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.

Wisdom - Insight Applied in the Fulfillment of Need

Thought usually moves in one of three ways. It wanders aimlessly,circles repetitively or plods from point to point. Although these three ways of thinking vary greatly, they share one common factor. They are all processes. Intuition is not a process. It is a freestanding occurrence of direct perception.

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Before we proceed too deeply into an investigation of thought and intuition as these faculties relate to yoga, it would be helpful to lay out the gist of the Eastern mystical perspective—composed of thought, inspired by intuition—that forms the backbone of most introspective yoga practices. In summary, that gist is this:

Truth is relative and absolute. A relative truth is only real in the world of manifestation—a world that exists relative to and because of its unmanifest source. The relative truth of the manifest world is revealed in experience. Because experience can only occur if there is an experiencer, the unmanifest Self must manifest as awareness to be that experiencer.

Because awareness can only be aware by becoming what it is aware of, it suffers a propensity for getting stuck in its experience. As awareness gets stuck in and thus wrongly identified with its experience, it loses track of its one, true and essential identity as Self.

In a loss of even a sense of its Self, awareness falls prey to fear and desire. Prodded on by fear and lured on by desire, this lost experiencer—now a pilgrim-on-the-run—has no choice but to take on many transient identities as it works its way back toward a conscious reunion with its one true identity after having experienced all the manifest world has to offer, one piece of that all at a time.

From a perspective like this, the manifest world looks like a precariously shifting existence that does not function according to truths that remain fixed. The statement, “you should wear warm clothes,” for instance, would be true during a cold winter but false during a hot summer. Or the statement, “you should do as your father does,” would be true if your father was a kind and wise man but false if he was a psychopathic killer.

Yet, we can also sense from this perspective that there is a one unchanging truth that stands behind the very existence of the ever-shifting world we live in as well as that world’s ever-changing truths. We sense this one unchanging truth as an ultimate essence that cannot be seen, heard, smelled, touched or tasted because it is timeless, spaceless, formless, causeless and thus obviously indefinable. This one-and-only, behind-the-scenes, off-the-grid ultimate truth is what some yogis refer to as the “absolute truth” or the “unchanging truth” to distinguish it from all those many changing truths that are relative and temporary.

For the most part, our most frequent access to this absolute truth occurs indirectly and incompletely as we strive to solve day-to-day problems in the manifest world of relative reality. In these down-to-earth efforts, we perceive gleanings of this truth absolute in bits and pieces, as it gets filtered through into news we can use. If we are good at this down-to-earth accessing of permanent truth in a practical context, we are said to have “common sense.” In this grounded state of clarity, the one and only, unchanging, absolute reality lines up with our personal, ever-shifting and relative needs to reveal pragmatic wisdom on the fly.