on Rules and Yoga
Sep 20, 1997 06:34 AM
by jim meier
A recent thread on theos-l was on rules, and whether there are any. The
majority opinion here seems to be no, with a few posters strongly
expressing sentiments once summed as "Do as thou wilt shall be the whole of
This reminded me of some posts I once traded with Jerry Schueler, where our
disagreements finally boiled down to the definitions of the terms we were
using (magic and meditation, at the time). I wonder if the same thing
doesn't happen with "Rules." There are a number of references in THE
SECRET DOCTRINE to Rules but in the context that theos-l posters were using
the term, I think a more accurate definition can be found in the Bailey
writings, in discussion of the definitions and distinctions between
Orders or commandments.
In those writings,
Laws are simply the "ways of the universe," the expression of the life
purpose of the Greater Existence of which we are a part. "Law" conveys the
idea of subjection to something recognized as unstoppable and undeviating,
whether understood or not by the one who is subjected to it.
Orders (or commandments) are given by men, issued by those in a dominating
position of authority or otherwise able in some way to enforce their
Rules, however, are different. They are the result of tried experience, of
ages-long undertakings, and they evoke from those for whom they are
intended an intuitional response. We choose to follow them, or we choose
So, in these definitions, what most posters here spoke of as "rules" would
be "orders," and then I agree that they are almost entirely useless.
Somebody brought up gravity as an example of Law, and it is certainly a
physical law -- as theosophists, do we believe there are spiritual laws?
That's a bit off the subject, since the point I wanted to make was that
"Rules" mean, to many people, the "Rules of Yoga" as outlined in
Patanjali's Yoga Sutras [many translations, including the Quest book THE
SCIENCE OF YOGA by I.K.Taimni]. The fundamental idea of Yoga is that there
is "something" greater than the lesser self or personality, and that there
exists a time-proven method for integrating the personality with that
"greater something" (soul, causal ego, pick your favorite term). Those
Rules (meditation, purification, right breathing and the rest), when
followed, take us beyond our present limitations.
One line of reasoning in the recent thread was that "there are no rules,
there are no maps, the name of the game is you're on your own," which is
directly contrary to Yoga. Many of the early theosophists were raja yoga
students, and I think Krishnamurti's "pathless land" was a rejection of the
Theosophical Society of his time, not of the Rules given by Patanjali for
bringing the light of the soul into the day-to-day consciousness.
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