Self-inquiry connects the personal with the impersonal. It respects the person. It doesn’t try to kill the person, but it also acknowledges the transpersonal. It seeks connectedness so that the person flowers within the impersonal [the divine] and discovers the impersonal within. A life without the impersonal is dry and empty. You want the universe to flow towards your personal advantage, but alas, the universe is indifferent. What chance does this little person have? The whole universe is arranged to frustrate or be indifferent to your desires. There is no joy in simply being a person.
…Through the process of inquiry, we recognise the dynamism running through us. We become liberated from doubt and concern when we no longer try to hold the universe at bay, but surrender to it and welcome it. Our actions become effective and powerful, because they are aligned with this great impersonal process.
Swamiji, Self-inquiry (pages. 42-43)
One of my favourite teachings of Swamiji’s is ‘you are your awareness‘. He says that everything we know, we know through our own awareness. And, we cannot know anything outside of our awareness.
Swamiji also says that awareness is the most powerful healing technique we have at our disposal. Our awareness is a divine gift. It is the light of the Self. It illumines the inner world and can heal the pain of separation. It transforms darkness to light. It connects us to the state of oneness. By focusing awareness inwardly on inner discomfort, we can change our state from painful to peaceful, in a split second.
The Shaivite text, Spanda Karika, says that staying connected with the Shakti is the key to maintaining a rich and satisfying life. Happiness and misery all arise from Consciousness and subside in Consciousness. And so, when we attend to our Consciousness magical things happen.
To maintain equanimity in the face of difficulty is no easy task. But, to have faith that whatever arises in Consciousness is temporary and that the Self underlies all thought and feeling means that we always have an inner refuge. As the text says, when the mind, after dwelling in mental agitation calms down then the Self shines through.
I am happy, I am miserable, I am attached–these and other thoughts
have their being evidently in another in which the states
of happiness, misery, etc., are strung together.
Spanda Karika I.4
We can investigate the inner world any time, in any place, in every moment. We just have to remember that we can. Swamiji encourages us to ask, ‘what’s going on here?’
Perhaps, rather than look for a permanent state where the mind never wavers, it may be more realistic to learn to recognise when we lose touch with the Self and how to reconnect. To be conscious of what Swamiji calls, the ‘upward’ or ‘downward’ shift in energy is crucial to maintaining a positive mind. In this way we can tell immediately when we have lost touch with the Self. The upward shift is not different from what the Spanda Karika calls spanda.
Again in sutras 1.23-1.25 it states:
Taking firm hold of that (spanda) the awakened yogi remains firm with the resolution, ‘I will surely carry out whatever it will tell me’. Resting on the experience of that spanda, both prana and apana get merged in the sushumna and by the upward path of sushumna they rise up to the great ether of universal Consciousness by abandoning the sphere of the body together with the brahmarandhra and are completely dissolved in it. There the unenlightened yogi by considering that state a kind of deep sleep remains stupefied, while the one who is not covered with the darkness of infatuation is established in that ether of universal Consciousness and abides as fully enlightened.
People often ask, ‘how can I tell the difference between delusion, or a desire that arises from ego and an upward shift?’
It is true that some infatuations feel really good and that only after we have satisfied that desire, do we realise that we paid a high price emotionally or energetically, for the indulgence.
These sutras say that the difference between an ego desire and the upward shift is that the latter is free from indulgence. Also, to follow the upward shift is good for everyone around us, not just for an individual. Spiritual desires are transparent, those around us will feel the Shakti that comes from a divine movement.
We think, act, speak and feel from the contents of our own awareness. And, we can see by looking within, how thoughts contaminate or uplift our inner world. This toxicity can cause hysteria, despair, insomnia, and mental agitation. It creates an inner vibration that we transmit to the outer world. We send those vibrations out to our nearest and dearest, disempowering and worrying all who are close to us. We talk to everyone hoping that someone will hold the key to solving our painful dilemma. However, the one who will solve them is concealed in our own awareness.
So, what are the ways in which we can follow the upward shift in daily life?
To check in, during the day, on the content in awareness is a simple way to clear away impressions that bring agitation, turmoil, and negative emotion in our psychic system. To simply make contact with your inner world often for a few minutes.
The methods for dealing with persistent negative thoughts and feelings can be different for different temperaments. But all types of people can use their power of language to shift their chemistry from contracted to expanded.
Experiment with different statements, and watch the effect each statement has on your inner world. When you can do this you soon learn to renounce thoughts that bring agitated mind states.
Oh Shiva, give me your grace.
If you are vulnerable to getting caught in grief and disappointment and taking to bed in disappointment, then rediscovering love and connection with the shakti is imperative. When a feeling of separation or isolation plagues the mind, it is within your power to keep the feeling of devotion alive. You can stay connected to the shakti, by remembering love for God, for the path, for the teachings, or for the Guru. You can turn your mind away from grief or sadness and call on God’s grace to shift your state of mind. You can make statements like:
- Love is within me.
- I give my love.
- I am one with everything.
- No outer event can harm my true Self.
- The Self is always present.
There is no obstruction to Shiva anywhere.
When the mind becomes confused or agitated and decision making is impossible, you can change the way you think; you can substitute lower thoughts for higher. Move the mind away from doubt or fear, toward a higher understanding. Look for an understanding that suits the circumstance. Swamiji recommends contemplating what he calls G-Statements, statements that Shiva would say:
- Everything is Consciousness.
- There is absolutely no problem.
- The whole world is inside my awareness.
- Everything that arises in Consciousness is me.
- My mind is illumined.
No outer event can harm my true nature.
When the world seems to be going against everything we want to accomplish and we are thwarted by circumstances beyond our control then we must stop and look within. When frustrated, disempowered or caught in self-concern we need to act selflessly. We take our attention off what we want and think of others. By serving the Guru, shakti, God, family, friends or spiritual community the mind will return to peace and contentment. Making statements like:
- I relax and let go
- My actions reflect the Self.
- Shakti is always arising within me.
- I accept myself and I accept others.
- I surrender to the Guru.
Lately, Swamiji has been saying that everyone should represent the Guru in every situation. In other words we can all find a way to bring shakti into our home, our work, and our relationships. This means that we can look ways to give our highest value moment to moment, whether that is compassion, wisdom, love, patience, or service. We then maintain the shakti, the upward shift and positive energy is transmitted to others.
I am the Lord of Matrika [language].
By doing inquiry we can discover the narrative that connects us to shakti in each moment.This engages us with the Guru’s state of Consciousness, and we can reflect his or her state wherever we are. When we do the Guru’s work of remembering the Self, we make authentic contact with people and the Shakti we carry uplifts our environment. When our inner world is full of Shakti, all is well in the outer world.
Some questions to ask:
- How can I stay connected to the shakti and the Guru?
- What is in the way of that connection?
- Could it be anger, fear or sorrow?
- What can I do to reconnect?
- How can I make contact with the Self?
- How can I make contact with others?
It is enough to know when we are not as in touch with Shakti as we would like. If we are blaming someone, we can forgive. If we are clinging to something, we can let go. If we are holding enmity, we can return to love.
In this way we put love, wisdom, and compassion ahead of anger, fear and sorrow. We value the highest, not the negative stories the mind creates. Not the negative song of our life that us to a hell world of suffering. A simple inner world action will return us to the Self. The great beings teach that we can always:
- Let go.
- Give our love.
- Change our understanding.
- Honour the Self in others.
Podcasts of Swamiji’s talks here.