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Theory and Practice (Audio)
AYP Plus Additions:
400.1 - Science Under
the Hood: Is Prana a Light Wave? (Audio)
May 11, 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
Q1: Over the past six months, I have worked my way up to a pretty full AYP
routine. This has resulted in many symptoms of purification. E.g. I am
getting purification inside my eyeballs, which resulted in me being able to
read from further away (I am near-sighted).
Then I got tingling
sensations at the bottom of my throat that became really intense. And the
other morning I was about my business and suddenly it was as if the front
channel nerve connection had closed. I had a tingle deep inside my nose, and
then a strong sensation of pull in my perineum, pulling up inside my body,
and a huge flow of electricity up my spine, reaching my third eye, and then
going down my front. It was so intense and pleasurable, that I was scared
and felt compelled discontinue practices until I could comprehend what was
I was wondering: (1)
happening exactly? (2) When should I resume
How about the theory behind how all of these things work?
I mean, I understand the approach "learn to drive the wheel," but I
personally like to know "what is under the hood."
For instance, I
would like to be able to diagnose what is happening right now, and how it
relates to the practices. From reading the AYP books (and I've read them
all), I can say: "Oh, I feel mildly uncomfortable. I should self-pace."
Which really isn't a diagnosis. But with an appropriate theoretical
background I could maybe develop a better understanding of what is going on.
In the Buddhist tradition, you find "maps of
progress" detailing a range of experiences that the meditator may come
across, and how they fit into the overall scheme of practices.
A1: It was an energetic awakening, or kundalini surge. You
are correct to back off practices. But it does not
have to be all or nothing. Simply scale back on practice times until you
find a stable and balanced routine that does not have you getting knocked
energetically from pillar to post. The regulation of practices, combined
with good grounding activity in daily activity, is
essential on our path. See Lesson 69 for more details
on managing excessive kundalini symptoms.
Theories, philosophies and
maps are pretty easy to come by. Every tradition has them, devised from
particular points of view based on someone's experience. Not necessarily
yours, which will be the same in some respects and unique in others. For
this reason, in AYP, we try to keep theory and maps to a minimum, providing
basic milestones indicating the emergence of the abiding inner silence and
energetic components of spiritual development, and the joining of these in
unity (see Lesson 35). How these components may be
experienced along the way on each of our paths can vary.
experiential maps are pretty easy to compose once practices are underway and
symptoms of purification and opening are occurring. Every sage throughout
history who has taught others has offered their particular map. Theories
will either be confirmed or set aside based on our direct experience. The
ultimate scripture is in us.
What is less simple is mapping practices
in a way that will be useful for many practitioners. That has been an
objective in AYP. The assumption is that if the experience can be delivered
through effective practices, then the theories will be self-evident, and
they will vary depending on the pattern of purification and opening each of
us is undergoing. However, there is a general
underlying pattern we can describe that applies to everyone, which can
accommodate the specifics of individual experiences. AYP
goes for that, rather than a precise experiential map.
There really is no such thing as a precise experiential map that fits
everyone. My detailed map and your detailed map may be different.
Recognizing that is the first step in providing something on the
theoretical/mapping front that will be useful for
a wide range of practitioners.
If there is something theoretically
solid in AYP (and perhaps a bit revolutionary), it is that the human
nervous system is regarded to be the center of all spiritual development
and experience. All systems, philosophies, theories and maps are
derived from that single truth. Absolutely no one is left out,
because everyone has a nervous system. The systems, philosophies,
theories and maps may vary depending on culture, religion, and the
particular process of unfoldment occurring, but the human nervous system
remains at the center always. In recognizing this and taking it to heart,
the practitioner can be freed from a lot of unnecessary baggage that may be
taken on in the form of, you guessed it, systems, philosophies, theories and
It is very simple. Each of us is the map,
and we need to look no further than ourselves for the answers. All we need
are effective practices and sound procedures for using them. Then all the
rest will be revealed to us.
I recognize that dramatic
experiences can shake our confidence to practice at times, as you have been
going through. The truth is that all of these experiences are symptoms of
purification and opening. There
a variety of ways how they may manifest through
our nervous system. How it will go for us always boils
down to how we go about regulating the rate of purification and opening.
This is what defines the quality of our journey. From the AYP point of view,
it is always about improving the quality of our daily life here and now. We
manage our practices for that, not to accommodate a map, or anyone else's
idea about what our experience is supposed to be.
better to recognize that self-pacing and grounding are in order to regulate
the intensity of our experiences, or is it better to try and map them?
Should we be doing both? I think it is better to understand in general the
underlying process of purification and opening that
going on than to try and understand the precise internal dynamics of a
particular experience. The general understanding will lead us to effective
self-pacing and grounding, as may be necessary, while striving for an
understanding of the particulars
experience can lead us into attempts to micro-manage symptoms as they come
up with physically focused energy techniques, etc., which we know
will not work
well as the more
So there is more to the theory versus practice discussion than meets the
eye. It is essential to approach theory in a way that encourages sound
practice. The danger of detailed maps is that they can pull us away from
sound practice. The more into the particulars we go, the less effective our
practice will be. If we are not careful, we can be trading our systematic
surrender in stillness for a bag full of concepts and distractions.
Sounds like good things are happening there, and in relatively short order.
Continue to self-pace practices and ground in daily activity as needed to
maintain steady progress over time. Remember, practices are not all or
nothing. Practice times can be adjusted incrementally to find our balance.
That is putting practice in front of theory for best results.
Would you consider writing a book with much more
detail on mapping experiences on the way to enlightenment? Do you see value
in it? And, if not, why not? Now that I've explained what I mean by "theory"
and why I want more of it, could you provide references for such theoretical
A2: As long as there is a clear understanding of the
in-the-trenches business of managing causes and effects in spiritual
practices, there can be value in building a
framework of theoretical knowledge on human spiritual transformation to go
with the practical implementation side. But it is not a one or two person
job. Not even close. It would be like asking the Wright Brothers to document
all of aeronautical theory
from their perspective
in the early 1900s, clearly an impossibility. But they did demonstrate that
airplanes can fly, and it was more than enough to keep them busy. That work
started the revolution in aviation. This is what I hope AYP can help do for
applied spiritual science. We are demonstrating that anyone with the desire
can open themselves to a fuller and happier life through a set of simple
practices undertaken daily.
Building an evolving and ongoing science
to go with that, with a solid theoretical foundation, is a job for the
worldwide scientific community. This is addressed in discussions
Forums. There is quite a lot of research work going on
around the world
already, albeit, needing more
focus on the essential principles of human spiritual transformation. It is
evolving, and accelerating.
No one person could devise a
comprehensive theory of medicine,
electronics. Invariably, a few demonstrated key principles in practice, and
then many were inspired to build on that, both theoretically and
practically. And it keeps going on indefinitely like that.
This is the way of science. So if you are interested in applied spiritual
science, there are a variety of ways to get involved, hopefully not at the
expense of your daily practice.
For those who are in the scientific
community, it is suggested to take a closer look at the causes and effects
involved in sound spiritual practices. No one person can do it all. It is in
every one of us, and
the experiences of the many over time
how we are going to further develop the theory
behind the obvious effects of spiritual practices. On the theoretical side,
it will take an ongoing
effort by the scientific
community to carry it forward. And on the practical side,
it is up to each of us to continue on our path of purification and opening
with prudent daily practice.
As we proceed with research, let
us not forget that it is practices that bring the results, not theory. No
matter how good the airplane looks on the drawing board, we will not know if
it will fly
until we build it, get in it, and take
off. It is the same
relationship between theory
and practice in the spiritual arena.
The guru is in you.
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Note: For detailed instructions on
building a balanced daily practice routine with self-pacing, and on the
evolution of the stages of enlightenment, see the
Eight Limbs of Yoga Book,
and AYP Plus.