Within a human being there is a vast reservoir of spiritual knowledge and pure capability, yet this great treasure is rarely tapped. Our involvement in the world and our entanglement in the struggle for survival limit our awareness to desires and their objects. Like a kaleidoscope, these desires are continuously changing form; the subtle images of shape and color never allow us to really grasp what we think we are seeing. Unless we recognize the kaleidoscope for the illusion it is, much unhappiness and frustration can result.
“Return to the Self within and know your own secret! The universe is inside you and you are inside the universe. The inner Self is the One dancing in all…” (Sutra 65)
The primary paradox of unity and diversity recurs at every level. While the process of liberation appears hierarchical at first glance, the orderly image of a ladder of ever-higher levels breaks down on close scrutiny. The process is really more like drawing a series of ever-expanding concentric circles. Jiva (the individual) is in the center and the Absolute is in the outermost circle as well as the paper on which it lies and the pen with which it is drawn. This is a paradox that cannot be neatly resolved through language. Only by continuous and deep contemplation can the nature of this paradox be penetrated and encompassed. What follows is called liberation.
“Sound arises in the inner sky of pure consciousness, the heart-space in the head, the sky of the heart. What manifests is Life-Power, the One.” (Sutra 37)
Nityananda addressed this paradox indirectly through the image of the heart-space in the head, the chidakash, the sky of the heart. This verbal image brings together what is “above” and what is “below” with intuitive clarity; in the sky of consciousness, there is no duality and no paradox. The question then is how to reach this center. Nityananda directs the seeker to “the royal road.”
“A true guru can turn you from the jungle road of ignorance to the royal road of spiritual knowledge.” (Sutra 102)
“But without the Guru, you cannot reach the goal.” (Sutra 9)
The paradox is repeated in the form of the guru, because the guru has two aspects. Nityananda called these the primary (or action) guru and the secondary (or causal) guru. On the one hand, there is the physical teacher. This is a personality to be dealt with and talked to, a person who performs actions that have an effect in the world, a person viewed by some with admiration and by others with disgust; in other words, someone viewed by ordinary people as the same or less than they are. On the other hand, for the few people who are able to, or care to, look deeply into the situation, what is really there is not a personality but an extraordinary field of spiritual energy from which they can draw energy for their innermost being. With this nourishment, they can attain complete maturity in the supreme state of pure consciousness.
“The secondary guru leads you to the well—the primary guru drinks from it.” (Sutra 104)
The physical aspect of the guru, the secondary teacher, serves as a doorway. Through our diligence, love and devotion, we pass through this doorway of the physical teacher into the level of consciousness that Nityananda calls the action guru. The action guru is the same as Parabrahma, Paramashiva, or chidakasha. At this level, we express the infinite spaciousness, extraordinary power, and creative intelligence that are characteristics of the essential state of unity from which all experience takes its form.
“Liberation does not come searching for you. You must make the effort to seek it.” (Sutra 117)
The effort required if you sincerely seek God is to see through the form, to pass beyond the personality, the individuality, and the eccentricity of the teacher, and in so doing to transcend your own personality and limitations.
“Draw the breath up to the Brahmarandhra at the top of the head. Kindle the fire, purify the subtle channels, burn up the impurities. This is the yoga-fire of deliberation…The pure energy of the Supreme.” (Sutra 28)
The power inherent in the presence of the guru energizes every level of a human being. The transmission of this power is shaktipat, the transmission or descent of grace. Shaktipat brings about a quantum leap in awareness that puts us in contact with the innate freedom and spontaneous creative power that is eternally and everywhere present as the source of all. It awakens the deepest potentiality within us, and the kundalini shakti begins its extraordinary unfoldment. As this unfoldment continues, the entire structure of the human being is refined and purified. When subjected to fire, iron is free of its gross crystallization and impurities and reorganized as the finer, stronger metal of steel. The human being also, through contact with the forge of the guru, becomes purified by the inner fire of kundalini and is established in the supreme state of awareness. Seeing past the form of the physical teacher brings awareness of the power that is functioning as and through the teacher. And stilling the mind in the flow of that power is liberation.
When the various waves of creative energy that form the mind are stilled and become like the surface of a calm lake, our awareness can penetrate our own depth and recognize the complete oneness of our individual Self and the Divine. Deep contact or connection with a guru enables us to feel so deeply secure and calm that we can begin to turn within and observe the working of our inner universe without the doubts, fears and tensions that continuously draw the mind of the ordinary person back into the realm of dualistic awareness.
“Mind is the root of bondage and liberation, of good and evil, of sin and holiness.” (Sutra 71)
The mind is both the entity to be stilled and the means of stilling it, for the nature of the mind is complex. Nityananda used many different terms to distinguish its facets. The major distinction is between manas and buddhi. Manas is the ordinary limited mind and buddhi is the higher mind, the one capable of subtle discrimination and spiritual discernment. In some classical Indian systems, the word chitta denotes the whole mental apparatus composed of three parts: manas (the perceiving mind), buddhi (the discriminating mind) and ego (“I-consciousness”). Nityananda used “body-idea” and “body-consciousness” synonymously with “I-consciousness.” Although simple thoughts, feelings and desires arise in the mind, the mind is also capable of realizing jnana and truth. Jnana is the highest wisdom, the wisdom of the jnani, one who has realized the Self. Here again is a paradox, for the wisest person has transcended the mind and its desires. “A jnani has no mind,” says Nityananda.
“Without a pure mind, how can you develop equal vision? Without practice, how can you develop balance? Through practice, the subtle intelligence develops and the desire for objects disappears.” (Sutra 141)
As our understanding expands and we begin to see beyond the “body-idea” and beyond the limits of ordinary mind, a sense of detachment also grows. Detachment, desirelessness, and perfect dispassion for worldliness (what Nityananda called vairagya) are necessary requirements for the seeker. The Sanskrit word sannyasi means “renunciate”, literally “one who has cast away.” However, renunciation is a subtle concept. It is not objects we must renounce, but our desire for objects; not actions, but our attachment to the results of those actions. True renunciation is not of things but of the desire for things. Vairagya is the attitude leading to a state of understanding in which the true nature of objects is known. Consequently, these objects no longer have any power over a person.
“No need to strive for anything. When the mind chases desires, one must strive to attain one-pointedness. Concentrate the mind in the higher mind…” (Sutra 80)
Meditation is an integral part of sadhana. Nityananda spoke of meditation as a focused concentration, the merging of mind into wisdom, the look within. The goal is bringing the mind to perfect one-pointedness; achieving this goal tests all the faculties of the seeker. The mind must be stilled and drawn away from desire; the breath must be harmonious and ultimately become single; the awareness must reach inside to come in touch with and observe the action of the kundalini shakti.
“Like milk being boiled, the vital breath in the sushumna channel is heated by intense faith and discrimination and led toward the sahasra chakra, the still point at the top of the head. As the kundalini power crosses each subtle energy center, properties of the energy that evolves as the world change.” (Sutra 21)
Then, as a natural result of the awakening of the inner transforming power, the kundalini shakti rises through the chakras to join and merge into the heart-space, the Brahmarandhra. The love and happiness that then arise within us dissolve all the various tensions and superficial desires and satisfy our deepest needs. With a full heart, the mind can become still and one-pointed on the power of the Divine Presence. This is the merging of the individual into the universal and transcendent that Nityananda consistently called the most important purpose of our presence on this earth. To merge heart to heart and spirit to spirit with the guru in the field of supreme Shiva-Shakti frees a human being from all mechanistic thinking and from the bonds of cause and effect. This is the union of the individual and the Divine.
“Fulfillment is only possible when you merge with this pure heart. There all idea of “you” and “I” disappears. In the sky of the heart is liberation, love and devotion.” (Sutra 40)
Liberation is the clear, luminous recognition that our mind, emotions and physical body are nothing more than extensions of the supreme Mantra of God that pulsates silently everywhere and always at once. Everywhere we look, inside and outside, we experience nothing but the extraordinary clarity, beauty and power of the supreme Self. It is eternally pulsating, creating, absorbing, and manifesting yet again—ourselves, the world, all that is. This is simply the fundamental expression of its absolute freedom to do whatever it wants, an expression of its supreme freedom and its incredible joy. Satchitananda!