Contemporary knowledge about God, Evolution, and the meaning of human life.
Methodology of spiritual development.
Forest Lectures on the Highest Yoga/Agni Yoga
The term Agni Yoga was introduced to the western public by the Roerichs — Nicholas and Helena. They learned it in their expedition across Central Asia from mountain dwellers. This term means “Mergence with Divine Fire” or “Path to such Mergence”. Fire in this context is a flame-like state of the Highest Divine Consciousness. The Divine Consciousness can assume this form when It enters Its Creation.
The Roerichs developed the Teachings of Agni Yoga and brought them to Russia and other countries of Europe and America. And now the term Agni Yoga is firmly associated with their names.
The Roerichs were a remarkable couple: he was a zealous traveler and talented painter; she was his constant companion. Helena Roerichs possessed a prophetic skill — the ability to converse with God. Records of these holy conversations were collected in fourteen volumes titled Living Ethics.
What do these records represent? They are very non-uniform; some parts of the text are hard to comprehend; some parts are not edited literally; profound truths are mixed sometimes with jokes of God or with long series of meaningless phrases. Why do they look so?
The point is that according to the intent of God these records were not meant for publication in their original form: He suggested publishing only thematic selections of them.
The reason for the qualitative diversity of the text is the following. God, with the purpose of training the prophetic skill of Helena Roerich, insisted that she make systematic, everyday records. However, it did not happen always that there was actual material for the current moment. And then Helena Roerich, waiting for words from the Lord, was given an almost meaningless series of beautiful phrases. It is a typical case of prophetic contacts.
And such jokes as: the legs feel cold because the entire energy has been used for kindling of the heart — were meant only for encouraging the tired travelers in hard moments.
Another point that needs to be mentioned about these texts is the broader meaning of the terms fire and fiery, which was expanded to psychoenergetical processes and phenomena. It was done with the purpose of filling the readers with the feeling of struggle. However, to understand these Teachings correctly, one has to differentiate the concepts of the Divine Fire — and the “fiery” manifestations of the psychical activity of people.
The texts of Living Ethics and expressive paintings of Nicholas Roerichs are filled with “fiery” energy. It was one of the most distinctive features of the spiritual movement initiated through the Roerichs.
The movement of Agni Yoga contributed a lot to the spiritual awakening of many people, first of all in Russia where there was mainly atheism instilled by the Communist Party and religious ideology degraded to the level of fairy tales. In most valuable precepts found in the books of Living Ethics, God again presented people with explanations about what is God, what is man, what is the Evolution, what is the meaning of life. He showed to people the possibility of attaining Perfection and abandoning the cycle of suffering, the way to cognition of God and to the highest self-realization in Mergence with Him.
The Teachings of Agni Yoga were given “not as a soporific but for saturating the entire life”*.
Let us consider now the main points of the Teachings of Agni Yoga.
First of all, what do these Teachings say about God?
The main aspect of God is the Primordial Universal Consciousness; in Agni Yoga It is called the Infinity. It can also be viewed as the Father and Mother of everything existing. It is a Unity of Many — a Merged Whole of all the Perfect Ones, Who infused Themselves as Consciousnesses into God. This “United Consciousness rules the entire world”*.
The structure of the universe is multidimensional. It is represented by the layers (eons, lokas) of multidimensionality. The layers of multidimensionality differ by the level of subtlety. They are inhabited by consciousnesses of different levels of the evolutionary development. The subtler the consciousness is — the higher is the layer where it dwells.
The highest subtlety is represented by the Primordial Consciousness, which dwells in the highest, primordial layer.
The path of the evolutionary ascent is the path of the refinement of the consciousness and establishing it in higher and higher levels of subtlety.
And “the Infinity is the acme of human capabilities”.
“… Speaking of the Infinity, let us imagine it as something void and dimensionless, but as something integral…”*.
So, individual consciousnesses dwell as if on the steps of a multidimensional stairway. It is to the summit of this stairway that everyone has to aspire. This stairway does not leads us upward but into the depth of the multidimensional Creation — into the Creator. The Guide on this Path is “the Consciousness of the Highest Spirit (Which) is intense Fire”*.
… The term Hierarchy in Agni Yoga means an aggregate of Hierarchs Who constitute the Primordial Consciousness and manifest Themselves in the form of Brahman (Holy Spirit).
“The Forces of the Hierarchy are represented by two worlds: the Guiding Principle (Ishvara) and the Principle fulfilling the Great Will (Brahman, the Holy Spirit); They are One Source”*.
“The entire power of creativeness is based on the Hierarchy. Only with full awareness of Great Service, can one understand the beauty of Spirit and the might of the Hierarchy.”*.
“… Only full understanding of Great Service can imbue disciples with the aspiration to the Hierarchy. When the creativity of the (human) soul encompasses Great Service, all paths to Us become open.”*
“(Say): ‘I love You, O Lord, and I am devoted to You, O Master, and I revere You, Teacher!’… — Thus, with devotion one can open new locks.
“… Verily, if you are constantly aware of the presence of God in your lives, you already know the shortest path to Us.
“… Be aflame in your hearts and create with love!”*
Now let us discuss how one can realize the Path of Agni Yoga
The meaning of human life consists in the growth of individual consciousnesses, that have to develop and merge ultimately into the Creator.
First everyone develops in the usual worldly activity. One’s quick advancement becomes possible with the development of an intense aspiration to practical cognition of God.
This aspiration has to become passionate, “fiery” — then such a person receives full support of the Hierarchy of the Forces of Light.
“… On the Fiery Path there is neither loneliness nor emptiness; there is only a breaking away from the earthly world and an irresistible attraction to the Fiery world!”*
“The daring ones know that the joy of a soul is found only in achievement. Thus they do not seek recognition from others, for their achievement is a crown woven by labor and striving!
“Only the heroes know the true attainment!
“On the path to the Fiery world, let us remember daring!”*
“Aspiration with the heart to the Lord is the first condition on the path to the Fiery world.”*
The path of advancement through the stages of self-development implies, first of all, an ethical transformation of oneself. It also includes formation of correct, strong aspiration and ridding oneself of such vices as:
— capability of deceiving and betraying,
— seeking recognition from others,
— capability of entering such coarse emotional states as:
· feeling offended,
— using bodies of killed animals for food,
— using alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.
Of the positive qualities that have to be developed, the following can be mentioned:
— faithfulness to God,
— yielding oneself to Him,
— aspiration to cognition of Him and to Mergence with Him,
— striving to help other beings,
— aspiration to creativity,
— admiring the beautiful,
— energy in the work of service and in self-development,
— control of one’s own emotions, refusal of coarseness, cultivation of subtlety,
— aspiration to knowledge, understanding the meaning of life,
— development of subtle and wise power,
— possessing gratefulness as a quality of the soul,
— careful attitude towards one’s own health, since it is needed for successful spiritual work and service.
It is through such self-development that we make the Divine Fire “non-burning” for ourselves*.
The most important method of realization of the majority of these ethical principles is the development of the spiritual heart (the energy of the anahata chakra). Opening of this emotional center becomes one’s most important moment, the base of the entire spiritual Path and gives one, among other things, the ability to meditate correctly. And meditation is the main means of the development of the consciousness, practical cognition of God, and Mergence with Him.
It is better to go to God as a community — a group of like-minded people united by a common higher aspiration.
Only faithful and honest people should be accepted in such a community. On the contrary, those who display laziness, falsity, and capability for betrayal must be dismissed from the work.
The work of the community is studying and discussing the Teachings, providing practical help to each other, in particular through psychoenergetical methods, filling one another with love and kindling hearts with this love, practical classes on aesthetics, on cleansing and development of the energy structures of the organism, meditative practices, etc.
Group psychoenergetical work is much more effective for every member of the community than the individual work, because in the former case the group creates a powerful common energy field.
By uniting the consciousnesses in common love, the community members prepare themselves to the full Mergence with the Divine Consciousness.
“Our Fiery law ordains mergence of consciousnesses”*.
The work of the community members has to be their service to God; it should not be based on selfishness or done for self-profit .
The members of the community have to prepare themselves for the meeting with a spiritual Master. Only with the help of such a master, can one cognize the passages to the subtlest layers of the multidimensional Absolute and the Hierarchy. Without a Master, such a “transmutation” is impossible*.
“Verily, if you are constantly aware of the presence of God in your lives, you already know the shortest path to Us.
“People dislike everyday work; for them it means fatigue…
“Whereas, for Us (your) everyday work means development and ascent. It opens the gate to the Infinity.”*
… Every person on this Path necessarily encounters opposition of evil forces represented by incarnate and non-incarnate beings. They are representatives of chaos, dark ones. Their “darkness” is not only a symbol but also a quality of the coarse, degraded consciousnesses, a quality that can be seen by clairvoyants.
Who are they? How can one recognize them? They are people living in the emotions of hatred (anger, irritation, condemnation, etc.). They are disposed to violence, falsity, betrayal. This concerns both incarnate people and non-incarnate people-spirits: after disembodiment souls retain their qualities.
However, the forces of evil are absolutely necessary for those walking towards the Light, because they create the necessary tension, the opposition that alone can temper the character of the warrior. Without passions and exertion of all strengths up to the highest degree, one cannot approach the Goal. Encounters with the forces of evil make the warrior seek unity with the Lord — this is why they are important.
“… Those walking with the Forces of Light must know that without a tense battle there is no victory.
“… Nothing increases the energy so much as does the resistance. Why invent artificial obstacles, if the dark ones attempt with all their strength to increase our energy?!
“… One should remember that positive forces create under the pressure of negative ones…
“… No motion can happen without tension; therefore, every progressive Teaching requires enemies and a Teacher. … No tension happens without being useful. … For each growth of a soul there must be difficult circumstances.
“… One must remember well two conditions. First — hostile people should be avoided, for they are not entitled (to the Highest). Second — perhaps it is hostility that will serve as a good springboard (for you).
“… But delay is not caused by enemies — look closer!
“… The creative vanquishing of chaos… is a constant feat. Yet, the battle with the dark ones is only a spasm that impedes progress.”*
… Yes, one should not always engage into battle with evil people. It is more important to achieve the Goal and help those walking together with you.
“… Forces serving the Light do not interfere with one’s karma, as some who are not aware of the power of karma believe. The Forces of Light observe human actions, suggesting the direction yet not interfering with life.”*
Only those spiritually ignorant become embittered by earthly suffering, thus dooming themselves to deeper and deeper layers of hell.
God says: “I am the best Help to you”*.
The best remedy for all afflictions is Mergence with Him. If we stay in this Mergence, we have His Shield. “All dangers are trifling. Even an encounter with strong dark entities is not dangerous if one maintains a firm connection with the Hierarchy.”*
In order to come to the Mergence, one has to wage war, the war against one’s own imperfections.
“Let people realize (now) the surrounding danger. … Life in the subtle world (between incarnations) is incomparably longer. One has to be prepared for it.”
“… It is terrible to be afraid of the Light, because the Fire then turns into a devouring flame!
“… It is so difficult for people to say the simplest law: ‘Blessed are the obstacles — thanks to them we grow.’ People admit tests easily until encountering them. No one is willing to quicken his advancement through obstacles!
“It is still more intolerable for humanity to hear about the usefulness of suffering. The reason is not that people fear pain or discomfort, but that they cannot think of a life beyond an earthly existence! They are ready to suffer the discomfort of an overnight stay for the sake of tomorrow's celebration, but they do not want to contrast the earthly life with the Infinity!
“Fear of the Infinity is the most shameful manifestation of a thinking being!”*
It is also important to remember that God always controls everything that happens to us, and He expects correct decisions from us. These decisions can take place only if we have learned to view the situation not in the egocentric way but from the standpoint of God, i.e. not feeling ourselves but feeling Him as the Regulator, the Goal, the Meaning, and the Center of everything happening in the universe.
“Verily, karma is frightening only to those who indulge in idleness.
“… Observe how each deed influences the fluctuations of karma.
“One can see how betrayal in all its forms causes a quick formation of (negative) karma. One can learn much from such observations. It is a pity to see people harming themselves! One can see how a viper strikes the inner being during these self-defeats. Nothing can avert the consequences, for the cause and effect are too close.
“… (On the contrary): The growth of the consciousness (of spiritual warriors) is verily a celebration for Us!
“… (The one who encompasses active, creative love — conquers the negative karma and cognizes the Divine Fire. And) … the cosmic daring suffuses (such) a carrier of Fire.
“… Among the kinds of courage, the most invincible is the courage of the flaming heart when, with full resoluteness, with full awareness of the feat, the warrior knows only the path of advance.
“Only the extreme degree of the courage of desperation is comparable to the courage of the flaming heart. With the same speed as the desperation flees from the past — the courage of the flaming heart advances to the future.
“Thus, if one lacks the courage of the flaming heart, let there be the courage of desperation! Only thus can warriors achieve victory when the offensive is great.
“… Which way is the most certain on the Path to Us? The most certain way is the selflessness of the feat! The most wondrous fire is the flame of the heart filled with love for the Hierarchy!
“… Help each other, harken! Help in small and in great! … Help wherever the hand can reach, wherever a thought can fly! … The heart aflame with help is Our heart!”.*
What is Shambhala? Where can one find it?
“Shambhala is an essential place where the spiritual world unites with the material one”.*
Shambhala is the place where abide the Hierarchs Who guide the life on the Earth. It can be found, among other places, in the center of the Earth’s structure*, in the multidimensional depth. Shambhala is the Focus of the Main Magnet for all human souls that have to enter this highest, subtlest layer of the multidimensional space by undergoing “transmutation”. In Shambhala, they cognize the Baptism in the Divine Fire* and, having settled there, merge forever with the Primordial Consciousness.
One cognizes Shambhala by expanding the spiritual heart to such an extent that it encompasses all the subtlest worlds including the Fiery World of Shambhala. Further expansion of the heart allows one to fill with it the Infinity.*
How can one begin walking the path to God, to the Highest Hierarchs, to Shambhala?
First, one needs to perform ethical self-correction. It has to include a fiery aspiration to the Perfection and active service to the Evolution through service to people.
Second, one has to put in order the body and its energy structures, to gain health.
Both these points necessarily imply switching to killing-free nutrition: i.e. refusal of using bodies of killed animals for food.* This is important from the ethical standpoint, first of all. Without correct nutrition, one cannot gain stable health, cannot advance to God. (See more details on the correct nutrition in the book Ecopsychology).
Those capable then come to the next stages of the psychoenergetical work, which include meditations and development of the chakras. If this work is performed correctly, it results in gradual transmutation of the consciousness: in its refinement up to the state of the Divine Fire.
“… Humanity must become aware of its Fiery center of the Hierarchy, which guides people and imbues them with a powerful leading principle”.*
One perceives the first contacts with God as a blessing coming from above.* This is also a manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s caring about us — His encouraging signs.
Then one has to learn not only to feel His Flows but also to merge with Him outside the body. This is realized first through the meditation pranava. By practicing such a Mergence, one undergoes gradual crystallization of the consciousness, i.e. direct growth of its amount and power.
What more can one say
In the book Agni Yoga. Supermundane* it is said: “We exclaim: Fire, Fire! However, only few understand what Fire it is…”
Yes, the Highest Hierarchs manifest Themselves in the Creation in the form of the Divine Flame, non-burning to the righteous.
They also can appear above the surface of the Earth in a giant anthropomorphic Fiery Form towering to the sky. They can enter the hearts of their devoted disciples igniting the Divine Fire in them.
Full submersion of the spiritual seeker as the consciousness into the Divine Fire and Mergence with It results in the “burning away” of all unfavorable remnants of karma. And “burning throughout” the body with this Fire results in its healing.
… Everything in the universe is regulated by the Law of attraction. It works not only in the material world but in the spiritual world as well. All souls in the process of their positive evolution move along the path of refinement to the Highest Magnet — to the Consciousness of the Creator in His Abode — in the Infinity. This is the law of Evolution established by God. Therefore, it is better to follow it, to live in agreement with God. This law says that we are embodied on the Earth with the purpose of developing ourselves qualitatively and quantitatively, in particular, by refining (transmuting) the consciousness for the sake of moving to more and more subtle layers of the Creation, for the sake of enriching the Primordial Consciousness, the Creator with ourselves.
Those who willingly walk on this Path receive His help.
Those who oppose, who attach themselves to the material, who defend their separateness by growing their arrogant and petty “I”, who cultivate coarseness for the sake of achieving success in worldly affairs — such people establish their separateness from God, renounce His Love, form bad karma for themselves, and go to hell.
Therefore, God suggests: “Let the consciousness expand towards the Focus”… “… The center is occupied by the Hierarchy. From there all rays emanate …”* Let us aspire to it!
Therefore, one should seek Shambhala not in the mountains, where some people believe it is, but… in the highest spatial dimension.
“How little does humanity relate the idea of responsibility to the concept of Shambhala, regarding it rather as a land ordained for rest! If people would realize that the Brothers of humanity bear all the burden of human consciousness! If people would realize that We carry the responsibility for all their intentions! If people would realize that the essence of Shambhala is the Source which creates a better step for humanity!…
“The comprehension of Our Image by humanity completely contradicts the reality!
“We serve the progress of humanity!
“… It has never been said to rely upon the Lord. On the contrary, it was repeated: ‘Be imbued with the Lord!’ There is a great difference between timid and inactive reliance and imbuing the entire being with the Consciousness of the Lord.
“Like a powerful sword, the consciousness merged with the Lord destroys all obstacles! Doubt cannot arise if the flaming consciousness is kindled! There will be no fatigue if the Inexhaustible Source of Strength is accepted! Fear cannot enter the temple of impenetrable armor!
“Thus, I advise accepting My Shields not through resorting to a ‘saving’ protection but to achieve victory through Mergence of consciousnesses.”*
Warriors Who achieved Mergence with the Divine Fire in the Infinity become “Earthy Representatives of the Hierarchy”*. Through Them God explains His Will at the highest level of competence.
What does Agni Yoga say about
The entire path of the psychoenergetical development of man is based on the development of the spiritual heart, because the highest spiritual achievements are realized by the energy of the consciousness expanded from the chakra anahata.
“… The heart should be understood as the only link between the visible and invisible worlds. … Only the thread of the heart leads one to the Infinity.
“… Mergence with the Highest can be realized only through the kindled fire of the heart.
“… In order to link the chain of the worlds (of the multidimensional space), one has to pay special attention to the heart. Only thus can we stay within the boundaries of… the growth of a soul (i.e. the correct quantitative growth of an individual consciousness).”*
The spiritual heart is an organ of an individual consciousness producing the emotions of love.
Emotions are states of the consciousness. They are not born in the brain but in special structures of the organism — in the chakras.
By entering the anahata chakra, the consciousness enters the state of cordial love.
God is Love, therefore Mergence with Him is possible only if man transforms into Love and develops steadfastness and power in this state.
“The heart is the link connecting the worlds, and only the heart can respond to the Heart of the Lord and the entire Hierarchy.
“… A consciousness that does not comprehend this can only mumble great words, but cannot apply them to life, because only a heart saturated with the Greatness of the Hierarchy can understand the entire greatness of the Cosmic Law.
“It is correct to say that love is a guiding, creative principle. This means that love must be conscious, (rightly) aspiring, and self-denying. … The heart filled with love is able and valiant and will expand until it encompasses (God).
“… The love of the feat is not austere for those aflame in heart, but it frightens those who love their weaknesses and those who waver, embracing the illusionary ‘I’.
“The creative fire of the heart does not wander; it resolutely ascends by the steps of the Hierarchy to the Highest Light.
“Love is a guiding, creative principle.”*
Agni Yoga is the Path of fiery cordial love for God. It is a realization of the ideas of Bhakti Yoga.
Yet, we have to understand that one cannot develop the capability for the cordial love only by appealing to it or by means of psychoenergetical methods alone. Love is the result of the complex development of strong souls. And in order to gain such love, we have to form ourselves through usual earthy activity, through special esoteric practices, and what is most important — through intellectual work on ethical correction of ourselves.
What does Agni Yoga say about
The refinement of the consciousness with its gradual penetration into deeper and deeper layers of the multidimensional space is a way to Mergence with the Divine Consciousness.
However, the spiritual Path begins not with psychoenergetical work but with ethics.
The ethical principles considered above are not a moral dogma. They contribute very directly to the correct development of the consciousnesses. They help one to gain the main qualities that are characteristic of God in the Aspects of the Creator, Holy Spirit, and Messiah. These qualities are Love, Wisdom, Power, and Subtlety.
We grow love in ourselves by caring about other incarnate beings, including plants, animals, different groups of people, and quite concrete people, by increasing our love for God up to the highest level, and through our self-sacrificial service to Him.
We develop wisdom by studying ourselves and other incarnate and non-incarnate beings, God. Gaining wisdom is not possible without service to God manifested as spiritual service to people.
And cognition of God is realized by means of redirecting the inquiring mind and cordial love — to Him.
One of the main features of wisdom is the creative ability developed in the process of service.
And the true power, which is initially born in one’s earthy activity, is manifested on the highest stages of growth as the powerful and subtle consciousness.
… Thus one can see that the main principle of developing the Divine qualities in oneself is the refinement of the consciousness.
It begins with a refusal of coarse emotional states and cultivating subtle states in oneself. Only then can one use the psychoenergetical techniques of refinement.
So, it is for the purpose of preparing oneself to really serious esoteric work of self-development that one needs ethical self-correction, development of the ability to admire the beautiful and to attune to it, and the ability to be gentle, tender.
Let us now read several quotations:
“BEAUTY: the Cosmos establishes the Evolution on this formula!”.*
“It is one thing to reason abstractly about the distant worlds, and it is another thing to realize oneself as a participant there.
“Only they who have not closed for themselves the path to BEAUTY can understand how near the distant worlds (eons) are to them”.*
“At first, it is necessary to habituate oneself to the refinement of emotions, in order to saturate a soul with the necessary attraction to the world of BEAUTY. Thus the conventional conception of standards (of beautiful) will be replaced by the true understanding of BEAUTY. … The refinement of emotions must be introduced into life.”*
“… We gave the basis for actions and works that are based on BEAUTY.
“… Wonderful pearls of art can truly elevate and transform the spirit.
“… One should develop all thoughts leading to the refinement of the consciousness. Thus one can build a higher step (for oneself).
“… Only with the force of devotion to the Teacher can one achieve the refinement of the consciousness.
“… The evolution of a soul requires (its) refinement, which is essential for constructiveness”.*
“… Only subtle energies can be joined to the subtle; therefore, the most straightest path is through the heart.
“… The psychic energy can be different in its quality. Its refinement can impregnate the higher manifestations of the vital functions… In the process of refinement, the psychic energy passes through its stages.”*
* * *
So, we have discussed one more direction of highest Yoga gifted to us by God. And we can again become convinced that in all cases which we have considered (and not yet considered) God says about the same. Only the emphasis is different — depending on concrete situations.
Let us accept these Holy Gifts of God — and walk this Straight Path to Him, to Mergence with Him in His Abode!