The Self Adam Wojtanek
|The further one moves
away from ones Self ("Atman", not to be
confused with the ego-self. written with a small
"s") the more one becomes lost. We are on the
doorstep of a new era. The technologies that we have
become dependent on influence our lives in may more ways
then we are aware of, and turn our attention away from
the things that should matter the most.
Unless one lives in a monastery, emotional, material and technological progress is important. But it should not take control over so many aspects of our lives. Good education, love, as well as a steady income are important for stability and a good life. And though traveling won't make one rich, it will take one beyond the shoe box that one has grown up in. And that is also very important.
The more one travels, the more one realizes that people are basically alike everywhere. And that deep within we are the same. And that something; that life force and consciousness that shines within us is called the Self in Advaita. The Self is similar in some ways to the Holy Spirit in Christianity. And yoga is a way to connect with the burning light that shines beyond the many fabricated layers of the body, mind, ego, etc.
Generally speaking, yogis follow the three Delphic maxims that are inscribed in the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. They are "Know thyself", "Nothing to excess", and "Certainty brings ruin" in English. But yoga is older then the temple in Delphi, and those maxims. The word yoga means "to yoke" and "to connect" in Sanskrit. It came from a more ancient Vedic word "yaga", which meant exactly the same as "yoga".
Classical yoga is not about twisting the body, strict diets and loosing weight. It is a spiritual process, and not an intellectual study guided by an academic teacher or a scholar (pandit). Typically, yoga begins at an early age in India with initiation into a religious tradition that teaches basic rules of conduct and ways of devotion.
So, the earliest spiritual practice revolves mainly around a set of rules of conduct, or Karma Yoga in Sanskrit, and study of the scriptures. When practiced religiously, it will naturally evolve to devotion or Bhakti Yoga.
Those two spiritual platforms are what most religions are based on. But if one has evolved to a point where one would like to move to a higher spiritual plane, one may have no other option but to become a member of a monastic order or the clergy. And there are also those that may turn to Raja Yoga, which is also known as Ashtanga (eight limbs of yoga), or to become a Buddhist. Although the last two are different paths that are a part of Hinduism, they could lead to the same mountain top, or somewhere on the path towards it.
The highest deity of worship in non-dual Advaita is Brahman i.e. The Self or the Mother Goddess. Brahman is also known as Shiva and Shakti on the Dvaita and the Vishisthadvaita planes of esoteric Tantra yoga. On higher levels of spiritual understanding, the names and the forms of the highest entity don't matter that much. Because at higher planes of realization, names and forms often begin to function like technical terms and signs associated with different spiritual schools and paths of yoga.
As an old Chinese saying goes "A long journey begins with the first step". Thus, I'd like to introduce you to an ancient Mantra from the Mandukya Upanishad 1.2 that has given many inspiration, insight, and light on the way. It is the central theme of the nondualistic worldview of Vedanta, and one of the first Mantras children learn in school in India. That Mantra is "Ayam Atma Brahma", in Sanskrit.
That Mantra has a magic sound vibration, but it is powerless if one does not understand what it means. So here is the English translation of that Manta, "This Self (Atman) is Brahman". I recommend chanting it in the Heart (in silance) in English or in Sanskrit.
The most authoritative source of knowledge on Advaita Vedanta is Shankaracharya, who is also known as Adi Shankara or Shankara, in short. The goddess Lalita Tripura Sundari, whom Shankara and other sages adored was born of the sacred fire of consciousness (agni). She is a personification of Brahman itself, and is also the essence of the Vedic and Tantric scriptures, as well as the Matrikas of the Indic scripts that those scriptures were written in. This is the secret science of ancient seers (rishi), who were "architects" of Vedism. And many scholars are of the opinion that the Vedic religion is the oldest in the world, and that other religions have their roots in it.
The goddess Tripura represents the sacred science known as Shri Vidya. The Sanskrit word "vidya" means written knowledge. And like many other sciences, it is a hermetic one that requires some research, reading, learning of a foreign jargon, and other things like that, which should be learned under the supervision of a spiritual teacher (guru) with the hands-on know-how. But those that teach this science are very rare, they don't advertise, and may not appear in turbans and in robes like other yoga teachers. And if you should come across one, and if you're not ready, they may disappoint you in many ways. So just in case, start learning early, open your mind wide to new ideas, and to the ancient wisdom.
If you would like to learn more, here are a few links to some Vedas, Upanishads, Tantric works, Shankara's works, and other topics that I came across on the internet.
I am other than name, form and action. My nature is ever free! I am Self, the supreme unconditioned Brahman. I am pure Awareness, always non-dual.
— Adi Shankara, Upadesasahasri 11.7, 
-- Inscription in the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, Greece
Truth or God is one, but wise men call It (Him/Her) by different names.