Reflections on Character

By George A. Boyd © 2020

Q: What is character? How do you improve your character?

A: Character is a series of traits and habits that condition the expression of your personality in your interpersonal relationships that are in alignment with your values.

A trait is a quality you can ascribe to a person based on their demonstrating it on a regular basis. For example, John always treats you with kindness when you are with him.

A habit is behavior that you practice for a sustained period that becomes automatic. The behavior of kind actions becomes a regular part of you when you practice this for several months.

A value is something you adopt as part of your conscience to guide your behavior. Values are expected and idealized behavior: they are standards that you hold yourself to live up to.

There are different schemas for what are valuable character traits. For example, here are some traits that are commonly mentioned when people refer to positive character attributes they see in others:

  • Honesty
  • Integrity
  • Decency
  • Truthfulness
  • Respect for other people
  • Caring and kindness
  • Compassion

The organization, Character Counts, lists six core character traits on their website,

  • Trustworthiness
  • Respect
  • Responsibility
  • Fairness
  • Caring
  • Citizenship

Associated with each of these core character traits in the Character Counts schema are a series of related descriptors that expand upon these central factors. We suggest that you refer to their material for a better understanding of these six dimensions of character.

In many religious and philosophical traditions, there are a series of commandments or observances that adherents of that group are expected to adopt. For example, in the Jewish and Christian faith, they admonish their followers to live up to the tenets of the Ten Commandments. In Yoga traditions, yogic students are asked to observe Yama and Niyama.

My friend, Swami Baba Nataraja, disseminates the following guidelines for ethical behavior to his students:

“Baba believes that spiritual life truly begins when seekers adopt and live ethical guidelines. He encourages others to follow the same high standards to which he holds himself, the Shaivite restraints—the moral principles of Yama and Niyama. Here is a list of those moral principles:”


  1. Be non-violent in thought and action
  2. Do not steal or covet
  3. Discipline desire
  4. Relinquish lust and greed
  5. Restrain arrogance and anger
  6. Refrain from lying and betraying promises and confidences
  7. Avoid injustice and drunkenness
  8. Forsake wrongdoing and shun evil company


  1. Be pure in body, mind, and speech
  2. Love your fellow man
  3. Seek contentment and serenity in life
  4. Cultivate devotion through daily worship and meditation
  5. Be steadfast in hardship and forbearing with people
  6. Tithe and give creatively without thought of reward
  7. Study with an open mind the scriptures and books of wisdom
  8. Perform occasional penance, tapas, and sacrifice

Swami Baba Nataraja

Ways to Improve Character

You can improve character through the following active personal measures:

  1. Learning about positive character traits and deciding to incorporate them
  2. Doing a moral inventory to identify where you have character deficits and identify the alternate positive behavior you wish to practice
  3. Monitor your daily activity and notice when you fail to live up to a moral ideal; reflect at the end of your day what you could have done instead to express that more positive quality
  4. Meditate on your negative character traits and find the core virtue that is hidden in them; choose to express that core virtue instead
  5. Deconstruct the beliefs that hold negative character traits in place, and replace them with new affirmations that allow you to express more positive traits
  6. Find a role model who demonstrates positive character traits and emulate them
  7. Identify the ideal expression of your Self that you want to be. Place your attention in that state of this “future Self.” Solicit guidance from your future Self as to what specifically needs to be changed to shape each facet of character into the nobler expression that you are capable of expressing in this idealized state.

You can also develop positive character traits and express your innate spiritual virtues through the following passive spiritual measures:

  1. Renounce negative behavior and speech; make a sacred vow to live up to spiritual principles
  2. Contemplate the light of wisdom and review your behavior; through insight and realization, you will abandon negative speech and behavior
  3. Use discernment to identify behavior that arises from the ego; choose instead to allow your spirit, your active nucleus of identity, or your ensouling entity to dictate your behavior
  4. Dissolve the karmic precursors of negative behavior and attitudes through using transformational meditation techniques like transformational mantra, Kriya Yoga, and Nada Yoga
  5. Do process meditation to end phenomenon on negative attitudes and beliefs; re-create a more positive expression of the Soul in human life
  6. Invoke God, your spiritual Master, and the Holy Spirit to reform your character and allow the holy virtues to express in you
  7. Practice austerity such as fasting, voluntary silence, and continuous repetition of mantras to discipline the body and mind to reduce rebellion against the expression of the Soul’s love and virtue

If you have vitiated your character through associating with people with negative character traits, have been subjected to abuse or trauma growing up or through involvement with cultic groups, or you have become entangled in an addiction, it is possible to rehabilitate your character and reform yourself. It is important to surround yourself with positive, supportive people and to implement elements from both active and passive measures to begin to improve your character.

We offer coaching programs to assist with your rehabilitation that will concomitantly help you improve your character: Dysfunctional Family Recovery, Cult Recovery, and Addiction Recovery. We invite you to explore these programs to see if they will provide the support you need to overcome these hindrances from your past, which will allow you to move confidently towards a more positive future.

The Permutations of Devotion

By George A. Boyd © 2020

This was written on Good Friday, 2020, at a time when the devotion of 2.07 billion Christians are focused on the Lord Jesus Christ on the day of his Passion.

Devotion is a pure quality of the spirit. This purest, unalloyed, sublime emotion, which the spirit fees towards God, is often expressed in increasingly distorted ways as you depart from the spirit’s loving heart.

  1. On the dense shores of Matter, devotion becomes perverted into the intense craving of greed, of lust, and of the desire for revenge and retribution. It shows up as the addict’s craving for food, for alcohol, and for drugs; and as the criminal’s driven pursuit of money through theft, robbery, and extortion.
  2. When these base passions and addictions have been worked through, devotion masquerades as anxiety and obsession. The over-solicitous parent, who tries to control every aspect of her daughter’s life; the young woman obsessed with trying to live up to perfect standards of beauty and performance—these draw upon this distortion of devotion. Romantic infatuation—the obsessive fascination and yearning of romantic love—also springs from this layer of devotion.
  3. When perfectionism, worry, and romantic obsession are put away, devotion appears as the drive for career and academic success and advancement. This characterizes the workaholic, whose work is the most important thing in his life; or the overly conscientious student, who dedicates himself to his studies to every waking hour.
  4. At the next layer, devotion becomes the quest for excellence and highest performance. The athlete, who dedicates her life to perfecting her skills as a runner; or the musician, who practices long hours to master the violin—evoke this type of devotion.
  5. The next aspect of devotion is personal idealization. The sports fan who idolizes his baseball team; or the music fan who follows his favorite band from concert to concert, and buys all of their songs—these evidence this type of devotion. The adulation of celebrities also taps this zone of devotion.
  6. Devotion next channels as dedication to a cause. The religious zealot, who attempts to proselytize people to join her religion; or the political activist, who attempts to persuade people to vote for her candidate and support him—these operate from this facet of devotion.
  7. Devotion is next typified by spiritual idealization. Here a devotee looks to a spiritual leader as superhuman, or a Divine Representative, who is portrayed as perfect, all knowing, and the embodiment of all that is good and holy. The devotee, who commits himself to spiritual advancement, and seeks to obey and please his spiritual leader, drinks from this deep well of devotion.
  8. Freed from clinging to any form, the spirit who realizes itself beyond the trammels of mind, knows itself to be of the same essence of God. Once this state of inner innocence has been achieved, the spirit becomes capable of returning to this primordial fire of pure devotion, and loving God in purity and truth.
  9. At the final stage of this journey of devotion, when the spirit re-unites with the Divine Beloved, devotion is submerged in the Oceanic tides of Infinite Love. Here, the devotee and the Divine become one, and there is no longer any separation.

As the fire of Divine Love purifies these layer over the spirit, you become increasingly capable of acting upon successively deeper expressions of devotion—until Divine Love removes the final gossamer veil, and reveals you as you have always existed, as pure spirit born form the immortal Light of God.

Contemplate these layers of devotion. Offer them all upon the inner crucible of your heart’s purest love, so you may emerge as the radiant butterfly from this cocoon of matter and mind that has entombed you through the Ages.

Arise, oh spiritual butterfly—and now, at long last, become free!

The process of learning to re-unite the spirit with God is called Nada Yoga. It trains you how to free your spirit from the trammels of matter, and how to travel through the inner channels of light and sound back to re-union with its Divine Beloved. We teach Nada Yoga in our intermediate mediation courses, the in person Mudrashram® Master Course in Meditation and the by-mail and online Accelerated Meditation Program.

The Seven Covenants between the Divine and Man

By George A. Boyd © 2018

The promises of the Divine to mankind are called covenants. In the Bible, these are listed as the Covenant of the Law and the Covenant of the Blood. In actuality, there is a Divine promise for each stage of spiritual development. These seven covenants are described below, and matched to the stages of the Path.

The Covenant of the Law was predicated on the karmic principle of “as you sow, so shall you reap.” Here man is fully free, but also fully responsible for the consequences of his actions. One is bound to the endless cycle of births and deaths. This stage is called “on the wheel.”

The Covenant of the Blood was based on the idea of that the Divine can forgive violations of the underlying moral laws of the Universe. It looks to a purification and dissolution of the karmic impediments to dwelling in the Light Stream or Planetary Life (the Spirit). It produces atonement with the Christ Life within, and constitutes the rebirth or resurrection experience of the 1st Initiation. Due to God’s mercy and sacrifice, the necessity for some future births is canceled. This stage is called “Stream Winner.”

The Covenant of Fire constitutes the ability to actively process, recreate, and transform karmic potentiality through the active reception of the Light as well as through the ministry of the Light to others. One gains the power to “speak the Word” and to so program the forces of the subconscious and Superconscious mind to conform to the image of Perfection, the “I AM Presence.” It corresponds to the work of the 2nd Initiation. This is the “Once Returning” stage.

The Covenant of Compassion evidences the redirection of thought and will energies in the direction of world service. It is through the radiation of pure thought and Buddhic Illumination that the subtle karmas of the astral and causal/mental Planes are evaporated. It corresponds with the work of the 3rd and 4th Initiations. This is the “Not Returning” stage.

The Covenant of Inner Divinity occurs when you step beyond the operation of the karmic laws into the world of Being. This is the Soul Plane, Nirvana, and constitutes the 5th Initiation, the stage of the “Arhat.” One becomes the embodiment of Divine Love and Perfection, replete with the powers to operate on the inner Planes.

The Covenant of Grace Divine reflects the ongoing communion with the Lord and the knowledge of His will and purposes. It begins with the choice to act as a conscious coworker with the Almighty, and to minister His Love and Grace through the disciplic relationship with others. This empowerment bestowed by the Divine allows you to establish the disciplic relationship with others. This is the stage called “Bodhisattva.” It is the mantle of the Adept, the Master, and the Guru.

The Covenant of Surrender is marked by the vanishing of the individual Soul into the limitless Ocean of the Divine. This is Liberation, and constitutes the relinquishment of all activity in Creation. A further work at this stage made possible through the active intervention of a Perfect Master or Sat Guru is the manifesting a Ray of the Infinite Life for the benefit of all Creation. This stage is called Buddha, Divine Incarnation, or Avatar.

Those of you who are interested in our writing on the topics of religion, cults, and terrorism may enjoy our book, Religions, Cults, and Terrorism: What the Heck Are We Doing? You may also enjoy our Public Webinar series, “A Study of Spiritual Paths.” [Click on the Public Webinars tab on the Public Webinar Access page to order these webinars.]

The Seven Faces of the Religious Mind

By George A. Boyd © 2018

There are different ways of engaging with religion. One can rail against religion, or be its staunchest supporter. One can study about religion, or become immersed in its mystic depths. One can pick and choose from its fruits, or one can believe its doctrine in its entirety. One can flit from faith to faith as the butterfly rests upon different flowers, or one can be steadfast in observance of only one faith.

Some of these different faces of religion can be briefly described as follows:

  1. The critic – The critic gathers information to discredit religion, to find fault with its beliefs and practices, and to promote an alternate viewpoint.
  2. The scholar – The scholar likes comparing the ideas that religion disseminates, reflecting on the meanings of the passages in scriptures and their commentaries, and discovering the hidden gems of truth. The scholar does not necessarily, however, take these dictums of religion to heart, and apply these principles in his or her life.
  3. The eclectic – The eclectic studies several different spiritual traditions, and creates a synthesis of the nuggets of truths from different Paths that he or she has gleaned. He or she adopts some of these truths as moral values, and uses these to guide behavior.
  4. The dilettante – The emotional believer, the dilettante, may take initiation in multiple Paths, but does not follow through on any of them. After the initial excitement of becoming a member of a new group and learning initiatory secrets fades, he or she readily leaves the Path. The dilettante starts many Paths and does not finish any of them.
  5. The anchorite – The anchorite scrupulously follows the guidelines of the Path, practices prayers and meditations regularly, and studies the teaching of the Path assiduously. The anchorite insists that before he or she can begin to teach or take a leadership role in the group, he or she must have perfect knowledge and ability.
  6. The devotee – The devotee wants to idealize and worship the spiritual Master, who supervises development on this spiritual Path, but may not feel worthy or capable to do the work to become a teacher or leader in this spiritual tradition.
  7. The surrendered one – The surrendered one dedicates him or her self to God’s Will, and carries out his or her daily work under the Master’s direction. The surrendered one asks for God’s Grace to teach and help others, recognizing that he or she is not perfect—but does the work, and learns and grows more proficient with practice.

Those that become teachers and initiators in spiritual traditions typically are of type seven. Types five and six, scrupulous observance and devotion, fervently adhere to the Path engaged, but they lack the core commitment that marks the surrendered one.

These three types form the core of any religious group; the other types are not serious about their commitment to make progress along the lines described in this Path and to follow its precepts. Those that do the work deepen along the track that this Path opens; those that dip their toes in its waters make limited or no progress towards its consummation.

If you are currently engaged with any spiritual or religious group at the present time, notice what patterns you adopt in relation to it.

  • Are you its critic, continually finding flaws?
  • Are you a scholar, content to learn about it without adopting its practices or principles?
  • Are you eclectic, selecting truths from many different Paths and creating your own synthesis?
  • Do you have pattern of taking initiation in multiple Paths and not following through with any of them?
  • Do you scrupulously perform the prescribed practices of the faith, and are working to perfect them?
  • Does devotion drive your spiritual quest and you are on fire to make progress on your chosen Path?
  • Have you surrendered yourself to become God’s Instrument of Light and Love for others?

If you evolve to the stage where you can become a surrendered one, you will become the emissary of God’s Light and Love in your tradition. Those that become teachers and initiators in Mudrashram® transform over time into this posture, and show the inmost facet of realized Divinity and Grace to all who cross their Path.

Different Perceptions of God and Where They Arise

By George A. Boyd ©2018

Q: I was reading an article online in Science Magazine, “Democrats More Conservative, Republicans More Liberal in Some Ways,” which was published on 2/21/18—the original article appears on the Baylor University website [1]. In this article, it said that people’s political philosophy varied depending on how they saw God. They mentioned that the Baylor researchers, whose findings in Sociological Forum [2] were summarized in this article, categorized study participants into seven different perceptions of God:

  1. God is distant
  2. God is ever-present
  3. God is removed from the world
  4. God is concerned with the world’s well being
  5. God is concerned with personal well-being
  6. God is directly involved in worldly affairs
  7. God is differently involved in personal affairs

How do these different perceptions of God arise? What states of consciousness give rise to these views?

A: God appears in different forms depending on where you encounter this Universal Being on the Great Continuum of Consciousness.

Type one, where God is distant, is commonly found when people relate to God through the cord of faith, which links the ego to God in His Form in the First Mesoteric Initiation.

Type two, where God is omnipresent, is found in those people who keep their attention ever merged with the Divine Spark within their ensouling entity, and they see the Divine everywhere. This is the pantheistic viewpoint: God is all-pervading in Nature, the Universe, and on the spiritual Planes.

Type three, where God is removed from the world, typifies spirituality where you are identified with a nucleus of identity, a spiritual essence, or an ensouling entity in the Cosmic, Supracosmic, or Transcendental levels of the Continuum. Here the emphasis is on getting away from the world—or having as little to do with it as possible—and to return to the God Source on your inner horizon.

Type four, where God is concerned with the world’s well being, resembles the idea of Providence, where God loves the world and all creatures and cares for them. Ecological movements and aboriginal religious groups commonly adopt this Deistic viewpoint.

Type five, where God is concerned with personal well-being, people believe God responds to your prayers and grants them, and He may send an angel to watch over you. This perspective conceives that God is loving and benevolent, and will guide you and protect you if you approach Him. Catholic and Evangelical churches of the First Exoteric Initiation hold this view.

Type six, where God is directly involved in worldly affairs, views God as the engine behind history. This gives rise to God-inspired movements that change the leadership of nations and installs benevolent leaders; social justice movements that struggle for equality, presses for independence from colonial oppression, seeks freedom from injustice and slavery, and seeks to protect human rights and freedoms. This type resembles the Social Justice Christianity of the Fifth Ray in the First Exoteric Initiation, which Dr. Martin Luther King embodied.

Type seven, where God is differently involved in personal affairs, suggests that God has selected a chosen people, an elect, or a group of secret initiates, and shares with them esoteric knowledge, a special dispensation, or unique blessings that others, who are not part of this group, cannot receive. This viewpoint is commonly seen in cultic groups, in groups that interpret their scriptures that God has made them a chosen people, or those who are the direct initiate of a spiritual Master that imparts esoteric knowledge and confidential meditation methods.

If you transform your ensouling entity at the cutting edge of spirituality, and explore your relationship with the Divine at every level of the mind, you will encounter each of these viewpoints along the way. Your Soul Ray and Personality Ray often influence the way you view God and how you establish a personal—or impersonal—relationship with the Divine.

To help you understand these viewpoints better, we have written on the varying perceptions of the Divine in our book, “Religions, Cults, and Terrorism: What the Heck Are We Doing?.” It may also be valuable for you to study about the Great Continuum of Consciousness and the Seven Rays—we have summarized these ideas in our book, “A Mudrashram® Reader: Understanding Integral Meditation.”
Those of you who may wish to take your God exploration to the next level may enjoy “The Mystery of God” workshop. This is one of our public webinars available through our Public Webinar Access portal, under the Public Webinars tab.

[1] Perceptions about God Make Democrats More Conservative and Republicans More Liberal — But in Different Ways

[2] Thomson, Robert A. and Froese, Paul “God, Party, and the Poor: How Politics and Religion Interact to Affect Economic Justice Attitudes,” Sociological Forum 1/30/18