The Sanskrit term yoga means “divine union,” or the union of you and God—hence “yo-ga.” Many practices foreign to the Western world are entered into by the Eastern seeker for union with the Higher Self. Some of these practices demand stern disciplines; in fact, they may be considered austere by Westerners.
The word yoga has the same root as the English word yoke. Thus yoga can be understood to be a method of spiritual union. Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn of me;... for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Perhaps he was really saying, “Take my yoga upon you.” For Jesus had a yoga. He followed a specific discipline, in which he was trained in his travels in the East.
The principle types of yoga
In order to fully understand the highest yoga, agni yoga, we must be aware of the various forms of yoga as they have been practiced throughout the centuries by devotees of the Divine Mother.
There are four principal yogas:
- jnana yoga, the path of union with God through knowledge
- bhakti yoga, the path of love and devotion
- karma yoga, the path of selfless work
- raja yoga, the path of concentration and meditation
These four yogas can be placed in the four quadrants of the Cosmic Clock—jnana yoga in the mental quadrant, bhakti yoga in the emotional quadrant, karma yoga in the physical quadrant and raja yoga in the etheric quadrant. All four yogas require basic morality, including truthfulness, continence, cleanliness and harmlessness toward life.
Different types of people are suited to different types of yoga, but that doesn’t mean they must practice only one kind of yoga. In fact, Hinduism encourages us to test all four of the yogas as alternate pathways to God. They are not mutually exclusive, because no person is solely reflective, emotional, active or experimental. Different occasions call for different responses.
The highest yoga: agni yoga
► Main article: Agni yoga
The highest yoga is agni yoga. This is the yoga of fire—sacred fire. It is beyond the four types of yoga that apply to the four lower bodies, because it leads to the ascension. This yoga has been taught by all the messengers of the Great White Brotherhood. Even the prophets of Israel were practitioners of fire yoga.
What many in the West think of as yoga is hatha yoga, which is a system of physical practices that allows the control of breath and bodily functions. This form of yoga is only one of many yogas taught in the East.
When practiced as an end in itself, hatha yoga can actually be a distraction from the path of God-realization, or union with God. But the ascended master Chananda, chief of the Indian Council, recommends hatha yoga as
... an appropriate sequence of the exercise of the physical body for the interaction with the spiritual bodies and the chakras....
It is not a physical exercise for the exercise of the physical body. It is divine movement for the release of light that is even locked in your physical cells and atoms, in your very physical heart. Releasing that light transmutes toxins, fatigue and opposition to your victory. And therefore, not endless hours but a period of meditation and concentration combined with these yoga postures daily will reap much good. It will give you a surcease from the stress of bearing the burden of world karma and the burden of that certain type of chaotic energy which is uniquely Western in its vibration, emanating from the mass consciousness of uncontrolled feeling bodies and the wanton and reckless misuse of the mental body.
This path is something that you can take up and yet not be deterred from your regular activity of service. We desire to see one-pointedness and discipline rise from the base of the physical pyramid and ascend to the crown. Many of you have pursued the discipline from spiritual levels, drawing forth the light of the mighty I AM Presence down into the heart and into the lower vehicles. And this is as it should be, as the path of the Father is the descending light and the path of the Mother is the ascending light. Thus, we build from that foundation.
► Main article: Spoken Word
Mantra yoga (like hatha yoga) is an adjunct to the principal forms of yoga. A mantra is a brief prayer that is given over and over again to develop the momentum of a particular virtue within the soul. The word mantra is taken from the Sanskrit, meaning “sacred counsel” or “formula.”
The repetition of the names of God—and of sacred mantras containing the names of God—is used by Hindus and Buddhists throughout India as a means of reunion with God. For the name of God is God, because the name is a chalice, a formula that carries his vibration. So God and his name are one. He gives you his name, you recite the name, then he gives you all of himself.
Today in the West, many people have a difficult time meditating because their minds are so yin. They eat too much sugar and drink too many liquids like coffee and soft drinks, most of which have caffeine in them. These yin foods—and especially alcohol and recreational drugs—make it difficult to concentrate.
To compensate for this weakness, we give mantras during our meditation. The mantras help us focus on words and on word pictures and visualizations. As we meditate and give these mantras, we are becoming one with the object of our concentration. The mantra keeps the mind in line. This was the grand solution of Saint Germain for all of his disciples in the West.
The practice of yoga
Those in the East who practice yoga may develop special powers called siddhis. These include many of the miraculous feats we have heard of in the West: knowledge of the past and future, knowledge of past lives, great strength, walking on water, flying, bilocation, mastery of the elements, the ability to surround oneself with a blaze of light, and the ability to choose the time of one’s death. Some of these seemingly miraculous abilities were demonstrated by Jesus and by some modern Christian saints such as Padre Pio.
But the siddhis are not the goal. In fact, it is the supreme test of the yogi to give them up. Patanjali in his classic Yoga Sutras (written in the second century B.C.) refers to these supernatural powers as “obstacles to samadhi.... By giving up even these powers, the seed of evil is destroyed and liberation follows.” Jesus demonstrated this when he successfully passed the three tests of Satan in the wilderness.
You can be a yogi whether or not you practice any kind of physical yoga. You are a yogi when you take upon yourself the yoke of Jesus Christ, which is light and which is easy. You are a yogi under the ascended masters, you are a yogi as you perfect the science of the spoken Word.
Mark L. Prophet and Elizabeth Clare Prophet, The Masters and the Spiritual Path, chapter 1, “The Highest Yoga.”
- Matt. 11:30.
- Chananda, December 29, 1979.
- Patanjali, Yoga Sutras 3:38, 51, in Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood, trans., How to Know God (Hollywood, Calif.: Vedanta Press, 1981), pp. 188, 194.
- Matt. 4:1–11; Luke 4:1–12.