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.

two babies

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.

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.

The Self - Our One Essential Identity

SunAlthough an unexplainable truth can only be known through experience, the very existence of that truth and the possibility of its experience can suffer obscurity if it is not announced in concept first. Therefore, paradoxically, an unexplainable truth must sometimes be “announced” in explanation before it can be experienced. Upon hearing the explanation of an unexplainable truth—even if that explanation is, “It’s unexplainable!”—those who have not experienced that truth will have to accept that explanation in faith, reject it in doubt, or reform it into a question left open for an answer yet to come.

However it is received, that truth stands announced—in concept. If that announced concept is either accepted or contemplated, it beckons. If it is rejected, it awaits. Sooner or later, a beginning development of that concept into experience will mark the start of a mystical expedition into the unexplainable.

A concept can never be absolutely true. And that’s all right because the value of a concept is not in its content but in its connection. A concept of a truth is connected to that truth by a thread of logic that will eventually work itself out to give itself up to an experience of that truth, which will be absolute. Take, for instance, the classic yoga teaching about “the Self.” One conceptual announcement of that teaching might go something like this:

We all share a one life force that comes from a one life source, which is also our one identity that we’ll call “Self” for now, though any name would do. This Self is beyond the grasp of consciousness, transcends time, form and space and defies description. Although it cannot be experienced because it precedes experience, it can be merged with from within being and acknowledged, after that merging, as Self Realized.

In this one relatively short paragraph, there is a lot of concept to accept, question or reject. Yet even if all of this concept is completely rejected, it does not go away. It takes its stand in memories we think we have forgotten but haven’t. There, it awaits its opportunity to offer us a beckoning into the depths of yoga.

If we have worked out doubt enough to wholeheartedly accept that a given concept of Self offers at least an idea of a certain experiential possibility, and we can therefore allow ourselves to forthrightly seek Self based on a plan derived from this concept, even the heavy demands of everyday life cannot weigh us down into thinking Self Realization is too much to hope for, because we can now hope for anything. We can now hope for anything because we have replaced a dark doubt with a bright faith that makes any reasonable aim seem obtainable.

From a grounded faith in reasonable possibility, we can see clearly that inner and outer experiences do not have to contradict each other, but can actually share mutual support, as they most certainly do in the lives of mystics who are the way they are because their outer listens to their inner and their inner listens to their outer while they reside in being in between.

Whether or not we choose to accept the concept we will all become mystics sooner or later, we must at least concede that, while we are not, things may not be as they seem.

Because physical life is by nature so overwhelmingly mesmerizing and all-consuming, most of us are easily drawn into what seems like a necessary identification with the body and its urgent needs. Our “I” seems to be the body. And our life seems to be only physical.

We think to ourselves: “If I can’t eat, I’ll die in a matter of weeks. If I can’t drink, I’ll die in a matter of days. If I can’t breathe, I’ll die in a matter of minutes.” Physical survival becomes our paramount concern. We assume, if the body dies, we die.

“Such is not the case, of course,” some of us might be taught to speculate. Certainly, when we hear, read or think we are more than a physical body, we might intuitively sense this to be true. But do we know this beyond the shadow of a doubt? Is that small spark of intuition enough to fortify us against a “gut fear” of physical death?

“I’m not afraid of dying,” some of us might stoically assert. But aren’t we? Is it not a fear of our own physical demise that lies at the root of most of what we do in physical life, including getting educated, finding a job, buying a house, caring for a family and saving for retirement? Would we not feel a primal fear of death if any of these “necessities of life” were threatened?

Something must happen within us to turn this earth-bound thinking and feeling around. Something must happen and something does happen. This is the promise the sages of old have boldly made—that every one of us will experience our way up and out of the identification with the physical body that stimulates a disproportionate fear of death.

For a few of us, this transcendence might get triggered through a revelatory event—such as a near-death experience or an otherworldly dream. An extraordinary incident like this can mold its changes within us abruptly. Suddenly we are filled and thrilled with a confident knowing that we are not the physical body, that we wear the physical body like a set of clothes and that we have worn many physical bodies through many lives.

More often, however, this transcendence surfaces gradually, smoothly and unobtrusively as a gentle shifting of focus. We simply find ourselves realizing our lives really aren’t so burdened and our problems really aren’t so many. In this realization we give ourselves permission to become intrigued with the possibility of enjoying an internalized life that is far more substantial and fulfilling then the externalized life we have been living. When we arrive at this threshold of a new life, however we get there, we are ripe for merging with the “I” of all.

Yet seeking something that cannot be experienced (because it precedes experience) can be intellectually frustrating. We are left to wonder just how to go about getting what we already have, or being what we already are. Even if we are told in no uncertain terms that dropping the urgency of searching is key and the most efficient thing we can do is be, we are not usually willing to trust such simplicity until we have exhausted all of our other options.

There are two common meditations prescribed by teachers to help us deflate our infatuation with “other options.” One centers upon the question: “Who am I?” The other focuses on the statement: “I am.” Both of these meditations short-circuit doing by focusing upon the “I” that does. In this flipping of awareness back upon itself we are encouraged to either be who we are (“I am.”) or question who we are (“Who am I?”). Through both of these approaches we are drawn within to delve back into the energies that precede thought and action until we can delve no more.

How to sense the Self

third eyeDuring the sequence of actions described below, you will be asked to practice a breath control called the cleansing breath. To perform this cleansing breath, sit up straight, inhale deeply through the nose and hold your breath for about four seconds. Then, as you exhale slowly, force air vigorously through tightly pursed lips in a series of short exhalations separated by brief pauses until all the air in your lungs has been completely expelled. This practice just described comprises one “round” of the cleansing breath, which may be repeated.

Like all yogic breath controls, the cleansing breath yields both physical and psychological benefits. Physically, it assists in a more complete elimination of toxin-laden carbon dioxide from the lungs. Psychologically, it affects an immediate cessation of thought and emotion as it invites—in its aftermath—a calm focus of awareness in gentle bliss.

To begin a sensing of Self, sit comfortably with a pad of paper in your lap and a pen in your hand. Think of yourself as an actor and your life as a play. As you perceive yourself in this way, identify the various roles you have taken on in the performance of your life. As these roles occur to you, write them down.

At first, this list will accrue quickly since certain obvious roles—like brother, daughter, mother or husband—will be easily identifiable. As the list gets longer, however, your searching will have to become more introspective. Follow this searching all the way through to its natural conclusion—past your work roles of boss and bossed, paper pusher and problem solver; and your weekend roles of lawn mower, window washer and leak fixer—into your deeper more psychologically imposed roles like victim, hero, looser, warrior, coward and the like.

When your list is as complete as you think you want to make it, perform at least three rounds of the cleansing breath. In the pleasant exposure to the bliss of being these practices reveal, allow yourself to become settled in contentment.

Once you are settled, imagine yourself living without playing any of the roles you have listed. Ask yourself, “Who is the ‘I’ that’s left when no roles are played?” And wait for an answer. After about ten minutes, replace that question with the statement, “I am,” and allow your intuition to guide you into an easy sense of the essence of all.

This article is an excerpt from Muni’s latest book:

Into the I of all —An Ultimate Yoga.

Shoot for the Stars

This is a poem that I wrote and an illustration that I created in the monastery when I was in a mystical mood.   It is written about the Rishis of India who often seemed "mad" to those who didn't understand their ecstatic states of mind.  My guru's lineage had many such "Mad Men."   In this poem, the word "die" means "samadhi" which is the ultimate meditative state. Shoot for the Stars - no words

Shoot for the stars that glow in the head.

The secret they hold has never been said.

Cherish the moment that mad makes right.

Die for the wonders of deep mystic sight.

Bliss: The Feeling of One Life Force

Who could ever question the innate sanctity of a child’s bliss and the blessed effect that bliss has upon others? And who would not want to take that bliss and pass it on—just by reveling in it and letting that reveling spread of its own accord? Once we perceive bliss as the feeling of the force of life, we can see it everywhere—where it is obvious and where it is not. It is obvious in love, but not in lust. It is obvious in peace, but not in war. It is obvious in selflessness, but not in selfishness. Yet still it’s there, everywhere.

Clearly, pure bliss is apparent in the lives of small children who have not yet learned to abstain from an unrepentant and unpretentious enjoyment of their inherent joy. And clearly that bliss is obviously there in the upliftment those children spill over onto us as their bliss becomes our bliss by no intentional effort of theirs whatsoever.

Certainly, it is a turning-point day when we let it be okay to unabashedly seek our own bliss in the better of its many guises, but especially as itself, naked and pure—like a child would experience it. On that day, we learn to live without lack and give without loss by simply allowing ourselves an enjoyment of a bliss so abundant it overflows onto others as blessings.

At first, we experience bliss in things we do.

Say, for instance, we are listening to some music we love on the radio. That listening is a doing. And it is a doing that we are inclined to keep on doing because we feel bliss while we are doing it. And while we are listening to that music we love, we say to ourselves, “Ahhh, this music is pure bliss.”

Suddenly, someone comes along and changes the channel to a station playing music we hate. What happens to our bliss? Is it not gone along with our beloved music? Usually.

That’s the tricky thing about feeling bliss through doing. Whatever is being done can appear to be the cause of the bliss felt during the doing. Once bliss is perceived in its pure and virgin state, however, it becomes apparent that doing could not possibly cause bliss, because bliss precedes doing. This is not immediately obvious, of course. But somewhere along the line, each of us discovers it is true: Bliss stands alone without a cause.

Experiencing this causeless bliss is easy. It requires only a perceptual adjustment. If we can acknowledge to ourselves that bliss can be experienced for no reason and we can allow ourselves to drop the very idea we have to do something to feel bliss, we’ll find we’ve found bliss right then and there, without even looking for it.

Once we have identified bliss as a fundamental quality of life, we can more easily enjoy it as a backdrop to our doing.

In this new enjoyment, we know that regardless of what happens in our doing, even if that doing should undo itself in disaster, the bliss behind it will remain intact and safe in being. As a result of this knowing, our life shifts gently as does our consciousness so that we are inclined to act appropriately and live gracefully—all through a doing anchored firmly in being.

How to locate and enjoy your primal bliss:

There are many ways to approach reveling in the bliss forever emanating from the core of your most essential being. Here, we will suggest one. This approach is yogic. It begins with an exercise called the full wing flight.

In addition to enhancing the lung’s exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, which is the primary function of the body’s respiratory system, this full wing flight helps to stop random thought, de-emphasize negative emotion and clear the way for an unobstructed perception of the feeling of being, which is the feeling of bliss.

The practice of the full wing flight shapes up around a well-known yogic breath control called the complete breath. This complete breath is performed by inhaling slowly and steadily through the nose, first filling the lower part of the lungs (expanding the abdomen slightly); then filling the middle part of the lungs (expanding the lower ribs, breastbone and chest slightly); and finally filling the highest portion of the lungs (expanding the upper chest and pulling the abdomen in slightly). The exhalation that follows is simply a reversal of the inhalation.

To accomplish the physical action that should occur in conjunction with the complete breath during the full wing flight, assume a standing position to lift your arms out and up, like a bird spreading its wings, so that each hand draws an invisible 180-degree arc from the bottom, where the arms hang limp, to the top, where the palms of the hands are pressed lightly together in prayer formation above the head.

This lifting of the arms gets coordinated with the complete breath in the following manner (see figure 1): As the arms are raised one third of the way up the 180-degree arc, the first phase of the complete breath is performed. As the arms are raised up the second third of the the arc, the second phase of the complete breath is performed. As the arms are raised up the last third of the arc, the final phase of the complete breath achieves a full inhalation. That full inhalation should then be held for a few seconds before an exhalation begins an exact reversal of the procedure just described.

Figure 1: The full wing flight

Performing this breath control with the three-phase arm motion helps the unified fluidity of the exercise by giving it a dance feel. It also allows for more air to be drawn into the upper lungs during the third phase of the inhalation.

In this approach to an enjoyment of bliss, we will also be assuming a posture called the “corpse pose” in English and shavasana in Sanskrit. When you are in this position (see figure 2) you are lying flat on your back with your arms relaxed to the sides of your body (palms facing up) and your feet set slightly apart.

Figure 2: Shavasana

 

Experiencing your primal bliss:

• Sitting in a casual and comfortable position, take a few moments to reflect upon the most recent events of your life. Go back no more than three days. Recall three specific occasions that were ethereally enjoyable such as when you watched a sunset, chilled out in a hot tub or relaxed in a hammock on a Sunday afternoon.

An example expressed in words: “It was about 6:45 in the evening on May 16, 2009. I had been driving on the interstate for at least three hours heading home from Lake Tahoe to San Francisco. With an hour of travel still ahead of me, I decided to take a break. Pulling off the road at the first ‘rest stop’ I could find, I got out of my car, walked a bit to stretch and sat down at a picnic table to watch the sun’s last sinking out of twilight into night. As I gazed into the final dazzling brilliance of this evening phenomenon, I lost track of time. If sunsets lasted forever, I’d still be there. But they don’t and I’m not. Soon enough, I was back on the road dealing with night traffic. All I could think about was getting home.”

• When you are ready, stand up and practice the full wing flight three times—more if you like. Then lie down in shavasana for about ten minutes. (Careful! A soft surface might invite sleep.) Allow yourself to bask in bliss.

• As you enjoy your shavasana, recall your three chosen events and reflect on each one separately. Once you have caught the enjoyment of each event, drop the event and hold the enjoyment. Be sure to do this with each event.

• Remaining in shavasana, strive to catch and hold the one feeling that was the same through each of your three experiences of enjoyment. That one common-denominator feeling is the bliss of being. Try to hold that bliss for at least five minutes without getting distracted.

This article is an excerpt from Muni’s  book: Into the I of allAn Ultimate Yoga.

A Study of Yoga Right Now - An Interview with Elephant Journal

Welcome friends. Below you will find a past interview with Tanya Lee Markul of Elephant Journal.

i. Where were you born, where did you live before the Monastery?

Muni: I was born in Plainfield, New Jersey but raised in Knoxville, Tennessee. After I left home at the age of 18 to attend college as a music/art major at Indian University in Bloomington, I never really returned to Knoxville except for short visits. After college and before entering the monastery, I lived and worked as a musician in New York, San Francisco and Hawaii. During my 37 years in the monastery, I came home to Knoxville only three times. After I left the monastery in February of 2007, a Knoxville home to which I might return no longer existed.

ii. What brought you to the Monastery and did you ever think you would have stayed for 37 years?

Muni: The charisma of my yoga teacher and my fascination with a deep practice of yoga drew me into the monastery. At that time, I wasn’t thinking about the future. I was just absorbed in a study of yoga right now.

Before I took vows, however, my teacher insisted that I think about my future quite seriously. At that time, he strongly encouraged me to carefully ponder the ramifications of a long-term practice of yoga in a monastic environment. After due consideration, I concluded I was ready to spend the rest of my life living as a monk in a monastery dedicated to the practice of an ultimate yoga.

Yet somehow, in all of that careful deliberation, it never occurred to me that my teacher might one day die.

iii. How did you arrive at the study of yoga?

Muni: When I was six, my mother had me taking private (visual) art lessons. When I was eight, she arranged for me to take private piano lessons. When I was ten, she had my dad buy me a set of drums and get me set up with private drum lessons.

Although this special training occurred primarily because my mother thought she could fix my childhood ADD, it also happened because, being the first of four boys, I was the recipient of my parent’s first and most exuberant experimentation in child rearing. From what they learned in dealing with me, they decided to raise my brothers in a more easy-going way.

Yet, as a result of all this private instruction, I grew up with people who were older than I was. All these people were artist-types, many were ahead of their time in certain ways, and some were interested in yoga, even though yoga was just then gaining its first recognition in the West. Under the influence these early yoga enthusiasts, I was practicing yoga asanas and studying yoga philosophy by the time I was thirteen.

“Yoga’s highest goal should be to realize life’s fullest potential by merging with life’s ultimate essence.”

iv. Why did you decide to leave the Monastery? Was it difficult?

Muni: I entered the monastery to study yoga full-time with my teacher. When my teacher died in 2001, I felt driven to seriously reconsider my monastic commitment. After some soul-searching, I decided to remain in the monastery out of a sense of responsibility (I was a senior monk). As time has proven, that was the right thing to do at the time.

In 2004, to my surprise, I fell in love. This occurred during one of the monastery’s travel study programs to India. Finally, in 2007, I decided to leave monastic life to marry. This decision was difficult. Yet, as time has proven, it was the right thing to do at the time. Now Mary Beth and I are very happy—and my yoga has deepened.

“Logic says that knowing who we are should be fundamentally obvious. Yet it’s not. The fact it’s not indicates there is something powerfully illusory about what we’ve become involved with by getting born into a physical body – something beyond logic’s reach.”

v. What were some of your observations upon entering the world outside of the Monastery?

Muni: The world is tough by nature. But I knew that as a monk—for at least two reasons: 1. Directly or indirectly, most of my service in the monastery had to do with helping people outside the monastery. 2. No one escapes the world—not even monks—for the world is nothing but a manifestation of that which we carry within us. If we are carrying nothing, the world is sweet and we’ll see nothing but sweetness everywhere we look, in a monastery or out. If we are carrying a burden of “unresolved subconscious issues” (negative karma), the world is bleak and we’ll see nothing but bleakness everywhere we look, in a monastery or out.

In the monastery and out, I have known bleakness and sweetness, in accordance with the resolution of my karma. Apart from this, I should say I see no evil in the world, only an adjustment of ignorance toward wisdom.

vi. Do you feel yoga practitioners gain a different experience when practicing yoga with a Swami versus yoga teachers of our time (so to speak)?

Muni: People get what they want. Desire is the determining factor.

A person who wants a lot from yoga can receive from his or her yoga teacher more than that teacher has to give—can force that teacher to grow. Who then is the teacher?

A person who wants yoga’s ultimate Samadhi will attract the appropriate teacher. This teacher will be appropriate not because of his or her outer title, but rather because of his or her inner discovery.

vii. What inspired you to write this book? How long did it take?

Into the I of All: An Ultimate Yoga.

Muni: With regard to your question, my first impulse was not to write a book. It was to condense the best of what I learned during my 37 years in the monastery into a program of yoga practice for myself. As I began to materialize this impulse on paper, what I wrote started looking like a book that could be useful to other people, especially since it was stemming from my sincere intent to produce something meant for my own use.

Because I was writing this book along with testing it in practice, it took a long time—about two and a half years.

viii. Do you feel this book is for any yoga practitioner and for anyone without a background in yoga?

Muni: This book is meant for anyone with any degree of interest in yoga. Because its principles are easy to understand and its practices are easy to apply, it can attract the curious and help the sincere.

Yet there is another reason why this book can be of interest to all yoga aspirants.

Yoga can stimulate a transmutation of desire. What I mean by “transmutation” is “a graduation up.” So, what I am asserting here is that yoga can naturally stimulate a graduation up of desire from one level to another and another.

Here is how this might occur:

A person begins a practice of hatha yoga to address certain physical health concerns. Yet as this person performs the hatha yogaasanas and breath controls, he or she experiences a release of physical tension that reveals a non-physical peace and bliss. At this point, the original desire might graduate up to a desire for more of this peace and bliss through the practice of raja yoga meditation. This raja yogameditation might then eventually stimulate a desire to find the source of peace and bliss beyond time, form and space in the depths of jnana yoga.

So, yoga itself pulls desire in and up. Many yoga teachers say this.

ix. What inspired you to identify the topics for each of the chapters?

Muni: As I looked back over all of my training, the principles and practices making up the 108 steps of this book’s path surfaced as key issues important in personal transformation, which is the purpose of the book.

x. Why the journaling? Do you feel it is an essential part of experiencing the book and its teachings?

Muni: Journaling helps bring the elusive mysticism of yoga down to earth.

In yoga, especially a yoga focusing on meditation, progress can seem fleeting. In fact, ironically, during the personal transformation that occurs as a natural consequence of an introspective yoga practice, we can feel like we are making little or no progress when actually we are making our most progress. This can be frustrating—frustrating enough to muddle the faith of even the most sincere. In this regard, journaling can be extremely helpful in establishing where we were, where we are and where we are going.

Having said this, however, I must assert that you can get a lot out of this book (and many readers do) without doing the journaling.

xi. If there is one thing you hope readers gain from this book, what is it?

Muni: Personal transformation. Self Realization.

xii. If there is one thing you’d like to see readers change in regard to the external world, what is it?

Muni: I see nothing wrong with the external world—nothing to fix. How many billions of souls has this world seen come and go? How many billions more will there be? And how many billions of souls have tried to fix this world? Our only job is to discover its source and merge with That.

xiii. Could you put into words ‘life’s ultimate essence’?

Muni: The unmanifest source of manifest existence is life’s ultimate essence. Because this timeless, formless, spaceless source of time, form and space is also our essential identity, we sometimes refer to it as “the Self.”

xiv. How do you consider sleep an accessory to yoga?

Muni: Sleep allows and facilitates the natural functions of our subconscious mind. The practice of yoga during waking life and especially just prior to sleep, enhances the mystical inner work that naturally occurs during sleep.

xv. What would you consider signs of ‘progress’ toward Self Realization?

Muni: There are many subtle signs of spiritual progress. The most obvious is character development. In character development, the key trait to watch for is selflessness. No self creates a vacuum for the realization of the Self.

Muni, thank you so kindly for this interview and thank you for being here.