This month’s entry is inspired by some questions that have come in from readers. I hope you are keeping up with the ‘comments’ following each entry, as some of the best material comes from the question and answer exchanges we share there.
I was happy to hear from a young man who grew up at the ashram as a friend of my two sons. Here is how our dialogue went, and following that are other questions and answers that have come in.
Kyle: I've been reading the Vasistha's Yoga and I have a question that maybe you can answer. From what I understand, the Transcendental State is the fourth state which pervades the waking, sleep, and deep sleep state. That Transcendental State is actually an awareness...or Consciousness that is my own and it is THE Eternal Consciousness.
For Liberation must you be emerced in this state constantly even while your 'non existant body' is 'awake' or 'asleep', etc. Therefore not having any Experience of your body and the Dramas that your body goes through?
Can you indulge in the senses a little or even a lot and still be considered "Liberated"? If so, what is the difference between that and the unliberated experience of these different states which contain your own Eternal Consciousness regardless?
DRB: I am happy to answer this question from a young man who was a friend of both my sons as they all grew up together in the ashram. Apparently he has become quite a scholar.
The Transcendental State, or in Sanskrit, the Turiya State, permeates the waking, dream, and deep sleep states simultanously. That is why we must eventually discover and, through practice, learn to live in the state that does not change whether we are awake, in the dream state, or experiencing deep sleep.
A liberated one lives in this state. Even now, as we read this, the dream and deep sleep states continue. They do not cease to be simply because we are in the waking state. If you allow yourself to slip slightly out of the waking state, as though beginning to fall asleep, you see the the dream state is right there and ready to go. The dream is already happening.
An enlightened being lives in all three states simultaneously, and beyond them, firmly established in the Turiya State.
As far as the senses, they are a vital aspect of the physical experience, and without them we could not perceive the outer world of other people (the objective world of humanity.)
One who knows the Self observes the play between the senses and the sense objects. It is a part of being in this body. There is no judgment, no right or wrong, regarding the play between the senses and their objects. It is simply something that happens in the natural course of things.
So it's not that we actually 'indulge,' but neither do we repress or deny or push away. There is nothing 'unspiritual' about a sensory or even sensual experience. It is simply what it is.
Living in the Truth of the Present Moment includes observing the play of the senses, delighting in their dance, yet remaining profoundly detached, as though enjoying a good movie.
In the lessons of the course we explore how this physical incarnation is much like a virtual game of Spirit seeing what it is like to have a human experience. In a sense, it is as though the body is operated on remote control, yet we actively participate in the karmic events of personal life, for that is our dharma. It is essential to maintain balance and harmony on all levels of Being.
Kyle: Thank you, that answer has helped me a great deal. Until now, I have been desperately trying to Understand what it means to be Liberated. And although I DO understand what you are saying in your answer on an intellectual level, I have just realized that I will never really Fully understand it through intellectual Exploration. For some reason I thought that if I Understood intellectually, then the experience of Liberation would just "dawn" on me. Now I see that the only way to have the continual Experience of the Turiya State is "through practice", like you said. Although I've heard the importance of practice before, I was stubborn and determined to find this "shortcut". But who knows...perhaps my thorough intellectual understanding will help me know what I am looking for, in the course of my experiential exploration. So, thank you again for your answer.
Om Aim Saraswatyai Namah!
DRB: Kyle, you are right, you can't become liberated through intellectual exploration alone, because liberation is a state far beyond the mind. The mind cannot comprehend it. Like you mentioned, 'practice' is the key word. Otherwise all the past habits and tendencies (samskaras) will keep us down as well as make us totally predictable.
I am sure you experience the highest state from time to time, but when we speak of liberation, we speak of absolute consistency, and being totally established in that state.
Have you ever tried a systematic method starting from where you are and gradually leading to a freer, clearer, and more elevated state? You are welcome to experience our course on a month's trial basis, which includes the first two lessons. Most people are surprised to find what all is in there and what all it leads to. It's challenging to experience in advance the power a 'written course' might have in one's life. It comes as a surprise. Although beginners are always welcome, most participants are those who have tried everything else and now wish simply to apply the principles of Truth in their everyday lives. At any rate it is there for you if you ever wish to give it a try.
Karen: There is some very inspired writing throughout this blog, and the information contained in the exchanges in the comments is priceless. How can it be that something like this is not well known, that it's just here in its secret little space on the Internet? I imagine that compared to many things, very few people actually read this. Yet that is kind of mind-boggling that this would be true. What is your perspective?
DRB: Karen, I appreciate your appreciation of what we do here. My perspective is that it seems that the 80s and 90s of the last century was a time of large spiritual organizations, and teachers with large followings.
Before the 70s, or before the Beatles met the Maharishi, wisdom was primarily communicated in small groups. Even great teachers had small groups of students that they focused their nurturing energy on.
It seems these days many people are distrustful of corporations and large organizations, as certain ones have gone off the track and led their students in a direction that ultimately left them worse off than before, especially in their bank accounts.
So now seems to be a period of returning to smaller groups. A true teacher only wants students who are sincere in their aspirations. Those who won't stay the course are like weeds in the garden. Might as well pull them out as soon as possible so the true flowers can grow.
To get to your actual question, since I first began publishing my writings in 1975, certain people have responded very deeply to them, as though the voice that came through the writings was their own inner voice. These people have the discipline to read the lessons and actually apply the principles in real life.
So there will always be that small band of us, as I sometimes think, who in our own ways sought the Truth of Being to the best of our ability, and did what we could in our own lives, and in our own ways, to be free.
The number doesn't matter. There are many excellent teachers today. You could say there is someone for everyone. Yet it seems as though we are in a cycle of smaller groups. Large numbers often attract the wrong kind of attention. This has been proven over and over.
So I am happy sharing the course and blog with whoever comes along. People learn of them through word of mouth, and I feel most comfortable with this method of growth, as new people arrive through the recommendation of someone who already takes the course. I feel certain that anyone who will benefit from the lessons will be naturally drawn to them through the course of karmic events. It could not be otherwise. Still, it is never a matter of numbers.
There are more seekers of Truth today than ever before in my lifetime. I began my study and practice of yoga and meditation and the truth of creative thought in 1960, and believe me, everything is different now. The Truth is more alive today than ever, even though it seems the outer world is going crazy. When the outer world seems to be going crazy, it is a great time for sadhana, for even the smallest efforts count for a lot.
So there are many seekers, yet there are also many teachers to provide for them. Everyone finds what they need for their own development. Be suspicious of any teacher who is only interested in increasing the number of his followers. In fact, be suspicious of anyone who asks you to follow anything at all.
I would ask of you to never follow, but to lead through the innermost feeling in your own heart. The Truth can only be found within, never without. A true teacher will remind you over and over that the highest Self you seek dwells only within you. The Truth is not in the teacher, not up in the clouds somewhere, not in a church or mosque or temple; it can only be found within us, as our own Awareness of Being.
DRB: Naganath asks about cause and effect, saying "Cause and effect can only exist in the realm of time and space which we know is illusory..."
Well, this is true, and if you ever get out of the realm of time and space, please let me be the first to know.
We can experience realms of consciousness that are beyond this physical world of time, space, and circumstance, but as long as we are in the body, we live in time and space. The primary law that governs this realm of time and space is cause and effect. Every cause has an effect corresponding to its own nature, and every effect had a cause corresponding to its nature that originally compelled it.
As long as we live in the body, this is the world we practically live in. Therefore, awareness of the law of cause and effect is essential.
When we experience the inner Self, in some present moment, we will experience our unmodified, undifferentiated, formless Awareness of Being, or the Infinite Omnipresence.
In all matters pertaining to this world, the world of karma, it is best to consciously and correctly apply the law of cause and effect. In this way we aren't such a complete automaton, predictably reacting to all the same things over and over.
DRB: JP talks about progress, and the sometimes apparent lack of it.
The title, and primary philosophy of our course, is Living in the Truth of the Present Moment.
In the Truth of the present moment there is no progress. We simply are as we are. If our vision is pure, we see perfection in everything, including ourselves, which is the toughie.
From this perspective, there is no progress to be made. Progress infers a future in which we will somehow be better or more advanced than we are now. This future does not exist. All that exists is the present moment. In this present moment, we are pure, perfect, and divine just as we are.
This is where the 'Secret of Self-Recognition' (Pratyabhijnahrdayam) comes in.
As my Teacher used to say: You already have everything. All you lack is this awareness.
DRB: Ari asks how do we flush out the samskaras that we are unaware of.
It is very simple, and in truth we don't have to do anything at all. As long as we are in harmony, we don't have to be concerned with samskaras. We can simply be happy and content. There is nothing more to be done. This is our most natural state.
When we have a reaction to something that stirs up habitual negative emotions, then we have come upon a samskara. If we are doing the work of the present moment, we observe the samskara in action, which reduces and gradually eliminates its power over us.
So we don't have to do anything to flush out the samskaras. Our life, our karma, and the people around us, will flush them out for us. All we have to do is watch them pop out, watch our self-righteous reactions, our judgments, our dislikes. Anything that prevents us from seeing perfection in everything is a samskara.
A primary aspect of spiritual work is doing whatever is necessary to break free from the samskaras. We cannot do it simply by deciding to do so, although that is a necessary first step. This is why we have an ongoing course through email -- so that we can work on such things step by step.