December 19-21, 2020
“By allowing and desiring yourself to be more open and being increasingly receptive and welcoming, and by consciously “joining with” the Infinite—from which you were never apart—you give permission to Life to flow through you unimpeded.”-Erich Schiffman, p.309, Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving Into Stillness
That quote is part of the reading of this week from Erich’s book. It’s so important and huge that I’ve been expanding on it in class and wanted to take it a bit further here.
The sentence preceding it is, “…you become the specific opening where the influx of wisdom and guidance from Infinite Mind can flow into human consciousness.” YOU become…the specific opening…where the influx of wisdom and guidance from Infinite Mind…can flow into human consciousness. We see ourselves as small and separate, disconnected from the Infinite, disconnected from the Infinite Mind or God. If you don’t feel that way, either you are already Self-Realized and don’t need to read further…or just look deeper!
Maybe we believe, or just like to think that there is a greater intelligence, an Architect of this amazing Universe, an intelligent Creator of the world, but in my Judeo-Christian upbringing, God was separate and you might be able to “get back to Him” but only after you die, so separate was He from us. That mental thought pattern placed in there early on still is one of those that is slow to die, even after repeated experiences to the contrary! And then later in my “science” religion days, there is no simply no greater intelligence, and human consciousness is just chemicals and electrons passing through a biological “computer” and it ends with the death of the body. In addition, energy is in no way conscious or intelligent either. Oh, and Chance is Supreme. (Those mental thought patterns at least strike me as funny now.)
But here, Erich, echoing the ancient and contemporary Yogis and spiritual mystics, is telling us that no, we can “become” something else, much greater than a seemingly separate, little self, and way greater than a random chance act, which is at least an interesting idea to hold onto for a little while. He’s encouraging us that we—our bodymind—can become a place where the Infinite Mind, the Infinitely Intelligence, can flow into human consciousness. We can become like a portal, an opening, a connected human consciousness where the Infinite Wisdom can come through, can “download,” into the world of humans, just as has happened with all the Saints and mystics of the past, as well as many artists and musicians and others, of course, though generally to a “lesser” degree. YOU become, YOU…and everyone else can, too, but get the YOU part of it! GET that he’s not saying “everyone BUT you!” Are you still removing YOU from this possibility? Seriously, please don’t!
Then he tells us some of the criteria FOR that “transformation:”
“By allowing and desiring yourself to be more open:” I personally would change the order. “By desiring yourself to be more open”…if you don’t want to be more open, don’t worry! You don’t have to! No one will make you. The Creative Life Force, though happy to flow through you more unimpeded, WON’T ever force itself upon you; it will just move around or through you in whatever warped way you are comfortable with. However, your inability to really keep it out or at bay may at times be painfully revealed to you. You can continue to suppress it (primarily through your thinking patterns and beliefs, which are influenced by your diet, which includes food and everything you take in though the senses, including social media, family, etc.), as long as you feel, consciously or unconsciously, that that suppression is the best thing to do. Or maybe you are not actively suppressing it, but just so full that there is no room, no openness, for a new experience or new perspective or insight.
The part that suppresses it, or that is so full of itself as to keep the Life Force at bay, is called the ego. We can just take that as a definition. If you look inward and find some part resisting the Flow, resisting What Is, you can simply internally say, “Oh, OK, that’s the ego, or at least part of it.” If you continue to hold that “part” lovingly in your consciousness, it will naturally and effortlessly begin to feel less and less real, it will be less “grip-y,” it will begin to “soften” and “dissolve.” It’s easy to read that but it won’t happen just by reading it.
“By allowing yourself to be more open…” once we have some desire to be more open, then we allow ourselves to be more open. If you don’t allow it, it won’t happen. The closing process is something we DO, like it requires “muscles;” the opening process is something we allow, we get out of the way of, that just happens when we are no longer investing energy in closing! In a way, all we have to do is say, “YES!” to the opening process, or at least, “Yes.” Growth is a process of Life; it just happens. Death and decay—yes, parts of Life as well—also just happen, but for a human being, the Great Souls teach us that who we are REALLY can continue to learn and grow, whatever is happening with the bodymind, which has its own karma, its own “rules” or “forces dictating what happens with it.”
Most of us, though, have a good bit of practice in holding ourself closed, so the opening may feel that it’s a more active thing than I’m speaking of here, and if that’s how it feels, then fine, go with it. As I sometimes say in class, if you encounter some armoring or guarding or binding or walls around the heart, just put a little crack in it, and that’s all you need to do. The Inner Light will do the rest. That’s what my teacher told me and that is my experience. All I could do at the time was to put a little crack in the wall, and over time the wall crumbled. So even if the “allowing yourself to be more open” is just a “crack” more open, then AWESOME! Let it happen and carry on!
“[By] being increasingly receptive and welcoming”… We’ve allowed ourself to be more open, and now Nature will fill that “vacuum,” that openness. We are opening to the Life Force or the Creative Intelligence and wisdom, and it will come to us! Can we receive it? We allow ourselves to be receptive to it by acknowledging it when it’s there, by being grateful what came, by welcoming it and, very importantly, by making use of it. We make ourselves so that It “sticks” rather than just “rolls off” us.
We make ourselves more welcoming of it when we actually follow the guidance and promptings that come to us. If we continue to ignore or second-guess our intuition, the Inner Guidance, the specific communication of the Infinite Mind to “our” “little” mind, the Infinite Intelligence will know we’re not really yet open or receptive or welcoming enough yet, and it’ll wait, or stop. The first “few” times of trusting the intuitive insights were for me the scariest. You can always tell yourself, or anyone else that might be involved, “Let’s try this…” or “I don’t know if this is right or wrong, but…” which are honest ways of saying, “I don’t know if this is intuition, the Infinite Mind giving me some insight, or just my wild and creative mind, but I’m willing to check it out.”
“and by consciously “joining with” the Infinite—from which you were never apart…” No, we were not—and are not now—ever apart from the Infinite. We only feel and act that way, sometimes completely unquestioningly. We human beings could never be as destructive of our home, the Earth environment, if we didn’t feel this way even in very tangible, visible, physical-world, ways! So we can’t actually “join with” the Infinite, so he puts that in quotes. BUT, more importantly for us as spiritual practitioners is that something very special happens if we consciously, on purpose, with awareness, intend and feel that we join with the Infinite, and do it again and again and again, until we are living expressions of that Truth. As long as we feel separate, then great! We use that feeling and practice joining with That from which we imagine ourselves as separate!
“you give permission to Life to flow through you unimpeded.” Again, whether Life flows through you unimpeded or not is YOUR business. Life flows. Period. As a (occasionally) conscious being, we can think and act in ways that either impede or allow it. Said another way, “How do we give permission to Life to flow through unimpeded? By wanting and allowing ourselves to be open to It, by being receptive and welcoming of It, and eventually by realizing that It was already there and that that’s actually all there ever is or was.”
Erich concludes that paragraph by listing some of the results of Life flowing through unimpeded which includes, “a powerful, soothing calm will gently enfold you because you’re beginning to see all things as they really are—infinite and divine.” Even if you don’t buy into the “infinite and divine” part, that’s OK, drop it. We’ll still get this powerful and soothing calm because we are beginning to see things as they really are, and up till now, we’ve been only seeing things through the lens of how we hope(d)/wish(ed) they are/were. Up till then, we are more committed to what ISN’T, and we’re more often seeing things as they are not, but now we open ourselves more and more to WHAT IS. In doing so, we free up tremendous amounts of energy, EVEN IF that “WHAT IS” is “horrible!” And that’s a big deal. (And also an entire another blog!) We no longer have to waste ridiculous amounts of energy to keep WHAT IS out! …or at least, more accurately, to keep TRYING to do that, ultimately unsuccessfully! Finally then we are free! (Hence, one term for Self-Realization is “Liberation.”) We have liberated ourselves from the fight against WHAT IS; we have liberated ourself from our devotion to What Isn’t…
Just by wanting to open, allowing ourself to open, being receptive and welcoming of what guidance or energy comes, and by consciously “rejoining” the Infinite.
Have beautiful (the rest of the winter) holy-days! And remember to contemplate and form real New Years’s resolutions!