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Beyond Guru Lineages and
On the true origins of ‘The New Yoga’
I am often asked from what ‘officially’ recognised historical lineage of gurus my teachings - together with the spiritual experiences, practices and powers associated with them – derive? In this essay I offer a brief answer to this question of the ‘lineage’ of ‘The New Yoga’, along with a new account of the true ‘genealogy’ of all spiritual teachings and traditions.
To begin with, it needs to be emphasised that from a spiritual viewpoint, such traditions and teachings do not only spread, diversify and evolve through migrations and dispersions of peoples, along with an accompanying disseminations of ideas, whether from East to West, North to South - or vice versa. Nor are they dependent for their continuation on the temporal transmission of teachings through a historic ‘lineage’ of gurus and disciples. For just as the individual soul can reincarnate, finding rebirth in a different epoch, continent, culture and language - taking on a new and original shape through them - so can the soul of an entire spiritual tradition.
‘The New Yoga’ is the reincarnation and rebirth, within a new epoch, continent, culture and language, after a gap of almost exactly one millennium, and in the form of a new and original body of knowledge, of the very soul of the tantric tradition known as ‘Kashmir Shaivism’ and that of all its teachers – independently of transmission in time through any lineage, and transcending any mere imitative reproduction, practice or scholarly interpretation of that tradition. This is its secret history, the source of its wealth of insight – and the challenge it presents to contemporary scholars, practitioners, gurus and ‘lineages’ associated with this tradition. For the latter tend to assume that (a) a body of teachings such as The New Yoga must necessarily derive by direct ‘horizontal’ transmission from some still-enduring historic tradition and lineage of teachers, (b) that the founders of this tradition and its principal teachers are long-deceased personages belonging to the historic past – rather than great souls (Mahatma) who have passed on to higher planes of awareness, where even now, they are more aware, active and alive than ever before – and capable of direct vertical transmission of their awareness and its fruits. Finally they tend to understand ‘self-realisation’ as something made possible only through direct relation to an incarnate guru or lineage of gurus. This understanding however, contradicts the most essential meaning of the phrase ‘self-realisation’, namely as a realisation of the identity of one’s innermost ‘self’ (atman) as with the divine (its para-atman). The essence of ‘self-realisation’ is a realisation of Self that has its essential source in that Self, and not in any Other - however valuable a guru may be in facilitating that realisation. And as far as Shaivism is concerned, all the Kashmiri sages acknowledged that Shiva is forever present and ever-ready to come to self-recognition and ‘self-realisation’ within the individual soul or jiva – as its very Self.
The misconceived need to see ‘self-realisation’, ‘awakening’ or ‘enlightenment’ as having its source in a temporal-historical lineage of gurus is directly paralleled by the need to trace an original historical and geographical source or homeland (‘Urheimat’) for the diversity of Indo-European languages, cultures and religious texts – not least the Vedas themselves. Hence the continuing highly charged ‘debate’ between those scholarly proponents of an ‘Aryan Invasion Theory’ (AIT) or ‘Indo-European Migration Theory’ - who locate this ‘homeland’ in central Eurasia, and the Kurgan culture in particular – and politically motivated nationalist proponents of an ‘Out of India’ theory (OIT) who see any migrations or invasions as having stemmed from the north-west region of South Asia itself – in other words a primordial Indian homeland. Genealogical evidence of all sorts – linguistic, archaeological and even genetic – is avidly sought, selectively sifted and brought to bear by proponents of both theories. The arguments on the part of ethnic Indian scholars however, no less than those of the objects of their critical attacks, are based on as great a misconception of the true sources of sacred religious texts and cultures, as the misconceived notions of the sources of ‘self-realisation’. Every variety of scholarly attempts to trace historically their cultural, religious and linguistic genealogies misses the point: namely that languages and religious texts are but a medium for the revelation of spiritual truths and wisdom that have their true source in the spiritual realm itself – and not in any geographical homeland or historical culture. Whether or not such texts reveal ‘interlingual’ or ‘intercultural’ elements – appearing to be translations of or containing words borrowed from other texts, languages and religious cultures, each of them is - first and foremost - the translation into language of a wordless ‘inner knowing’ or ‘knowing awareness’ (gnosis/jnana) that has its source, not in any earthly language or culture but in the spiritual world itself.
Since what marks out all sacred religious texts as sacred is precisely their self-understanding as direct revelations from the world of spirit – from God and from the gods - there is no reason why any genuinely spiritually-motivated researcher, whether Indian or European, Asian or Western, Hindu or Christian, should either need or seek any form of linguistic, genetic, geographical or historical evidence of the primordial spiritual truths and sources of their religious culture, let alone lay claim to it as the ‘private property’ of their earthly homeland. To do so is to effectively deny its sources in the homeland of the spirit - thus making its claims to spiritual truth and authenticity entirely conditional on scholarly analysis and ‘scientific’ evidence. Whatever regional or culture-bound forms or languages it may clothe itself in, spiritual truth is essentially universal, transcendental and trans-human in its source – it is nothing purely man-made. Nor, like some ancient scrolls or artefacts in a museum, is it the private property of a specific continent or country, language or religious culture, ethnic group or nation state1.
All this is not meant to imply that the sources of The New Yoga belong purely to the reincarnational dimension, that it bears no relation to important spiritual teachers or to cultural-historical lineages of any sort. To understand the relation between reincarnation and history that has shaped it however, requires an understanding of the way in which the entire soul of Indian religious philosophy was reincarnated in Germany through an entire lineage of 19th and 20th century poets, linguists and thinkers – in particular those associated with ‘German Romanticism’ and with the different schools of ‘German Idealism’, both in the form of transcendental philosophy and ‘phenomenology’. This lineage began in the 19th century with figures such Friedrich Rückert, Goethe and the Schlegel brothers. This Germanic lineage continued right through the 19th century into the 20th century through such figures as Arthur Schopenhauer, Friedrich Nietzsche, Paul Deussen, Jakob Hauer Heinrich Zimmer, Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger. It also fed into esoteric schools such as Theosophy and Anthroposophy, as well as finding supreme aesthetic and cultural expression in the music dramas of Richard Wagner – himself a devotee of Schopenhauer. It attained self-understanding and self-recognition through Max Müller’s discovery in Sanskrit of what appeared to be the oldest expression of a Proto-Indo-European mother tongue or root language, one still echoed in the pantheons of religious cultures as diverse as those of the Greeks, Nordic and Teutonic Tribes, Celts and Slavs all of whose languages have words and god-names cognate with those of the Vedas.
With a few notable and noble exceptions – yet quite unlike its English imperial, military, commercial and colonial masters, the lineage of German Romantic scholars and thinkers I have referred to did indeed identify with India and see it as the spiritual ‘motherland’ or ‘mother culture’ of their own fatherland2. Yet their purpose in doing so was solely to come to a new self-understanding of the deeper significance of their own specifically German spiritual culture, language and homeland – recognising it as ‘the Orient of Europe’3. This was in order that Germans would not come to identify their German-ness with a military-political or imperial nation state on the model of England, but instead see themselves as a people endowed with a spiritual rather than imperial mission – the mission of resisting the soul-destroying tendencies of Franco-English philosophy, Western capitalism and the language of Western Scientific Thinking it gave birth to. The most important 20th century figure in this lineage – Martin Heidegger - saw this type of ‘thinking’ as both “the end of philosophy” and, effectively as a “new religion” - one that was securing the global dominance of a purely calculative mode of thinking, and that thereby threatened the 21st century with the end of thinking as such – understood as “meditative thinking”.
Today, the attempt to explain individual consciousness or ‘mind’ in terms of new quantum-physical theories has become the last-ditch ‘scientific’ defence against the rebirth of a metaphysical understanding of consciousness as that ultimate and universal reality it was recognised to be in Kashmir Shaivism. This last-ditch defence of physics is wholly undermined and overcome by the metaphysical principles and meditational practices of The New Yoga, which - by drawing on the language and lineage of German thought4 – has succeeded in forging a new body of knowledge - precisely that body of knowledge which is the self-conscious vessel for the reincarnation of the very soul of the Kashmiri Shaivist tradition. That is why it is also no accident that The New Yoga was given birth to by a European with a German family lineage and an Indian soul – and was born and destined to initiate his work in precisely that country (England) chiefly responsible for the replacement of the Indo-German tradition of heroic spirituality and its displacement with the spirit of dishonourable political calculation and mercantile avarice.
The New Yoga not only refines and evolves the basic recognition with which the traditional scriptures of Kashmir Shaivism are founded5 - namely that the atman itself is identical with the light of that universal awareness (chit, chaitanya) that is Shiva – a light without which no suns and no phenomena of physical nature could be perceived, and no physical concepts of light ‘energy’ or ‘quanta’ could arise within awareness6. The New Yoga also integrates those two linguistically parallel recognitions that constitute the culmination of the Indic and Germanic traditions respectively - as lineages of thought:
1. The culminating recognition of the Germanic tradition that “Being is not a being” (Martin Heidegger) and thus irreducible to an individual being or a set of such beings.
2. The culminating recognition of the Indic tradition that ‘Consciousness is not ‘a’ consciousness’ – that it is not reducible to a set of individual ‘consciousnesses’, ‘minds’ or to the property of individual self or subject, ego or ‘I’.
The New Yoga is the Supreme Synthesis of these traditions, uniting them through the recognition that ‘beings’ as such are nothing but individualised portions and expressions of a singular, universal and divine consciousness, one whose essential nature is pure awareness (Shiva) and its innate potentialities or powers (Shaktis) of unbounded differential manifestation.
See also: Thinking East www.thenewyoga.org/Thinking%20East.ppt and
About Acharya Peter Wilberg and The New Yoga www.thenewyoga.org/pw&tny.htm
1. Similarly, whatever degree of primordiality they attribute to their own particular sacred languages (whether Sanskrit, Latin or Hebrew), all religious traditions also share in common an understanding of Language as such – and not any specific language – as something that is no mere man-made means of expression, but rather as the ‘divine word’ (Logos/Vak), and recognise the world itself as a living expression of that word - its living speech (Brahmana). The fundamental distinction between Language and languages parallels Heidegger’s ontological distinction between Being and beings, as well as the distinction between Consciousness as such and individual consciousnesses central to Indian thought. It also finds its parallel in Max Müller’s distinction between Religion as such (understood as an innate religiosity or intuitive sense of the divine) and specific religions and his recognition that Religion as such - like Language as such – is the a priori condition for the evolution and diversification of specific religions and languages.
2. This understanding was reversed by both English colonial and Nazi ideologists, who identified the Indo-German, Indo-European and Indo-Iranian languages with an ‘Aryan’ race associated with Northern or ‘Nordic’ racial characteristics - and thus with a racial rather than linguistic genealogy. In contrast, long before Hitler and Churchill (who shared a common racist and eugenicist ideology) Max Müller declared that: "…. who speaks of Aryan race, Aryan blood, Aryan eyes and Aryan hair, is as great a sinner as a linguist who speaks of a dolichocephalic dictionary or a brachycephalic grammar. Aryan, in scientific language, is utterly inapplicable to race. It means language and nothing but language, and if we speak of an Aryan race at all, we should know that it means no more than x + Aryan speech." (India: what can it teach us?). http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/20847
3. See The Orient of Europe: The "mythical image" of India and competing images of German national identity, 1760—1830 Nicholas A Germana, Boston College http://escholarship.bc.edu/dissertations/AAI3238828
4. Wilberg, P. Heidegger, Phenomenology and Indian Thought, 2007
5. The Shiva Sutras 1.1 Chaitanyatman – ‘consciousness is the self’
6. The words ‘physics’ and ‘physical’ are rooted in the Greek physein – to ‘arise’ or ‘emerge’. Seers the world over, not least the Rishis who gave birth to the Vedas, did not invent or ‘erect’ a pantheon of supernatural ‘gods’, endowing them with arbitrary names. Instead they sensed these ‘gods’ directly in the sensual forces and phenomena of nature itself, seeing them all as ‘shinings’ (devas) of a suprasensual light – that light which the great sages of Kashmiri Shaivism recognised as nothing other than the singular all-illuminating and all-pervasive light of awareness– that light within which all things first arise (physein) and come to light’ (phainesthai) as ‘phenomena’. “Every appearance owes its existence to the light of awareness. Nothing can have its own being without the light of awareness.” (Kshemaraja) “The being of all things that are recognised in awareness in turn depends on awareness.” (Abhinavagupta)
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