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The Mysticism of the Ancient Greek Philosophers

Book Release Announcement: Lost Masters: Rediscovering the Mysticism of the Ancient Greek Philosophers by Linda Johnsen

As a long-time student of ancient alchemy, I am excited to announce the release of Lost Masters: Rediscovering the Mysticism of the Ancient Greek Philosophers by Linda Johnsen.  Linda’s journey sounds much like my own and while I haven’t yet had a chance to read Linda’s book, I am excited to learn “How Western Philosophy and Eastern Spirituality Intersect.” 

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Buy it Now!

In Linda’s words:

“I very much want to introduce you, too, to the great spiritual masters of our past… whose traditions, unfortunately, we’ve forgotten,” says Linda. “Their life stories, like those of sages everywhere, are remarkable. And their distinctive approaches to spirituality will remind you of similar Hindu, Buddhist, yogic, and tantric lineages… The ‘mystery religions’ that so inspired Greek and Roman civilization were also clearly related to the wisdom of India, especially in their doctrines of karma, reincarnation, and spiritual transcendence.”

This latest title in New World Library’s Eckhart Tolle Editions imprint challenges everything you thought you knew about the men and women who founded Western civilization. In this book, you can:

  • Learn about the amazing historical contacts between the ancient Greeks and Himalayan yogis.
  • Explore teachings of karma and reincarnation as they were originally taught throughout the ancient Western world.
  • Practice the style of meditation taught in the Roman Empire two thousand years ago.

“I was continually amazed at how similar the long-lost Greek world was to the India I travel through today,” writes Linda. “Perhaps with the help of Eastern insight we can forge anew the Golden Chain that was broken when the ancient Greco-Roman academies were closed. Extinguished fires can be relit. In these dark, intolerant times, that ancient light could illuminate the world.”

About the author:

lindajohnsenauthorLinda Johnsen, author of Lost Masters has a master’s degree in Eastern studies and has done postgraduate work in the history of religions. She is the author of eight books on spirituality, including Daughters of the Goddess: The Women Saints of India and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Hinduism.

 

 

 

An excerpt from Linda’s book:

THE CORPUS HERMETICA An excerpt from LOST MASTERS by Linda Johnsen

 

The Corpus Hermetica is an astonishing collection of mystical texts written in Greek, that were lost for centuries before being rediscovered in 1460, when they helped spark the European Renaissance. They were likely written around 2000 years ago by Alexandrian Greeks called Hermetists, who were students of the Egyptian wisdom tradition. Their writings bear a remarkable resemblance to the yogic and tantric teachings of India.

After two thousand years the texts of the Corpus Hermetica remain perhaps the most exciting and inspiring spiritual texts ever composed in the Western world, the last legacy of Egypt’s ancient spiritual wisdom.

“Those who remember their real nature, recognizing the divine awareness within, attain the greatest good. Knowing they come from a world of light, they return to that immortal radiance.

“I, the Supreme Awareness, am always present to those who are good and kind, pure and full of reverence. I guide them back to their innate nature, helping them quickly recognize their true Self. But those who are violent and disrespectful, unthinking and greedy, do not feel me near. These people go on desiring more and more from the world, craving lasting happiness it can never give them.

“You must shift your attention. Your thoughts, feelings, and sensations arise from contact with matter; you must release them. Move upward through the seven spheres of your being into the highest region of your awareness. Let go of everything else and merge your awareness in God alone. Do this not for your own sake, but so that you can help others.”

The Hermetic tradition has much in common with yoga. The Hermetists refused to eat meat, and followed their lectures with “a pure vegetarian meal.”

As in yoga, the reality of reincarnation is continually affirmed in the Hermetic teachings. Hermes (the archetypal Egyptian spiritual master) challenges his disciple, “Do you understand how many bodies, how many personalities, how many planetary cycles we must pass through in order to reach the One?”

Did the Graeco-Egyptian tradition recognize higher states of consciousness similar to those the Indian yogis describe? The Corpus Hermetica tells us, “Most of us aren’t pure enough to see unchanging, inexpressible divine perfection, the one true beauty, with our inner eye. Only in the moment when you no longer speak or even think can it be known. The senses and mind must be absolutely still. When you’re immersed in that experience, you can’t see or hear anything else or even move your body. You sit completely still, your body and mind both unmoving. When that living stillness permeates you, your consciousness is drawn upward and you’re absorbed in divine awareness.” This is as fine a description of nirvikalpa samadhi, the yogic state of one-pointed absorption in pure awareness, as you’ll find in any yoga text.

Exactly as in India, the Hermetists emphasized the vital importance of finding a Self-realized teacher who can transmit the force of his or her realization directly to the prepared disciple. “Ignorance is flooding the whole world, preventing the souls here from taking refuge in the state of spiritual liberation. If you don’t want to sink in this ocean of ignorance, find a guru who can lead you to that true knowledge which can’t be seen with the eyes but must be experienced directly with the heart and mind. You will need to shift your awareness beyond your body–your garment of ignorance, your portable tomb–which prevents you from experiencing a higher reality.”

Hermes described his own experience, “Through the grace of God I experience the Supreme Reality. I exist far beyond my body in a state of pure awareness. I have been reborn in the immortal form of consciousness itself. Though you’re looking at me you don’t see what I really am.” The ultimate guru, according to the yogic tradition, is in fact the Supreme Consciousness itself.

What did Hermetic spiritual practice consist of? “Only one path leads from here to the Supreme Beauty: knowledge combined with deepest reverence.

“When you understand that this beautiful cosmos is the product of God, who is himself the Supreme Beauty, you will work to sustain and enhance the beauty you see here with your full attention and respect.” “To honor God means this: constant, attentive service.”

“To love God with a pure heart and mind, to honor this world God has created, and to surrender to God’s will with gratitude, this is authentic spiritual practice.”

We know the Hermetists made use of rituals, visualization, meditation, astrology, and prayer.We know the Graeco-Egyptian sages carefully mapped out how the different dimensions of the cosmos flow out from the Absolute Reality, so that they can follow this trail back to the Supreme, exactly as the Sankhya yogis did in India.

“When we make a sincere effort to stretch our souls toward Spirit, grace begins to act. It draws us upward like a magnet draws iron. On this inner journey goodness will find you everywhere you go. You’ll see it everywhere you look, even when you least expect it.”

 

Excerpted from the book Lost Masters. Copyright © 2006, 2016. Reprinted with permission from New World Library. www.NewWorldLibrary.com

 

Buy Linda’s Book HERE. 

 

Posted in Body/Mind/Spirit connection, Lessons, Spiritual Practices

Guest Blogger – Author, Meagan McCrary

Today’s guest blogger is certified yoga instructor, journalist and author, Meagan McCrary.  Meagan’s most recent release, Pick Your Yoga Practice, provides an introduction into the history of yoga and an overview of the variety of yoga disciplines which have evolved in the last century, primarily in the West.  (Watch a future blog for my review of Meagan’s book.)  Today’s blog is an excerpt from her book.

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YOGA ON AND OFF THE MAT

An Excerpt from Pick Your Yoga Practice by Meagan McCrary

Very few students begin practicing yoga with overt spiritual ambitions. They simply want to feel and move better in their body. However, it doesn’t matter whether or not your initial intentions are purely physical. What’s important is that you’re in your body, consciously moving and breathing, establishing a stronger mind-body connection, and cultivating a little self-awareness. Intentionally or not, you begin a process of personal growth and transformation just by practicing yoga. You might even say that yoga is for the people who are open to change, and the ones who want to stay exactly the same don’t stay with yoga for very long. Your yoga practice will shift you in some way on some level, if not on all levels. In addition to helping the body gain strength and flexibility, a steady practice helps build concentration, create emotional balance, and cultivate positive qualities, such as compassion, patience, joy, and confidence.

During class you will experience profound moments of stillness, even if only for a few seconds at a time. The full yogic breathing helps quiet the analytical mind, which never seems to stop weighing options and considering consequences, finally allowing the intuitive mind to have a voice. The internal awareness and mental clarity cultivated in yoga help you realize certain things about yourself and your life. Over time you become skilled at recognizing that which no longer serves you — the relationships, default tendencies, reactions and other thought patterns, and roles that don’t contribute to your overall happiness.

In fact, your yoga practice will typically have an interesting way of creeping into your life off the mat as you become more aware of how you feel and increasingly conscious of the choices you make. Yoga doesn’t require you to change your lifestyle overnight or conform to any outside standards, but you naturally begin to gravitate toward feeling better, making better decisions and choices in your eating and lifestyle habits (and no, that doesn’t mean you have to become a vegetarian to practice yoga).

You may also notice that your yoga practice is a microcosm for your life. The way you are on your mat — how you respond to challenges, handle disappointment, and relate to yourself, how present you are, how willing you are to try new things — is the way you’ll be off your mat as well. In yoga, you get to “practice” being the way you want to be in a safe, contained environment. (After all, yoga practice is just that, practice.)

Therefore, when you are practicing, attitude is everything, as it is in life in general. To begin with, your overriding intention for practicing must be rooted in something more meaningful than external appearances or physical achievements, or your asana practice runs the risk of becoming just another outlet for ego gratification, and you’ve missed the bigger, overriding message of yoga. That means your intention for practicing doesn’t necessarily have to be god-consciousness or Self-realization (although that’s a good intention) but rather can and perhaps should be something personal, whether that is to feel better overall, learn more about yourself or foster self-acceptance, become a better mother or spouse, be more present or experience more joy, cultivate more peace, clarity, or ease in your life, whatever — something more meaningful than having a tight bum or being able to do the splits. Wanting to achieve an advanced posture isn’t wrong; in fact, the desire can increase your dedication and drive. However, it shouldn’t be your only reason for practicing. What if you never nail the pose? Then what? Without a higher intention, it’s easy to become defeated.

Yoga is in the business of self-acceptance and exploration, which by definition can have no expectations. Sometimes you’ll step onto the mat only to discover your body isn’t on board to practice at the level you were hoping it was. And that’s okay. In fact it’s better than okay; you get to practice listening to your body and doing what’s best for you in the moment. Yoga gives you permission to give yourself a break.

Of course, in a class setting it’s easy to become caught up in comparing (joy’s most brutal thief). As easy as it is to compare yourself to others and feel less than, it’s just as easy to compare yourself and feel more than, or somehow superior, when you can “outperform” the other students in class. As you advance in your asana practice, it’s crucial to remain humble with an open attitude and a beginner’s mind. With a beginner’s mind, you enter each yoga posture with the excitement and eagerness of a first-time practitioner, gently exploring new ways of aligning or moving your body in and out of the postures.

webMeaganheadshotMeagan McCrary is a Los Angeles based yoga teacher and the author of Pick Your Yoga Practice. She teaches for Equinox Sports Clubs, works one-on-one with some of the entertainment industries leading professionals, and holds workshops and retreats nationally and internationally.  Visit her online at http://www.meaganmccrary.com.   

Excerpted from the book Pick Your Yoga Practice © 2013 by Meagan McCrary. Printed with permission of New World Library www.newworldlibrary.com