Discipline is our devotion in action, and if we truly love God and want to be happy, then work and discipline are a joy. The living of that realization is unconditional love, devotion, gratitude, and the stillness of surrender, masterfully interlaced with an in-depth inner practice, selfless service, conscious choice, and disciplined action — all revealing the effulgence of the Heart we wish to live from every day of our life.
Nondual wisdom teachings always begin by articulating what is called the darśana, or “view” of the tradition. The key to nondual Tantric practices is exactly what the description implies: nonduality. This means there is no distinction between Spirit and that which It manifests. Conversely, there is no loss of that Spirit as manifestation disappears. In the picture, above, you cannot tell whether the woman is manifesting into form or dissolving into non-form. It’s a graphic way of expressing that everything in creation arises and subsides within the Heart of God, within the pulsation of Consciousness. But even in the expression of that manifestation, Consciousness is ever-present, never dissipated.
For thousands of years, every authentic spiritual tradition, and specifically those that have the view of nonduality, has stated this same basic truth. These traditions are like lighthouses that point us to knowledge that is available to us. There is great value in studying scripture because it is the transmission of Consciousness through word, which can “ring a bell” in our awareness. By touching a resonance in us, scripture has the singular purpose of bringing us to the direct recognition of what that tradition is espousing.
Our Sādhana is the Key
But except for the rare individuals who have received the highest grace — where spontaneous recognition was given directly to them by God — the rest of us have some work to do. The desire to know the truth is awakened in us by God, but our longing must result in a response, and that is our sādhana. In all its dynamics, sādhana allows us to directly recognize the truth that we are a living expression of the divine Consciousness, even though that knowledge is already present within us.
Having the inner recognition of the darśana is sometimes described as the “fruit of practice,” or what I call the “living expression” of truth. This truth is uncovered by our practices and expressed through surrender. It is the direct experience of the view that there is only One — only pure Consciousness, God’s autonomous freedom — and that within this freedom is the arising and subsiding of all manifestation.
Our in-depth inner practice, which includes selfless service, conscious choice, and disciplined action, brings about a realization of this truth, and it is only when it becomes an inner truth that it’s real for us. Then, our ‘living expression” of that realization is unconditional love, devotion, gratitude, and the stillness of surrender.
Do You Really Want Your Realization?
You can understand how simple the equation really is: decide what you want, go get it, and then actualize it in your life. But we must allow that recognition to unfold. It’s meaningless if we decide what we want and then choose to not get it or don’t actualize it. The question therefore arises: why do say we want to discover the truth, but then fail to pursue it? And the answer is this: due to any of the ten million conditions that somehow distract us from that choice!
In reality, it is only your decisions, and not the conditions of your life, that determine your realization. Nityananda said, “you alone are responsible for your liberation.” Even though it is God that frees us — and is ultimately freeing Himself within us — we have an extraordinary power to choose not to be free. We express that choice in our decisions; they are what determine our experience and our realization. It is not determined by any condition, challenge, or difficulty that we find ourselves in.
Sādhana is not a burden or a prison sentence. It is the joyful act of freeing ourselves from our own limited consciousness. There’s nothing but joy in our “work,” if we bring joy to it. We do so because we made a choice to find that joy within ourselves. We have to look for it, because all too often we’re looking at pain, suffering, challenge, and difficulty. All that is already in our faces every day. If that is what we focus on, and if we allow our energy to be consumed by these struggles, understand that this is a decision we have made. The fundamental power of our sādhana is that we choose our experience. We choose where we invest our energy.
If we start with the highest knowledge — that there is only one thing in life — then we also understand that all the conditions and challenges in our lives are not separate from that Oneness. Everything is part of Its expression. All of the challenging conditions, all our resistance is, in fact, the testing ground of our wish to know the highest truth. Conditions may limit your ability to do things you want to do, but they cannot limit the space of openness and freedom in you unless you choose to allow them to do so.
Choose to Find Freedom
Decide that you want to live in a place of simple joy that is not determined nor diminished by condition. It is your willingness, your decision to penetrate through all challenge, that brings you into a state of unconditionality. As my teacher Rudi bluntly said, “Any schmuck can do it when it’s easy.” And when you think about it, when has there ever been a time when there weren’t some kinds of challenging conditions? Ultimately, we’re not trying to free ourselves from conditions, but from the misunderstanding that any external or internal conditions affect our state and diminish the absolute abundance of freedom that is our own consciousness.
Take stock every day. Ask, “what do I truly wanted in this life?” If you honestly don’t hear God saying, as your own voice: “I want my absolute freedom; I want to live in the abundance and joy of my own being,” then examine where you asked the question from. . . and where the answer came from. If you do not get some clarity about this, you might have a little more sādhana to do. Observe what you are really saying is the most important thing in your life. If it isn’t freedom, then consider what you’re losing!
It is only the deepest Awareness within us that knows what it really wants. Our sādhana is how we uncover the ultimate truth and allow that inherent recognition to reveal itself. Although the darśana of our tradition will point us in the right direction, we must discover truth in ourselves rather than just hear or read it in someone else’s words. Sādhana really boils down to our willingness to surrender our limited consciousness in order to experience God’s unlimited Consciousness. So, as Nityananda advised, surrender everything that keeps you from God.