“Any movement or sound
is a profession of faith, as the millstone
grinding is explaining how it believes in the river!
No metaphor can say this,
but I can’t stop pointing to the beauty.
Every moment and place says,
‘Put this design in your carpet!’”
Notes on the Satsang with Sahajananda
The following notes are offered to support your understanding of the satsang Sahajananda presented on April 20, 2020. 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.
- The Psychological and Spiritual Meaning of Self-Awareness
- Practice: The Undivided Space of the Soul
- What “Accept Your Fears” Means
Advice on Listening to the Satsang or Reading the Notes: Do It 3 Times
“Any prayer may be heard and granted by the Higher Powers only if it is uttered thrice:
First—for the peace of the souls of one’s parents, second—for the peace of one’s neighbor, and only third—for oneself personally.”
Listening or reading can also be experienced as a way to go deeper in Self-awareness:
- Start from the common mind that looks for information—there you learn, understand logically.
- Next, focus on relating what you read/hear to yourself. An individual reflection, an intimacy with the teachings. How they resonate in you.
- Then, meet the teachings with Open Attention—like you would wonder … of words, sounds, meanings, and, beyond them, referring to Pure Awareness, the transmission… Only in this way will an actualization of the teachings arise in you and (I hope) blossom…
The Psychology of Self-Awareness
When I speak about “Self-awareness,” I am not referring to the meaning given to this term in psychology. Self-awareness is not just about being mindful of your inner life. There is even a concern:
Can You Be Too Self-Aware?
Apart from the remarkable positive effects of Self-awareness which psychology recognizes, it can lead to hesitation and twisting into an unbearable state of micro-analyzing every nuance of our thoughts and actions. Of course, the observing perspective is still done from the limited mind. It is actually not Self-awareness but a personal awareness that keeps us somehow asleep.
In psychology there is:
Internal Self-Awareness and External Self-Awareness
- Internal or private self-awareness is a process in which we take an observer’s perspective of our own thoughts. For example, noticing that you can’t stop thinking a certain thought, which of course brings frustration about this state.People who maintain an internal psychological awareness tend to be more aware of their feelings and beliefs. Therefore, they are more likely to stick to their personal values because they are acutely aware of how their actions make them feel.
- External Self-Awareness: External, or public, self-awareness emerges when we become aware of how we appear to others. We start to speculate on what we think they are seeing and thinking about us. This type of self-awareness compels people to act dramatically, or to adhere to social norms, etc. We are tamed by the social environment, and the ego increases…
As a result, we tend to stick to group norms and try to avoid situations in which we might look bad or feel embarrassed. We might not take risks or try new things for fear of looking stupid and wrong in public. Or, on the contrary, we may want to provoke others, but from the same ego base…
Psychology’s Solution for This So-Called Excessive Self-Awareness
- An artificial forgetfulness of the attention on yourself—of the ego’s You don’t focus so much on yourself anymore, but on others…
- But a problem may come here as well, because when someone tries to forget themselves, they remember that they are trying to forget.
- Trying with the mind to control and lead the mind is exactly what the metaphor “the blind leading the blind” points The mind that needs to be controlled is the very same one that does the controlling.
- Being unconscious, lost in daily life issues, is also not a solution.
- The fact that both the ego and the Self say “I” is a source of confusion and misidentification.
- The “well-informed” ego says indeed, “I am what I know myself to be.”
The real Self “says” merely, “I am.”
- The solution would be becoming unself-conscious (not with the capital S) by being Self-conscious (with the capital S). Still, this is hard to explain in words, because it shouldn’t be understood as a fight between some good and some bad parts of ourselves, but rather the conscious cooperation with and in the wholeness of ourselves. How is this possible?
The Real Solution: Who Am I?
It liberates from any strategy or strain to control. A transformation based on Stillness, “I am”… It is a way of simply bringing awareness to something in you that you constantly ignored—Stillness.
Principle: The less we identify with who we think we are, the more likely we are to discover who we really are.
Yoga (Kashmir Shaivism) tells us that a conscious human being is changed when the awareness of themself is changed. What you take yourself to be—not only rationally…You know yourself more intimately…
In this regard, the Sufi master Tariqavi wrote:
“When you have found yourself, you can have knowledge. Until then you can only have opinions. Opinions are based on habit and what you conceive to be convenient.
The study of the Way requires self-encounter along the way. You have not met yourself yet. The only advantage of meeting others in the meantime is that one of them may present you to yourself.
Before you do that, you will possibly imagine that you have met yourself many times. But the truth is that when you do meet yourself, you come into a permanent endowment and bequest of knowledge that is like no other experience on Earth.”
Preparation on the Path to “Meeting Yourself”
Before feeling the sincere desire to “meet yourself,” you may still find the fulfillment of the ego’s desires, demands, and wishes far more compelling. This is normal for our condition, and it may be counterproductive and frustrating for us to try, to push ourselves, to pursue only sublime aspects of ourselves when part of us is still crying for the satisfaction of drives and passions in everyday life.
Similarly, we should not seek transcendence as a means of escapism.
The Undivided Space of the Soul
- For me, Self-awareness (including the psychological domain) is not about what I feel now, emotionally.
- There is a continuous inner psychological space, not divided by concepts, names, and forms (nama rupa), therefore without specific emotions and, even, thoughts.
- In contemplating a sunrise, you don’t want the mind to react to every specific perception and prefer to remain in the sense of wonderment, which is an aesthetic, unifying Beauty. It is not the sun and the birds and the sky and the wind and the tree and the clouds, etc., but their synergy that brings beauty.
- In the same way, the inner universe (the space of your soul) can be contemplated in a non-conceptual unity, in which emotions, states are not just limited objects, but are included in a kind of space, with its sky and ground of this undivided inner world.
- Therefore, we would become richer psychologically and spiritually if we would refer to the inner world as a wholeness in which a particular emotion or thought is definitely not the wholeness that we are. (Heart circles as a common checking out. But it can become a spiritual contemplation.)
- For the easiness of our common psychological functionality, we divide things and consider that they are pairs of opposites. And, again, for the sake of normal functionality in the world, this works, but this doesn’t mean that it is the only reality of our inner world.
- In the absence of thoughts, you will realize that there are no particular emotions, just aliveness, flow… You know your soul as a vibrating space without specific emotions, but an alive Presence… Then, you can evoke an emotion, or it may come by listening, seeing, but you are not it, you don’t even “have” it, in the same way, you don’t have the trees or the birds or the clouds or the sunrise…
- It is exactly as when we see outside objects, but then when we speak about Beauty, there is an imprint of all there. As Rumi said: “Put this design in your carpet.”
Put the design of this moment in your soul—this becomes Self-awareness. That’s why it is beauty… It is not greediness for beauty or anything. There is a conscious pure mirror that makes all the difference.
Try to do it now. Ask yourself: “How do I feel?,” and realize, “I don’t need to name it… I am taken by the very beauty, the wonderment of a different perspective. I used to look for states, now I see mostly integration…”
Therefore, it may help you psychologically and spiritually if you start seeing holistically, if instead of seeing the inner world divided in definite, specific emotions, you perceive essentially a space, the light, or the sky in which countless forms are flowing, displaying the beauty of (inner) existence.
- The external beauty of nature comes from a sense of integration, completion. The same is true for the inner world.
- Integration is done through the Witness, Pure A And this is the real Self-awareness.
- The observer is not seeing an emotion labeled “anger” or “joy,” but the whole vastness of the inner space.
- That implies that the observer is vaster than what is observed.
- If I observe a fear from a personal perspective, I may want to suppress it or deny it—a fight is there. But if I observe it from the unified field of awareness, it becomes just like an element in the intricate unity of my soul. It is not a denial of a specific emotion; the complexity and detailed structure of the soul becomes even clearer.
- I come to dissolve that anger or fear, but not because my ego wants this, but out of a higher harmony. It is not me that fights with my emotion, but a natural wisdom of Being coming from this integrative awareness—it is practical.
We cannot really control ourselves unless we accept ourselves totally, which means in integrality.
- Practically, before we can really change an emotion or the course of an action, we first need a naked perception, an open, integrative attention, a presence freed from labels and conceptualizations. This simply means to be totally honest with ourselves.
- Thus, we will go not against our nature, but honor it. Even when there are a lot of clouds in the sky of our consciousness, it is not just about wanting to instantly have a clear sky. In such a situation, personal force would intervene, imposing a cloud-free But this can happen only by pretending or forcing unnaturally. In the holistic view of ourselves, acceptance is there.
- When driving on a slippery road, in order to recover a car from sliding to the right, the driver must turn towards the right, not towards the left as we would instinctively want to, because this would cause the car to become even more unstable.When we try to suppress our emotions or we fight with them, we are doing pretty much the same thing. Our long conditioning makes us always react, always fight inside or outside. But the non-labeling observance of ourselves gives us the wisdom to go with the flow and to transform not out of reactivity, but with the same grace of wholeness. This is the grace of the Present Moment, of being awake…
Sahaja means naturalness, and Ramana Maharshi spoke about realization as sahaja samadhi. It is the naturalness of being human with the same innocence, grace, and absence of inner conflict with which a flower is a flower. It doesn’t do anything, yet its perfume fills a space. (“Wei Wu Wei”—acting without acting). (Jesus: “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They don’t toil, neither do they spin.” –Matthew, 6:28)
- Then, we are not hurried in action, reacting to thoughts or circumstances, but we are simply unbroken, unified, humble, flowing with grace.
- This is detachment and by this yoga doesn’t mean not having emotions but being the one in whom emotions are not “sticky” or blocked in this ego story. Then, the experiences of the inner and outer world come and pass like the reflections of flying birds over water.
What “Accept Your Fears” Means
- Therefore, when we hear advice like accept your fear or anger, or emotions in general, it doesn’t mean that we have to just be indulged in them or that we should just be aware of the emotion, because this may still have the limitation of that psychological meaning of self-awareness that can lead to being blocked in it or obsessed with the control of it, or such an attitude conditioned by some same old personal reactions in connection to it.
- Also, don’t cut out your selfishness, egotic tendencies out of moral reasons, or just because you want to. Because, even though this approach can work for a while and you can deal with some particular situations, it is still dualistic. This means that it is missing the whole perspective about you and the capacity to really act freely from there.
This is the reason for which Self-Inquiry, the surrender to Stillness, is so important because it brings us the non-conceptual knowledge from where such personal emotions or conditionings like bulimia, addiction to alcohol, drugs, jealousy, lying to others and yourself, being overly critical, addiction to the Internet, computer games, or pornographic movies, money, avarice, addiction to power, social position, etc. can be embraced as they are, as blocked energies.
- You just need to look at them honesty while also seeing the wholeness of your being.
- The awareness of the Present Moment doesn’t mean just a limited conceptual (mental and evaluating) view of objects and situations, trying to somehow grasp all these in this Present. The awareness of the Present Moment also doesn’t mean just the transcendental eternal dimension of Now, but these two together. This brings the true freshness, uniqueness, actuality, and beauty of the Present Moment.
- Now, we just apply the same understanding in the inner world. We don’t look at just emotions or habits and react personally to them. Likewise, we don’t stay just in a passive non-conceptual transcendent reality, but we see them together. From there the efficiency of transformation comes.
- But, for most people, this freedom of Oneness is missing, nobody introduced them to it… This is why real, honest Self-awareness is so important.
The big problem with ego-driven tendencies, with selfishness, with these blocked energies that create the vicious circle of (1) limiting habits, supporting (2) limiting beliefs, is that people don’t realize that they are like this.
- Padmasambhava: “Descending with the view and ascending with the conduct”—they support each other in this integrality of being. The reverse is also happening: when the view is ignorant, selfish, fearful, obsessed, uncaring, then the conduct, the behavior, the emotions, are in tune with that ignorant view.
- Self-awareness is an act of zooming out from your little you. Then you may have the surprise to see not something or somebody else, but a larger you, and so on, and so on, because Love and Compassion don’t have limits, because the Seer, this mirror of awareness in which everything is seen, is infinite. With that you may drop even the idea of limited individuality, you may explode.
- But until then, just learn to zoom out. NOW
- This is why even some forms of psychotherapy (and we will discuss these in future satsangs) affirm that it is more efficient to direct the attention not to resolving an issue but to obtaining psychological flexibility. And this is simply another way to express this capacity of an impersonal view, freedom.
Nourishing our soul with “Being Values” is a way of learning about the integrity of our being. In Beauty, Love, Compassion, and Spontaneity, non-labeling, zooming out, and psychological flexibility are much easier, or even happen spontaneously…
- And, we may come to something astonishing which seems at the same time new and familiar, recognizable. It is not an artificial work as all the personal action we do, it is not about working to “create” Love or Beauty, but a different way of acting, which there is a simultaneous:
- search (longing),
- discovery (revelation), and
- confirmation (grace).
This is the real meeting and recognition of the Spiritual Heart.
“Tao is that from which one cannot depart;
That from which one can depart is not the Tao.”
–From the Chung-yung
This Self-recognition makes us the noble king of Mother Earth I was speaking about, the spiritual aristocrat in that similar sense in which an ideal aristocrat, being so sure of the position given to them by birth, has no need to control, manipulate, pretend, patronize, or boast. Such is a real master…
It is our duty to bring alertness, vigilance, attentiveness, humbleness, devotion, and sacredness into our lives. And this fire of awareness, longing, will open the Heart, the gates of Heaven, bringing back more profoundly all such qualities, that now will flow freely and become impersonal—cosmic energies, grace. But this comes not through a personal sense of duty, but by the same integrative view of the Pure Witness, Self-awareness.
PRACTICE: Contemplating the Sky and the Undivided Inner World of the Soul
- Look at the sky (if this is not possible, evoke the sky)
- You can even bend your head backward or lie on the ground…
- Dissolve into the sky, allow a sense of drowning in the infinite sky.
- Meditate “The sky and I are One.” In the same way, Jesus said, “My Father and I are one.”
- Acknowledge the infinite, undivided space of Awareness of your soul. In it, emotions, feelings, moods, states are embraced.
- Alternate the awareness of the sky, feeling the vastness outside, with the undivided infinite Awareness inside.
Do this practice for at least 20 minutes daily.
Feel its echoes in your soul every moment, whenever you look for an emotion and tend to identify with it.
- You may realize that you have been too busy to just look at the sky and you haven’t done this since childhood.
- People look at the Earth constantly, they build shelters, houses to protect themselves and this may be the cause of such predominance of the materialistic view. But somehow, this prevents us from seeing, feeling the infinite, being soaked in a holistic view of existence…
Example: “I give honor to Keyurvati, that famous goddess of a woman who lived without a home. It is said that because of the flood [of immortal nectar] triggered from repeatedly fixing her inner gaze in the sky of [pure] consciousness, she radiated an effulgence that came from constantly identifying the entire universe as one with her very Self.” –Jayaratha
The Symbolism of the Sky
- The sky is a universal symbol expressing Heaven, a direct manifestation of transcendence, power, sacredness, and everlastingness which the Earth-dweller cannot attain.
- The whole nature of the sky is an endless hierophany (manifestation of the sacred)—the rhythmic revolution of the stars, thunderbolts, meteors, and rainbows are expressions of the sacred.
- The Sufi Abu Ya’qub wrote that Heaven is within the soul, rather than the reverse. This is an aspect of spiritual astrology, which was investigated like this.
The Importance of the Proper Attitude
- What is ultimately significant is not so much the particular technique we do but the inner awareness — the inner fire, the dissolution of the doer.
- A requisite is not a new kind of technique but a new kind of human being.
In Taoism, it is said: “When the wrong man uses the right means, the right means work in the wrong way.”
The task of developing a new kind of human being, by an inner non-violent revolution, is not as difficult as it seems when we realize that such an inner revolution is about Self-awareness, and it is happening not in a conflict between some parts of ours, but in an embrace. Only from there can Naturalness, effortlessness arise.
A Blessing of Solitude
“May you recognize in your life the presence, power, and light of your soul.
May you realize that you are never alone; that your soul in its brightness and belonging connects you intimately with the rhythm of the universe.
May you have respect for your own individuality and difference.
May you realize that the shape of your soul is unique, that you have a special destiny here, that behind the façade of your life there is something beautiful, good, and eternal happening.
May you learn to see yourself with the same delight … with which God sees you in every moment.”
–John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom