Sunday, 07 January 2007 02:30

The Transformational Imperative

Like alcoholics at a twelve-step meeting, we must admit the truth: existence has become unmanageable for the human species. At every level, from individual emotional stability to couple and family relationships to global politics, life is in deadlock. There is no solution to our problems—or even the possibility to will a solution—so long as human consciousness remains at its current level of incomplete development. Our conflicted egocentric psychic economy, reflected in our sociopolitical conflicts, must be transcended. Our addiction to the drives and pleasures of the ego—to its nasty attributes like narcissism, greed, hatred, prejudice, aggression, deception, venality, and denial—is destroying our collective existence.

If we are going to survive, we must evolve rapidly to higher levels of consciousness. This has been the deepest yearning of humanity since the dawn of recorded time, the raison d’etre of every religion, the message of every great prophet and sage in history. But now our time has run out. We cannot wait for some messiah or avatar or revolutionary movement or benign extraterrestrials or any other form of utopian Other to accomplish the redemption for us. We must do the work of inner transformation ourselves—and do it immediately.

The transformation of consciousness has become THE existential imperative. We either transform now or succumb to extinction. Whether we succeed or fail as an evolutionary experiment will be determined by us, the set of presently existing human beings. And the transformation required can only be achieved one human being at a time. It cannot be mass-produced, although we can accelerate the process by creating a planetary culture that supports this achievement. But someone must go first. We ourselves, each of us who become aware of the imperative, must become role models of the attainment of that supreme ideal.

Each of us must take responsibility for our own inner development—for achieving ego death, followed by sacred rebirth as manifestations of the one Cosmic Self. Out of the illusion that we are many, we must realize we are one—this is the real meaning of the credo on the U.S. dollar bill: E Pluribus Unum. What is necessary is not an egoic parody of unity, in the form of submission to empire, or empty new-age nostrums that mask the persistence of infantile ego-systems, but the authentic oneness of the Divine Presence, made possible through rigorous disciplines of self-transformation, meditation, and radical paradigm shift.

It is an ethical imperative that we make the project of self-transformation the top item on our life’s agenda. Without the attainment of sacred rebirth into our highest and most genuine potential Selfhood, all else is in vain. We owe such a metamorphosis to our loved ones, to our ancestors and our descendants—but most of all, we owe it to our Self, to the Source of our existence, to the supreme power and intelligence that has created us all.

It is not only a moral but a psychological imperative that we transform now. Unless we do, the dark shadow forces in our psyche will wreak havoc with our emotional stability, if they are not doing so already. As the collective psychic energies on the planet become more chaotic and pathological, the waves of anxiety, paranoia, and despair threaten to overwhelm us. The unshakeable peace and serenity of our inmost Being is our only refuge in such a time. To reach the sheltering energies of the One—our immanent/transcendent God-Self—the ego must first be transfigured, made transparent to the supernal Light that shines from our inner depths.

It can even be said that transformation is a political imperative. Both left and right wing movements have in the past century brought about horrors of mass murder and enslavement. Without a transformation of consciousness, there is no way to overcome systemic corruption, scapegoating, and power-madness. Unfortunately, the left has jumped to the wrong conclusions from Marxist and postmodern insights into the class, gender, race, and other identity conflicts that lie behind the fraying façade of unity characterizing contemporary societies. But political revolution, even were it possible, would not lead to a transformation of consciousness. The same egoic forces win every political battle. The ego itself must be conquered—no other sort of revolution will suffice.

The egoic multitudes that populate today’s empires can never attain unity or harmony so long as they remain in the trance of false consciousness. Aggression, deceit, and projection are inherent to the ego. As frustration increases, the paranoid collective ego is prone to psychotic lashing-out as well as suicidal collapse.  This is why ever more authoritarian regimes are being imposed, and human rights gradually eliminated. No empire can maintain hegemony for long over the sectarian hordes that are overrunning one failed state after another.

But it should not be overlooked that the ego is inherently schismogenetic. Schisms will eventually break apart every movement, every group, and every governing coalition. Not even spiritual groups are immune to this tendency of egocentric behavior. Only transcendence of the ego can make durable unity possible. There can be no long-term cohesion even within the most rigid sects unless such a revolutionary psycho-spiritual development takes place. Eventually, as Hobbes predicted, egos will be in a state of total war of all against all. Spiritual transformation is imperative because it alone can create a new political event horizon. It alone has the power to potentiate the creative energies that can stimulate a global cultural renaissance.

The current perilous biopolitical situation of human beings is a blessing in disguise. It forces us to do what we would otherwise leave to future generations. But there will be no future human lifetimes on this planet if we do not act now to change the course of our destiny from our present suicidal trajectory toward one that is realigned with the power of love and truth. The current situation also makes clear that real power is not in the hands of the political elites any longer. As the world’s political systems devolve, their breakdown is leaving a vacuum. The legitimacy of the old order, the established identificatory alignments, including extended families and religious organizations, is dissolving in dysfunction, in scandal and hypocrisy, in empty ritual and irrelevance.

Many people, unable to contemplate the dizzying possibilities of this period of kaleidoscopic change, remain stunted and stifled in their futile enmeshments with obsolete signifiers of identity and status. The majority has chosen denial as a way of avoiding the anxiety of radical uncertainty. Others have entered a period of spiritual nomadism. They are wandering through a desert of meaningless social activity, or else have embarked upon a determined search for higher understanding, seeking a Star to lead them to a new Bethlehem—some to a manger where they themselves can be reborn as avatars. Some seek new fountains of truth and genuine love. They seek to align themselves with those who display the signs of true worthiness: egoless wisdom, incorruptibility, dispassion, universal love, purity of mind and life, unshakeable inner peace and serenity.

The problem is: life has a long learning curve. Everyone on a spiritual path is growing, aspiring toward the absolute of human perfection, but few have reached it. We stumble on the way, and sometimes we fall. And those we look up to will also fall, from time to time. This recognition of frailty in ourselves and even in our teachers and guides must always keep us humble in our attitude toward others, not judgmental or vengeful, but always forgiving.

Our loyalty to God grows as we learn, and gradually we renounce our temptations as we find the balm of acceptance and healing in God’s grace. Because we cannot wait for perfect individuals to appear, we must take the risk to sculpt our own perfection, and to go as far as possible using conscience as our compass, serenity as our barometer, and the wisdom of great sages as our inspiration.

When we meet someone who can take us further on our journey, who can open our eyes to deeper truths and more universal love, we ought not refuse the opportunity to grow. We must gain genuine autonomy, discernment, and inner union with the One Light.

Working through the egoic distortions of our thought processes, fomented by unconscious anxieties, is an extremely difficult undertaking. It is the Great Work, as the alchemists have said, but it must be approached with reverence and trepidation. It is like walking a razor’s edge. To have any chance of succeeding, we must learn the art of meekness, yet boldly wield the dagger of Truth.

As Christ has taught us, the meek shall inherit the earth. Communities of those dedicated to the ideal of meekness (a word that derives from Sanskrit via Latin, mansuetudo, meaning one whose true Self, swa, has conquered his egoic mind, manas) are now forming, guided by those with sufficient integrity and equanimity to have transcended at least most of the lower egoic identifications, and who support one another in achieving ever higher development of goodness and spiritual power. They are learning to work together to overcome psychic barriers to developing fearless, truth-seeking, compassionate, holocentric, narcissism-free relationships. Such communities, learning to live in harmony once again with Nature, developing sustainable ecological modes of production and consumption—if they can also maintain ethical and ego-transcendent modes of conscious interbeing—are destined to prosper and provide models for the next age of humanity.

It is imperative that we ourselves become such beings of simplicity and wise living, of pure faith and divine power, not simply worshippers of one or another being who achieved that goal in the past. It is the only way to survive and benefit from this time of troubles, and to be a blessing to others.

We must become Buddhas, not merely Buddhists. We must be avatars of Vishnu and Shiva, not merely Hindus who worship them. We must be Christed, not be content with remaining mere believing Christians. We must become prophets of Allah, not mere proselytizers. We must alchemically transform, not just be scholars of alchemy.

We must metabolize the highest human psycho-spiritual potentials that lie dormant within us, not simply preach or philosophize about that possibility. Our surrender to God must be complete, not mere lip service. Let us use all the tools and insights of every religion, every philosophy, every science, every school of psychoanalysis and therapy to attain this goal. It is necessary to overcome our limited identification with any single religion or ideology and open to receive the wisdom of our entire human heritage of intellectual and spiritual development. We need all the help we can get.

Today, as never before, the physical sciences also converge on the emergent unifying spiritual paradigm to offer support and crucial insights into the processes of transformation and transcendence. Science in past centuries led human consciousness away from the chains of religion. But that was religion that had fallen into degraded and dogmatic misunderstanding of its own mythologically-coded information streams.

Today, every field of science has been revolutionized by the recognition of the necessity to factor in the reality of consciousness. In physics, the most recent mindbending theoretical breakthroughs—mindbending from the Newtonian perspective, but commonplace to realized yogis—in quantum physics and cosmology, yielding such concepts as higher dimensions and parallel universes, relativity, wormholes and time travel, and most importantly, of the fundamental place of consciousness in the constitution of reality—have served to re-legitimize the metaphysics of the Yogis of ancient India.

The same metaphysical insights are at the core of every esoteric tradition, continually reaffirmed by prophets, mystics, and sages of all religions. New understandings in evolutionary biology supporting the concept of intelligent design have even destabilized the neo-darwinian dogma that has limited the scientific imagination to a flattened reductionistic account of reality. The dead-end of materialism is being overcome in minds that had been ideologically hammered into submission for centuries. A renaissance of scientific spirituality is taking place, one that no longer needs to hide in the corners or apologize for its failure to accept the death of God.

Science is re-energizing the spiritual quest. Psychology is helping even more. The overthrow of the old behavioral paradigm that denied the existence or relevance of consciousness has brought the vastness of the unconscious and superconscious realms back into theoretical play in the therapeutic culture wars.

Great efforts are underway to integrate psychoanalysis with the insights of Buddhism and Advaita. Jungian analysis, archetypal and transpersonal psychology movements are all advancing, capturing the hungry imagination of new graduates in the field. Lacanian analysis has triumphed in many of the world’s psychoanalytic communities, an approach that unmasks the illusory nature of the ego, and leads to “benign depersonalization,” a concept compatible with the nondualist teachings of Eastern spiritual paths. Sullivanian analysis and post-Kohutian approaches are coming to similar understandings.

European poststructural philosophy, extending the work of such thinkers as Husserl, Heidegger, Foucault, Derrida, and Deleuze has also taken a spiritual turn, recharging the field of non-dualist theology. Dazzling thinkers such as Kitaro Nishida, Shinichi Hisamatsu, Keiji Nishitani, and Masao Abe, of the Kyoto School of Zen philosophy, have forged an elegant rapprochement between Buddhism and Western theology and philosophy. God, no longer reduced to an anthropomorphic Other, but now in the formless form of Absolute Nothingness, the unknowable yet immediately present truth of our intelligent self-aware universe, is making a comeback.

We must, of course, ensure that the transformational urge does not become re-appropriated by egoic religion. Sat Yoga is not a religion but a secular set of experimental psycho-spiritual practices. These are protected by ethical parameters that ensure that the results do not become contaminated or misused by the ego. The secular nature of Yoga has led to its adoption as a psycho-technology by all the religions of the East. Meditative practice transcends all possible discursive paradigms. Thus, there are literatures of Shaivite yoga, Vaishnavite yoga, Advaita yoga, Buddhist yoga, and Taoist yoga, to name but a few.

Unfortunately, in the West, the signifier “yoga” has in recent years come popularly to refer to a recent elaboration of one of its preliminary practices, that of asanas, the well-known physical stretching and balancing postures, rather than the true aim of yoga, the achievement of samadhi—which is the state of pure awareness in which all thought-constructs and other mental noise have been eliminated.

The physical practice of asanas played only a small role in the preparatory transformational activities of the original Yogis. Read even a late text like the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and you will find little reference to asanas. The point of asana practice was simply to learn to sit comfortably in order to be able to meditate for long periods without moving. The Yoga Sutras are dedicated to the attainment of samadhi and the attendant siddhis, the psycho-spiritual powers that come along with advanced mental development.

Today’s stunted understanding of Yoga as a form of physical exercise is a symptom of the narcissistic degradation and materialism that have contaminated even the most profound spiritual traditions. The emphasis on physical prowess has led to the unfortunate spectacle of exhibitionistic hatha yogis more proud of their ability to stand on their head than to overturn their ego.

The goal of Sat Yoga is nothing less than the transformation and transcendence of ego-consciousness. Through its practices, we can learn to live in the supramental levels of our Being. Sat Yoga carries forward the work of many modern sages, including Sri Aurobindo, whose integral yoga aims at the downloading of the Supermind into our individual consciousness. The main difference between Sri Aurobindo’s effort and our own is that Sat Yoga imports the clinical wisdom gained in the West through a century of psychoanalytic exploration into the praxis of transformation. By applying such skills as symptom and dream analysis in one-to-one atmanology sessions of free associative self-inquiry, while being held in the safety of a positive pranic energy field, yielding the gradual understanding of drives based on subconscious phantasy structures, and promoting a revitalization of cellular energies, the process of transformation is greatly accelerated.

The term Sat Yoga means union with our essential noumenal Being. This use of the term Being refers to what is more appropriately called the Ground of Being. It is the fundament of Being that is beyond the dualities of being and non-being, the ultimate Real that no words can adequately explain or describe. Therefore, we sometimes also refer to It as our Supreme Being.

In other words, Sat Yoga is the disciplined practice of living egolessly. Meditation is the core activity of Sat Yoga. Serious practitioners make the time to sit regularly for about an hour at a time twice a day, in addition to occasional retreats in which we sit for eight or ten hours daily, in a state of mental silence, with our whole attention centered on the Self within. Eventually, the tendency to produce egoic thought constructs subsides and the Self emerges in fullness. Our transpersonal identity reveals itself as timeless presence, serenity, love, clarity, wisdom, luminosity, and all-embracing emptiness.

To achieve the ultimate transfiguration, the ego must first be purified. Three overarching vows prove useful: commitment to a simple lifestyle that supports transformation; continual analysis of one’s ego dynamics; and daily engagement in benevolent actions that inspire others to bring out the best that is in them. Transubstantiating the ego is the best gift we can offer to humanity.

Human psychological transformation is imperative. Let us quickly do our own inner work and then help as many others as possible. Self-realization is not a luxury for the upper classes. It is the only means of liberation for all beings everywhere. It is also the ultimate adventure. Here is a cause that can be the vehicle of endless creativity, insight, and delight.

To open the heart to the awesome energies of divine love is the sweetest bliss. To live in virtue and nobility of spirit is the most profound satisfaction. To dwell in ceaseless mindful union with the Absolute is an incomparable rapture. Transformation is imperative. It is also our destiny, our timeless telos in this cosmic play that is the sport of the Supreme Intelligence. There is a profound urge within us all to realize our oneness with the Creator, the Dreamer of this strange and wondrous dream that is the universe. This urge will manifest spontaneously at some moment. But we can accelerate that occurrence by our efforts to achieve Self-realization. Let us, therefore, enter courageously into the unknown Presence that is the Self, assent to the ascent, the advent of the great adventure: our conscious transformation into the full manifestation of who and what we already are eternally—we have nothing to lose but our suffering.
Sat Yoga Institute © Copyright 2006-2013
All Rights Reserved
Restore Default Settings