakti master was intensely mad with love for God. He sometimes appeared insane with the greatest passion. There are others - and they are all different, so don't look for likenesses in your search. There is one thing in common amongst them, and that is their ability to take you silently and in stillness to the door of 'everything'. From this point you must knock, and through Divine Grace it will be opened unto you.