This episode is part of a course.
Yoga of the Christ Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 6

Day 5: Obstacles Along the Path

60 min - Talk


The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. In Day 5, our meditation focuses on observing how the body responds to 3 different mental exercises. We explore the struggle between the spirit and the flesh, that they have distinct aims yet are interdependent. Ravi discusses the temptations faced by Christ and His assertion that the Devil is part of Him, and links back to Buddhist teachings in which the Buddha makes the same assertion. We are given 2 inquiries through which to examine these struggles in our own lives.
What You'll Need: No props needed

About This Video


Read Full Transcript


Always good to remind ourselves of something which I have very often said, to find as much relaxation as I can now manage, physically, emotionally. Also, for the right alignment, again physical as well as intellectual freedom to be surprised by something I may hear. Also connection with our breath, which is really the source of life and also indication that I am alive. This morning we will try to see directly inside how or whether different parts of our mind respond to different kinds of undertakings. Not only the mind, even our spine reacts differently, our heart reacts differently. So watch carefully. Internally you try to count starting from 100, 97, 94, 91, 88, 85, 82.

You probably have understood it's subtracting three each time. If you find it very easy, make it slightly more complicated. If you find it difficult, then just simply 100, 99, 98, 97. But basically counting, requiring some slight effort, and watch where in the whole organism we call head you sense the activity. Then let go and take two or three breaths.

As if to clear your head, which is easier to do as it will place your out breath into your head, almost like it works as a vacuum cleaner. Now you remind yourself and reflect on this remark of Christ. Unless you leave yourself behind, you cannot be a follower of mine. And watch where in the head it resonates or vibrates or what part of the head is activated. Then one would gradually begin to understand what our education does to our heads, to all the heads of our kids.

What are the teachings? Simply to remind the expression of Christ, unless you leave yourself behind, you cannot be a follower of mine. Don't need to simply accept something I am saying, be a real searcher questioning it. Is it the same region in the head that vibrates or a different one? Not to easily accept something, to bring a real questioning.

Then let go and again two or three breaths just to clean the head. And now internally repeat this remark, this is from the first letter of John, God is love. And only those can come to God who are in love. You repeat this yourself once or twice, but more importantly not the words, but the feeling behind it and your own response behind it. What part of the head is activated or what responds?

Again let go and couple of breaths, placing the out breath into the head to clear it. Now we will try exactly the same three expressions, but more emphasis on watching what vibration or shift and what part of the spine is resonating. Different from the yoga literature point of view, different chakras are involved. And it is good for us to try to understand what repeatedly if something is said, it influences, it makes a permanent residue in the whole organism. So now paying attention to the spine, the whole of the spine from the neck to the base of the spine.

In fact if anything slight more emphasis on the lower part of the back, but watching the whole spine. First just counting 100, 97, 94, 91, 88 and you can choose your own whatever interests you. Also naturally requires more and more sensitivity to our body. Now to let go, again as if you place your out breath into the back, just to clear it, to relax. Also it assists the mind to stay there.

Now we repeat this expression of Christ, unless you leave yourself behind, you cannot be a follower of mine. Thank you. Again we let go and just clear the area with a couple of breaths. And we'll repeat internally this expression from the first letter of John. God is love, only those can come to God who are in love.

We are trying to understand how does my organism respond to any kind of undertaking, any kind of teaching or remarks or activity. Again to take a couple of breaths, just clean the space in the back and to come to the area around the heart. And again watch, I am simply repeating this expression, just counting 100, 97, 94, 91, 88, 85 etc or whatever you have chosen. Thank you. Now we take couple of breaths to be free of that particular expression and recall the remark of Christ, unless you leave yourself behind, you cannot be a follower of mine.

Where and how does my heart respond to this? So we stop that now and the last item, God is love. Only those can come to God who are in love. Again we stop. There is always a shortage of time, but on your own you can try this, giving more time, more attention. But we'll stop now. Thank you.


Let me begin this morning first of all to remind you of an incident actually quoted by Plato in his last dialogue, Fido. This is when Socrates has been condemned to drink hemlock and he is going to die. Of course in any usual society somebody who is bringing revolutionary thought is not acceptable, so he has been condemned to die. And there are several things there, but I want to just focus on one part of it. One of his disciples asks him, Socrates, where should we bury you?

And Socrates says, you can bury me anywhere you like if you can find me. What is that issue? Is Socrates the body? What is he hinting at? So therefore a very fundamental question that is raised really in one way or the other in every teaching.

What am I? As I was saying even earlier, there are many things which are common to all religious traditions, although there are many things which are different. One of the things which is actually common practically to all religions, they all say in one way or the other that the death of the body is not the death of the person, as if the person is different from the body. And that is also the suggestion, therefore that person will be subjected to judgment. He or she may be sent to hell or to heaven.

And there is variation on this. Even within the Christian tradition, it's not one common understanding of this. There is a little bit in the Catholic tradition from the Eastern Orthodox and among the Protestant. But more importantly, the one common thing which is common to all religious traditions, as far as I know. By the way, about any of these things that I make, this general statement, if you know any exception, I'm very happy to learn.

I'm not committed to my ignorance just because it is my ignorance. So as far as I know, all religions somehow say that the death of the body is not the death of the person, as if the person is different from the body. So in a way, Socrates' question then becomes quite important. He says, you can bury me wherever you like if you can find me. And again, this very strong suggestion that we have already spoken about it, what sometimes gets referred to as two natures.

One as it were coming from the spiritual side, the other one from the material side. And then spiritual nature and carnal nature, for example. This is the remark of St. Paul. But you can see even there a very strong tendency in common folks as if carnal nature is important. So that keep my body somehow preserved so that it can then be sent to heaven.

After all, that is the whole idea behind burial. Why have burial? As if the body is going to be resurrected. St. Paul even goes out of his way. It's not that body that is going to be resurrected, but still it's part of the tradition and everywhere. In any case, the important idea really here is the suggestion that we have these two natures in us.

Yesterday I mentioned already sometimes called lamb and the wolf or angelic nature and animal nature or divine nature and demonic nature, varieties of expression. Partly depending on what at any given time any teacher is trying to emphasize. And then I think I had earlier quoted this remark from M.D. Salzman and I'm simply repeating it here. This is when I had said that I had so much vanity how to be free of this. And her saying, if you did not have vanity, what will you do?

That the ego also has a place, but ego is a good servant, but a bad master. The reason I am slightly repeating that here, that for us to even survive in the world, requires a certain amount of ego. That is what brings the determination, the effort of us, if you like, Patanjali's yoga sutra expression. And so therefore the question really is not so much how to get to deny the ego or to get rid of it, but how to find its proper place. Everything in the universe has its place.

This is the thing that I have been so far repeating again and again. And here one of the distinctions which I find helpful, again initially made by M.D. Salzman, calling the spiritual side I, sometimes real I, sometimes self with a capital S. And the other side, me, which then sometimes we can call it ego or self with a small s. So what we usually call I is what she is referring to as me. But it does not matter about the labels here, but more importantly, very strong suggestion.

This is actually a remark of St. Paul. The body, by the way, when I use the word body, I have more than once said that it includes the mind. Not to imagine just a hunk of meat. Nobody is saying that. He said body is the temple of the spirit. This is St. Paul's remark.

Another way these things get expressed, body is the instrument for taking action for the evolution of this element of the spirit. Therefore, there is no need to be against the temple or against the instrument. Nevertheless, one can get so occupied with the temples and the fence around it or the walls that one forgets that is the spirit that is the important part. How do I actually make room for the spirit to descend there or to appear there and so that I can actually be in connection with this. But no need to be against the temple.

Temple also needs to be preserved, needs to be kept clean and neat. Or if you use the expression as an instrument, then the instrument needs to be sharpened. But this notion that there are two in myself is a very standard idea. It's not only the remarks of Madame de Solomon. I'm just simply using her terminology, I and me. But in Indian tradition, it will be capital S self and small s self.

Except that capital S doesn't actually exist in the Indian writing script. It has to be understood in the context. But in English, we can write in the Latin script or Greek script has capital and lower cases. Other than this very helpful distinction that I just mentioned, very strong suggestion that there are two in each one of us. Two sides, two natures, if you like, I and me.

And then the question is, what is what Socrates is saying? Am I the I coming from above, which does not die when the me, which is body mind dies? Nobody can question everybody will die when we say everybody by which we obviously mean the me part, the body mind part will die. And then the question really is to say that the death of the body is not the death of the person. As I said, it's absolutely common in all tradition.

If you know any exception to this, let me know. It doesn't matter whether it's Islam or Buddhism or Hinduism or anyplace. And so then the question is, what am I considering myself, my real self to be? Am I identifying myself more with the I or with the me or with the capital S self or the smallest self or whatever survives the death of the body or with the body? So this question of Socrates is actually very useful to keep in mind.

You can bury me anywhere you like if you can find me. But these two sides have distinct features. And that's what I now wish to draw your attention to. I has to do with meaning, purpose, which is usually expressed in terms of love or compassion or awareness and sense of service. Me has to do with survival, continuity, fear, desire, gain, loss, reward, punishment, approval, disapproval.

Each one of us can recognize we sometimes experience, in fact, there is nobody, no human being that I have met, at least no adult who has not experienced both of these. But it's more a question of what is generally occupying our attention and mind, which is the reason I said even in the meditation, everybody here has experienced gratitude, compassion, love, wonder. But impartially look at yourself the last three weeks. How many hours or minutes did you actually have with these senses? Which therefore indicates that it's not that we are alien to these feelings.

We even can recognize them in ourselves and in others sometimes. But we are not frequently connected with them. And one of the whole agenda of any spiritual teaching is to more frequently connect us with these feelings. And I personally never met Einstein or Rabindranath Tagore, but there have been photographs of these two characters talking to each other. And you actually see practically a whole sense of wonder on their faces, both of them.

But personally I mentioned the two people that I have met. Dirac, a very well-known, he is this, if somebody has a science background they would know his name right away. Really more or less the one who discovered the electrons, an Englishman. And I had an occasion to have breakfast with him on one occasion. And he had, one paper had been published in the Scientific American attributed to him, in which he actually said that it doesn't matter what the experiments show, what is more important is the equation beautiful or not.

So I was a bit surprised by this, so I asked him, is this really true? And he spoke very few words. His wife actually even kept urging him, saying, well, this young man, I was very young. This is 1973, I'm talking about, in Princeton. And there, so his wife even said, oh, this young man is asking you something.

So he says, oh, no, they misquoted me. And so I was just about to ask him something else. After about a minute and a half he says, but that is true. Completely surprised. First of all, he said they misquoted me.

Then he said, but that's true. Actually, people often forget. These three things are repeated. Actually, Plato repeats this and very much in the Indian tradition, also in the Christian tradition. Truth, beauty, and satyam, shivam, goodness.

Sometimes the word love gets attached, but often it is truth, beauty, and love. Truth, beauty, and goodness. Plato actually uses truth, beauty, and goodness. And here, maybe I should, in Sanskrit, the words are satyam, shivam, sundaram. Satyam means truth, shivam means goodness, and sundaram means beauty, all beautiful.

And this might amuse you. About three or four years ago, somebody wrote an article on the Internet starting satyam, shivam, sundaram, and satyam happens to be the head of Microsoft. Sundaram is head of Google. So the whole article was dealing with these three names and indicating that these three characters coming from India were heading some of the very important companies here. So the article was called satyam, shivam, sundaram.

As you can imagine, every Indian, including me, I was rather struck by the article on the Internet about satyam, shivam, sundaram. When I looked at it, what he's talking about is a whole joke about it, that these names are being used. These are all heading, actually one of them heading Microsoft, another heading Google, the other was Hewlett-Packard, I think, the three of these characters. All coming from the same province, from the same college in India, and studying in USA afterwards. So then the suggestion that the requirement for survival and continuity is also the body needs to survive, so there is no need to be against the body or against the instrument or against the ego.

But really, what is it actually serving? Because it is obviously almost designed to die. A few decades, and if you are really bad to your grandchildren, you might leave past 100. But otherwise, it's good to go before that. And also, again, it's easy to make these statements, but it's important to really watch in oneself how much of our energy is spent on whether I am being approved or not approved.

Traditionally, particularly in Buddhist literature, and perhaps more than anywhere else, the very strong emphasis that is fear and desire, these are the two things which are running the whole world. Or gain and loss, it gets put in different ways, or reward and punishment. So these are two different sides, but I don't think any human being is alien to both, to either. The question more is, which is the side one ends up more trying to wish to understand, wish to serve, and wish to almost let it emerge from oneself, really. And all our education, all our social training is more on the side of me, on the side of gaining more, acquiring more, achieving more.

And the word ambition, it's rather interesting. In spiritual teaching, the ambition would be regarded as really one of the handicaps. But as far as I know, in the schools we try to encourage that very much. Then I was particularly struck by a Christian in the 17th century called Jean Racine. He had written a little poem.

I do it only in English here. In my book and heart with our measure, I actually quote this in French originally. Lament of a Christian, that was his. And I'm just quoting only a part of it. My God, what a cruel battle.

I find two men in me. One wishes to be filled with love for you. My heart always faithful to you. The other rebels against your will. My revolt against your law.

That's our situation. The other day I quoted from St. Paul, I do what I do not wish to do. Everybody wishes to do good. But we can look at history of humanity, all the goodness being done. So I think really the suggestion that we do have these two in us, as this person says, I find two men in me.

Or two natures, two sides, two aspects. And to try to see what is it that calls us in one direction, and what is it that takes us in the other direction. Or the remark of Christ that I quoted yesterday, that the whole world is in the sway of the prince of darkness. What is the prince of darkness? Just worrying about gain and loss or ambition and success or failure, approval or disapproval.

That's the area. But it is very important to really understand the power of the body. Which is why I said, the spirit takes on this birth in the body, but it's a dangerous enterprise. Because the body has its own requirements, its own fragility as well as temptations. And which is one of the reasons why the usual mind more or less corroborates whatever the body wants.

And I think I mentioned this yesterday also, but we'll take a few moments today again. Every sage before they come to whatever we mean by coming to God or coming to enlightenment or awakening, the word Buddha by the way literally means one who is awake. And the implication is that in general we are asleep. Asleep to reality. And so even to come to this awakening is not possible unless each one of us has been tested by the devil or by Mara.

And what are the tests? Again and again fear and temptation. And temptations are all to do with bodily requirements or needs or desires. Fear has to do with, usually with death. For example, I'm just showing the three daughters of Mara trying to seduce the Buddha.

This is a very classical image in the Buddhist tradition. And actually it is, in the Buddhist tradition it is said, we never really know what the Buddha actually said and what Christ actually said. But you know the traditions have, it becomes a part of the whole tradition. And partly because these figures are mythologized naturally because they represent the best of the culture from the point of view of the culture. So it is said that the Buddha said if there was another force as strong as sex, I'm not sure I would have made it.

So you see if the Buddha can feel that strength, we can all easily imagine. And the other temptations that the Mara brought was I will turn this mountain into a mountain of gold or I will give you sovereignty over the whole world. In the Indian context the usual expression is I'll give you sovereignty over the three worlds. That is a reference to saying higher world, the usual world and the lower world. But basically meaning the whole universe.

But so power, pleasure, wealth. If there is anything in the society not running after this, I should be surprised. And then the other side is when that doesn't work, so he sends his armies to kill him. This is where then the Buddha actually says, Mara, you are a part and parcel of myself. He acknowledges that Mara is also part of him, but obviously not being driven by Mara.

If you like, we could put this in the ordinary sense that the ego is also part of his great self, but not being driven by the ego. Can Mara serve something? And I will soon also come to the various temptations of Christ in a few moments. This is the remark of Christ in the Gospel of Matthew. Watch and pray that he enter not into temptation.

The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. This is the remark of Christ. That's the point I've been trying to make really all along here. The spirit indeed is willing, and this character Jean-Christine, who I quoted from the 17th century French, obviously is recognizing this. I gather he's quite a well-known poet in France.

I did not know very much about him. So the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. And here I should now, I will go into the various temptations of Christ here, but just want to give a slight background to this. Christ had gone, as it were, into the woods for 40 days, essentially fasting. They don't use the word meditation, but prayer.

And there he is, just like the Buddha sitting under the Bodhi tree for 49 days and 49 days is being tempted by Mara. So the devil or Satan tries to tempt Christ. And Christ is feeling hungry now after, because he's been fasting for a long time. So first thing the devil says to him, here is a stone, why don't you just wish it to be turned into bread? After all, you have all the powers of the Son of God, it will turn into bread.

You see the temptation? What is he appealing to his pride? And so Christ says, this is what the devil said unto him, if thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread. By the way, this is in the Gospel of Luke. You can find all this.

I'm not making this up. It's all in the Gospels. Mostly what I'm saying is actually in the canonical Gospels, but some of the remarks I'm also making are from the non-canonical Gospel. And Jesus answered him, saying, it is written that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. So he obviously doesn't take this temptation.

Then what the devil does is to take him on top of a mountain and says to him, if thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence, for it is written he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee, and in their hands they shall bear thee up, test at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. So he's saying, why don't you just jump down? You'll be protected by angels. That's what people are saying, that you're a Son of God. You see, again and again appealing to whatever he was preaching or teaching. And Jesus answering said unto him, it is said thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

By the way, these temptations of Christ or test by the devil are mostly in Luke and in Matthew. John doesn't mention that at all. Then he takes him to Jerusalem on the top of a temple and essentially says, all this power will I give thee and the glory of them, for that is delivered unto me, and to whomever I will give it, if thou therefore will worship me and all shall be thine. Just that you'll have power over the whole thing. He takes him on the top of the Jerusalem and look down the whole world.

He says, this is my power, I'll give it to you. And Jesus answered and said unto him, get thee behind me, Satan, for it is written thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. But one of the things that I especially want to emphasize here, for example, the Buddha did not deny that Mara is a part of himself. And here, Christ is not asking the Satan to just go to hell or to disappear or something. Get thee behind me, as it were, to help from behind.

Because Satan, as I tried to say the other day also, has a lot of power. And in any case, originally he was the highest of all angels. People often forget this. So he has a lot of even high power and his servant of God. God is asking him to test all these people.

You can look at any prophet, Prophet Muhammad, Moses, Christ, they are all tested by the level before they can come to anything serious. And similarly in the other teachings, the Buddha, or in contemporary times, if you look at, for example, the stories behind, they don't always represent or convey all this, but Maharishi Raman, you can read any of these characters, they are all precisely, these are the very obstacles in their growth or in their development. Then some of you may have come across this story, this is very common in India, a mythological story. Angels and demons, they are always fighting with each other. And the angels are being tormented and so they come to Vishnu, who is said to be the preserver of the cosmological order, ask his help.

So Vishnu advises them, you should churn the milky ocean, which is a way of churning really the consciousness, basically, the ocean of consciousness, and find the nectar of eternal life, called Amrit. The word more death comes from the Sanskrit root actually, Amrit. So Amrit is the opposite of that, opposite of death. It's not, by the way, it is very often translated as immortality, nectar of immortality. That is not a good translation, partly because immortality is still a continuation of time.

It's better to translate this as eternal life. The dimension of eternity is not a continuation of time. I think I've tried to say this more than once. The dimension of eternity is actually right angles to the dimension of time. Or if you use a physics terminology, it's orthogonal to time and therefore does not have a cosine function in time.

It doesn't leave a history in time, but it's not against time. So the eternal can be everlasting, but everlasting is not necessarily eternal. So in any case, then Vishnu advises them that they should search for this nectar of eternal life, but that they cannot churn this ocean exclusively by themselves. They have to also involve the dathyas. This is how the churning takes place.

But here I should maybe give you a little meaning of these words. First of all, in the Indian tradition, almost always, the struggle is not ever between us and them. The struggle is always us one and us two. They're both within us. So, for example, in any story you can look at from India.

And here, for example, for example, in the Mahabharata battle, they are cousins fighting. They have common fathers, grandfathers. Here also, both of these dathyas and adityas have a common father called kashyap. But their mothers are different, and therefore their training and teaching is different. One of them has the mother called diti, that is from where we go the word dathya.

Diti means limited. Kashyap means vision. So they are children of limited vision. And the other side has the same father, but the mother is aditi, which means unlimited or a larger vision. So children of limited vision and children of larger vision are naturally always in conflict.

We can look at any society or within ourselves. We can sometimes have a slightly larger vision, and we wish to do the right thing. But then something of a smaller vision takes over. What do I get out of this? You know, that takes over.

One may wish to do something quite good and right, but then do I get something or do they admire me? In any case, the point I'm really more making is that even the people of limited vision, or even my own understanding, my ideas of limited vision have a lot of energy, a lot of force. How does one with a larger vision bring them into action, involve them? So as I mentioned yesterday, abhyas is not possible without a strong ego. How can one practice anything without a determination, returning to this again and again and again?

Or as my teacher used to say, to stay in front. This was almost her mantra. Even in French, rester devant, stay in front. So not therefore to be against this, but in any case, so afterwards, then after Christ says to the demon or Satan, get thee behind me, then Satan just goes away, leaves him alone, and then he rests, and then some angels come and feed him. He's starving. 40 days he hasn't eaten anything, fasting.

So do come back to these two remarks, because if it is true for the Buddha that Mara is a part and parcel of himself, why can this not be true for me or for each one of us? And for Christ also, if he is really wishing to just get rid of the Satan, you could ask him to just go disappear. But that's not what he says. And another thing which often I have to remind my, especially my Christian friends, because we'll speak a little bit more about it in a couple of days, to imagine that Christ was, in a way, of course, he is condemned to death. That's the whole drama.

But to imagine that he was unwilling to be crucified is actually quite contrary to Christ's own understanding and his willingness. He regards that his baptism. This is the actual expression he uses. This is in the canonical Gospels. This is my baptism, he says, because otherwise he could have skipped town.

Nobody will be unhappy about that. The Pharisees will be very glad if he just went away, and certainly his own pupils will be happy. But he willingly submits himself to this crucifixion. Partly why I'm saying that is, this is a very strong idea in all traditions. I will spend a little bit more time on it on another occasion, that the maintenance of cosmic order requires periodic sacrifice.

In fact, this is at the root of all spiritual teaching. But specifically in the Judeo-Christian tradition, it is much more emphasized. Look at Christ. When we say, God so loved the world, he sent his only begotten Son. Sent for what?

So one needs to be sent obviously for crucifixion. And Christ himself regards that to be his baptism. And again, maybe a little later on I will come back to this. As I said the other day, every book in the New Testament is initially written in Greek. One of the meanings of baptism in Greek is immersion in suffering.

Look at any of his disciples. Were they having nice cherries somewhere? Anything that we know about any of his disciples, they all were subjected to suffering, which they undertook willingly. That is what makes it a sacrifice.


Maybe I will come back to this later on, but let me now come back to these exercises that I am suggesting for you folks here.

First is, do you sometimes sense the two in you? Whether you label these as I and me or something else, such as self and ego. Labels, don't worry about the label part of it. What distinction do you feel between the two in yourself? I have mentioned general features of the two, but the other exercise recall an experience in which you felt looking back that you had been very self-centered.

And another experience in which you felt selfless. What level of yourself do you connect these experiences to? Because personally, I have to confess here, sometimes actually I am almost surprised, completely uncharacteristically, having done something really quite selflessly, which is hardly common with me. But I am surprised by this. On the other hand, also sometimes seeing very clearly just self-occupation.

So to not realize the two in one is actually not to see oneself clearly. That's the point I am trying to make. And the struggle, when we speak about internal struggle, is not meant for struggling the society kind of thing. I am not talking about that kind of. The internal struggle, or whenever somebody is, in fact, concerned with spiritual development, that is the field.

One of them, in India we have a tendency, or these are the words that are used. One is pravritti, it leaves away from the center. The other is nivritti, it leaves to the center, because there the center is the heart of the matter, meaning the highest resides in the deepest, as I often say here. So the expressions which are used is, one is centrifugal, the other is centripetal. In the Judeo-Christian context, one would say one raises up, the other lowers us down.

So don't get it. Language is required. All of these teachers naturally have to use the language their pupils can understand. And as far as I know, all of them actually say, in one way or the other, that they experience something in grand sunlight, but then they have to express that to people who are blind. So sometimes they say, well, green is like more heat in you, or the red is more heat in you, green is less heat, or something or the other. Then one can get so occupied with it.

But all the teachers actually say that, that what they are experiencing cannot be described. And in fact, many stories about the Buddha, one of his very favorite disciple, which itself has always interested me, Christ also had a beloved disciple, although they loved everybody, but there is nevertheless a favorite disciple. Maybe I'll come back to this. It was actually Lazarus. That's not what generally the Christian tradition says. In the case of the Buddha, it is Ananda.

So Ananda says to the Buddha, look, we don't need to be bothered about it, but people keep asking us, what is nirvana? So what should we say? And so the Buddha says to him, if a man was pierced by a poisoned arrow and his friends and relatives were gathered to take the arrow out, but the man says, until I know whether the arrow came from the east or the west or the south or the north, I won't let the arrow be taken out. Or whether the man who shot the arrow was tall or short or fair or dark, I won't let the arrow taken out. On and on, he keeps repeating it.

He says, before all these questions are answered, the man will surely die. So the Buddha has no theories. Actually, this is a very classical expression in Buddhism. The Thagat has no theories. He's simply pointing out that there is suffering and it is possible to be free of suffering.

And that his teaching is to do with that. That what is nirvana or not nirvana, he's not right. So ultimately, Ananda says, well, can we say that nirvana is free of suffering? So that's the only description of nirvana. But that is given by Ananda, not by the Buddha.

Ananda says, people keep asking us, what should we say? Similarly, perhaps some of you know that Christ is asked about the heaven. His remark is, it's like a mustard seed. This is in the Gospels. So if that clarifies things for you, you'll be happy.

You know, the reason I'm saying this, all the teachers actually say that whatever is really subtle or higher, can't be described. Description is coming from the mind. And our language actually imposes a certain structure on it already. And furthermore, no sentence can be constructed or no law in science can be there without space and time. Whereas one of the realization of all of these great sages is that there can be a level of awareness which is free of time.

Time sequence. Patanjali actually explicitly says this. The highest state of consciousness is nishka or kraman. Kraman means time sequence. And in the case of the Christ, this is in the Gospel of John. Before Abraham came to be, I was.

This is in the eighth chapter, 57th verse, by the way. I don't know why all this, Priscilla, my partner is always surprised. She said, fairies are always telling me these references. I don't try to memorize them, but the very next verse, then they picked up stones to try to kill him. Because it makes no sense to ordinary consciousness.

Before Abraham was, I was. Before Abraham came to be, I was. But you see, the kind of knowledge, or the knowledge may not even be the right word, the kind of perception, direct experience these sages have, it is almost impossible to communicate it because the language imposes subject, object, predicate, a certain sequence of time and space. All the scientific laws do that. It's really, in a way, going beyond the mind, beyond the language, beyond rational thinking.

So we'll have to stop now today.


Kate M
1 person likes this.
Selfless action... sometimes I feel that I have responded in this way to a situation, but then the ego usually jumps in and attempts to reframe the action in terms of itself! Like a little child...
Sara S
Is the ego and the Other equal?
Caroline S
We live in space and time so we can only aspire to that reality which is beyond space and time...but maybe we can get glimpses of it by using our practices steeped in and aided by the ego.  This is so fascinating...Thank you again for an amazing talk !

You need to be a subscriber to post a comment.

Please Log In or Create an Account to start your free trial.

Footer Yoga Anytime Logo

Just Show Up

Over 2,900 yoga and meditation practices to bring you Home.

15-Day Free Trial