“Your work is to prepare the vessel so when spiritual experiences come you can hold them. Yoga is a conscious organization of your life; a mental, emotional, and physical purification; simplifying; losing what you thought would bring happiness.
By living ethically and disciplining yourself out of the habit of ego, you move into a state of preparation where you have the courage and authority to fully meet and integrate what you find.”
I want to talk a bit about the foundation of the spiritual journey, beginning with the distinction between seekers and seers. Seeking is like groping in the dark; seeing is catching glimmers of light and following them.
Many people are seekers. They could be seeking for any number of reasons, because basically the human condition is that of seeking. We are seeking to be happy, seeking to have more love, more relationships, more friends, more money, more freedom. We believe that these things will bring happiness. And now that spirituality has become popular, people are looking to that as another way to find happiness.
If that is what you are doing, I recommend you stop seeking. Seriously. Because finding is not about happiness. Finding is because you have no alternative but to find what it is you are now seeing.
So seeking may be seeing and seeing may be seeking. The proof happens when you find. Finding is usually the thing you have been avoiding, the thing you have been running from, the thing you hoped you would never have to meet or experience. But it is curious that in finding those things you have been avoiding you actually discover something of what you are. And that brings great empowerment, a great sense of reality and truth and love. The shift in the fundamental quality of your being is unmistakable.
The biggest problem on the spiritual path, for a seeker or a seer, is how to handle finding, how to train yourself to meet those things that are between you and the objects of your seeking or seeing.
My awakening was a spontaneous event that occurred when I was 50 years old, by which time much of my human life was completed. I was satisfied with what I had found in the world as an architect and community activist, owning solar energy company, having a family. I had figured it out. I was a happy human being not seeking anything. I was just enjoying what I had and learning different ways to enjoy it more. And in that process, by the way, I became skillful in putting up with things that were difficult to endure, meeting challenges rather than running from them, applying the necessary effort when life would give me something that I had to meet. I was not seeking out unduly the challenges of life. You don’t need to seek trouble; trouble will find you, inevitably. But I was learning how to relate to the troubles of life. So when my awakening came, something had been prepared. The course of life had prepared me to recognize the nature of what it was that was coming, even though it initially appeared to be the opposite of what was actually being revealed.
The awakening kept happening nonstop until I had to close down my life, meet my teacher, move to Tiruvannamalai, lived here for six years, went back to United States, and completed the journey in 2007. It took nine years and that was for someone who was ready! I like to put that before people because we have expectations due to our Western exposure that finding God is just a matter of months, or a seminar, or a program, or maybe a year, or maybe two. But it’s actually the rest of your life. The best attitude is to have no future and to burn the past. That’s yoga.
Yoga is not about getting; it’s about losing.
We are not naturally predisposed to yoga. Those of us in the west live in a world that has encouraged us to seek happiness. As a matter of fact it is selling us happiness in all different forms in order to keep us playing our part in feeding this illusionary version of what happiness is. But the spiritual path it’s really not about getting, it’s about losing. It’s about losing what is obscuring you from what you are finding. This is what yoga is.
Yoga, Patanjali’s yoga, is really a system of realigning our person so there’s a basic self-development process of living morally, ethically, and where we start disciplining our unruly impulses. We start cherishing doing good over getting just what we want. We start moving out of the habit of our separative human ego and what it seeks, into a state of preparation. That preparation then allows for you to meet the finding when it comes, instead of running from it.
Many of you have had spiritual experiences. But many of the experiences that have come you may have thought were dark forces, or things to avoid, or things not to experience, or things you were afraid of. They may have been exactly the thing you needed to be with, in order to reveal that which separated you from that which you were seeking to be revealed. Having this preparation, living life consciously, this is what yoga is.
Yoga is a conscious organization of your life for the purpose of finding what it is that separates you from that which your heart and your being is calling for. It’s a process of purification; a process of simplification; a process of letting go; of consciously losing what you thought would bring you happiness.
Many people come to me who have had spiritual experiences, but if there hasn’t been some yoga, they can’t hold them. The experiences come and go. So your side of the formula is to prepare the vessel so that when the universe does come, you can hold it. The experience is abiding instead of non-abiding. Even an awakening, or a glimpse of God and oneness, will come and go. The reason is because we have not prepared the vessel. We have not learned the right relationship with existence. We have our own agenda; we have what we want; we have what we are avoiding; we have our preferences; we have our idea of what truth would look like versus what it really is.
I’ve had people leave me because when truth came to them they said, “no, no, this is nothing like the truth I expect. This can’t be true because it is not what I imagined truth would be.”
It’s not our fault. We were brought up in a time of huge possibility for mankind. We have so many options and choices. So many of you have come from different parts of the world, flying in and able to stay in this country. But in another time it would’ve been impossible to get more than 20 miles from your village. At another time there would not have been the resources to begin a quest, to begin to see. Or you would not have had access to the information. It would have been secret or kept under control of existing religions, teachings, and dogmas. But with this expanded possibility has also come an endless possibility for entertainment and happiness that has made it difficult for many people now to hold the finding when it comes.
Start with correct information and set your intention.
The first part of my work is pretty much just giving correct information and understanding of the nature of the spiritual path. It’s like digging for gold. The gold is buried, so you what you have to do is remove the dirt. And when you have removed enough dirt you will find a lot of different stones that may or may not be gold. So the process of digging and finding is one of effort. That effort is to apply the necessary discipline for simplifying and purifying your system, or the effort is to restrain the inclinations that have driven your life up to now—the human needs and wants and reactions and impulses, fears, preferences, ambitions… You have to find them in your self and move them away. You have to find the part of you that refuses to meet life, that are still protecting itself, that are still expecting something to be different than it is, that is still coming forward with its demands, its fear, impatience, restlessness, with its refusal, stubbornness, obscurity, and dismissals.
I know that many of you are likely to have dismissed divine when it came. You either dismissed your ability to hold it or you dismissed it as not being real or important. You were not able to recognize the opportunity when it came. That ability to see the gold, that ability to see, that capacity to recognize truth or divine love when it shows, is a pre-requisite. Seeking alone will not do it. Even if you are serious, you might just dig dirt not knowing the difference between stone and gold, feeling comforted by the digging. Like many Buddhists, many people who live in monasteries, they follow the rituals, meditate for years and years, and they get comfort from the ritual meditation and the simple life, but they don’t often find. Or if they did, they would misinterpret.
The best opportunity for finding is in the midst of your life, because the shit’s coming at you all the time. Right? Recognizing the shit from the Shinola is what a seer has the ability to do. The nature of shit is that it doesn’t work. You try the next relationship. You try making a lot of money. You try being acceptable to people who you want attention from. You end up feeling like you just sold out something, like you just compromised yourself, like you sold your soul. That would be what it feels like to a seer. A seer would know the untruths by the aftertaste. But a seeker may not know that. A seeker becomes a seer because they have no other alternative. A seeker has the entire arena to explore, not knowing the difference between human and spiritual happiness.
So you need to have the right information about the nature of the spiritual journey, and have the correct understanding in your intelligence, and then you apply effort consistent with that intelligence. Now that effort can have a number of aspects. One of the most powerful efforts is intention. Not desire, intention. It is an intending to find truth, to find god, to find that quality of being that you sense but cannot yet access. That intent creates a paradigm, a context through which you can view your life as it arises. With intention you ask, “What is it that is arising right now? What is it trying to show me, which will allow me to move into a truer relationship to that which I seek, to that which I long for.”
Actions that we take from that place are enormously successful. Living purposefully doesn’t have to be just when you are physically. It can be in any arena of life, if you set that intention and keep choosing, each moment, to see the opportunity in it to recognize what obscures you from that which is the purpose of your seeking, from that which is the fulfillment of your intent.
The role of transmission.
Much of my work now is basically transmission. People simply receive something through me that empowers their seeing and their finding. But as I said, finding is not enough. You have to have right information and you have to know how to prepare your vessel so that it can hold it, to stay in remembrance of your purpose, to have sufficient practice to keep you connected and focused on that which you are intending to manifest in your self.
You are the adults in your life. Actually you are the only adult life in your life. And if you are not then woe is you. If you are still being run and believe that you are the child and there is someone to blame, someone who is going to help you, then you weaken your ability to be in collaboration with the unfolding of that which you are.
Part of adulthood is to know to ask for help, to know when you cannot see clearly to get information that will allow you to see what you can’t see. It is not to surrender to someone to do for you; it is to surrender to someone who will assist you in doing it. So the force is very useful if we are in collaboration because then what comes can be not only found but kept. Without keeping it will go. It will come and go. And what you are looking for something to come and grow.