Death – The Yoga of Life
SRI DA AVABHASA: You spend your entire lives bargaining about death–every moment of your life is stressful. This is why it shows all kinds of signs of reactivity, desire, and seeking, all the pursuit of ‘objects’ and others. The self-contraction is the ‘root’ of that, but the ‘experiential’ context of it is the ‘knowledge’ of death, the fear of death, the anticipation of death. You are animating yourself constantly because of the fear of death. You are trying to escape it, argue your way out of it, distract yourself from the feeling. You spend your entire life anticipating death, fearing it, avoiding it, and going toward it. In Truth, you must be up to the very thing that you are afraid of. Instead of wasting your life bargaining about death, anticipating it, you must be involved in it. Life must become death not in some negative sense of merely seeking to destroy yourself bodily I mean in the most profound sense. What you are fearing about death is not merely a physical event, but the dissolution of your own existence, your own separate existence. The real process in life is one of submitting to this death, engaging life as that very process, entering into it most profoundly, moment to moment, making death, ego-death, the Yoga of Life. You will not do this until you have understood yourself most fundamentally and overcome this bargaining game, the seeking game, and enjoy the capability for transcending the self-contraction moment to moment, under all circumstances.
Every moment of your life is stressful. This is why it shows all kinds of signs of reactivity, desire, and seeking all the pursuit of objects and others. The self-contraction is the root of that, but the experiential context of it is the knowledge of death, the fear of death, the anticipation of death. You are animating yourself constantly because of this fear. You are trying to escape it, argue your way out of it, distract yourself from the feeling. You spend your entire life anticipating death, fearing it, avoiding it, and going toward it. In truth you must be up to the very thing that you are afraid of. Instead of wasting your life bargaining about death, anticipating it, you must be involved in it.
Life must become death, not in the negative sense of merely seeking to destroy yourself bodily but only in the most profound sense. What you are fearing about death is not merely a physical event but the dissolution of your own existence, your own separate existence. The real process in life is one of submitting to this death, engaging life as that very process, entering into it most profoundly, moment by moment making ego-death the Yoga of life.
You will not do this until you have understood yourself most fundamentally and have overcome this bargaining game, this seeking game, and enjoy the capability for transcending the self-contraction moment by moment under all circumstances. When you become thus equipped, then even though you may have been having some Spiritual experiences of Me all the while, you become able to enter into My Spirit-Presence, into the true reception of It, true self-surrendering, self-forgetting, self-transcending submission to My Spiritual Presence. So, then, instead of merely having Spiritual experiences in the body-mind, you transcend the ego in Spiritual Communion with Me.
At the beginning of level two, you intentionally, with fullest commitment and with the capability of true hearing, enter not merely into the Initiation into My Spiritual Presence, because you may have had some experience of It already, but most profoundly into commitment to Me Spiritually with the fullest reception of Me, and you begin the conscious Yogic ordeal of submission to My Spiritual Presence. And this Yoga can fulfill itself as I have indicated to you can, should, likely will in the maturity of level three of the Way of the Heart, in the fundamental dissolution of the point of view of attention, so that you Realize that you Stand in the Position of the Witness, Prior to the body-mind.
You can from that point, then, enter into the “Perfect Practice”, where ego-dissolution is Perfected in Divine Self-Realization.
The fundamental sequence of practice in the Way of the Heart is the listening-hearing process, developing the capability of ego-transcendence, then the ordeal of the Spiritual Yoga via the design of the frontal line, then the “Perfect Practice” in its three stages. This is the fundamental course. There may even be ascending experiences early on, just as there may be ascending experiences in level three, but fundamentally that is not ones responsibility if the Yoga is in the frontal line in level three.
The real beginnings of the Way of the Heart, then, are about a conversion of life, beginning with handling life-business, setting it straight, understanding yourself most fundamentally. Another way of describing that process is that it is a matter of coming to terms with your life of seeking, or in other words your effort to avoid death. In some fundamental sense, then, true hearing is the acceptance of life as the death process, so the body and the mind and the self-knot itself have voluntarily submitted to Divine Communion. You are equipped, then, to allow the Descent of the Divine Force and your submission to It, so that all the manifested personality gives way, is dissolved.
The frontal Yoga is not merely about openings in the body, experiences in the body-mind, feeling energies in the body. It is about submitting to My Spiritual Force in the context of the entire body-mind, submitting the entire body-mind, so that the self-contraction in that form is utterly given up and replaced by the Divine Presence, the Divine Consciousness. It is quite a different thing, then, than simply the matter of experiencing My Spiritual Force in the body, relative to the body, and so on.
The frontal Yoga is not significant, not a matter of responsibility, until there is the capability for ego-transcendence. Until then, experiences are strictly secondary, purifying to a degree, inspiring perhaps, but not of ultimate significance or consequence. Also, your ability to receive Me, or in other words to surrender the body-mind to My Invasion Spiritually, is very limited. You can experience Me but not most profoundly, not in the fullest Yogic sense. Without the equipment of true hearing, it cannot be done. This is why in the traditions, even though there are Yogic practices, Yogic practitioners, and so forth, practice is essentially an ordinary, or evolutionary, matter, an egoic matter, of developing the conditional persona by combining it with Spiritual force in order to develop the conditional persona and largely expand it, develop its knowledge, its power over this, that, and the other thing. This is not true Yoga, it is not the great Yoga, it is not the Divine Yoga. It is conditional Yoga, ego-bound. It is evolutionary. It is part of the psycho-biography of egoity itself.
The Divine Yoga is always and fundamentally about ego-transcendence, utter dissolution of the ego in the Divine. It is not a matter of seeking the Divine but of receiving the Divine, Communing with the Divine. The Divine, then, is the Gift from the beginning of the Divine Yoga, not that which is to be Realized at the end of it. Of course It is Realized all the while and at the end, but it is the principle from the beginning. That is the uniqueness of the Way of the Heart, the Divine Way.
DEVOTEE: Thank You, Sri Gurudev. You talk about how we are limited in terms of our reception of Your Transmission. And I can feel in meditation that sometimes I am having very profound feeling-Contemplation of You or reception of Your Transmission, but suddenly I …
SRI DA AVABHASA: “You you you you you you you”, you see. It is not it. It is not the Divine Yoga. It is just experiences that are interesting to you, consoling to you, new to you, fascinating you. But you not Me, not the Divine are the subject, and the process is not ego-transcending in any full sense, any profound sense. You are just acquiring experiences. In that sense, Spiritual experiences have no greater consequence than your ordinary life-experiences. You all tell Me, practically in the same breath, about your emotional-sexual experiences and also, from the other side of your mind, about your Spiritual experiences. They are all part of the same game of ego-glamorization, seeking.
The Divine Yoga does not take place in the context of seeking, only in the context of ego-transcendence, ego-transcending Divine Communion.
So you must be equipped for the Divine Yoga, and that is what hearing is about, such that the subject of the Yoga ceases to be that of the ego and becomes the Divine. That is why this hearing matter is most critical, most fundamental. It is not the disappearance of the ego as the subject and the appearance of the Divine as the subject. It is about the embrace of the Yoga of death in God passing out in God, not into unconsciousness but into Divine Consciousness.
The Way of the Heart is not about developing the ego. It is about the transcendence of the ego. You must understand the unique difference between the Way of the Heart and traditional approaches. Then you will be serious about the beginning, because it is most profound. Now you are being amateurish about it. You are talking about listening and hearing in amateurish terms and rather conventional terms. You want to just talk yourself into believing you have heard without going through the crisis.
It is death. It is acceptance of the Yoga of death in God. It is a profound turnabout in the disposition of the living being because it is no longer the subject of its own existence the Divine is the subject. That is why the seeing process can follow upon hearing.
Not only do you tend to be rather amateurish about the process of listening and hearing but you also tend to be casual about handling your life-business. You are constantly creating more and more complications and problems about your ordinary life instead of simplifying, handling that business, setting it straight, making it a lawful foundation for Spiritual life in My Company. You are endlessly creating emotional-sexual complications, dramatizing reactivity, desiring, seeking, pursuit of objects and others and so on. You are dramatizing that instead of setting all that straight based on real self-understanding to the degree of the crisis of hearing. And you stop the pursuit of escape from death and accept it as the very process that is the meaning of life.
Just feel yourself now. Feel your own tension and stress. It is about the fear of death. You must be voluntarily and now doing it instead, doing the death, entering into the submission. Then this stress dissolves, the heart is relieved. The body relaxes, the mind relaxes, and you become sensitive, attuned, to reality and, more and more, then, to the Divine Reality Transmitted to you. As long as you are under the stress of this knot, you are self-bound, avoiding even God, desensitized, crippled by your own act, afraid, and cut off from the true Yoga. Then you just spin your wheels for the rest of your life, waiting for that terrible day, you think, when you will not be able to avoid death anymore and it is just going to happen to you. Then it finally will, and none of it will have been to any great effect at all. You will just be recycled, and the same thing will begin all over again in one form or other.
It is important to use life according to its law. The stress you feel, the pressure you feel, is your own knot, your refusal to be given up to the One Who Is. Given up to the One Who Is, your life becomes plain, simplified, Divine. The Divine becomes its context. Then you will no longer be the fitful, egoically “self-possessed” seeker, but you will be more and more transformed by Divine Communion. Then, instead of being a worldly fool, you will begin to look like a Yogi or a Saint, and so on as such beings do, better than they do. Your bodily sign will change. Everything will change.
Why do you think This Body looks as it does? The Yoga has been done in This Body. It is a kind of a corpse, a Yogic corpse, its sign no longer made by fear of death or the dramatization of egoity. So it must be in your own case. That is what the Way of the Heart is about.
Read The Knee of Listening. I talk about death all the while. That is what it is about. You are trying to smile your way through, be amused, stimulated, fulfilled in conditional terms, ego-based terms. That is not Yoga. That is not Divine. That is the ego-life, the worldly life. You must be willing to give up all of your games in ordinary life and straighten out and purify your ordinary life, bring it to order, stabilize it so that it becomes a true foundation for Yoga, the Divine Spiritualization.
Here you have been in My Company fussing and bargaining about life fulfillment, seeking, principally about this whole emotional-sexual business. It destroys Yoga. It dissociates you from the Divine. It is an egoic preoccupation founded in your own stress.
Find yourself out. This contraction is why you are doing all that ordinary dramatization. Be responsible for this. And the more you do become responsible for it, the more you can handle your life-business and simply set it straight so that it no longer interferes. You must find out exactly what it is you have to do in your own case to set it straight. It is different in every case.
Some may be celibate. Some may be sexually active. Some do one kind of work, others another. Some may be formal renunciates, others live in the general community. Nonetheless, all must make life-resolutions at the foundation of their practice. All your business must be handled in every fundamental sense before you can move on to the advanced and the ultimate stages of the Way of the Heart.
You may imagine that because you can have some Spiritual experiences and some benefits of the religious life, even though you do not handle your life-business fully, you can get away without handling it, you see. But all you are having is piecemeal, mediocre, and ego-bound experience. Even if it is Spiritual or religious, it is conventionally Spiritual, conventionally religious. The Divine Yoga requires responsibility for the ego and requires you to handle your life-business. It is like coming on retreat, which also requires you to do so. To live the life of practice you must do so. The beginning time of practice is the time to do that. If you are taking a long time at the beginning, it is because you are not handling your life-business and you are not “considering” My Word seriously and entering into the listening process for real.
Why do you think I call it “listening”? Because it is an address to My Word. It is listening to Me in the context of handling your life-business, adapting responsibly to My Company. If you refuse to do that, your life becomes more and more confusion, more and more entanglements, more and more impediments forestalling the time of real practice in Spiritual and ultimate terms.
DEVOTEE: Beloved Sri Gurudev, I recently had a dramatic experience of something that you are talking about. When I first came to Sri Love-Anandashram a few months ago to live, it was an answer to a prayer to be able to live here and practice in Your Company, the fulfillment of my deepest dream. Years ago I had suffered from chronic insomnia, but I had not suffered it in years.
The first night I was so excited about being here that I began to realize I would not be able to sleep. Immediately my subjectivity started to go crazy, and I felt I was about to destroy my dream to live here, because I might not be able to sleep and would not be able to function. A great fear and despair arose in me, and I was completely overwhelmed by it. I realized in that moment that I had to practice intensively and resort to You deeply.
Basically what resulted was something like the death process. I realized I had to give up my desire. I had to be willing to accept that I might have to leave here. I had to be willing to accept that I might not have this opportunity to practice in Your Company and that I might have to reside forever in one of Your communities and develop as a mature practitioner and just deal with all of this. In that crisis something like death occurred, the profound release of what I was holding on to and aspiring to and seeking. In that crisis, a great release occurred, and a realization that my relationship to You would survive. It was a profound crisis.
Over the next few days, what I would describe as true hearing did awaken. There was a profound change in my practice and true self-observation in my life. It reminded me of the crisis I had been through when I was diagnosed as having cancer. It was the same sort of necessity and profound acceptance. It was very instructive to me. Unfortunately, I was not able to sustain it.
SRI DA AVABHASA: It was not true hearing, then. It was a crisis of self-understanding, apparently, but not true hearing. The crisis of true hearing does not come to an end. You can experience incidents in your life that are transformative to one degree or another, insightful and so on. But they are not permanent.
DEVOTEE: It was so dramatically different than what I had experienced and so much self-understanding was given in the midst of it. And the ability to observe and understand that I was doing the contraction was much more obvious to me than it had ever been. There was a dramatic distinction between what I normally had experienced as practice and what was occurring then. I wondered if it was hearing. I was not certain what it was.
SRI DA AVABHASA: What are you up to since that is different? You started being able to sleep, so you stopped worrying about it. If you had not been able to sleep ever since then, you would have stayed in place with that understanding. You went back to getting a good nights sleep or a good days sleep.
DEVOTEE: I went back to sleep. That is true. I began to get on top of it. The ego began to adapt.
SRI DA AVABHASA: So you found a way to survive. That is not true hearing. You must find out about yourself some more.
DEVOTEE: It is beginning to occur by Your Grace.
SRI DA AVABHASA: Tcha.
ANOTHER DEVOTEE: I have felt very greatly instructed by You relative to how we superimpose ourselves on the experience of Your Transmission. I have noticed that I do that all the time when I am feeling You.
SRI DA AVABHASA: Do you see how much reference there is to “I” in almost everything you say to Me? That is why I keep Calling you all to the voice and mind of praise. “Oh, Master” not even “my Master” is the voice, the mind, of utterance that is free of this “I”-reference. Of course, the English language is built on the “I”-reference, so you cannot avoid it entirely. The voice of praise is the balance.
Tell My Leela instead of your story. You think Leelas are about some encounter you had with Me that brought about some change in your practice. Those are Leelas of a kind, certainly, but the fundamental form of Leela is simply telling about the Guru just that, describing the Divine Play itself, not combined with you but just As It Is, just As I Am, just As I Do. This is the most fundamental form of Leela-telling. It is another form of the mind or voice of praise. It is Contemplation of Me, whereas Leelas that are simply about My effect on you one way or another are ways for you to refer to Me while still talking about yourself. There can be some usefulness in that, but it is not the greatest form of Leela-telling. You all tend to be preoccupied with the lesser form.
Most of what I do you hardly tell anyone about. Little of My Leela actually gets told. You basically want to talk about yourself and interest others in how something can happen to them. What you should be interesting people in is transcending themselves in My Divine Company. If you did that, you would be telling them about Me. But you will not do it. Human beings these days, you feel, are invariably interested in themselves and do not want to hear about the Guru. You tell as little about the Guru as you can. Instead, you tell people about yourself and about themselves. It is just another way of enslaving the Divine, dismissing the Divine, and making the ego the subject of religion. That is false religion.
You are even a little bit afraid of getting involved in true religion. You are worldly and conventionally religious by tendency. This is especially characteristic of Westerners. It is a part of the principal fault that Westerners must overcome if they are to develop authentic practice in My Company. In the traditional East, just the opposite is the case. People do not want to talk about themselves. The rule is modesty, make as little self-reference as possible, talk about the Guru endlessly, talk about the Divine Leela endlessly, make as little reference to oneself as possible. In the West it is just the opposite. You are supposed to only talk about yourself.
DEVOTEE: Sri Gurudev, You have talked a great deal tonight about the simplicity and relaxation of the process of self-understanding. I am understanding more that it is all about the self-contraction. I am feeling it more.
SRI DA AVABHASA: You are being it more.
DEVOTEE: Yes, I am being it more, and I am feeling like me.
SRI DA AVABHASA: Yes, and you must transcend that. That is what I am talking about.
DEVOTEE: In that process of Finding You, everything that keeps coming up is suspect.
SRI DA AVABHASA: What is coming up?
DEVOTEE: Even the feeling that I am dying.
SRI DA AVABHASA: Of course you are dying. Everybody is dying. You must commit yourself to dying. You must invest yourself in dying. That is the Divine Yoga. Embrace this pressure, this imposition. Be willing to die. Be willing to do the thing that you fear, the thing that you keep putting forward to the end of time, the end of your life. Do it now.
Start doing some dying here, then. Start giving yourself up if you have any self-understanding at all, and receive Me down behind your tongue here. You have to gulp Me down and give way to Me. So what? That is life.
DEVOTEE: In the process of gulping and receiving You, this pressure does not go away.
SRI DA AVABHASA: No, you must give yourself to My Divine Invasion. Accept It. Accept that that is life, that is the reason for existence, that is the law of existence, that is the Perfect State you are Given, and allow It completely, more and more, with all your stress, with murders in your heart, in your gut, just done.
All your “oinking” refusal, hatred, anger, upset, pursuit, seeking. So what? You have to make a life out of this acceptance, this embrace. Eat It. Eat the Living God.
You must let your fear of death go. You must accept the imposition of What Is here that you have been refusing all your life, and take Me on. The dying business is a great Yoga, all over your heart, opened, relaxed, because you gave it up. Give it up, relax down, surrender.
You are all in the same boat here in these independent bodies. Death is coming. Do it, then. Do it now. Embrace What is Imposing Itself on you. Do not wait until the end of life. Do it now. There I am swallow Me down. Take a deep breath. Be done with it. It has to happen. Do not wait for the end of life.
That is “conductivity”. Give Me your attention. Let it go, down to the frogs, the toads. Be at peace. Give up your struggle. Be at peace here and now. All your obstructions, your impulses, and your reactivity let them go now. Be at peace, free in your mind, free in your feelings, free in your body, free in your relations.
Take Me down. Breathe Me down. Be at peace in your mind. Be at peace. Do right now what you think you would do on your deathbed right now.
[Speaking very slowly and quietly] Come and sit before Me and offer your gifts, not ceremonially merely, but as a real act of self-surrender.
Sit with Me. Receive Me.
Be at peace here in My Company.
Reside here. Live in My Company.
Be at peace with Me.
Release the stress of the refusal of death and your self-defense. Drop the self-defense.
These bodies go to corpse. You go to Me.
Those who remain behind will wash it and burn it.
See amazingly and during the day, your eyes are open, the mind is clear. All is clear.
The world will live at peace a peaceful life. Relax into it.
This is My Admonition to My devotees: Self-surrendered, self-forgotten, give up your stress, your own act of separateness.
Breathe deeply, down to your toes emotional relaxation.
[As He spoke these final Words, and for many minutes afterwards, Sri Da Avabhasa made gentle stroking movements over His Heart with both hands as He Gazed around the room at all of His devotees.]