The main wish for most of humanity is the desire to love and be loved. This need comes from the Higher Self and relates to opening the person’s heart chakra. Even though love can be difficult for many people, it still holds the key to developing that center, and in so doing it opens the person to all avenues of spiritual growth.
Why is personal love so important, even to a spiritual person?
A student may feel it is part of the mundane pull that keeps him from developing spiritually.
Even when it is explained that personal love relates to the heart chakra, the student may believe that personal love isn’t the love that is needed, but rather, that opening the heart can be done through meditation practices or through impersonal love not identified with a specific person.
Such discipline is carefully thought out by many spiritual practitioners and is part of the old traditions that believe and teach celibacy as necessary on the path to God. But, in reality, personal love can be essential for spiritual growth.
Buddhists will claim that Buddha found enlightenment another way, but Buddha had lived many lives of personal love, and even in his youth he had that experience.
His heart was fully opened when he saw the suffering of others, but had he not already opened his heart, he would not have felt their suffering and would have simply returned to his palace to live the life his family had envisioned for him.
Buddha came into that lifetime having achieved many previous lifetimes of higher initiations. He had already opened his heart and was spiritually awaiting his next step in enlightenment.
His was a mission to help others understand the law of karma and how the mundane can trap a person from fulfilling his or her dharma.
Buddha’s enlightenment had already happened in previous lives, and his mission was to share this with others.
Experience all the aspects of being human
Most people on the path to enlightenment need to experience all the aspects of being human, and through that experience learn to understand their true nature.
Love is a major part of this path, and personal love has to be part of it also in order to open the heart enough to begin to transcend the personal and experience unconditional love. If you have not experienced personal love, you cannot experience the latter.
Let’s look at what is meant by personal love.
When you have this, you feel emotions, emotions that can be ones of love or even emotions that can be full of hate. Why is this? How can one side of love that is full of joy be also the opposite? Personal love expresses fully what it is–that is, personal.
If you love someone passionately, caringly, lovingly, then you have a full emotional involvement. But if your love is unrequited, it can turn negative and make you very angry at being rejected. Even if the person loves you but does something you find hurtful, your response is full of emotion that can also be hurtful to the loved one.
The old saying, “We always hurt the one we love” is very apt.
Karmic relationships are pulled by love and hate, hate and love, causing people to be attracted to each other lifetime after lifetime.
When I say that personal love is necessary to open the heart chakra, I am not referring to relationships based on these strong karmic ties, but rather to relationships that are about the simpler acts of loving. There may be karma involved, but the karma is mainly positive, and also there is a strong bond of friendship that makes the relationship very worthwhile and helpful. This, of course, is the ideal relationship, one of sound companionship and good feelings.
how does one find such a relationship?
Generally a relationship is full of emotions and feelings of attachment, whereas the relationship I am talking about is based on mutual respect and love that is open and unfettered by personal needs. This is still a personal relationship, but it differs in that the emotional needs are not prominent; instead, the feelings of love are based on genuine caring. With this type of relationship, each person can grow spiritually without feeling bound by the other. This, of course, is ideal and rare to find.
Creating Clear Boundaries
Most people have to go through many relationships before they discover the meaning of a genuine uncompromising one. If you are in a karmic relationship, it is important to establish strong boundaries that keep you from causing the karma to erupt.
I am talking about the kind of karma that pulls you into repeating old patterns and deepening attachments. These attachments can be very strong, especially if the karma is at all negative. Even if the karma is positive, that too can cause a strong pull and keep a person from maintaining his or her individuality.
In both cases, clear boundaries have to be established and kept at all times. If you are in such a relationship, talk to your partner about this, as it is important that both people be involved in setting up the boundaries and keeping them.
Ask yourself the following questions about the relationship:
1. Is this relationship basically positive karma?
2. Is this relationship basically negative karma?
3. Am I able to set up boundaries with my partner? • If the answer is yes, what should they be, on your part? • If the answer is no, what needs to happen for you to be able to do this?
4. Can I keep the boundaries, or will I have problems keeping them?
5. What needs to happen for us both to maintain the boundaries?
6. If my partner goes over the boundaries, how do I best handle it?
7. If I see myself going over the boundaries, how do I change this?
8. Do I have any other attachments to this person of which I am not aware?
9. Can I know a little bit about our past lives together?
10. How can I be more dis-identified in this relationship?
Try to keep a good review of how you are doing with these boundaries. Also, make certain you keep your end of the agreement, and if you are not doing this, look more deeply into why. Finally, try to be lighthearted and bring this lightness into the relationship to make it more fun and loving, especially if you are aware of negative karma that holds you and your partner together.
If you are in a relationship that is more ideal, to keep the relationship growing ask yourself the following questions:
1. How can I continue to work positively in this relationship?
2. Is there something I’m not aware of that could come up as a problem? • If the answer is yes, ask what it is and how to change it.
3. When I am with this person, do I acknowledge my love for him or her?
4. Can I do anything else to improve what we have together?
5. Are the boundaries clearly defined?
6. If the answer is no, ask if they need to be.
7. When I am with this person, can I always be in my heart?
8. If the answer is no, ask why not, and then, how to be in the heart.
9. In holding this person in my heart, can I feel more love and inner peace?
10.What happens when you find yourself in a life without a loved one? You may have lost a loved one, or you simply may never have found one.
11.How do you handle this in terms of opening the heart through personal love?
12.What happens when there is a lack of love in a student’s life?
13.How can the heart chakra be developed, and is it possible to grow spiritually without these types of relationships?
This problem is very personal and, indeed, difficult for many students. Some have gone through personal love and have rejected permanent relationships. These students may or may not be at a place where personal love is no longer necessary.
A student sometimes needs personal love, and if this doesn’t happen, the student may feel bitter and unfulfilled as a person.
Unfortunately, this lack can cause the student to have difficulties later on the path, difficulties around relationships in general and specifically around relationships with higher teachers.
A lack of personal love can cause negative emotions, and unless these emotions are understood and released, they can come up at any point on the path.
Some initiates deny themselves love in order not to be distracted on the path. But experiencing the distraction of love can be helpful in understanding yourself, and if a student hasn’t experienced this, it may be more difficult to come to that deeper self-understanding.
Avoiding Personal Love
When a student has chosen to avoid personal love, some consequences can arise that need to be looked at.
These consequences fall into three general areas:
1.Denying the karmic implications of relationships, 2.not dealing with or adequately understanding sexual energy, 3.and not recognizing the limitations of asceticism.
1.Denying the Karmic Implications of Relationships
There is the possibility of denying an inner need that plays itself out in other ways in the student’s life. For example, some students will not have a permanent relationship with another person but instead will have many relationships. Doing so can lead them to make negative karma, especially if the other people expect the relationship to be more permanent.
In some cases, a student will live with someone for years yet not get emotionally involved. This is fine for the student, but if the partner becomes emotionally involved and develops more needs, the student may withdraw or leave, which would make negative karma even if the relationship were clearly defined at the beginning.
All relationships cause karma, whether it is good or negative karma.
Most students who are in denial about basic needs around relationship or about the emotional impact of relationships will cause karma, whether they want to or not.
Even in the first instance, where the student has many relationships, the need to fulfill desires can bring him more and more into the desire body and keep him from developing spiritually.
When such a block happens, the student sometimes does not see how it relates to karmic consequences, and indeed believes there will not be any karma, especially if there has been a verbal agreement defining the relationship.
However, in actuality the student’s actions themselves will nullify this belief.
For instance, a student having an affair believes he is free of karma because at the beginning he told the lover that the affair would only be a casual one. But the student, in the act itself, is passionately involved and clearly gives that message to the lover who, in turn, begins to believe that the initial words are no longer in effect.
Karmic ramifications ensue if the student is intensely involved with someone and then leaves. However, if he is completely dis-identified from the lover and always keeps the affair casual, then he will not have any karma when he leaves.
The intent has not changed, but the actions are ones of dis-identification, enjoying the sex, but not acting overwhelmingly with love and passion. This is a fine line for a student, and one that usually is crossed no matter what the initial intentions.
It is better to choose someone as a lover you know you have no karma with so you can handle the attraction without deeper involvement.
Most partners of students easily fall in love with them, mainly because the students have qualities of the heart and spirit that cause love to blossom and develop. To turn these qualities off is very difficult. Therefore, it really is important to make certain that strong boundaries are established from the beginning and to break off the relationship right away if the lover starts crossing those boundaries.
Obviously, having an affair with another student is the best combination because both parties have an understanding of karma and can be more careful to keep the affair lighthearted. In some cases, the students find real love and decide to marry and continue on the path together, working spiritually. This, of course, is very good because they can help each other and learn from any difficulties that arise in their relationship. In this case, the students are not denying themselves love, but they are learning more about their inner selves from personal love.
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2.Not Dealing with or Adequately Understanding Sexual Energy
When a student chooses the spiritual path over personal love and truly keeps to this path without adequately dealing with feelings and needs around personal love, then he will be faced with some inner blocks to overcome. These blocks relate to various needs that have not been fulfilled.
One need, of course, is the sexual desire, which in many ways can become stronger in a spiritual person. The reason for this is that the body’s functions are heightened through meditation, and usually the sexual drive can become stronger as a result.
Most students experience this and deal with it in different ways.
When students have strong unfulfilled desires, they can suppress them and become fanatical in their beliefs. They think they can use sexual energy to intensify their striving, but, in actuality, the intensification goes more into the realm of religious fervor.
These students need to be more in touch with their sexual need and either fulfill this need with a partner or through other means. Sublimating the sexual energy is a difficult route, but some students can do this by using the energy creatively.
Any of the creative arts, such as painting or writing, provide excellent outlets, or any practices that relate to nature, such as gardening or landscaping. Sexual energy can also be dissipated through certain meditation practices.
These practices are more related to Kundalini Yoga and are definite ways to use the sexual energy to work on the various chakras. Since using Kundalini is a different practice from Higher Self Yoga, it is not recommended, mainly because it forces the energy up the middle spinal channel. Done incorrectly, such practices can cause the energies to go to the other spinal channels and become unbalanced. This can bring about physical harm.
Using the energy creatively is a better route to go. A lot of sexual energy is necessary for developing the use of the will. The will is a strong source of energy, and if someone has a weak will, then the sexual drive is also very weak. The relationship between the two is difficult to describe. An athlete is a good example. An athlete is using energy all the time to move the body functions. Prana is flowing throughout as the athlete exercises and can even continue when he is resting.
A great deal of energy is needed, and usually the athlete, when tired, will not have enough energy to have sex. In general, this is so unless the athlete has an enormous amount of natural prana, in which case the sexual desire may be heightened.
The same is true with the use of the will. If a person has a strong will and uses it throughout the day, at night he will feel very tired, with little sexual desire. If, instead, he has a strong will and also a great deal of prana, he can have stronger sexual desires.
It all depends on the amount of natural prana a person has and is using at a given time.
1. When you mentally work hard all day, do you usually come home and relax, or do you still have enough energy to go out, exercise, or do other things?
2. On weekends, do you feel you deserve to just relax with a good book or TV, and don’t want to do any work around the house? Or, do you want to be more active?
3. When you are involved in a creative project, can you continue this kind of work for hours at a time and not feel tired?
4. When you are engaged in a sexual relationship, do you want to have sex more than twice a week?
5. Do you generally have a reputation as someone who is full of energy and can go, go, go?
6. When you meditate, do you feel energy throughout your body?
7. At the end of the day, do you feel tired, or could you stay up all night if you set your mind to doing any given task?
If you can say yes to any of the above, you have good prana and have the ability to direct it to your will and thus develop a strong will. The will is very much the driving force to help you accomplish anything in life, and that includes striving spiritually.
Without a strong Will, a student is apathetic and can become mired in the feelings of being too tired to do any of the work. Naturally, even a person with a strong will can become depressed and enervated. This happens even to the most striving yogi when he encounters some difficult blocks to overcome.
The use of the will to work through these kinds of blocks is very important. In addition, there is the need to have a good supply of personal prana. In order to develop a full storehouse, it is important to eat proper food, not indulge in alcohol or drugs, and, in general, exercise and maintain a healthy routine that takes care of the body. It is also very necessary to meditate and restore your energy this way.
The following exercise will also help you to restore your energy when you feel at all tired.
Exercise Four: Imagine yourself flying through the sky, and you are doing this by using your personal prana. You can direct your flight because your energy is strong and has the power to make dives and help you fly upward to higher places. As you fly, try to feel the prana in your body and feel how it is working.
When you experience this, see a beach you can land on. Then ask the prana to stay in your body, to flow through all your organs and through your bloodstream, vitalizing you and making you feel strong.
3.Not Recognizing the Limitations of Asceticism
The need to become an ascetic grows in an initiate as he moves upward on the path. It is a need that is coming from past lives in which he believed that, in order to progress on the spiritual path, he needed to give up any of the desires coming from the desire body.
These desires cover a range of things: sex, rich food, alcohol, wealth of any kind, close relationships, and any material possessions, no matter what they are.
The ascetic goal is to let go of any bodily needs and just live as simple a life as possible. Students on this path do their work with as little interaction with people as possible and make no friendships. The only thing that remains is the teaching itself and the student’s connection to the teacher and Hierarchy.
Such a student is regressing into the old traditions that no longer are valid in today’s world. This kind of student is better suited to live in an ashram in which these kinds of practices are enforced. But if the student is planning to live in the world and to do so in an ascetic manner, then he will find himself in constant conflict.
“To be in the world and not of it”
is an old spiritual saying that means just that. It means to have all the things the world has to offer: a good job, a relationship, money to live on, and material things. All these are all right and even necessary. What is important is not to be in any way attached to those things.
The ascetic does not share this view, and the ascetic way of life is a much easier way to live as a student. To have non-attachment to your surroundings is the goal of a high initiate, but to be in the world is also necessary in order to live out karma and accumulate good acts, which also help you on the path.
An ascetic, sitting in an ashram or at home, will not have the ability to move mountains. To move mountains means to do the impossible, and do it with great courage, heart, energy, and love for others. Asceticism is not part of the path of Higher Self Yoga.
Exercise Five: To determine how much you are an ascetic, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Do I prefer staying at home reading a book rather than going out with friends?
2. Do I reach out to others and develop new friendships?
3. Am I content to just meditate, study, and work?
4. Do I think parties and outside gatherings is a waste of my time?
5. Do I join community groups and participate in community events?
6. When I am alone, am I completely happy and do I know that I prefer to always be alone?
7. Some days, would I prefer not to go out of my house even if I have to?
8. At work, do I keep to myself and avoid talking to others unless it is part of work?
9. When I think about the teaching, do I wish I could be in the higher realms and never come back?
10. Did I initially think that a spiritual teaching would make me feel happy because I would have an excuse to not participate in outside activities?
11. When I have to see my family, do I try to stay as short a time as necessary?
Answering these questions should give you an idea of whether or not you have any of the ascetic within you. The asceticism may not be as prevalent as shown here, but take the time to look at your life and see if some of the qualities mentioned exist in your behavior.
Lack of personal love in your life can cause you to become lonely, sad, and even full of self-pity. A yogi who experiences this can often use the teaching as a substitute for having no love relationships.
When I speak of love, I do not simply mean sexual relationships. I am referring to all close friendships. You can let go of the sexual, but you cannot give up the need for love.
As long as a person is in a human body, the need for personal love is very strong and does not leave a person until he achieves the higher initiations. This is because at first the lower chakras contain more energy and the higher chakras have not been fully opened.
When those chakras are fully open, the need for personal love and sex diminishes, but this does not happen until you become a high adept. Therefore, if a yogi is substituting the teaching for these needs, they become internalized and projected onto the teacher and the brothers and sisters.
In other words, a student who desires personal love will be very demanding of the spiritual family to fulfill those needs.
When you look at your life, try to determine if there is a lack-of-love feeling within you that has not been fulfilled. If this is the case, it is important to bring out the feeling and see it more clearly.
Exercise Six: Ask yourself the following questions:
1. When I look at my life, can I honestly say I have experienced personal love fully?
2. When I see others in relationships, do I ever feel envious?
3. Do I accept the people with whom I feel I have a love relationship, or do I desire more?
4. If I am not in a relationship, do I have a strong desire to have one?
5. When I am alone, do I feel comfortable, or do I have a strong need to be with someone?
6. If my life is full of activities, do I still feel there is something missing in terms of a relationship?
7. As a yogi, do I expect my spiritual family to give me personal love? • If the answer is yes, ask: Am I disappointed if my spiritual family does not give me the love I need?
8. When I am with others, do I need to feel that they love me?
The desire for personal love can come from unfulfilled needs of the inner child, but even if this is true, there is still a genuine need for love that is part of the human condition.
Humankind is different from the animal kingdom, not just because the brain is more fully developed, but also because the need for love goes beyond the sexual desire to procreate. It involves the higher, more spiritual need to have love and to give love. This relates to the seed of the spirit and to the Higher Self.
Love opens the doors that lead to the path of enlightenment
Naturally, the ultimate goal is to go beyond personal love and be able to love in a more compassionate and dis-identified manner, but to achieve this it is first necessary to experience personal love. Such love is an energy that runs through a whole scale of feelings, from the most passionate to the most refined.
Love opens the doors that lead to the path of enlightenment, and, certainly, the state of enlightenment is love in its purest form. When love is lacking in your life, it is necessary to change that condition.
If you are alone and have no one, reach out to the world and volunteer in children’s hospitals or recreation centers. Loving children can be a first step in opening the heart. Even having a pet that you genuinely love will help you in opening the heart.
Make your life loving, and in so doing you will have love everywhere around you. The heart energy is the highest energy for a student, but it needs to be used and developed in daily life.