Welcome everyone to the Satsang, from the depth of my heart and my love I hope to touch your hearts too.
I find that many students, whether they are advanced, beginners, or intermediate, they have the same questions working in their mind, perpetually working in their mind, and these are:
- What is my progress?
- Am I progressing enough?
- Which stage, what state am I in right now? What is my stage of Realization?
Everyone’s mind always seems to have this little debate going on:
“We are doing sadhana, we are doing ISIP, we are doing self-inquiry, we are doing meditation, everything, but what is the barometer?
How do I check what state I am in?
What is the stage or the degree of my progress… or not?”
I think this is one of the ways of the mind to trick you back into some kind of a trade with what you are doing. It is a way for the mind to get back into your life, to create anxiety, anxiousness, about your practice. I therefore suggest and advise you not to worry about your ‘state of Realization’, or your ‘spiritual state’. Rather, you should worry about what the state of your practice is.
There are stages of practice, not stages of Realization.
If you remember the stages of practice, and devote yourself to the stages of practice, then these other questions will not arise because they will be taken care of automatically.
So what are the stages of practice?
We’ll talk about that today because this is where you have to be concerned.
Your main concern should be: what is the practice that I am doing?
If you are practicing, the result has to be there. You don’t have to worry about the result. You have to worry about your practice.
FIRST STAGE – A WAKING STATE PRACTICE
RECOGNITION OF THE ‘GAP’
What is the first stage of practice? The first stage of practice is the recognition of the gap.
We have spoken about this in the past, but I will revisit it again today as Satsang is a place where we have perpetual reminders for everybody so that you don’t get diverted from your practice.
- Your concern should never be about ‘whether I am going to be realized, or not’.
- Your concern at this moment should be whether you are practicing enough, or not.
- Whether you are practicing properly, or not.
- Whether you are really honest about it, or not.
- Whether you are putting in the right kind of effort, or not.
- Whether you have understood what has been laid out to you, or not.
The first stage of practice is recognition of the gap, recognition of the space. That is the first stage.
Sri Ramana Maharshi gave us the wonderful tool of Self-Inquiry, of what inquiry is: “to whom is this thing happening”, or “to whom are these thoughts happening”, or “to whom are these emotions taking place”.
This question, this inquiry… ‘to whom’… is one of the most basic, and the most profound questions that has been posed, that has been put to us by a great saint, which we need to not answer in terms of an answer, but to just FEEL it. Every thought which disturbs you, if you feel the question deeply in your Heart, what is the answer that you get as a feeling?
Maybe there is an event that has disturbed you. Maybe there is an emotion that has disturbed you. Maybe there is a thought that disturbs you. Maybe there is a person that disturbs you.
Ask: “to whom is this happening?” That’s it! Just this simple pointer.
It directly points to the background, to the Witnesser, or to a gap. The mind becomes completely silent. At that moment it becomes still. Such a powerful tool has been given to us by Sri Ramana Maharshi.
Whatever situation you are in, whatever event happens in your life, just merely asking this question to yourself… “to whom is this happening?”… will completely silence your mind. The mind cannot go into anything else. It will just stop completely. That is how deeply this question impacts your mind. It consumes the mind. It completely swallows the mind.
Anytime you have a conflict in your mind, anything, just silently ask this question. Lovingly ask this question to yourself with feeling and a very deep interest in the answer.
Don’t let it be just a shallow answer that you get. Just be very deeply interested in the answer. Be very deeply interested in the answer. This does not mean that you answer the question, the answer has to come as a feeling.
Feel it! Feel it! – “To whom is this happening?”
Asked with feeling, you will be directly pointed towards something at the background. A sense of emptiness. A sense of void. A sense of zero-ness, blankness, stillness, silence – whatever you can name. Maybe no names. Maybe nothing, no description, just is! That’s it. That’s how beautiful this question is.
And you have different ways to approach it. You can be in the present moment. Bring your attention to this present moment, and stay in the present moment and you will feel it. You don’t have to answer, just stay ‘present’, and you will feel it.
And that’s it. You will feel yourself as empty, devoid of any thought, devoid of any emotion, devoid of any feeling. Just the feeling of ‘is-ness’, the feeling of ‘I am here’, the feeling of ‘I exist’, the feeling that ‘I belong’, the feeling that ‘I am’, the feeling of ‘me being… here… now’. Just ‘is-ness’.
Or, you can just pay attention to something, focus on something, and feel it. Don’t describe what it is… just feel it. What kind of relationship does that object have to you? Again, you are brought into that same state: emptiness, zero-ness, feeling, is-ness, being-ness, I Am-ness.
So this ‘waking state’ practice that we can do, should be incorporated at regular intervals into our day:
- while we are performing our work
- or when we are indulged in any kind of habitual patterns of thoughts or emotions which are repetitive
We just ask this question ‘to whom’, or we bring ourselves to the present moment, and we are… here.
And as you feel yourself in this moment, you feel a deep sense of emptiness because, when you close your eyes and feel the answer, all you can feel is infinite space within yourself. Infinite space, outside youself. That’s all. It’s a space.
As you ask this question ‘to whom’ in the gap between two thoughts – one thought rising, falling, and giving rise to another thought, falling, giving rise to another thought – the habitual pattern of thoughts, being one continuous stream… breaks… and there you recognize the gap between thoughts, which ultimately is recognized as infinite space on which little thoughts keep popping up and down, dancing up and down.
And there you find – as you feel yourself as a Witnesser, as an emptiness, as zero-ness, as void – that it’s a great way to bring yourself again and again to your Self, to the background Witnesser state of emptiness.
This is the stage one practice.
SECOND STAGE – A WAKING STATE PRACTICE
RECOGNITION OF EVERYTHING – ACCEPTANCE
Now as you go deeper in this practice, you realize that no matter how many times you bring the mind back to this emptiness, there are certain habitual patterns you just can’t seem to get rid of. You realize that you are moved, or pulled, into a certain direction again and again, again and again, again and again.
So your state of peace, of poise, gets compromised due to your getting pulled into certain events, certain habitual thought patterns, certain habitual emotive patterns, and you feel helpless… you can’t break that pattern somehow.
In fact, you have learned a way to escape from everything by doing the first stage practice. You have tried to escape everything by doing this practice (first stage). This is natural. This is what a person experiences. It is not a question of whether that technique is wrong or right. It is, of course, right, but it only leads you to a certain stage of practice and is not applicable in all situations.
Now you have to go deeper with your practice. This brings us to acceptance.
You start to begin accepting everything that comes your way. You don’t try to escape into anything. You try to accept the suffering, the pain, the emotion, the feelings, everything – you accept ‘me’.
So while the first stage of practice was escaping into the Witnesser, here I am allowing the emotions, the thoughts and everything to be just as they are, and then, feeling these. The approach is different, let me tell you that.
There is a subtle difference between the two, but…
You allow everything to be just as it is. You accept every situation just as it is.
Without trying to fix it, without trying to move into the Witnesser, without trying to do anything, but just accepting it, and then, noticing… noticing… that everything is an opportunity to actually point to the Witnesser again.
Every emotion that arises, no matter how intense it is, eventually leads to the Witnesser if you are ready to hold it and endure it, without trying to do anything about it.
If you don’t contaminate it with your usual pattern of trying to fix it through thought, then you are left to deal with it as it is. And if you are ready, if you are willing to deal with it as it is, then you see the truth in it.
You recognize the importance of enduring all your feelings and gain strength from doing this.
You realize that your wisdom deepens by staying with everything God and Consciousness throws at you. You learn to endure and simply ‘be’ with it. You learn to surrender to everything without being in a hurry to move into the Witnesser.
You learn the art of surrendering to everything with joy.
So then, you don’t try to fix it by moving into anything. It automatically leaves you, just like every wave that arises eventually falls into the ocean. Similarly, every feeling, every emotion, everything, eventually falls back into that ‘ocean of Witnesser’. Everything is pointing to that. You only have to recognize it.
So the first stage was recognizing the space – the gap – the Witnesser. Here is an opportunity, it’s not eliminating anything, or bypassing anything, but actually embracing everything.
By embracing everything, by accepting everything – just as it is – you learn that your shift is a natural shift. It’s not from manipulating anything. You are naturally able to go into it. You ‘intuit’ that everything becomes an invitation.
Everything becomes an opportunity to recognize the background Witnesser – EVERYTHING.
So you don’t judge it. You don’t give opinions about it. You just embrace it. And by just embracing it, by allowing it, by letting it remain as it is, you start to feel your feelings, and you are able to ‘intuit’ that strong certitude of ‘presence’ – of ‘being’ – within yourself. You intuit both of these states.
This is something that happens. It’s not an exclusive witnessing state. It’s both these shifts, both of them. You can shift from one to another, very easily. Because you are not fearful of anything, you develop an inner strength of enduring everything that happens to you.
Every story, every thought, every emotion, let it all be – just as it is. You have to just feel it within yourself.
You are allowing it to be – just as it is.
You are centering everything within yourself. You are bringing all of it within yourself, allowing your entire spirit to consume the totality of what you are, without going into thought, without going into mind thoughts. You are not going into that, you are just going into yourself.
But here you are not asking any question, you are not doing any technique, nothing.
You are just allowing everything to be just as it is, and just noticing what happens to you.
Simple mere noticing of what happens to yourself, and you see that everything is just settling into your ‘being’ again. It is acceptance – recognition, as everything, as an opportunity to fall into the Witnesser, again and again. This is how it graduates to this stage. The second stage.
THIRD STAGE – A SITTING PRACTICE
And now, the third stage. After the second stage, what happens?
After that, we are talking about, in terms of practice, what we call ‘implosion’, having accepted everything, having paid attention to everything, having embraced everything, without trying to fix anything in any way.
Being a true Bhaka… in Jnana you are also being a Bhakta… means that you are being devoted to everything that God has given to you. You are truly opening your heart to everything that is there within you, without polluting it through any thought, polluting it in any way by your perception of it. Without translating it, without labelling it, you are going sheerly by what you are feeling within yourself. You are bringing everything, every pain, every emotion, every feeling, centered to yourself.
What happens is that when you are not wasting any of your energy trying to fix anything, it brings all the energy into one place. It centers everything in one place.
Your habitual patterns will try to fight against it. It will try to tell you something – it’s not right – do something about it – but you remind yourself that you don’t need to fix anything, you just need to feel everything that is there within yourself.
Whatever is happening to you, you are ready to accept it, you are ready to embrace it, you are ready to invite it within yourself, within your being. You are ready to get consumed into the fire of what is given to you. You are ready to get burned in it.
Slowly… slowly, you feel that there is a burning that is taking place within your body.
This means that your habitual patterns of vasanas are starved by your attention. You have brought your attention to your being. And because of that, a war, a churning takes place within yourself, a churning. A Nadi churning. You are going to the opposite of what your habitual patterns are.
So due to this churning, a lot of energy is going to get consumed. Yes, initially it will be a lot of energy that will be consumed. You will feel that you have become very drained from this process that you are doing.
You may want to lie down. Your head may become heavy. You may become completely incapacitated. Maybe for days you will just feel so lazy that you don’t want to do any work. Moving a finger will feel like you are moving a mountain. Talking to somebody will feel like you have been asked to play a rugby match.
It will be very difficult for you to do anything during this time because of the churning taking place within you. One of your habitual patterns is fighting against what you have… the discriminating faculties within yourself. God-united patterns within yourself are now trying to dominate against the earlier patterns, and the earlier patterns will try to fight against you, creating a drainage of energy. This is a normal side effect you will experience when you do the ISIP implosiveness. It is a natural thing. It is a natural state. It is a natural side effect of what is going to happen.
First, there is going to be a lot of draining of energy. The mind will scare you and tell you many things: that you are going to go crazy, you are not doing your work properly and your body will ache… different parts of the body.
Specifically, you may experience back problems or neck problems. The lower back, the neck, these are two areas… and the top of the head, this will become, very, very heated.
These are all symptoms that you are progressing well, though the mind will say that there is something going wrong, it is not right, it will want you to check your practice, is it correct or not. But this is very natural.
The sign that you are progressing well on this third stage is that, in spite of the bodily pain, no matter how excruciating it is, there will be a deep sense of happiness, and a growing sense of peace within you.
You will also feel that you are in control of everything. There will be an awareness within you that will tell you that you are doing fine. You are doing fine. You are fine. You are really progressing on the right path. Many other things will happen that will give you encouragement. They are like signposts, letting you know that you are progressing in the right way.
- First will be nada. You could hear sounds, internal sounds.
- Or, you could see bright lights when you close your eyes.
- Or your breathing will stop sometimes and you will not feel like breathing too much. You will just want to relax into your breathing, just normal breathing.
- Or you could have involuntary heart movements. Sometimes your heart may beat very fast, sometimes you heart may beat very slow.
All these processes you will start to learn, automatically, about yourself. As the implosion starts to take place, these are some of the effects of how your body may function.
So these are the three stages of practice. The first two stages are the ‘waking state’ practices, and the third stage is the sitting ISIP meditation.
But it does not mean that of the three stages I am talking about that the third stage of ISIP is more important than the first stage of answering the question ‘to whom?’. No, it does not mean that.
I want to clarify here a very important point. Many people have this misconception. Many people might feel that, “Oh, Rajiv is saying that ISIP is bigger than the question ‘to whom?’ that Sri Ramana recommends’”. It is not like this.
It is important to understand that every stage of practice… the first, the second and the third… are each important and compliment each other. If you are doing the first stage of practice and not doing the second, or doing only the third stage and not doing the first, then you are missing something.
The important thing here is for you to intuit which of the three stages of practice you want to do at different times, because all of you are going through different experiences in life. All of you are into different areas of knowledge, different ways of functioning. Your body-mind mechanisms are different.
So you know yourself better than anyone and need to be your own doctor. You need to be your own therapist. You need to know ‘this is where I am lacking’, ‘this is what I need’ and that ‘I need to do this practice more than that practice’. ‘I need to do the waking state practice more than my sitting meditation’ or ‘I am lacking in sitting, so I need to do sitting more than waking state’.
So all these three stages of practice are equal in importance. Don’t think that the ISIP sitting meditation is more important than the stage one waking state meditation, or that stage one is less than the stage two, no. They are all equal. You have to decide which one is appropriate for you at that particular time.
The second misconception that people have is that they must do ISIP even when they are in a state of deep abidance, or joy, or presence. When the ‘intoxication’ takes place, they disturb their joy, their sense of presence, or their sense of deep abidance in the Self by doing the ISIP sitting meditation.
ISIP sitting meditation should not be done… should not be done… if there is a natural abidance of peace and joy within you.
Do not disturb your peace. Do not disturb your joy. Do not disturb your poise, your equanimity, by doing any of the ISIP technique. Do not do that.
ISIP should only be done when you feel that your Awareness has fallen lower and you cannot raise it high enough and you are struggling with thoughts, or you are not able to sit for a long time in meditation, or you feel that you are not able to maintain the peace, the equanimity, your joy, for a longer duration of time. It should only be done then.
So when I say about being disciplined, because I don’t know who’s a beginner here, who’s intermediate, or who’s advanced here – it’s all dependent on you… you have to decide.
Each one of you must decide, ‘this is the extent to which I need to do ISIP’.
And again I am saying, an advanced disciple should not feel that he does not need ISIP, that only a beginner needs ISIP. That again is wrong.
It is possible that even very advanced disciples or students who are very near to the state of peace, may not be able to retain or sustain the state of poise and peace, or joy, for a longer period of time. They may only be able to do it for a few hours in a day and then they slip back into body-mind identification, they slip back into their normal patterns; for them ISIP should be there.
At the time you slip back, whether you are advanced, intermediate, or beginner, the rule is the same:
The moment you realize that you are slipping back, you need to use the three stages of practice.
Use any of the three stages outline above and see which one is the one that connects you to your peace, connects you to your joy, and bring your mind instantly there.
In the third stage of practice, implosion, we are talking about the ISIP sitting meditation. ISIP as a technique is not implosion. ISIP as a technique is only a door towards implosion. The implosion can happen even when you are out walking. In a moment. So it could happen in the waking state.
You are dealing with so many emotions at one time, and you are taking time to process these in your ISIP meditation. It is processing these. But, implosion can very much happen while you are walking, or even eating. Anything can happen at any time, so implosion does not mean only the ISIP sitting meditation. Implosion means any of these three stages of practice can be used to ‘implode’.
The first stage, recognition of the gap or space, the second stage, recognition as an opportunity, and the third stage, the ISIP sitting meditation.
You need to figure out which of these three stages to use at what degree, to what extent, and how. And I believe that there should be a balanced way that you approach these three stages of practice. When you do it in a very balanced manner, then you will be in a better situation to understand ‘how’ and ‘what’ you need.
In sitting meditation, when you are doing the ISIP sitting meditation, when you raise the energy upwards, into the Sahasrara by the ‘freeze and release’ method, for example, you are stimulating various brain cells, neural pathways (as I had said the other day in the earlier Satsang) and that is equally important as the other stages of practice, but it is only an aid.
Everything is an aid, everything is a help, so that you are progressing towards your goal, that is, Self-Realization.
I come back to my earlier point, which is:
- be more concerned with your practice,
- how honestly you are able to practice,
- how honestly you feel that you have put your best effort into the three stages of practice.
And then intuit for yourself which one is working best for you.
When the implosion happens – whether from stage one, two or three practice, any of these three practices, or a combination of these practices, or one exclusive practice, whatever you intuit as best for you – all the energy from various bodily activities, mind thought processes, emotional processes, are brought into one place, creating an implosion within yourself, creating tremendous heat.
And like I said, in the earlier stages you will feel that you are drained of all your energy. But later on you will feel that something is bubbling inside of you – a joy, a sense of happiness – you will feel that your reservoir of energy is increasing, if you are able to handle the initial discomfort that happens due to ISIP, due to implosiveness.
ISIP – the Implosive Self Inquiry Protocol™ – is a combination of all these things, not just the sitting meditation.
This is another misconception many people have, that is, when I say ‘ISIP’, they feel ISIP is just ‘sitting’; doing Omkars here and there, and freeze and release, etc. It is not like that. ISIP includes all of these three stages of practice.
- The two waking stages
- asking the question ‘to whom’
- coming to the present moment
- recognizing the gap, the space
- accepting everything
- and imploding with your sitting meditation
All of these together make up ISIP, and the balanced way is for you to find which of the three stages create a churning within yourself. What is creating a stirring, a stir within yourself? What is creating it?
And then as things start to stir within yourself, the energies start to remain in the higher spiritual centers, activating the higher brain cells, staying there for a long period of time, able to sustain the life-force upwards.
So, my rule for you is… my pointer for you about this is:
When there is peace and when there is joy, when there is stillness, do not disturb it by doing the ISIP sitting meditation. Do not do the ISIP sitting meditation when you are experiencing peace and joy.
Second, do not get worried, do not get scared if there are ‘side effects’ such as: you feel very drained, you feel very lazy, you don’t feel like working, you feel incapacitated. Don’t feel worried about it.
Third, don’t feel sad, and unless you have a medical problem, an earlier medical problem, do not be paranoid if you experience any body aches in your body, because lower back problems are normal, neck problems are normal. These can happen as the Kundalini starts to travel its way upwards. A hammering at the base of the spine happens.
Many other things happen, your dreams become vivid, many phenomena take place. You become more aware of the waking state and your dream state and participate in your dreams which can be very entertaining… entertain yourself, don’t get worried about it. Don’t feel that you don’t have the proper rest. This is all anxiousness and anxiety that is created by your mind.
Know these are all signs of the Kundalini travelling to higher states of your Awareness. Do not get worried by any of this. However, if there is a medical issue, please use your discretion and, if you feel it is necessary, see your doctor.
But don’t worry needlessly, because the Awareness within you will definitely tell you what you need to do… you will have a very sweet sense of presence, a sweet sense of assurance within yourself that will guide you. There will be just the sweet sense of assurance. I cannot explain to you in words what it is, it just is.
No matter how much your body is paining, no matter how much your head is paining, no matter what is happening within you, no matter how vivid your dreams are, no matter if you have out-of-body experiences, no matter what scary experiences you may have, no matter what pleasurable experiences you may have, no matter what is happening, you will still feel a sense of happiness within yourself.
It will be a growing sense of happiness, and a detachment from thought, a detachment from ordinary emotions, a detachment from ordinary feelings. These will all be harmonized, spiritualized, for your higher good; which is to center you within yourself, to center you, and remind you to be devoted to your God, to yourself. You will automatically know this.