|Merging with Siva||
Chapter 10: From Darkness To Light
Tamaso Jyotih Prati
People speak of the "light of understanding." Before the bright light of spiritual perception is experienced, the light of understanding must be laid as a foundation of philosophical training and appreciation -- learning to understand life, for instance, through action rather than reaction. The purified, integrated mind, so perfected in its own understanding, lives in close communion with the soul radiance so that light becomes the constant experience of the mind. It is this to which the yoga student aspires. Living in the light, everything that formerly was hidden becomes revealed. Answers to questions that you had been pondering for many years become instantaneously unraveled in the light of the superconscious. But the mind has a way, in its instinctive, intellectual nature, of casting shadows over the natural radiance of the inner light.
Doubt is the by-product of the intellect's inability to cope with light. When a person depends upon memory or reason for meaningful answers, the mind will break down in doubt. Only when the higher elucidation of the intuition is sought is doubt dispelled.
When the instinctive mind becomes lifted into the light, a person is strong enough to be kind when he could have become angry. He generates enough spiritual power to be generous when he might have reacted selfishly. Disciplined periods of meditation nurture a magnanimous and benevolent nature. Such a being is naturally in the light of the supreme consciousness. His great strength is humility, a shock absorber for the malicious experiences in life. Humility makes one immune to resentment and places everything in proportion and balance within the mind. A person lacking in humility does not give the appearance of being firmly rooted and poised within himself. At the other extreme, the arrogant person who lives in the shadows of the mind presents a pitiful picture of insecurity and incompleteness.
Seeking for God in the depths of one's being through control of the mind, control of one's thoughts, feelings and emotions, gives birth to the highest qualities of nature. This transformation begins to take place as the light of the soul becomes more and more apparent within the mind.
The spiritual path is a constant turning within, turning the light of the superconscious into the dark corners and recesses of the mind. "What is hidden shall be revealed," and so it is on this path as man reveals his Self to himself. As you sit in meditation in a darkened room, practice directing your consciousness inward, to the center of your brain. If you are able to perceive light within your body, you are on the path to immortality. But should darkness prevail, work diligently each day to clear out resentment, jealousy, fear, worry and doubt from your nature. Then you can sit in a darkened room and be a being of light.
The next time you are in a state of worldliness -- jealous, angry or feeling sorry for yourself -- sit down and seek for the light. If you cannot find it, visualize a light bulb within your head or a flashlight at the top of your head shining down into it. Flash the light on and off mentally, and when the flashlight does not go off, even if you have mentally turned off the switch, then you know that you have the inner light. You will watch awareness move out of the darker area of the mind. It's a wonderful feeling, and it's a basic practice of the contemplative life of living two-thirds within oneself and one-third in the external world.
I'm often asked, "Do I see light or do I just think that I am seeing light?" I reply, "If you were in a darkened room, you would see light within you, just as you would see on the outside if lights were on in the room or you were in broad daylight. This is because you are seeing with your inner eye, your third eye, which you actually use all of the time. You use your third eye, for example, when you study your subconscious mind and see the memories of your past. The light around the memories is the inner light. If it wasn't there, you could not see your memories. Take away the mental pictures, and the light alone is before you. You will learn to consciously use the inner eye to see with as you spiritually unfold. All of a sudden, one day you will realize that you are seeing light with your third eye at the same time you are seeing physical things with your two physical eyes."
Here is a technique for learning to see the inner light. Open your eyes while seated in meditation. Follow the rays of light coming into your eyes and into your head until they are complemented with inner light rays. Contemplate light in the external world. Now close your eyes and look for inner light rays within your head. If you don't find them, open your eyes again and let a few rays in, so to speak. Close your eyes again and look.
The inner light is so beautiful. It is firm, like a plasma. It is sometimes fibrous and full of energy. And yet, it is quiet and full of colors. You begin to see color, and in that realm you can hear color at the same time that you see color. You can hear sound and see color all at the same time, and you have the faculty to turn hearing on and to turn hearing off, because you hear with an inner ear. This is, of course, very useful in daily life. When you listen to people talking, you begin to know exactly what they are meaning because of your listening through your inner ear. When you look at people, you know exactly where they are in consciousness, because you are looking at them with your inner eye.
Another instinctive response to the ebb and flow of life force is disappointment, which intensified becomes discouragement, depression and despair. These three negative states are obstacles to all human endeavor, especially for the spiritual seeker, who must learn early to regulate, control and balance the emotional ups and downs so well that he never experiences discouragement, which is nothing more than an imbalance of force.
Life tests and retests our emotional maturity. Whether we meet those tests or fail is entirely up to us. On the Saivite path, the satguru gives the tests in order to mold and strengthen the seeker's character. Great strength of character is required to attain spiritual goals, enormous courage and forbearance, and anyone who lacks that strength and stamina will cease striving long before full realization is attained.
Therefore, to bring out the natural strengths, the guru will offer challenges. He knows that we all fall short of our own expectations now and again, and that we react either positively by reaffirmation or negatively through discouragement. As the tests of life present themselves, the satguru will observe the seeker's response time and time again until his emotional body grows strong enough to combat negative reaction to what appears to be failure and later to absorb within itself all reaction to disappointment, the father of discouragement.
It is the day-to-day reactions to circumstance that indicate the attainment and not mere recorded knowledge about the path. When the aspirant is able to meet ordinary happenings and respond to them in the effortless wisdom born of detachment, that indicates that his striving is genuine. When he is able to encounter conditions that send ordinary people into states of disappointment or discouragement and when his emotional nature indicates mastery over these lesser states of consciousness, he is well on his way toward filling the gaps of a natural growth of the instinctive vehicles -- body, emotions and intellect.
But to attain emotional stability, recognition of those vulnerable areas must be cultivated. It is quite natural to encounter circumstances that are potential sources of disappointment. The very recognition and admission are half of the necessary adjustments. As one set of conditions is resolved, another set of a more intense vibration arises naturally to be mastered. With disappointment reined in, the aspirant next faces tendencies of discouragement, then depression and finally despair, for they are all linked together in the instinctive nature of humankind. Once he recognizes these states as belonging to all men and ceases to identify them as personal tendencies, he is then able to cognize their source and convert them. In this way the emotional nature matures under the loving guidance of the spiritual teacher.
What is emotional maturity? It certainly is not to be equated with physical age. I know people who are well past middle life and are not yet emotionally mature. Even if the physical body is totally mature, the intellect, as well as the emotional unit, can remain childish and unstable. The mind may have been educated to the nth degree, and yet such a scholar remains vulnerable to depression and discouragement. The very first step toward emotional mastery is recognition coupled with admission that in some areas we are not yet perfect. Only through open admission can we devote ourselves to the sadhana that will balance and lessen the forces, allowing us to strive within ourselves to secure ourselves within ourselves. An emotionally mature man or woman is totally secure within and prepared to tap the greater realms of spiritual being.
We make very little progress when we strive to conquer these baser instincts in a good mood. However, vast strides are possible when we are miserable and work with ourselves to replace our misery with joy and understanding. Therefore, if you are ever disappointed or discouraged, count it a blessing, for you then have the opportunity to conquer the instinctive nature and really stabilize yourself dynamically on the spiritual path.
Often we are disappointed not only with ourselves and our circumstances but with other people as well. We can oversee this and other instinctive responses, such as mental criticism or jealousy, by looking at everyone and saying to ourselves, "I like you. I send you blessings." We cannot be discouraged or disappointed or jealous when we look our fellow man in the eye and say and simultaneously feel and believe through every atom of our being, "I like you. I send you blessings." Impossible! Love overcomes all instinctive barriers between people.
There may be certain people or a certain person to whom you can say, "I like you," but for whom this is hard to believe in your heart. If you look deeper into them, you may find they are emotionally immature, a twelve-year-old emotional body walking around in a thirty-five-year-old physical body. Are you going to dislike a person for that? No, of course not. You are going to understand him or her. I've seen people with twenty-two-year-old bodies with the wisdom of an eighty-year old and the emotional stability of a forty-year old. I've seen people walking around in a sixty-year-old body with a twelve-year-old emotional body. By learning to understand, we cease to be a personality leaning upon our fellow man and falling into disappointment when he lets us down. No, we must lean on no one but ourselves, our own spine, and not be the reactionary victims of the ups and downs of the world around us or the people around us. Then we will gain our freedom from the instinctive forces we were born into and attain sufficient emotional maturity to love and bless the world, no matter what our circumstances may be.
Love is the source of understanding. You know intellectually that within you resides the potential, expressed or not, for all human emotion, thought and action. Yet, you no doubt meet or observe people occasionally whose life and actions are repellent or unacceptable to you. The absence of love has created a vacuum of understanding. For the meditating person, there should not be a single human being whose actions, habits, opinions or conduct lies beyond your ability to love and understand.
Try this. This week look at everyone you meet, and feel, from your fingertips right down to your toes, love welling up from your deepest resources and radiating out to them through every cell of your body and especially through your face. Say to yourself, "I like you" -- and really feel it. There are many thousands of things that most people do not understand from their confused states of mind, and they therefore act in unseemly ways, due to the ignorance of past karma. Should their ignorance confuse you? Should it cloud your own understanding? Certainly not! We do not love the flower and hate the muddy roots from which it grew, and we cannot hate the instinctive roots of mankind.
With understanding, a great thing happens -- your life becomes even, balanced and sublime. The ups and downs within yourself level out, and you find yourself the same in every circumstance, find yourself big enough to overcome and small enough to understand. Then you can really begin to do something. When emotional ups and downs are allowed, what happens? Your poor nerve system is terribly strained in a constant state of frenzy and uncertainty. All of your energies are then devoted to coping with yourself, and not much is reserved to accomplish creative, productive projects. As your life evens out by using the great power of understanding, the emotional self of you heals and grows strong. Your nervous system, believe it or not, grows, and it grows strong if you feed it correctly by handling your mind. Understanding is the best nourishment for the emotional body.
You must have a basis for understanding your fellow man,
and a very good basis is: "I perceive him with my two physical eyes. He
appears to be forty years old, but I intuit him to be emotionally a little
younger and mentally about sixty --
Understanding, loving and making allowances -- these are the strengths of the soul awakened through sadhana, once the emotional ups and downs and the barriers of the instinctive influences of fear, jealousy, anger, deceit and disappointment are conquered. If you are creative, you will begin to truly create. If you are a mystic, you will have deeper and ever more fulfilling insights in your daily meditations. All of the mysteries of life will unfold before your inner vision once the instinctive mind is mastered in your life.
So, here we come to a very important state for spiritual unfoldment, and that is to face yourself. Have the courage to admit when you are right or the courage to admit when you are wrong. Have the intelligence to know that these are states of mind through which your awareness is passing and they have nothing to do with you at all, because you are pure spirit. The life force within you is pure spirit. It has nothing to do with the turmoil of the mind. And you have the intelligence to know that through the proper handling of your mind, you control your mind.
So, for example, you might face yourself and say, "All right, so I was wrong. I became angry, and for three days before I became angry, I was sort of angling for it, sort of creating the situation and antagonizing the situation to work myself up into that state. Now, I don't perhaps know why I did that. Perhaps because things were too peaceful and I was bored. So I thought I would create the upset. Of course, I didn't know I would create such an upset and react and feel so badly, but at least it was a change. Things were too quiet and too peaceful, and the person I became angry at was too happy." When you begin to face your mind like that, you find out how you create every situation, whether you know it or not.
Mentally look back at the various states of mind through which you have passed. It is like taking a trip in your automobile. Each city and each state has its personality and its experience, and each state of mind through which consciousness has passed has its personality, too, and its experiences. And yet, that You is always the same -- the You that lives a little bit behind the conscious mind in which you dwell each day.
You will have this power if you dedicate each Friday or Monday as a holy day. Work for the sake of work if you have to work on Friday or Monday, dedicating the fruits of your labor to the highest within you. Pray on Friday or Monday and dedicate the fruits of your prayers to the highest within you. Sing on Friday or Monday and dedicate your song to the spirit within you that gave you the power to open your mouth in the first place, and you will find that your consciousness will expand. You will be able to solve your problems from your expanded consciousness all through the week, intuitively. That is what the expanded consciousness brings you into, your intuitive mind, your intuitive, superconscious mind, which is much nearer to you than you think. The only barriers are the confusion of the subconscious and the state of mind which continues that confusion by not following spiritual principles.
The yoga break is a break in time in which one may penetrate the eternity of the moment. It is practiced in this way. If you find yourself nervous, upset, confused, drained of energy, lie down on the nearest flat, hard surface, not a bed or sofa, for they will not offer the proper support to your spine. Stretch out, preferably on the floor, take a deep breath and command your body and your mind to relax, to release, to let go of all thoughts and tensions of the moment. Don't bother trying to make your mind blank, but simply visualize yourself floating, relaxed on a cloud buoyed up in space, as it were, apart from all the problems and tensions of the Earth. Your eyes are closed, your hands are relaxed by your side, and as you inhale, gently lift the stomach muscles so that the lower part of the lungs fill with air before the upper part of the chest does. Visualize a powerful light flooding into your solar plexus as you breathe in, charging all the batteries of the nervous system, filling your body and mind with energy and positive will. As you exhale, feel this light energy diffusing into every part of your body, filtering down through the legs, through the arms, out through your fingers, up through the top of your head. As this light floods and fills your body while you breathe out, it expels ahead of it all the bothers and tensions of the day. After a few minutes, your breathing will have gained a deep rhythm. You will feel the life force within you build, and you will be regenerated through the lifting of the spiritual force within your own body. With the inrush of new energy you will feel inspiration returning to your mind, for as the body relaxes, so does the mind relax. If you are especially tense before you begin the yoga break, your muscles may relax quickly, and they will sometimes give a little jerk or twitch as the nervous system disentangles itself. By the time five minutes have passed in the prone position, with your mind solely occupied with the rhythm of your breath and the visualization of the physical body floating on a cloud -- filling itself with light as it inhales, distributing the light throughout the body as it exhales -- you may feel the inrush of energy flooding through you, as if a hose had somewhere been opened. The yoga break gives perspective in the middle of the busy day, when your mind tends to become tensely narrowed by details.
People who live under tension all of the time are like a machine. They are a product of the material world. Only when they release that tension may they become creative again, products of the soul. In a relaxed state, happiness is found, and the qualities of the soul shine forth. Selfish, greedy people are tense, concerned, often inhibited. Tension breeds negative thinking. Relaxation gives birth to positive creations. If you have little or no control over your mind, it will be difficult for you to find even five minutes during your day in which to place your body in a prone position. Watch then the tendency of your mind to live over and recreate the circumstances that were occupying your mind before you began your yoga break. If you are going to relive the details of your day during your five-minute yoga break, neither your body nor your mind will relax enough to allow the inrush of spiritual energy that should be yours. And if you cannot take even five minutes out of your day to enjoy the relaxation of a yoga break, if you are so wound up and so busy, you may be headed for an illness of some kind. A nervous disorder may finally catch up with you as the years go by, because the physical forces cannot stand constant tension.
The best time to take a yoga break is when you feel that you have the least time. If your world were suddenly to fall down around you, leaving you standing alone with no one to lean on, no finances, no family, no friends, where would your power come from? You would have to, in that moment, reexperience the same power that you felt flooding through you as you lay concentrated and relaxed upon the floor. That effulgent, rejuvenating power is the Self, the real You, flowing through "your" mind and "your" body.
Freedom from worldly tensions is only achieved to the degree in which people are able to control the forces of their own mind. In this control they are able to lean upon the power of their own inner security, found in the eternity of the moment. In that moment, your inner strength is found. So, take your yoga break whenever you feel even a little tired physically, a little nervous, a little distraught. That is the time, not when you have time.