Note: For the complete lessons,
with additions, see the AYP
Easy Lessons for Ecstatic Living Books.
Lesson 384 -
Baseline Systems of Practice and
Research on Modifications
Date: February 19, 2010
New Members: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the web archive, as previous
lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why
In modern times we are seeing the emergence of "open source" systems of
spiritual practice. There are two key elements associated with this new
trend: The "baseline" and the "modifications." Without recognized baselines
of knowledge, we are like small boats being tossed about on the high seas,
with no safe port to call home. Without modifications to suit our individual
needs, we may find ourselves stuck in a rigid system that can suffocate our
wellbeing and spiritual progress.
The AYP system of practices is a "baseline" that can be used
as a stand-alone approach for cultivating human
spiritual transformation, or to supplement any other approach with
components of practice that may add to the overall effectiveness of any
While the AYP system may at times seem to be immovable and monolithic, it is
not intended to be that. It is intended to be an effective foundation of
practices that can be adapted according to individual needs.
If AYP is not working as it should be, even with self-pacing, then
modifications and alternatives should be considered. When this is done, it
is very helpful to share the results so many might
benefit from our collective experience. This is what the AYP online forums
and community are for.
There are endless variations on practice, and it is not possible to cover
them all in one core teaching while maintaining a cohesive baseline at the
same time. And it is not possible for one person to cover every conceivable
variation on practice either. However, as a community of practitioners, we
can look at many experiences across a wide spectrum and tweak applications
of the baseline according to individual need. For self-directed practice,
this is a viable model going forward a baseline with flexibility according
to each individual situation. This is essentially what self-pacing is about
individually adjusting our practice times to
fine-tune results for good progress with comfort. It also applies to
variations in the nature of the practices themselves, as we have discussed
in the lessons on under-sensitive and over-sensitive meditators (see
While a baseline system of practice may be useful to many, we should always
be careful about the "stature" we assign to it, or to the one who has
devised it. The perception of stature tends to undermine independent
exploration and innovation. At its worst, undue stature leads to a
belief-culture of "haves" and "have-nots," also known as "sectarianism,"
which is a great obstacle to progress. That is why I hope the concepts of
"horizontal transmission" and "peer-to-peer" sharing of knowledge will
always be associated with AYP.
On the other hand, doing independent exploration and innovation is not about
trying 50 things in rapid succession and benefiting little from any of them.
Neither is it about adding excessive variations and complexity into a
baseline system whose purpose is to provide simple and effective means for
practitioners to activate the essential principles of human spiritual
transformation. Upon such basics, and a stable daily routine of practice,
the explorations and modifications can occur in a careful and fruitful way,
not much before. Beginners deserve some clarity. This is why I always
suggest newcomers review the AYP writings before delving too much into
variations on practice, other than self-pacing as needed. In spiritual
matters, less is usually more, and it is up to each of us to craft our own
approach in concert with our unique process of purification and opening.
Proposed modifications and alternative approaches have been plentiful since
AYP began in 2003, in great mountains in my email, and similarly in the
online support forums ever since they started. Many times, modifications,
alternatives, and even entire alternate systems have sought validation from
me, the community of practitioners, or from the AYP system itself, sometimes
to the point of insisting that the baseline AYP system be rewritten to suit!
This is a tricky business, because a practice or system of practices seeking
external validation is often doing so at the expense of finding its own
internal validation through direct experience and the observation of cause
and effect. With the latter, no validation from outside is necessary. Once
shared, the results will be self-evident to many.
So there is no need to seek external validation, or to cram anything down
anyone's throat. If we share our explorations and experiences openly and
honestly, letting go of the need for external validation, then some
practitioners will resonate with what we share and others will not. That is
how it is, even for the AYP system. One size does not fit all. So, we begin
with the basics and go from there, connecting with knowledge, practices and
experiences in ways that best suit our nature. We will know it when we see
Everyone who engages in self-directed spiritual practices is a researcher in
consciousness. In the past, this has been a lonely profession, reserved for
the few, often done in secret, with little shared with the general
population. For those who wanted access, a pledge of body, soul and bank
account was often required. For this reason, much of spiritual knowledge has
been called arcane and esoteric. Perhaps there were good reasons. Knowledge
was not very portable in centuries past, and there was much superstition
surrounding the process of human spiritual transformation. Even those who
spoke clearly about it did not find a large audience. It is only through the
centuries that recorded knowledge on spiritual practices has slowly become
more accessible and utilized more widely.
In our time, we have a great opportunity. This is the information age, and
we are in the midst of an explosion of applied knowledge in all fields of
human endeavor. It is happening in the field of human spiritual
Now we have open access to many more practices, and are in the process of
integrating and applying the means that directly cultivate purification and
opening within us on an accelerated scale. The eight limbs of yoga,
presented by Patanjali centuries ago, are no longer only a list of the
possibilities and interrelationships of practices and experiences, but are
also a list which we can apply using real resources for transformation. We
are expanding from the philosophical into the practical, and every day is a
learning experience by which we can make adjustments in practices leading to
ever more direct knowledge of who and what we are.
The journey we each are on is our research, and it should be shared. In this
way, we can find out what we have in common in our development and what may
be divergent from the norm. In fact, we are finding the divergences to be
less than have been believed. The divergences have been mostly man-made. The
human nervous system is the same everywhere, and the principles and
capabilities for purification and opening to divine experience are also the
So what do we not have in common? Perhaps our culture and religion, and the
variations in methods that have been handed down to us. But, in the end, we
are all working on the same project, no matter where we have come from or
what tools we are using. Our inner obstructions (karma) may vary, but the
means for purifying and opening our nervous system are essentially the same.
The eight limbs of yoga cover the full range, and if we are focused in one
limb, we will surely find the others through the connectedness of yoga,
alive within us.
By practicing daily, self-pacing, and open sharing, the truth will continue
to emerge in modern times. This is the road to the future. It is in our
hands to sustain the advance of applied spiritual science for all
There are plenty of spiritual pioneers emerging these days who are marching
forward with the systematic application of spiritual practices in ways that
have not been tried before. Modern institutions of research and higher
learning will catch on eventually, and then lead the way in thoroughly
researching the methods of human spiritual transformation, supported by an
ever-growing segment of the population engaged in daily practices.
Why will the institutions eventually take the lead? Because there are great
issues of the public welfare at stake the health, well-being and happiness
of all the nations and cultures of the world. As we unfold the full
potential of the individual, so too will we unfold the full potential of
societies everywhere around the world. Just as industrial and information
technologies have changed life on earth, so too will spiritual technologies
enhance the quality of life everywhere. This is why the large institutions
will become deeply involved in uncovering the specific mechanisms of human
spiritual transformation, and the means for optimizing them on every level.
As in all other fields of human endeavor, ongoing research and development
for the practical application of spiritual knowledge will carry us forward
to a quality of life we can scarcely imagine today. It all
has been contained in seed form within each of us.
Now we are bringing our full potential to fruition, and everyone will share
This will not be knowledge based on the charismatic personalities that have
come and gone in every generation. Rather, it will be knowledge
applied by each of us, recorded and continuously
evolving to more efficient applications, which can be verified, improved
upon, and utilized in practical ways by everyone for generations to come.
It is the truth we are looking for here. The AYP system can be a useful
baseline, but it is not going to be the perfect answer for everyone in every
time. This is true of every system of spiritual practice.
The key is ongoing research and development of practical knowledge,
based on real time cause and effect.
The guru is in you.
Note: For detailed instructions on building a
daily practice routine with self-pacing, see the
Eight Limbs of Yoga Book.