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Archive for November 2010

Humility – 11.18.10

Student Question: This is a two-part question: 1) How would you define humility, and 2) How does one go about becoming humble?

“One short answer is the word itself: hum-ble. ‘Bal’ is Sanskrit for power. ‘Hum’ comes from the same word as ‘humus.’ To be exhumed, comes from the soil, the earth, the root, the foundation. So it is the power of the very foundation of our being,” elucidates Shunyamurti, the spiritual director of the Sat Yoga Institute in Costa Rica. “And it is the opposite of trying to have the pseudo-power created by an artificial superstructure of prestige, position, intelligence, money—any of the artificial ways people try to get power in the world; this [humility], is the power of the earth itself. . . . And right now the whole meaning of this moment in history is that all the false powers are falling: the economic powers, the political powers, the powers that rule from egoistic positions, are collapsing. And the only true power that will survive and stand is the power of the Divine Light that will again be visible in the world. But to have that power, to be the embodiment of the power, means to surrender all of the other powers of trying to be somebody who stands out in the world, and to return to the Source.” Recorded on the evening of Thursday, November 18, 2010.

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BE Thyself – 11.18.10

“In meditation, what we are doing is simply returning to the recognition of the essence. And that essence—because that essence is indescribable—creates difficulties for the intellectualizing mind to grasp. And that’s what makes something that is actually extremely simple to seem very difficult,” explains Shunyamurti, the spiritual director of the Sat Yoga Institute in Costa Rica. And the ego created its identity by grasping to landmarks: people, places, things, etc. But it has become so enmeshed in all of its support lines that it is unable to get free, and it becomes “a spider trapped in its own web. And so we want to get out of the web. And we can only do that by realizing that we are the weavers of that web.”

“In the West, the Platonic dictum of ‘Know Thyself’ has been the basic maxim of intellectual development. But the problem is: the self cannot know the Self. It would require two selves, one to know the other, and there is only one. And so because we demand to know the Self, we create another, false self. But that one needs to know itself and it creates yet another, and then yet another, and then yet another. . . . And so you cannot know yourself intellectually, in the sense that you can know mathematics or you can know a painting or a person or something objective; you can only be the Self. And you can only be when you let go of trying to know.”

“And then you discover what the Self really is. And the Self in Its pure form, when It’s not holding onto and identifying itself by that which it holds onto, is Emptiness: empty awareness. The awareness is cognizant; there is an Intelligence. But when turns inward to know Itself, there is nothing there; there is no-thing. There is only awareness that is formless. And that awareness that is formless, because it is Nothing, is nothing special. That’s what’s horrifying to the ego, which strives day and night to be something special in the eyes of the other. But it’s very special to give up that need to be special. And that’s what brings one to the sacred core of one’s being. And one discovers there another kind of specialness, a specialness to the Supreme Being.” Recorded on the evening of Thursday, November 18, 2010.

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Student Comment: It seems the goal of one’s life is to be what you want to be but not because anyone else wants you to be that, right? For example, if you are planning on having a relationship, you should be in the relationship because you want to love someone, not because you want someone to love you.

“Well,” begins Shunyamurti, the founder of the Sat Yoga Institute in Costa Rica, “the state you're describing is a very rare state. There’s nearly always an unconscious agenda. That’s why we talk here about the ‘I’ of the statement, the statement we make to ourselves and to other people, and then the ‘I’ of the one who is enunciating that statement that usually has another agenda that is implicit within that statement. . . . Most people use words in order to not communicate with the other, in order to create miscommunication that will favor oneself.” Recorded on the evening of Thursday, November 18, 2010.

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There are three registers of consciousness that have been understood throughout the history of religion: the Atman (or Spirit), the soul, and the ego. The Atman is the purest level of consciousness, but as the entropic process of Maya takes effect, consciousness becomes diffuse and eventually more and more fragmented—as we see epitomized in the postmodern ego. “I use the analogy sometimes of a cake,” explains Shunyamurti, the founder of the Sat Yoga Institute in Costa Rica. “And the Atman is an uncut cake, whereas the soul is a cake that’s still whole, but it’s been cut into slices, but it’s all there. And then when you get to the ego level, there’s only one slice left, and it’s your slice, and you're gonna hold on to it. . . . And then life becomes a war rather than a whole, as the cake was originally, in which we are not only able to enjoy it—we can have our cake and eat it—but because we are the cake.” This example can be compared to the Christian forms of love: agape, philia, and eros.

But now the forces of eros, or desire, rule the world, and the ego is in its most fragmented and demonic state. And the world’s religions have not specialized in dealing with this aspect of ego-consciousness. And this fragmentation, this decadence, has been best documented in the writers of the modern era, who have noted this uncertainty that is inherent in all egos. “And the only way out is in. And so although we say that, yes, in meditation you reach bliss, but you have to go through the sadness first, of letting the ego die. And that’s what is unbearable to most people.” But, as Shunyamurti reminds us, it is still better to kill off the ego in this bardo state rather than to have it ripped to shreds by the wrathful deities at the time of death.

And the internal demons that we project onto the world “can only be defeated through meditation. They can only be defeated by being willing to abide in the Self and draw in all of those fragments into the center, into the core, and fuse them back into the oneness that they are.” And by abiding in the Self, “you will realize that the bliss that you were seeking out in the world is coming through your very consciousness, and flowing through the very pores of your body into the world, and that the whole world is also a divine dwelling place of God’s Love and Presence. And that’s the only way that we can transform the world.” Recorded on the evening of Thursday, November 11, 2010.

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Student Comment: You wrote an essay this week on love and wisdom and the need for the two to be combined. And I wanted to know if you could expand a little on this “wise-love.”

“Love is your true nature,” reveals Shunyamurti, the spiritual director of the Sat Yoga Institute in Costa Rica. “But the ego defends against love . . . [and] it doesn’t feel safe loving in a loveless world. And so it puts its own love in the dungeon and tries to forget it’s there. And lives with as thick a skin as it can produce. But the thicker the skin, the more that affects the intelligence, and our ability to think also becomes thickened and more dense and more incapable of maintaining a very active state of intellectual creativity; all those defenses wear down that capacity.” But once the repressed, unbearable elements of one’s ego have been purified, “then the kundalini, which is simply a channel of love, rises, opens the heart, opens the mind, and flows out into the universe and you become one with the universe; you realize there are no boundaries. And all of this is love, but right now in a hidden form.” Recorded on the evening of Thursday, November 11, 2010.

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