Yoga is controlling the flow of awareness throughout the day. When meditating remain imperturbable, centered in inner consciousness. The guru helps strengthen the ability to control awareness. Upeksha, equanimity.
"[The first step in] awakening on the path of enlightenment is to separate awareness from that which it is aware of. "
Important idea which we're all familiar with.
"There is a another aspect to the practice of meditation. It is learning to hold the peaceful, blissful, insightful inner consciousness that we attained during our morning meditation throughout the various tasks we perform during the day."
Said another way, the idea is to remain centered in inner consciousness no matter how challenging the tasks we are performing, no matter how stressful the situations we are in.
The English word that conveys this idea is equanimity which is defined as: "The quality of remaining clam and undisturbed, evenness of mind or temper; composure. Equanimity implies an inherent evenness of temper or disposition that is not easily disturbed." Another definition of equanimity is: "Steadiness of mind under stress." A related word is Imperturbable: "Not easily perturbed or excited or upset; marked by extreme calm and composure."
There is a verse in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras on this concept, chapter one verse thirty-three. It says: The protection, (sorry.) "The projection of friendliness, compassion, gladness, and equanimity toward things -- (be they) joyful, sorrowful, meritorious or demeritorious -- (leads to) the pacification of consciousness." The Sanskrit word for equanimity is upeksha. The idea of the Sutra is that equanimity is one of four qualities needed so that we can maintain inner peace through all types of situations. There is an excellent definition of upeksha, where else but Wikipedia: (Wikipedia has an amazing amount of material.) It says: "As a spiritual virtue, upeksha means equanimity in the face of the fluctuations of worldly fortune. It is evenness of mind, unshakeable freedom of mind, a state of inner equipoise that cannot be upset by gain and loss, honor and dishonor, praise and blame, pleasure and pain."
Gurudeva elucidates this idea in chapter 16 of Merging With Siva. He begins by talking about being centered: "What does it mean to 'get centered' and to 'be centered'? Actually, what it means is to feel the primal source within, to feel so centered that you are the center. And we always are something of what we feel, our hands or our legs or our bodies or our emotions or our desires. Most people on the path have the desire to get rid of their desires. It's an impossible battle. Have you ever tried to get rid of your desires? If you would stop trying to get rid of your desires, then you would be centered, because you then take the energy out of desire. You take awareness away from that world of desire, and you get right in the primal source of the energy which flows through the physical body. It flows through the emotional network, right through the intellectual mind. That primal source of energy is flowing through the spine in each and every one of us this very moment. Feel it?
"The entire spiritual unfoldment process, oddly enough, is designed to throw you off center so that you have to work to pull yourself on center. First life throws you off center. You have all kinds of experiences. You make mistakes and, with your indomitable will, have to control that fluctuating awareness to get it right on center and be all right, right now. Feel that powerful energy flowing through every nerve current and be that energy rather than the fluctuating nerve current. Then, one day, when you really get good at it, you find a guru. You are firmly on center, and he tries to throw you off center.
"My guru, Yogaswami, would always throw his disciples off center and set them spinning. They had to work hard with themselves to get on center again. That strengthens the sinews and the muscles of man's becoming himself, becoming totally aware that he is aware and then controlling his mind by not allowing his awareness to get caught up in the vast illusion of the externalities of the mind. How's that? That's a good one -- the vast illusion of the externalities of the mind!" That's the end of the quote.
The basic idea being that the greater control over awareness that we achieve in our daily actions translates into greater control over our awareness when we meditate. The two aren't separate. So, the guru is trying to help you strengthen that ability by throwing you off center. So, when I read that story I remembered a story Gurudeva and it's wonderful feature, we're working on the Guru Parampara book and it's a searchable file so I can find things. I looked up the word saws. S-A-W-S: saws. Came right to the story; it's the only reference to saws in the whole book. So it's a story about saws.
Gurudeva's fourth catalyst was Dayananda Priyadasi who lived in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Gurudeva gives a lengthy description of his training with Dayananda. Here is the first portion of that description. It's a very nice story.
"My fourth catalyst taught me how to use the willpower, how to get things done in the world. He was a real father to me. I needed this at twenty-one years of age. I wanted to meditate, but he wanted me to work to help the village people in reconstructing the rural areas. He assigned me to do different duties, sometimes several at a time, which I had to work out from within myself. One, seeing that a new village bridge was put up that had been washed out in a flood, another, bringing into a village modern saws and carpentry equipment to replace traditional tools used in building furniture. "
So, it's the furniture story here.
"I had to take a survey of all the carpenters using handsaws on the west coast of Sri Lanka. I went around with a notebook and listed all their names and addresses and the types of saws they were using, for my assignment was to see that they all would eventually be provided with electric saws. Getting modern equipment into the Moratua area was one of the biggest assignments I had ever had, and I had no idea how to begin, for I had never done anything of this nature in my life. (Sounds like he's getting thrown off center, huh?) Occasionally my catalyst would ask, 'Well, have they gotten their saws yet?' All I could say was, 'Well, I'm working on it.' Executing governmental changes was strange to me. My life had been quiet, with no exposure to methods of business. But even worse, I was in a foreign country that had different customs, subtle ways of relating and suggesting. Most of the educated could speak English beautifully. In the villages, however, only the native languages, Singhalese and Tamil, were spoken and understood. The craftsmen were accustomed to the old ways, their father's ways, of making furniture, and were not easily persuaded that electric saws would improve their work. Some had grown up in remote regions where there was no electricity, no running water. So naturally they resisted such a massive change. They made good, sturdy furniture already. Why complicate life further, they must have thought.
"My natural shyness was the biggest barrier though. (Imagine Gurudeva being shy?) My natural shyness was the biggest barrier though. I had to interview people, do research and convince people of the practicality of electric equipment. Finally, it unfolded to me from the inside how to go about it. I drew up an elaborate proposal, long and wordy, with myriad details, diagrams, names and addresses. I gave it to him. (Meaning his catalyst.) He was pleased and said, 'Now what I want you to do is take this fine proposal to the head of the Department of Rural Reconstruction. You give it to him, and I will do the rest. But while you are in his office, sit down with him and tell him how fast work is done in your country by using modern equipment to make furniture.
"I was happy. At last I had something definite to do that would bring this project to a successful end. I went into Colombo to the Office of Rural Reconstruction and presented the proposal. The government was convinced, and not many months later the modern electric saw became available and popular in the Moratua villages for any carpenter who needed one. Sri Lanka had just that year received its independent dominion status from the Crown, and there was a lot to do to bring the rural areas up to better standards. I did my part in the best way I knew how and was glad to do so.
"One assignment like this after another was given to me. This fourth catalyst of mine worked on the philosophy that you do what you're told. If you are given an assignment, do it to perfection. Finish it. And don't come back with excuses. If he sent you on a mission, you wouldn't dare return until you had completed that mission, not to your satisfaction but to his. He might have nothing more to do with you if you had failed. I knew that, so I was very, very careful. Inside myself, as I struggled to do tasks that seemed impossible, I could hear him saying, 'Don't fail, Don't fall short. You create the obstacles. You can overcome anything, do anything, be anything.' He challenged me to work out problems from within myself, offering little advice and often assigning a task and then just leaving. He was quick to point out my mistakes, even though he knew I was sensitive and couldn't stand being scolded. Still, he scolded and criticized harshly. This was good for me, and I am still thankful for his direct and powerful ways. He made me use my own inner intelligence to complete each assignment, and most of them were of a worldly nature. At this time in my life that is exactly what I needed, to strengthen the outer shell, to learn to accomplish duties in the world. It was invaluable in later years."
End of story. Isn't that a great story? Findable by searching on the word saws.
So, to remind us of the idea that I mentioned at the beginning since the story's so charming we can forget. So we were defining yoga at the beginning and the definition we gave is: "Yoga is controlling the flow of awareness throughout the day."
Thank you very much.
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