By Shunyamurti | A heart-opening invitation for us to explore the divine consciousness beyond duality.
Yoga was born in time immemorial—in the prehistory of humanity, before the Vedas, before Sumer, before Gobekli Tepe, before the pyramids, before the Flood—as a passage into silence and inner stillness, into solitude and timelessness—to attain the sacred power to sustain the turning world from the still point that is its eternal center, its engine of aliveness, its source of authentic love.
Yogis have traditionally undergone a sacred rite of passage, sannyas (renunciation), a separation from society and its norms and enjoyments, a setting apart even from religion (which in its symbolic and imagistic forms constitutes idolatry) and from all concepts of the holy and all imaginary references to the divine. The yogi lives in and as the absolute Real.
A sacred consciousness beyond duality
Yoga entered history as a state of sacred consciousness beyond duality, a unique timeless state which alone, because of its unchanging essence, could withstand and sustain the flux of history and its traumas and amnesias, in its own sacred dimension of samadhi, the endless oceanic rapture of infinite Being. The yogi is one who becomes imbued with deathless divine knowledge, or gnosis (gyana in ancient Sanskrit).
Sanskrit became the linguistic abode of yoga, because that idiom alone had sufficient terms denoting the noetic nuances of transcendent wisdom, and thus could function as an instrument of transmission of the level of consciousness of the Self-realized yogi.
Even though yoga today has been commercialized and diluted down to a pale shadow of its true nature, and authentic yogic sages are few, the embers from the sacrificial fire that yogis once lit to renew our world in ages past still burn with enough power to give us a glimpse of the supernal light of the God-Self shining in the dark night of the soul, once the yogi’s third eye has opened.
The basis of all religion
Yoga has been the basis of all religion, the creative spark that has ignited into manifest form all sustainable human arts and culture, but for that reason has also always been a threat to any society or religion that had fallen away from integrity, compassion, and truth. Yogis made a pact long ago with the leaders and systems of society and religion, to remain separate and not to seek to overthrow the corrupted and oppressive social structures, but to guard the secret knowledge through time until that moment when the transcendent Truth of the Supreme Real would be recognized as the only hope left for salvation.
Those yogis who in the past were called to become prophets—those who returned to the social realm and raised their voices against the misuse of political force—understood that they would face persecution, crucifixion, excommunication, inquisition and its torments, including being burned at the stake. So many prophets have been martyred for the sake of sacred Truth. And from those sacrificial deaths new religious orders, new cultures have always emerged.
Thus, the practice of yoga has been preserved (but usually as hidden, marginal, esoteric) and has spread across the planet as the secret way of discovery of the sacred, of the inscrutable knowledge that makes possible revealed religion. For this reason, yoga has been the seed from which has sprouted every new spiritual movement, every human culture. This is why there is Buddhist yoga, Taoist yoga, Hindu yoga, and the equivalent practices in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—and why yoga has sprouted countless theoretical and practical systems of metaphysics, philosophy, theosophy, liturgy; and why it came to appear in such coded forms as alchemy, and was taught through mystery schools and elaborate mythologies, rituals, and ascetic practices, and often assisted by sacred consciousness-altering plants.
To the yogi, only the Real is sacred, not its mere representations. The sacred is that which cannot be defiled. The great quest has always been for the Real. What is Real is eternal. The Real is whole. The Real is salvific.
What does Yoga mean?
Yoga means union. It is the union of conscious attention with its Self. This is why its symbolic forms have always included the circle, the ouroborus (the snake eating its own tail); the kundalini snake uncoiling from the inner base of the sexual organ and climbing up the chakras to the thousand-petalled lotus of the Absolute; or the two snakes of the caduceus slithering upward and meeting at the highest peak of consciousness (when the ego I morphs into the I-I of Self realization).
But what of the infamous serpent who offered the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden? Is that fruit not precisely the sacred realization of Truth beyond duality? Does its complete assimilation not morph the tree of knowledge into the Holy Rood, the Tree of Life? Does the felix culpa, the auspicious fall into egoic sin, not become the very basis of enlightenment? Does the Gnostic heresy not deserve a place of honor in the pantheon of sacred thought? For is it not only from samsara that nirvana can be recognized? Is it not only from form that we can enter consciously into emptiness—and from emptiness into perfect fullness, samyak sambodhi? Are not all dualities a single whole? Is not this vision of radical non-duality the ancient portal to the sacred?
The sacred process of death and rebirth
For the sacred Real to emerge and be revealed, for the goal of liberation from the unreal to be attained, the false self must die. Thus, yoga is the sacred process of death and rebirth, symbolized as baptism in the waters of eternal life, or the journey of Osiris through the underworld, or the hero’s journey, the slaying of the demons of lower consciousness, the purifying quest of the holy grail, conversion and transfiguration. The sacred has always been distinguished from the profane. The deep etymology of ‘profane’ is ‘prior to fana’, which is an ancient Sufi term for annihilation. Only once the ego has been annihilated does one merit residence in the holy temple, or fanum. Paradoxically, only an annihilated one can grant a sacred vision, an epiphany (epi-fana, meaning that only after the disappearance of the false does the Real become revealed).
The false self that is destroyed by yoga is the functioning of the manas and its ahamkar (the I-maker), the chattering mind that orbits around the narcissistic I-thought. As the great yogi of early kali yuga, Patanjali, put it, yoga is the cessation of the modifications of the mind (chitta vritti nirodha). In other words, yoga is the sacred act of silencing the mind until the core I-thought is extinguished, and the core within the core, pure presence, is revealed.
Egoless presence liberates all bound energies of consciousness at every level. Thus, pure presence is free of such pathological mental phenomena as projection and dissociation, repression and denial, attachment and repulsion, anxiety and depression, and the very template of subject-object duality. Pure presence is egoic absence, and thus awareness recognizes its Self as bodiless, formless, non-localizable, non-gendered, unborn, deathless, boundless, spontaneous, utterly free.
Presence without ego accesses a level of intelligence far beyond what is possible for the ego and its primitive method of processing, requiring language and logic, temporality and dimensionality. All that arises in presence are the many potencies of its Self, the kaleidoscopic flux of emergent properties, a dancing landscape of magical manifestations of the formless Self, on display as a holographic cosmos, an infinite work of divine artistry that is only the immutable presence dancing for its Self as ecstatic surprise, wonder, astonishment—the undulations of phenomenal impermanence cyphering the invisible yet irresistible beauty of the Supreme Real.
The gifts of Yoga
The liberated yogi receives many gifts in return for the sacrifice of ego. Some of these are called siddhis, or powers of yoga, latent potencies of consciousness that become activated in order for the will of the Supreme Self to be fulfilled through the yogi’s pure non-volitional presence. Because the Self-realized yogi is the embodiment of the Real (which in Sanskrit is referred to as Sat), there is also the power of infinite intelligence (called chit) and the sublime feeling state that accompanies such understanding (known as ananda, or bliss). This is the original Trinity.
In Christianity, Sat, or Supreme Being, became the Father; Chit, intellect or Logos, the Son; and Ananda, the bliss of infinite love, the Holy Spirit. To the yogis of the Vedic frame of reference, this was called Nirgun Brahman (the formless Absolute). To the Chinese, This is the Dao that cannot be named. Yogis recognize the Absolute as both impersonal field (now famous as the quantum unified field) and supreme person.
The earliest name given to the Absolute as both personal and transpersonal is Shiva, the ultimate paradox. The word Shiva means zero, absolute nothingness, yet also infinite potency and auspicious perfect goodness. Yogis elaborated a second trinity: Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram. From out of the zero point and its infinite power emerge both truth and beauty.
The most sacred secret of the Real unfolds from the nothingness (some Buddhist yogis would call it emptiness or shunyata, or else nirvana, or the Buddha nature). Because of the non-duality of samsara and nirvana—the oneness of phenomenal and noumenal—or as the Vaishnavas would call it, the acintya bhedabheda (the inconceivable oneness of sameness and difference), the Self cannot be grasped by thought, but only by the bliss of absolute love.
The Self-realized yogi manifests simultaneously as the Dreamer of the cosmic dream, the formless field of presence in which the dream unfolds, and the awakened one who in-joys the rapturous enchantment of the one Beloved. Throughout history, only a few yogis have awakened at any one time, enough to sustain the world, but not enough to re-dream the dream.
The sacred unity of Shiva and Shakti
But at the end of time, when the Iron Age has rusted, and true Dharma has disappeared, when humans have fallen lower than the beasts, when the world is ruled by criminal conspiracies, God reaches a point when She has had enough. Then She descends to find Her lost servants and those most beloved souls who have remained faithful in their hearts to the Goddess. The most sacred unity of Shiva and Shakti becomes once more a living dance of overwhelming power, of infinite passion and divine delight. It is a love that is stronger than even planetary death. This is the love that alone can bring new life to our dying world.
According to the sacred myth, the whole tribe of sleeping beauties, the still un-awakened future yogis, exhausted spiritually after many lifetimes in avidya (ignorance) and Maya, will finally receive the call of the Absolute Other, and gather together for the sacred rite of the one true sacrificial fire, the yagya in which ego and evil are at last dissolved by Shiva, the Great Destroyer, who dances the Tandava, the victory dance over the illusion of material reality, exulting in the all-engulfing flames of the global ring of fire.
All is consciousness. Death is an illusion.
This world is only an appearance in pure presence, a reflection of the vibrational frequency of the state of the human spirit. Once theosis has taken hold as the collective realization of multiplicity-as-unity, once the Self is realized by a critical mass of genuine yogis, the world as a whole shall be liberated from the trance of Maya. The power of morphic resonance shall cascade through the collective consciousness with a coherent signal of Absolute Truth, and the information flow from the Real shall cause the corrupted world to be re-dreamed and redeemed. So it is written.
The true Aryans, the noble yogis of ancient legend who are prophesied to once again awaken at the end of the kalpa, the cycle of time, to cosmic consciousness, are stirring from their long sleep. One can sense a shift in the energy field. More teachers are appearing, more extraordinary children, more strangely glowing healers, illumined and empowered, just as this wonderland of a ruined and dying world—that few believe can be reborn as the once and future paradise, the promised land—is manifesting signs and wonders that cannot be explained from a materialist paradigm. We are interrupted by irruptions of uncanny phenomena that our two-valued logic cannot grasp. We are struck speechless as we realize that we do not understand reality, at all.
We can feel the shaking of the ground of the implicate order of the Real. We are encountering the Abyss. Can we realistically have faith that world destruction does not signify our final extinction? Can we conceive of the possibility of harnessing the quantum potencies of the fundamental wave function to surf the perfect storm that is engulfing our planet in the ominous darkness of the oncoming megadeath? Can we imagine attaining the psycho-technology to reprogram the destiny of the holographic field that is our world? Could we, even in the last instant of existence, undream an apocalyptically charged hell realm become desert of death, a miasma of radiation clouds left by thermonuclear war that destiny demanded to fulfill the law of karma—and morph that nuclear winter into a glorious new springtime, a new golden age, the mythical-made-real return of the kingdom of heaven?
The ancient mono-myth, originated by the first enlightened yogis, thousands of years ago, and now hypothesized in both subatomic and macro-geological terms by a few courageous scientists, describes how, after the last high solar and lunar world dynasties had disappeared, and Pangaea had fractured into seven continents, was smashed by asteroid or comet, with many land masses covered over by an ice age, leaving only a few copper age megaliths remaining above sea level to implicate an obliterated past. Only legends—of Atlantis, Lemuria, Sat Yuga, a lost time of gods and goddesses ruling the Earth—that humanity has become utterly cynical about—is now being gradually revealed to our astonished gaze.
The climax of the mystery of history
We sense that we are approaching the climax of the mystery of history. We feel the vibratory energy of a surreal shift in our perception, and although we may deny our secret hope for the return of the Goddess and the avatar, we are bracing for the punch line of the cosmic joke. Physicists are telling us that none of this is real, but only a quantum holographic dream, just as the yogis have been teaching all these centuries. But now the awesome truth is reaching us where we live—and we are groundless and impotent as characters in this amazing movie that is hurtling to a denouement that no worldly pundits can foresee, even though the clues have been there all along.
Yoga teaches that there is only consciousness. Physics now agrees. All that seems material is only a set of effects of wave functions that concretize as appearances in the field of elementary consciousness to fulfill the desires of other subsets of the field of consciousness that constitute observers. We are those observers who have failed to observe our own real nature. We have focused our attention on bodies and have forgotten that our own awareness is what is Real. We have obsessed about the profane effects of our minds, but not the sacred cause of our Being.
Yoga teaches that we can rectify this failing. We have only to silence the mind and turn our focus inward to the Source. We have only to realize the zero point of presence.
In this time of profane deadlock in the world, when nothing can be done politically or socially or artistically that can save us from the precipice of world destruction, there is only one thing we have not tried: to realize the unimaginable power of the Self. This is the aim of yoga: to be the sacred embodiment of the invincible power of the Real.