When an emotion is embraced and welcomed with an attention free of mind patterns or personal reactivity, the energy is transformed in a natural way. The energy is purified in the alchemic athanor (the alchemic furnace) of the Heart. This is the most natural way to sublimate individual energies and emotions.
As long as energies or states of mind are not embraced in the stillness of Pure Presence, of the Witness Consciousness, the Spiritual Heart, the changes will continue to occur at an individual level. Because of this, they will be more or less governed by lower, ego-based intentions. This type of change of energy or state of mind is only “horizontal.” It does not allow a vertical spiritual leap, from the sphere of the individual consciousness into Pure Presence.
Speaking about the significance of sublimation, Daniel Odier said:
“To physical yoga we must add a yoga of the unending accompaniment of all emergences back to their source. This is perhaps the most important part of our work. It is founded on the perception that everything emerges from tranquility and returns to it after a sensory, emotional, and mental journey.” -Daniel Odier – Yoga Spandakarika, Inner Traditions, 2005, page 141
Thus, we learn about a different attitude in which the awareness of the Spiritual Heart accompanies any energy, sensation or mental state. They are all experienced against the background of stillness inherent to the Spiritual Heart. This is the tranquility and purity of Spanda. In common experiences, we ignore this background, remaining always at the surface of a continuous agitation of mental states, thoughts, moods, feelings, emotions, sensations etc.
In Hridaya Yoga, sublimation involves:
- The awareness of the Spiritual Heart, of the pure “I,” while the experience in itself continues (this is a kind of intuition of the stillness that remains in the background)
- The awareness of the Spiritual Heart, of the pure “I” which unfolds naturally at the end of a thought, emotion, sensation etc. (now the stillness is not just the background, but the very “content” of consciousness)
When thoughts, emotions, or sensations appear, without rejecting, fighting or identifying with them, we accept whatever is there, and keep an awareness of the background of the Spiritual Heart. Any control, any change, transformation, sublimation of energy, thought, emotion etc., if it is needed, will come without a personal struggle from the intimate impulse of the Spiritual Heart.
This may be a completely new attitude for us, and in the beginning, it may seem uncommon or difficult. Nevertheless, this is so not because it is seemingly unnatural, but because of the long conditioning related with our identification with an existence “on the surface”—a world of mere moods, thoughts, and emotions.
a) The Inner Attitude Towards Worries
Asked how we could learn to eliminate worries, Nisargadatta Maharaj said: “There is no need to be concerned about worries. Choose to just BE. Do not try to be quiet; do not make from “being quiet” a chore to be done. Do not be concerned about “being quiet,” or unhappy about “being happy.” Just be aware of your “BE-ing” and remain aware – do not say “yes, I am, and now what’s next?” There is no “next” in “I am.” It is a state beyond time.”
b) Non-Reactivity Replaces Ego-Based Responses
Non-reactivity is an important attitude in meditation and in life: to be non-reactive to the pressure of time, thoughts and emotions. But even more important than being non-reactive to the mind and psychological content is to maintain a state of awareness and thus not to respond in a reactive personal way to the mental and emotional patterns developed in our lives. These psycho-mental patterns are underlying our life; they have built our karma. The reactive tendency is almost omnipresent in the life of the ego because it feeds the ego.
He who seeks joy, may be upset by anything which is not joy;
He who seeks peace, may be upset by anything which is not that peace;
He who seeks purity, may be bothered by what is not pure.
The ego-based search triggers the rejection of everything opposite to the object of the search.
c) There is Nothing Personal in Pain
In Hridaya Yoga, we develop an intimacy with “What Is,” without comparing it to “What there should be.” So, the emphasis is not on “correcting” some mistakes or fighting with “sins,” but on an intuitive awareness of our divine nature, of the Spiritual Heart.
The Spiritual Heart is the expression or the “dimension” of Perfection of our being, of existence in general.
This is the significance of sublimation in Hridaya Yoga. Thus, the transformation occurs spontaneously because it is supported by the power, the wisdom and the light of the Infinite inside of us.
Speaking about the nature of human pain and the right attitude towards it, in which we free ourselves from personal reactions, Eckhart Tolle said:
“There is nothing personal in human pain. It is simply an intense pressure or an intense energy you feel somewhere in the body… See what happens when you just allow a feeling to be.”
Again, the key is the awareness of the Spiritual Heart, the awareness of who we really are:
“When you are unaware of that inner essence, in the end, you always create misery. It’s as simple as that. When you don’t know who you are, you create a mind-made self as a substitute for your beautiful, divine being and cling to that fearful and needy self. Protecting and enhancing that false sense of self then becomes your primary motivating force.” – Eckhart Tolle, Stillness Speaks, New World Library, 2003. pp. 106-107, p. 48
When we maintain our awareness in the Spiritual Heart, our individual transformations will synchronize with the cosmic transformations.
Thus, we move from “out of phase changes” in our psyche and mind and into “synchronized transformations.” We come to feel the pulsation of cosmic rhythms in our being.
d) Celebration of the Creative Flow of Life
As we internalize this attitude, we become more and more aware of Spanda, the Sacred Tremor of the Spiritual Heart. By the revelatory power of this Sacred Tremor we become aware that our being is flooded by divine energies. They are all pure expressions of our ultimate essence, atman.
This profound understanding is naturally followed by the aspiration of expressing and celebrating in freedom and joy the creative flow of life through our yoga practice and in our entire life thereafter.
Thus, both meditations for the revelation of the Spiritual Heart and the hatha yoga sessions become a consecrated offering of our individual consciousness and of our energies to the universal divine love and beauty of the Spirit, atman.
e) Transformations of the Energy of Emotions
Fear is thus alchemically transformed, without any effort—just as a consequence of the awareness of the Heart—into confidence or courage, and sadness into joy or compassion. Anything can flow naturally and there are no preset patterns for the majority of the time. For example, it is not necessary that fear should be sublimated to courage. It may be sublimated in a sense of release or joy as well. To sum it up, the most important thing is not the “positive” content of the consciousness, but the continuous awareness of the background of Stillness—of the Spiritual Heart.
Sublimation itself is a process in which the transformed, sublimated energy arises as a result of the vector forces represented by our tendencies and echoes of intimate life experiences. Sometimes—as a result of the Witness Consciousness attitude—the energy of emotions, sensations or thoughts gets self-absorbed into a pure energy, (into an energy “without an object”), into the Sacred Tremor, or Spanda.
f) The “Heart’s Flames” and the Sublimation
When an emotion is expressed and then returns to the stillness of the Heart, it no longer leaves the usual trails and residues behind, which form samskaras. It is only the personal reaction of attraction or repulsion that generates subconscious residues in the mind following the expression of an emotion.
As an effect of this neutrality, an expansion of consciousness occurs. It is a spiritual expansion in which the sacred vibration of the Heart, the “Heart’s flames” process that particular sensation or emotion, bringing it, metaphorically speaking, to a state of “incandescence.” After that, the sensation or feeling, in its individual form, gets dissolved into a pure, non-personal energy and then into the infinite space of the Spiritual Heart, pure Consciousness.
Just as in a sacrificial fire, Spanda dissolves all the gifts it receives into the infinite stillness of Pure Consciousness.
Here, in this alchemical process, is the practical way in which we pass from duality to Oneness. Advaita (non-duality) is not just a theoretical philosophy, it is effective—non-duality “is practiced” each time we realize how a thought, emotion, sensation, feeling etc is dissolved into stillness.
For this to happen there is in fact nothing to “do.” We simply remain aware of the Spiritual Heart, the background Reality which radiates love and gratitude. Spanda is that which remains after the personal intention, the ego based control and the desire to control or obtain a feeling or experience are seen as simply useless, inefficient strategies and they are thus abandoned. They are replaced by the unchanging effulgent flame of Open Attention, free of any reactivity.
To open to the pure vibration of Spanda means to stop focusing exclusively on any object in particular and personally reacting to it. With the awareness of Spanda, it is as if desire, sensation and thinking (any psychic and mental activity) suddenly have no object or form. They exist only as vibration. The respective energy—desire, for instance—becomes Open Attention itself and thus merges in the stillness of the Spiritual Heart.
g) The “Condensation” of Happiness into Matter
As an effect of a true sublimation, the reverberations of this sacred vibration of the Heart may be experienced as a feeling of inner blossoming in all body cells.
Thus, bliss is experienced organically. This is not the happiness related to a certain situation or object, but an expression of the natural flow of the energy which is now free of the inherent tensions or stress of emotions and sensations associated with routine life.