Immersed in Rishikesh, India. Historically one of the most yogic areas on the planet, a culture in stark contrast to the Western world I live in. A decisive feature of India is becoming, for me, a seemingly built-in philosophy of self-realisation.
On the surface there is much ritual and religion, and the next level of various means of full-time service and professional devotion. These worldly endeavours are tied into concepts of karma that appears to be only a first and second step towards the bigger goal of self-realisation.
Deeper levels of self-realisation suggests the highest attainment; freedom from all bondage to the world. Release is found on an inward bound journey to let go of the “I”, the ego, doing and business, without suppression of thought, or relinquishing of any kind. Nothing is forcibly given up, everything is transformed by the wisdom of true knowing and the lifting of the veils of illusion. Soaking a Western mind and body in a culture immersed in this metaphysical philosophy is rather radical.
In a state of pure awareness true self understands, or realises, what it is. That it is one with the eternal, and at the ordinary, local reality, a duality that exists in a non-dualistic reality. Here the world of good or bad drops away, to reveal ordinary reality as a dream, an illusion. In a state of non-duality self realises that it, one, “just is”. The “me” or “I” that creates duality, in seperation from the underlying one-ness of all, creates an unending stream of me, you, us and them, fear and hope, gratification and desire, divisions of within and without. Dissolve theses illusions created by ego self, and inner peace comes effortlessly; self is “realised” or actualized.
Inquiring into union, yoga
This is why I am drawn to integral yoga, it suggests a path of self-enquiry to learn a bit about everything as parts of one whole. Its asana practice is to steady the body comfortably, pranayama to charge the nadi, concentration to sharpen the mind, in order to meditate successfully.
In meditation, just observing the natural breath helps the mind, and its thoughts, become quiet. In awareness practice the world around us may effortlessly fall away. We may then look at the body, and the breath, and recognise that neither is ours, or us. The thinking mind stops grasping for meaning or doing. Looking for self changes to being self. Limiting mental and emotional patterns are revealed, and gradually dissolves. Consciousness activates self awareness.
Such “self” is nothing, and everything, and is beyond intellectual grasp. For instance, how can that be true that such concrete reality as we see around us is not real? And that stepping out of such a reality can be so simple? In the unmasking of the delusion that the world, with its pleasures and pains, is real, a mirage created by a thinking mind lets one identify with a version of the world that keeps the mind locked in identification with duality. It is useful to not dismiss the world as we know it, the ordinary, unreal reality is also real. To be mindfully in the present, rejecting nothing, helps unify duality. A simple process of direct, objective perception leads to understanding that “self” is limited by unconsciousness, unlimited when free of judgement, fear, cynicism, etc.
There are many paths to one-ness, but the inner peace is a singular result.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharsi said “One who gives up the conditionings gains Self-Realization. The vision of the Lord as the Self as the Self is true God-Realization”. (“Upadesa Sara”).
This process is so different from life in Cape Town, that the India I seek to understand is almost unreal. The normal thinking mind easily rejects that which attempts to overthrow a different way of being than it is used to.
Blessings and well wishes on the path of one whole truth:
from the Ganges, at the Sivananda house museum,
5 November 2014.
Next: follow-up blog No mind is everything, on Hatha Yoga & No Mind.