Science means to observe, verify and replicate in order to establish something as true. Establishing it as true, that something may be put to practical use.
The method of approaching anything scientifically begins with observation. Next, questions are formed regarding the observation, research conducted to answer the questions, data is analyzed, hypotheses formed and a theory emerges as a conclusion is drawn.
Spirituality is no different. The spiritual is but one dimension of the human condition; approached matter-of-factly, with determination and keen discernment, and you can guide your own self-development, your awakening, in the same way that you guide your mental or physical development.
Often the process begins with a vision. Sometimes we feel a shift, the so-called ‘spontaneous awakening’, but the next steps are the same nonetheless. What would YOU do with what you are becoming? How would YOU take advantage of your Freedom to be you?
What does it Actually Mean ‘to Awaken’?
A point of integrity, this matter of considering oneself to have ‘awakened’ or to be going through an awakening. This is actually the crucial place to begin observation. By what definition of ‘awakening’ are we proceeding? What does it mean to be awakened? Have we realized that there’s a belief system that we subscribe to, conditioned by social and cultural bias? Are we beginning to realize that we are not, in fact, passive participants in our lives, but have a very dynamic role to play in the shaping of our destinies? Does it go further? Does awakening mean that we’re somehow closer to God? Or that we’re perhaps closing in on the ubiquitous enlightenment? Or are we the victims of ten-thousand cuts by social-media meme?
Insight into our own condition can itself be termed ‘awakened’ to a certain extent. Realized. That’s what we call it in yogic terminology. Self-realized. Understanding and insightful of the condition of self – the human condition. But how much of what we are now choosing to believe about ourselves is, in fact, verifiable? Take the issue, for instance, of blockage. Is there such a thing? Is blockage external or internal? Can we identify these so-called blockages? Is there a word for it, like sinusitis? Chakratitis?
Energies are a difficult topic to work with ‘scientifically’. When someone speaks of releasing energies from the body or energy blockages throughout the body, in the chest, stomach or neck, talking to these energies via tools like the Emotion Code or other, there is the tacit understanding that although we can measure the body’s thermodynamic energy, as well as brainwave frequency, when it comes to the world of metaphysical energy, or otherwise undefinable or metaphorical energy, we’re now operating in the world of something like faith, and that is a diaphanous world indeed, so malleable according to the wielder of the word, and so demanding of a personal integrity and wisdom that is able to discriminate the extant from the illusory.
The Kosha Construct & the Mechanisms of Mind
The Ayurvedic Science of Life gives us an interesting metaphysical map wherein one’s existential being is shown to be designed in layers, like an onion, with each layer overlapping the other. A common lifestyle/spiritual practice to achieve an overall balance of the mind-body-soul vehicle is by directly approaching the physical layer first, called Anamaya Kosha, literally the food sheath. Through yoga, lifestyle tweaks, diet and so forth, the vehicle is brought into balance. Next, the pranic layer, or sheath of the Subtle Life Force, Pranamaya Kosha, is engaged with breath and higher visualization techniques. For one who might describe their awakening in visceral energetic terms, with wavelike feelings, undulations or the tensions of stress reactions, it’s important to gather an understanding how breath acts on the Vagus Nerve even as it simultaneously becomes necessary to look at the third sheath of the mental body, Manomaya Kosha, in order to ascertain what might be happening within one’s psychology to create the symptoms of awakening.
And yet seeing inside the mind is quite a feat, isn’t it? In terms of the scientific approach, in the west we use psychoanalysis. In yoga or tantra, tarka or deep discrimination is the approach. In either case, there is a need for a grounded understanding of the workings of the mind. In India the mind is considered in terms of a 4-fold mechanism of mind that includes manas (memory), buddhi (cognition/intellect), chitta (intelligence) and ahamkara (ego). The West has its classifications and the various mystery traditions have their classifications, and there are a colorful variety of approaches to becoming the master of this miracle of a mind mechanism that we possess. And master it we must if we are to come to terms with this concept that we are defining as awakening. However, if one is using meditation only, to go rummaging around in the depths of mind, or even simply settling down for a bit of relaxation, prepared to acknowledge and dismiss the ever-chattering mind – without knowledge of what to do with your findings, because there will certainly be findings, then it is like opening up a channel between the surface and subconscious and walking forward into the dark with a blindfold on.
Meditation is best approached with a goal in mind, and armed with the proper tools for achieving the ends. If the intention is to empower the mind sheath, then you may want to couple your meditation with uccara, or recitation, and consciously plant seeds that will flower later. Then there is that nagging question of whether or not the awakening is naught but a desire to awaken, both a clarion call of the ego as well as the voice of our truest innocence. What’s the difference? Is desire intrinsically a lower-self manifestation, or do the teachings of the Wisdom Kings hold credence whereas in fact the entire universe is a product of Divine Desire and therefore our own desires Divine as well? Is the proverbial enlightenment, or awakening, a condition to be sought after and strived for? Or is it as the non-dualists would have us understand, that we are all, in fact, enlightened beings already, some with thicker coverings of experiential and karmic impressions than others?
Where the Left and Right-hand Paths Collide
LHP & RHP find their proper conclusion and Union in Me. I Am all of that – that is the way of the yogi, straight down the center, going left or right, it makes no difference; I’ll be all of that, do all of that on my way to the goal; I make no differentiation.
But I makes the differentiation, doesn’t it? (No mistake in the tense). I makes the differentiation when I is in control and a lower self-identification is established while a higher self is veiled – when there is a separation.
The ego is not the enemy. S/he is just a tool. One of the four-fold mechanism of the mind whose reins I hold in my own hands, guiding into the direction that I want to go. My very own super computer. What a Grace to have such a tool at my disposal to create a life and experience this human form.
Ego Gets a Bad Rap
Ego is a machine, controllable and programmable by the same awareness that makes abiding in the present moment possible. Ego is a brilliant machine! In conjunction with the4-fold mind mechanism, it does its job. And it does it so well that you can leave your life on auto-pilot and live passively until death if that’s your course. And this is where ego gets the bad rap.
People, unaware, not abiding in the moment, heedless of their personal freedom, ability to choose and live a life in alignment with life itself, which most often translates as a personal vision of joy, give over their autonomy to the brilliant ego and the ego runs the show – based on all the input it has received and continues to receive to date.
You curse life, you complain about your lot, you disempower yourself with words and thoughts, you make choices that tell the ego what track to take you on. Thank god for biological imperatives! Ego will continue to protect you from danger with a good shot of adrenaline and a tingly Spidey sense when you need it, but for the most part, it is your servant. So just don’t give the servant the run of the house.
Be the master of your own house and keep your employees well supervised. The ego will be in alignment with whatever you choose to be in alignment with. It has absolutely no autonomy to resist you, devalue any of your choices or ignore anything about reality at all. Don’t give yourself a hidden enemy. There is nothing about you that is not aligned with life except perhaps your view. And that’s on you. You are always central to the equation!
I wants. I needs. But so do ‘you’! Maslow was correct; the human condition has needs and wants. Security, food and shelter, love, esteem, individuation – and in the end if I sleep in the snow with no food and nobody to love this decaying form, it is not a problem, either. The body will go off at some point and I will be free again, maybe even come back. Or if the Nature conspires to keep me here for some more time, I am still free anyway, to do what I do and be as I Am.
Who among us has asked for our lot in life? According to someone, we have all asked in some way – karma. According to others, it’s the luck of the draw. The spiritual world is approached just like the physical/mental, with vision, mission, goals, effort and works to create a life and destiny in alignment with our own personal definition of joy. The biggest question to answer during the unfolding and flowering of the various stages of our awakening into knowledge of the human condition will always concern what I want to do with my freedom and potential to create.
The Awakened are Called to Serve
It’s a worthy ambition to want to be of service to the world. A good legacy. How do you want to help? Whom do you want to help? Which skill needs honing? Are you a medium or a mage? What is the life you envision? The Bodhisattvas of this world are understood to be here with a primary consideration to be of service to humanity; each has a particular skill, too. To define your needed skillset, you have to first answer the question regarding the service you want to render. Are you there yet? Is the vision lucid?
In the classical literature it’s said that when the heart chakra hums, compassion overflows and the desire to serve predominates. And yet, over-attachment to the desire to act for the betterment of others, attachment to the good, and a reliance on one’s own ways as best, is one of the paradoxical tell-tale signs of a heart still tied up in a knot. So which is it, am I awakened, or have I been cursed by the Gods like that Greek lad Narcissus who was caused to fall in love with his own reflection?
Here again the non-dualist will come with a big problem, negating the scientific approach to the discernment of the truth of matters with a claim that the source of all relative existence, pure consciousness, can itself never be observed using anything from the world of form. And the yogi will exclaim with glee – No problem! We aren’t here to define the undefinable, but to observe the observable. A Yogi will make use of all the senses and mechanisms of mind to do his job; it is far enough for Yogi, and apprehension through Grace, of the synchronistic connection of the human nature and the Greater Nature is by far the most impeccable tool of observation and verification of the true nature of things. All else is irrelevant. So then the question comes; what is that sense by which Grace is apprehended?
…is a Saiva Tantrika, Gyana Yogi and founder of Uma Maheshwara Yoga & Ayurveda. David has an MA in Semiotics, lives in Japan with his family and works as a coach in L & D, devoting his time to developing science-based tools and programs that help people reach the fullest potential of the human condition.