Advanced Yoga Practices
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Lesson 84 - The Art of Doing Nothing
New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the archive, as previous lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, “Why This Discussion?”
Date: Tue Jan 13, 2004 0:29pm
Q: Krishnamurti and other interesting people say that it is wrong to focus on techniques because there is no technique for meditation. Meditation is all the time, here and now. Doing a mantra and using pranayama is using a technique. And I reason it is to raise my energy level and tune in so that I can experience bliss and the world in its deepest levels. But why do some teachers say that techniques are wrong and that they will mislead you – and they give then no instruction but saying be aware, or maybe not even that. Why, does that fit into the yogic understanding?
A: It is only a theory, but perhaps people like Krishnamurti are like successful mountain climbers who have lost their memory. They stand on top of the mountain and say to everyone down in the valley, “You don’t have to do anything. Just automatically wake up on the top of the mountain like I did. You are here already.” They were born at or close to enlightenment, and apparently have no recollection of all the work they did in previous lives to produce that situation. If we do nothing, we will eventually reach enlightenment a kazillion years from now. If we do something, it will be much sooner. There are certain methods that are known to advance the enlightenment process. That is what yoga is.
Each chooses their own path, to do or not to do. Even a path of consciously doing nothing (or “being aware”) is a doing. In a real sense, the meditation we do here is doing nothing. We just set a condition in the mind, and the mind does the rest. It goes to stillness. We don’t do anything. The nervous system does it all once we set the initial condition. So, technically, I agree that doing nothing is the way. But doing nothing effectively is an art. It is the art of meditation. All of the other advanced yoga practices are also arts of doing nothing. We set initial conditions, and the nervous system takes over. We don’t have to do anything once the natural abilities of the nervous system take over. Yoga is the art of nudging the nervous system in certain ways and then doing nothing.
Ramakrishna said yogis are like well diggers, and there are three kinds. The first kind finds the tools, digs the well (to enlightenment) and then jumps in, taking the tools with him. No one knows how he did it. The second kind of yogi finds the tools, digs the well, and jumps in. But this guy leaves the tools behind lying around on the ground where others can find them. The third kind of yogi finds the tools, digs the well, and hangs around for a while, showing everyone who comes around the tools and how to use them.
Maybe there is a fourth kind of yogi — one who is born enlightened, has no recollection about the tools he used in past lives, and tells everyone, “You don’t need tools. Just be enlightened. It is easy. See? Here is the well. Just be aware and you will see you are in it already.” Like that. Who knows? One thing is for sure. While yogis like Krishnamurti are inspiring, they can’t offer much practical help to most people. Maybe a few high souls can benefit from them. It is a pretty exclusive club. The rest of us need a more comprehensive approach. Yoga! We need to do something in order to do nothing.
The guru is in you.
Note: For more on the role of yoga practices in relation to “self-inquiry” (jnana-advaita) approaches to enlightenment, see the AYP Self-Inquiry book and Liberation book. See also AYP Plus.