Six mantras and the secret yogi lifestyle of abundance… [Article]

Any failure to live in abundance is a result of mental conditioning. Unfortunately, thinking or wishing will rarely remove these mental roadblocks. Dislodging the conditioning that has created our current sense of scarcity demands a new behavior. Actually, if abundance is to be attained, a new lifestyle is required: The secret lifestyle of the modern yogi.

The secret of the modern yogi’s lifestyle is in having a conscious approach to finance. The essence of this approach is to make as much money as you can; live on as little as you can, and use the rest to serve spirit and humanity. The consequence of this leaves one feeling deeply satisfied.

It sounds simple, and it is. So what is keeping people from setting out on a lifestyle of simple living and evolved thinking? The problem, whether we like to admit it or not, is that we are deeply invested in the fantasy of financial freedom. We place a great deal of stock in the idea that somewhere, somehow, enough money is going to set us free. We have dumped our assets into consumption, catching up, and keeping up. We are deeply dug in, with debt-based lifestyles. Unwinding these long-standing cultural and emotional investments won’t be easy. Fortunately, help is available in the age-old teachings of Yoga.

Yoga is a Sanskrit word. Sanskrit is an ancient language, and the wellspring of yoga philosophy. Sanskrit words, and the sounds they are made of, are far richer and more magical than the words in our modern languages. Each Sanskrit sound is a both a story and an adventure. Each Sanskrit sound is a mantra. A mantra is a sound vibration powerful enough to push back the boundaries of the mind. (In Sanskrit mantra literally means, that which can liberate the mind.) Sanskrit mantras are doorways to another universe: the universe of self-discovery.

Yoga’s process of self-discovery can show us a way out of the conundrum of wanting more for humanity without wanting less for ourselves. To understand how yoga psychology can accomplish this feat, and bring us to a state of abundance, we must understand six Sanskrit words or mantras. They are: karma, dharma, kama, kripa, yajna, and yoga. Taken together these six mantras form the basis of the modern yogi’s lifestyle.

Karma

Karma is physics. It is the consequence of past actions. Karma is responsible for your genetics, your culture, and your lot in life. Genetics is the kind of body you have (tall, short, athletic, hobbled, etc.) Culture is the circumstances of your birth and/or upbringing (race, class etc,) and your lot is what you have coming in life (money, difficulties, good times, etc…) This can be a bit of a difficult pill to for some to swallow. It makes some feel as though they are hopelessly trapped by destiny. This, however, is not the case. There is plenty of hope.

Karma is inextricably intertwined with past lives. When we view life through the lens of past lives, life makes more sense. It is easier to understand why good things happen to bad people and vice-versa. The karma described in yoga philosophy is somewhat different than the popular notion of instant karma. According to the yogic theory of karma the results of your activities in this life have more to do with what you did in previous births. This can be very confusing to contemplate and might even suggest a course of inaction, “why put out the effort if outcomes are predetermined?” This is not recommended, because failure to play the game to your fullest dooms you to another round with increased difficulties. Karma is the hard-wired consequences of your actions, going back farther than you can ever remember. It is not a reason to give up or feel defeat.

The most discomforting aspect of karma is that, although you know what your genetics and culture are, you can never know what lot awaits you. Even Vedic sciences like astrology, Brighu readings, or face reading, give only cursory and vague indications of what lies ahead. So, what do you do if you have no way of knowing if prosperity or tragedy awaits you? You do what any spiritual warrior would do. You assume the best, and prepare for the worst.

Dharma

If karma is what you are stuck with, dharma is what you do with your karma. Dharma is an exciting and multifaceted story. It has to do with what is right. In that sense dharma means virtue. Dharma also holds the key to discovering who you really are. Dharma is your essence, your true nature. Dharma is inherently reciprocal. When you protect dharma, dharma protects you. Dharma is the opportunity to redefine who you are by choosing to be defined by your actions (dharma) rather than your assets (karma.) So, if life hands you obstacles, or even a tragedy, you either go dharmic on it, and turn the fire of adversity into fuel for growth or you capitulate and let the fire burn down all hope.

The essence of dharma is the drive to connect with spirit. This same impulse is part of the creative impulse. This is why art, music, science, and literature, is, at its best, about gaining access to the indescribable, the mysterious, and the exquisite-absolute truth. The negation of dharma is the laborious effort to try and control the unconquerable realm of matter. Because matter is transient it offers only the illusion of stability and can never be fully controlled. Consequently, no amount of material success will ever bring a sense of abundance. Dharma is the courage-instilling-adventure of stepping into the unknown and discovering who we really are, and what we are capable of.

Kama

In your heart is a city overpopulated with longings, lust, and desires of every possible size and shape. If this city had a name it would be Kama. Kama includes every material desire you have, or will ever have. Kama also represents one of the greatest opportunities for spiritual growth that awaits you: the chance to harness a force greater than all the material obstacles put together. Kama is the secret weapon of all great yogis and spiritual warriors. Because they know that kama does not originate in the realm of matter. Kama is originally a part of spirit, intrinsic to the soul. Only as a consequence of our having forgotten our spiritual nature did kama become colored by material desires. The secret to redirecting the power of kama is to replace our material goals with spiritual goals. You do this by analyzing your material wishes and figuring out a way to make them spiritual. [See box inset for examples]

Basically the modern yogi only has three options for dealing with the endless desires of the heart: 1) ignore or repress them and eventually suffer the consequences, 2) submit to them and attempt to fulfill them and eventually suffer the consequences, or 3) engage them in the pursuit of spirit and make them work for you.

Kripa

If the mysterious, the exquisite, or the absolute have an emblem, it is the inconceivable quality of kripa, or mercy. Kripa means grace. It is the only force capable of making an end run on karma. Outrageous quantities of it are all around us, yet it cannot be mined or extracted at will. Those who attain it know its intrinsic properties: uncontrollable and undeserved. Though we can never command it, we can dispense it freely. It is the one thing you can never purchase, yet you have an unlimited supply to give away.

For those who are interested in obtaining it, yoga philosophy does offer one clue; it is all about who you know. Similar to knowing the doorman at a club and getting an undeserved break, resulting in quicker entry, association with spiritually advanced persons results in being moved to the head of the line. Consequently, the modern yogi is always anxious to serve the saintly.

Yajna (pronounced yug-yuh)

Yajna is Sanskrit for sacrifice. In the ancient practice of mystic yoga, sacrifice involved elaborate rituals or extreme acts of self-denial. For the modern yogi sacrifice is about engaging everything you have in service of spirit and humanity. In other words, “What is the least you can need, so you can do the most for others?”

Some people are apprehensive about the word sacrifice. Interestingly, the word sacrifice is synonymous with the word yoga. In this context of modern yoga, sacrifice does not mean performing painful austerities. It means making everything sacred. This is the  origin of the word (Latin=sacrificium; from sacer or holy + fic, from facere to make.)

Making life sacred is based on the practice of engagement (versus renunciation.) Yogic engagement means you give more than you use. The modern yogi should be able to support spiritual programs, give in charity, and provide for the welfare of those who work exclusively for the benefit of humanity.

All of this takes money. From this perspective the modern yogi is expected to make money, but not for personal indulgence. The guiding principle is, “What is the minimum needed to serve the server?”

Yoga

The word Yoga is a powerful mantra. It is a universe of stories, histories and adventures. Yoga opens the door to a waking world where each day brings new awareness and experience.
Literally it means, “To yoke”. This yoking, or connecting, refers to restoring the relationship between the self and its original source, the source of all abundance. Another Sanskrit synonym for yoga is atma-jnana: which means journey of self-discovery. Yoga has always been about self-discernment; i.e. knowing yourself. Through self-knowledge yogis discover what they can they can and cannot control. A yogi then derives power from knowing they have no control over life’s outcomes. Yoga is about living what you can control and not being controlled by what you cannot live.

Abundance exists in the now

It is interesting to note that abundance seems to elude the poor and rich alike. Too little money will almost always lead to unhappiness. Too much money also leads to unhappiness (although not the same unhappiness of being too poor.) After meeting one’s basic needs, increasing income tends to lead to increased consumption. This leads to what researchers call, the hedonic-treadmill-hypothesis, where nothing is ever quite enough. Fortunately, spiritual happiness depends neither on abject poverty, nor material success. It does, however, depend on being able to live in a state of abundance.

Abundance is not measured by what you have, but by what you can give away. Those who have little but give a lot are often happy. Those who have a lot, but give little, often are not. If you start today and figure out what is the least you can need, so you can do the most for others, then abundance manifests immediately. Why wait for something that exists in the now.

Also: Practical tips for conscious finance

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About Atma

An organizational psychologist and intellectual visionary, Atma is a provocative, colorful personality whose commentary on the subjects of wellness ranges from opening yourself to compassion and empathy to the absolute need for personal discipline and courage. As a leadership mentor his methodology derives from his study in India of the ancient Vedic teachings to post-modern, high-tech, street level savvy. Atma brings a unique and cutting perspective to the little-understood world of yoga psychology.

Posted on August 21, 2008, in Article, Essay, Life Tips. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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