Mudras & Hand Symbolism: What are Mudras? Part 2
[Note: This paper contains images which may be seen as originally published at our website]
The Various Traditions
In these series of articles we shope to describe the mudra practices to be found in various religious practices, such as in Buddhism, and Hinduism; and in various countries rich in cultural traditions as for instance, Japan, India, China, Tibet, and Indonesia. Mudra teachings are also to be found in Christianity and in the Egyptian tradition. Contemporary development of Runic lore has also its own version of hand-gestures designed to offer psychic benefits. We will describe some of these and teach how our readers may put these mudras into practice to assist their spiritual unfoldment and the improvement of their mundane lives.
Regrettably, there are many powerful mudras to be found in mystical schools and traditions that we have not been able to get access to and thus present in these articles. For instance, Chen Yen or Shingon Buddhism, which is considered as an esoteric tradition, has a rich heritage on mudra practices. These mudras are performed in conjunction with mantras and the visualization of mandalas. According to their doctrines, mudras, mantras, and mandalas represent body, speech, and mind. Chen Yen Buddhism teaches that the culture of these three aspects of the microcosm leads the practitioner to a higher spiritual state of being. Another Buddhist school that teaches mudras is the True Buddha School led by the Living Buddha Lu Sheng-yen. One would have to be a follower of the Living Buddha in order to acquire the mudra teachings.
The Spiritual Path
At the very outset of these articles we would caution our readers not to misapply any phenomenal powers that they may acquire through the practice of the mudras. Always aim for spirituality, not for the attainment of illusory baubles. Do not strive for the phenomenal, the sensational; or be obsessed with spiritual powers. The goal is soul-development, not self-aggrandizement. The spiritual tyro should not succumb to self-deception, self-complacency, self-centeredness, self-importance, and all egoistic tendencies. Until the false ego is subdued, one has not reached the proper state where enlightenment may be acquired or where spiritual forces and powers may be properly harnessed and applied; even the so-called awakening and rising of the kundalini force will not be optimal in its influence. There is too much deception here. Psychicism is often mistaken for spirituality. Visions may delight the ego, seeing spirits may make one think highly of oneself, the vain display of “supernatural” powers may leave one too self-complacent. In the end the evolving soul gets stuck in the astral mire, no matter how sublime visions or experiences may be. The nature and apprehension of one’s visions is related to one’s evolutionary status. The higher we are the more true our understanding and perception. Those who claim the ability to see sublime visions while being morally bankrupt are only perceiving the lower astral planes and the projections of their own subconscious minds.
What true spirituality is cannot be stated too openly for the reason that it would be falsely adopted or assumed by those pretending to be “Masters” in order to fool an unwary and ignorant crowd. The true Master, however, has his own criteria and is able to differentiate the false from the real, the quacks from those who are genuine.
If the reader argues that he or she seeks powers so that they may be of help to humanity it is time for introspection. With what you have right now, are you helping humanity? Do you make sacrifices on behalf of humanity? Do you serve selflessly? Please do not deceive yourself. It is always wise to first work upon your own character before undertaking the unfoldment of powers. Without a true Guru one could be led astray by dark forces posing as representatives of Light.
The spiritual path is filled with thorns and mirages. The closer one gets to the goal, the more temptations, obstacles, tests, and trials one encounters. The chelas, students of the spiritual path often succumbs to glamour and illusions, false understanding and beliefs. Without the Guru’s aid, they could fall. But most often while bathing in the false astral light they forget the Guru and seek instead temporary delights. Students of metaphysics should not attempt to fly before they can run, run before they can walk, walk before they can stand, or stand before they can crawl.
In their ambition to attain spiritual power and personal bliss quickly, students of metaphysics make the mistake of jumping from Guru to Guru, from teaching to teaching, from tradition to tradition, not realizing the traps that they are laying for themselves, and thus delaying the divine grace that the true Guru would channel to them. They would also not experience the Guru’s essence in such a manner; nor will they receive all that the Guru would like to give. It is like digging a well for water. We would dig 5-6 m before reaching water. If we were to dig a meter here, a meter there, we would end up with nothing substantial. Students would end up confused: one Guru says this, another says that, etc. Students that follow many Gurus simultaneously are not loyal to the instructions of any one of them. It is also unfair to the Guru as a problem might arise in their spiritual disciplines. Who would then be responsible for that? To which Guru should the student go to? The spiritual aspirant is unaware that certain traditions are incompatible, that some rays do not mix well, and that by practicing them together these might eventuate in psychic and psychological impediments and problems.
Masters have always cautioned us to “make haste slowly.” The ancient Rishis and Yogis were well aware of this problem of the neophyte, they therefore established Guru Puja, or the worship of the Guru. Essentially this was not for the purpose of glorifying the Guru in any way, it was for the purpose of assisting the chelas or students to maintain focus, to develop divine love, to instill a sense of identification with their Guru so that they may become like the object of their adoration.
Students would derive the utmost benefit by sticking to a single Guru. Only in this manner would it be possible for the chela to experience “Guru Tattva,” “Zat Guru,” or the essence of the Guru where the Supreme Being expresses and bestows through the Guru untold spiritual wealth upon the loyal and devoted student. We may claim that we express unconditional love; and yet, if we do not have trust and faith in our Preceptor, if we do not apply his instructions and advice seeking pastures in other fields and hoping for a quick attainment, and thus destroying all that the Guru wishes his disciples to accomplish–that is, to unfold in an orderly and proper manner–then it simply proves that our claim of unconditional love is false.
There are agents of the dark forces stomping around looking for victims. They entrap their prey by flattery, big promises and a show of “psychic powers” and the like. Metaphysical students should be on guard and not fall into their clutches for their path lead downward to the abyss.
The spiritual path toward the lofty goal of Buddhahood, human perfection, or the ascension may be compared to a ladder consisting of many rungs. Each rung should be treaded upon. Missing a rung would only mean returning again in a later life time to learn or experience it. Attaining nirvana, experiencing bliss, or acquiring an expanded consciousness is all well and good but a person is no closer to the goal than before. Prior to starting off his career as a human soul Man was in such a divine natural state, tranquil, blissful, sans ego; and yet he incarnated for a reason, for a spiritual purpose. Would we negate this purpose now by ignoring it and experiencing bliss for our own sakes alone? The goal is the Ascension and in order to do that the quaternary principles–the physical, the etheric, the astral, and the lower mental bodies would have to be transmuted and raised to the causal level, and this cannot be done with the false ego still running amuck, when the sense of mortality still holds sway, when self-centeredness is the whole purpose of existence.
The experience of bliss does not indicate a high spiritual development. There are various levels of bliss, not all of which originate in the blissful center of the Soul, or Higher Self. Man possesses certain components in his being that records past feelings whether of trauma or joy. When stimulated or cleansed these components release their contents and is experienced by the consciousness. This experience is often mistaken for the impregnation of the Holy Spirit.
An advanced consciousness no longer judges dualistically what it perceives. It does not differentiate between the good and the bad, the evolved and the unevolved, the beautiful and the ugly. It is only aware of the presence of God in all.
When we get down to spiritual basics, psychic powers mean nothing. They do not take a person closer to God. Possessing paranormal abilities do not make a person spiritual. Spirituality has nothing to do with what you have or what you know. It has to do with what you are, and how well you are expressing your Divine Self. Therefore, in conjunction to the study of mudras we would adjure our readers to develop purity, love, affection, detachment, disinterestedness, gentleness, harmlessness, beauty, selflessness, self-abandonment, and other divine virtues. Also, deepen your metaphysical knowledge of Cosmic laws and apply spiritual precepts. Do not miss a rung of the ladder leading toward the goal of human perfection. As said before, if any rung is missed you would have to return to start all over again in order to tread it. It is wonderful to unfold unconditional love and to experience bliss but do no forget that Divine Consciousness has many spiritual aspects and attributes, each one of which the spiritual aspirant would have to personally unfold. The person with the full unfoldment of one or two divine virtues has still a long way to go to reach perfection compared with another who has almost unfolded all of them but incompletely as yet. It is therefore, difficult to judge another using human values and perception.
Mudras are tools to spiritual development. They should be used in conjunction with other metaphysical disciplines and not applied as a sole sadhana or spiritual practice. There is no one method or technique that is superior to another. They all have their place in a disciple’s daily work-out, and each have their own purpose and effect. Thus, while engaging in mudras, one should not give up one’s daily prayers, meditations, occult disciplines and other yogic practices.
Chelas should not be attached to the sensations that mudras give–their purpose is not to offer personal delight; rather chelas should be focused more on the goal of human existence.
Purpose of These Series of Articles
All that we need to progress spiritually may be found within us. We were told by the Master Jesus that heaven is within us, within our beings; it is not a place that we go to when we pass away, or after the last angelic trumpet call during the last days of the Apocalypse. We do not deny that in some scriptures heaven is said to be a place. There is some truth in this belief, in this context we may equate heaven to the various dimensions, planes of existences, or realities. However, the heaven referred to by Master Jesus is quite different. It is more of a state of being, a level of awareness, a spiritual attitude.
The more we depend upon our inner being, our own Self, our own resources for our own evolvement, the more quickly we will reach the goal of human existence. Excessive dependence upon external agencies simply prolongs our state of ignorance and our human, mortal condition. This is one of the reasons why in Holy Scriptures we are warned not to visit street fortunetellers, paranormals and such, for they frequently instill in us a false sense of self-assurance and complacency, or conversely–needless fear. They misdirect our attention to things of no eternal worth. They are part of that materialistic scheme of the Dark Ones that hope to delay and if possible, thwart humanity’s soul progress.
Salvation does not come from without, it comes from within. The savior of humanity lies within our own hearts. We have to find him there. This is a simple message that all mystics and saints have been telling us. We may disregard it at our own peril.
The purpose of these articles is to assist the raising of the awareness and the expansion of the consciousness of our readers who apply the teachings of the mudras. They are keys to personal development and spiritual unfoldment. By practicing the mudras consistently, the practitioner would in time realize the following:
The existence of unseen forces and Intelligence
The omnipresence, omnipotence and omniscience of Energy
The existence of other dimensions and realities
The oneness of all life
The errors of dualistic perception
The blissful nature of the Spirit, or the Self
The various powers of the Soul
The illusions of time and space
The birthrights of the Soul such as health, tranquility, prosperity, joy, etc.
The powerful nature of Divine Love
The ephemeral nature of physical life
Morality as a soul necessity
The sacredness of all sentient life
The reality of the Soul
. . . and many other things that cannot be put into print or understood intellectually. Mudras may take us to spiritual heights that we have not reached heretofore. It initiates us into the world of pragmatic mysticism. All that a true spiritual Guru may do is to offer keys, guidance, advice, and teachings. He or she is unable to force any chela to comply or to obey because of the Law of Free Choice. It is up to the disciple to trust, have faith in and to open-up to the Teacher.
One of our intentions in the writing of these articles is to help preserve an important aspect of the cultural heritage of humanity. Here and there in these works are to be found spiritual gems and seeds that may not be recognized as such. In any case, we believe that they will eventually take root in the fertile grounds of our reader’s mind and sprout in an active enhancement of the human condition disregarding commercialism and all partisanship and fanaticism of race, religion, color, gender, tribal affiliation, etc.
Although these series of articles are incomplete and have their shortcomings, the author feels that it would still fill the void in most people’s awareness concerning esoteric methods of spiritual development. There are many occult techniques, systems, and traditions at our disposal, we only need to search for the tools that work for us. An open mind, fearlessness, and humility are all necessary qualities that would help us in our search for the keys to spiritual knowledge and unfoldment.
We reiterate: everything that we need to evolve and grow spiritually we already possess within us. We just need to be shown and given the keys that opens the right portals. These articles, it is hope, would offer a bunch of these keys that would unveil for the reader a greater world of understanding and experience. This is what the writer wills.
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