Our Superconscious - A mystical level of mind

Once we have become subconsciously adjusted to a sense of an “I” rooted in being, rather than an “I” driven by the impulses of the five senses or lured on by the ramification of thought and the novelty of the conscious state of mind, we have successfully positioned awareness on the threshold of superconsciousness. superconscious tigerBefore we seriously focus deeply within, we experience superconsciousness in a general way—usually as something like a no-problem zone of inner space in which everything just seems to be okay. Because this nonspecific enjoyment of alrightness feels quite “natural” to us, we are left to assume that we are at least temporarily functioning in an “unnatural” state of mind when life does not seem to be “okay.”

If we accept “natural” to mean inherent and “unnatural” to mean acquired, we will be inclined to perceive our superconscious state of mind to be inherent, and therefore the same for all of us, while we understand our subconscious and conscious states of mind to be acquired, and therefore different for each of us (since each of us acquires differently according to our individual experience).

Obviously, just living in a physical body demands an externalization of awareness out of “inherent” superconsciousness into “acquired” conscious and subconscious states of mind.

When we roll out of bed in the morning to brush our teeth and shower, each one of us must necessarily leave our inherent superconsciousness to live by thousands of little personally acquired memories. Although certainly we might manage to do all of this with a subconscious sense of superconsciousness, which would be wonderful, our waking life is still primarily an acquired existence formed consciously and subconsciously.

From this we can see, while we are awake in the physical realm doing physical things, the superconscious is at best only available to us as a secondary influence filtering through our subconscious to feed the background of our daily life with bliss, confidence, calm, compassion, inspiration and the like.

Tapping into superconsciousness in this way is wonderful to be sure. But to thoroughly experience this richest part of us, we must fully withdraw from our conscious and subconscious states of mind, enter the spiritual realm, and be there completely. Under normal physical circumstances, this cannot be accomplished easily. During periods of time set aside for the practice of a yoga that includes deep meditation, however, it can be.

During such withdrawal, we strive to become immersed in those magnificent qualities of beingbliss, love, stillness, balance, peace, power, rapture, joy and awareness. Just holding the “I” centered in any of these qualities invites Samadhi, intensifies an internal correction of wrong perception and unresolved memory, and programs our subconscious to flood our external life with an unfettered superconscious support that can and will sustain us even during our most trying times.

If we can then come out of this withdrawal to remain two-thirds within during the waking hours of our life, our subconscious will assist rather than block a more continual superconscious influence upon our physical life. This two-thirds-within positioning of awareness is easily attainable. In fact, it is so attainable we can be there and not know it.

Take, for instance, an elderly lady, washing dishes, humming a song and looking out her kitchen window at two robins nibbling sesame seeds off a bird feeder. As that lady rests in the bliss of now, enjoying the warmth of soapy dish water, the touch of slippery plates, the tap-tap pecking of the birds, and the sweet delight of humming her song—all at once—is she not a perfect example of the conscious, subconscious and superconscious states of mind working together harmoniously as one?

Moving like this in life is not difficult and does not demand that we have a completely resolved subconscious. Even with a huge backlog of karmic “issues,” we can work with ourselves to live and move easily, receiving superconsciousness like a welcome guest when it comes, awaiting it patiently when it doesn’t.

Dealing with life in this manner, ever so lightly leaning upon and occasionally withdrawing completely into our internal nature, we invite our superconscious to more and more consistently come forward through our subconscious into our conscious states of mind until, finally, we are feeling at least a little bit of superconsciousness all the time.

When we have lost our sense of superconsciousness, we can get it back by simply becoming aware of that loss. Just that. With this simple adjustment of awareness—just recognizing and acknowledging we have temporarily lost our sense of inner bliss during a frenzy of mental or emotional distraction—we gift ourselves the only moment the now needs to help us gain back our option to feel and follow the rhythm and rhyme of our own intuitive mind back in and through inner realms to our superconscious home base.

The yogis secret Challenge: The subliminal level of mind

Our computer-like subconscious is a remarkable state of our mind. Long before we become aware of it, or even if we never become aware of it, that subconscious is there thanklessly handling all of the basic and crucial functions of our physical body like blood circulation, food digestion and muscle coordination. male female lions And while it is doing all this, it is also recording, categorizing and processing every single experience we have in our conscious state of mind, even as it creates from those experiences elaborate programs for the automatic implementation of skills like typing, driving and speaking a language. Thanks to this marvelously self-contained and self-reliant part of us just beneath the range of our conscious perception, we are free to focus our surface awareness upon exploring and learning through new experience.

As marvelous as this apparently free-standing and independent subconscious state of mind might seem to be, it can be inhibited by us. More than we know, we can inadvertently block our subconscious reception of superconsciousness.

When, due to an impure and/or a selfish lifestyle, our subconscious receives more negative input than it can process immediately, it becomes overloaded with wrong perception and unresolved memory. A backup into a backlog of this gloomy mind-matter is “negative karma.” Fortunately, there is no limit to the amount of negative karma the subconscious can hold. Unfortunately, however, as these negative karmas mount, they thicken their block of the very superconscious influence that would insure their resolution.

As we begin to realize we are more than a body and a mind with fears and desires, we start to sense we really don’t have to live life in the shadow of excess negative karma. We also begin to sense—and this sensing is a result of our superconsciousness getting through to us any way it can—we can help our subconscious better its collaboration with our superconscious to more efficiently handle our backlog of wrong perception and unresolved memory.

At this point we start living life on the high side of our conscious mind by trying to do good and be good so as not to burden our subconscious with more low-level problems than it can handle with a minimum expenditure of energy. Such intentionally positive living leaves impressions in the subconscious that don’t need to be “fixed” later. This smart creation of “positive karma” frees the subconscious to expeditiously work on its backlog of “negative karma.

In yoga, we “do good and be good” by tailoring our lives around the yamas (don't's), and niyamas, (do's) Maintaining these restraints and observances dissolves our blocks to the superconscious by adjusting our negative attitudes, demagnetizing our personality conflicts and allowing the flowering of spiritual qualities like humility, patience, forbearance and fortitude. All of this intentional adjustment opens a wide window for the light of superconsciousness to shine through our subconscious into our conscious mind.

To further assist our subconscious in working efficiently with superconsciousness, we can make special efforts to remain detached as we deal with past and present experience. Such detachment invites the assistance of intuition—our direct connection to superconsciousness.

When awareness is detached, it is not identified with thought and emotion. This detachment gives awareness unblocked access to intuition. When awareness is not detached, but instead allows itself to become magnetized into an identification with thought and emotion, it partially or completely loses its functional connection with intuition.

When we habitually and thus frequently allow awareness to become identified with thought and emotion, we live life personally. In this personal living, we have no choice but to see life through the eyes of an identity caught and stuck in a physical body that was born, is alive and will die. From this point of view, we are not looking at life intuitively because intuition is not personal; it is impersonal.

From experience, we know the non-reaction of detachment can only arise from an intuitive perception that we are Self. We also know we do not have to realize the Self to sense that the Self does exist and is our essential identity. Sensing we are the source of the body we live in is easy. It’s even logical. But if we cannot manage to let this sensing be, we will not be detached and we will react to life personally.

To perceive the experiences of life in detachment without reaction is to see those experiences impersonally. Seeing the experiences of life impersonally leans us toward a creation of positive karma, as well as an expeditious resolution of negative karma.

The Waking Level of MInd

If we position awareness in the physical body and the physical realm, and we spend all our waking hours in that conscious state of mind, naturally we are going to identify with that body, that realm and that state. Cool cat

When we practice a deeper yoga that focuses on breaking out of this three-faceted sense of false identity, we find ourselves stepping back and detaching into a watcher awareness, observing the physical body, the physical realm and the conscious state of mind.

At first, this watcher awareness is faint because it has arisen inadvertently as an unanticipated consequence of a general yoga practice. Yet, as we catch the idea this state of detached observation is worthy of intentional pursuit, we begin to cultivate watcher awareness as a yoga in itself.

Working to hold watcher awareness, we find we can study the power of our instinctive nature from a distance where we can feel its magnetism just beginning to pull us into all-encompassing experiences of seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling and tasting in the physical realm. We also find we can investigate just how this involvement with the physical realm through the instincts of the physical body can trigger emotions that urge us to seek solace in the intellect. Finally, we find we can examine the intellect to see how its development begins with a manipulation of remembered information rather than truly original thinking.

All of this and more we can learn about the conscious state of mind by simply being that watcher that can only see what it sees because it is separate enough from what it sees to see it clearly. From this we can also sense that, when we are the watcher, we are not in an externalized state of consciousness at all. We are outside externalization—or to put it more precisely, we are inside externalization, looking out at it.

If everyone suddenly pulled back into watcher awareness, the conscious state of mind would not be what it is at all, for it is what it is only because of the externalization of those consumed enough in an awareness of it to be caught by it. “Externalization” here refers to a state of mind in which nothing beyond a world perceivable through the five senses is acknowledged as having substantial existence.

Because the conscious state of mind is a product of awareness consumed in the physical realm, it is also a product of awareness preoccupied with physical things to want and have. Since blind ignorance is the common ground of awareness bound in this conscious state of mind, no one caught there knows that no thing can yield happiness. Thus, most everyone caught there seeks happiness by seeking things.

Additionally, since being caught in the conscious mind also means identifying with the physical body, those thus caught also seek happiness by thrilling, clothing and feeding the body—and by making a lot of money to do more of the same. Such stuck-in-the-body living is like treadmill-running after a satisfaction that is forever advancing ahead of us, just out of reach.

When we feel trapped in this most externalized state of consciousness, we experience a stark variety of fear that can only arise when we are so completely cut off from our own intuition we have lost even the faintest sense that we are actually an immortal entity impervious to harm. As might be expected, it is when we find ourselves so fully at the mercy of a fear like this that we are so understandably inclined to cobble together whatever externalized security we can derive from name, fame, fortune, and the like.

Though we could be in any of many places besides this outer condition of consciousness, we will not be anywhere but there so long as we remain unknowingly addicted to the lure of our own fascination with novelty. Drawn into the conscious mind by intrigue, curiosity and desire, and hounded there by fear, we seek a seeming safety in a fortress we build around a false sense of “I.” Although this hard-walled stronghold of wrong identity makes us insensitive and tough, we perpetuate it at all costs—even when it begins to cost more than the sense of security it was created to nurture and protect.

Thus it is that a primary objective of yoga is to withdraw from the conscious state of mind—when we are ready, of course, for how could such withdrawal occur otherwise? When we are finally ready and withdrawal does finally occur, the conscious state of mind becomes an object of study and a point of focus for internalizing rather than externalizing awareness.

My Sunday Talk at a Unitarian Church

This last Sunday, I was asked to give the sermon at the Unitarian Church in downtown Charleston (South Carolina). During the summertime, this church reaches out to speakers of different faiths. I was being called upon to share what I had experienced and learned during my 37 years living as a monk in a Hindu monastery dedicated to the practice of yoga. Thinking you might enjoy it, I have included the text of that talk here below.

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My name is Muni Natarajan. This is not my born name. I was born Philip Royall Johnson. My middle name, “Royall,” was given to me in honor my great, great Grandfather, Edward Manly Royall. The Royall name is well know here in Charleston. Edward Manly Royall was first surgeon to Robert E. Lee and was present at Appomattox when Lee surrendered to Grant to end the Civil War. Although this tale is interesting, it has nothing to do with the story I came here to tell. That story is this.

As I stand before you now, I am 64 years of age. In 1970, when I was 20 years of age, I entered a monastery on Kauai, in Hawaii.

The focus of the monks living in that monastery was and is the practice of an ancient and traditional form of yoga that was established many, many years ago in India. The objective of this yoga was Self Realization, the realization of the one Self we all share at the ultimate source of life. When I first became a monk, the order I joined was called The Christian Yoga Order.

Three years after my initiation it became The Saiva Siddhanta Yoga Order. The reason for this name change will become apparent in a few moments.

My teacher’s first spiritual teacher was a lady named Mother Chrisny. Mother Chrisny had been a Catholic nun for most of her life. At the ripe old age of 80, she left the Catholic Church because her own inner mystical experiences conflicted with what she had been taught in the church. What she had discovered within herself, she said, correlated with the ancient yoga of India.

It was this original yoga that she wanted my teacher to learn. Thus it was that she encouraged my teacher to seek out the authentic source of yoga in the Sanatana Dharma that was the precursor to that which has become known today as Hinduism. In the pursuit of this quest, my teacher, along with all of his monks converted to Hinduism. This we did in the name of yoga.

Although we were first told we could not convert to Hinduism, we eventually discovered this was not true. Through some investigation, we came to realize we could become Hindu through the Namaskarana Samskara, the Hindu name-giving sacrament.

Thus it was that we all changed our names legally in preparation for a formal entrance into Hinduism.

My teacher changed his name from Robert Hansen to Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami. I changed my name from Philip Johnson to Muni Natarajan. Our group name got changed from the Christian Yoga Order to the Saiva Siddhanta Yoga Order.

And so began my 37 years living as a Hindu monk in a Hindu monastery dedicated to the pursuit of yoga’s ultimate experience.

I was originally going to talk about the seven principles of the Unitarian Church as they relate, in general, to Eastern thought and, more specifically, to that which I was taught during my 37 years in the monastery. But then, I thought to myself, “That sounds boring.”

So, I thought to myself again, and decided that it would be much more fun, for me and you both, if I talked about what it was like living more than half my life with a clairaudient and clairvoyant mystic who was hell-bent on fearlessly proclaiming that Self Realization was the one and only reason any of us have for living life on earth.

I still like the idea of referring to the 7 principles of the Unitarian Church. How could I not like this? These principles are so inspiring. And they’re so open to Eastern perception. As a reminder, here are those 7 principles:

1. The inherent worth and dignity of every person.

2. Justice, equity and compassion in human relations.

3. Acceptance of all and encouragement of spiritual growth.

4. A free and responsible search for truth and meaning.

5. The right of conscience and use of democratic process.

6. A goal of world community; peace, liberty, and justice for all.

7. Respect for the interdependent web of all existence.

 Now, we’ll focus on the first principle: The inherent worth and dignity of every person: I love this principle because it allows me to get right to the heart of the yoga life. The inherent worth and dignity of every person is the hallmark of the one Self we all share, that one Self my teacher wanted us all to realize.

In the I my personal pursuit of Self Realization, I made two initial discoveries:

1. The closer I got to this Self, the less I was bothered by personal concerns and petty differences.

2. The simpler life got, as it did during this pursuit of Self, the more its apparent miseries dissolved of their own accord.

In the monastery we did a lot of tapas. Although tapas literally means fire, in practice, it means austerity. Although none of us looked forward to bearing up through the austerity of tapas, we all realized its value. That value was this:

In the fire of tapas, nothing extraneous can remain. Life gets reduced to essence. Here are 3 examples of tapas I performed in the monastery:

 1. A 41-day water fast.

2. Hitchhiking from the West to the East coast of the United States in the dead of winter with no money.

3. Kavadi. Piercing the skin with spears and carrying a weight on the shoulders during a pilgrimage.

Principle #2: Justice, equity and compassion in human relations:

The key word here is “human.” In a human body that’s black, white, brown, red, or yellow; rich, poor, famous, infamous, pretty, ugly, clean or dirty, we are easy targets for injustice, inequality, and a general lack of compassion.

As souls, however, living in bodies of light that are impervious to pain and can’t know death, justice is a given, equality is obvious and compassion is unavoidable.

My teacher used to say, “You’re perfect. You just don’t know it.”

When I first came into the monastery, I was pretty proud of myself. I had become a successful professional musician playing with some famous people. So, when I heard my teacher make this statement:  “You’re perfect. You just don’t know it,” I thought to myself, “Yeah, I’m perfect, but I know it.”

Fairly quickly, I came realize, through the general austerity of monastic life, that my route to humility was through humiliation. I was one of those monks who was, in the beginning, more generally inclined to learn my lessons the hard way.

Finally, it dawned on me what my teacher was trying to tell us when he said: “You’re perfect. You just don’t know it,” he was trying to convey to us in his characteristically simple way:

“You are not a physical body. You are not even a refined soul LIVING in a physical body. You are the one and only Self that we all share at the very source of life itself. Please, go within, realize that Self, yourself. This is all you were born to do.”

 Principle #3: Acceptance of all and encouragement of spiritual growth: Hinduism is well known for its tolerance. This is because there is more variance within Hinduism than there is between Hinduism and other religions. This inspires not only tolerance but also acceptance.

Hinduism has a lot of only’s. It is the only religion that has no known beginning. It is the only religion that didn’t begin with a person. And it is the only religion that accepted, kept and absorbed into itself absolutely everything anyone claiming to be a Hindu brought to it.

Within Hinduism, there are atheists, agnostics, rationalists, soothsayers, magicians, musicians, beggars, tricksters, pagans, monists, theists, monistic theists, polytheists, mystics, yogis and more.

The one common denominator that runs through all of this is it’s distinctive lifestyle, its culture.

 It is into this culture that all peoples are invited to enjoy life in the pursuit of spiritual emancipation by any means imaginable.

In 1995, my teacher sent me to India to meander alone from its North to its South for an entire year. This was supposed to be a tapas. Though tapas it was not.

My only instruction was to have no plan and travel on a whim.

Everywhere I went, I was treated like a king, invited into homes, given a place to sleep and food to eat. Again and again, I was told: “Thank you for being here. Thank you for blessing us with your presence.” None of these people knew me personally. All they saw was a man wearing monk’s robes.

Principle #4: A FREE and RESPONSIBLE search for truth and meaning:

A lot of our training in the monastery centered around using intuition in practical ways. My teacher had no use for mystical principles that could not be applied in everyday life. He used to refer to this more practical mysticism as “news you can use.”

It was through this mystical  “news you can use,” that we would initiate what Unitarians might refer to as a FREE and RESPONSIBLE search for truth and meaning.

He had a great little technique for helping us to develop our practical intuition.

Every Sunday a monk would give a talk to perhaps 100 guests in our Kauai temple. The catch was this: The monk giving the talk would not be given the subject of his discourse until right before he stepped out in front of the people.

The first time I endured this little exercise, I found myself standing in front my audience, completely locked up with no idea what to say and no ability to think clearly.

I felt a wave of heat rush through my body. My face turned red and my palms started to sweat. All I could think to say was, “good afternoon everyone. Welcome to Kauai Adheenam.”

As I recall, there was a short pause. Then, the next thing I knew, I was talking and couldn’t stop. Today, I have no idea what I said. All I know is I could have talked all afternoon. It was wonderful. We called this exercise “speaking from the inner sky.” I should add a note here that this little exercise did not always work out successfully.

In planning my talk for this morning, I considered talking from the inner sky. When I mentioned this to my wife, she made it clear she didn’t think it was a good idea.

 Principle #5: The right of CONSCIENCE and use of DEMOCRATIC process:

Ah yes. I’ve been looking forward to this principle. This is where I get to talk about the OTM, the governing body of the monastery.

If you will remember, I briefly mentioned earlier that my teacher was clairaudient and clairvoyant. Although Gurudeva, as we affectionately referred to him, was born with clairaudient and clairvoyant abilities, he had instructors along the way that helped him perfect these gifts into well developed tools.

For the sake of efficiency and security in working with inner plane entities, he set up an on-going working relationship with a certain fixed group of these devas, as we referred to them. In this relationship, a color and sound code was established to assure a safe connection for communication.

Just before each “deva reading,” as these communications were referred to, the devas, would send Gurudeva their sound and color code to introduce themselves and assure him that they were not imposters. After this set-up, the communication would begin.

One exceptionally long communication from the devas was referred to as “the Shastras.” These Shastras contained rules for running the monastery. In these Shastras there was the discrpition of the OTM. OTM means ONE THIRD MINORITY. Here is how the OTM worked:

One third of the monastery population would meet with Gurudeva in secrecy to oversee the day-to-day management of monastery affairs. Members of the OTM would be determined by seniority. Monastery seniority was lost when a monk left the monastery to travel on mission for more then 9 days. Because the older monks were the monks sent on missions, those older monks were constantly losing seniority. This meant the youngest monks maintained the highest seniority in the monastery and therefore comprised the OTM. This eliminated the possibility of a good ol’ boys controlling group forming amonst the older monks. Thus it was that we had within the monastery, a perfect example of a workable democratic process.

Principles 6 and 7:

#6: A goal of world community; peace, liberty, and justice 4 all.

#7: Respect for the inter dependent web of all existence.

Since these last two principles are flip sides of a one coin, we’ll include them together, which is to say that if we can manage a “respect for the interdependent web of all existence” on the inside (principle #7), then “world community; peace, liberty, and justice 4 all” (principle #6) should be automatic on the outside.

My teacher, Gurudeva, a supremely simple man, won the UThant Peace Aware in the year 2000. Previous recipients of this award were the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela. None of these fine souls set out for any kind of public recognition for what they did.

They simply did what they did in the name of spirit for the sake of spirit. As a result of this deeply internalized effort, they were all eventually recognized for their contributions to the betterment of mankind.

My guru used to tell us again and again. “Work from the inside out, not the outside in. KIS: Keep it simple. Simple is source where life begins and ends.”

Nowadays there are many yogas: Hatha yoga, Karma yoga, Bhakti yoga, Raja yoga, Jnana yoga, Kundalini yoga, Kriya yoga, Svara yoga, Nada yoga, Mantra yoga, Laya yoga, Power yoga, Restorative yoga, Svarupa yoga, Sivananda yoga, Bikarm yoga and many, many more.

 In Vedic times there was just one yoga—a one yoga of yoking manifest complexity back to its ultimate, un-manifest and supremely simple source.

My Guru and my life were dedicated to this one original yoga.

We these simple words I close.

Yoga's 3 Perspectives: the outer, the inner and the deeper within.

My spiritual teacher was intensely practical. He had no use for theory that could not be put to work in personal experience. This made his teachings powerful --- and simple. Here is a little taste of his sort of down-to-earth news you could use. 3 cats 2All of our experiences occur from within conscious, subconscious or superconscious states of mind.

We are in a conscious state of mind when we are awake in a physical body and aware in the physical realm. In this most externalized state of consciousness, we are vitalized by gut instinct, memory, emotion and information received from external forms of communication like newspapers, magazines, radio, television, telephone and the Internet. If we are not artistically, philosophically, religiously or mystically inclined, we can live in the misconception that this conscious state of mind is the only reality.

The subconscious state of mind is an internalized and largely unrecognized level of consciousness that works behind the scenes of our life in two ways: 1. It functions like a meticulous recording device to document every detail of every experience we have regardless of that experience’s perceived value. 2. It functions like a psychogenic computer to subliminally process that which it records into either storage or practical application. In practical application, it serves as an unconscious support for our conscious activity.

The superconscious state of mind is a deeply internalized level of consciousness sometimes referred to as “the divinity of the soul.” It is from within this deep state of mind that we experience supreme bliss. And it is from deep within this bliss that we realize the Self beyond time, form and space.

Understanding these three states of mind separately, together and as they relate to our lives, forms a large-scale grid we can use for mapping the movement of our awareness through consciousness. A grid like this is useful because, to effectively navigate from one place to another in the playing out of our desires, we need a ground upon which we can grip “one place” and “another.”

Once we have allowed ourselves to acknowledge that desire—until it plays itself out—is a fact and force of life, and we have become smart enough to work with that desire rather than against it, we can learn to harness, aim and use its formidable power in a positive way to achieve worthy goals in accordance with a deepening understanding of the conscious, subconscious or superconscious states of mind.

A word of encouragement here. Intuition is always on our side. If it can get through, intuition will unfailingly help us in any way it can. But it needs an empty space to fill—like pouring water needs an empty cup to catch it. In our case here, that empty space exists between a clear perception of where we are and where we want to be.

The Sat Guru

In Sanskrit, guru means "teacher," Sat Guru means "spiritual teacher." Cats 3 n 1From an externalized point of view, the Sat Guru is perceived as a physical person. From an internalized point of view, the Sat Guru is perceived as wisdom—wisdom revealed through a live person, a life experience or direct intuition. Intuitively, we discover this wisdom through introspection. Personally, we find it with the help of a physical teacher. Experientially, we locate it in the sometimes-difficult experiences of life.

When this wisdom that is the Sat Guru comes indirectly—which would be through a physical person or the experiences of life—it guides us toward direct perception through intuition. Yet intuition is not the Sat Guru’s truest identity. That identity would be as it is for us—the Self God within.

From this sequential joining of truths, we can catch the whole crux of a one practice of a one yoga for a one purpose of God realization: that God, Self and Sat Guru are not separate. They are one. As such, these three in one constitute our ultimate identity and destiny.

For those who might assert that telling a beginning yoga student he or she is God, Self and Sat Guru might be recklessly unwise, we would reply, “How far wrong can such a teaching go that it couldn’t be caught and corrected by the life or live Sat Guru?”

The life Sat Guru—the experiential teacher—misses no opportunity to feed us lessons we earn and learn through the infallible law of karma. Although these lessons come from this life Sat Guru, they are derived from experiences we have set in motion of our own volition. Thus, the responsibility for the direction our training takes in the arena of life governed by action and reaction lies with us and not with our teacher. Knowing this, we perceive this neither wrathful nor merciful life teacher as an unbiased messenger of that karmic law we all must honor and obey.

It is, in fact, only because of the life Sat Guru’s perfect impartiality that the law of karma can function as it does, throwing back upon us the kind of education that can only occur through our experience of the consequence of nothing more or less than precisely what we ourselves have done.

Although the life Sat Guru is with us throughout embodied existence, the live Sat Guru usually makes his or her appearance only after we have experienced most of all the life Sat Guru has to offer. Yet when that live Guru finally does come, the life Guru does not go away. Where there is life, there is the life teacher. The live teacher only doubles the life teacher’s strength to more powerfully usher in the influence of that more deeply inner teacher that works directly through intuition.

When the influence of the Sat Guru becomes triply strong by working uniformly through all three of its channels, it becomes impossible to ignore. Fortunately, this full-blown preceptor of threefold power cannot force itself upon us before we are primed and ready. Love holds it back until love can hold it no more, which is when its love becomes our love and there is no separation between us.

In our deeper understanding of karma, wisdom, love and such, it becomes apparent why the Sat Guru’s full story can only be told one chapter at a time, like the play of life can only be experienced one act at a time, and the journey of yoga can only be walked one step at a time.

Yogas - Variations on a Theme

There is yoga and there are yogas. To be more specific, it could be said of yoga, and the family of yogas it has become, what might be said of anything made manifest: “First there was one; then there was more than one.” Such proliferation could not really be dubbed beneficial or not any more than a cell dividing or a couple having children could be considered helpful or not. It’s simply a natural consequence of the life of something—anything—doing what it does, which is (among other things) to bloom out of innate simplicity into manifest complexity. Lion plus cubKnown history maintains that yoga was officially codified as a practice by a man named Patanjali who lived about 200 BCE. Although the Vedic Upanishads indicate yoga was practiced at least a thousand years before Patanjali was born, Patanjali has been given credit for getting yoga established in an official way because he was apparently the first person to write down a coherent description of it.

In his terse handbook, the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali laid out a set of disciplines he called ashtanga yoga, “the yoga of eight limbs.” This ashtanga yoga came to be known as raja yoga, “the king of yogas.”

The “eight limbs” or progressive steps of ashtanga yoga are yamas (restraints), niyamas (observances), asana (posture), pranayama (breath control), pratyahara (withdrawal), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (mystic oneness).

Although ashtanga yoga was originally conceived as a one system, parts of it have been separated out to become yogas in themselves. Prominent among these are hatha yoga, highlighting body development; kriya yoga, emphasizing breath control; and jnana yoga, featuring introspection. Knowledgeable yogis also assert that karma yoga, focusing upon selfless service, and bhakti yoga, focusing upon devotion, were derived from the yamas and niyamas of Patanjali’s ashtanga yoga.

The spawning of these first spin-off yogas inspired the development of other yogas out of Pantajali’s original ashtanga yoga. These included japa yoga, nada yoga, and kundalini yoga. Through the passage of time, even more yogas came—many of them named after their teachers or the places they were originally taught. This snowballing multiplication of yogas continues today. But it all started with Patanjali and his ashtanga yoga.

The greatest good that has come from the proliferation of yoga into yogas has been its extensive development through specialization. The basic pranayama of raja yoga, for instance, which originally offered only a simple means of preparing for meditation by controlling breath to calm body, mind and emotions, got sophisticated into kriya yoga. Kriya yoga is a system of breathing exercises so elaborate and complete within itself it offers a path to God Realization through breath control alone.

The greatest harm that has come from yoga’s proliferation has been its frequent forfeit of original intent. Since the literal meaning of the word yoga is “to bind back,” as in binding back to source, it should not seem unreasonable that a practice called yoga should be yoga in the truest sense of the word. Yet, many of the specialized yogas that have developed out of raja yoga are not binding back to source as much as they are bounding forward toward some end or ideal within their own area of expertise. Hatha yoga, for instance, is often taught only as physical exercise for physical health.

The most intriguing evolution of raja yoga from its inception to the present has been its successful absorption back into itself of that which blossomed out of it into specialization. When this amalgamation of developed-new back into stable-old is allowed to occur wisely, which usually means under the guidance of a qualified teacher, those developed parts getting merged back do not change the original structure of that from whence they came as much as they support and enhance that structure. Thus, it may be said, in best-case scenarios, today’s raja yoga has not lost the house it built but has instead gained for that house a constructive reinforcement.

In yoga as in life, knowledge is power. Because this is true, we can be sure the foundational knowledge we bring to any yoga we practice will most certainly increase that yoga’s benefits tremendously. Yet, to maximize these benefits, we must assimilate this knowledge we bring with the desire we have. As of now, 39 steps into our journey, we have a fairly healthy stockpile of knowledge. What we might be lacking, however, is a clear and honest perception of exactly what we want out of our yoga practice right now.

It is not so important that we want yoga’s ultimate “binding back” right from the start of our practice. Higher desires cannot be forced. But they can be enticed. Yoga—however it is practiced and for whatever purpose—entices the high through an overall overhaul of the low.

Awareness - Our Ever-Morphing Identity

What our intuition wants us to know is: If we find our self—which would be our awareness—in anger, envy or fear, we do not have to stay there—not even for an instant. We can move. We can move our self, our awareness, from any negative (or positive) state of mind or emotion into a balanced state of being faster than light travels. It is possible. calm tiger eyes

In this practice, entitled “Flowing,” we will be creating and performing two guided meditations designed to help us develop our inborn ability to intentionally move awareness at will. One of these meditations will be designed as a script. The other will be designed as a map.

As we practice both of these meditations we will be tapping into what we have learned over time from watching the performances of great television, movie and stage actors, who have become—by their natural ability, acquired skill and means of making a living—great movers of awareness.

In preparing our guided meditation with scripting, we will compose a script conveying the enactment of a series of thoughts and emotions that starts negatively and ends positively. In this script there will be no dialogue or monologue. Here is an example.

“John enters a room and sits down on a sofa. He is overcome with sadness and grief. Just minutes before, he and his wife, Jane, had argued. This was nothing new. They argued often. This time, however, Jane had stormed out of the house, vowing never to return. Now, the anger John had experienced while he and Jane were yelling at each other turns into anguish. Yet, just as he is about to cry, he remembers exactly what it was Jane said that made him so angry. And again, he becomes upset, this time trembling with rage. In his rage, he begins to mentally chastise Jane for everything he can remember she ever did to upset him. As he reviews all of these bothersome events, however, he sees they were not all generated by Jane. He realizes many of them were of his instigation. In this revelation he feels remorse. Soon enough, John is mentally apologizing to Jane for his faults. After this cleansing recognition and admission of his own shortcomings, John experiences a curiously uplifting sense of joyful freedom. He understands that in honestly looking at what he did, as well as the person he thought he was while he was doing what he did, he stepped into an ability to see himself as others might see him. In this detachment, he experiences a calm and gentle transcendence of burden.”

The meditation portion of this exercise occurs in two stages after the script has been written. In the first stage, we attempt to live out our script in our head as we read it through. In the second stage, we close our eyes to again experience our story line, this time without reading the script. A note: Although there is no monologue or dialogue in our script, we can have fun creating such imagined talking or conversing on the fly as we inwardly enact our story.

This kind of meditation requires visualization, a remarkable tool for moving awareness creatively. Be prepared to surprise yourself with how powerfully your visualizations can stir quite real emotional reactions and how intensely those emotions can activate quite real physical responses. In the truest sense, visualization is a practical implementation of mind over matter.

A guided meditation with mapping is similar to a guided meditation with scripting except that scripting is composed of words and mapping is composed primarily of pictures. While a script is a block of words that gives a somewhat detailed description of a story, a map is a collection of images that includes only enough words to convey but a hint of story outline.

The only words on a map are in event titles. These titles are placed aesthetically here and there on the map page and tied together with directional lines drawn artistically to represent the order of the story’s events. In the space left around these titles and connecting lines, drawn or painted imagery depicts the details of the events entitled. Here is an example description of how one such map might be drawn:

In the upper left corner of a full blank journal page, we write, “John and Mary argue.” We then draw a line from those four words across the top of the page to its upper right corner where we write, “Mary leaves home.” Connecting those words to the bottom-right corner of the page with another line, we write, “John is sad.” From this title, we draw a line half way across the bottom of the page and write, “John is angry.” From there we draw a line to the bottom left corner of the page to write, “John gets critical.” From that lower left corner we draw a line about half way up the left side of the page and write, “John has an insight.” Finally, we draw a line from “John has an insight” rightward to the center of the page where we write, “John experiences a curious transcendence.” Having now completed a briefly worded contour of our story’s journey, we go back and fill in the remaining blank space on the page with simple or complex illustrations depicting our story’s events in visual detail.

  As with our script practice, the meditation portion of this map exercise occurs in two stages after the map has been drawn. In the first stage, we live out our map in our head, as we are looking at it with our eyes open. In the second stage, we close our eyes to again inwardly enact our map, this time without looking at it.

In life as in yoga, these scripting and mapping meditations can be used as tools for moving awareness whenever we feel the focus of that awareness getting stuck or locked in thoughts or emotions we would like to leave. The example story above, for instance, could just as well have been scripts or maps conceived to methodically move ourselves—our awareness—up and out of unpleasant psychological conditions we have been experiencing, perhaps for years.

The workability of these meditations hinges upon our understanding and acceptance of the principle that each of us is a point of awareness free to travel in the mind as we wish and will. This practice of “Flowing” is designed to provide us with some experience that might generate this understanding and an acceptance of this understanding.

One final note: The words of the scripts and maps you create should be written in the third person rather than in the first person. In the above example, for instance, it is written, “John and Mary argue,” rather than, “My wife and I argue.”

This depersonalizing makes the application of scripting and mapping more beneficial for two reasons: 1. It provides objectivity. 2. It de-emphasizes an implication we are the life roles we play (by eliminating the use of the pronoun, “I.”)

Now, let us be the awareness we are and flow.

Flowing

• In the top right corner of a blank piece of paper, write the date and time of this practice you are now beginning. In the top left corner of this page, write “My Flow Script.” Under that title, compose your script.

A note: The “flow script” you compose will be most meaningful to you if it begins with a negative event that you have actually experienced. This will mean the first one, two or three events of your script will have already happened, while the remaining events of that script will have not yet occurred. In structuring these events that have not yet occurred, you will have an opportunity to intuit a movement of awareness that rises up and out of the negative state of mind you were in when you were experiencing the first event or events you recorded in your script.

• When you have completed your script, sit in sukhasana, initiate an ujjayi breath control and perform your flow-control meditation on the script you have just written—first, while reading your script with your eyes open; then, while remembering that script with your eyes closed.

• When you have completed your meditation, lie back in shavasana and continue an ujjayi breath control as you enjoy the aftermath of your script meditation.

• When you are ready to move on, write “My Flow Map” on another blank piece of paper. Under that title, compose your map.

A note: Your map can be a picture version of the script that you have just written, or it can be different. If it begins with and is based upon another event, work as you did with your script to compose a map that will end on a high note and leave you in a positive state of mind.

• Once you have drawn your map, continue sitting in sukhasana, initiate an ujjayi breath control and perform your flow-control meditation on the map you have just drawn—first, while looking at your map with your eyes open; then, while visualizing that map with your eyes closed.

• When you have completed your meditation, lie back in shavasana and continue your ujjayi breath control as you enjoy the aftermath of the practice you have just completed.

Living as Awareness—A Formidable Task

There are many ways we can approach living as awareness. One of these is through the practice of intentionally becoming absorbed. In this practice, we allow awareness to do what it is naturally inclined to do—which is to become what it is aware of—with the stipulation that this becoming occurs under conscious supervision. The yogic effort here is to consciously control a basic function of life that usually occurs unconsciously and without control. sideways tiger

As we begin this practice of intentionally becoming absorbed, we are an observer who is observing an observed. As this practice progresses, that observer gradually becomes so absorbed in observing that it becomes its observed to the extent the “I” that observer perceived itself to be no longer exists—at least for the duration of that state of being absorbed. Example: A surfer becomes so intentionally absorbed in riding a wave he becomes the wave.

When awareness gets designated as the observed and the observer becomes absorbed in that, only awareness exists. If awareness, the premier representative of Self, can remain absorbed in itself and resist the urge to surge out into manifestation to get absorbed into something else, it can eventually withdraw back to the “the brink of the Absolute” and from there merge back into its Self—the essence of all.

Early on in this practice of intentionally becoming absorbed, we discover we can easily become one with something we are interested in, but have great difficulty in finding that same level of integration with something we couldn’t care less about.

At this point, we might wonder if we are ready for a deeper practice of yoga, for we can see that yoga demands an interest in becoming absorbed in awareness. Yet, as soon as we figure out that awareness comes with bliss and we have worked it out within ourselves that it’s okay to enjoy bliss, which is something everyone really wants, suddenly we can accept that we might just be able to develop the sort of interest that would make a deeper yoga practice possible.

Soon enough, however, we also come to the sober realization that awareness, unlike surfing, is illusively subtle, and that attempting to grab and hold anything illusively subtle is like “trying to catch the wind in a paper bag.”

Those who follow their yoga past this point of realizing a simple pursuit is not always an easy pursuit usually get at least a little humble. The good news here is that, although getting humble is not always fun—especially if it is arrived at though humiliation—it’s always a blessing, for there is nothing that humility can’t help, especially in yoga.

In the self-effacement of genuine humility, our yoga of working with awareness gets softened, our character becomes pliable and our life adjusts smoothly to change. Through all of this, we cannot help but see that, from the perspective of pure awareness, the many “I’s” of the world are fragile and forever morphing, and in that morphing forever homing in on Self. The delight of this insight inspires us to make our daily decisions from the inside-out as a soul in a body rather than from the outside-in as a body with a soul.

Next to the needs of the body, the needs of the soul don’t feel like needs at all, for they aren’t infiltrated with that desperate, fear-of-death clutching that comes with physical existence. All the soul needs is the exercise of its intuition to derive wisdom from experience.

Logic: Friend or Foe

There are two ways to deal with logic when it is blocking intuition. One way works. The other one doesn’t. The way that works is the way of allowing. The way that doesn’t work is the way of warring. lion cub

If we choose to war with logic, logic will antagonize every surfacing of intuition and disparage its very existence. If we choose to allow logic to do what it does, it will work its way willingly toward intuition to eventually see right through it to its source.

To allow logic is to let logic play itself out. Once logic has drained its arsenal of memories into thought and has worked that thought through until thought itself is no longer fascinating, it will gladly trade what could have been a fight for what one famous yogi used to call “the third-eyed sight of insight.”

There is one catch here. If memory—the reservoir of information that logic needs for its functioning—keeps getting restocked, it will never drain.

It is upon this point of committing new information to memory that logicians and yogis part ways. While logicians assume their logic will suffer if they don’t remember enough, yogis assume their meditations will suffer if they remember too much.

Not surprisingly, once yogis have set themselves on a clear path of practice, they curtail their intake of outside information and focus upon processing the data they are already holding. In this effort, they read a little less and meditate a little more, ask fewer questions than ever before. And through all their careful sifting, they throw out what they do not need and keep just what they do as they slowly clear a window they can see right through. Soon enough, they are enjoying a controlled and consistent flow of intuition.

Once this regular surfacing of intuition gets established, it needs to be made useful. To be made useful it must be assimilated into thought and expressed in words. Since this assimilation and expression may not occur flawlessly because of the limitations of thought, thought itself must be used to double-check itself in its amalgamation with intuition. This is where a cooperative logic is most helpful.

Yet even when an intuitive break-through has been fully assimilated into thought, expressed in words and double-checked with logic, it must still be put to work in a fulfillment of need to finally don its crown of wisdom, for wisdom not needed is not wisdom at all.

Here is an example of wisdom in action: A woman who has, for many years, intuited she is not a mortal body but is instead an imperishable soul, receives unexpected news that she has terminal cancer. While her family and friends are overcome with grief and sadness, she is amazingly calm and serene in a sense of knowing that now rises up to cradle her in an assurance that the intuition she has felt for years is correct—She is a soul that cannot die.