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Date Posted: 13:24
Author: Anonymous - 15 Jul 2001
Subject: Re: Profound message of Sivananda website
In reply to: Mike - 15 Jul 2001 's message, "Profound message of Sivananda website" on 13:22

There is one more consideration before you go on to study the Sutras. Is it a technique to be practised in your daily life? Does it demand exertion, effort? Or is it something (as the Zen practitioners might say) which spontaneously arises in you without effort, technique, or trouble? Again, neither/nor.

It is neither a technique (a method involving effort) nor an accidental happening (where you lie down on your couch, and as you are about to fall asleep...!!). There is a middle way where you neither sleep, nor are you awake; you are neither exerting, nor are you totally relaxed. (Where wakefulness meets slumber, where day meets night and where night meets day are times regarded as auspicious for meditation and for prayers. Where the two meet, you cannot say it is either day or night.) But the beauty is that it is neither this nor that: neither exertion, nor total relaxation.

When it is a middle path between these two it demands constant attention. Those of you who practise yoga postures might have discovered this already. If you are too strenuous in your exertion you are not able to pay attention to what is happening to the body. If you are like a jellyfish, there is no posture at all. The intelligent practice of postures demands attention. Attention arises only when there is no tension, but where there is total, inner awareness.

In yoga meditation, does this awareness follow a sequence of the practice of methods, or does it happen spontaneously? Is there a technique to it, or is there no technique to it? Neither of these positions is valid.

How do we solve this problem? Is the problem solved just like that, or do we have to strive? The question is: "Is enlightenment (the final solution of this problem) instantaneous or gradual?" If we ask this question: "Is death instantaneous or gradual?" what would be the answer? That death takes place just instantaneously (I’m not talking about death in a motorcar accident, but normal lying in bed and dying) or that it is a gradual process? It is probably both, or either, or neither—it depends on what you are looking for.

If we define the word ‘death’ as the cessation of life, it is again subject to all sorts of interpretations. Does the cessation of life mean cessation of the heart, or the breath, or some brain cells? If that is what is meant, then it does take place instantaneously, because till that moment you are still alive, you are not dead—however deceptive that may be. You may be completely paralysed or in a deep coma, but until the doctor comes and says, "This man is dead," you are not dead. You are alive till that last moment. Therefore we may say that death is instantaneous. But we also say, "Oh, he has been dying for the last two years." That means he has had one serious illness after another—first he lost his hearing, then his sight, then his teeth, then his mind, etc.—a long drawn out death; which is also true. Now you are whole, with all your senses in good shape and working order. If one of these things conks out, you are that much dead, if your arms are paralysed, that means you are that much dead. If we look at the whole thing in this manner, we can say that death is also a gradual process.

In the case of enlightenment too, one can look at this phenomenon (it one can categorise it as such) as an instantaneous process, as a long drawn-out gradual process or graded enlightenment; but it is good to realise that till the last step is taken, the enlightenment is not complete and not certain. There is still a shadow of doubt. As long as this shadow of doubt lasts, it is not really enlightenment. There is a glimpse of this light shining through a veil—you may think that the veil may be thin, or dark, blue or white, but there is still the veil. Through that veil you are able to see a little of the truth.

If you have had this view it is possible far you to proceed towards enlightenment. There is no sense in foolishly asserting ‘either or’—if this is true, that is wrong, if that is true, this is wrong. Once again you get into this conflict and difference of opinion, and lose sight of truth.

How do we come face to face with this realisation that this perpetual, beginningless and endless flow alone is Truth? Every second the ego is asserting itself.

Those people who would like a shortcut to enlightenment, are looking for trouble. When we look for a method or a practice which will firmly establish us in this enlightenment so that we don’t hereafter fall into error, that is trouble already. If in this fast-moving, eternally dynamic, ever-changing universe you want to be rooted, firm and unmoving, you might as well be a statue—at least to human vision. There is nothing unmoving in this universe. If you are part of this cosmic stream you must expect to be met by an unexpected turn of events at every stage. You don’t know what is coming.

The purpose of enlightenment is to enable you to flow along with every challenge as it comes, meet the most unexpected events and then not lose your head. When in the light of your own enlightenment you are able to see, it is not a problem; because when you are able to see there is no fear or confusion anymore. Day after day the light is still shining, and when a new problem crops up you will look at it and see the solution—because the problem carries its solution on its own shoulders!

Enlightenment enables us to flow along this stream of consciousness without experiencing grief, confusion, doubt, because the light removes only the grief confusion and doubt. Life goes on exactly as it has been. Your most prosaic actions become yoga, and they create no problem at all.

The enlightened person is one who is never shocked. He has reached this stage of not being shocked by being constantly alert, vigilant, awake, and therefore constantly illumined, not because he is supposed to be rooted in some form of psychic power. That is what yoga demands of us. That is what yoga promises us.

So enlightenment is set up as the goal, and this goal has to be realised, not thought about. You cannot sit here and hypnotise yourself by repeatedly observing, "I am the immortal Consciousness." That is only thought! It was thought that created all this nuisance, and thinking about it only brings in one more thought!

There is a famous Zen doctrine: "First there was a tree. When I looked at it, it became the world. As I went on analysing it, I reached enlightenment. Then it became a tree again." When you take things for granted, you act and react mechanically, instinctively. When you understand its nature and truth, then the tree remains the tree and you remain you, but in the meantime a tremendous radical change has taken place. The husband remains a husband, the wife a wife. Suddenly there is no longer that guardedness, possessiveness and jealousy—the haunting problem-makers.

The Vedantins also give a beautiful and simple explanation. A man entered a house, something touched his foot and he jumped up, shouting, "Snake!" When the light was switched on he saw it was only some rubber. When the lights were switched off he saw the snake again, exactly as he saw it the first time; but this time he was not afraid. That is the whole thing in a nut shell. It is not as if once you become a yogi some kind of light will come out of you. I have lived with Swami Sivananda, one of the greatest yogis, and I can say that all that I saw was a very beautiful human being! I have seen him shaken by some events, but in his case there is the recognition that it is rubber and not snake. It looks like a snake. That, no-one is going to alter.

So enlightenment is an inner awareness that suddenly transforms and transmutes your whole being, without interfering with the appearance. You still play your role in life and everything goes on normally. Perhaps only then it is normal, before it was sub-normal! All this is within reach of all of us at all times. But, unfortunately, we have never really been aware of the beautiful mystery of which we are made.

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