Advaita and Yoga

Question

I remember when I first started on the path, reading Eckhart Tolle and Advaita teachers. I had this feeling of freedom, that I was complete as I am. I know Ananda is the path for me, but sometimes, it feels like I’m searching for something I am not yet, and practicing techniques so that I can get somewhere. This can lead to a feeling of being disconnected, unworthy, and incomplete, rather than knowing that I am whole already and dwelling in that quiet knowledge. How can I reconcile this?

—Surya, United Kingdom

Answer

Dear Surya,

You ask a very important question. I know what you mean about the response to Advaita (non-dual) philosophy. What inevitably happens, though, is that minutes after our reading is finished, we revert to dualistic actions. It is a wonderful philosophy but we have to actually be in that state of consciousness not just reading about it. It is easy to imagine that a description of Advaita is the actual state of Advaita. So no matter what else we do, including coming onto a specific path, we are going to encounter the simple fact that we are not yet in that exalted state.

The paradox of life and of the spiritual path is to sensitively balance the oscillation between the freedom of being complete in this moment, with the entanglements and attachments of our mind. The latter requires purification, effort, and grace in order to find increasing release from their grip. Meditation is the premier practice to get us to enter a state of quietude when thoughts subside and we can feel our soul’s happy, ever-at-rest and eternal freedom! Then, that feeling is taken into the day and pauses throughout the day taken to feel the purity of an “un-entangled” soul behind our thoughts and actions!

Thus by effort and by divine grace of God and guru, our soul rises like the sun at dawn. As Lahiri Mahasaya put it, “Banat, banat, ban jai!” (Doing, doing, soon done!) Okay?

Blessings to you,
Nayaswami Hriman