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Lesson 408 - Samyama, Elbow Grease and Non-Duality  (Audio)

From: Yogani
Date: June 3, 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: You have said that samyama is for assisting deep meditation in cultivating inner silence, and also that it is for cultivating "stillness in action." I have trouble seeing these as the same thing. If we are busy doing things in the world, how can that be stillness? I can understand the silent witness, the unaffected observer that is the subject, aware of all objects of experience. How does that become "stillness in action," and how does samyama produce it?

A: It should first be said that the emergence of inner silence (witness) and expansion of it to become "stillness in action" is experiential. We can talk about these things conceptually, and this can provide some inspiration for engaging in practices. But ultimately it is the experience that will determine our relationship with practices, the witness, stillness in action, and a resulting sense of non-duality. This leads us to an experiential realization that everything is That which has no attributes, even as divine love is expanding and flowing into the world with the realization. Strange paradox. It cannot be captured by the mind only experienced.

Yet, we keep talking about it. Why? So there can be some context for applying the means for realization. Once the experience is arising, the need for context becomes less for us, for then we know the thing itself. Still, we may keep talking about it for the benefit of others, and to clarify our own condition. And so it goes all these descriptions of the indescribable, and the assertions of "stillness in action" proclaiming what cannot be proclaimed, only experienced.

So let all of this information wash over your awareness, and let it go in stillness. Release the temptation to cram it into a box labeled "philosophy." This is how the information can do the most good.

Samyama is a technique that aids us in developing the habit of refining our intentions and our actions in stillness. And, yes, samyama strengthens and stabilizes inner silence in our nature also. As we know, the technique of samyama relies on the presence of some abiding inner silence, already established through deep meditation. With that, we are able to release intentions in abiding inner silence (witness) and greatly expand its presence and influence.

What happens with samyama is in the realm of paradox we have been discussing, getting to the very heart of it. Our intention is released in stillness, and stillness moves. We do not move stillness. Stillness moves of its own accord, in response to the intention surrendered to it. The outcome is according to that flow, not according to our personal desire or intention. This is why we have often called it a divine flow, or outpouring. It is also the essence of effective prayer. The flow will be according to the need of the situation, beyond our understanding of it. This is why effective samyama depends not only on our surrender of intention, but also surrender to the outcome. We engage in daily structured practice like that, with a predetermined list of sutras, so we can gradually develop the ability to live all aspects of our life in this unified way in stillness.

As anyone who is engaged in daily samyama practice knows, this is not an abstract or passive process. Real internal energy flows can be observed as a direct result of samyama practice, and real events in the world can be observed in relation to our practice. Some will see these as "miraculous" events. We may not know exactly what will happen, but we can certainly notice the flow of life being influenced in positive and creative ways by the stillness we have played a role in activating.

From our side, beyond engaging in effective daily practice, it is up to us to stay active in productive ways in the world. Stillness will be most effective in action if we are acting. A tried and true formula for maximum personal evolution and the evolution of our surroundings is "samyama plus elbow grease." Elbow grease means keeping active, engaging fully in whatever our life is each day. This is a formula for stabilizing inner silence (witness) in our nervous system as a full time reality, and for expanding the quality of stillness into action in the world. If we are not acting, the engagement of stillness in the world will be limited.

Once we are on the move in this, cultivating inner silence in deep meditation and activating it with samyama and our daily activity, then we will find an experience of Oneness (non-duality) arising. This simply means we begin to notice that we are the environment and the action we are engaged in, even while we are that which is has no attributes and is doing nothing. Indeed, we find we are nothing at all, even while we are everything and doing it all!

This is the experiential realization of the non-dual nature of existence, the natural outcome of cultivating stillness in action. It is an incomprehensible thing, but full with joy all the same. It is the experience that counts, not the concept. Release the concept entirely in stillness and you may get a taste of it right now.

It all depends on daily practice, and going out and applying plenty of elbow grease in daily living. This is not a path for the lazy. There is no free ride. We each progress according to our own effort.

Enlightenment is not a static condition, not a condition of no activity. It is a condition of unlimited activity in stillness. At times, we may have to self-pace ourselves so as not to compromise the body/mind. No one is being encouraged to burn themselves out. At the same time, enlightenment is not for couch potatoes. Enlightenment is always a process of purification and opening, always a higher manifestation we can evolve toward. It is the never-ending process of life the great river of evolution we are stimulating and navigating.

Once there is a sense of non-duality, there may be the temptation to assume we have arrived, and sit down on the couch. We may even stop our practices. We may assume there is nothing more to learn, and only to teach what we have found as the ultimate realization. This is a common mistake. Not that we should not teach from our level, whatever it is. We all should do that to help others. Service is part of our path. But it is a mistake to assume we have reached the end, because there is no end. We may feel we are at the end, but evolution continues to go on everywhere. We are not excluded from that. If we feel we are exempt from evolution, then that is a dual view, an illusion. As long as life goes on, there is no end, not for us, and not for anyone. We may like to get off the train, but that is an act in duality, far more dual than continuing to act to further our evolution, which is the evolution of all.

There is the idea out there that duality and non-duality are mutually exclusive. Not so. The very view of "mutually exclusive" is dual. By accepting and engaging in duality in stillness, non-duality becomes known, without the obvious contradiction found in a philosophical non-dual view, or fragmentary experience of Oneness. It is an illusion in the mind, where subject and object remain firmly entrenched. We must come to the place of fully active stillness. We have also called it "active surrender." It is an experiential awakening rooted in the neurobiology, not an intellectual awakening in the mind.

Non-duality can only be known when subject and object are merged, and that can only happen through engagement in activity in stillness stillness in action. Samyama cultivates this by merging intentions and actions in stillness, which manifest out in the field of action (elbow grease), merging together these two essential aspects of life (inner and outer) in direct experience. Samyama is for promoting this process.

We come back to a phrase that has been used here from time to time: "The One is the many and the many are the One."

It cannot be grasped by the mind only experienced. For that we have the systematic application of practices.

The guru is in you.

Samyama Related Lessons Topic Path
Self-Inquiry Related Lessons Topic Path

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Note: For detailed instructions on samyama practice, see the Samyama book.  For detailed discussion on the practical utilization of self-inquiry, see the Self-Inquiry book and the Liberation book. Also see AYP Plus.

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