Law of Attraction, Part 10: Tantric Yoga

durga

“Shakti is the creator of the Universe,
And the Universe is her fascinating body;
Shakti is the basis of the entire world;
She is the intimate substance of any body.”
- Shaktisangama Tantra

Tantra pertains to a group of religious and magical texts concerned with various techniques of attaining enlightenment in Hindu and Buddhist philosophy, dating from the 6th to the 13th centuries. Tantra is largely concerned with the mantras, meditation, yoga, and rituals dedicated to the worship of the feminine principle of divine energy called, “Shakti.” We have previously shown that the Vedic gods were largely male personifications of nature and human virtues. We have also seen in that the objects of worship of the feminine goes back earlier than the Indus-Sarasvati Civilization into prehistoric times by Vedic and non-Vedic cultures. Some historians postulate that there were parallel currents of religious veneration of the male and female representations in different regions of India. Indeed, many apparent “Goddess” figurines have been located at the Harappan site causing some historians to believe that a pre-Vedic Mother Goddess cult may have existed in Neolithic India.

In any case, the Vedas do mention Aditi, the mother of the Gods, and goddess of the sky and earth, quite remarkable and unique for an ancient culture.

The name Shakti translates into ‘power’ or ‘energy,’ and is the personification of this feminine principle; worshipped as the Supreme Deity in Shaktism, one of the three primary denominations of Hinduism with the other two main denominations focusing on Shiva and Vishnu as their respective Head Deities. Tantra explains that the universe is the result of the “dance” of erotic energetic interaction between Shakti (divine creative power) and Shiva (divine consciousness). According to Shaktism, existence was created by Shakti and she is the energy that animates creation.

Kali, Durga and Parvati are three principle aspects of Shakti. Kali is often depicted as black, intimidating and aggressive, depicted as wearing a necklace of skulls while standing on the body of her husband, the god, Shiva. The Indian city of Calcutta derives its name from Kali, and in the temple dedicated to her, a continuous flow of blood is kept at the altars in appeasement to the goddess, or else it is feared that Kali will take her revenge on the people with pestilence, floods or natural disasters.

Durga is a more restrained aspect of the destroyer Kali, often depicted as a beautiful demon-slaying warrior with eight or ten arms, but still a terrifying symbol of feminine wrath, fearsomeness and unstoppable power, casually destroying demons the other gods feared.

Pavarti is the most benevolent and motherly aspect of Shakti. Pavarti, like the Vedic Aditi, is the mother of all the Gods and Goddesses. Her husband Shiva derives all his power from her.

Tantra is said to have been founded by Shiva during Kaliyuga, which in Hindu cosmology is the current, dark and lawless age -the age of vice and darkness – the last of four vast repeating ages, or “yugas.” The Vedas are regarded by the Tantrics as useless and no longer apply in this age of Kaliyuga, the Age of Kali. Thus, the Tantrics of the “Left Hand Path” say that their job is to make religion attractive to men, so liquor, meat, corn, fish and sex are permitted in certain mysterious rites. The “Right Hand Path” Tantrics prefer to perform their rituals symbolically.

Shakti cosmology relates that after Shakti created the human physical form, seven latent energetic-consciousness points were deposited within. These are termed the “chakras.” The tantric yoga masters discovered that the Kundalini, the latent energy that is believed to lie coiled at the base of the spine, contains vast, cosmic power within all human beings, and can be awakened and activated through various techniques, resulting in blissful unification with the divine, often depicted symbolically as the “awakened” and dancing Shiva; the Nataraja.

Activating the Kundalini is said to be the key in ultimately transcending the physical and uniting with the Divine. Rituals and meditative techniques based on sexuality were developed in service of attaining mystical experiences and enlightenment by identifying with the spiritual union between Shakti and Shiva. This is an interesting reversal of the renunciation of desire and sexual activity by the Vedic and post-Vedic sages. The historical and psychological conflict between human desire and reverence for spirituality is seen in sharp contrast in the competing philosophies between Shaktism and Vedism, between the annihilation of sexual desire and embracing sexuality in service to attaining the same goals: enlightenment and freedom from the wheel of rebirth.

However, tantra’s controversial tradition of using the energy generated through sexual ritualism as a short-cut to enlightenment, is considered by Hindu orthodoxy as reckless and dangerous. Kundalini is also carries a controversial history as well, with its creation of an energy flow through the chakras being seen by some as beneficial for breaking the bonds of the ego, and by others, as a waste of time.

In modern times, the Tantic ritual of orgasmic intercourse was appropriated by Western Occultists like Aleister Crowley, who appropriated the Left Hand Path tantric rituals to generate orgasmic sexual energy for magical purposes to achieve higher consciousness and power. Tantric traditionalists insist that non-orgasmic sexual continence was practiced by the yogi masters, claiming that control of ejaculation was prescribed by the tantric texts themselves. Otherwise, the goal of uniting with the divine is destroyed through orgasm.

Today, the use of Tantra has been transformed by the New Age and occultists in the West in lurid and sensational ways as “sacred” or “spiritual” sexuality. The goal isn’t so much achieving divine consciousness as it is achieving a mind-blowing orgasm. The fulfillment of “Sacred Sex” is marketed and sold as a commodity. The traditional tantrics deplore this appropriation, claiming that tantra has been distorted and polluted by Westerners who don’t understand nor appreciate their native religion.

So how does tantra relate to the Law of Attraction? Well, Napoleon Hill remarked in his book, “Think and Grow Rich,” that

“Sex desire is the most powerful of human desires. When driven by this desire, men develop keenness of imagination, courage, willpower, persistence, and creative ability unknown to them at other times … which may be used as powerful creative forces in literature, art, or in any other profession or calling.”

As we have said before, the Law of Attraction has a secret history of undergoing many transformations in different cultures and eras. The tantric aspect of the Law of Attraction appears again in Think and Grow Rich, where Napoleon Hill claims that sexual desire is the most powerful catalyst for human evolution in the arts, sciences and culture. There isn’t much literature regarding sex and the Law of Attraction specifically, only promises that one will attract a person within that “like attracts like” principle; if one uses intense, passionate focus, one receives their desires. The drive for self-empowerment through human sexuality, whether it is spiritual awakening through tantra, or achieving the ultimate “sacred” sexual pleasure, is ever with us.

 

Next: the Law of Attraction and Modern Hinduism

 

Sources
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology, Leslie A. Shepard, Vol. 2

The Hindu-Yogi Science of Breath, by Yogi Ramacharaka

Tantra: sex, secrecy politics, and power in the study of religions, by Hugh B. Urban, University of California Press

Kama Kapla, The Hindu Ritual of Love, by P. Thomas, Taraporevala Sons & Co. LTD, 1960

Kama Shilpa, by Francis Leeson, Taraporevala Sonss & Co. LTD, 1962

Aditi.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 23 Dec 2009, 07:42 UTC. 9 Jan 2010 .

 

Law of Attraction, Part 9: The Shramanas

 

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Reincarnation, Dharma and Karma as Sources for the Law of Attraction
The Vedic religions made provisions in their worship for Hymns of praise to the Gods and for personal requests – chiefly for manifesting the good things in life, like male children, health, a lucrative dowry, wealth or success in business. It is not too much of a stretch to see how the Law of Attraction is concerned with these same matters. While not asking for the Gods to bring forth one’s desires, the Law of Attraction stipulates that one’s own focused desire will bring forth the desired results.

Hinduism has brought the world many commonly known religious ideas; specifically, reincarnation and karma, which has given Western Spirituality many of its strongest aspects used within the Law of Attraction theory.

Varuna, one of the gods in the Rig Veda, was originally the sovereign lord of the universe and guardian of cosmic law. The priests asserted that if the people lived in harmony with Varuna, then there was an excellent chance that they could attain immortality and join their ancestors in Heaven. This religious construct could be the earliest notion of Dharma, the Hindu conception of Divine Law.

Like the Law of Attraction, Dharma relates to being in synch with the Divine Plan. Dharma is the Principle of Divine Order. One is supposed to live virtuously and exist in accordance with the divine harmonious law that is Dharma. According to the Hindu scriptures, only after one has successfully disciplined themselves under dharma within all things, can one hope to be liberated from the cycle of reincarnation.

The priests said that good conduct bred good results. Evil conducts produced evil. Every action will produce it’s future result; Heaven and Bliss for the do-gooder, and Hell and Damnation for the evil-doer. You could even come back as an animal, a plant, or a bit of gravel in your little sister’s shoe. So it was best if you were blameless in causing injury to any life form, lest you come back as what you have destroyed.

Thus, Karma implies cause and effect. What a man sows, so shall he reap. Whatever you send out in word or action will eventually return to you. Simply put, what you give, you shall receive. If you give hate, you will receive hate; if you give love, you will receive love. Obviously, this karmic equation forms the basic scheme of the Law Reciprocity and the Law of Attraction: like attracting like. Reincarnation and karma are bundled together as a set piece in the Hindu religion, explaining why good people suffered and why evil men prospered. These beliefs stimulated the impetus to escape the cycle of reincarnation, evolving one spiritually to higher planes of consciousness – even unto enlightenment, thus liberating the soul to be one with Brahman.

Over time the priests gathered the old Vedic gods and reduced them into a trinity – Brahman, Shiva and Vishnu. Vishnu was promoted to Head God status, because, according to the Brahmins, Vishnu understood the meaning of sacrifice. And the Brahmins knew all about sacrifice.

The Brahmin’s conversion of their ancient nature worship into a semi-monotheistic belief was now complete. Some of the ancient gods were retired or demonized, while the Brahmin priests claimed that the many gods that existed were only the faces of One God – Brahman; the singular eternal mind from which all existence emanates. The sacrifices and rituals of the Brahmins became more complex, elaborate, extravagant – and expensive, to the point of where some ceremonies took the length of a year to complete. Those who couldn’t afford to partake in the sacrifices were excluded and marginalized. These people began to wonder about the nature of reality on their own, and came to a different set of conclusions.

 

Protest Against the Priests

It was during the sixth century BCE when vast economic changes were taking place in India. Instead measuring a man’s wealth through ownership of cattle, money was introduced for the first time. Men now desired more power and wealth as money brought a new wave of affluence never before seen. The kings saw this and wanted more power and money for their own, while expanding their control over the people. Of course, this new affluence produced more poverty, and more people found themselves losing their freedoms and properties. There were constant wars between states engaged in power struggles. Once again, the people began to question the old beliefs.

Obviously, centuries of ritual sacrifice and bowing and scraping to the Brahmins became a bit tiresome for your friendly, neighborhood spiritual seeker. Opposition to Brahmin hegemony was taken up by wandering ascetics who came from the other varnas and non-Vedic tribes. Sometime around 800 BCE a growing revolt was seen against Brahmin domination which caused many to reject Brahmin teachings, ritual sacrifices and the hereditary affluence of the priests.

There was an economic pressure felt that was centered around the ongoing expense of sacrificing animals. There were questions about the morality and effectiveness of the rituals. While the Vedas were concerned with religious interaction with the gods through rituals and hymns, a counter-perspective of various schools emerged, one that may have existed as long as Brahminism itself, that shifted the philosophy towards renunciation of the world and self-realization. These monks of the alternative spirituality took to calling themselves, the Shramanas – meaning, “Wanderers,’ and renounced the authority of the older Vedas, the authority and validity of the sacrifices and the Brahmanic priesthood itself – and called for dismantling the varnas and establishing an open and equal society.

The Shramanas criticized everything, from the pursuit of wealth, property and desire, to the Brahmins, who were seen as autocratic, greedy, officious and corrupt. The Shramanas accepted reincarnation and that rebirth was undesirable, since life was full of suffering, but they denied that the world was created by an omnipotent God. They said it wasn’t one’s birth that determined one’s spiritual worth as the Brahmin claimed, but a person’s actions in their life, principally, through asceticism and renunciation. Their goal was liberation from rebirth.

There were certain atheist and materialist groups that appeared among the Shramanas as reactions to the Brahmins as well, like the Lokayata, who denied that metaphysical speculation had any useful purpose whatsoever, remarking that such vocations only served to give the priests a livelihood. They regarded sacrifice to be worthless, asking, if the slain beast of the sacrifice goes on to heaven, then “why does not the sacrificer also offer up his father?” To these materialists, only the physical reality had any validity. They renounced ambition and wealth as well, preferring to retreat into the forests in self-reflection and meditation.

The mystical Shramanas claimed that Priests no longer owned exclusive access to the Divine. Since Brahman was infused within all things, the soul – or atman – of the human being, was of the same nature as Brahman. Thus the goal wasn’t sacrificing horses, offerings, chanting magical incantations, or sucking up to the Priests, the goal was to realize the Brahman within self, thus liberating the Atman and return to Brahman. This was done through ascetic practices and the development of self-mastery, to gain cosmic consciousness and liberation from the cycle of rebirth, suffering and illusion.

Sometime between the sixth and fourth centuries BCE, there appeared a Shramanic sage from the Ksatryia varna, rumored to have descended from a royal family, a young monk who renounced his wealth and station in life to commit himself to a life as a wandering ascetic – who went by the name of Siddhattha Gotama, later known as the “Buddha,” or ‘the Enlightened One.” The Buddhist religion that he founded initially made great headway against Brahmanism as a counterweight, and for 200 years, challenged for religious supremacy in India. The Brahmins eventually employed the, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” rule, and adjusted their practices to become more “Buddhist” – while using all the brutal repression they could muster. Over time, Buddhist monks were hunted down and destroyed, and Buddhism was finally driven out of India, thus the Buddhist religion would have to be  content with moving on to other regions in Asia which would be more receptive to the Buddha’s message.

But in the Indian subcontinent, Brahmanism had triumphed and set about to incorporate popular Buddhist ideas, even transforming Buddha into an incarnation of Vishnu, before it ultimately began transitioning into Hinduism.


Next: The Law of Attraction and Tantric Yoga 

 

Sources

Caste is the Cruelest Exclusion, by Gail Omvedt, InfoChange News & Features, October 2008

Indian Buddhism by A. K. Warder, Motilal Banarsidass Publ., 2000

Buddhism: The Illustrated Guide, by Kevin Trainor, Oxford University Press, 2004

The Pocket Idiot’s Guide to Buddhism, by Bradley K. Hawkins, Nancy Lewis, 2003

Gods, Goddesses, and Mythology, Volume 6, by C. Scott Littleton, Marshall-Cavendish, 2005

Religion and Human Rights: Buddhism vs Brahminism, Nalin Swaris, 2001

Law of Attraction, Part 8. Ancient Brahminism

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At some point during the beginning of the first millennium BCE, the descendants of the Aryans and the non-Vedic tribes abandoned their pastoral life in favor of developing and acquiring wealth and property. But with this new affluence, a new set of questions arose concerning the unfamiliar ways of living. How could the more asocial and selfish elements in a being be controlled? What happened after death? How was the world created? With these existential questions, the old social conventions began to be challenged. Vedic culture had grown and become more complex and advanced, rendering the ancient nature worship practices unsatisfying and hollow, and they were beginning to tire of the bloody sacrifices – and the Brahmin priests, as well. The Brahmin priests realized that something had to be done to keep the society, and their privileged place within it, stable.

 

A clue of what Vedic culture might have experienced within their existential terror can be found in the remarks of Sigmund Freud, who explained that man’s relationship with religion is based on a curious thing, the often – stimulating  fulfillment of desire. One could say the same about the Law of Attraction – which is said to magnetically manifest the fulfillment of one’s desire. What the Vedic people did not have was an object of their desires, something they could mentally focus upon –  that lived within them as the troubling questions that needed answered about the nature of reality, the purpose of life and who they really are.

 

We can only imagine what existential crisis the Vedic people went through. What they needed was a way to express the unspoken desires inside them that insisted there was more to life than just living and dying. What was missing was something to charge up and stimulate their feelings and imagination in order for people to generate energy for the “nourishment of the Gods.”

 

The Brahmins

 

The Brahmin priests gradually saw that they had a big problem on their hands, and we repeat: Vedic culture had progressed, becoming more complex and sophisticated, rendering the primitive nature worship unsatisfying and hollow.

 

The priest resorted to their mastery of vocabulary, symbolism and persuasion. The people had a duty to sacrifice, the priests explained, – for sacrifice nourishes and pleases the gods, and thus the gods will be thankful and return the favor. There was a morality component attached to this ritual: one would be a thief if one did not reciprocate this Divine Arrangement; the Law of Reciprocity. The priests instituted more than a few innovated wrinkles to persuade the people – as they insisted that there existed a cosmic order to things, and it was the Brahmins duty to give the people a code of conduct to stabilize the community.

 

Dharma was the idea that each person has a duty, moral code, and set of behaviors which are specific to one’s varna, or social class,

Karma, where one’s station in life is determined by actions of previous lives, and

Moksha, defined as the salvation from the rounds of rebirth.

 

We will talk about these things later, as these innovated systems of religious determinism gradually seeped into the religious practices over many centuries, but for now, we continue with how the Brahmins gave the people what they wanted: objects for their desires. The Brahmins found the answer by shifting the people’s  consciousness away from focusing on nature-worship to spiritual contemplation of a subjective metaphysical reality. They meditated, pondered and speculated about the workings of the universe. The result was the emergence of a new God: Prajapati, the Supreme Deity and the lord of creatures, who in one version of the story, sat alone in all of existence until he split himself into male and female, repeating the process until the world was filed with people and animals.

 

“O Prajapati, none other than thou encompasses all these creatures; for whatever object of desire we sacrifice to thee, let that be ours; may we be lords of riches.” (Rig Veda 10.121.10)

 

The priests also gave the people the Devas, who represented the forces of nature, virtues, and demons – who were responsible for all kinds of mischief. The priests claimed the ability to communicate with the supernatural world through the use of a hallucinogenic drink made from herbs called, soma. Soma was believed to be the drink of the Gods, and apparently, the use of soma allowed the Gods to communicate to the priests that they must prepare sacrifices for them. With the use of ancient Vedic prayers, mantras, sacrificial rites and the intoxicating soma, a magical technology was developed to manipulate the Gods and reality in favor of the supplicant.

 

Over time, Prajapati’s influence waned, and he became submerged within another innovation by the Priests: the discovery of the Brahman, the “power” held within the rituals, sacrifices and incantations. Within the development of the concept of the Brahman, the internal spiritual development of a being became more important, as Brahman was the single unifying principle that this existence emanated from. Brahman was Absolute joy and knowledge. The old Vedic gods like Agni and Indra were still recognized, but only as various manifestations of Brahman.

 

Around 900 BCE, the old Vedic texts were finally written down in Sanskrit along with new compositions and declared Divine. Armed with the authority of their spells, sacrificial rites, a holy, liturgical language and script of the Vedas at their beck and call, the Brahmins were regarded as powerful beings who could command the gods to bring about whatever they pleased. It wasn’t the Gods who brought rain and sunshine; it was the Priest who commanded the Gods to bring rain and sunshine. And since the priests claimed that they were the exclusive controllers of this “Brahman,” the Brahmins maintained their superior social status as an elite of sacred priests and powerful manipulators of the Gods and existence. Within this, the Brahmins had found a solution that gave the Vedic people a way to fulfill their desires and feel protected.

 

The Brahmins sought to legitimize the social order of varna and class that had existed since ancient Vedic times. Being the representatives of the Ultimate Reality placed the Brahmins, of course, at the top of the social order, and they cleverly manipulated the varna system by placing themselves and their lineage as the elite. The priests appealed to the ancient Vedic cosmology of “the Cosmic Man,” the Purusha[1]” who was sacrificed and dismembered, re-assembled and resurrected – with the Brahmins coming from his mouth, the Ksatriya, the warriors, coming from his shoulder, the Vaisya, the landowners from his belly and the landless peasants, the Sudras, the feet. Those who rejected or ignored these rulings were placed as the Untouchables, the outcasts.

 

It must be noted here that the priests of emergent Brahminism carried a particular contempt towards women. The Brahmanic religious literature declared that women were to be dependent, chaste, loyal and secluded within their homes while declaring their husbands to be the wives’ divine saviors. Women were there to support men in all phases of their ritualized life. Widows or abused wives could never marry again. They were to wear veils covering their faces. Women were so despised by the Brahmins that the priests declared that the male children of the top three varnas must go through a birth ritual where they were to be ‘twice born.‘ Women were excluded from the rebirth ritual because they were considered to be too impure to be redeemed. The “dowry burning” phenomenon has long plagued Indian society well into the present day, harks back to ancient times, where family of a greedy groom seeks to extort the family of the bride, and having failed in the attempt, escalates the conflict to bring about the murder or suicide of the bride.[2] The Brahmins did see some value in women as the necessary contrivance for producing children, without which the funeral rites could not be performed at all.

 

The Brahmins’ used their sacred knowledge of the Vedas as an unassailable power by wrapping themselves within an aura of holy authority. It was unallowable to even touch a Bramin priest. Only a Brahmin may read the holy scriptures or educate the other social classes. The the priestly elite, the Brahmin priesthood enjoyed a social privilege that gave them advantages over the warrior, farmer, the darker-skinned servant varnas and untouchables, all who were subordinated beneath them held power over. Even kings dared not to openly oppose the Brahmins, for in the Vedic tradition, it was the priests who legitimized kingly power.

 

Of course, the other varnas supported the Brahmin Priesthood as well, building temples, showering them with financial gifts and land in exchange for the priest’s blessings. The Brahmins became in fact, the landed elite, protected by royal power, while living off of the labor and money of the lower varnas. The Brahmins in effect, were a dominating social power presiding over a feudal agrarian political economy. The Law of Attraction is seen here operating at the level of energetic polarity: the priests standing as representatives of God, attracted wealth and abundance – at the expense of the lower varnas. And it was this corruption and oppression under the supervision of the Brahmin priests that paved the way for the emergence of Buddhism.

 

Next: The Shramanas and the Revolt against Brahmin Authority.

 

Notes

[1] The Purusha is a religious concept with a varied and distinct defining points. Not only did it stand as the name of the cosmic man sacrificed by the Gods to bring about all the forms of life in the Universe, in different eras and systems, it also refers to human consciousness, the Self or the unifying principle of existence. Compare to the creation myth of the ancient Sumerians, who held that their gods also sacrificed a god, whose body and blood were mixed with clay to produce the human race.

[2] “Bride burning” is still a common practice in Southeast Asia. As late as 2010, it was estimated that  8391 dowry death cases were reported across India, according to statistics recently released by the National Crime Records Bureau. “On one hand people regard women as devi (goddess), on the other hand they burn them alive. This is against the norms of civilised society. It’s barbaric,” former Justice Markandey Katju remarked in response to an appeal filed by a husband handed a life sentence by a Sessions court for burning his wife. Story, Indian Dowry Deaths on the Rise.

 

Sources

 

Freud, Religion, and Anxiety by Christopher Chapman
Brahman and Chhetri of Nepal.” Encyclopedia of World Cultures. James Fischer. “The Gale Group, Inc. 1996. Encyclopedia.com. (December 29, 2009). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3458000468.html

Encyclopaedia of Dalits in India: Movements by Sanjay Paswan
Caste is the Cruellest Exclusion, by Gail Omvedt, InfoChange News & Features, October 2008

The Mysore Tribes and Castes by L. Krishna Anantha Krishna Iyer (Diwan Bahadur), 1988

Handbook of Hindu Mythology by George Mason Williams, 2003

Law of Attraction, Part 7: Eastern Origins

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In the previous blogs about the history of the Law of Attraction, we briefly looked at the Law of Attraction’s ancient connection with the major religions in the world. In this series we will expand and deepen our investigation into the secret history of the Law of Attraction as it applies to the great religious systems in the world. It isn’t common knowledge, but many of the most important aspects of the Law of Attraction derive from Hinduism, thus a brief survey of Hinduism seems to be in order. In this blog series we will shift venues and look at the Law of Attraction’s role within the development of the oldest living religion in the world today: Hinduism.

 

Hindu Origins: Vedic Civilization And Religion

 

Undertaking the daunting task of breaking down a religion as enormous as Hinduism gives one pause, because Hinduism goes so far beyond your typical Westerner’s basic understanding of religion. It is difficult to grasp all at once. A shallow treatment of this system will not yield anything more than shallow realizations, and delving in too deeply creates the danger of getting lost within an ocean of details and losing the narratives. We will deal with this by handling the material historically and thematically, and those who wish to study further will have the appropriate vocabulary to begin.

 

Hinduism is the world’s oldest existing organized religion, with an estimated billion followers, making it the world’s third largest religion, and within it containing a rich variety of religious beliefs, rites, customs, and practices. Hinduism is unique among the major religions because it claims no historical founder like Buddha, Mohammed, Moses or Jesus were for their respective religions. Hinduism is a belief system based entirely on the tales of mythic Gods, heroes, demons, magic, morality, karma and sacrifice.

 

The word ‘Hindu‘ is English, and named after the advanced urban centers located along the Indus River Valley. Harappa and Mohenjodero (located in modern-day Pakistan) were two ancient cities built around 3500 BCE that evolved and flourished as dynamic urban centers from around 2600 to 1700 BCE.

 

Hundreds of sites have been excavated in Punjab and Rajasthan along the dried-up Sarasvati River, mentioned in the Rig Veda, which places its beginning of the Indus River Valley Culture between the Sarasvarti and the Drishadvati rivers. From here, we will use Dr. David Frawley’s suggestion on referring to this as the “Indus-Sarasvati civilization” which appears to be the birthplace of Indian culture.

 

The Indus-Sarasvati civilization is an enigma. These urban centers were the largest and the most sophisticated in the world at that time (approximately 26 centuries before the Common Era), including Egypt and Sumer, and yet, at some unknown time, they were mysteriously abandoned. The Harappan cities were community-minded, featuring planned streets, public baths, sewage draining and granaries. They used bronze and stone tools. And it seems these people believed in an afterlife. Graves have been discovered and fire altars have been excavated. This culture worshipped the forces of nature, animals, the phallus and an all-powerful Goddess. Seals have been discovered featuring designs of figures seated in the yoga position. Human sacrifice was ritualized; the flesh and blood placed in the fields to refresh them. Numerous seals have also been found indicating that commercial activities took place. Scholars do not know why the Harappan cities were abandoned. Perhaps climate change or some sort of economic or agricultural calamity made living in the cities impossible.

 

The Aryan Controversy

 

It has long been assumed that Hinduism descended from the legendary Aryans, the alleged creators of the Vedic civilization and religion. The Vedic civilization is named after the Vedas; the 4 sacred books of hymns, mantras and spiritual teachings of Hinduism that was handed down by the Aryans – or, the “Aryas” according to the Rig Veda. The Vedas, which were orally transmitted for centuries by the priests and later written down in early Sanskrit, contain hymns, philosophy, and instructions on ritual for the priests.

 

And here hangs the tale of the controversy in discussing the murky history of India – the subject of much academic speculation and political disputation. The biggest bone of contention within this scholarly debate centers on the so-called “Aryan Invasion Theory” that postulates a large group of roving ‘Aryans‘ descending from the east, invading the Indian continent, displacing and conquering the indigenous Dravidians and other tribes on their way towards establishing the Vedic Civilization.

 

Critics have attacked the Aryan Invasion Theory on grounds that the Vedic records themselves do not contain any reference of an “Aryan Invasion.” They say that the Aryan Invasion Theory was only put forward by Eurocentric scholars, built upon literary, linguistic and religious assumptions that were used by the West in service of British Colonialism in India. Critics also point out that is no evidence that the Aryans lived at any time outside of India.

 

According to “Frawley’s Paradox,” on one hand, the Indus-Sarasvati culture left behind the greatest, sophisticated urban civilization in the world at that time, and strangely yet, left no written records. And on the other hand, we have the theoretical Aryans, thought to be illiterate, militant, domineering chariot-jockeys and destroyers of cities, leaving no archeological trace except one of the world’s greatest literature in the Vedas.

 

Frawley’s solution to the paradox suggests that the Vedic and the Indus-Sarasvati cultures are, in all likelihood, one and the same.

 

The Vedic Religion

 

The Vedas are the sacred collection of hymns and mantras of the Hindu religion, and are considered to have been revealed by the gods themselves and given to human beings. The dating of the Vedas is hard to determine, as they were assembled over a long period of time, orally transmitted for centuries before being written in Sanskrit some 3,500 years ago, making the Vedas the oldest religious text still used in the world today. The Vedic religious forms have had an enormous influence over Hinduism.

 

 

The original Vedic gods seemed to be all males; Indra, the Warrior-King of Heaven, drew the most attention in the Vedas. Varuna, the sky god held the universe together as the cosmic law of existence, punishing those who transgressed the moral order he laid down and rewarding those who kept his law. Agni was the fire god and acceptor of sacrifices. Vishnu was the sun god who strode the universe in three steps.

 
The Vedic culture’s religious needs were serviced by a hereditary priesthood called the Brahmin. For centuries the Vedic Brahmin priests committed the Vedas to memory and chanted mantras and officiated over the sacrifices and fire rituals. The Brahmins’ sacrificial rites were very important to the Vedic culture. The rising smoke from the flames was carried up to Heaven by the fire god Agni, who transmuted the flames into nourishment for the gods.

 

Next: More on the Vedic Religion

 

Sources:

 

The Origin of the Indo-Iranians, Volume 3, by Elena Efimovna Kuzʹmina, J. P. Mallory, Brill, 2008

Handbook for the Study of Eastern Literatures, Ancient India, by Dr. Robert Churchill, Creighton University

An Introduction to Hinduism by Gavin D. Flood, Cambridge University Press, 1996

Looking for the Aryans by Ram Sharan Sharma, Orient Blackswan, 1995

A Social history of India by S. N. Sadasivan, 2000

The Myth of Aryan Invasion of India, by Dr. David Frawley, American Institute of Vedic Studies

 

 

 

 

Law of Attraction, Part 6: The New Age

cosmos-earth-man-man-and-woman-new-age-Favim.com-180508

 

When the New Age Movement came into prominence during the late 1970s, nobody knew that by the end of the 20th Century, the New Age Movement would become the third largest religion in America. The New Age’s allure and appeal stem from the perceived breakdowns of the economic, political, cultural and religious systems in the world, underscoring the great disappointment in the promise of the various systems that were born in the Age of Enlightenment. Pollution, wars, economic downturns, military repression, the failure of Democracy, has forced people to re-evaluate their lives by taking a look at alternative spiritualities.

 

Even in its earliest stages of development, New Age Movement has been linked to the New Thought Movement of the 19th century as well as the mind cure and Human Potential Movements which saw increasing popularity in American culture with the advent of various self – improvement courses related to prosperity building (such as the Dale Carnegie courses) or releasing one’s inner power and ability (such as L. Ron Hubbard’s Dianetics and Scientology crusades or Werner Erhard’s EST).

 

Central to the New Age belief system is the notion that human beings no longer have to search “out there” for the divine, because human beings are divine already. Praying to God is no longer necessary since humans are all “gods” that share the same divine essence. Reincarnation, creating one’s own reality, meditation and attaining higher consciousness are the main preoccupations of those participating in the New Age Movement.

 
The New Age message descends from a variety of sources: Neopaganism, Spiritism, Theosophy, New Thought, Ascended Masters Teachings and so forth – therefore it cannot be defined into a single doctrine. There exists no single defined set of New Age belief, Articles of Faith or a centralized administration. Truth and authority are located within the charismatic leadership of authors, channelers, healers and motivational speakers.

 

As far as channelers are concerned, New Agers attach great emotional and spiritual significance to the messages these entities speak and write through human beings, evidenced through the popularity of books by Jane Roberts, J.Z. Knight, Neale Donald Walsch and Jerry and Ester Hicks. Which brings us back to the Law of Attraction. A chief feature of the New Age version of the Law of Attraction is the same as ritual magic of old; empowerment. The leaders of the New Age have marketed this desire for empowerment by treating the Law of Attraction as a marketable commodity. There is much to choose from in the wide variety of books, courses and seminars that present the law of attraction as an empowering tool for self-realization.

 

Channeled Sources of the Law of Attraction

 

During in the 1960’s, Jane Roberts allegedly channeled a being named, ‘Seth,’ who claimed that reality and the mind did not exist independently of each other, thus consciousness has a real effect on one’s own reality. Seth presented the famous New Age maxim of, “You Create Your Own Reality” through your thoughts, feelings and beliefs.

 

A Course in Miracles, is a classic New Age tome allegedly channeled from ‘Jesus Christ,’ teaches that spirit, mind, and body are interrelated, and “proper” mental attitudes will help one become more effective with their life. This type of “reality manipulation” has been spoken about before in the 19th and 20th centuries in the writings of Quimby, Atkinson, Hill and Bailey. Thus the trajectory of the human search for empowerment has come a long way from the old days where ritual magic and incantations were used to manipulate natural and supernatural forces – which finds its fullest expression as the New Age principle of reality manipulation within the Law of Attraction. As divine humans, we are to use our divine mind, which is the only creative force in existence.

 

The Secret 

 

In 2006, Rhonda Byrne created a colossal marketing tsunami with her hit DVD, The Secret. Appearing on Oprah drove in book sales as well, as you could not visit your local neighborhood bookstore without seeing a gaudy display of The Secret near the cash registers. Promoting The Secret in a documentary style that mixed conspiracy theory, self-improvement and motivational speaking, made The Secret irresistible to many people.

 

The ‘Secret’ that changed Rhonda Byrne’s life was, of course, the Law of Attraction. She came across Wallace Wattle’s book, The Science of Getting Rich during a difficult time in her life and to her credit, turned her inspiration into a worldwide marketing sensation after an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Byrne’s “secret” was that she just recycled earlier New Thought and Theosophical teachings, placing it in a shiny wrapper and made a fortune. In the DVD version of The Secret, Byrne presents a roll call of “philosophers,” entrepreneurs, “visionaries” and self-help gurus who tell the viewer that The Secret can be revealed to anybody. Bob Proctor, one of the “philosophers” on the DVD, appears and announces that you can ‘get anything you want’ health or wealth – with The Secret.

 
So, what is The Secret? It’s the Law of Attraction, of course – “the Greatest Law in the Universe.” “It always works,” claims one of the Law of Attraction gurus featured in Byrne’s production. They adamantly assert that thoughts emit a magnetic field that draws events to you. Add intense emotional charge, and what you attract happens faster, and it doesn’t matter if it is positive or negative events. Feeling Good, is your duty. Feeling bad, well, that’s verboten.

 

 

Abraham and Esther Hicks

 

 
One of the featured narrators on The Secret DVD is Esther Hicks, who channels the non-physical entity “Abraham,” who Hicks describes as an “infinite intelligence.” Hicks appeared in the original release of The Secret, but later had a falling out with Rhonda Byrne, and she was edited out of a new version the next year. Hicks was the only self-help presenter on The Secret who was paid for her appearance, receiving $500,000, according a New York Times interview.

 

 

According to the Abraham-Hicks official website, husband and wife team Jerry and Esther Hicks describe themselves as “living a fairy-tale life.” Jerry suffered from poor health as a child and lived in extreme poverty. His life turned around after reading Napoleon Hill’s book, Think and Grow Rich.

 
The former acrobat and stunt man became a very successful Amway distributor when he met Esther during one of his Amway presentations and later married. Esther spent a period of meditation for nine months, after which ‘Abraham’ appeared in Esther’s consciousness and began communicating with them. Abraham has been described as a “nebulous mist,” “a group consciousness from the non-physical dimension,” “the great masters of the universe,” and so on. The Abraham-Hicks site claims that the modern teaching of the Law of Attraction “all started here!” But various points of the Teachings of Abraham can be traced back to other sources besides those found in New Thought and Theosophy and in New Age. It’s clear that the main features of the Law of Attraction hasn’t changed much since the earlier proponents Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, Helena Blavatsky and Alice Bailey said much of the same things.

 
But as the most well-known advocates of the Law of Attraction, The Hicks have taken their Abundance message to the world while traveling in true rock star fashion in their one and a half million-dollar tour bus. Even the death of Esther Hicks’ husband, Jerry (in November, 2011) has failed to erode or tarnish the Abraham – Hicks’ popularity.

 

 

The Dark Side of The Secret

 

However, there have been a few beings who may have followed the Law of Attraction too closely, and have taken great risks in doing so. Consider the case of one of the Self-Help Gurus that appeared in The Secret, James Arthur Ray, a frequent guest on “The Oprah Winfrey Show”. Ray held a Spiritual Warrior seminar in Sedona, Arizona, charging nearly 10 thousand dollars a head to attend a “Break Your Boundaries” workshop. At the end of a physically and mentally taxing five-day regimen that included intense fasting and a “game” where Ray reportedly donned white robes and played God, Ray conducted a sweat lodge ceremony where approximately 55 people were crammed into the steaming hot for hours. Law enforcement officials say that when people became ill and began to pass out, Ray coaxed them to stay inside, apparently to move beyond their discomfort and to “break their boundaries.” As a result 3 people died and 18 were hospitalized in the sweat lodge catastrophe. Controversy ensued when it was reported that Ray fled the scene before talking to authorities.

 

Ray was later brought to trial for manslaughter, but was only convicted of felony negligent homicide. Ray served nearly two years before being released in 2013 and is presently conducting seminars on dealing with personal crisis.

 

The Law of Attraction holds out the promise of wealth, health and happiness. The message of “Creating Your Reality” and “Everything Is Yours To Have,” has given people who same sense of empowerment Attraction Magic gave the ancient Mesopotamians thousands of years ago. It’s been a very long road through the centuries and eras that we’ve traveled, but the trajectory of empowerment that is the principle of the Law of Attraction – which appeared in various forms such as the ritual magic prayed and performed to curry favor from the Gods of the ancient Sumerians  – to the postmodern proponents of the Secret, who beseech the Gods who reside within the human mind – has been completed. According to the Law of Attraction, we have finally met the Gods that we used to worship. And they were us!

 

 

Next: The Eastern Roots of the Law of Attraction 

Law of Attraction, Part 5. Cosmic Fire and Universal Substance

alice_baileyAlice Bailey

Alice Bailey told the story like this: When she was fifteen years old, a strange man wearing a turban entered her bedroom. He sat down next to her and told her to prepare herself for an important mission. Years later when she stood before a portrait hanging at the Theosophical Society she recognized the face as the stranger in her room. It was the Mahatma who communicated with Helena Blavatsky for many years: Koot Humi. Bailey had learned of Koot Humi from the writings of Blavatsky in 1915 and joined the Theosophical Society.

 

After some time, a Mahatma of her own visited Bailey, who called himself ‘The Tibetan,’ or Djwhal Khul. Bailey was instructed to write esoteric books telepathically on behalf of the Spiritual Hierarchy in preparing the world for the New Age of Aquarius and the coming of the New Christ. Bailey telepathically transcribed over two dozen books for the Tibetan of exhaustive technical and metaphysical complexity. In her book, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, Bailey writes at length about the Law of Attraction.

 

The Mahatma claims to give Bailey a version of the Law of Attraction through the auspices of certain ‘Karmic Lords’ who direct the destiny of human beings, animals, plants together in previous lives and make sure they come together in correction and assistance resulting in cycles of attractive, karmic ‘pull.’

 

“They preside over the attractive forces and distribute them justly. They enter, pass to the centre of the sphere and there (if I may so express it) locate and set up the “Holy Temple of Divine Justice“, sending out to the four quarters of the circle the four Maharajahs, their representatives…” Alice Bailey, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire

 

 

Thus the Law of Attraction is bundled together with reincarnation and Karma. According to Bailey, all lives make a stop before their next life on Earth and receive their assignment and an allocation of Karma. The law of Attraction isn’t simply the mechanics of metaphysical and physical forces, as Blavatsky described it. The Law of Attraction is a cosmic program of guiding purpose of the Divine Plan, overseen and directed by the Spiritual Hierarchy. At the same time, human beings are essentially and inherently divine. The soul is to evolve a consciousness of divinity, redeems matter and liberates the pure flame of spirit from the limitation of form, rather than seeking riches and abundance for itself.

 

In 1934, Bailey published her book, The Externalization of the Hierarchy, re-emphasizing Blavatsky’s message of a united brotherhood of humanity, calling for a ‘new world order to be built’ based on love, sacrifice and service to the benefit of all.

 

Bailey’s writings and activities did not spare her from criticism. Conspiracy theorists made much of Bailey’s Lucis Trust’s affiliation with the United Nations, her affiliation with the occult, “Luciferianism”, her call for a “New World Order”, “anti-Semitism” and her advocation of a One World Religion. However, the modern New Age Movement is entirely in her debt, as Bailey articulated and enlarged the Spiritualism of the 19th Century of Blavatsky, Quimby and Mary Baker Eddy and brought it to a new level of metaphysical sophistication into the 20th Century

 

Guy Ballard

 

Guy Ballard was the founder of the I Am Activity Movement, which he formed through the teachings of various Ascended Masters. Writing under the pseudonym Godfré Ray King, Ballard claimed that he met the Ascended Master Saint Germain, on the slopes of Mt. Shasta in 1930. St. Germain told Ballard he was looking for a suitable person to be a herald for the New Age that humanity would enter. St. Germain gave Ballard an interpretation of the Law of Attraction using the ancient Classical Greek notion of ‘substance’ – the formless matter that finds structure through the divine mind.

 

“Universal Substance is obedient to your conscious will at all times. It is constantly responding to humanity’s thought and feeling whether they realize it or not. There is no instant at which human beings are not giving this Substance one quality or another, and it is only through the knowledge that the individual has conscious control and manipulation of a Limitless Sea of It that he begins to understand the possibilities of his own Creative Powers, and the responsibilities resting upon him in the use of his thought and feeling.” Godfrey Ray King, Unveiled Mysteries, 1934.

 

What is interesting here is how Ballard uses the term,  ‘Substance’  which is derived from the Latin,  substantia: which translates to “something that stands under.” This “Universal Substance” of Ballard’s has been mentioned by many persons throughout history, and has long been a source of debate within metaphysical and philosophical thought, dating back to the pre-Socratic Philosophers, like Anaximander – who postulated the apeiron – a limitless substance that never decays, eternally producing everything we can perceive.

 

 

Plato described substance as the Divine Mind which all things derive their being and essence. Aristotle disagreed with Plato and said that substance was a combination of matter and form. Rene Descartes said that there were two types of substance – physical and mental. Baruch Spinoza claimed that there existed only one substance: that which exists in both God and Nature, while the Scottish philosopher David Hume maintained that all ideas about substance where just projections of the mind, attempting to describe and associate the reality that surrounds it. Obviously, there has been much philosophical debate over the nature and properties of this concept of substance.

 

On the Metaphysical side of substance debate – which will figure in later in the story of the Law of Attraction, the Hindu sacred texts mention Svabhavat – a substance independent of a Creator. The esoteric Tibetan Buddhist tradition claims that Prakriti is the cosmic substance from which visible forms are fashioned. Helena Blavatsky and Alice Bailey also claimed that etheric substance was the stuff from which consciousness and all things sprung. For Ballard, Light is Substance, Luminosity and Energy. Ballard said that since a Spark of the Divine Flame of the Creator exists within human beings, through positive thinking, affirmations and decrees of having what we desire, we can manifest what we want – which sounds just like magical incantations of the dim past.

 

Ballard called for the “contemplation and adoration of the Light,” and built a following preaching that the goal of life was ascension. Ballard even told his followers that he would never die. Instead, he would be ascending to God in his physical body. However, Ballard died in 1939, and his body failed to ascend. Disappointed but undaunted, Ballard’s followers responded that Ballard had ascended anyway. In a fascinating example of prophetic dissonance, Ballard’s followers turned his seemingly failed prophesy into a cosmic event: Guy Ballard had indeed become an Ascended Master. He had merely left his body behind!

Next: The New Age Movement