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Advanced Yoga Practices
Main Lessons
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Note: For the Original Internet Lessons with additions, see the AYP Easy Lessons Books. For the Expanded and Interactive Internet Lessons, AYP Online Books, Audiobooks and more, see AYP Plus.

Lesson 376 - Beyond Death  (Audio)

AYP Plus Additions:
376.1 - On Pain, Suffering, Death and Suicide  (Audio)
376.2 - Transcending the Body/Mind and then Putting It to Good Use  (Audio)

From: Yogani
Date: January 8, 2010

New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the archive, as previous lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why This Discussion?"


Q: For me, the practice of attaining enlightenment (or liberation, union with god, or whatever term we may use) must go beyond the physical body and touch the non-physical existence of ours. The body is impermanent. We have to leave it sooner or later.

However, in your writings you also indicate that the "experience of god" depends on the nervous system. To a certain degree I do agree that an agitated mind/emotion is unlikely to see/experience truth clearly. But what about death? This is an extremely important question in my opinion. Spiritual practice must have connection/correlation with the beyond-bodily-existence, but certainly not in a fanatical/dogmatic/merely belief way (as if mere belief is going to save us).

I'm likely to believe that the spiritual path develops our astral and mental body, as opposed to just physical body, which makes the path possible after death, as the astral/mental body doesn't die. Ultimately, as our practice progresses, we sheath those bodies and become pure spirit/soul and "merge with Brahman."

This, of course is a point of view of mine, and it's only recently I begin to consider adopting it, as it is helpful in reconciling "before" with "after-death" spiritual progress.

What are your thoughts?

A: Yes, the nervous system is the doorway to the divine, but this one we are in right now has a time limit. Without it, we will not be here at all, and the spiritual path as we know it will not be possible. So not a minute to waste.

When we talk about the nervous system and the neurobiology here, it goes all the way into stillness (pure bliss consciousness), so includes the cultivation of awareness (beingness) beyond the subtle strata that survive the body after death. That's why we say that what we gain in spiritual practices in this body we take with us from this life. Hence there is a logic for people being born in different stages of consciousness, with different gifts and challenges. Not that anyone has to believe in life after death or reincarnation to benefit from spiritual practices.

The much bigger question is whether there is life before death, as in right now. By "life," I mean life free from fear and suffering, life radiating in perpetual happiness, regardless of the circumstances we find ourselves in. That can be lived through the systematic application of spiritual practices. Then the rest of life (and death) on the material plane will take care of itself. Try and see.

We don't look much beyond this life for specific things to do. It is a bridge we will cross when we get to it. But there is much we can do in the here and now, and that is the focus of yoga.

Looking at it from another point of view, one we can cultivate as a direct experience in this lifetime, we have always been pure bliss consciousness, and are only imagining we are this body/mind and personality. From that point of view, we have never been born, and therefore shall never die. Neither do we exist in the subtle planes before birth or after death.

But that is "cheap logic," you know, even though it sits at the center of advaita-vedanta and jnana yoga philosophies, and is where we all are heading. I say "cheap logic," because few can express this from beyond the realm of ideas without substantial preparation in the form of spiritual practices. It means little until we begin to come into direct experience of our self as the eternal unborn condition. Then we can say we are That and easily release what is not true in our life.

Practice daily, and it will happen. Not overnight, but in time with prudent application of time-tested methods. This is the best preparation for death, and will transcend it altogether during this life, because ultimately we are That which is beyond birth and death, here and now. So there is no before or after. Only now.

It can be done. It is being done, by many everywhere around the world today. Well begun is nearly done.

The guru is in you.

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Note: For detailed discussion on the practical utilization of self-inquiry, see the Self-Inquiry book and the Liberation book For detailed instructions on building a balanced practice routine with self-pacing, see the Eight Limbs of Yoga book. Also see AYP Plus.

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