Abundance and Self-Fulfilment
First published October 2017 in Yoga Magazine
A single word can mean so many things. The word yoga is usually associated with deep calm, inner tranquillity, contentment and satisfaction.
It makes sense, when we think of yoga, to think of serene satisfied sages radiating tranquillity that positively glows around them.
But when we practice, using the same word - yoga – to designate the various forms which we have learned to bring about these ‘results’, we can sometimes feel the opposite.
It’s not unfamiliar to many of us, to feel at times; inadequate, frustrated, desperate, competitive and even a kind of thirstiness (tṛṣṇā).
Craving, yearning and desire express a feeling of lack ‘What I need I haven’t got’ and so reaching-out (upādāna) occurs beginning a self-fulfilling prophecy that cycles around from; craving, reaching out, disconnection and lack and on and on in a loop that is like a snake biting its own tail. It is, in part, this trapped cycle that the Sanskrit term saṃsāra describes.
As soon as we disconnecting from the mains or take the cup from our lips, it leaves us unplugged, un-resourced scrabbling around in our own personal stores which are; limited, partial and biased, to find information that might vaguely match the infinite, complicated and ever-changing (anitya) reality of this brand new moment.
Rather than personal stores of information that we accumulate as views and opinions about reality the yogin recognises this moment is the direct source of Knowledge. Like with the controversial process of extracting shale gas lodged in between rock strata the yogin simply uses methods that cause the inherent Knowing trapped in This Moment to burst through their own layers and trigger spontaneous response that arises in muscles, mind, speech and thought.
In this extraction of what is contained within This Nowness our thoughts feelings, actions become a conduit for what This Moment wants to say. This is expression emerges from a sense of essential unity and hence never acts out of personal self-interest or personal power over another – it is always open, compassionate and at peace.
This process may include a radical emptying out of oneself, allowing oneself to be eaten by The Moment. The sort of offering or giving of oneself that so often occurs spontaneously (sahaja) when a moment is suitably, perhaps even surprisingly and sometimes suddenly, intense; smelling a rose, feeling a yoga pose, suddenly catching a moment of intense beauty, sadness or joy can all serve to cause us to temporarily forget to run our programs leavingus empty enough to Know.
Yoga, and other Indian soteriological traditions, revealingly, name the base and driver of our problems and general malaise using the term avidyā which translates as ‘not knowing’. Its root vidyā comes from the Proto-Indo-European wordweid, meaning "to see" or "to know". The addition of the a suffix in Sanskrit negates the word it’s attached to, hence “not-seeing”. This makes clear that the aspirants only problem is not-seeing. The implication being that if one could simply see the way things are, helpful rather than harmful responses would result.
To not see quite often means that one’s attention is elsewhere, one’s focus is on something else. By focusing on the next thing, by reaching out we effectively stop seeing This Moment - which has all that is needed within – it is fully abundant and its realisation constitutes the end of all seeking, it the fulfilment of all the desires that had manifested from its lack.
This is illustrated in a famous parable found in the Lotus sutra of Mahayana Buddhism.
‘Once upon a time there lived a man who had, as a friend, a rich public servant. One day the man called on his rich friend, who entertained him with food and wine. He became completely inebriated and fell asleep. The rich friend, however, suddenly had to set out on a journey involving urgent public business. He wanted to give his friend a priceless jewel which had the mystic power to fulfil any desire. But his friend was fast asleep. Finding no other alternative, he sewed the gem into the hem of his sleeping friend's robe. The man awoke to find his friend gone, totally unaware of the jewel his friend had given him. Before long, he allowed himself to sink into poverty, wandering through many countries and experiencing many hardships. After a long time, now reduced to sheer want, he met his old friend. The rich man, surprised at his condition, told him about the gift he had given him, and the man learned for the first time that he had possessed the priceless jewel all along.’
Consciousness, according to the tantrik yoga tradition has as inherent qualities three qualities or powers described in Sanskrit as; kriyā śakti, jñāna
śakti and iccha śakti - the powers of; Action, Knowledge and Will respectively.
In other words, what is needed is not imported or reached out for but is inherent within the very structure of this moment, however this moment might manifest.
There is a kind of Knowing that is available at any time so long as one is available for the information to come through.
We are not available when we are on the next thing, in a yoga pose, if our focus is on how; strong, flexible or tranquil we want, or feel we need, to become, we will not be open to the profound listening that is always accompanied by the right response with unwavering fidelity to what is actually required.
Yoga recommends this profound emptying-out (śūnyatā) which is facilitated in many ways within the tradition. This often takes the form of giving oneself, to the aliveness of This Moment which is reminiscent of the vedic fire sacrifice (yajña) where the pouring (homa) of various offerings, into the fire, acts as a kind of key, opening a channel between this world and the world of the gods.
In this vedic context one gives various substances to the fire as offerings to entice the god’s presence and favour. This favour could mean that you could be endowed with say the strength of Indra. In other words, humility, obeisance and sacrifice bringing about a state of union with god (all be it one of many).
That which is sacrificed to the fire is transmuted into something else.
Here then the fire is this moment which could take the form of a conversation, a cuddle or a yoga posture and what is sacrificed is you.
You give yourself to this moment and in return for doing so knowing, acting and willing spontaneously arise through you.
You have become one with ‘God’ a term that means here that which is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient – powerful, always here and all knowing.
What is gained is a profound ability to respond to how things are in a way that if using ones conditioned; thinking, feeling or volitions could never have the subtlety, suppleness or holism to respond with anything approaching the perfection that this level of intimacy can. All that is gained is All Knowledge all that is lost is someone to ownership or take credit for it.
In the various streams, that feed into each other, run parallel and overspill between one another, that we call yoga, there is no shortage of allusions to the profound satisfaction that this knowing brings. The unshakable sense that this given state actually constitutes one’s true identity infinitely more powerfully than any tenuously held; opinions, views and conditioned nervous habits could ever do, brings with it a release and relief like nothing else.
The sense of joy (ānanda) and peace (śanti) that are released are representative of the huge amounts of energy that can come back online previously bound up with the perpetual struggle of being someone going somewhere who feels that what needs to be known has to be known by me.
Doubt, a product of thought (not sure? Think about it!) and Knowing cannot exist at the same time, one is simply the negation of the other.
When there is knowing there is no doubt and when there is no doubt there is confidence (śraddhā). This confidence constitutes a deep release and relief after what can feel like endless lifetimes of searching.
Abundance and self-fulfilment are the result of simply being open, like a net to catch water, to the very Thusness (tathātā) of NOW