This is post 501! I had no idea we'd hit 500 last post, and really, I didn't care, and in fact, I kinda still don't :D
Ok, this is going to be one of those "hide the children" posts, but have no fear, it's going mostly for analysis, not some big ugly emotional trip from the closet.
First, let's take a light swat at The Secret, and things like it. I saw a Facebook post right before getting into this blog today, that said something like, "If you are having hostility in your life, know that it's in your state of mind." This, my friends, is our old buddy Bad Advaita.
Now, I do recall the Sutra (although I can't recall which one) that says something like, "Peaceful people become invisible to the angry" (that's a really, really loose paraphrase), but that's not the same thing as saying that "Your Inner State Produces Your External Reality." Let's leave that sorta thing to movies like THE MATRIX and DARK CITY (1996), ok?
Why the swat at The Secret and all that? It has to do with samskaric business and what "the mind" is.
I have samskaric business (about which I'll say more below) which happens "in my mind" but really doesn't affect my external reality at all, as far as I can tell, in any way whatsoever. It does, however, drastically affect my internal reality, sort of structures it, prioritizes it, gives occupation and distraction. Now, in terms of "The Secret" and "manifesting," what SHOULD happen is that this samskaric desire SHOULD create manifestations and satisfactions, because I'm often thinking so hard about it. Focus creates reality, right?
And yet, EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE occurs.
What I get is reality as haunted house, dreams and desires everywhere, hanging in the trees like spiderwebs, unrealizable, unreal, not there. Ghosting and haunting. External reality sits, and I imagine, but nothing happens except for distraction. It's like meditation on what you can't have, which produces a world of non-having inhabited by the always-everywhere ghosts of what you want and can't produce; you only produce what some would call the "spectacle" of your granted desire and the desire remains, and in fact remains more and more ungranted.
But at the same time, this isn't anti-enlightenment, it's like a keen enlightenment lesson wrapped up in frustration and towering desires that never meet satisfaction.
That alone is a lesson right there.
The great game of the Secret is that you have a clear idea of "What You Want In The World" and then "all you have to do is manifest it." To get peace, become peace, think peace and TA-DA, peace will result. Just like we said last time about Bad Advaita, boy howdy does that sound LOVELY.
But here, in my mechanism, the problem right away with that is that I do NOT have a clear idea of "What I Want" because there seem to be oppositional wants. Which one is louder, more sincere, more "true"? What basis for "true" would there be? Can one not do evil, wish evil, wish for a satisfaction that is fleeting, choose to live for the impermanent? See? It's all ethical confusion. The game that is "The Secret" relies on an idea of a one-directed mind (ekagra), which most yoga texts talk about having lost and someday re-achieving.
Put more briefly, we can't do THE SECRET because we're busy trying to achieve a state of mind which is taken for granted in that game from the start.
It's like this: what do you want to manifest? I want to manifest one-pointedness! Well, IF YOU HAD IT, YOU COULD MANIFEST IT. Moebius strip, and then KAPOW your head explodes.
The desire that I most clearly feel/hear/sense in my head is something that I didn't put there, that's how I've always described it. It's been alien from the beginning, and yet so, so loud, so omnipresent, unless I'm totally preoccupied with some "flow" experience, like having a really on teaching day.
Like a computer virus. You're sitting there trying to do your word processing or whatever, and here's this virus telling you that you have to buy anti-virus software for seventy five bucks, or else. And it scans and then prompts the buy, over and over and over and OVER AND OVER AND OVER, and you're like, "HOW THE FUCK DO I TURN THIS FUCKING THING OFF?"
That's how it is.
And like I've said, I can throw satisfaction at this desire hand over fist, and nothing changes. I can throw frustration at it for years, and nothing changes. I can give in to distraction; nothing. I can get too busy to think about it; nothing. Total untouchability; one note, for ever, lifelong.
So, as I've said before, obviously this desire isn't organic; it's not human.
And through the years, I've tried to figure out "what to make of this." Should I try satisfaction? Because if this was economics, demand would be answered by supply, right? Increase supply and demand backs off. Nope; supply does not ease this demand. It might temporarily provide a flow experience that occupies my mind (sort of dissolves the mind into the ticking present, makes the mind fourth-dimensional), but as soon as that mind "reforms" in three dimensions, so does the prompting virus.
Should I try philosophy? I read all sorts of things, and I got a lot of ideas, in fact I've made courses out of most of those ideas, but none of this achieved any kind of "sublimation" of the basic repeating note, the life long alarm clock.
Should I try sublimation, sort of making enlightenment out of it? I have stored energy, I have played around with focus, energy and introversion (in an energetic sense) and those were all interesting, but nothing changed in the one-note voice in my head.
So eventually the big question became,
WHY THE FUCKING FUCK IS THIS THING IN MY HEAD? WHY, UNIVERSE??? WHY THE FUCK????
And I think, only after reading the Yoga Sutras many times (my first time reading the YS being April 2007, and I've read, in particular, the Maehle translation many times since then), did a possible answer set in.
Well, it's not about satisfaction or sublimation or philosophy or learning or creating the world or making my external circumstances fit some ideal model or about anything else, so
Maybe it's purely about OBSTACLE. Maybe it's simply a DISTRACTION.
Maybe it's, quite literally, nothing but an alarm in your head.
And this fits. It doesn't impair me, it doesn't enable me. It doesn't change, it doesn't satisfy, it doesn't have a volume switch, it's totally uninteractive.
It does become quiet when I'm intensely involved in things like research, or standing on my head, or breathing and watching a class of yoga practitioners move. This, to shorthand it, is a "flow" state.
A flow state is an undistracted state; what Yogananda called the "sense telephones" (the idea being that the senses "dial out" to the world) are reined in, controlled enough to provide focus on a thing (the thing focused on is unimportant, just like meditation teachers say).
Now, our friends at The Secret would tell us that I want to "manifest quiet" and so I get quiet inside and it shows up. That's not how this works. I can want quiet all day long, but the only time I get quiet is when I'm not thinking about wanting it. It's much more in line with "do not think of an elephant" than it is with the Bad Advaita of The Secret.
And also, this is what I meant when I said a couple posts ago that you cannot "practice" surrender. Same idea. As soon as you "practice" surrender, you fuck it up. Surrender is the absence of practicing surrender; you can't surrender anything if you are "practicing" surrender, if you and surrender are two separate things with a verb between you.
So this endless desire-alarm that goes off in my head is a distraction which always and ever stands separate from me, makes me chase it all over the universe, knowing that it can never be caught, ever. That's monkey mind, right there, in a sentence.
And this is why I like Maehle's translation of the Yoga Sutras, because he is very keen on NOT translating "yoga" as "union." Read his Pada Two where he talks about the proper relationship between Purusha and Prakriti: to UNIFY those two is to make the Big Mistake!
One does NOT become "one with everything" (yeah I think that joke is funny, too). One becomes SEPARATE FROM EVERYTHING. Engaged, of course (since every part of "us" is Prakriti except for the shining consciousness of Purusha itself), but eventually separate as "we" sort of "in-volute" toward Purusha consciousness.
So this desire-alarm is really sort of a demonstrative metaphor for ALL OF EXISTENCE. A ringing magnet for the "sense telephones," pulling them outward, ever outward, toward an infinite and unreachable horizon of pure distraction.
And it also instructs about involution: not to REFUSE the senses, but simply not to gratify them. "Nah, I'm just going to sit here and meditate and do nothing; thanks for the offer, though." Likewise, this instruction goes for seated meditation: what is there to achieve? Any seeking like that can't be done, I think, at the start (or, at least for me, to "want something" from meditation wrecks the meditation; maybe I'm a Natural Born Zenster in that regard).
So in a way, thank you, samskaric business, you peaceless curse, you constant torment. Let us remember Maehle's Sutra 2:22 or 24 or somewhere around there: "To one of discrimination, even pleasure can be reduced to pain."