The Way of Words is a familiar way to those who have had years as a student or enjoy reading/studying. In the area of holistic self-integration, the books can cross cultures and times; with the earliest of writings often more direct and to the point. Some of the very best sources for this knowledge are the sages who wrote up to two thousand years ago. People, over the centuries, or even now, who have not lived the way in its totality rewrite and interpret the earlier writings inadequately; they do not have the hard earned ‘lived knowledge.’ With the Internet, a person might think that there is more information than ever. Sadly, this is not the case. Most of the authentic people are not even on the Internet (I lived the solitude and discipline of the way for thirty years before making this site). People who are writing about the way to holistic self-integration without taking the years of personal holistic integration themselves are producing writings that are flawed. With the popularity of Yoga has come a large number of websites that have little knowledge depth (lived or studied) to them. The books, and even translations of writings, I offer here have been carefully chosen. There are abundant translations and writings, but few good ones. So, when possible, try to find what I reference. As this site progresses I will add information so that hunting down the books will not be as necessary.
The Way of Words as a true way is limited at best because intellect is so involved. However, this aspect of the way is necessary as a person seeks a strong foundation of knowledge. Because these writings cross time periods, cultures, and religions, at times your brain must be nimble to get around all the “he” instead of “s-he” and the references to religious or cultural norms.
Please do not be put off by the use of the word “soul.” This word represents the completeness of union with the depths of being. There is no religious connotation, but a term that encompasses oneness with the eternal aspect of our being. The soul can be considered to be that greatest of depths which are more eternal than mortal. That energy that is closest to the source of all energies, in personal terms is referred to as God, Yahweh, Allah, etc.
On a completely different note, complimentary knowledge from the health sciences and social sciences will also be drawn upon. Wisdom literature, which is filled with knowledge, will also be shared. By the time you complete The Way of Words, you will be able to discern what writings are coherent and authentic.
A Brief Summary of the Knowledge Found in The Way of Words
The sages are very humble people who speak with great common sense, simplicity, and wisdom. One way to discern authentic writings is their simplicity in terminology and suggestions, and in their common sense. Furthermore, they all would say the path is your own life, not going off to some guru’s complex. Also remember, contrary to popular opinion, reading few writings and living into where they point is the best way to go. The more you read, the more confusing and off the track the reading can become. From the decades of studying these most loving of people, I have chosen the best to give to you. I believe I might honor them best by synthesizing all they taught in three simple instructions:
… physically, psychologically, and morally. Remember, we cannot really separate body/mind/spirit; that is an oneness that is separated by intellectual analysis. If you abuse yourself physically through lack of care, if you abuse yourself psychologically by going from one denial, escape, or gratification to another; if you feel no compunction in lying, cheating, being cruel, or manipulating others, you are affecting the entireness of your “self.” All these areas must be addressed, and transformed with firm tenacity done with self-compassion. This Way of Words will have sections on the physical, psychological, and spiritual issues you will need to address and integrate.
… those unending inner voices that drive your ego self. If you have ever experienced getting out of a roomful of loud voices you will appreciate learning to do this with all the inner voices. Especially shut up that self-negativity degrader, and that analytical judgmental intellect (thoughtfulness is entirely different). Shut up so that you can listen to the depths of your being, where knowledge awaits you.
… in the place of still receptivity. Meditation even gives way to this utter stillness where you will enter the utter fullness of life. You do not want to miss this during your life-time. Almost total integration of the above must occur. But, when you show up you will realize the eternal and the source of all energy: love.
“Shape up” from the Spiritual Perspective: in Hindu-Yoga, Buddhism, and Christianity, Part 1
In Christianity the term used to denote this dimension is purgation. In Buddhism, this is found in the first five steps of the “Eightfold Path,” and for Yogic Hinduism, “Yama,” and “Niyama”; each having 2 parts, the first 4 of the 8 steps.
Please refrain from Googling these – unless you want to get information dissonance and overload. The very best way to truly comprehend these concepts is not by “Googling them,” but by finding individual writings and deeply reflecting on these. Remember: reading few writings and living into where they point, is the best way to go. The more you read, the more confusing and “off the track” the reading can become. I will try to comment on, but not change what has been left. I will contribute what I have lived into, and trust that you will discern what is coherent with others.
Hindu-Yoga “Shape Up”:
The Rg-Veda, one of the earliest of all writings said just about all that needed to be said regarding “shape up:”
Our thought wander in all directions,
And many are the ways of men:
The cartwright hopes for accidents,
The physician for the cripple.
And the priest for a rich patron.
For the sake of the Spirit, O Mind,
Let go of all these wandering thoughts.
With his dry grass and feather fan,
And all his tools of fashioned stone,
The blacksmith seeks day after day
The customer endowed with gold.
For the sake of Spirit O Mind,
Let go of all these wandering thoughts.
I’m a singer, father’s a doctor,
Mother grinds flour with a millstone,
Our thoughts all turn upon profit,
And cow-like we all plod along.
or the sake of Spirit, O Mind,
Let go of all these wandering thoughts.
The horse would draw a swift carriage,
The entertainer a good laught,
The penis seeks a hairy slot,
The frog seeks a stagnant pond.
For the sake of Spirit, O Mind,
Let go of all these wandering thoughts
Rg-Veda IX.112. 1-4
(Le Mee, Jean, trans. 1975. Hymns from the Rg Veda. New York: Alfred Knopf.)
The Bhagavad Gita an early writing in the Hindu tradition also has its direct comments on “shape up:”
What is called renunciation is the same as yoga, or linking oneself with the Supreme, for no one can become a yogi unless he renounces the desire for sense gratification. Attraction and repulsion for sense objects are felt by embodied beings, but one should not fall under the control of the sense and sense objects because they are stumbling blocks on the path of self-realization. (Bhagavad Gita 6.2 and 3.4;Prabhopada, A.C., trans. 1976. Bhagavad Gita As It Is. New York: Bhaktivedanta Book Trust.)
These 2 writings are indicative of the Yama steps: “Refrain from….” There are also Niyama: But be sure to do. In the reality of ‘For Every Light there is a Shadow,” to do the niyama actions with the intent to ‘attain’ personal good gets one nowhere. Here is a classic comment on this found in the Bhagavad Gita:
Charity given to a worthy person in the proper place and time and as a matter of duty, without consideration of the benefit one might derive for oneself, is said to be in the mode of goodness. But charity performed with the expectation of some return, with a desire for the fruitive results, or in a grudging mood, is said to be charity in a mode of passion. (17.20-21, same trans. as above)
In the following words written perhaps close to two thousand years ago, see the brilliant clarity of vision and thought from the Bhagavad Gita. Be sure to notice that in the writing there is a very clear admonition not to repress, but rather firmly control the baser parts of our nature because we come to understand that we are so very much more than this:
Even a man of knowledge acts according to his own nature, for everyone follows his nature. What can repression accomplish?
The working senses are superior to dull matter; the mind is higher than the senses; intelligence is still higher than the mind; and he (the Self) is even higher than the intelligence.
Thus knowing oneself to be transcendental to material senses, mind and intelligence, one should control the lower self by the higher self and thus – by spiritual strength – conquer this insatiable enemy known as lust.
But those who, out of envy, disregard these teachings and do not practice them regularly, are to be considered bereft of knowledge, befooled, and doomed to ignorance and bondage. (3.33, 42-43, 32; same trans as above)
Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras links Yama and Niyama: a person can begin by doing the opposite of that from which one needs to abstain. For example, rather than doing violence, a person should promote life; rather than deceiving through falsehood, seek honesty; rather than lusting and hoarding, work for the good of others. Thus, a person would not suffer the inevitable consequences of pain and suffering from vices, and the person would receive the benefits of life-engendering activity. ( Yoga Sutras, (Patanjali, V. 1978. Thoughts on Indian Mysticism. New Delhi, India: Sagar Printers and Publishers.)
One other source book I can recommend is A Sourcebook in Indian Philosophy. (Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli, and Charles Moore. Princeton University Press, Princeton New Jersey. 1957) For more advanced studying the “Upanishads” are excellent early writings. However, once people started interpreting the Upandishads, the value of reading drops way off….
Buddhist “Shape Up”
The first five of the eight steps in the Buddha’s Eight-fold Path were all focused on this area work personal work. To paraphrase these:
Right Views – Was to know the Noble Four Truths that we suffer because we cling to materialism, escapes, gratifications and illusions of reality. With this comes the admonition to learn and apply this in re-conceptualizing our values, priorities, and view of reality.
Right Intention – As in Hindu-Yoga, if you act correctly based on the Right Views, but do so from a self-aggrandizing intention, the value is totally lost. Furthermore, intention indicates that there is a resolve to undertake the Eightfold Path in all its aspects.
Right Speech – Avoid lies, slander, spreading rumors, reviling, tattle and inconsequential chatter (that really just is used to fill the void of the stillness that would otherwise speak volumes. Talking about other people, and telling someone what someone else said about them must also be avoided. – my words…)
Right Action – Our behavior. In this comes all the vices, indulging in lusts and other gratifications, stealing, intentionally harming just because you can, etc. The list is one that most all of us know, but here this is definitively stated.
Right Livelihood – This is rather unique to Buddhism, but is coherent with all traditions. Totally makes sense that if your job is to sell people what they do not need, illegally copy others’ work, knowingly make a profit from other’s loss, etc. you are in the wrong business. If you are in a company that demands that you lie and cheat, this is not a company to work for. (If you are in a company that demeans and depersonalizes this is not a good place to earn your living. Hard choices, but once enough people makes these, the whole world will become a better place– my thoughts….)
Christian “Shape Up”:
Mystical literature pertaining to full holistic self-integration has been kept within Christian religion. Thus, much of the literature was censored to be in accord with Church Dogma and Doctrine. The reading can be unpleasant because of all the religiosity. I have placed Christian “shape up” last so that having read the other literature you will more easily decipher the mystical wealth.
On the Internet I only found one site that speaks directly, accurately, and simply about Purgation. After reading this, take on the first three “Dwelling Places” in St Teresa of Avila’s Interior Mansion Volume 2, translated by Rodriguez and Kananaugh. (This is the very best translation I found.) Here is one website if you want to purchase the book (which goes on into “Shut up and Show up.”) However, I will summarize the most of what Teresa has to say, so, you can wait on this one. A humorous book on that which would block “shaping up,” C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters is a worthwhile read and can be found in most libraries. This is a wonderful way to treat yourself for slogging your way through the “Shape Up” part.
Next is the Physical Shape Up – yep, doesn’t get any easier, but variety is nice ……