Conference held by Jaya Yogācārya on August 30th, 2019 during meditation class
The holiday break is over, and we are all already very busy!
You are already carried away and completely absorbed by your professional, family, organizational preoccupations.
But what is your state of mind? How are your physical and mental energies?
The spiritual searcher knows that if he doesn’t regularly center himself on his practice and doesn’t focus his mind on life’s ABCs, the torment of the world and of hectic life may destroy his highest aspirations.
Awareness of the self is the path to awareness of the SELF.
To follow this path, you have to be aware. This awareness is possible only if you can be both aware of the outside, people and life’s situations you are currently experiencing and aware of what is going on inside of you.
Buddha बुद्ध said:
"Amongst the sleeping wide-awake"–such is the intelligent man.
What does that mean?
The world speeds up. You are more and more carried away, and so faster and faster, by its social, environmental–sometimes tragic–energy!
The stress level in the seventies was probably less than that of today for an average person, half a century later.
In order not to be carried away by this current, scattered in outside things, you have to remain centered.
This is already tricky for those who practice this regularly.
For the others, the new aspirants to calmness and clear vision of life, you have to get moving.
To learn how to swim, you have to jump into the water.
For the spiritual practice, it is the same. If you wait until you have reached unchanging consciousness before starting meditating, you will never know how to meditate.
Most importantly, you should learn how to have this special viewpoint, both on the outside and on yourself, so that you do not miss any of your reactions.
All spiritual practices aim at intensifying this process.
This constant state of self-awareness should be practiced in life and in moments of recollection.
Today, society doesn’t allow you to spend a lot of hours in meditation, you have to be productive.
Let’s say you practice meditation once in a while. If you are once again carried away by the current of the world when you come out of your meditation, in the end, your meditation was only a reaction to your stress and not a moment of true consciousness.
SELF-awareness, that is awareness of this absolute in you, will not reveal itself to you if you remain scattered in life’s current, in the succession of thoughts leading you to fears, hopes, the inside movie, what you will do tomorrow or what you should not have done yesterday...
In the end, all of this can happen without Consciousness.
It is perfectly possible to think without Consciousness, to work physically or intellectually without Consciousness.
Thoughts are temporary forms of the mind, Consciousness is permanent.
"An intellectual, a writer, a philosopher even, can die without having ever experimented presence to the self, self-awareness, and all that is discovered in this awareness", says A. Desjardins.
In other words, what is discovered only through this direct experience of absolute consciousness cannot be experienced outside of this consciousness.
This is a unique state.
When this experience was approached or experienced through spiritual practices, vigilance enables to not naturally forget it.
Natural forgetfulness is losing awareness that you have been aware.
A yoga practitioner lacking courage and determination in his pursuit can have a foretaste of higher states of consciousness and fall back into his ordinary mechanisms with the natural forgetfulness of what he has approached. Conformism, disease, external constraints are also obstacles which contribute to this degradation of spiritual awareness.
So, in your spiritual life, there are moments of plenitude of self-awareness, where you feel you are here, present to yourself, in a state of being, aware of what is going on; moments where the ego fades away, where all limitations seem to disappear. These are moments where you are more awake than usual.
These moments are those of your beautiful meditations, unforgettable emotions, subtle feelings of divine integration–contemplative, creative moments.
In contrast, there are moments where you are completely carried away, without any attention nor vigilance.
Developing awareness is becoming aware on many levels.
Inside us, this consists in:
Becoming aware of what is going on in our mind, without being absorbed by our thoughts. We become the witness of our thoughts.
Becoming aware of what is going on in our heart. "Ah! Here comes a feeling of worry, sadness, impatience." Let us not be carried away by them.
Becoming aware of our body. "Ah! My knees hurt, my back hurts, I am tired, my trapezius muscles are tense." It is useless to identify with this.
When thought, body and emotion unite in a subtle feeling, supported by a divine principle, a bright new consciousness reveals itself in us. This sharpens presence to the self.
When we want to develop awareness in our relationship to the outside world, we have to give ourselves some missions.
Of course, the awareness of muscle relaxation, the sensation of your energies, your thoughts, your heart shouldn’t be forgotten during your interaction with the world. But they are not the only ones to be active: your active Vasana वसन (your unconscious desires) and Saṃskāra संस्कार (your latent impressions) can rapidly distract you. We can remember ourselves for a few moments, but we can very easily lose ourselves for a few hours.
Giving oneself missions is practicing self-remembering in any situation.
Give yourself the mission of self-remembering in a store, at work, in a meeting, with your family, in your car, without stressing over maintaining a sustained and constant attention to yourself.
The point here is not to excel at an exercise of pure concentration on one’s little self.
For the wise men, the fact of always being carried away by the world and not being present to oneself is a tragic phenomenon.
For the vast majority of "carried away" people, the fact of being focused on oneself is perceived as neurosis, because there is a lack of spontaneity toward the outside world and others.
But how can you be in the reality of others if you are not in your own reality with vigilance and consciousness?
Many problems could be avoided among humans if everyone practiced this awareness.
The vigilance of self-remembering is a gradual, progressive process.
Don’t think you are going to be a 100% aware or unaware.
There are several degrees in the brightness of consciousness, from dimmed to full light.
So, your awareness must be flexible in your outside missions.
The point is to be present to oneself and present to the situation. If you are trying to be too aware inside, you will lose the outside thread and won’t be natural. If you only pay attention to the outside situation, you are going to forget yourself.
Maintaining awareness should be done without struggle.
You should follow life itself as a fluid current, progressively learning to live consciously.
Seeing your reactions will make self-awareness grow inside of you.
So, observe yourself!
When we are on our own for example. The return to the self can be done with a physical reference point.
"I read and I scratch my head at the same time."
Often, you are aware that you are reading but not that you are scratching your head because the feeling of yourself physically is not immediately available during an intellectual activity.
Observe yourself in a conversation, observe how you and the person you are talking to mimic each other’s gestures.
What is your resonance to the other person, what is the other person’s resonance to what you are saying? Do you leave room for the other without losing your place?
When you buy bread, stay aware of your body, your voice, the words you say and the gestures you make, while being fully present in front of the seller and in a restrained interaction without losing natural fluidity.
Yes, even when you buy bread!
We do not know what we believe we know and that is why we are not free from it.
Always have a fresh look at your morning landscape or at your close relationships.
We have lived, had experiences, but knowing self-awareness is knowing Ātman आत्मन् (the individual soul), and Brahman ब्रह्मन् (the absolute consciousness). This requires discriminating between reality and unreality.
Reality, the truth is already there, otherwise we could not discover it.
This reality lies in everyday activities and can also reveal itself in unusual or exceptional situations.
In the latter case, reality appears brighter, more luminous.
But reality very often lies in the dimmed light of everyday life.
For the people with a hurried, busy viewpoint, the absolute reality is veiled.
Hari om tat sat
Jaya Yogācārya जय योगाचार्य
"Le Vedanta et l’inconscient" by Arnaud Desjardins, La Table ronde Editions
"Swami Prajnanpad" by Daniel Roumanoff, La Table ronde Editions
Adaptation and comment by Jaya Yogācārya
Translated by Stéphanie BOSCO
©Centre Jaya de Yoga Vedanta, Réunion Island