Advanced Yoga Practices
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?"
Well, everyone is different in how purification and opening occurs in the nervous system. But there is a general progression we may notice as we move along. It is first related to our mind, and how we perceive our own thoughts, feelings and the world around us. As experiences advance, there is an opening up of these perceptions that will determine our actions in the world. The process of transformation has to do with the rise of inner silence and how we see things as our sense of self moves beyond the objects of our perception to naturally reside in our abiding inner silence, or the witness. The evolution of action runs in parallel with the maturation of the mind in relation to inner silence.
Our actions play upon expanding inner silence in the mind, and are affected accordingly. Consider these stages of mind in relation to the evolution of action as we engage in daily spiritual practices over time, and how our actions will be influenced as we progress through each stage:
As mentioned, everyone will find the experience on their journey to be a little different. But there are certain elements we all have in common. Without these, progress will be limited. The constants involved in this process are daily practices (deep meditation especially), rising inner silence (the witness), and a gradual shift from intention and action based in outer events, outcomes and time scales, to intention and action based internally in stillness (the samyama effect), which naturally leads to more harmonious outcomes always occurring in the present. Our desires are elevated accordingly as the opening progresses, being part of the shift from limited self-awareness to the emerging broader awareness of unity. As this occurs, stillness becomes dynamic in our awareness, culminating in the constant outpouring of divine love and the realization of unity in all action. This is the fruition of human spiritual transformation.
The result is, "Do unto others as we would have them do unto us."
The unity experience is ourselves doing for others who are perceived to also be ourselves. We find ourselves to be mirrored in the many flavors of life everywhere we go, and great love and joy is found in helping. It is life in Oneness.
Then every action becomes an offering, an act of devotion (bhakti). There is no pomp about it. The ceremony is found in the simple act of living our life as we did before, and sharing along the way. It is life lived in peace, with progress at every step. Then the machinery of karma is always operating for the greater good, without judgment of "good or bad," with every action and every consequence being a stepping-stone to new openings.
There will be overlap in the stages of mind we experience along our path. For example, in pre-witnessing stage, we will not be entirely without a sense of the witness, or without a conscience to aid us in making moral choices, to greater or lesser degree. Some of our choices will be automatic we will do the right thing without fanfare, and our love will flow to the dear ones in our life, bringing us a sense of unity. Everyone has these experiences, and all of the stages of mind are included: pre-witnessing, witnessing, discrimination, passionate dispassion, and outpouring divine love.
Even someone who has never sat to meditate will have these overlaps. The elements of enlightened living are present in all of us right now. We only need to reveal the capabilities we already have.
As we become inspired to tap our greater potential, as we become devoted to a higher ideal of our choosing, and act day after day on that, then all of these stages will become increasingly illuminated over time. The order given will still be there, because each stage relies on the previous stage for full development.
Before we can discriminate between inner-based and outer-based action we will need an inner relationship in stillness from which to be choosing from the witness. Until we have a sense of an abiding inner witness (cultivated in deep meditation), we cannot choose to reside in it as we engage in action. We can't create the witness by a mental act. We can only reveal the witness through meditation. In the language of yoga, the witness is samadhi, and it is stabilized through the process of meditation. The witness is known through a condition of our inner neurobiology which is cultivated over time, not an attitude or idea we can conjure up at will if it has not been cultivated over time through daily deep meditation.
Likewise, we cannot have the full flowering of passionate dispassion until we have developed the habit of discrimination making choices based in stillness. As we progress in developing the habit of discrimination, then the process of discrimination itself will gradually dissolve into stillness, becoming dispassion. As we continue, carried forward by our bhakti, we will find that we can be passionate and dispassionate at the same time, as we continue to act in ordinary daily life. Dispassion is not a static condition. Even as we reside in stillness, we can move with great passion. This is the paradox of rising enlightenment.
There is no place to stop and say, "Now it is done, and there is nothing more to do."
Spirit is forever in motion, forever creating and forever serving. We are That Stillness in Action. We cannot become an incarnation of Love and cease acting for the benefit of the whole of existence.
The surest way to transcend karma and get off the so-called wheel of birth and death is by consciously becoming an expression of life's purpose, which is the realization of the divine nature of life in all actions, great and small. The undoing of bondage on the material plane is found in doing without doing.
Karma yoga is fulfilled when we have become stillness in action. Then we can do without doing, laugh without laughing, and cry without crying. We will be everything, even while we are nothing.
Then we are free, and in the best position to serve, with all of our actions naturally aligned with the force of cosmic evolution.
The guru is in you.
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