“True self-Observation” From Ishta
Adi Da Samraj
Part I: The Yoga of Ishta-Guru-Bhakti
December 4, 1993
SRI DA AVABHASA: The Way of the Heart is extremely
simple, and it can be lived so very simply. In its
fundamentals, it is simply self-surrendering devotional
Communion with Me and receiving My Divine Blessing. Many
technical elaborations of this simplicity are Given as ones
practice matures, but for some the Way of the Heart may
involve nothing more than the simplicity of Communion with
Me. The technicalities of the Way of the Heart develop
spontaneously from this fundamental practice, if you simply
surrender into Communion with Me and adapt your life to Me,
totally, without complication.
The more you cling to the self-consoling life of
ordinariness, the more complicated the Way of the Heart
becomes, even though its fundamental practice is simple. I
am the Instruction. Simply to surrender to Me and receive My
Divine Blessing is sufficient for practice of the Way of the
I have often told the story about the woman who came to
Shirdi Sai Baba for traditional instruction in the form of a
mantra. When He continued to refuse to give it to her, she
became a little nutty about it, and He told her the story of
His own sadhana. He did not receive any such instructions
from His Master. In so many words He said, “I was just there
with him, just gave him my full attention, was just around,
just lived around him, just surrendered there, and all he
required of me was faith and patience.” The point of His
story is that devotion to the Realizer is sufficient. If you
are wholly occupied with such devotion, then no other
instruction is necessary. Devotion contains the totality of
instruction. All the changes occur. You notice all the
things you must relinquish, and you do so. Therefore, why is
a complicated discipline necessary?
(4) Since devotion to Me has not been your way of life
altogether, I have had to Give you an elaborate Instruction.
I have had to enter into a long “Consideration” with you,
Submit to your condition, and struggle with you. Therefore,
I have Given you an elaborate body of Instruction, and,
depending on how complicated you are, you will apply it in
your practice in My Company. Even so, the Way of the Heart
is just this self-surrendering devotion to Me-not as a
self-applied technique but as a response to Me,
self-surrendering, receiving My Blessing. Everything about
self-understanding, self-discipline, life as service to Me,
or Communion with Me in action-all of it-is contained in the
simplicity of devotion to Me, if you will allow it to be so
(5) Shirdi Sai Babas description of His Teachers simple
demand for His faith and patience may have been just a story
to convey to the woman the simplicity that is real sadhana.
Spiritual life is submitting to Grace rather than working on
yourself. Submitting to Grace, you necessarily change your
life. You cannot be a fool who is living a worldly life and
also practice devotional submission. You cannot. Devotional
submission changes your life. The discipline does occur. The
service does occur. The meditation does occur. The process
can be as simple as just this submission, and all those
things occur. On the other hand, if your submission is less
than profound, you will endure a complicated process of
realizing devotion, self-discipline, service, and
meditation. It is up to you.
(6) DEVOTEE: Sri Gurudev, I am so happy to be in Your
Company today. All my habits and tendencies arose, but . .
(7) SRI DA AVABHASA: What arose?
(8) DEVOTEE: My lack of attention in a moment, or my
fear, my contraction in my body-mind, or my
(9) SRI DA AVABHASA: Your practice is less than simple
devotion, I guess.
(10) DEVOTEE: It did not make a difference to me.
(11) SRI DA AVABHASA: But it arose.
(12) ANOTHER DEVOTEE: It is not supposed to arise?
(13) SRI DA AVABHASA: What space can there be for its
arising, if you are simply occupied with Me bodily,
emotionally, mentally, with the breath? If you are just
doing that, what space would there be for these things to
arise? They would not arise.
(14) It does not make any difference what the mechanism
is like by habit and conditioning. When something arises in
mind, in emotion, in the body, thus interrupting the breath,
it is because the Yoga has collapsed. The mechanism can be
all kinds of conditioned, but something will not arise to
the mind, the emotion, the body, the breath, unless you fail
to practice the Yoga. If you persist in the Yoga, then
habits of body, emotion, mind, and breath will be purified.
If you do not persist in the Yoga, they will arise, you will
notice them, you will be to one degree or another
complicated by them. They are arising because you are not
doing the Yoga fully. They cannot arise if you are doing the
(15) In any moment when you are not doing the Yoga, your
conditioning shows itself in body, emotion, mind, and
breath. You become complicated or troubled or wandering or
doubting, or you are trying to figure something out, or
seeking, or looking to be consoled, or coping. These things
arise only when you are not doing the Yoga. They would not
appear, otherwise. They cannot, in fact, appear,
(16) DEVOTEE: I am not sure I understand the
(17) SRI DA AVABHASA: Then listen once more: If you
surrender to Me completely in any moment-body, emotion, mind
as attention, breath-surrender the whole complex in
Communion with Me, so that you are simply focused in Me,
then the modifications of these functions do not arise. They
cannot arise, because you are focused in Me and surrendering
all of them. If there is a lapse of the Yoga whereby you
submit these mechanisms, then the conditioning of the
mechanisms arises. You experience the conditioning mentally,
you experience it emotionally, you experience it bodily,
changes in the breath occur.
(18) Even so, these things arise not because you are
conditioned by them-and you are-but because you are not
doing the Yoga most profoundly. You may feel you are doing
it to one degree or another, as when you are doing some
physical things around Me, but you are not doing it with
full attention, or with full feeling, or with true
“conductivity” of the breath in devotional Communion with
Me. Therefore, you register some complication, some
conditioning, in emotion, in mind, in the breath, or in the
(19) These things would not arise if the Yoga were being
done completely with these mechanisms, because you would
simply be focused in Me. To be focused in Me is a form of
(20) If you lapse in the Yoga in one or another of its
parts, however, if you lapse in it physically, lapse in it
emotionally, lapse in it mentally, lapse in it in the breath
focus, if you lapse in any part, or in several parts, then
the conditioning of the parts shows in the parts themselves
mentally, emotionally, physically, in the breath, in
feeling, in energy. These things arise not because you are
conditioned but because you are not doing the Yoga.
(21) DEVOTEE: I understand, especially when You say that
the Yoga is Samadhi.
(22) SRI DA AVABHASA: You are then in Samadhi, in the
Samadhi of Communion with Me. I Am Samadhi. If all of your
parts were submitted in Communion with Me, then their
conditioning would not arise. In the Samadhi of the Yoga,
the forms of conditioning would be purified without your
having to notice them, because I am Flowing in your parts
and replacing the content. Simply stated, this Yoga of
Communion with Me, with all your parts, is the practice.
(23) If you happen to lapse in your practice of the Yoga,
or if your practice is somewhat mediocre or weak, you will
notice things physically, emotionally, mentally, and in the
breath. It is to be hoped that you will also understand,
because Communion with Me is something you do, in fact,
engage otherwise, and, therefore, you will not lapse again.
You will not withdraw from the Yoga, you will not pass into
reveries physically, emotionally, mentally, in the energy
process of the breath. You will understand, meaning that you
will see the limitation as your own action and you will not
do it. Such understanding is not merely a mental activity of
“thinking” understanding. It is a tacit feeling.
(24) As soon as you do not give yourself to Me and you
see the signs of content arising-in the body, in feeling, in
attention, in the breath-you understand something: Do not do
that anymore. Then you Commune with Me instead. You submit
the parts of the body-mind to Me instead. That change of
action is understanding, not some mentally computerized,
think-think, figure-it-out understanding. It is a tacit
understanding, and it is the difference between your
experience when you are performing the Yoga of this
Communion with Me and your experience when you are not.
Noticing just that difference is understanding.
(25) Growth in the Way of the Heart depends simply on
your application to Ishta-Guru-Bhakti Yoga, performed with
all your parts surrendered to Me. It is not to do everything
to your parts except surrender them to Me. It is not to
indulge in your parts and watch them and manipulate them. It
is to surrender to Me, to surrender your parts to Me. Every
lapse teaches you something-do not do this, do the Yoga
instead, do not lapse, do the Yoga of Communion with Me more
and more profoundly.
(26) [to the woman who spoke] What lapses in the
Yoga were you noticing today? What did you do? What did you
do bodily, emotionally, mentally, with your energy, with
your breath? What was your particular way of lapsing today?
Did you notice?
(27) DEVOTEE: I was holding a tray for You, and as You
would reach towards me for something on the tray, I would
feel my navel contract. I felt my fearful character.
(28) SRI DA AVABHASA: So you contracted, somehow?
(29) DEVOTEE: At times. I noticed it, and I could feel
and practice and again the Samadhi You describe. You have
Given me the Gift to be able to stay in feeling-Communion
with You and allow the contraction to become
(30) SRI DA AVABHASA: This feeling-Communion, if it is
true, is Yoga-Ishta-Guru-Bhakti Yoga. It submits all the
parts of the human person directly into Communion with Me.
Therefore, you focus yourself bodily, emotionally, mentally
as attention, with the breath. You submit all these things
to Me. You live them, or submit them to be lived, in Me. You
are just focused in Me. There are things you did bodily,
things you did emotionally, things you did mentally, things
you did with your energy and your breath-these are the
things to be noticed in your lapsing from the Yoga of
devotion to Me, and do not do that anymore. That is
(31) Self-understanding is not demonstrated to Me, and
true hearing is not demonstrated to Me, by the words you say
about it. What you say can be taken into account, perhaps,
must necessarily be, and your words may be appropriate, but
what you say is not the demonstration. The demonstration is
that you engage the Yoga in all the circumstances of daily
life-in service, in meditation, whatever your circumstances,
however you live the “daily form” throughout every day and
(32) Do you do the Yoga in all those circumstances, or do
you lapse? If you lapse, you will talk about that. You tend
to talk with others about the signs that are arising in your
lapses from the Yoga of Communion with Me.
(33) DEVOTEE: We make the mistake of talking about it
from the body-based point of view.
(34) SRI DA AVABHASA: You make the mistake of not
noticing it and submitting to Me. Instead, you talk about
it, and examine it further, then talk about it some more,
work on it, try to figure it out, whereas it is just
something to notice, something to observe.
(35) Your response should be your response to Me. Simply
submit to Me instead. Perhaps, in the process, you notice
something you should do differently, something in your daily
life or in your relationships, whatever it is. Then make an
agreement not to do it anymore, and make it a matter of
record. Confession is part of the process of this noticing.
You notice something. Others may observe something about
you. You agree, “I will do this differently, that
differently.” You do not agree to go on dramatizing and to
talk about it again next week. No-you submit yourself more
profoundly to persisting in the Yoga moment by moment. If
there are details of living that obstruct your practice or
put a limit on it, you make an agreement to not do that
anymore. Your purpose is not to generate self-noticing,
self-descriptions, self-analysis, to develop a dossier of
descriptions about yourself. Your purpose is to intensify
the Yoga of submission to Me-bodily, emotionally, mentally,
with every breath. Your conversations with one another point
to your lapses, but they are lapses from the Yoga of
Communion with Me.
(36) DEVOTEE: Beloved Gurudev, keeping a diary makes me
sensitive to the bodily practice of releasing the
self-contraction into Your Happiness again, and again, and
again, and again.
(37) SRI DA AVABHASA: You seem to be suggesting some
self-applied technique, as if response to Me is something
that you apply to yourself or try to do. Your response to Me
is simply a characteristic of the fact that I am here. In
Communion with Me, surrendering the self-contraction happens
inherently, spontaneously. The Way of the Heart is Communion
with Me, not working on yourself.
(38) What do you do with your mind? Do not
think-think-think. Give Me your attention. Keep your
attention on Me. If you do that, the mind is quieted. To the
extent it must be used at all, it becomes just useful, not
endless blah-blah, like a constant reverie or dream that you
cannot do anything about. Use the mind by giving Me your
attention instead. Give Me your feeling -attention. Address
Me bodily. Be related to Me bodily, in service, but as a
dimension of attention itself, and make this submission,
mentally, emotionally, and bodily, through the mechanism of
the breath. Feel Me. Breathe Me. Give Me your attention. Be
bodily always addressed to Me.
(39) Why do you think, anyway? Because you are not giving
Me your attention. Give Me your attention, feel Me, address
Me bodily, breathe Me. There is no wandering in the
mind-there is no room to wander in the mind! The mind
wanders when attention wanders. Do not let attention wander.
Keep attention with Me. This is the practice. There may be
lapses, while you are growing. Nevertheless, this is the
Admonition, and this is what you must do, more and more and
(40) The only purpose of observing yourself is to notice
the mechanism of the lapses-not to dwell on them or create
all kinds of descriptions of them. It is just a noticing. Do
not do what you notice, then. Give Me your attention
instead. Attention wanders because of your stressful egoic
(41) You think all the time, dont you?
(42) DEVOTEE: I think a great deal.
(43) SRI DA AVABHASA: You are thinking, thinking,
thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking. It is not
that thinking has no function in your moments of daily
obligation. Thinking does have a function, but you do not do
very much of such useful thinking. You do the wandering of
attention, and, therefore, the mind just pours out its
contents based on its conditioning. The mind is a bizarre
display that makes you even more stressful and confused. If
you have a purpose in thinking, if some obligation requires
you to think, do so with clarity, with real attention,
straightforwardly, figure out this or that, and then do this
(44) Now you see that the reason you are not aware of
Reality is that you are not doing the Yoga. You are not
submitting all your parts and functions to Reality. You are
withdrawing them from Reality, and, therefore, you are left
with only your self-imposed separation, trying to cope with
it and seeking on its basis. Authentic existence is Yoga, or
the submission of all the human parts to the Divine. The
Means for the Divine Yoga is the Realizer-the One Who is to
be Realized. You are mediocre because you are not doing the
Yoga. Divorced from Reality, divorced from the Divine
Self-Condition of all the conditions you are suffering, you
are letting all your parts wander in egoic
(45) You could be utterly purified and released of all
conditions if you would do the Yoga of submitting to the
Divine Reality. The process of Most Perfectly
self-transcending God-Realization is as simple as that.
Presently, however, you are divorced from Reality because of
what you are doing, or, perhaps better said, because of what
you are not doing. The thing that you are doing is
preventing you from doing what is right.
(46) The Way of the Heart is not about being a believer,
or belonging to the club. The Way of the Heart, when it is
full and right, is Yoga-Ishta-Guru-Bhakti Yoga. Just that,
done with every aspect of the body-mind, and in every
moment. There is no self-reference in it. It is just Guru
devotion. What do true devotees talk about, then? The Guru.
They maintain their Contemplation by talking about the Guru
instead of talking about themselves. Of course, there are
things to do-fine. Do them in Contemplation of Me. Live
rightly-fine. But not while remaining egoically
“self-possessed” in the midst of action. Surrender to Me in
the midst of your obligations. Surrender to Me, not as a
conventional gesture but as the Yoga of Communion with Me in
the midst of action, whatever the action is-service, puja,
chanting, or meditation-which is most direct
feeling-Contemplation of Me without any other obligations
imposed upon body, emotion, mind, or breath.
(47) The right occupation of apparently born beings is
constant Divine Contemplation. By this you are Liberated-not
by the action but by the Grace that, through your
participation in the Divine Yoga, you allow to Fill you and
Transform you and Liberate you. Your response to Grace must
be there in the form of the Yoga, but the Yoga itself does
not cure. The One you Contemplate cures. That I Am here
should be sufficient Inspiration to My devotee for the
practice of this Yoga.
(48) Your purpose for being here is to do this Yoga. I
should not have to do anything else than just Be here.
Therefore, do the Yoga, and do not do with Me or apart from
Me anything that desensitizes you to Me. Just do the Yoga
and increase it through right “consideration”. I Am here
just to Do What I Am and What My Divine Blessing Is
Inherently, and nothing else.
(49) DEVOTEE: Sri Gurudev, thank You for Your Gift of
Ishta-Guru-Seva. It gives me a way to extend Communion with
You into my daily life, to Remember You and surrender to
(50) SRI DA AVABHASA: If it were not so, then you could
Contemplate Me only in meditation, when nobody is making
demands on you physically, emotionally, mentally. No, the
Yoga extends into every moment of every day.
(51) Live rightly. Do not desensitize yourself-live
rightly. But there are actions built into portions of every
day, and you must do the Yoga there and then-all the time,
then. I have shown you how to do this Yoga of
self-surrendering devotional Contemplation of Me under all
circumstances-with every function, in every
(52) If you understand what the Yoga is, you know that it
is also to be practiced in your intimate sexual
relationship. Practice this Yoga in sexual occasions and in
every other occasion. Submit body, emotion, mind, and breath
in direct, self-surrendering feeling-Contemplation of Me, in
your intimacy in general and also in moments of sexual
activity, just as in any other circumstance of action or
relatedness. The same Yogic obligation holds. If you fall
back into the conditions themselves, the actions themselves,
and the consolations, you are not doing the Yoga. Do the
Yoga, and everything will be obvious to you about how to
live your intimate relationship rightly, how to practice in
the context of sexual activity rightly.
(53) Ishta-Guru-Bhakti Yoga is the key to real life. If
you are serious, you will do just that Yoga and nothing
(54) ANOTHER DEVOTEE: Sri Gurudev, You have brought this
simplicity to Me even more, to the point that I know there
is no effort in turning to You.
(55) SRI DA AVABHASA: You must do an action, but it
cannot rightly be described as effort, because effort
suggests the egos working on itself. In your responsiveness
to Me, in your devotion to Me that is awakened
spontaneously, you must perform the action of
self-surrender, but it is not an effort, because the
response to Me is there, the devotion to Me is there, your
impulse to Communion with Me is there. You cannot properly
describe your responsibilities as an effort, therefore.
(56) Yes, the Yoga itself is a simplicity to understand,
but, more than that, if you do the Yoga your entire life
becomes simplified. The more profoundly you enter into
Communion with Me, the more profoundly your life will be
simplified. The Way of the Heart is not about deliberate or
strategic renunciation. Because of your Divine preoccupation
with your Ishta-Guru, you not only forget yourself but you
forget to do all kinds of things you did as a seeker. You
stop being complicated. You become spontaneously simplified.
You become a renunciate on that basis, then, and not
(57) Even your conditioning does not make any difference.
It only shows itself when you do not do the Yoga. Whenever
you notice something arising, it is arising because you are
not doing the Yoga of devotional Communion with Me. That is
what there is to be noticed, not what is arising. What is
there to do? Certainly not to mull over all the stuff. You
just noticed this suffering, and you know why it is arising.
Therefore, in that very moment, you devote yourself to Me,
bodily, emotionally, mentally, with every breath. You simply
reconfirm the Yoga with the noticing.
(58) Such is self-observation in the Way of the Heart. It
is not constantly watching yourself and communicating the
effects of conditioning in the body-mind. There is nothing
fruitful about such “self-watching”, as I call it.
Self-observation occurs naturally, in an ordinary manner,
when you do the Yoga of Ishta-Guru-Bhakti. It is to notice
that the effects of your conditioning arise when you lapse
from the Yoga. Therefore, such true self-observation, or
noticing, calls you to practice the Yoga in that moment.
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