Note: For the complete lessons,
with additions, see the AYP
Easy Lessons for Ecstatic Living Books.
Date: August 25, 2010
New Members: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the web archive, as previous
lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why
"Freedom." What does it mean? Is it worth having? How do we get it? These
are relevant questions. Perhaps the most relevant of our life.
We live in an age where many enjoy political and economic freedom. Hopefully
human civilization will continue to evolve in a direction that brings that
kind of freedom to everyone on the earth.
But we are not talking about that kind of freedom here. We are talking about
a kind of freedom that transcends political and economic circumstances, a
kind of freedom that transcends the suffering
found in all the circumstances of life, whether we are happy, sad, rich,
poor, healthy or sick. We'd all like to better our lot in life. But beyond
that, there is a way to find an inner unending joy that is entirely
independent of our lot in life, whatever it may be. This is what we mean by
"freedom" in the yogic sense. True freedom is the fruition of yoga. It has
also been called "liberation."
This freedom, this liberation, is not an external thing,
and not an idea or a state of mind. It is
not something we can possess. It is a condition of consciousness in the
human being, and also reflected in the society. It
is something that is self-evident when it appears, and entirely independent
of our outer circumstances. It is an abiding inner silence, a blissful
ecstasy, and an endless outpouring of divine love.
Most importantly, it is freedom from suffering. It is also a
direct experience of Oneness (unity) through all the faculties of
perception. It is living within and through the essence of what we are
pure bliss consciousness. Human beings are designed to express that
reality in the realm of time and space, in ordinary daily living. We are
If we wait long enough, evolution will bring the human race to a full
expression of that condition of freedom. Without our direct participation,
it could take a very long time. But, thankfully, that is not how the system
works. There is something in us, something that causes us to take action for
the benefit of our evolution in this life. Once we
have sensed our potential, there is a spark of recognition, and we are moved
to do something. We experience a divine desire for that which is beyond
where we are today in the expression of our consciousness. We have called
that desire "bhakti," which is devotion to a higher ideal of our own
choosing. There are a variety of experiences that can create that spark of
recognition and the resulting bhakti. Once it happens, we have to do
something. There is no turning back. We are on the path to freedom.
There are many ways to travel. We can take a religious route or a
non-religious route. Whatever suits our nature. All routes lead to the same
place, to the extent they are true to the inner dynamics of human spiritual
transformation. In spite of all the glitz and glamor, spiritual development
is largely a mechanical process. A pretty mundane thing. It is inner
purification and opening of our nervous system at the deepest level that
ultimately brings about freedom. A systematic approach involving daily
practice will yield the most reliable results.
Here in the AYP system of practices, two primary angles of approach are
recognized and addressed, leading to a third, which is the unfoldment of
- The cultivation of abiding blissful inner silence.
- The cultivation of ecstatic conductivity and radiance.
- The joining of these two in an outpouring of ecstatic bliss and unity
in daily living.
One, two, three Very simple.
For instructions on
building and maintaining a balanced daily practice routine with self-pacing
for long term progress to spiritual ripeness and freedom, see the
Eight Limbs of Yoga book
and the Liberation book.
To enable this process to occur, an arsenal of tools has been presented
throughout the AYP writings, beginning with the core practices of deep
meditation and spinal breathing pranayama, and with many additional
practices and variations on practices available to facilitate the three-step
process in as flexible a manner as may be needed.
It is our own direct experience that
will drive our actions
on the path. We can have the greatest blessings of the sages,
and all the tools in the world, but if we are not willing to take
responsibility for our development, driven by our direct
experiences, our journey will be out of balance, out of kilter,
dysfunctional, and not very progressive. Taking personal responsibility is
the key on our path to freedom. Isn't this the case with anything that is
important to us?
The AYP system is designed for those who have realized this and are
interested in proceeding in a self-directed manner. No one else can do it
for us. The resources on practices are openly available and plentiful, the
community support is considerable, and the guidelines on self-pacing of
practices to facilitate progressive and stable inner purification and
opening have been tested by thousands who have gone before. It is an
approach that works. Many are
advancing along their path according to
their own efforts in twice-daily practice.
But there is something more. We have called it "getting ripe"
and falling off the tree of duality into the non-dual condition, which is
the unity condition. This is the province of "self-inquiry," which is also
developed in the AYP writings. While we can find great joy and excitement at
every step along the path, ultimate freedom is found in realizing the
non-dual condition of unity. It is here that we know ourselves to be fully
in but not of this world, and no longer susceptible to the suffering
associated with the identification of awareness with the body, mind,
emotions and sensory perceptions. This is not
primarily a state of mind or an intellectual understanding. We simply find
that we are not any of these things, and
that we are all of them.
It is a mystery.
Freedom is an unknowing in which all is known and all
can be accomplished without limit. The
process of getting ripe for this is primarily about the cultivation of
abiding inner silence, stillness, which we have also called the witness.
The rise of ecstatic conductivity and radiance
also has a key role in enabling stillness (witness) to "move
outward." With the rise of the witness, we find a separation of our
sense of self from the objects of perception, including thoughts, feelings,
sensory perceptions, and even our sense of "I, me and mine." In
stillness/witness and with inquiries released in stillness, we "go out" from
identified awareness the attachment that leads to suffering. But this is
only half of it. This is
a dual condition of unidentified awareness, with everything else being an
object it is still subject and objects. The
other half is a "coming back" into relationship with all the objects,
including our sense of "I," with a merging in stillness. Then there is no
longer subject (awareness) and objects, but a unity of subject and objects.
This is the Oneness, the freedom that is the fruition of yoga.
First it is about becoming ripe, primarily with sitting practices, and other
considerations in our daily living and lifestyle, such as enhancing the
spiritual/ecstatic role of our sexuality via
tantric methods as may be needed. Once we are becoming ripe, having
increasing abiding inner silence, then there is a role for self-inquiry.
Finally, when we have gone out
beyond identification with objects and come back into
the unity of merged subject and objects, we
are free, and continue to help others as we are naturally inclined, moving
from within in a natural divine flow.
The journey to freedom is not an overnight affair. It is a marathon, not a
sprint. But it is a much shorter marathon than it
has been in the past. World consciousness has become considerably more fluid
than in the past. More can be accomplished with spiritual practices these
days than at any time in our known history. And
there are many more options for practice available. So it is a pretty good
situation. Still, there is much to do.
The AYP writings are a resource. Certainly not the only approach available,
but one that is effective and open to all. There are no limits or
requirements for the use of AYP, except for each of us to endeavor to be
true to our own journey. It is suggested to aim for the
long term in daily practice, while taking it one day at a time. In
the now, but not caught up in the now. Do your best to
release expectations as much as possible
(difficult sometimes), always gently
favoring the procedures of practice over the many
experiences that will come up along the way. This is the
surest path forward.
With this simple approach, stillness will rise and
begin to move in a blissfully ecstatic way
in daily living, carrying us forward like water running downhill. No
obstacle can stand in the way of the awakened
divine flow. Let go in the flow, and you will
realize that you are the flow, a marriage of human and divine. This is
Share with others as you are so inclined, so many
can move onward into freedom, wherever they may be.
I wish you all the best on your path. It is in your
hands. Practice wisely, and enjoy!
The guru is in you.