Lokānanda samādhi sukkam. The Bliss of the world is the Bliss of samādhi. Sahajsamādhi: walking Bliss. This is why I went to Swami Muktananda. Baba had imbibed and lived this understanding, and I wanted to learn and imbibe it from him. Prior to meeting Baba, I had known very powerful energy experiences. I had seen lights and colors, heard sounds, felt the power of the chi charging through my body and out of my hands. So when I met Baba, the powerful experiences people had from being around him didn’t impress me. Powerful experiences were not what I was looking for. I wanted to be the Truth and live it 24/7.
I knew nirvikalpa samādhi; it was being in “the zone”. That is not what I was looking for. I knew nirvichāra samādhi, where my mind grasped higher abstractions without thought. That is not what I was looking for. I knew ānanda samādhi, when I was completely absorbed in Bliss. I was not looking for that, either. I wanted asmitā samādhi, where I would be pure I-awareness, and then nirbīja samādhi, where “Rohini” would dissolve and only the Self of All would remain. In that state, “Rohini” would be enlivened as needed. Baba knew and lived there. Baba taught me the practice of returning Home, and what I teach now is what Baba showed me. He was constantly directing me away from identification with the individual.
Spiritual experiences, like any other experiences, are not who we are, and we should not identify with them.
Baba always said,
“Meditate on your Self,
Worship your Self,
Kneel to your Self,
Honor your Self,
God dwells within you as you”.
Baba was not speaking about the small self as the Self. That distinction was obvious. What has to happen is that the small self must be surrendered, so that we can re-cognize the Self that, as Baba made clear, is our true nature.
There is a Sufi story in which the Sufi laments that whenever he is present God is not, and when God is present the Sufi is not. The Sufi says, “No matter how much I beg and plead, God always says, ‘It is either you or Me’”. This understanding is so vital. The individual will never become enlightened; the individual is not who we truly are.
The practice Baba taught me is Sahajsamādhi: looking into the Heart and out at the world simultaneously. It is purely internal. We bore into our center, always moving toward the Heart. This is to be practiced all the time, not just when sitting. This is a practice that removes our attachments, grinds down our wrong understanding, and moves us to truly knowing who we are. As I always say, be with your experience, let whatever comes up come up, and function appropriately on the physical plane. This is how we dig down through the shrunken self and let it go. This is how we keep learning we are the Knower and not the knowing or the known. We let go and redirect our attention into the Heart. Eventually, we rest in the Heart and look out at the world. In Kashmir Shaivism, this resting in the Heart is termed Shāmbhavopāya. In the Christian tradition, it has been called the third level of attention and prayer.
By Heart I do not mean the physical heart, or the subtle heart of thoughts and emotions, or the heart of the causal body where we experience deep sleep. This Heart is beyond the waking state, the dream state, and the deep sleep state. This Heart is the Witness of those three states. The Heart is in the fourth body, the supracausal body. It is the turīya state, the fourth state, the state beyond all mutability. The Heart is far beyond where the individual resides. Here there are no emotions, thoughts, or any of the vehicles needed in the waking, dream or deep sleep state. Here there is only the Self, only God.
The blogs of the last few months have been pushing us in our practice, emphasizing what must be given up if we are to continue to work deeper and deeper toward the Heart. I have written about self-hate; remember that the root of that self-loathing, whatever other forms it may adopt, is our inescapable memory of our Real nature. We remember our True Self in spite of the fact that we now wrongly believe we are its vehicles, especially its faculty of knowing. This is our first wrong understanding: we misidentify the Knower as the mechanism of knowing.
The faculty of knowing takes ownership of all our experiences, including our spiritual ones. It is enlivened by the Knower, but because the Knower’s subjectivity is now infused into it, the faculty of knowing believes it is alive and conscious. Metaphorically speaking, the moon thinks it is self-illuminative, when it is in truth only illumined by the Sun. The Self illumines the faculty of knowing. The faculty of knowing is the habitat of the shrunken self.
In that light, ordinary human existence is a kind of slumber. When the scriptures say “wake up” and “great beings never sleep”, it is not that they do not rest their bodies and go to sleep. It means that they are awake in the waking state, awake in the dream state, and awake in the deep sleep state. These great beings dwell in the Heart, where they are always awake, and witness the life of the individual. These beings are all-knowing because they know who they are in Reality, and are no longer attached and identified with their individuality. This is what Baba taught, as have all the great teachers and scriptures of the world.
The final freedom from the merely individual happens when we surrender our faculty of knowing to the Self of All. We have then disentangled from all our vehicles and rest in our true nature. Until now the faculty of knowing has been doing the spiritual practice. Sādhana is always done by the shrunken self: by purifying and stilling itself, it reaches a place where it is purely an object, and the Knower of all objects is the only subject. Then we no longer think we are the image in the mirror, taking the non-Self to be the Self. We are the Self, in the Garden of the Heart—as, in Truth, we have always been.
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