“There is nothing critical, there is nothing urgent, except Self-awareness.”
Notes on the Satsang with Sahajananda
The following notes are offered to support your understanding of the satsang Sahajananda presented on May 25, 2020. This satsang is the sixth in a series of ten talks which together make up a program called Inner Non-Violent Revolution: A Free Online Course on Self-Awareness.
Note that this is not a transcript and should not be seen as an alternative to viewing the satsang itself (available here). If you don’t watch the satsang, you will likely miss the context for the ideas presented here and will therefore not grasp their subtleties. And, as importantly, you will miss Sahaja’s transmission. The word satsang comes from the Sanskrit words sat (“truth”) and sangha (“association”) and refers to “associating with truth,” or “being in the company of the wise.” By being in Sahaja’s company via watching the video of the satsang, you will be receiving the teachings directly from him and you may understand them on a deeper level.
- Psychological Flexibility and Spiritual Centeredness—Diminishing the Swing Between “Yes’ and ‘No”
- What Happens When We Blindly Follow our Thoughts, Emotions, and Reactions
Using a mask in these times, you can become more aware of your breathing—especially the warmth of exhalation—non-reactivity. You start counting the breathing cycles from 1 to 7, then from 1 to 14, etc.
- The mind is always reactive, agitated because it doesn’t have a center. A place of repose. Coming to the Pure “I”-feeling simply means bringing the mind/psyche, personal universe to such repose.
How Consciously Coming to Psychological Balance Helps Us Reveal and Rest in the Pure “I”-Feeling
A little reminder of the whole point…
Language often fails to describe the reality of the pure “I”-feeling. In reality, we cannot recognize the “I”-feeling because it is not the object of an experience we have, but the very subject.
There is strong conditioning coming from our education, upbringing as well as our way of speaking—language simply reinforces this scholastic taming, prejudice. For example, even now, it seems that the goal you are looking for is understanding. You want to understand what I am saying, this seems the main purpose. But actually, this is not our main purpose now. Information can be so deceiving…
Who is the one who understands this? This is our main focus. Who is the one in whom such thoughts, insights appear? The constant vigilance of the witness of all these.
Self-awareness ultimately refers to this kind of spiritual reflex, which hopefully becomes natural Self-Inquiry, a natural wonderment of Being…
- Thus, practically, you discover that there is first a layer of yourself, the personal, known domain who understands, has reactions to these ideas, etc. But, then there is (and this is essential) a silent taste of a deeper You… It is always there…
- That You is not the one who is peeling potatoes, is not eating, is not reading, and laughing, and crying, and thinking.
- It is that silent You who is Stillness, the awareness behind all these acts and simultaneously the source of all, as the presence, awareness in which everything happens.
- There should be a continuity between all of these common acts of life, and that is exactly this silent eternal taste of You. Otherwise, there is a sense of alienation, confusion, and disorientation, or there is something purely mechanical.
- But, when you are That, you are Freedom, there is a natural peace, there is Love.
- There, which means NOW, HERE, you aren’t frustrated that you don’t get it, or nervous because you are losing time, wasting your time, or that you don’t have time. Because there, you have all the time…
- We sometimes get this advice: Take your time! But, what is this time of mine?
- Stop and take the time to be in your heart and then you will have all the time—the eternal Now.
- Then, we realize that we have all the time in the world. This is practical, experiential, not just a nice metaphor or a philosophical idea.
- Learn how to shift from the agitated condition of running out of time, to tasting this timeless Now.
- Again, it is not about understanding what I am saying. Who is the one to whom all these are pointing?
- You learn more easily about it when you really listen, right now. When you talk, it can be more challenging in the beginning, because it gives less inner space… It’s always like this…
“To give your cow a large, spacious meadow is the way to control her.” ―Shunryu Suzuki
- There is also a sense of being at home. There is a sense of sacredness, of fulfillment, of love. The feeling of fulfillment doesn’t come from a circumstance, but from you being in touch with You… A non-phenomenal fulfillment.
- But this requires constant attention to That, Self-awareness, not just in It requires a trust that this brings more peace and happiness and resolves your problems much more efficiently then when we believe only in thoughts and information.
- Practically, when you drive your car, be Present. When you go for a walk, don’t take your cell phone. When you go to the toilet, don’t take your phone or a book to find some new information, but learn to enjoy remaining with yourself, because in this way, you start to believe deeply and experience that staying there beyond sensations, thoughts, in the Center is nourishing.
- Too much information generates mental agitation and is poisonous for your mind— we need to realize that. Multitasking can be also a trap for Self-Awareness.
- To conclude this, as a practice of Self-awareness, in any experience, thought, emotion, try to remember the Subject, You…
Psychological Flexibility and Spiritual Centeredness: Diminishing the Swing Between Yes and No
- In this integration of extremes, of these Yeses and Nos of our soul, there is not a flat denial or a flat affirmation that will help us, because we will miss all the many intermediate stages lying between these two violent extremes—all these inner octaves of finer meanings that we seek in order to become more conscious in daily life. All these can become new pointers to the Seer.
- Often these finer meanings, finer solutions, are just what our soul is longing for without realizing it. In the normal mechanical approach, we do not actually have the proper perspective and framework for real spiritual understanding. This place of integration is a marvelous realm which is so similar to that of parables.
“Somewhere beyond right and wrong, there is a garden. I will meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about.” –Rumi
- We lose so much time in the profane world, which is somehow a betrayal of the beauty of the Essence. We get suffocated by the ephemeral “yes or no” and forget the immutable Center. Real Intuition is this coming to the Center—the zero point.
The parables, many spiritual stories are designed to point to this paradoxical, paralogical thinking: The story of the martial arts student who asks how long it will take to reach perfection. The master says ten years. But what if I work really, really hard? Then, perfection may come in fifteen years.
So, looking for shortcuts by pushing is sabotaging because it is just amplifying an extreme, taking us from pursuing the Center, which is the Path…
The story of Judgment of Solomon the wise King of Israel. He had to decide between two women both claiming to be the mother of a child. So, he needs to make a choice: a yes to one woman and a no to the other. Solomon went to the very extreme of such tension between these women. He suggested cutting the baby in two, with each woman to receive half. The non-mother was okay with this, while the actual mother begged that the child be given to the care of her opponent. So, with this wise strategy, he was able to discern the true mother… Similar to Taoist philosophy: extreme yang brings yin, extreme yin brings yang. A compensating force….
- A paradox: Only through long, perseverant practice can we learn that there is nothing to be learned.
The Secret to Happiness Revealed as by Nisargadatta Maharaj
“You are always seeking pleasure, avoiding pain, always after happiness and peace. Don’t you see that it is your very search for happiness that makes you feel miserable? Try the other way: indifferent to pain and pleasure, neither asking, nor refusing, give all your attention to the level on which ‘I am’ is timelessly present. Soon you will realize that peace and happiness are in your very nature and it is only seeking them through some particular channels, that disturbs. Avoid the disturbance, that is all.”
“There are two tragedies in life. One is not to get your heart’s desire. The other is to get it.” –George Bernard Shaw
Like Is an Attribute of the Periphery and Love Is an Attribute of the Center
The control we seek to prevent fear and suffering by bringing only pleasure is based on this idea that they are separate and opposite entities. But ultimately, they are existing in the same dual level as poles of the same relative game of either Yes or No.
Suffering and fear can only exist if we believe in pleasure and try to grasp it. They are antagonist, but they support each other—this is the rule of Maya.
Tozan (a 9th Century Zen master), said:
“The blue mountain is the father of the white cloud.
The white cloud is the son of the blue mountain.
All day long they depend on each other, without being dependent on each other.
The white cloud is always the white cloud.
The blue mountain is always the blue mountain.”
- Suffering can only exist if we believe in pleasure. At the level of the Center, of the Heart, all this causality vanishes like a dream—no karma, no action or reaction, just a flow without anyone to react, only to witness.
A student, filled with emotion and crying, implored Suzuki Roshi, “Why is there so much suffering?” He replied, “No reason.”
Bringing the Phenomenal [Personal Emotions, Raga-Dvesha] to the Center
- Buddha’s “Law of Dependent Origination”: The 12 nidanas, causes, links of the chain of existence.
- The first is ignorance… Conditioned by contact, feeling arises there (the quality of pleasantness or unpleasantness).
- Because of feeling, craving, thirst, and yearning arise.
- Because of craving, we go into clinging, grasping (which equals pleasantness + attachment or unpleasantness + rejection). A rigidity of mental routines.
- Because of this grasping, again we get involved in karmic formations. This is totally true for the phenomenal domain. Grasping is itself the swing between (pleasantness + attachment) or (unpleasantness + rejection).
- Nevertheless, like and dislike in themselves are not a cause of limitation. For example, in Tantra, feeling is not denied, it is just liberated from the rest of the chain of Dependent Origination. So, like, but without clinging, without craving.
- Liking and disliking as relative terms are phenomenal, part of samsara, of this chain, while Love is of the freedom of Being.
- In the Stillness of our being, Love is available anytime.
- We can appreciate life in a different kind of “like” that doesn’t generate craving and grasping, etc. In an intimate relationship and in everything.
- People may use the terms “like” and “love” in phrases with similar meaning. We may say “I like (or love) this piece of art,” “I like (or love) chocolate,” or “I don’t like beans.” Still, in reality, there is a big difference.
- Like is conjunctural, has an opposite, and usually depends on the personal constellation. But Love is when Presence (the Center) is accessed and it is completely unifying, not opposed to something such as hate. Only if we make a concept out of Love can we find dualities such as love versus hate. But not in the Center, in Pure Presence. Beauty, Love, Truth, and Stillness are not of the personal domain of such pairs of opposites.
“Love is the only constant in the Universe.” –Rumi
- Sadness, unless faked, cannot come anytime. But Love can, because it doesn’t depend on personal configuration. It is not of the personality, but an eternal Now in which Love and Beauty flow with no opposites—because they are of the Center.
- So, when we really become Self-aware, we cannot say “Love is not available now,” or “I am not in mood for Love.” This relativity and ephemerality can be true for personal feelings, but not for pure Love, or any impersonal attribute. Pure Love is not just a feeling. Therefore, you don’t have any excuses not to Love. Just be Self-aware.
Negativity (Pessimism) or Overenthusiasm (Fanaticism) Obscure Our Decisions
- Try to remember the futility of the solutions you devise for problems when you are pessimistic.
- Or when you are violently excited. In both cases, you try to solve things through one or the other opposite—through No or Yes—in accordance with how the swing shifts, from side to side.
- Such solutions are valueless and, in fact, are not solutions at all. They are reactions.
Suffering Brought by “Violent” Choices
- Our moods, emotions somehow torture us with their ups and downs, because when we identify with them, we go totally to that extreme, we lack a center. The moods we identify with tempt us to make ridiculous brutal suppositions, assumptions, conclusions, choices that later feel incongruent with our way of thinking or we cannot keep them because otherwise we would only mistreat, hurt, and abuse ourselves.
- When the swing of our emotions, thoughts is closer to the middle point (the pure “I am”), we can more naturally find solutions.
- This is why sahaja, Naturalness, means samsara and nirvana together (co-emergent). This is the Center.
- Otherwise, we are only in samsara, because the decision is far from the Witness, from that taste of infinity that we are.
- But the dualistic mind tends to separate things into either samsara or nirvana, ignoring that they can be present in different combinations (proportions), since everything is the same Oneness. Even now…the sky is not either totally blue or totally cloudy—the same is true for our soul…
- Indeed, we can have dualistic logic saying: a human being is either awake or asleep. But still, in this so-called sleep, we can be more or less lucid. And there are also the magic moments of transition we were speaking about…
- There is a phenomenal relative center, the neutrality of the polar energies, of extremes (this is still about samsara), which leads to the spiritual absolute Center (nirvana). Yin yang—center wuji (infinite, limitless, from without [wu]; extreme [ji]). In conclusion, we cannot rely on thoughts or positive thinking, but on mental void, peace, to be the proper conditions to get us out of just samsara.
The story of Kalistos Ware:
Are you awake?
The answer: I am awakening…
God Is a Verb, a book by David Cooper.
- With dualistic logic, we would wait only for obvious ecstatic experiences, believing that they are the only possible sign of being spiritual, or only having deep contemplative states.
- And still, in daily life, we express all these nuances, and a taste of Oneness, a vague remembrance of the Center, can save us in difficult moments, bringing unexpected serenity or faith…
“Only the gentle breeze
Knows the secret of union.
Listen as it whispers a song to every heart,
Like this.” –Rumi
- Life flows, there is diversity, polarity, extremes, but freedom comes from the Center and can be felt there.
- The movements of the swing somehow happen on the horizontal dimensions of many parallel planes (physical, psychological, mental), while the center is the vertical axis, nirvana, the Present Moment, in all of these. And because of this, of this middle path in all, they are not really just parallel in the sense of not interacting between themselves.
- It is said tomorrow never comes… And still we live so much in the imagination of tomorrow, swinging from past to future.
- When the swing has swung to its full extent in one direction or the other, we are somehow lost, we forgot the center of Life—our Center. We cannot be Self-aware, because Self-awareness is centeredness…
But how can this conscious restriction of the back and forth movement of the swing be done? It can be very easily understood in the language of Yes and No. The presence of Yes and No reveals itself as a center beyond the extremes of either Yes or No…
What Happens When We Blindly Follow our Thoughts, Emotions, and Reactions
- The extreme of being entirely unconscious of our reactions defines the human being asleep to real life and is characterized by an absolute lack of power of Self-observation. No matter how active the person may be, they are totally passive, unconscious to the inner world of emotions and thoughts, which means saying Yes to all moods and thoughts.
- Blindly saying No to a situation that creates dislike or disgust actually means also saying Yes to our routine of always reacting in such situations with dislike.
- So, in essence, there is a blind acceptance of everything that comes from our mind and moods.
- Or, we can equally say a strong unconscious No to our inner drives when things inside bring suffering.
We may say: “Please, don’t mention my dear dead dog anymore, because it makes me feel like crying.” We are avoiding an emotion, that sadness (thought in reality it is much more than what this concept, label “sadness” expresses), therefore we say a strong No to such memories and emotions. But, mixed in that sadness it is actually so much love, gratitude, and friendship for that dog. It is painful, but so true, so awakening. So, I wouldn’t run from such emotions or suppress them, because they are so precious in the fire of Awareness, it is Me, freed from like and dislike. I am really alive, especially because of such intense emotions, because of Love, spanda. I just need to release it from grasping, from the personal limitation of the emotion.
- “To be a Sufi, is to feel joy in the Heart when sorrow appears,” as Rumi said. This means to find and come to the Center when such an extreme appears; and then, you are a Sufi or a yogi or a whatever—you are awakening.
- When we are simply reacting by total blind acceptance or total suppression of our emotions and thoughts or moods, of the ego’s whole arsenal, there is no real aspiration to observe what it is happening deeper inside and relate to the Heart, the center of the swing which is the very expression of Self-awareness, of awakening.
- Spiritual bypassing.
- This characterizes us as acting precisely like a robot with very rigid routines that are constantly running.
- With some people, others are sometimes making jokes about them without the person realizing it, because they are totally dedicated to running that program. Or, people may even sarcastically play and trigger them with some topics so that all that follows is just a predictable storm of emotions.
- They are so repetitive. Reminding them of the ex-husband, she will start to cry. Or, starting gossiping about somebody the person doesn’t like, he will become angry. Then, you are like a puppet pulled by strings in these ups and down only you know.
- Or, another very current and sensitive example now would be what happens when we speak about vaccinations—all those extreme ideas. I don’t agree with mandatory vaccination, it is common sense to give people the freedom to choose, but I don’t need to go into big fears, because I trust humanity. And, even more than this, I trust God, the Center, which means I don’t desperately or obsessively fear that this is a real option happening to humanity, but rather ridiculous extreme ideas—in both directions. Of course, the media and some people want drama, scandal, extremes. But this is just more agitation of the mind. I am not ignoring or denying the topic, I also have a very clear opinion, and this can make me act even more efficiently and lucidly when this is really needed—I have a direct experience of communism, so I know that weird things can happen to people. But, reacting emotionally is not wise, does not lead to the Center.
- Again, this doesn’t mean not to act fiery or have strong thoughts and actions. But, to not have them based on random emotions, moods, computer programs. Instead, they radiate from a loving Heart, Trust, Center, Presence.
- Think about Jesus Christ blaming and punishing the sellers in front of the Temple. His was definitely not an emotional outbreak, even though it may seem like that for those who don’t know about this other, higher possibility—acting from a different place. On the contrary, all the acts of Jesus can be understood as archetypal teachings which reverberate deeper meanings than the acts themselves. Being One with the Father means being One with the Center…
Yogavasishta Sara (Parts of Chapter 8)
The Character of a Jivanmukta (Liberated Living Being)
“He is always at peace and undisturbed under all circumstances. Freed from the restrictions of caste, creed, custom, and scriptures, he comes out of the net of the world as a lion from a cage. He rests unagitated in the Supreme Bliss. He is ever happy, never hanging his joy on anything else.
His face is never found without the beauty of cheerfulness on it. He remains undisturbed even in the midst of enemies. He is never afraid, feels never helpless, nor dejected. He remains firm and calm like a mountain.
He has nothing to do with supernormal powers, enjoyments, influence nor honor. He does not care for life or death.
In the company of devotees, he is like a devotee. He plays a child in the company of children, he is a youth among the young, he acts as an old man in the company of the aged ones. He is full of courage in the company of courageous people and shares the misery of the miserable ones.”