The true purpose of practice is not attainment, but the purification of the mind and body, so that the true Self can express itself.
Monday, 22 June 2015
The student asks the teacher, “Why do we have to practice every day?” “Why do we have to do the same thing, over and over again?” The teacher responds, “So that you can forget what you have learned.”
And so it is that we practice every day in order to learn to forget what we have learned. This appears at first to be a dichotomy, but if one looks closer, we come to understand that it is not. We create the structure and discipline of a daily practice in order to transcend this framework. Over time, the need for discipline and structure falls away, for you are no longer exerting control. The need for control is relinquished and replaced by the awareness that there is no structure, only potentiality.
Practice does not seek to add to the mind or body. It merely seeks to wipe away the fog of the illusion of duality. Just as the Sun cleanses the Earth and brings light to the darkness, so too does daily practice cleanse the mind and body of the negative influences of the ego. One’s daily practice will always have a physical and mental component, and therein lays the dichotomy, for the greatest obstacles to any practice are the mind and the body, often referred to as the two spoiled stepchildren. The daily polishing of one’s being allows one to become clear, so that the reflective surface that is the universe of your making is an accurate representation of one’s pure awareness.
The process of one’s daily practice takes on a different character as time goes on. In this respect, the “why” is as important as the “what” and “how”. During the first stage of one’s practice, a conscious decision is made to practice each day even if you do not want to practice. Here, attainment and doing it “correctly” is the focus – a goal oriented pursuit. The second stage of one’s practice is realized when one practices because that is what was done the day before. This is practice as habit, an activity free of intention and mindfulness. The final stage of one’s daily practice is when practice is an end in itself, and the activity of practice is an expression of one’s true Self. This stage of practice is where the ventriloquism of the ego has no power over the Self, and one is fully aware of the difference between Self and ego. In this state, a perfect balance is struck between what is, what will become, and what has been. This still point exists in the present moment, and can only be experienced, not realized, as it transcends the rational.
This experience can accurately be described as a mystical one, in that it is a simultaneous experience of that which is both individual and universal. It at once possesses the qualities of duality and collectivity. This is an experience of the relationship between one’s individual self as defined by the ego, and the spiritual, or true Self. Simply, this is what it means to experience God.