What is a practitioner? In many cases, academics, theologians, and intellectuals believe their expertise is the highest level—they assume they rank above practitioners. In truth, mystics are the practitioners of spirituality. According to Evelyn Underhill, what idealists and theorists can only speak of, practitioners live:
In Idealism we have perhaps the most sublime theory of Being which has ever been constructed by the human intellect: a theory so sublime, in fact, that it can hardly have been produced by the exercise of “pure reason” alone, but must be looked upon as a manifestation of that natural mysticism, that instinct for the Absolute, which is latent in man. But, when we ask the idealist how we are to attain communion with the reality which he describes to us as “certainly there,” his system suddenly breaks down; and discloses itself as a diagram of the heavens, not a ladder to the stars…. That is to say, Idealism, though just in its premises, and often daring and honest in their application, is stultified by the exclusive intellectualism of its own methods: by its fatal trust in the squirrel-work of the industrious brain instead of the piercing vision of the desirous heart. It interests man, but does not involve him in its processes: does not catch him up to the new and more real life which it describes. (Mysticism)
Many years ago I had an argument with a dear friend. He was in love with maps. I, too, love maps. For me, however, the map is a guide to take me somewhere, not just a picture to be devoted to. The map’s purpose comes to fruition only if I journey across the terrain depicted. My friend remained in his head, which was filled with wonderful ideas. Our conflict was that he wanted to remain fascinated by maps while I wanted to reach a point where I could leave all maps behind. The purpose was to travel the path, reach the goal, and remain. In other words, at some point we have to let go of the map. For my friend, the map was the end in itself; for me, it was just a tool, a means to be used for a greater purpose.
As a practitioner, I walk the territory. I perform my practice as a shrunken self choosing to practice—the wedge to get rid of the wedge. All the work is designed to make the shrunken self let go. And the more I practice letting go, the less of me is there to practice.
Ultimately, this all has to do with stilling, which is the goal of every practitioner. How do we do this? Be with your experience, let whatever comes up from that experience come up, and function appropriately on the physical plane.
Here is how to be with your experience. We have to first be willing to be with a vibration. As we continue to be with it—without getting lost in it—we will become aware of the vibration as something separate from us. In perceiving it, we will realize it to be an object of our awareness. With the vibration now an object, we can choose to disentangle from it and still be with it. Then, by keeping the light of our attention on it, we still the vibration.
Sahaj samādhi means being in the Heart and looking out at the world simultaneously. Again: be with your experience, whatever it is. Let whatever comes up from the experience come up. And function appropriately on the physical plane. This is what Baba taught me. By practicing this, we become Sat (Truth), Chit (Consciousness), and Ananda (Bliss). This is the journey of the practitioner, the mystic.
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