Our cars should not decide where we are going. Our vehicles should not be making our decisions.
Our fallen existence is a turning outward from God, the Self of All. After the initial asmita in which the intellect assumes the role of the subject—though it will always be just the moon that thinks it is the sun—we continue moving outward toward objects.
When asmita has reached the point where we are wrongly identifying with our bodies, our feelings, our narratives, our jobs, our families, or whatever, we will need to begin the return journey back to the Self.
At the first level of practice, we change the objects of sense that we focus on. Icons, rituals, and other symbolic and beautiful artifacts remind us to look within.
As we turn our focus inward, we find ourselves facing the mirror, the intellect. Our approach now should be the second level, where we focus on letters, words, and scripture—not just changing letters and words but moving toward their essence, and the essence of mantra. This takes us deeper inward. We have let go of identifying with sense objects, and now we must let go of the letters, so that our will, our attention, will be turned to the Heart without distraction.
Eventually, we settle in the Heart and rest there. Then, our will is in alignment with God, and we are no longer searching or striving. Our will has returned Home, and all that we say and do now comes from there. This is the third level. The three levels, in sequence, lead us back to the Self.
When we start on this path, we believe our mind is the subject. As we practice, we become aware that our mind is also sometimes an object. Who we think we are is sometimes an object and sometimes a subject, so it can never be us.
Our experience of perception reflects this deepening awareness. When we are lost, we see only through our eyes, and we live in our eyes. There is nothing behind them. Then comes a sense of introversion, in that we’re aware of thoughts and judgments and so forth. What will eventually happen feels experientially like a downshifting, where we drop out of the vehicles and see from and through the Heart. Or, in a physical sense, it feels like looking out from the center of our chest. We still use our physical eyes, but they are no longer so important.
So we use the vehicles first of the senses, then of the mind, then of the will. Until we understand them as being nothing more than vehicles, they are actually running us. We have runaway senses, a runaway mind, and a runaway will. It is only through sadhana, through spiritual practice, that we become aware of our vehicles as tools for our use, rather than who we are.
This goes to Katha Upanishad’s analogy of the charioteer. Our responsibility is to keep withdrawing our agency out of something in which we’ve lost ourselves, until we end up finally being the Perceiver and not the perceived. Then we are resting in who we truly are, and from there we shine a light onto our vehicles and enliven them without losing ourselves in them.
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