The Yoga of Body, Emotion, Mind, and Breath


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ISHTA

Part I: The Yoga of Ishta-Guru-Bhakti

The Yoga of Body, Emotion, Mind, and Breath

December 2, 1993

 

DEVOTEE: Beloved, I wanted to talk to You about the
breath, because I feel that the breath is such an important
factor in my surrender to You.

SRI DA AVABHASA: In the various traditions, life is
measured by the breath. Many things could be said about the
traditional teaching about the breath-and I have said many
things-but most simply the traditional teaching can be
summarized as follows: The mind is active, feeling is
active, the body is active, all the time the breath, or
energy, is active, connecting all these functions. The
breath shows itself through two fundamental
gestures-inhalation and exhalation. The traditional lore
indicates that there is a deficit of inhalation, that there
is more exhalation-it goes out farther and takes longer-than
inhalation. This deficit could be called “entropy”, because
there is more to the throwing off, more to exhaling than to
inhaling.

You are breathing moment by moment, but you are
constantly creating a deficit and the body wears down
eventually. Its death is built into the mechanism. Many in
the traditional setting, having observed this, were very
clever. They devoted themselves to exercising the breath to
overcome the deficit. Such exercise is recommended in the
Chinese tradition, even in the Chinese medical tradition of
longevity. It appears in Indian medicine and in many other
traditions. It is a kind of effort to equalize the breath
and minimize, or, perhaps, even eliminate, the deficit.
Instead of exhaling more, or longer, one compensates by
working, in one way or another-through what in India is
called “pranayama”, or the exercise of breath, through
changing diet, and through other exercises to create
equanimity, a balance in the breath, or a balance between
yin and yang, to use the Chinese description. Through such
exercises, one tries to equalize the cycle of breath so that
it is essentially balanced. Such exercises, which generate
at least a physical well-being, require great
discipline.

Hyperactivity, to which Westerners are addicted, is full
of exhalation, full of physical exaggeration, all the time
throwing off equanimity and working toward death, in fact.
By contrast, those who have some sense of what the breath is
all about are trying to live a life of equanimity. The
origins of such intention are generally associated with a
kind of physical Yoga, the Yoga of longevity of the Chinese,
for example, or the Hatha Yoga of the Hindus. Such physical
forms of Yoga seek benefits in the physical, or gross,
dimension of the body-mind, rather than in the subtle
dimension and beyond, but the whole life is disciplined for
the sake of equanimity. Therefore, exaggerated physical
activity, exaggerated emotional activity, exaggerated mental
activity, exaggeration of any kind, in fact, is avoided. The
whole purpose of such Yogas can be summarized as
equanimity-in other words, undoing the deficit in the energy
cycle, so that instead of running down rather rapidly, you
at least run down much more slowly. Those who are most adept
at this intention claim-or at least hope for-extreme
physical longevity.

Without suggesting that the extreme intention toward
physical immortality should be the purpose of your living,
nonetheless I Say to you that equanimity is part of true
Yoga, and it is associated with the breath, or the
opposites. The opposites are all summarized in the breath.
All of conditional existence-tamas, rajas, sattva, all of
it-is summarized in the breath. All the pairs are summarized
in inhalation and exhalation. Therefore, all the efforts
toward equanimity are about a balance in the breath, most
fundamentally, and balance in relation to everything else as
well. There must be a fundamental practice and intention,
then, to create a balance between the opposites.

To establish such equanimity, without searching for
physical immortality and mere physical ends, the practice
must encompass not only the breath but also all the
faculties associated with it-the mind summarized as
attention, the emotion summarized as feeling, the body
summarized as its activities. To do Yoga, one links all of
these things-breath, mind or attention, feeling, body-in one
fundamental gesture of self-surrendering
feeling-Contemplation of the Divine Realizer, the Source of
Grace.

Ishta-Guru-Bhakti, then, grants equanimity if you
exercise all those faculties in feeling-Contemplation of Me.
The purpose of the Yoga, however, is not some mere physical
effect of equanimity, such as longevity, but that which Yoga
allows, which is the reception of Grace, combining with
Grace. The reception of Divine Grace occurs only if your
practice of all of the yoga is self-surrender, if it goes
beyond egoity, or self-contraction, the act of
separateness.

Control of breath, then, or “conductivity”, is a
fundamental aspect of your practice of the Way of the Heart.
It is not that you must be all the time fussing with the
breath, any more than you should be fussing with the body,
fussing with emotions, fussing with mind-just egoically
“self-possessed” and occupied with the mechanisms
themselves. No. You must be occupied with Me. All the
faculties of the body-mind are carried by that devotional
disposition. You must simply, responsibly, allow it to be
so. Stop desensitizing yourself through inappropriate
activity-bodily, emotionally, mentally, or with the breath.
Instead, link yourself to Me devotionally, and do this
moment to moment under all circumstances, and, in fact, also
discipline circumstances, discipline what you do altogether.
What is conducive to this devotional life, this equanimity,
this receptivity, this sensitivity? Do whatever that is, and
do not do otherwise. If circumstances force you into some
limited encounter, you must be able to exercise the same
disposition-do not, however, in some habitual or casual
sense, choose such associations or conditions.

Without the God-Realizer and true practice of
Ishta-Guru-Bhakti, you may have some kind of “yoga”, but it
is a bastard. It is empty, only fussing with the body, with
emotion, with mind or attention, and with breath, these
faculties themselves. Such so-called “yoga” is egoic
“self-possession”, self-“guruing”, the effort of
separativeness. Only Ishta-Guru-Bhakti in relation to the
true Realizer conforms body, emotion, attention, and breath
to Grace. Then Yoga, rightly understood, is easy, not a
struggle with separate self or with the faculties of the
body-mind in and of themselves.

The practitioner of this great Yoga, which involves the
entire body-mind and the link of the breath, must first
establish equanimity. As one moves into the Spiritual stages
and advances in the Way of the Heart, the Sign of the
breath, and the sign all over the body-mind, is greatly
transformed. More profound Yogic signs appear, in the
context of advancement in the fourth and the fifth stages of
life, and then beyond. Having established equanimity in your
total life, you move into the Spiritual stages of the Way of
the Heart, you breathe Me , you surrender to Me utterly in
self-forgetfulness. Then your practice is not merely to
equalize the signs in the body-mind and the breath. In the
natural process of this feeling-Contemplation of Me, the
breath has become minute. There are no big movements of the
breather. The breath is hardly noticeable. It is a tiny
sniff in and out. Frequently there are no opposites, there
is no movement, there is no inhalation-exhalation. Finally,
there is kumbhak, or suspension of breath, and, thereby,
suspension of attention to body and exercises of emotion and
mind in combination with conditions, and there is direct
entrance into the Contemplative state, in the form of
various Samadhis.

These are the signs in the advanced stages of life,
until, in the ultimate stages of life, or the “Perfect
Practice”, there is a sign beyond the Circle, beyond the
faculties of the body-mind. Nevertheless, the origins of the
advanced and the ultimate developments of the Way of the
Heart are in the Yoga of equanimity, the foundation
Contemplative practice of Ishta-Guru-Bhakti in every moment,
through the exercise of the faculties of the body-mind-body,
emotion, mind, or attention, and breath, or energy.

I have asked you a number of times in these recent
occasions about your sense of the Divine, or your sense of
Me, and you have had very little to say. This suggests that
even though you want to be religious, the fundamental
dimension that would enable you to be religious is somehow
unreal to you. You are all that is real to you. You cannot
do Yoga if you are the only thing real to you. You yourself
are the barrier to Yoga. Life does not become Yoga until
That Which is to be Realized is in some fundamental sense
Real to your heart and mind.

How can you surrender to something that, in your
estimation, is the same as you? There is no great result in
doing so, no Yoga. You must find the Living One in the True
God-Realizer, and do the Yoga according to That Ones
Instruction. That is repentance. That is salvation. That is
religion. That is Yoga. Everything else is a dramatization
of egoity, deficit-living, going toward death, egoic
“self-possession” constantly reinforced. It is the way of
the world, the way of non-Realization, or “sin”. As it says
in the New Testament , the result of “sin”, or “missing the
mark”, is death. Through the lack of God, the lack of Divine
Communion, you are constantly creating a deficit. You are
going to death-separateness, in other words. Separateness,
or death, is your dramatization. It is your result. It is
your destiny.

To be converted at heart, you must respond at heart to
That Which Is Divine, Ultimate, and Real. Therefore, how can
you be Godless and converted to Me at the same time? How can
you be Godless and practice Ishta-Guru-Bhakti Yoga? You
cannot. The word “God” need not be used-but it is a good
word that indicates That Very One to be Realized. Other
words could also be used, and I use them to mean the same
thing. I use all the words, because I am all the time
addressing everyone. Different words are suitable for people
who are acculturated in one way or another, but the same
response and Revelation are necessary for all.

You cannot adapt Me to you. You must be adapted to Me.
You are not practicing Ishta-Guru-Bhakti Yoga if you are not
adapting to Me. You are requiring My attention to you in
your ordinariness and your lack of response. There is no
Yoga in it.

If you feel Me Radiating here, you are not Godless. You
are Godless only in your egoic “self-possession”, your
contraction from Reality, wondering about God, doubting God,
having no sense of God. When you feel Me, when you are open
to Me, the cramp of egoic “self-possession” is released, God
is Obvious, and there is no doubt about it. That Which Is
Called “God” is completely Obvious when there is release
from the self-contraction in Communion with the
Realizer.

When you are telling Me about your doubts and your egoic
“self-possession” and your this, that, and the other
limitation, you are without My Guru-Shakti. You are
desensitized. You are egoically “self-possessed”. You are
“Narcissus”. This is My Criticism of you-not so that you
should meditate on it but so that you should correct
yourself, be converted at heart, find Me, know Who I Am, do
the Yoga to which I have Called you, and do it seriously,
not as a fool, not as a mere thinker or talker. Become a
serious person-not a worldling-here to live seriously and
practice seriously.

People are all the time looking for some relief from the
cramp of their egoic “self-possession”. They do not know
that what they require is My Guru-Shakti and Divine
Realization. Anything that is somewhat attractive, that
distracts you from yourself, that stimulates some positive
emotion in you is valued. Therefore, people do all kinds of
things to generate such signs in themselves, including
drinking beer, smoking cigarettes, taking drugs, having
casual sex, going to the movies-all the nonsense that people
do is a search to be relieved of the suffering that comes
about in their self-contraction.

You can use the means of the ordinary man or woman to
distract yourself, but those means toxify and enervate you
further, destroy your equanimity, and create a deficit by
which you will die. Everyone dies anyway-all bodily forms
pass-but there are two ways to die: in God, or separate from
God.

The true devotee functions with discrimination and with
intensity, always exercising the total body-mind in
self-surrendering devotion to Me. If, instead of that, you
are rehearsing signs of egoic “self-possession”, then you
are desensitizing yourself to Me. You lack My Guru-Shakti
which relieves you of your egoic suffering.

You should be jealous for this by Me Given Guru-Shakti,
this by Me Given Divine Blessing, this by Me Given
Blessedness, this “sin”-lessness, by exercising yourself in
response to Me, using the whole body-mind in response every
moment, and not bowing to what is less, what is egoic
“self-possession” what is an egoic dramatization, what is
“Narcissistic”, just not doing that. With great
discrimination, you eliminate the sideshow of egoic
“self-possession” consistently in daily life. The ordeal of
developing the Yoga is the beginning.

By devotion to Me, you grow. By practicing the true
devotional Yoga, you grow. You must do whatever is necessary
to handle your responsibilities and surrender to Me at the
same time. To do so is the tapas, the necessary context of
the Yoga. You cannot just go to the Communion Hall all the
time, do puja in the formal sense all the time, meditate in
that formal sense all the time. You must make the gesture in
daily life, under all the circumstances that would
ordinarily call your egoic patterns into play. You must
function in those circumstances, because you must be
purified. What do you do when you are tested, when the
circumstance of practice requires the tapas of the
exaggerated gesture of discipline, handling business, being
devotionally surrendered at the same time, being fully in
Communion with Me at the same time-what do you do? Do you
lapse, or is the ordeal just difficult?

The Way of the Heart is the relationship to Me. It is not
merely a mass of practices that you apply to yourself, and
it is not a culture independent of Me. Every one of you as a
devotee of Mine and a practitioner of the Way of the Heart
is practicing the relationship to Me, just that-just that,
entirely that. All the practices of the Way of the Heart are
associated with that fundamental matter. In the whole life
of practice, you are here to do the Yoga of relationship to
Me. In a sentence, that is it, just that and nothing else.
The Way of the Heart is not techniques to apply to yourself
nor a club to belong to. It is the direct, Yogic
relationship to Me, and that is it.

Practice this Yoga in every moment of your life,
jealously, without looking to right or left, without
mediocrity. Whatever it takes, do this Yoga of devotion to
Me in every moment of your life, and not merely for your own
salvation-although that is obviously part of it-but for the
sake of all. Think of everything and everyone and the
necessary conversion of beings to avoid the holocaust all
mankind is creating in their stupidity and reluctance and
unresponsiveness. It is not My intent to give some
fire-and-brimstone message to get people to respond to Me
and practice the Way of the Heart. Nevertheless, it must be
said, it is so: You are in the dark time here. Can you not
see where the world is going? Open your heart and throat and
voice and life to be converted yourself and to convert
beings to rightness of life!

That you must do, but in the midst of this devotional
life, which is not about social and earthly preoccupations.
Compassionately it registers there, but its purpose, its
context, is Most Perfectly self-transcending
God-Realization, the transcendence of this burnt piece of
coal-which is what it will be finally-and the necessity to
be visited here into such a contaminated limitation as this.
You must stop holding onto this morsel-and respond to Me, go
with Me.

Resort to My Grace, rather than to yourself. Do so fully,
with great faith, great response, great heart, great daily
discipline, great discrimination, great intent. Do it for
real. Prove it in life. Prove it in My experience. This is
what it takes. The round of failure, fussing, and asking for
forgiveness goes nowhere but to hell-and there is hell. Hell
is not a location. It is a disease. It is a destiny. It is
fear, egoic “self-possession”, and confusion, registered
experientially. It does not need a place. It is wherever you
are, now and after death.

Do you want to be in that fear and that insult without
resort, without God, without Divine Love, without the Gurus
Blessing? If not, then you must resort to Me and exercise
yourself with fullest intent, not merely making an intention
into the future but now and now and now-always, all the
time, with no excuses and no apologies necessary,
consistently, intensively. It is not a free ride. It is not
an amusement. You must deal with the realities of your
egoically “self-possessed” existence, through the Yoga I
have been describing to you here again.

Therefore, exercise yourself in that Yogic affair in
every moment of your life, with no excuses. Otherwise, you
damn yourself to yourself. That is the hell, right where you
are and not somewhere else.

In your unconverted disposition, you think it is enough
to always experience kissy-kissy friendliness. Keep smiling
and that is enough, you think. It is not enough. It changes
nothing. It is not Yoga. It is a social arrangement to
console you, like all the other things you do habitually to
console and distract yourself. You should be afraid of
it-and afraid of not surrendering.

My Manner is Unspoken, Simple, and Silent, and it Moves
about Freely, Shining. Allow My Sign most fully to be
Present among you. The air is thick with Me. Breathe Me,
feel Me, surrender to Me, live in Me. That is what there is
to do. Live the right life and handle your business under
the conditions of My Divine Blessing here. You cannot be an
exaggerated, worldly person and do so.

Tendencies do not mean a thing to My true devotee. They
are nothing. You must eliminate them. You must renounce
them. They do not mean anything You notice them, and you
relinquish them. It is what you do with what is foul and not
useful.

Therefore, that is how you should live. Be purified. Be
right. Make your life out of your heart-response to Me. That
is what it is to be a man, male or female. As My devotee,
that is what you do, then, in every moment. The rest goes to
hell. Truly. Of course, life is difficult! That is why you
came to Me. It is difficult anyway, whether you are
surrendered to Me or not.

The culture of the Way of the Heart is the culture of
devotional self-surrender to Me. That is the Message and the
Way of the Heart, and that is what you do if you are My
devotee. It makes no difference what you notice to be an
impediment or a problem or a doubt. The Way of the Heart is
surrender to Me, just that, Communion with Me. Bow to Me.
Give Me your regard. Feel Me. Now and now and now-and that
is it.

Devotion to the Divine is what you are here to do, and
that is it. Enjoy it! Love Me! Live it! Just that. The
Master is all the true devotee wants to think about.
Devotion to the Master is the only cure. Devotion to the
Master is the only Happiness. Devotion to the Master is the
only Freedom from the steel-hard mechanical and chemical
bondage of suffering in which you are otherwise investing
yourself. The only salvation is Guru-love, Guru-talk. Live
with the Guru, talk about the Guru, surrender to the Guru.
That is it. That is all. Make no room for anything else.
That is what it is to be My devotee-to make no room for
anything else. Give Me that devotion and change My
experience, and you will see Me Shining in My Simplicity
here. Then, by My Blessing, you will get the Reality of
life, the Truth, by Grace.

Do the Yoga with no excuses, no reluctance, no
self-consciousness, no mannerly submission to scientific
materialism and the cult of the world-none. Such is the
strength you require, just Guru-love, Most Perfectly
self-transcending God-Realization, a life devoted to It,
spoken constantly, pouring out, changing your life. That is
the way it should be. It is the way of Guru-love and
Shaktipat. It is the Dharma of Grace, of Guru-devotion, of
Guru-love, and reception of Guru-Transmission, or
Guru-Grace.

Guru-Transmission is not even a Teaching. It is a Grace.
The Instructions must be Given, but the Way is just the
Guru, the Person, the Non-Separateness, without limitations,
before you, and a Call to devotion. That is it. That is all.
What do you know about where it goes? What do you know about
the seventh stage Realization, anyway? It is just the Master
Absolute before you, and you surrender, just that. It is the
same for the simple and ordinary people as it is for the
most advanced.

That is all there is to do. It is very simple. It is not
technical. Grasp the simplicity and do it. I have told you
how to exercise it in every aspect of life.,

No distractions can be indulged in. There are no
distractions, just devotion to Me, living this Yoga moment
by moment, that is it. It is a great energy. It is not
boring. It is My business-totally My business.

You do the Yoga. I do the rest.