Yogi, Buddhist, or Occultist…?

I was asked a really good question at this months Frampton Moot“How does your Yoga inform your Witchcraft?” - which threw me because I don't see them as separate things, but tools for living and Enlightenment.


Many Westerners think of Yoga as either a form of exercise and stretching, or as some kind of esoteric ‘spiritual gymnastics’ - rarely do they understand that it is an embodiment practice of “coming home” to the miracle of incarnation. 


Yoga is only one small part of a bigger philosophy and way of being in the world, rooted in thousands of years of teachings and practices that evolved from the peoples of the Indus Valley: one of the oldest civilisations, with roots and connections right back to the Cradle of Civilisation itself, in the Fertile Crescent of Mesopotamia, Sumer, and Egypt - where humanity first moved from itinerant hunter-gatherers to settled farmers, and birthed a flowering of human arts, culture and religious understanding that still form the roots of most of human culture today as they were carried both 'West' and 'East' in the diaspora of settlement and trade. 


Yoga, and the Sutras that encode its understandings and practice, teaches us to see through the maya illusion of Ego and separateness, so we may make peace with reality - which is truly one and indivisible. It’s name comes from the ‘Yoking’ together of what we think of as the separate ‘body mind and spirit’ into one: so we may fully ‘come home’ into the lived experience of embodiment, and be fully present, conscious - and free to live and BE. 


Yoga is a system of philosophy and embodied spirituality designed to bring us fully into the reality of the conscious body; the work we do through the physical Assanas and Pranayama breathwork isn’t in order to subjugate or ‘control’ an errant body, but to bring us consciously into the lived moment free so we may lose the false division between matter and spirit, mind and flesh. In yoking body and mind together as one we learn how to live fully and easily: to learn who and what this particular embodiment is and how it works - and to recognise and embrace all its ‘gifts’ and ‘limitations’ with true grace and compassion (recognising their false dichotomy is created by the discriminating nature of ego - itself merely a tool and interface between our ‘inner’ selves and the ‘outer’ world, and not a unique ‘thing’ of itself). Knowing ourselves fully, we learn to see how this incarnated self works - physically, psychologically, and spiritually - and using that understanding, we learn how to ‘hack’ our physiology, use the breath to ‘teach’ our body to relax, free ourselves from our self-imposed limitations, and thereby enable our consciousness to exist fully and wholly in completeness... 


The ultimate aim of all the yogic exercises, meditations and spiritual work is simply to be able to be fully free from all illusions and realise, deeply and fully, that this IS IT: that Nirvana isn’t something we need to strive to attain, no great 'reward' after death - but the immediate and radical moment to moment experience of living fully and consciously in the NOW. 

This Enlightenment was also the core of what Siddhartha Gautama discovered beneath the Bodhi tree, after a lifetime of Yogic study and asceticism - and so became Buddha: that our suffering comes from our clinging onto the false ego belief that 'I' am not 'You', and 'we' are separate and different from the world and everything in it - that our searching and seeking for 'God' and 'Spirit' as something 'other' blinds us to the Ultimate truth that 'Tat Tvam Asi': "That arte Thou!" - that there is no division between 'Spirit' and 'flesh' but the one is the other 'only after a different manner', and true happiness comes from embracing reality for what it is, radically and fundamentally. E = MC2


To me, that is also the core of everything we learn as Witches and Occultists too: expressed both in The Great Mother Charge 'If you cannot find it within you, you will never find it without: for I have been with you since the beginning...", and in the Highest Name of Kether's manifestation: "I am that I am" 


So, when I am Asked again "Are you a Yogi, a Buddhist, or an Occultist?" I think I will give a truly Zen reply of "Yes" - because all of them are really one.


The aim and purpose of every True path must be to become BETTER than we are - we can become our Buddha selves - our BETTER selves - and celebrate that Buddhahood  in “All acts of love and pleasure” without let or hindrance, and in true innocence gain dominion over both our Angelic and Demonic nature by recognising that they are simply aspects of ourselves, just as we are fundamentally aspects of the greater whole that is the Divine Manifest Cosmos of all things in one...


In that both Yoga and Buddhism have the same aim - which to me is that of the Witch and Magician too: to live, fully, beautifully, lovingly, knowingly and with compassion 🙏🏻



Further reading:
Ram Bhakt (2019) A seekers guide to the Yoga Sutras. Rockridge Press
Ram Dass (1978) Be Here Now. Hanuman Press
Alan Watts (2019) Zen. New World Library
Thich Nhat Hanh (1976) The miracle of Mindfullness. Beacon Press

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