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Dharma Symbolism

“There is only one thing which can master the perplexed stuff of epic material into unity; and that is, an ability to see in particular human experience some significant symbolism of man’s general destiny.” –Lascelles Abercrombie

Now that we have read about all four of the yoga paths individually, is easier to understand how all of the paths are really one path. Each leads to an awareness of our unity, of our Oneness. Each bring us to self-realization, or enlightenment, or awakening – whatever it is that we choose to call that feeling of complete perfection, of peace of mind, of bliss.

As humans we are multi-faceted, so complex and intricate in design. There are layers to us; there are dimensions to us. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to our spiritual growth because we are each so varied in our backgrounds, our priorities, our strengths and challenges. And this is a wonderful thing! It allows us to explore and engage and learn so much from one another.

A peacock shows its colors on the outside. We can literally see the brilliant golds and greens and blues and purples. All of these colors at play together make up one magnificent bird. We humans wear our colors, our passions, our purpose, on the inside. We can’t always just look and get the whole picture. It takes some time to get to know our selves and each other. But all those colors are indeed there, expressing through our thoughts and actions. One or two of the colors are more dominant, but all four are there for every single one of us. That is because each path teaches us something, each path guides us towards our purpose and each path IS our purpose. We might say that while the ultimate purpose is awareness, along the way we have four purposes that get us there.

1. To love: Green represents Bhakti Yoga. Green is associated with the heart chakra. Love is associated with the heart symbol, two halves coming together to create one. Bhakti yoga shows us that our purpose is to love. Bhakti Yoga allows us to use our emotions, to feel. By loving others, we love our selves, and we feel our Oneness with the Divine. Green gemstones such as peridot and aventurine help to bring out these qualities and to focus our energy.


2. To serve: Gold represents Karma Yoga. Gold is associated with the sun that serves us all, and brings light to the whole world. Gold is the color of the solar plexus chakra, where we get our “gut” instincts that tell us to take action. Karma Yoga engages us physically, calling us to serve, to work. By giving of our selves, of our time and talents, we are helping humanity, and experiencing our Oneness with the Divine. Citrine and amber are gold colored gemstones that promote optimism and happiness, and help us to find motivation.


3. To know: Blue represents Jnana Yoga. The symbol of the key represents unlocking the mysteries of life. A key brings us freedom. Blue is associated with the throat chakra, and the third eye chakra, which aids in our communication and intuition. Jnana Yoga stimulates our intellect, and encourages us to think. Through study, thought, and communication we begin to understand our Oneness with the Divine. Turquoise and fluorite are examples of blue stones that help to bring peace to the mind so that we can think more clearly.


4. To be: Purple represents Raja Yoga. The lotus, with its many petals, is a symbol for meditation, for going within. The lotus flower may have its roots in the mud, but it blooms and grows and brings beauty to the world. Purple is the color of the crown chakra, which connects our physical being to the spiritual realm. Raja Yoga is introspective. It encourages us to be, and to behold. Through silence, through gratitude, appreciation and wonder, recognizing our connection with all of nature, we gain access to our Oneness with the Divine. Amethyst is a gemstone that promotes spirituality and contentment. Iolite encourages self-confidence and success.


In Hinduism, the square is considered to be the perfect shape. A square has four sides, all the same length, and four angles, exactly 90 degrees each. This represents balance, and wholeness. In Vastu, India’s science of placement, the perfect floor plan for a house begins with a square, for stability. Four is a significant number. There are four seasons in the calendar year: winter, spring, summer and fall. There are four prime elements: earth, water, fire, and air; as well as four cosmic elements: suns, moons, planets and stars. There are four cardinal directions: north, south, east and west.

In Christianity, there are the Four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The symbol of the cross is meaningful in many ways in Christian culture. According to sacred geometry, in geometrical terms, the cross is the form of an unfolded cube, and a cube is made up of squares. A cross has four points. It was associated with kings. Many churches were built based on the proportions of the cube or the double-cube. Ancient Egyptians used the square as a symbol of kingship. In Buddhism, the Four Noble Truths are the Buddha’s first and principle teaching.

In many cultures, horizontal lines represent the physical realm, or the element of earth, and vertical lines are associated with the spiritual world, or the element of fire. The horizon is a horizontal line separating earth from sky. When a horizontal line and vertical line are put together, as in a cross or a square, this symbolizes two forces that exist in the universe and inside every person as well. We have our need for stability and comfort, our need to feel grounded. And we just as strongly experience our need for growth and change; we are compelled towards evolution.

This is how I came up with the designs for each of the four yogas. When the four squares are put together, they form another, larger square. The colors are from the peacock, the national bird of India. When we see any of these symbols, we can be reminded of the four yogas, and of our purpose here in this space and time.

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