"The aspirant and discernment"
Hamsa (1st part)
Conference held by Jaya Yogācārya on April 19th, 2019 during meditation class
Here we are together again after a few weeks apart.
During this time, each of us gets caught up in worldly activities and reaps the fruit of his spiritual work through interaction with the world.
Each of us is supposed to understand the teachings and to apply them with discernment in life’s practical work. Each of us evolves and therefore should take a position on life with more clarity.
Each of us should work at putting things in perspective, letting go, dispelling anger in himself, resentment, envy, jealousy, pretentiousness, greed, suffering, wrong thinking, false identifications, and many other personality traits which are deeply hidden in our being and feed our ignorance.
When you are on your own, there is no guarantee you have acquired the discernment required to work on all this.
Acquiring spiritual maturity happens step by step and Vivēka विवेक or discernment is long to obtain. Vivēka is represented by the symbol of Haṃsa हंस, the white swan, which separates milk from water when drinking.
This ability is hard to obtain, especially for those who have been involved in spiritual practice for a short time.
The spiritual guide that I am should be able to trust students with thirty years of practice with me more than students with only three! Whether you are a beginner or more advanced, constant work is required from you in order to identify and neutralize the ego.
With years of experience may also come spiritual ego. Experienced practitioners may also have to do some tricky work on the weakness of Vivēka.
Recently, an advanced student told me she hesitated to attend an umpteenth workshop. This workshop was on the "zebra personality" (very fashionable topic today) and led by two psychologists promising to reveal your true personality. As this topic is addressed to people with high potential, it is very tempting to identify with it. But this topic is also about very troubled personalities.
Let me point out, though, that advanced yoga techniques develop superior abilities and those who have managed to anchor themselves in these practices for many years have not become idiots. Quite the opposite.
Yoga makes you very smart.
After having worked for years on knowing the SELF thanks to the very complex yogic science (and having supposedly identified the personal "I"), still looking for who one is as a surface personality and relying on umpteenth new guides is quite surprising and even incoherent. Especially when one considers the teachings given to you.
After she realized the value of her experiences with me for so many years, this student finally decided to give up on this umpteenth initiative.
She told me about it and to me, this was like a flash of spiritual maturity.
Don’t get me wrong! If I considered some particular teachings would be useful to you on top of the gold you receive here, I would be the first to recommend them to you.
Often, you prefer to experiment without telling me.
You think you are free when you are still enslaved consumers.
You are not in a state of trust with me nor with yourself.
Sometimes you have moments of clarity and start behaving like wise and responsible people and sometimes you still behave like young featherbrains.
You always want more without having digested what you have already been given.
Far be it from me to enslave you to my cause, but my experience being based on constancy, effort and mastery of yogic science, I know its efficiency, its beauty, and its faculty of transcendence.
I know what I talk about.
Imagine a violin master teaching the subtleties of his art to his advanced students for many years: the subtle tessitura of the sound, the delicate touch of the cord, the patina of the instrument, the complexity of a work by Prokofiev, musical intelligence, the required memory, the development of virtuosity...
Imagine this violin lover seeing his students changing direction and going into street drumming on barrels!
Such is the freedom of students! Undeniably. Everybody has a different path.
But you can certainly understand the teacher’s astonishment and disappointment at the lack of discernment between a violin and a barrel.
The tools are not the same. The levels of expression neither.
Just because so many things are possible today doesn’t mean you should try them all.
Your lifetime is precious. Don’t waste it.
It is with the same demands, the same love for his art and the same passion as this violin master that I teach you yoga to turn you into noble and subtle beings.
I do not expect any immature and disrespectful behaviors from you, and more particularly from my advanced students.
I expect you to behave at the same level as the teachings, otherwise I am not a good guide.
Your, sometimes very discrete, behaviors of reject, heartlessness, intolerance, exasperation toward others, dissimulation are the failure of your progress.
To illustrate this, I am going to tell a parable on the creative, and even artistic, process.
Remember, for those who practice Kriyā क्रिया yoga with me.
In tantric iconography, kākiṇī काकिणी is the presiding Śakti शक्ति of Anāhata अनाहत, the heart cakra.
She is the energy, the presiding goddess of the "noble and eternal arts" created by the subtle energy of the cosmic vibration of the heart.
This cosmic vibration is symbolized by Oṃkāra ओंकार, the principle which combines breath, subtle sound and feeling.
Rākinī राकिनी, on the other hand, is the presiding Śakti of Svādhiṣṭhāna Cakra स्वाधिष्ठान चक्र or sexual Cakra. Besides the facts that she symbolizes sexual rhythm and death through romantic love, she is the presiding Śakti of "sensual and ephemeral arts" created by the vibrations of the sensual and sexual energy.
Today the world is fond of these types of expression which influence many behaviors. A wide range of artistic expressions satisfy the need for violence, sex, fiction, money, power, so everybody can identify easily.
Of course, in the so-called "noble arts", we see the advent of conceptual, technological, virtual arts, where intellect and cerebration play a role in the creation process (music, painting, cinema).
It may seem that we are working more and more with upper cakra. In fact, these activations don’t go beyond the first stage of Ajña अज्ञ cakra, that is its intellectual dimension.
There is sometimes transcendence in some artistic proposals, but they are few (literature, poetry, architecture, dance...).
Doesn’t Jacques Attali think contemporary arts have come to a dead end and our society will owe its salvation to the advent of a new art form which should be humanist?
It has been a few decades now that artists have been dispossessed of their works by tycoons of the art market and its diktat, mostly in the so-called "noble" arts (painting and even literature).
On the other hand, artists who do well are real businessmen.
To make a long story short, "Rabbit", a 1986 stainless steel sculpture by Jeff Koons, is worth 99 million dollars today.
Let me get back to you now!
For those who have been involved in the practice for a short time, approaching life’s situations with a spiritual stance doesn’t equal boasting about the little knowledge or spiritual mastery you have got and seeing if it works with or on somebody else.
A popular proverb says, "Knowledge or culture is like jam, the less one has, the more one spreads it".
We see more and more aspirants with very little practice claiming to be able to teach spiritual practices or heal with prāṇa प्राण.
Society today maintains this type of behavior as there are many ways to get access to mainstreamed spiritual knowledge.
As for me, I don’t want to turn you into yoga teachers or healers like the ones we can find at each street corner. I want to turn you into beings with a high level of spiritual development.
I prefer three smart people in front of me than three thousand idiots.
Let me tell you a zen story.
"A zen monk known to be a meditation expert once taught the art of mind purification.
Among the numerous visitors who came to practice was a renowned professor from the Tokyo Imperial University. This professor paid a visit to the monk who, according to custom, offered him some green tea.
He put a cup in front of the visitor and filled it to the brim.
Even then he went on pouring tea and the cup overflowed. When he saw the tea spilling on the table and the floor, the professor, feeling surprised, asked for an explanation.
The monk answered:
"I can fill up what is empty, but not what is already full.
You came to me with your mind full of notions of "mine" and "yours", ambitions and desires.
If you want me to teach you, empty your mind, forget everything you have learned, get rid of everything that is harmful and useless. Only then will I be able to teach you. "
In Kriyā, I talk to you about Mahā Manas महा मनस्, the great mind, concerning the activation of higher planes, starting with the activation of Ajña अज्ञ cakra.
Remember, you must do a few important things to transcend Manas, the mind:
A Sādhana साधन, that is regular practice.
Realizing the need to change mentally and grow spiritually.
Realizing the need to acquire the fundamental metaphysical concepts of yoga.
Acquiring a spiritual education for yourself and for others.
This involves the recognition of a guide, respect and love for him and his teachings. Respect your guides and love them as they love you and as if they were your own parents.
Changing inside yourself and using life as practical work.
Accepting the intellectual questioning of knowledge. Perceiving knowledge as a gradual process one goes through, not with logical leaps, but with realizations obtained by, first, the transcendence of concepts in order to enable the true practical transcendence.
There is no point in sitting down every day and meditating without observing yourself for the rest of the day and changing your interactions with others.
You cannot eternally maintain your judgment errors by merely realizing them and apologizing.
Simply decrease your errors!
More and more young and not so young people come to our door these days, claiming they already know everything and have seen everything on yoga and healing.
Some of them, just like in movies, say loudly and authoritatively that they want to be initiated and are ready to pay us a large amount of money, so that they can quickly do the same as us!
We spiritual guides have to face this.
You can imagine just how much we want to send them to orbit via Pluto or Neptune.
"What about compassion?", you may ask.
We have given so much for so many years to all those who have crossed our door!
Do you think that these pretenders without experience who cross our door in the paradox that they want to be initiated but already know everything, suspect one single moment that they have spiritual guides with more than forty years of practice in front of them?
A lot of patience, hard work, abnegation, grueling were needed for us to be able to reach inner mastery and practical knowledge after so many years of practice.
This doesn’t mean we were slow learners. Māheśvarī and I have a higher education besides yogic science and ayurveda.
This means that only time and maturity give a true dimension to life and spiritual knowledge.
The inner journey is a journey to an ever-greater reality, to the perception of an absolute and transcendent reality.
Heraclites (Greek philosopher, 500 BC) said:
"The waking have one world in common; sleepers have each a private world of his own."
This also applies to spiritual practice.
Many aspirants don’t live in the quest for knowledge of unchanging reality, in the quest for comprehension of this absolute underlying our lives. A lot of them still live in the preoccupations of the relative world, in their mundane preoccupations!
You practitioners still live in your own world and your judgment is still affected by that, even if you are advanced!
Hari om tat sat
Reflection by Jaya Yogācārya
©Centre Jaya de Yoga Vedanta, Réunion Island