Meditation Journal – Day 25

Vipassana Meditation Day 25

am 1hr

A complete novice. There is no progress or advancement in this, not really. Each time it’s a man sitting down in a corner of a bedroom. He’s been told a few things, two basically: awareness, equanimity. He’s been taught a technique of moving attention through the body. In a context of: everything changes. And that’s about it. Oh, and someone told me that the observer is the observed, many times. So I found myself sat in a familiar place but unfamiliar with what to do, what happens here. It’s about suffering, misery. Those things I know are true but do my damnedest to avoid. Suffering of the mind and body, of the organism. Why is this? Why is there suffering when all that’s happening is that a body is sat on a cushion of a morning? What’s happening? The first clue was tension. In my mind. Tension and a kind of anxious desire to move, to be somewhere else – asleep? On a beach? In some kind of heaven? Doesn’t really matter where, just move! It’s beautiful how this practice strips that option away, physically at least. One doesn’t move. One can change position. I learnt a while ago that that does nothing. Change position in the mind then. That’s what I’ve been doing for all these years. I haven’t found a position there with no suffering. All the places are the same no matter how pleasuarable. So that’s another beauty of this practice: the obviousness of escape, of craving and aversion, in the light of physical stillness, awareness and equanimity as it is. There is nowhere to go, nothing to do, outwardly and inwardly. The agitation, the slight discomfort in the legs, the stiff neck and upper back, the emotion, the parts of me pretending it’s all right but knows it’s not, the part that knows it all is all right but pretends it’s not. It’s all me and here I am, showing up perhaps for the first time, more than half way through the given life expectancy of a man in the UK. Never could be any other way. There’s no other way. Etc.

pm 1hr

Conversation elements from the day reverberating.

Some kind of insistence of coming back to the breath soon dropping away.

Who cares?

Who’s to say come back?

Rather, let it peter out of it’s own accord, the to and fro of thought.

The following of a thought.

A bright idea I had in India once.

And did it.

Then and now.

After many twists and turns, a bumpy ride, the thought led me to a shouting voice, calling over and over like a dog barking.

Shouting words I can’t remember. Pointless words taking a lot of energy.

That finished pretty quick and… I was in.

What was me anymore wasn’t clear but I was in, at the deeper levels of the organism,

Brain and body and whatever else we have.

Moving down, exploring, no pushing, no shoulding.

I was in at the service levels, feeling, staying, sensing, gentle.

Repair work being undertaken, not by me but under the light now there because I was there.

Thoughts rippling in at times carrying, at times not. In from where, to where.

Then stillness in the mind, sustained, while parts of the body called out and were heard.

This is healing, there’s no doubt about it.

Changing. Changing.

 

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Meditation Journal – Day 18

Vipassana Meditation Day 18

am 2 mins

Driving all morning. Sat still a couple of minutes on getting up at 5-something.

pm 1hr

Rest in peace. This is what it feels like is happening. Not all the time, of course, but often and for sustained periods. Such joy, from nowhere, not related to a thought or an event, just bubbles up, bubbles down, from who knows where. My legs are pretty much happy to stay seated like that for an hour by now, Burma style. Generally the whole body is more comfortable. There are tensions, deep deep tensions, of muscle and of brain, yet it is more comfortable, and in this relative comfort the subtleties of what’s happening unfold, and are not dismissed or embraced. What’s happening. What’s happening? The Welsh, ‘What’s occurring?’ is such a good question!

Teach Us To Sit Still – ‘Self’ is an idea we invented

More from the book Teach Us To Sit Still by Tim Parks (A Sceptic’s Search For Health And Healing).

Attention attends, unrequited.

Then, all at once, the temples!

I remember distinctly my first session of vipassana, it was in my temples that it began. First one, then the other: singing, buzzing, dancing. Had I wished to induce the sensation in this part of the body, I would never have imagined such mayhem, as though insect eggs had hatched, or breath on ashes found the nest of live embers. Yet it wasn’t creepy. And it wasn’t hot. It was the lively sparkle of freshly poured soda water.

In my temples.

At this point you realise that focusing the mind – eyes closed – on a part of the body is quite different from focusing on something outside yourself, a ball, say, or a bottle, or a boat. In that case the object remains an object, however long we look at it. But like light through the lens, or through a glass of still water perhaps, the mind sets the body alight, or the body and the mind. It is hard to say which; the skin glows in the mind and the mind fizzes in the skin. Together, neither flesh nor fleshless, or both flesh and fleshless, they burn.

This is the beginning of vipassana.

The encouraging thing is that once one part of the body has answered your polite enquiry, others to seem more willing to respond: here a band of heat, there a patch of coldness, here are dull throb, now a tingling current. The whole house is waking up and as you pass from door to door each occupant acknowledges your presence by turning something on: now blue light, now I read, hear the coffee grinder, there are TV. The tower block starts to  hum.

At the retreats, the first-time meditators are hungry for drama, for an encounter with the demons, submission to a guru. We all want to add another episode to the narrative of ourselves, the yarn we are constantly spinning of our dealings with the world. This is why so many go to India, I suppose, to do no more than sit on a cushion, eyes closed. They hope the exotic location, the gurus robes and foreign voice will add intensity to the tale.

But as words and thoughts are eased out of the mind, so the self weakens. There is no narrative to feed it. When the words are gone, whether you are in Verona or Varanasi hardly matters, whether it is morning or evening, whether you are young or old, man or woman, poor or rich isn’t, in the silence, in the darkness, in the stillness, so important. Like ghosts, angels, gods, ‘self’, it turns out, is an idea we invented, a story we tell ourselves. It needs language to survive. The words create meaning, the meaning and purpose, the purpose narrative. But here, for a little while, there is no story, no rhetoric, no deceit. Here is silence and acceptance; the pleasure of a space that need not be imbued with meaning. Intensely aware, of the flesh, the breath, the blood, consciousness allows the ‘I’ to slip away.

Teach Us To Sit Still – The pain had quite gone

More from the book Teach Us To Sit Still by Tim Parks (A Sceptic’s Search For Health And Healing). Park’s experiences painlessness after years of near constant pelvic pain.

The first few minutes have passed now. However excruciating, I must lie still. I breathed deeply and remembered Eliot. ‘Teach us to care and not to care. Teach us to sit still.’

Don’t verbalise.

Then after a while something would happen. The breath breathed itself and I slid down into that dark landscape with its low sky and damp hills. At once the muscles of my face buzzed and sang with tension.

I say ‘something would happen’, as though these sessions were all the same. Certainly there was an element of repetition, particularly at the beginning: the itches, the fuss, the trivial adjustments, the mill of defeatist thoughts. But from this point on, from the moment I entered my bodyscape, as it were, every day was different. And as the first week moved into the second and third, things grew more intense, more – here was a real paradox – exotic.

There were curious pulsations. In my wrists perhaps. Not a regular wrist pulse of the kind you can check and count. Rather it might move along my right wrist, from hand to forearm, then ripple over to the left. Faster than an ordinary pulse. More fluid, mobile. The wave was picked up by a ticking in the stomach. Then leg too. A sea swell of pulses were criss-crossing the muscles. The tension in my cheeks was exactly superimposed over the tension in my calves. The two seemed to be the same. Both were growing and changing, glowing and noisy. Suddenly, it was all so interesting that the mind found it easy to concentrate. More interesting than thoughts. As when you surrender yourself to strange music. It was so busy. Parts of the body were calling back and forth to each other with little ripping pulse oceans, as if the tide was lapping in and out across underwater weeds.

Stop describing it!

Concentrate.

Suddenly my belly drew a huge breath, absolutely unexpected, and a warm wave flooded down my body from top to toe.

I nearly drowned. Shocked and tensed, I sat up and opened my eyes.

What in God’s name was that?

The feeling had vanished at once. It was gone. But so too, I realise now, was the pain. The pain had quite gone. Not even the shadow of the pain. Not a ghost. I was lying still, painless.

 

Teach Us To Sit Still – Constant Motion

More from the book Teach Us To Sit Still by Tim Parks (A Sceptic’s Search For Health And Healing). Parks has begun to experiment with sitting still and sees that he is always moving:

The pain surged to the fore. It was strong. You deal with the pain by keeping in constant motion, I realised now.  That was the truth. Even when I was still, I moved. My knee jerking. Scratching. My fist clenching and clenching. That kept the pain at bay. And when my body was still my mind moved. My mind was in constant motion. All day every day. The thoughts jerked back and forward like the knee that twitched. The difficulty when I was writing was not to come up with thoughts, but to give them direction and economy. Like a climbing plant that must be pruned and tamed, pruned and tamed. Above all pruned.

 

You are supposed not to be thinking.

 

Or not supposed to be thinking.

 

Or supposed to be not thinking.

 

I moved the ‘not’. Language is always on the move.

 

Even when I slept I moved. To sleep I needed to be on one side with one knee pushed forward. Then I switched to the other side. And I switched my earplugs from one ear to the other. I can’t bear having an earplug pressing the pillow. I pulled the earplug out, turned over, put the plug-in. Six times a night.

In the silence, eyes closed, I remembered a documentary had seen years before about some kind of desert lizard  that stopped its feet from burning on the hot Sahara sand by constantly and rapidly lifting and dropping the right front foot and back left foot, then the left front and back right. Alternately. They lifted and fell in the blink of an eyelid, almost too quick for the camera to see. A sort of Purgatory, I had thought, when I saw the images.

 

 

Teach Us To Sit Still – ‘Something’s got to change! Please!’

Next month I am going to a vipassana centre in Hereford for ten days of silence and sitting; meditation. Having  been on shorter retreats I’d like to immerse deeper into this exploration, and a ten-day retreat has been recommended by several friends. The decision to go was helped along by the book Teach Us To Sit Still by Tim Parks (the subtitle: A Sceptic’s Search For Health And Healing), a very interesting account of the author’s freedom from pain after suffering for many years. Having exhausted all other possibilities to treat this pelvic pain, he undertakes a sitting meditation practice, eventually learning that the pain itself is a gateway for release. The writing is refreshing as Parks had no interest in spiritual matters or meditation beforehand and so the language is refreshingly free of anything new age.

Getting desperate, Parks visits an Ayurvedic doctor while on business in India. He is told that his symptoms can be relived but…

‘On the other hand…’ He sat back and looked me in the eyes. His face was frank. ‘This is a problem you will never get over, Mr Parks, until you confront the profound contradiction in your character.’

I can’t recall being more surprised by a single remark in all my life.

‘Ah,’ I said at last.

‘There is a tussle in your mind.’

I sat still. I had wanted a different story, to challenge the ‘official medical version’. I was getting it.

‘What actually causes all this pain?’ I asked.

‘It is blocked vata.’

‘That is an energy that flows in the body,’ his wife explained. ‘ One of the five elements. It balances others and needs to be balanced by them. When the balance goes wrong, then the vata is blocked and causes pain.’

‘It is this mental tussle that blocks the vata,’ the doctor said.

I reflected. ‘So, what is the tussle about?’

‘Good question!’ The doctor smiled.

‘A tussle like this is not really about anything,’ his wife explained. ‘It is part of the prakruti.’

They began to explain what prakruti was: the amalgamation of inherited and acquired traits coming together to form the personality. If those traits were at odds and the two couldn’t mix, you’d be in trouble.

‘In that case a person may get the impression that his life is a series of dilemmas. He may think: if only I could resolve this or that dilemma, I will have resolved my problems. But each dilemma is only a manifestation of the deeper conflict.’

…’are you telling me it’s entirely psychosomatic?’

A slow smile spread across the doctor’s face. ‘That’s not a word we have much use for, Mr Parks.’

I looked at him.

‘You only say ‘psychosomatic’ if you think that body and mind are ever separate.’

The generator fell silent. What a pleasure sudden silence is, as when a harsh light goes out and your eyes can attune to the friendly dark. I picked up faint noises of plumbing, cries from the street, and I reflected that most people feel ashamed if told their problem is psychosomatic. They feel accused, guilty. It’s acceptable to have a sick body, that’s not your fault, but not a sick mind. The mind is you, the body is only yours. Choosing to go to an analysist because you’re unhappy is another matter. There is a respectability about being unhappy in a complicated way and most people would agree that to recognise you need professional help shows humility and good sense. But someone who makes his body ill because he doesn’t want to acknowledge his mind is in trouble, because he’s repressing his fears and desires and conflicts, is just a loser.

At exactly the moment I formulated this view, I realised that I was actually extremely eager for my problems to be psychosomatic. I was more than willing to countenance the idea that my pains only existed in my head, or that trouble in my head had brought them into existence in my body. I want to change, I told myself, returning from the bathroom. Why else would I have gone to an ayurvedic doctor? I want everything to change, inside me.

My parents tried to exorcise my brother and heal his polio. He was not changed. My sister gave birth to a severely handicapped daughter. The power of prayer did not transform her. Nor a trip to Lourdes. My father’s cancer was not helped by the laying on of hands. He lost his mind and died in pain. Afraid of anything that reminded us of their spiritual aberration, my brother and I counted entirely, perhaps aggressively, on official learning and official medicine; perhaps the only opinion we now had in common with my mother and sister was that all alternative therapies were baloney. Even today, if you mention acupuncture to my atheist brother, he will declare it  hocus-pocus. Just like my mother.

So where was I to turn, now that I had washed my hands of the doctors and they have me? The previous week, at the University, I had had to interrupt a lesson; for the first time the pain had obtruded  on my teaching. On Sunday afternoon at the stadium – for I was still an avid football goer – I was barely able to sit down during the second half of the game. I had to keep jumping to my feet as if excited by what was going on on the pitch. ‘Arbito di merda!’  I yelled, when nothing much was happening. My stadium friends laughed, but somebody client asked me to sit down.

On the bench in Regents Park, among the pleasant trees and lawns, I shouted: ‘Something’s got to change! Please!’ And a young man turned and glanced at me and hurried on.

‘I feel more fulfilled without the internet’

The last time I was allowed to access the internet was several moments before the police came through my door in the Shetland Isles, over a year ago. During the past 12 months I have pleaded guilty to computer misuse under the banners of “Internet Feds”, “Anonymous” and “LulzSec”. One of my co-defendants and I have also been indicted with the same charge in the United States, where we may possibly be extradited, and if found guilty I could face several decades in an American prison. Now I am on conditional bail and have to wear an electronic tag around my ankle. I’m forbidden from accessing the internet.

I’m often asked: what is life like without the net? It seems strange that humans have evolved and adapted for thousands of years without this simple connectivity, and now we in modern society struggle to comprehend existence without it. In a word, life is serene. I now find myself reading newspapers as though they weren’t ancient scrolls; entering real shops with real money in order to buy real products, and not wishing to Photoshop a cosmic being of unspeakable horror into every possible social situation. Nothing needs to be captioned or made into an elaborate joke to impress a citizenry whose every emotion is represented by a sequence of keystrokes.

Things are calmer, slower and at times, I’ll admit, more dull. I do very much miss the instant companionship of online life, the innocent chatroom palaver, and the ease with which circles with similar interests can be found. Of course, there are no search terms in real life – one actually has to search. However, there is something oddly endearing about being disconnected from the digital horde.

It is not so much the sudden simplicity of daily life – as you can imagine, trivial tasks have been made much more difficult – but the feeling of being able to close my eyes without being bombarded with flashing shapes or constant buzzing sounds, which had occurred frequently since my early teens and could only be attributed to perpetual computer marathons. Sleep is now tranquil and uninterrupted and books seem far more interesting. The paranoia has certainly vanished. I can only describe this sensation as the long-awaited renewal of a previously diminished attention span.

For it is our attention spans that have suffered the most. Our lives are compressed into short, advertisement-like bursts or “tweets”. The constant stream of drivel fills page after page, eating away at our creativity. If hashtags were rice grains, do you know how many starving families we could feed? Neither do I – I can’t Google it.

A miracle cure or some kind of therapeutic brilliance are not something I could give, but I can confidently say that a permanent lack of internet has made me a more fulfilled individual. And as one of many kids glued to their screens every day, I would never before have imagined myself even thinking those words. Before, the idea of no internet was inconceivable, but now – not to sound as though it’s some kind of childish and predictable revelation spawned as a result of going cold turkey – I look back on the transcripts of my online chats (produced as legal evidence in my case, in great numbers) and wonder what all the fuss was about.

It’s not my place to speculate on whether or not the hacker community should stop taking itself so seriously, but I certainly became entangled within it and had forgotten how easy it was simply to close a laptop lid.

I hope, then, that others in a similar situation may decide to take a short break from the web (perhaps just for a week) and see if similar effects are found. It can’t hurt to try.

via My life after LulzSec: 'I feel more fulfilled without the internet' | Technology | The Observer.

Abstinence Based Recovery Documentary – Russell Brand: From Addiction to Recovery

Very good documentary about abstinence based recovery. It’s not really about Russell Brand but the nature of addiction and how best to deal with it, personally and in society. Here’s the torrent for downloading.

 

The BBC says:

Ten years ago Russell Brand was addicted to heroin, his career was unravelling and he was told he may only have six months to live. The story of how he battled to stay clean of drugs is at the heart of this eye-opening and searingly honest, personal film in which Brand challenges how our society deals with addicts and addiction.

It comes in the wake of the tragic death of his friend Amy Winehouse, which was the spur to this exploration of the ‘condition of addiction’ which, he believes, is misunderstood and wrongly treated. Brand meets a whole range of people from whom he draws insights – scientists at the cutting edge of research into the psychology of addiction, those involved in innovative recovery treatments and drug addicts themselves.

Is addiction a disease? Should it be criminalised? And is abstinence-based recovery, which worked for Brand, a possible way forward? In this documentary Brand challenges conventional theory and practice as well as government policy in his own inimitable style, confronting the reality of addiction head on. Along the way he draws on his own experience to try to help one of the addicts he meets to take the first steps towards recovery. Armed with his own heartfelt beliefs and new insights gained during his journey, Brand has the opportunity to change the hearts and minds of policy makers when he is invited to give evidence before the Home Affairs Select Committee investigating the efficacy of current drug addiction treatment in the UK.

Light on Life by BKS Iyengar – Chapter 6: Bliss – The Divine Body – Part 2

This full-on section relates to samadhi. Here are some extracts I selected from this second half of the sixth chapter:

From cosmic intelligence sprouts cosmic energy and consciousness, and from these devolves ego or the sense of self.  From the one root comes duality (which is the ability to separate), from duality comes vibration (which is the pulse of life beginning), from vibration comes invisible manifestation, and from the invisible comes the visible in all its glorious and horrendous diversity and multiplicity. This end product is what we take the world to be–our playground, our paradise, or our hell and our prison. If we misapprehend nature, take it at face value, through ignorance, then it is our prison.

Yoga examines in order to know, like science, but it wants to know in order to penetrate, to integrate, and to reconstruct through practice and detachment the perfection of nature’s original intention. In other words, it wants to reach the root and cut out the intervening turbulence. It does not want to be hoodwinked by nature’s appearance, but to adhere to its original motivation.

So many people approach spiritual growth as if it were a lottery. They hope that some new book or new method, some new insight or teacher will be the lottery ticket that allows them to experience enlightenment. Yoga says no, the knowledge and the effort are all within you. It is as simple and as difficult as learning to discipline our own minds and hearts, our bodies and breath.

When we are in the suspension of breath in the deepest meditation – a spontaneous, as it were, God-willed retention – we enter the black hole, the vortex of nothingness, the void. Yet somehow we survive. The curtain of time, time that inexorably brings death, is parted. This is a state of nonbeing, but a living nonbeing. It is a present devoid of past or future. There is no self, no meditator, no longer even any breather. What comes out of that black hole, that nothingness? Information. What is the information? The truth. What is the truth? Samadhi.

For the beginner, samadhi is an alluring subject. But there are reasons not to get fixated on it. The beginner can only conceive of samadhi as a glorification of the self he knows.

It is said that the meaning of life becomes apparent only in the face of death. At this point in practice the ego dissolves, or rather it gives up its impersonation of the true self.

In meditation, consciousness faces the soul itself. Samadhi is seeing soul face to face. It is not a passive state. It is a dynamic one in which the consciousness remains in a state of equilibria in all circumstances. The disturbances of the mind and emotions fade away, and we are able to see true reality.

After significant effort, a yoga practitioner reaches a state where some are some asana poses are effortless. What we achieve here externally is achieved through samadhi internally. It is an effortless state, where one experiences the grace of the self. This is a state of great bliss and fulfilment.

If anybody says, “I am teaching meditation,” then as a student of yoga I say, “It is rubbish,” because meditation cannot be taught it can only be experienced.

Sabija means ‘with seed’. What this means is that although the experience of bliss is felt, the seeds of desire remain in the ego as future potential. Even after the experience of samadhi, these seeds can sprout again and cause a relapse. The ego has not been entirely purified by the fire of the experience. This particular point on the yogic journey, although so elevated, is one of danger as it can become a wasteland in which the practitioner gets stuck. This state is called manolaya, which means an alert, passive state of mind. But in this context, it implies a complacency with what has been achieved and a tendency to slacken efforts to complete the final step of the journey. The yogi cannot rest on his laurels but must press on to the higher states of samadhi in which even the seeds of desire are burnt out from the ego forever and can never sprout or trouble him again. This is known as nirbija samadhi (seedless) in which the feeling of bliss is not dependent at all, even on a vestigial eager. This is the bliss of the absolute void, of nonbeing transformed into the light of being.

I can assure you that everyone seeks samadhi, and most of us seek shortcuts to get there.

People seek somebody through drugs, alcohol, the danger of extreme sports, the romanticism of music, the beauty of nature, and the passion of sexuality. There are 1000 ways and they all involve the transcendence of the suffering ego in a blissful fusion with an entity much greater than ourselves.

Change leads to disappointment if it is not sustained. Transformation is sustained change, and it is achieved through practice.

Dreams of the divine union, however high their aspirations, contain an element of fantasy. They may not be sustainable. We must have spiritual aspiration not spiritual pretension.

Yoga is solid. It is the path I know, the path I trod, the path I teach. Everyone desires relief from both the restrictions of personality and its impermanence. Everyone desires samadhi. From the dawn of his history, man has sought dangerous, shoddy shortcuts as well as noble ones. Called the hard, sustained progress of yoga a long cut if you will, but if it is a long cut, then so is the flight of an arrow.

 

 

120618 Inversions; The egress

All relaxed and floppy after this evening’s Iyengar class in Winchester. At one stage we used our bottoms to prop up a partner’s tummy in half moon (ardha chandrasana). This was a first. I didn’t have much of a tummy to prop up but it still helped get the correct torso rotation to the wall. Then I  hoisted a lady’s ample midriff using my bum. This is a great little class with eight regulars that I’ve been attending for over a year. The teacher is Sandy Bell, who is very knowledgable and gives so much guidance, including some fun partner work. The focus tonight was space between the hips and armpits, elongating, opening. It really helps to have a theme for each class, something I’ll look at when teaching again come autumn. I’m really hoping a visiting Iyengar teacher will stay at Brockwood over the summer as she did last year.

Summer… just a couple of days away. Today’s outdoors lunchtime conversation was also about yoga, talking about the benefits of inversions, and ones you can do without putting the neck at risk: down dog, legs up the wall, half shoulder stand, handstand – for example. No, legs up the wall isn’t a true inversion but has many benefits and is supremely relaxing. Some benefits of inversions: Cardiovascular; Mental clarity; Hormonal balance; Blood pressure regulation; Lymphatic drainage; Nervous system health. But lists of benefits aren’t so beneficial – one has to do it.

I’ll leave you with a picture of my fly – why not? THIS WAY TO THE EGRESS –>

Light on Life by BKS Iyengar – Chapter 5: Wisdom – The Intellectual Body – Part 2

Selected extracts from the second half of the fifth chapter:

This is not yoga by the body for the body, but yoga by the body for the mind, for the intelligence.

The intelligence we are now developing depends upon emotional and moral maturity, the ability to value truth and respect ethical conduct, the capacity to feel love in its more universal sense as compassion.

The role of awareness is to fill the gaps that inevitably exist between the physical and organic sheaths of our bodies when we practice yoga.

The power we generate through yoga practice must become a coherent and indissoluble whole.

Energy and awareness act as friends. Where one goes, the other follows. It is by the will of awareness to penetrate that intelligence, is able to move into and occupy the darkest inner recesses of our being.

We say intelligence has insight. We should complement that by saying that soul has ‘outsight’;  it is a beacon shining out.

Considerable achievements also bring in their wake considerable dangers. An obvious one is pride–not satisfaction in a job well done, but a sense of superiority and difference, of distinction and eminence.

Yoga is an interior penetration leading to integration of being, senses, breath, mind, intelligence, consciousness, and Self. It is definitely an inward journey, evolution through involution, towards the Soul, which in turn desires to emerge and embrace you in its glory.

The pursuit of pleasure through appearances, which I connect here to superficiality of intent, is quite simply the wrong way to go about things. To pursue pleasure is to pursue pain in equal measure. When appearance is more important to us than content we can be sure we have taken the wrong turning.

High intelligence brings the gift of power, and we all know that power corrupts. When intelligence is corrupted it brings woe upon ourselves and upon the world.

If we live outwardly virtuous lives, it is easy to convince ourselves that there is nothing else wrong with us. Often this is the besetting sin of the puritan or religious fanatic. We often both suppress the truth and suggest the false. Ego aids and abets all flaws of intelligence.

Conscience hurts, it causes us pain. We say we are pricked by conscience. … That is because it lies of the paradox of what it means to be a spiritual being living in a physical body in a material world.

Paying attention in yogic terms is not concentration. True concentration is an unbroken thread of awareness.

In a perfect asana, performed meditatively and with a sustained current of concentration, the self assumes its perfect form, its integrity being beyond reproach. This is asana performed at the sattvic level, where luminosity infuses the whole pose.

I am practising asana but at a level where the quality is meditative. The totality of being, from core to skin, is experienced. Mind is unruffled, intelligence is awake in heart rather than in head, self is quiescent, and conscious life is in every cell of the body. That is what I mean when I say asana opens up the whole spectrum of yoga’s possibilities.

I have often said that yoga is meditation,  and meditation is yoga. Meditation is the stilling of the movements of consciousness. It is bringing the turbulent sea to a state of flat calm. This calm is not torpid or inert. It is a deep tranquillity, pregnant with all the potential of creation.

The yogi is journeying from the world of things and events, which are so joyful, painful, baffling, and unending, back to the point of stillness before the waves were ruffled.

Do not confuse aloneness with loneliness. Loneliness is separation from the cosmos. Aloneness is to become the common denominator of the cosmic all.

Is this the end? Are we there yet? No. There remains the ego, the self, the known self, the impersonator of the soul. He is the last actor to leave the stage. He lingers even for the very final handclap of applause. What forces him off the stage? Silence and retention of the breath.

Just as the cessation of the movement of thought brings purity to intelligence, so a motiveless retention effaces ego. What the practitioner eventually experiences is not that at some point he suspends the breath. He is no longer the subject, the agent. The breath breathes him. What this means is that at the highest level of meditation the cosmos breathes you.

The unpremeditated retention of breath after exhalation opens the gap in the curtain of time. No past, no future, no sense of passing present. Only presence.

The end of duality that comes from meditation is the end of separation and the end of all conflict. The yogi stands one and alone.