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Samyama, Elbow Grease and
June 3, 2010
New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the archive, as previous
lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why
Q: You have said that samyama is for assisting deep meditation in
cultivating inner silence, and also that it is for cultivating "stillness in
action." I have trouble seeing these as the same thing. If we are busy doing
things in the world, how can that be stillness? I can understand the silent
witness, the unaffected observer that is the subject,
aware of all objects of experience. How does that become "stillness in
action," and how does samyama produce it?
A: It should first be
said that the emergence of inner silence (witness) and expansion of it to
become "stillness in action" is experiential. We can talk about these things
conceptually, and this can provide some inspiration for engaging in
practices. But ultimately it is the experience
that will determine our relationship with
the witness, stillness in action, and
resulting sense of non-duality. This leads us to an experiential realization
that everything is
That which has no
attributes, even as divine love
and flowing into the
world with the realization. Strange paradox. It cannot be captured by the
mind only experienced.
Yet, we keep talking about it. Why? So there
can be some context for applying the means for realization. Once the
experience is arising, the need for context becomes less for us, for then we
know the thing itself. Still, we may keep talking about it for the benefit
of others, and to clarify our own condition. And
so it goes all these descriptions of the indescribable, and the assertions
of "stillness in action" proclaiming what cannot be proclaimed, only
So let all of this information wash over your
awareness, and let it go in stillness. Release the temptation to cram it
into a box labeled "philosophy." This is how
information can do the most good.
Samyama is a
technique that aids us in developing the habit of
refining our intentions and our actions in stillness. And, yes, samyama
strengthens and stabilizes inner silence in our nature also. As we know, the
technique of samyama relies on the presence of
some abiding inner silence, already established through deep meditation.
With that, we are able to release intentions in abiding inner silence
(witness) and greatly expand its presence and influence.
samyama is in the realm of paradox we
have been discussing, getting to the very heart of it. Our intention is
released in stillness, and stillness moves. We do not move stillness.
Stillness moves of its own accord, in response to the intention surrendered
to it. The outcome is according to that flow, not according to our personal
desire or intention. This is why we have often called it a divine flow, or
outpouring. It is also the essence of
prayer. The flow will be according to the need of the situation, beyond our
understanding of it. This is why effective samyama depends not only on our
surrender of intention, but also surrender to the outcome. We engage in
daily structured practice like that, with a predetermined list of sutras, so
we can gradually develop the ability to live all aspects of our life in this
unified way in stillness.
As anyone who is engaged in daily samyama
practice knows, this is not an abstract or passive process. Real internal
energy flows can be observed as a direct result of samyama practice, and
real events in the world can be observed in relation to our practice.
Some will see these as "miraculous" events.
not know exactly what will happen, but we can certainly notice the flow of
life being influenced in positive and creative ways by the stillness we have
played a role in activating.
From our side, beyond engaging in
effective daily practice, it is up to us to stay active in productive ways
the world. Stillness will be most effective in
action if we are acting. A tried and true formula for maximum personal
evolution and the evolution of our surroundings is "samyama plus elbow
grease." Elbow grease means keeping active, engaging fully in whatever our
life is each day. This is a formula for stabilizing inner silence (witness)
in our nervous system as a full time reality, and for expanding the quality
of stillness into action in the world. If we are not acting, the engagement
of stillness in the world will be limited.
Once we are on the move in
this, cultivating inner silence in deep meditation and activating it with
samyama and our daily activity, then we will find an experience of
Oneness (non-duality) arising. This simply means we begin to notice that
we are the environment and the action we are engaged in, even while we are
that which is has no attributes and is doing nothing. Indeed, we find we are
nothing at all, even while we are everything and doing it all!
is the experiential realization of the non-dual nature of existence, the
natural outcome of cultivating stillness in action. It is an
incomprehensible thing, but full with joy all the same. It is the experience
that counts, not the concept. Release the concept entirely in stillness and
you may get a taste of it right now.
It all depends on daily
practice, and going out and applying plenty of elbow grease in daily living.
This is not a path for the lazy. There is no free ride. We each progress
according to our own effort.
Enlightenment is not a static condition,
not a condition of no activity. It is a condition of unlimited activity in
stillness. At times, we may have to self-pace ourselves so as not to
compromise the body/mind. No one is being encouraged to burn themselves out.
At the same time, enlightenment is not for couch potatoes. Enlightenment is
always a process of purification and opening, always a higher manifestation
we can evolve toward. It is the never-ending process of life the great river
of evolution we are stimulating and navigating.
Once there is a sense of non-duality, there may be the temptation to
assume we have arrived, and sit down on the couch. We may even stop our
practices. We may assume there is nothing more to learn, and only to teach
what we have found as the ultimate realization. This is a common mistake.
Not that we should not teach from our level, whatever it is. We all should
do that to help others. Service is part of our path. But it is a mistake to
assume we have reached the end, because there is no end. We may feel we are
at the end, but evolution continues to go on everywhere. We are not excluded
from that. If we feel we are exempt from evolution, then that is a dual
view, an illusion. As long as life goes on, there is no end, not for us, and
not for anyone. We may like to get off the train, but that is an act in
duality, far more dual than continuing to act to further our evolution,
which is the evolution of all.
There is the idea out there that
duality and non-duality are mutually exclusive. Not so. The very view of
"mutually exclusive" is dual. By accepting and engaging in duality in
stillness, non-duality becomes known, without the
obvious contradiction found in a philosophical non-dual view,
or fragmentary experience of Oneness. It is an illusion in the
mind, where subject and object remain firmly entrenched.
We must come to the place of fully active stillness. We have also called it
"active surrender." It is an experiential awakening rooted in the
neurobiology, not an intellectual awakening in the mind.
Non-duality can only be known when subject and object are merged, and that
can only happen through engagement in activity in stillness stillness in
action. Samyama cultivates this by merging intentions and actions in
stillness, which manifest out in the field of action (elbow grease), merging
together these two essential aspects of life (inner and outer) in direct
experience. Samyama is for promoting this process.
We come back to a
phrase that has been used here from time to time: "The
One is the
many and the many are the One."
It cannot be grasped by the
mind only experienced. For that we have the systematic application of
The guru is in you.
Samyama Related Lessons Topic Path
Self-Inquiry Related Lessons Topic Path
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