According to the ancient Vedic system, there are various yogic paths to non-dual perception that lead the practitioner to being-centered action.
Whether one practices ‘this’ or ‘that’ yoga depends greatly on their natural tendencies.
Instead of studying the various yogas as philosophical concepts, I believe there is power in emphasizing their possible applications to daily life.
This article will focus on living the path of the mind (jnana or raja yoga) in the world.
In studying the various maps of the journey from limited to unlimited awareness, I’ve realized that the map is not the territory. Glimpses or tastes of higher states of consciousness, behind the veil of duality, are not the same as being established continuously in these states.
This is why I prefer to use the term “wakeful” rather than “awakened” when referring to most aspirants on the yogic paths. Buddha-consciousness or God-consciousness or Self-realization are fully awake states and are among the highest stations of the soul’s journey.
Mystics of all ages have articulated the profound longing and eventual consummation between the limited self and unlimited Self (that some call “God”), subject and object, earth and heaven, bride and bridegroom, yin and yang, mind and heart, body and soul, conscious and unconscious. All of these words or symbols are fingers pointing to the moon, as they say.
The eyes of the mystic “sees” or “senses” to some degree the energetic thread between these words of opposites. This faculty of consciousness is what I refer to as non-dual perception.
This refined sensor needs constant attention, strengthening and exercise, as well as a purifying filter. As William Blake has stated, “If the doors of perception were cleansed, man would see everything as it is, infinite.”
Actions that result from non-dual perception are more likely to manifest as being-centered rather than doing-centered. As Krishna tells his devotee, Arjuna, in the Bhagavad Gita: “Go deeper and deeper within yourself
until nothing is left—then act.”
Perennial Wisdom has long held that one of the primary goals of life is equanimity or poise in the midst of conflict. The Master, Jesus once said “Be in the world, but not of it.” An old, eastern adage states: “Before enlightenment— chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment—chop wood, carry water.”
These sayings are not meant solely for monks or for those who have forsaken the world, but for the everyday person in society who must find peace and poise amidst daily strife.
Maya—illusion, or God’s powerful dream of creation— lures us to sleepwalking through life by perpetual desire and to neurotic wakefulness primarily through fear and anger.
The way out is the way in and the way in is the way out.
There are sitting meditations of inhaling and exhaling while fastening to a word. There are moving meditations like tai chi and chi kung (qi gong) that when practiced regularly have been known to cleanse ego consciousness through the channeling and harnessing of subtle energy.
Although I have used both of these methods for many years, I have found particularly useful a practice that came intuitively to me one day—my own particular brand of meditative action. Of course, methods of outer centering are not new & have been used for millennia in a variety of disciplines. But this exercise I have found particularly helpful.
I become aware —ideally in the middle of or least immediately after any interaction in the world.
It could be driving my car, child rearing, navigating a misunderstanding with a partner, spouse or friend.
When I respond out of fear, anger or repression I feel an energy drain.
Everything stops here and repeats itself unless I can quickly gather forces and proceed to Step 2.
I say silently to myself, “How can I be (differently) now?” then “What can I do (differently) now?” This is not about the other person—friend or stranger, spouse or child. This is about me. It’s an inside job. I choose to change the energy of this moment from within myself.
I feel the freedom of this moment where I have taken the responsibility for my internal thoughts and feelings and external actions. I breathe in the bliss of this instance where it doesn’t matter what “they” have done or what “they” have said. For a second I step out of the clutches of Maya—that place where my neurotic self vibrates out of balance, with a lot of static and is drained of precious and valuable energy . . . and I step into Thisness.
I ask myself: How long did it take me to move from a neurotic response—such as, “I hate what is happening now” “What do they think they are doing?” etcetera to . . . Being and (Simple) Awareness?
I call this the “recovery time.” The less time it takes to arrive at this state of poise, equanimity and peace, the more that I know I am getting somewhere, that a feedback loop is being created, a pattern of positive action.
Here. from this place of flexible strength, I can taste and glimpse and touch upon the truth of why I must learn as a human being how to “be in the world but not of it.” The result of this art is peace at my core . . . living and breathing in a low fire of bliss.
Step 5 *(Optional: when you are more intensely ”hooked” into illusion or when Step 4 is ineffective)
In extraordinary crises, such as direct confrontations, when the intensity of your anger spikes and you can feel the flush of blood pump, an obvious increase in blood pressure, and adrenalin is shooting through your nervous system, it is important to become aware as quickly as possible of “shallow” breathing or breathing from the chest.
By using your attention and intention, bring the breath downward to the gut, slowly relaxing the stomach muscles as you inhale. Then, fasten your awareness to a silent word when you exhale. If you have a mantra, use it. If you do not, use the numbers “1,2,3,4″, exhaling one number at a time, pausing for two counts, then repeat as needed until you are grounded and calm enough to return to Step 4.
I have found that bringing a sense of wakefulness into my daily interactions in the world has helped me to cultivate an attitude of letting the process unfold as I learn to raft the rapids of this river of life with less agitation and more serenity.