“The tendency towards the Absolute is difficult to realize in a heterogeneous soul—a soul lacking a center… Such a soul is a ‘house divided against itself,’ thus destined to collapse, spiritually speaking.”

–Frithjof Schuon

Notes on the Satsang with Sahajananda

Watch the satsang here. Find notes from all of Sahaja’s satsangs here.

The following notes are offered to support your understanding of the satsang Sahajananda presented on June 29, 2020. This satsang is the last of 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.

“There is nothing critical, there is nothing urgent, except Self-Awareness.”
–Sahajananda

TOPICS

 The Importance of the Center

  • The Center is You, the essential Subject—the resting point of the swing.
  • A conscious human being is one whose inner forces and tendencies are in such coherence that they naturally start pointing to that essential Spiritual Center. When this happens, we may start to spontaneously feel a longing for the Absolute or the nostalgia for Perfection, gnosis, a sense of Grace and Gratitude, the direct knowledge of Pure Love. It is a natural consequence of a sattvic human soul.
  • As the great German spiritual teacher Frithjof Schuon said: “The tendency towards the Absolute is difficult to realize in a heterogeneous soul—a soul lacking a center… Such a soul is a ‘house divided against itself,’ thus destined to collapse, spiritually speaking.”

Let’s Meditate Briefly…

  1. Close your eyes, keep your back straight; relaxation.
  2. Bring your awareness to the Heart Center, in the middle of the chest, a little to the right.
  3. Feel a sense of surrender, a connection to who you really are.
  4. In this intimacy of the Heart, contemplate the sense of balance, sattva.
  5. Become aware of the coherence of all your inner forces and tendencies. How does this reorchestration of energies feel?
  6. Perceive a state of peace and harmony.
  7. Gently open your eyes.

The Heart as the Cosmos

Yoga, like many other traditions (including, for example, the Hermetic tradition, the ancient Western esoteric tradition based on the writings of Hermes Trismegistus), speaks about the correspondence between the microcosm of our being and the entire cosmos. Yoga says our being is a microcosm. But it also says that, spiritually, our Heart is infinite Ether, Space, the Cosmos itself.

The world “Cosmos” was first used by Pythagoras and can be translated in English as universal order. It is inspiring to perceive the whole cosmos as order. But, this translation is missing an essential dimension of the word, which is aesthetic beauty, as in the word “cosmetics.”

More than this, the Stoics used the word cosmos to designate not only physical reality, but the soul of the world, anima mundi. The Cosmos as an alive, conscious reality.

So, the Cosmos is the order, beauty, and the soul of the world—and this is what the Heart of a conscious human being is.

“The heart in the chest is not your heart only: it is a microcosmic sun, a cosmos of all possible experiences, that no one can own.” –James Hillman

Let’s Meditate Briefly…

  1. Close your eyes, keep your back straight; relaxation.
  2. Bring your awareness to the Heart Center, feeling a sense of coming back home to who you really are.
  3. In this intimacy of the Heart, try to perceive what being a microcosmos feels like. Try to mirror the whole Cosmos.
  4. More and more, feel that you are the Cosmos, a place of order, aliveness, and beauty, a reflection of the soul of the world, anima mundi.
  5. Perceive your heart as the Ether, where all possible experiences, thoughts, and emotions abide, but which no one can own. It is not for you as an ego to embrace this holistic reality, the Cosmos.
  6. Surrender. Abandon the ownership of your stories and ideas and you will see the miracle. It will gradually reveal its secrets, beyond the veils of grasping, attachment…
  7. Gently open your eyes.

This experiment may sound a little bit poetic or too abstract, but whenever you act in Self-Awareness (being aware of the Present Moment, when passing through a doorway, etc.) allow this sense of you as the Cosmos to be there.

In a fascinating, similar perspective, the Sufi Tradition sees the Heart as a Cosmos: There is the Throne of God (al-’Arsh) and his temple in the human being … the center of Divine Consciousness and the circumference of the circle of all that is.

The Consciousness of Oneness. Blaise Pascal remarking that God is a sphere…this is our Heart…

Try to feel this, your Heart is: The Throne of God, the Center and the circumference of all that is, everything.

Breath the Cosmos—order, beauty, the ineffable, the unlimited—satyam shivam sundaram (Truth, Goodness, and Beauty), as yoga describes it.

We can only come to such revelation in surrender, abandoning the ownership of all the ideas and emotions that happen here in this body-mind, and finally abandoning the sense of ego, the limited entity that pretends to hold them together…

I feel that I must emphasize that this is about abandoning ownership, not the memories, ideas, or emotions.

St. Augustine’s Confessions was the beginning of a style and a mentality in which the ownership of experience is present. The rhetoric of the ego. Autobiography…

What Is Your Idea?

  • A Romanian philosopher, Constantin Noica, was a leading spiritual figure during communist times (he was sentenced to 25 years of forced labor as a political prisoner, etc.). He used to ask anyone who wanted to become his disciple: “What is your idea?” This question may sound quite shocking and confusing for some.
  • He was definitely not inquiring about a dogma, intellectual concept, secular personal life philosophy, or a selfish, independent way of expressing originality. Rather, he was asking for a passion of the Heart that can guide your entire life, the living truth.
  • “What is your dogma?” could be also a valid question for us: as a “Neti, Neti” way of mirroring illusions that need to be dropped. What is your main illusion? What really holds you? Where are you stuck? Your soul released from such identifications is free. You cannot say: his soul was rising but then was stuck on the roof of the building. What is your main illusion?
  • It is true, often we need help to reveal our living truth. Giving birth to such an idea presupposes that the idea was potentially already in us. In ancient Greece, people were pregnant with ideas and Socrates was the midwife. (But it is your heart, not the mind that is pregnant with such an idea.)
  • Noica’s question, “What is your idea?,” was a call to awakening. Cease behaving mechanically, look for the Shakti, as we may say, that gives you the grace of Self-Awareness and real Presence.
  • So basically, he would ask is your heart awakened, is your soul alive? What is the passion you are ready to die for?

I would also invite you to contemplate: What is “your” truth? Or better said, what is the truth that illuminates you and makes you radiate?

  • Let’s go even further in the deep understanding of such a question. Let’s imagine how St. Teresa of Ávila or any other mystic would answer such a conundrum.
  • There it is definitely an aliveness, passion for truth, and still, it is not personal.
  • You know, St. Teresa of Ávila speaks about loving God with all our might in a stage of contemplation, but further on she refers to loving God with a love which is not ours… A passion that puts in motion all our soul and which is still not personal, not ours.
  • A heart which is, as Hilmann said, a microcosmic sun, a cosmos of all possible experiences, that no one can own.
  • I didn’t have the chance to meet Noica during those times. Nevertheless, a long time ago I imagined a meeting with him, and I said to myself that Self-Enquiry, the longing for the Source, the Center of my soul, is definitely my idea.
  • Not even Self-knowledge, but Self-Enquiry. Because in it, maybe more than in Self-knowledge, lies the fascinating mystery, wonderment. The word “knowledge” may be somehow compromised by 1. the rational mind and 2. a sense of ownership. But Self-Enquiry is free from a rational purpose and even ownership, entitlement.
  • And still, this wouldn’t be the right way of expressing it, because such a longing, Self-Enquiry, is actually not mine, but rather vice versa: it is that grace, that aspiration, Pure Awareness that starts possessing my being, not I that possesses it. (I as a limited entity). Apply such an attitude in Self-Enquiry meditation.

Dogen said:

In the great Way of the Buddha patriarchs there is always supreme, continuous practice, which is the Way, without beginning or end. {Arousing the thought of enlightenment, practice, bodhi, and nirvana has not the slightest break, but are a continuous practice that goes on forever.} Therefore, it is neither one’s own effort nor someone else’s effort; it is pure, continuous practice that transcends the opposition of myself and others. Thus, you are not afraid, disappointed, frustrated, etc.

  • I am uplifted to a cosmic understanding by letting this passion reign over my personality, dissolving it in the fire of the Truth, not just “my truth.”
  • This kind of uplifting possession of Truth and Love began for Dante, quite early, at the age of nine, when he first saw Beatrice (meaning “she who makes happiness” or “she who confers blessing”). At that time, she was for others a sweet girl in a crimson dress. But in the eyes of Dante, she was not just a girl, but a goddess, the soul of the world, anima mundi, awakening his heart irreversibly to beauty and love. As was Leila for Majnun.

Dante writes: “At that moment, I say most truly that the spirit of life, which hath its dwelling in the most secret chamber of the heart, began to tremble so violently (spanda) that the least pulses of my body shook; and in trembling it said these words: ‘Here is a goddess stronger than I; who, coming, shall rule over me.’

At that moment, the soul… was filled with wonder and said these words: ‘Your beatitude hath now manifest unto you’… From that time onward, Love … governed my soul.”

From then on, he was a devotee of this goddess. Beatrice, as the personification of Love was his idea, opening him to a New Life.

–Dante Alighieri, La Vita Nuova

What is it for you? Try to contemplate—start as soon as possible, which means NOW: What is your idea? What is your Impersonal Passion? Allow your soul open to such wonder and you will not live in vain.

“Die in Love so you can live forever.” –Rumi

Such an essential idea should be for you what a fragrance is for a flower; it is inspired and guided by the Center, by the Heart, sat guru, that creates that coherence in your life, that takes you beyond yourself.

Meditation Practice

A Practice of Self-Awareness

  1. Look into a mirror and try to see not just your face or bodily features, but the vastness of consciousness of which the physical mirror is just a small fragment.
  2. You may observe that while the glass of the mirror is just there, one square meter or so large, that quality of mirroring can go ad infinitum—and this is a faculty not of that object—of the mirror, but of “your” consciousness.
  3. Look into your eyes, ideally without blinking, for at least 3 minutes and ask: What is my main illusion, my dogma? This practice is nonconceptual—it is not for the mind… The answer may come from your longing, wounded soul…
  4. Then, ask What is my idea, my passion, my truth? Again, the answer is not supposed to come from the mind…
  5. Finally, ask Who am I?
  • It is interesting that Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, had the Gorgon’s head on her shield. Thus, her defense armor was the mirror of truth. Athena conquers her enemies by petrifying them with the shock at the reflec­tion of their own true faces.
  • By looking into a mirror, whenever you have the chance, in the bathroom, before leaving home etc., try to look for your real face, the face before your parents were born, as a well-known Zen koan advises.
  • Looking with the eyes of Majnun or Dante at your own face, makes that mirror point to the Heart and become the mirror of the Heart, which reflects shape in void and void in shape, the temporal in the timeless and the finite in the infinite—A gateway.

Try to see yourself in this way.

  • The magic mirrors in stories (or magic) are showing the unseen, the unknown. Make any mirror a magic mirror by looking for a You in the absence of yourself, for a you existing Now, in the Present Moment, but in a different, wider space as well.
  • For this practice of gazing into a mirror, it may be inspiring to know that the Latin for star (sidus) is at the root of the word “consideration,” which, etymologically, means to scan the stars as a whole, to scan the Cosmos—order (both external and internal, as Kant said). It is like all our emotions, thoughts that are taken into consideration are like stars.

Also, the Latin word for mirror (speculum) has given us the verb “to speculate”; and, originally, speculation was scanning the sky and studying the related movement of the stars by means of a mirror. We could mark on the mirror those reflection points of different stars at a certain moment, and then compare and see how the stars have moved from there in time.

  • Consider your soul as the sky, or as a mirror that reflects every star, the Cosmos, things in themselves—where every such pure emotion, image, or thought revealed in your heart is like a star. The constellation of your soul…
  • Then you are considering—embracing the sidus (stars) of fresh, creative “thinking” in your heart—offering your thoughts the nobleness of the Heart.

Now we will speak more about how and from where such an idea arises—your idea, your passion…

The Receptive Heart and the Active, Thinking Heart

  • Ibn ‘Arabi, the Sufi philosopher and mystic who had many divine visions and revelations, described the mystic’s heart as fully receptive and as open as a mirror.
  • When our heart is open, Ibn Arabi said, it adorns itself in whatever shape God (Reality) may reveal to it, just as wax receives the impression of the seal.
  • Muslim mystic psychology refers to a “knowledge of hearts” and of a “thinking of the heart” where “the heart prompts, gushes, reveals thoughts which are deeply concealed, most secret and most true, being thus the real foundation of the human intellect.”

“I have seen my Lord in the heart’s eye,” said al-Hallaj.
And he also said: “Hearts in their secrecy are a solitary virgin.”

We can learn from such mystics, from their uplifting affirmations, how to explore the secrets they speak about. We are not separate—Oneness.

How to dig into the abys of an idea of the Heart and not be bound by ideas, which would become dogma, but to deepen them further into the mystery and ultimately ungraspable nature of life?

The “Thinking” Heart—The Radiating Power of the Heart

  • What do these thoughts of the Heart look like?
    This inspiration (or thought) of the Heart is ever-expanding—as much in its compassion as in its visionary power—thus recovering the beauty and the harmony of the Cosmos that we are.

James Hillman referred to it as the Lion Heart, the Coeur de Lion….

Richard the First was a great hero—the troubadours called him “Richard Oc-e Non” (Occitane for Yes and No)—brief and to the essence.

The most noble virtues emanate from the Heart: loyalty, friendship, generosity, heroic boldness, compassion—a kingdom of dignity.

“Roar Lion of my Heart and tear me open!” –Rumi

  • The reality of a pure, radiating power of the Heart that goes beyond personal was expressed in many traditions: It was called himma in Sufism, Iccha Shakti in Shaivism, and associated with the Thodgal phenomenon in Tibetan Buddhism.

Iccha is pure will, that first impulse before the energies of cognition (knowing with the mind) and acting. We will not speak about this now…

Kha—The Supreme Void of the Heart

“From kha (the supreme void) surges forth the non-dual state of bliss where one attains the pure vibration (spanda), and to attain the spanda is to attain efficiency.” –Abhinavagupta

In Hasidic Jewish mysticism, Rabbi Nachman of Breslov speaks of a sublime, all-encompassing wisdom that transcends, orders, and vitalizes all of creation, that is accessed, captured by a perfect tzaddik (holy man). Thus, the tzaddik attains “Cosmic Consciousness” and, thus, is enabled to mitigate (lessen, alleviate) all division and conflict within creation. The Center of the wheel of life…

Himma

  • Ibn ‘Arabi, speaks about himma, which can be translated as 1. spiritual aspiration, and at the same time, 2. the creative energy it generates.
  • Himma is the heart’s intention, desire, force of will, therefore the “creative power of the Heart.”
  • Such a phenomenon of the heart is a sort of vision which is simultaneously conscious and spontaneous (inspired by Grace).
  • At the same time, it is an inner power through which the spiritual aspirant focuses on the Real.
  • Himma, in the Sufi context, begins in the heart as a longing for God, and as it grows in intensity and concentration, it becomes a creative force capable of manifesting what is usually not visible on this plane. In its extreme fullness himmais the source of the miraculous powers of great teachers and saints. (Like that of the tzaddiks in Judaism)
  • Through surrender and annihilation in the Divine, we open to receive theophanies (in secular language, we may say “synchronicities”), resulting in a life lived perpetually in the awareness of Divine Presence.
  • It is differentiated from common human imagination by the fact that himma “has no other object than God.”
  • Himma is that power by which images are actually presented to us not as our common imagination, but as genuinely created, as authentic creatures. So, it is like somehow the world is not separate from our heart as a Cosmos…

Thodgal Visions

In Buddhism, Thodgal visions are seen as a direct expression of the light of Pure Consciousness. They do not happen when one is in a normal state of mind, but require Pure Awareness, which in the Dzogchen Tradition is called Thekchod. This is exactly the expression of Open Attention, as we understand this concept in Hridaya Yoga (see the Teachings of the Fish).

  • The fruition of Thogal is the opening of the Crystal Kati channel. This is an extremely subtle channel that links the heart directly to the eyes.
  • This means our heart is pouring out of our eyes.
  • In this process, we are learning to see with our heart. To open the Crystal Kati channel is to bypass our rational, discursive mind. This is what happened to Dante when falling in Love.
  • I am mentioning all these aspects in this satsang not to encourage personal stories, daydreaming, and fantasies, but to inform you of other domains of the soul, to know that not any inner image is just vain and deluding fantasy.
  • I am referring to a capacity even higher than the so-called creative imagination­­—the beautiful power of the personal intellect to be creative.
  • Everyday imagination, which in our times and our New Age spirituality is almost omnipresent (speaking with entities of light, with subtle guides, angels, with God), can become, on the contrary, very confusing. Of course, not all are pure fantasies—the Findhorn experiment, that paradise in the desert, is an example of the real creative power of the Heart, of objective art as Gurdjieff named it…
  • For centuries, the Christian Church (including the Orthodox tradition) has been very cautious about visions, miracles, and such phenomena.
  • Ultimately, it is not the content of such visions that is the problem, but their source (organized religions would dramatically say they come from Satan—from the ego). They are just reflections of our inner personal world, lacking the light of the Center.

The Captive Heart

  • Henri Corbin named the condition of such obsession for personal stories and imagination the “captive (confined) heart,” the heart in exile, in an imagination in which the real thought of the heart has become contaminated, de-transfigured. You suffocate the real Heart, reality, with your obsession for your personal story.
  • Thus, the fashionable sentimentalism of ego stories, the glorification of efficiency, money, and power, or spiritual or religious superficial effusion became our modern heart diseases.

To better clarify this idea:

In the Tibetan Tradition, in the Six Yogas of Naropa, we have the Yoga of Dreams, a very profound spiritual practice. There, they speak about 3 forms of dreams:

  1. Ordinary dreams or so-called “samsaric” dreams (related to samsara)
  2. Dreams of clarity
  3. Clear light dreams

Samsaric dreams are simply the expression of the random activity of our psyche, and even though Freud called dreams the royal road to the unconscious, such dreams are considered in the Tibetan Yoga of Dreams as completely irrelevant, samsaric.

  • Ordinary dreams are caused and generated by personal karmic traces. We are in the domain of our personal limited energies, the narrow world of the ego.
  • Dreams of clarity keep us in contact with universal energies. It is when, while dreaming, a disciple may receive an initiation from a spiritual master or have a meeting with angels, etc. Jung would say that this marks an access to the collective unconscious.
  • Clear light dreams occur in Pure Awareness, and therefore are beyond subject/object duality. There, you are not a character in your dream, but the conscious dreamer, the witness, and the creator of all that is experienced. (They occur in what the yogis call the state of turya.)
  • What I said about dreams, this classification is true about our imagination (and creativity) as well. Usually, in the common wakeful state, we are caught in samsaric thinking and imagination, samsaric creativity—having the lonely, fearful, alienated ego as the only guide. It becomes boring for others and for ourselves—to be just with our personal stories, problems, we want to escape and we do this so often, but in unconsciousness. For example, when we need to check our mobile phone… The mobile became our artificial mirror, its network universe may seem fascinating, but cannot replace in any way the real Cosmos of the Heart…
  • Dreams of clarity correspond with real, insightful visions of the Heart, the openness to universal energies. Here, we have the freshness of Grace and genuine intuitions rooted not in the ego but in the pure “I”-feeling. This is why such images are no longer suffocated by our restricted universe.
  • Clear light dreams express the vision of the Witness, Pure Awareness and correspond to the state of absolute freedom of the sage living in Sahaja, naturalness.

The Importance of Meditation

After having given Gampopa all the necessary instructions on meditation, Milarepa told him, “Now it is up to you to go and practice.” As Gampopa was leaving, Milarepa accompanied him for a stretch. At one point he stopped and told Gampopa, “I have given you all the teachings, but there is one instruction I have held back.” Gampopa thought that he should make a mandala offering, and as he made preparations to do so, Milarepa said, “There is no need to offer a mandala. I will just give you this teaching.”

Milarepa turned around, lifted his skirt, and bared his buttocks. They were so calloused (rough-skinned) that Gampopa could not tell whether they were made of flesh, stone, or wood. After he had given his student a good look, Milarepa said, “If you want to reach perfection in meditation practice, then you should sit as I have. I sat on solid stone continuously for so long that my butt is like a fossil—it’s as hard as stone. You should train with this kind of perseverance. That is my last instruction.”

It is not sufficient to look at where you are standing and think that you have arrived somewhere else. Recognizing the awakened state of rigpa (spontaneous illumination) is not enlightenment, but the path towards enlightenment. You still need to develop the full strength of this recognition by training continually.

In meditation, or whenever it is hard, please remember the buttocks of Milarepa.

“There is nothing critical, there is nothing urgent, except Self-Awareness.”

–Sahajananda
self-observation self-awareness