Seek Self-realization at All Cost
Tripura Rahasya 15:96-97 “Swami Rama declared unequivocally, “Seek Self-realization at all cost.” No discussion; no debate. It was not in the middle of some other conversation. It was just sitting there all on its own—a direct instruction. It was music to my ears. There were quite a few times in my life when somebody would tell me what to do. But, no other human being had ever told me anything even remotely like this, and with such conviction, with such support, with such clarity, and yes, with such love. Finally, somebody had told me what I was thinking in my mind, and wanted to hear from some other person. It’s not that I needed permission, though it sure is nice in life to have a bit of human validation, especially in the bigger, more important parts of life. Lots of people have told me lots of things they thought I should do; I have experienced no shortage of that. But this was different; this was very different.”
~ Swami Jnaneshvara from his bio about his life with Swami Rama “Witness Everything”
For me hearing this story was music to my ears too. What a joy to hear these words that embraced the process of allowing everything in life to be directed to realize the Self. At first the sentence struck me as: “No matter what is needed to seek Self-realization, DO IT.” In a world where the majority is mostly not interested in realizing the Self, these words felt like a long longed for “permission” to go against everything, to not be stopped by anything, to do whatever it takes! Which may come across as “Do whatever it takes to seek Self-realization; even pushing against someone or something if it stands in the way”. But, this is of course not what it means, that would be himsa—violence. Do whatever it takes to be FREEEEE within ahimsa—non-violence. Later the sentence deepened to what I think it truly contains, namely: “Literally everything has to GO to seek Self-realization.” Are you willing to pay the most expensive price to seek Self-realization? The cost of ALL that you think you are. If you can pay that, the Self stands alone, and the Self is realized.
What is standing between the present moment and the realization of the Self? The Self is always here… so what is hiding it?
There is only one way to “go”. There is only one apparent path to follow to get to THAT which is ALWAYS HERE. For each of us it is the same path; from where you are right now through and beyond the cluster of samskaras to the Self. Along this path everyone will have to train the same parts of the not-self; the senses, body, breath, ahamkara, buddhi, manas, chitta etc. We all function in the same way. Thus, we all have to discover the process that appears to exist in which the Self seems to project itself as not-self.
Yet… at the same time the same route is TOTALLY different for each of us. Why? We all have a unique collection of samskaras.
Simultaneously, there is:
1) No path—the Self is already here,
2) One path—going from the gross, to the subtlest aspect of our being, from the not-self to the Self,
3) And there are as many paths are there are people—we all have an unique collection of samskaras.
Question: What is the best path to follow?
Response: The path that matches “your” pool of samskaras. The path that will be the quickest way to move through “your” pool of samskaras. The path that will work the best with the samskaras. As fighting the samskaras is not useful, but skillfully using them to move beyond is an art!
We are all brought up in different geographical locations, with its customs, culture, morals, and acceptable behavior. Merely being born somewhere has a tremendous effect on the collection of samskaras. It colors the view with which you look at the world. The same counts for the family you are born into, the school you go to, the friends that collect around you as you move through life, all the experiences you run into along the way, etc. Every situation contains numerous sensory experiences, ahamkara gives coloring to the ones that are in some way important for “me” and thus a unique collection of samskaras is formed over lifetimes.
What is required is an open look into all these factors and to see which impressions we have unconsciously allowed to settle in our mind to form the way we live, behave, think, look at life and who we believe we are as individuals. The bigger the overview of the collection of samskaras, or differently said, the more you are aware of your not-self, the more you will be able to observe the apparent identities you have taken on. The sum of your samskaras is your personality and is the veil that hides your True Self. The sum of your habits, the sum of all the impressions you have taken on as a part of you, the sum of your samskaras are your path inward.
We do not have to psychoanalyze one samskara after another. We do not have to find out exactly when, where we have created each individual samskara. Looking for whom to blame, which could be yourself or ‘them’, is not useful. But knowing that, as we move inward we will unquestionably encounter these samskaras, is useful.
| top |
PATH IS VIRTUALLY ABOUT TWO THINGS
The whole practice towards Self-realization is thus virtually only about two things:
1) Purifying the pool of samskaras,
2) Remembering, contemplating on, surrendering to the Self.
The samskaras are largely that what the Seer takes on at other times, when it is not in Self-realization: (Yoga Sutras 1.4). Other vrittis the Seer takes on are the instruments of senses, body, breath, ahamkara, buddhi, manas, and chitta.
The samskaras are keeping you engaged in Maya, not realizing you are Brahman.
The samskaras are the ashes that cover the Kundalini Shakti at the base of the spine.
| top |
“ATTACKING*” SAMSKARAS FROM MULTIPLE DIRECTIONS
**Attacking is here used in a very playfull way!
With the systematic meditation practice, we train ourselves to take the stance of being undisturbed, unaffected, and uninvolved by keeping attention in a space, while we allow the samskaras to become active as desires and karmas in the conscious mind-field. Allowing the thoughts to flow freely without re-identifying with them will expand the conscious mind gradually exposing an ever greater part of the previously unconscious mind. This process of ‘thoughts flowing freely while remaining undisturbed’ will remove the kleshas (coloring) and thus will reduce the pool of samskaras. In meditation we stay in the Waking state of Consciousness, using the conscious mind. Thus, in meditation we “attack” the pool of samskaras from the conscious mind in the Waking state of Consciousness.
Read more on meditation:
With contemplation you strengthen the discernment between the not-self and the Self. Setting aside the not-self as neti, neti—not this, not this—and embracing, exploring, and fathoming the statement “Aham Brahmasmi”, “I am Brahman” by contemplating on it. Contemplation is used to find your way to the realization of “Aham Brahmasmi” until it is directly experienced. This is done in such a way that “I am Brahman” will not just merely become another false identity taken on by ahamkara, but allowing it to expand into an all-pervasive awareness until it becomes Reality. Contemplation “attacks” the samskaras as they are gradually all seen as ‘not me’.
Read more on contemplation:
3) Mantra Japa
With japa practice (repetition of mantra; first by remembering, until it starts to come on its own) we fill the unconscious with vibrations and meaning that will support a purifying process from within the pool of samskaras itself. The more we allow mantra to sink into our whole being the more it will start to help us from within, purifying the unconscious mind because the mantra, its meaning and its awareness is swimming around in it. It will lead to a constant awareness of the mantra. Mantra Japa “attacks” the pool of samskaras from within, as the mantra does its work in the unconscious mind even if the conscious mind is not always aware of it.
4) Yoga Nidra
With the practices that bring us to a state of Yoga Nidra—consciously leaving the Waking and Dreaming States of Consciousness to recede consciously into the Deep Sleep state of Consciousness; falling asleep but remaining awake—we also reduce samskaras. We sneak into the realm of samskaras consciously and reduce them while they are still sleeping, not being actively projected outward as desires, as karmas. We move outward back into the Waking state of Consciousness without even knowing which samskaras we specifically have uncolored, but it doesn’t matter; gone is gone! Thus, Yoga Nidra also “attacks” the samskaras from within the pool of samskaras itself.
If it isn’t clear by now:
All practices will reduce the samskaras, to remove the veil, to reveal the Self that is ever-present, resting in its True Nature.
Creating a new file-folder:
If the pool of samskaras can be seen as all the info stored on a personal hard-drive then the samskaras are clustered in chunks like file-folders on that hard-drive. Each cluster of samskaras is a false identity. How are they created in the first place? Quickly explained; incoming sensory experiences are labeled by ahamkara as ‘me’ and ‘mine’. They are, within the same process of labeling, also colored with attraction (raga) and aversion (dvesha). This new impression, which is related to ‘me’, gets stored on the hard-drive (chitta.) Brought to its specific folder it expands, refines and improves the false identity in its role. The sages say that the mind is the obstacle to Self-realization and at the same time the means for liberation. How? We can consciously create another file-folder that contains all the info related to practice, related to removing coloring and reducing samskaras, and related to our explorations of the True Self. This folder is a false identity too, but because it is built consciously it can be made aware right from the beginning that it is not the real self. This folder can be labeled as the Yogi-folder, the Meditator-folder, the Sadhaka-folder or any other name, as long as it knows that its task is to go beyond all samskaras.
This folder can use the rest of the hard-drive to quicken the process:
The job of the new file-folder is to reduce the samskaras and remember the Self. Since it was consciously created it can better apply its instruments; manas, buddhi, ahamkara, and chitta. Especially you can see that it is useful to increasingly sharpen buddhi; the tool that knows, decides, discriminates and judges. Because, when the Yogi-file-folder starts to encounter the unconscious it can apply these abilities (know, decide, discriminate and judge) to whatever is encountered. What is this Yogi-file-folder going to encounter? Uncountable desires (when they are active desires = karmas, when they are latent desires = samskaras) waiting for a moment to become awake and fulfill their content. They may be habits; desires that have been fulfilled over and over again. Or desires that have not yet been fulfilled at all, that are new, never attempted to be fulfilled; which we can playfully call “first-timers.” This Yogi-file-folder can gradually over time explore and investigate the unconscious mind and choose what to do with the desires it encounters.
WHAT DO TO WITH DESIRES
When the Yogi-file-folder encounters desires a few options are possible to “deal” with their coloring:
1) Remove coloring in meditation.
2) Remove coloring by allowing it to become active in the mind-field while performing actions, but not playing out its content (meditation in action, similar to silent meditation; learning to be undisturbed, unaffected, and uninvolved during daily life while allowing the thoughts to flow).
3) Mindfully fulfilling the desire when the coloring is yet too strong to be uncolored during meditation.
4) Or a combination of the three, in which the initial intense coloring might by mindfully played out until one can start to observe it and gradually learn to be undisturbed by it. If this is possible of course, depending on the nature of the desire.
Whatever you do honest, open, and full awareness of the play of desires and its content is needed. The more honestly you can observe the desires in their active or sleeping form, the more you can strengthen the Yogi-file-folder. Because it can do its job better when the overview of the mind-field is increased. Thus, no matter if you choose 1, 2, 3, or a combination, done with awareness it will definitely reduce the pool of samskaras.
Some samskaras need to be fulfilled:
The samskaras that need to be played out, that need to manifest, can be used as an aid along the path.
● First: one by one the samskaras in the pool are bound to come up as we start to “dig” our way through them. Initially we might not be able to immediately see them as they are playing out as karmas. Which means that they are playing out right under our nose, eyes, ears etc. but unconsciously. The world outside us is reflecting what we are projecting from our pool of samskaras. Thus, this might become the first time we consciously “see” the samskaras. The situations and/or relationships we find ourselves in reflect our pool of samskaras. Because the samskaras are colored with attraction, aversion, and fear, we might initially not want to see them and blame ‘the outside world’ for our suffering, emotions and failures. But with increased awareness we can use the outside world to discover samskaras in our pool. Every reaction to the outside world comes from our own pool of samskaras. In this way any situation and/or relationship can be used to discover the unconscious. Then any situation and/or relationship can contain a lesson to learn. Thus, some samskaras might only be noticed when they are playing out as karmas right in front of our nose and in this way contain important lessons that will increase the ability of the Yogi-file-folder to do its work exploring the unconscious. In this way the outside world, its events and the actions we do are helping us constantly on the path inward. What is in our pool of samskaras will definitely play itself out. Over time life itself will gradually move you through your pool of samskaras as there is no other way then to play in the world through the pool of samskaras. As layers are pealed off within the pool of samskaras, previously hidden samskaras will start to play themselves out in the world as karmas. In this way going through life is in itself a process of unfolding.
“We can see karma as the curriculum we must take to achieve the clarity of pure consciousness. Nothing more. Follow the rope of karma through the maze we call life and find the absolute Reality. Until Reality is found, we keep moving through the maze, or back to this platform of worldly life. At the risk of working these metaphors too much, we take a set of courses in one lifetime, and return in another life for more courses, again and again until we finish the self-imposed assignments we refer to as karma.”
~ Swami Rama, Sacred Journey pg. 58
● Second: we all have to do something. We cannot live without doing actions. In some way everyone will have to contribute to the ever-flowing dance of movement, be it small or grand. Ideally this is done selflessly, which means without coloring. Mostly when we start the process of attempting to be selfless the actions are a combination of both; the best intention to be selfless and a part based on self-interest (which is just another words for preference, like, attachment, coloring). If we know our predispositions, preferences, passions, talents, skills, which are none other than file-folders on the hard-drive we can choose from them when we select what to do in life as selfless service. In the midst of playing out these passions in the world, thereby contributing to the ever-flowing dance of movement, we gradually learn to do them more and more selflessly. Less and less based on coloring. Less and less based on gaining the fruits of the actions. Less and less identifying with these file-folders. Thus, uncoloring happens in the process of learning to perform actions selflessly. This is living your Dharma. Everyone has a job to do in this manifestation. Knowing this task, using the pool of samskaras to contribute to the greater good will have the effect that the outside world is less of an obstacle for you. Life in the world flows nicely when you live your Dharma; life seems to flow with you. Eventually everyone’s biggest Dharma is to attain Self-realization. But, living your Dharma in relation to what actions to perform in the world will support the big Dharma of Self-realization. In this way you use the pool of samskaras wisely to cross the pool of samskaras.
● Third: along the way you will encounter desires that seem important or big. By increasing awareness to the content of the pool of samskaras, you start to identify certain samskaras that may require some internal dialogue. On these you will have to contemplate: “What to do with this specific desire? Is it part of my Dharma? Do I need to play this one out as a way of service? Or is the coloring so much that no matter if it is part of Dharma or not I have to allow it to play out because I cannot un-color it yet during meditation? Or do I have to intensify my sankalpa shakti (determination) as this desire keeps popping up and I do not want to fulfill this desire?” Of course we have to be mindful not to suppress by pretending it is not there. Honest observation about the intensity of the coloring of the samskara is needed. Thus, depending on the degree of coloring some desires just need to be fulfilled. If this is done mindfully, it will also be an aid to the process of gradually uncoloring the pool of samskaras.
● Last: there will be many trivial desires floating by that will un-color themselves without much conscious awareness. Because fortunately we do not have to process one samskara at a time. Many might be quickly fulfilled in a seemingly insignificant way, or just drift by in the ever-increasing stream of thoughts during practice and are uncolored in this way.
Dharma is like a river with lots of boulders in it, symbolizing the samskaras. We need to go from one shore to the other shore. We can try to swim straight, but a big chance we crash against the boulders, hurting ourselves. It is better to flow downstream following the river for a while, so that we can graciously swim past the boulders and gradually make our way across to the other side. This is using the pool of samskaras to live in accordance with Dharma.
To sum it up till now:
The pool of samskaras is the veil that hides the True Self.
We have to move through this veil to realize the Self, which is the same process for all of us.
We all have a different collection of samskaras stored on our hard-drive, making the journey also unique for each of us.
We start doing practices that will gradually reduce the coloring.
This creates a file-folder in which all information and experiences about practice, the path and the Self are stored.
Walking our unique path inward we encounter what we have stored on the unconscious parts of our hard-drive.
We learn how to mindfully use the desires; we learn how to flow with the stream of karmas.
| top |
So, we all have to figure out for ourselves HOW we are going to use “our” samskaras that we have stored on the path. Some burn up in meditation, some need to be played out. The only way is through them. The more skillfully we can maneuver through them, the quicker we get to the other side. Thus, after making up the inventory to the best of our abilities we need to make some choices. What is the best way to go through them? You are the only one who can assess “your” pool. Others can help, but eventually you have to decide what needs to be done. Here are some options that might help you determine a course within the voyage through the pool of samskaras.
Repeat: the pool of samskaras is the journey. Thus, hopefully it is becoming clear that working with them, not against them, using them skillfully, not pushing them away is the best way to go. Some desires have to be renounced, some can be used to flow through life smoothly, some just have to be played out.
Here are some ways to use the pool of samskaras to go beyond them.
Depending on the predispositions present in the pool of samskaras one is more inclined to emphasize the:
● Bhakti aspect of Yoga; predisposition to emotions can be used to creatively use the emotions as an entrance to work with all the aspects of your not-self—the actions, thoughts, mind, and buddhi
● Raja aspect of Yoga; predisposition to work with the mind can be used to train the mind to become one-pointed as an entrance to work with all the aspects of your not-self—actions, thoughts, emotions, and buddhi
● Jnana aspect of Yoga; predisposition to intellect can be used to sharpen buddhi and use it for contemplation as an entrance to work with all the aspects of your not-self—actions, thoughts, emotions, and mind
● Karma aspect of Yoga; predisposition to doing actions in the world can be used to perform actions selflessly as an entrance to work with all the aspects of your not-self—thoughts, emotions, mind, and buddhi
Eventually every label has to be set aside; thus also the “I am a bhakti-yogi”, “raja-yogi”, “jnana-yogi”, or “karma-yogi”. But, if you know and have a preference, use it to move through the pool of samskaras.
Three other paths:
The next three options are not three separate paths in our Tradition, they are one stream. Yet, someone might see them as separate. It again depends on your predisposition which you can mindfully choose to move along the path:
● Yoga as described in the Yoga Sutras.
● Advaita Vedanta as described in the Upanishads (end of the Vedas).
● Tantra as described in the different schools of Kaula, Mishra, Samaya.
Eventually every label has to be set aside; thus also the “I follow so-and-so-path”. But if you know and have a preference, use it to move through the pool of samskaras.
If the pool of samskaras has a compartment in it of a certain religion, this might be used. One does not necessarily have to leave the religion of their young, nor does one have to take on a religion in order to move through the pool of samskaras. Eventually every label has to be set aside, including the “I am of so-and-so religion”. Every religion has essentials in them that can be used along the way.
The Bhagavad Gita speaks of four classes of people. Which over time have resulted in the caste-system. However it might have evolved to the apparent fixed boxes people keep themselves trapped in these days, the initial intention was, in my opinion, again part of knowing your Dharma, part of using the pool of samskaras to go beyond them. If you know your predisposition you can use it to be of service and flow with Dharma graciously. Everyone, no matter in which caste, is able to realize the Self. The Self is beyond any label, beyond any caste. Thus, also the label “I am of so-and-so-caste” has to be let go off to realize the Self.
There are traditionally two paths:
Moving through the samskaras, seeking Self-realization is traditionally done through two different paths. The path of householder and the path of sannyasi. Without going much into details or comparison of both paths, it is good to know for yourself which path is most suited for you in seeking Self-realization. Which path is the quickest for you? What is your predisposition? These two paths cannot be compared to each other as they are meant for different pools of samskaras. No one is better or superior to the other. Again it depends on Dharma. Again it depends on the need to fulfill certain desires or the ability to set them aside. Choosing the one best for you is the best and quickest path! Walking the “wrong” one might delay Self-realization, which can happen with both of them.
Different Traditions and Lineages:
Then there also is the appearance of many traditions, many lineages or schools to choose from. There is only one goal. If you agree with me, or guess, that some of the well-known representatives of eternal wisdom all dove into the same Non-dual Reality, the Self, Center of Consciousness, then you can imagine they spoke from the same experience. All they did was offer the same wisdom in ways that would fit where they were. Different times required different approaches. Out of these offerings, emerged in the world of diversity the appearance of different boxes, lineages, religions and schools. Again it is important to know what fits your pool of samskaras. Who is going to lead you through the pool? Some compare, investigate different teachers. Some intuitively know they found home and do not need to search further. However help may show up along the way, find a home that feels right for you. This is the beauty of offering the same wisdom through different people. There is no “one-fits-all”. They may appear to offer different paths, but if they truly can guide you to the Self, they are the same path—going from gross to subtle, to the subtlest to the Self. Then you take a chance, to dive deep, without condemning other paths, without the eternal comparing of paths (which can keep you busy for lifetimes!)
The pool of samskaras is our personality. Since the pool is the veil, is having a personality wrong? No! As long as Consciousness plays in the manifestation, it plays as a form. Any form will have a personality. The purer the pool the more the pool can be worn as a mask, as a role, not as the illusion that this is who we are. Like the body can be made as pure as possible so that it is not an obstacle on the path, so too can the personality be made as pure as possible so that it is not an obstacle on the path. Every pool has amazing qualities, skills and virtues. Knowing them they can be used in service of humanity. There are several personality systems that can help you discover the useful qualities of the personality, like Enneagram, Myers Briggs etc.
I heard students of Swami Rama share that in the presence of him, they would rise to their “best version”. In his presence their bullshit, confusion, hang-ups and not-useful habit patterns would temporary fall away as they were taking into the bubble of Shakti of Swami Rama. As if the dust was temporarily removed from their personality and it would shine in its brilliance. This showed them who they could be if they polished their personalities. I have heard this said about other adepts, sages and mystics too. That in their presence they not only experienced the unconditional love these sages had for them, but they themselves loved all unconditionally. Sages can bring forth the positive qualities showing you in a direct way how the personality can be used positively. Of course, eventually the personality has to be set aside to experience the Self. But, until then and afterwards the personality is the instrument to play in the world, without being of it.
With all of these paths the Bhagavad Gita beautifully describes:
“Better one’s own dharma, even devoid of quality, than the dharma of another well performed. Better to die in one’s own dharma; the dharma of another invites danger.” BG 3:35
If one identifies him/herself with a path, thus becoming a Bhakti-yogi, a Karma-yogi, a Jnana-yogi, a Raja-yogi, a Muslim, a Christian, a Jew, a Hindu, a Jain, a Sikh, a Householder or a Sannyasi, one actually moves away from the Self. Then instead of using the pool of samskaras to move through it, you strengthen the pool of samskaras, intensifying the false identities that block the Self. “Especially” (I say this lightly, because it counts for all) for sannyasis; if one thinks one is a swami or ma, then the opposite has happened. They ought to have renounced (or are committed to fully set aside) all identities, only striving for the Self. Yet again that is what everyone can do, strive for the Self and setting aside all identities, no matter which apparent path you follow. Thus, this is true for all paths; if one is identified with the path one walks, one is adding obstacles instead of removing them.
We live in a world of appearances. We live in a world of diversity. This is amazing, because it is the diversity that makes this manifestation a spectacle of possibilities. In this manifestation the Self can play as any form it wants. This apparent diversity requires another thing to be cautious about, something to be very mindful of. Diversity means the appearance of boxes. As soon as you might use one aspect of the diversity to move through the pool of samskaras it appears as if you are not in the other boxes. It may even appear as if you are against the other boxes. How quickly do we label something? Notice for yourself how external appearances are grouped together, put in a box and labeled. We do it all the time, it is part of living in diversity. There is nothing wrong about this phenomena, but requires vigilance.
| top |
Those who had read my bio know I have studied at the Art Academy in my previous ashram (this is a way to describe what a sannyasi did before taking sannyasa). I had chosen the fashion department. Not because I was interested in creating the latest fashion show for Paris, but because the body and the way it can be dressed is a day-to-day art form we all execute. No matter what you wear, by default it makes a statement. Any type of clothes you chose say something, has a box, has a false identity to go with it. Some more pronounced than others, but still it is the habit of the mind to put everything it encounters into a box. Back then I was fascinated by the forming of identities. Trying to match the inner world with the outer world. Trying to understand how these two worlds communicate with each other. But, most of all “Who am I?” What is my appearance saying about “me”? If I can so quickly change my appearance and thus, become a different person, what does it say about “me”? I knew that none of these identities could be who I really am. Because, while changing identities something ALWAYS STAYED THE SAME. This was a step on the path for me to discover that there is something beyond all identities. Eventually Art Academy didn’t go deep enough, thus it was easily left behind when the practice of meditation was encountered!
Another part of “my” story, which is hopefully interesting enough to read on (otherwise scroll to next block) is the life-long longing to go beyond all identities. Art Academy was like kindergarten. After that I really found home in the practice of meditation. After meeting Swami Jnaneshvara I finally found a path in which there is a tradition, an option to choose to set aside all identities. As mentioned in the beginning of this article, being born in a certain geographical area has certain effects on the samskara pool. Being born in a country where there is no tradition of wondering sannyasis, swamis, it took me 23 years to encounter this tradition in another culture. Can you imagine my feeling of relief, happiness and joy? Finally, I had found a tradition in which you can make a commitment to the Self. Vow to yourself that none of the false identities is who you are. That all you strive for is to realize the Self. SEEKING SELF-REALIZATION AT ALL COST. Setting aside everything for Self-realization. I almost couldn’t believe such a path existed, but yet I knew all along it had to exist because I was looking for it. Who knows, maybe it is just a habit pattern. Maybe from previous life. Just another samskara that needed to be fulfilled, that could not be renounced in itself. That would be ok too. Use the pool of samskaras to go beyond the samskaras! So it was easy to make the decision when it came to “my” pool of samskaras; the path of sannyasa was the path, the path of renunciation. It was the most indescribable day; 13 November 2012 in which an inner vow was made. Symbolically the past was now dead, renounced, a new life started; with ideally only one desire left; realizing the Self. There are no rules that go with the path of sannyasi, because everything is left behind, thus also rules. It truly is an inner commitment. Yet setting aside all other desires but the one to realize the Self, includes family, material pursuits for selfish reasons, and name and fame seems to be like “rules”, yet again they are commitments. Some external changes indicated this change; shaving of the head, wearing ochre/orange clothes symbolizing fire, and carrying a new name that already contained the True Self I was longing to realize. Wearing ochre/orange reminds me that all samskaras have to be burned up in the fire of knowledge. In the culture of India if you see someone wearing these colors means; leave them alone with worldly stuff. This culture supports this path. How amazing is that! After a while I started to realize how funny it actually is. Again back to Art Academy; it appeared as if I had taken up another identity, as the appearance of a swami appears to be another box. This is how the world works. This is how the world might see it. Every box is perceived through the veil of samskaras of the other person. So there are countless opinions about the appearing boxes. Over time I realized with compassion toward myself and others how we all use the pool of samskaras to go through them. In my case it may appear for the outside world that I have taken on another identity. But, I know in my heart what I am doing. I am using the tendencies of this pool of samskaras to go beyond them all. I am Brahman! I am Tripurashakti! Not as an identity, this is the True Self. You can do the same! Use “your” pool of samskaras wisely, no matter what opinion people might have about it.
| top |
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
What have you done in life to increase your awareness of the Self. What choices have you made along the way to direct attention toward the Self? I know the path of sannyasi is not the only path in which you can make a 100% commitment to the Self. I know people who get married with full awareness of the path and with 100% commitment to it. They make this incredible vow not only to each other to support each other on the path, but also commit to themselves that this life, this path of householder is their commitment to realize the Self. They know going through a box called husband or wife will quicken their process. Same when it comes to having children or having a career. As like any path this path will offer its challenges and thus beautiful lessons are learned, and incredible growth happens. I know also some that consciously stay single, not get married, not have children, but intentionally do not chose to take sannyasa. They too in their own way get the challenges that can be used along the path to Self-realization. Some leave their religion. Some know it is not who they are, but stay with it, for example appearing as a Muslim or Christian to help them to be of service within their community.
Do you get the point? Truly it is about knowing the pool of samskaras, knowing what life is about and then use it to go beyond it. No matter what it is about. Follow your heart. Listen to buddhi. Guide yourself on this path with the infinite wisdom that is already within you, because you are already THAT! No matter what kind of box you appear to take on from the outside, on the inside you are ALWAYS THAT! Then we can play…. playing in the diversity from our Yogi-file-folder!
Mindfully using the Yogi-file-folder has the potential to fall asleep into it. Or, some take on this file-folder not with the intention to reduce the pool of samskaras and to seek Self-realization. Some take it on merely as one of their many false identities. Even this cannot be judged. But for those who seek Self-realization at all cost, this is something to be vigilant about. Notice how easily we could get identified with the Yogi-file-folder. How easily we could fall into the trap believing this is who we are. Or believe that this identity is better than the others, more superior than the others. How easily we can take on an identity. But how hard it is to truly become non-attached to all identities. In which we can wear an identity for the service of others.
| top |
SEEK SELF-REALIZATION AT ALL COST
Do whatever is needed to move through the pool of samskaras. By applying your buddhi from the Yogi-file-folder you will know what to do with the samskaras encountered. You will know what is needed along the path. Use anything possible on the journey that will support this process in a nonviolent way. Fulfill the desires that cannot be renounced. Practice meditation, contemplation, prayer, and mantra to reduce the coloring, to reveal the Self. Eventually you will find out that AT ALL COST means ALL SAMSKARAS NEED TO BE SET ASIDE. Are you willing to give up all these samskaras?
A possible question could be: I have heard that you do not have to uncolor all the samskaras to have the direct experience of the Self. Is this true? Yes, this is true! But if you are not willing to give them all up, you make it clear that you only want Self-realization under certain conditions and not at ALL COST. Then still the samskaras are more important than realizing the Self. At all cost means no bargaining!
| top |
AVOID PASSING JUDGMENT
We cannot perceive from the outside where someone is on their inward journey. We cannot know what they are doing based on the actions they perform. Maybe the degree of non-attachment can be felt, as sincerity, honesty and selflessness can surely be noticed. Still, as long as we ourselves are in the purifying, awakening process how can we really know what the other is doing in their sadhana? Each of us walk a unique path, encountering our own samskaras, learning our own lessons. How can we really know what is best for someone else? The best path is the one quickest for you. The best path is the path that bring you fastest beyond all false identities to complete non-attachment, which will reveal the Self. Realizing this will reduce and hopefully eventually stop you from passing judgement over others as they walk through life.
| top |
Eventually it happens that all samskaras are seen as not-me. Walking on the appearing path of purification toward the Self gradually the degree of non-attachment increases. Eventually there is true freedom from the false identities. No matter which one you appear to “wear” in the external world. No matter which label this appearing box seems to have. It is impossible to truly have no appearing identity in a world of form thus you can playfully keep wearing it. Using it to the best of your ability in selfless service of the world. Some people might be drawn to a certain “false identity” and they can thus be served best by this appearing false identity.
| top |
When you discover that none of the identities is who you really are, you will also look at this world of diversity with all its boxes in a completely different way. Naturally, there will be compassion for those stuck in a box. Naturally, you will be able to love all and exclude none, seeing everyone in their own way learning to become free of the boxes, free from their pool of samskaras. The more comprehensive your understanding is about the different boxes you will also be able to be with all the different boxes in a way most beneficial for them. Sages, like Swami Rama, are able to communicate with all the different appearing false identities be of service to them each in their individual way, and are able to take on different identities themselves. Identities then become costumes for the roles the Self plays in the Divine Play of Consciousness.
This amazing quote from Swami Rama confirms and ends the end-less discussion of comparing the different paths. Eventually with non-attachment you go beyond all of them; in this example it is either beyond a karma yogi (=householder) or a renunciate (=sannyasi). Eventually you go beyond all paths…
“To be detached does not mean to be indifferent; to be detached means to love. The definition of detachment and non-attachment is love, not indifference. If you are detached you can love others well, because you become more objective. You are involved, yet you remain objective. That is the path of non-attachment, and it is higher even than renunciation. If you renounce something but lack non-attachment, that is of no use. First, you should learn to grow in non-attachment, and then you are better than a renunciate or a karma yogi, because you have grown. Both paths, the path of renunciation and the path of action, require something called non-attachment—that is, learning how to live in the world and yet above and unaffected.
A lotus does exactly that: it grows out of the mud, but remains unaffected by the mud. This whole world is a muddy swamp, and if you are born in the swamp, you have to learn to live in it. The way to do that is to keep your petals above, unaffected and untouched. That is why the symbol of yoga and meditation is the lotus. Whichever path you take, you must learn to cultivate non-attachment in working with your desires in the world, or you will never be truly satisfied.”
~ Swami Rama Path of Fire and Light pg. 57
SEEK SELF-REALIZATION AT ALL COST
Let them allll go…
all the instruments…
all the false identities…
all the desires…
all the samskaras…
and be FREEEEE
After the Self is realized, Swami Rama says in the chapter of ‘Our Tradition’;
“We do not associate ourselves with any particular religion, caste, sex, or color. Such yogis are called masters and are allowed to impart the traditional knowledge. We strictly follow the discipline of the sages.