Q. Don’t you think surrender is the best way, as it is the essence of the 4 yogas?
Tom: It depends. It’s true that surrender is essential for most, and it becomes more prevalent, especially as spiritually matures. Surrender is a wonderful way. But surrender itself ends in stillness of mind.
However some cannot surrender, and need to do karma yoga first. Others need to do hatha yoga and meditation. Others are more intellectually inclined and do viveka, or discrimination between the changing and unchanging, as per Jnana yoga.
The best yoga is the one you actually do.
Sometimes, when the firm understanding of no-self first comes upon you, it can unleash a vast reservoir of energy, especially if this understanding has dawned in a non-traditional context ie. without preparation of the body-mind.
That energy comes into and animates the body-mind, and energises it.
Sometimes negative, destructive, addictive and hedonistic habitual tendencies (vasanas) can be enhanced due to that injection of energy. We may feel negative or even euphoric, depending on the pre-existing conditioning.
Beware of this. Here the teachings on dispassion (vairagya) become more important than the insight (into no-self) teachings which have already begun to hit home.
Remember not to get involved or get carried away by such thoughts, desires, feelings and behaviours. Do not indulge in this (ego-) energy. The old ignorant habitual tendencies are still at play even though insight (into no-self) is here, and the suffering and potential destructiveness caused by them still has not been eradicated.
Instead continue to take up and press on with your sadhana: relax, remain calm, be still, allow all to come and go, be unattached, be as you are, until all the vasanas have gone. Then the sadhana will also go.
(please note, the title of this post is meant to be ironic!)
The following is by Robert Adams:
What happens is this. As you keep giving up all the reactions to life. As you begin to surrender everything to the one Self. The one Self which is the absolute reality, the pure awareness takes over.
And will do whatever you have to do, even better than you can do it yourself. This power that knows the way will take you over completely. And it will speak for you. Do everything for you that you have to do and yet you will feel that you are not the doer.
Yet everything will be done perfectly.
Many people are afraid to give up their senses. For they believe that they will turn into a vegetable. But this is not true. You will always function. You will always do what you came to this earth to do. And you will even do it better than you ever can imagine.
So do not concern yourself about these things. Simply go within, surrender everything to the Self.
Give up everything.
The following is by Robert Adams:
Does Karma really exist? I know that you can say, “No it doesn’t.” But as long as you believe that you are a body and mind, as long as you feel the world to be real, you cannot fool yourself. Do not lie to yourself. If the world perturbs you, if people bother you, if things annoy you, if you are reacting to conditions this means that you believe you are a body going through these experiences. And as long as you are going through experiences you are in karma. You are experiencing the karma that put you here as a body. It is only when you have realized the self that there is no karma.
Therefore do not go around telling people that there is no karma, it will give them license to do anything they like. Feeling there is no retribution, there is no effect for their deeds. This is not true as long as you believe you are a body. For there are laws of the universe that respond to your actions. Karma means action. And as long as you believe you are the actor you will have to experience the results of the karma.
So in this particular life you are experiencing the results of not only the karma of this experience but of previous lives. Previous lives also come into effect whenever you believe you are the body.
There are only two ways to destroy the karma.
One is to inquire, “To whom the karma comes? Who is experiencing this karma?”
And the other way is to surrender completely to God. Totally surrender your life to God. God is within you as you. You therefore surrender everything to the self. Thy will be done. You begin to see that as long as you have God to surrender to, you need not worry, you need not fear. Everything will be alright.
Those who have poured their minds, as a food offering to Sivam, into the surging and radiant sacrificial fire which is the discipline of true knowledge [mey jnana tavam], will truly become Siva-swarupa. Having reached this conclusion, the proper course is to worship courageously in this way and merge with the formless Sivam.
Guru Vachaka Kovai
I chose this verse to write about because not only does it prescribe a sure footed way to the absolute, but also because I love the poetic imagery of ‘pouring your mind’ into the mouth of God in order to merge with Him. For me this ‘pouring’ invokes a sense of surrender which is effortless and complete, a total giving over of yourself to Him. And then we realise all is Him all always was Him, and what we called ‘me’ or ‘I’ was also Him.
When we merge with Him, we do not really ‘merge’ with Him, as that implies two entities becoming one. What happens is that the illusion of individuality and separation dissolves away and the reality that always was is seen for what it is.
The imagery of the verse also conjures up a sacrificial fire which envelopes and burns away the ignorance of separation, and it is this sacrifice of ego that is the real form of ‘courageous worship’. This worship is the same as ‘the discipline of true knowledge’.
The next verse drives the essential point home further:
Amongst those who have not realised that the individual-consciousness is fake, let not any of them doubt unnecessarily what state will be attained if the individual-consciousness is abandoned completely. Just as someone who lets go of a branch of a tree to which he had been clinging will automatically fall onto the ground with a thud, he who has abandoned individual-consciousness will not fail to reach the state of Self, the true consciousness
Guru Vachaka Kovai
Om shanti shanti shanti
Tom: Practicing acceptance is a powerful teaching, but ultimately if you think this is about accepting or not-resisting, then you are identified with the body-mind entity, as it is the mind that accepts or resists.
See this: acceptance and resistance are both objects that appear spontaneously to you. There is no need to change anything, no need to accept or reject, no need to imagine there is a separate doer-self there.
What is, is. Simple.
Know well that even performing tapas (spiritual practice) and yoga with the intention ‘I should become an instrument in the hands of the Lord Siva’ is a blemish to complete self-surrender, which is the highest form of being in His service.
(Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 471)
Sri Sadhu Om’s Comments:
Since even the thought ‘I am an instrument in the Lord’s hand’ is a means by which the ego retains its individuality, it is directly opposed to the spirit of complete self-surrender, the ‘I’-lessness. Are there not many good-natured people who engage themselves in prayers, worship, yoga and such virtuous acts with the aim of achieving power from God and doing good to the world as one divinely commissioned? It is exposed here that even such endeavours are egotistical and hence contrary to self-surrender.
In advaita (non-duality), we know that the God which is devote ourselves to is not separate from us.
For many purists there is no place for devotion and prayer in non-duality. But devotion has always had a prominent role in spiritual traditions, and for good reason: it can be a hugely purifying and uplifting part of spiritual practice with many positive effects on the body and mind and our relationships. (click here for how devotion can be part of a wider spiritual path)