The ego’s purpose is for survival in a physical world. It thinks of nothing else but to get ahead or to be the one in charge. It wants to manipulate, dominate, and even destroy. Why? For its own survival. It’s a mechanism provided to the soul at birth to compete for food, shelter, and reproduction.
The Atman’s purpose is to awaken the soul or to transcend. Its goal is to lead the soul through the chakras until illumination is accomplished. With each chakra opening, the soul gains more sophistication than just living in the senses for survival. The yearning for spiritual awareness becomes more intense as the soul progresses.
Both the ego and the Atman are always present until liberation or samadhi is accomplished. This happens when the remains or remnants of the ego are, at last, extinguished. This is not a one-time afternoon progression, but a process that takes multiple lifetimes through the chakras.
Until then, the soul carries both the ego and the Atman within itself, and we can use the analogy of a coin as an example. Heads is the Atman and tails is the ego. The Atman strives for what is ahead and the ego clings to what is behind. The sadhu carries this “coin” within his “pocket” every day.
Flip A Coin
The religions, up to this point, have been dysfunctional in their ability to understand this concept. In Christianity, it goes something like this: let’s flip the coin and see where it lands. If its tails, it’s fine because God has the remedy (redemption) for your dysfunction. The more you toss the coin, the better your odds of getting heads, so keep tossing.
The eastern concept is that we are already divine so in tossing the coin, it’s always heads. So, why bother tossing it? Both concepts produce a lackadaisical attitude towards sadhana with very little truth. The concept of tossing is like groping in the dark or being led by the unconscious mind. So, everyone is tossing their coin every day, in various ways.
What gives the soul strength is not in tossing, but in turning. Every day, we can pull the “coin” out of our “pocket” and make choices. The act of turning is the choices that we make within our conscious awareness. If we rely on the unconscious mind for all our actions, then it will always be tails, for this is where the ego dominates within the soul.
The Inner Sanctuary
There’s a space between our unconscious mind and our thinking side. By looking up, the soul dwells in this space or inner sacred place that resides at the apex of the conscious mind. The more we dwell in this space, the wider the space becomes, thus our freedom and creativity to make better choices.
During meditation or contemplation, the soul uses this inner sanctuary to bring wholeness within. It’s like diving into the ocean of love or living waters and resurfacing with the vibrancy of life. It renews and transforms while deepening the spiritual awareness and awakening the soul’s purpose for living.
The inner sanctuary resides within everyone and can be accessed at any time. We dwell in this space during meditation and contemplation, but let’s carry this space over into karma yoga. These are the actions we take when we aren’t sleeping or meditating. Karma yoga, is essentially, the rest of your life while interacting with others.
A Safari Adventure
Our choices, through our actions in daily living, represent our depth of awareness. By increasing our awareness, we make better decisions and increase our own joy, thus the world.
An example in karma yoga is producing excellent service to God and others according to one’s ability. The more exuberant the karma yoga, the happier we become, which, in turn, brings a healing effect to the world around us.
It’s also useful for tackling the samskaras. An example would be at my place of employment, they call issues that come within our awareness, “low hanging fruit”. They are the issues that we can fix if we are paying attention.
If I see a problem and I’m able to tackle it, I’ve plucked the fruit of my issues. I may not have fixed everything, but I’ve made an improvement through my awareness.
It is not that much different in sadhana, but awareness is the key, so let’s use karma yoga to address the “low hanging fruit” or what we can fix.
Let’s transform the inner sanctuary into an inner safari adventure, during karma yoga. We’ve all heard the expression, “It’s a jungle out there.” Indeed, we never know what adventures each day will bring.
Let’s use the example of a factory because that’s where I’ve worked the most. I’m running a machine or a few, and an attractive fellow walks by. There isn’t anything wrong with noticing the beauty of another. Even nature brings beautiful scenes to the world and adds to the awe and wonder of living.
How far the mind dwells into the awe-and-wonder can be tricky. If the mind says, “I want to have this person,” then you’ve stumbled into the sex or lust samskara. Keep working and keep your eye on your machine and your sadhana.
Don’t think that dwelling on these thoughts is harmless, for where the mind focuses, the soul follows. The lust samskara has brought many to the edge of destruction and wrecked many lives.
Imagine that he or she is a lion or tiger or bear attacking. Oh my, what will you do? It’s not really the other person, but your awareness that suddenly comes into play. You understand that a samskara has surfaced into your awareness and you are the only one who can pluck the “fruit” of your awareness.
It is through your awareness that you can see it. This is why it requires active participation and not faith. Faith is the hope that things will get better. Karma yoga is far superior, as it is active and purposeful. You see it and what will you do about it?
The tiger is attacking so stop it dead in its tracks. Pull your dagger or sword from your side and strike it in your mind’s eye, right through the heart. Now, in your mind’s eye, take that picture, crumble it, walk over to the trash can, and throw it away. After that, shake it off, and one more time for good measure.
Like a warrior, you’ve just struck a blow at the samskaras. This can also be done for envy, pride, or any other issue that comes within your awareness. Even if you need to do it fifteen or twenty times a day, you are the sadhu that brings the most joy to the world and the Creator.
The ones who love the Lord will fight their samskaras. Why? The sadhus who strive with diligence in their sadhana, make the most progress. Progress requires active participation and the sadhu who strives is most pleasing to the Lord.
Awakening the Chakras
Karma yoga also includes one’s hobbies for they produce joy and a sense of well-being. These effects are the result of selfless labor or the fruits of the Atman.
For others who choose a deeper and more purposeful change, add to your karma yoga with contemplation and meditation. This will enhance your mind more expediently than karma yoga alone and will begin to awaken the higher chakras.
The soul’s progression becomes more intricate as the soul matures with more chakra openings. The chakras may open rather naturally through certain stages as a child. The stage of an infant is tamas, the next is the “terrible twos” or rajas. Pratyahara occurs at the pre-teen or early teen years.
It is possible that through a poor birth circumstance, the chakras have great difficulty opening for the child, causing depression and behavioral issues. This, by no means, sets the soul on a destructive path for the entirety of a lifetime. The soul can overcome the challenges of a poor upbringing.
It is also possible that a soul with all the advantages of an optimal birth circumstance does not reap the benefits of spiritual growth until much later in life, either through their own lack of initiative, or not using this inner space wisely.
Wisdom isn’t found by reading the scriptures or a collection of wise sayings. It’s found by pondering or contemplating what these personally mean for the soul. This cultivates a rich inner life that begins to awaken the higher chakras. The four pillars of truth, love, action, and humility are very useful for this as well.
The power of contemplation or reflection is turning the coin to heads and looking upwards to the Atman instead of falling back on the unconscious mind and relying on the ego or what is behind. As we look up more, the soul becomes stronger and more resilient in every aspect of living.
Reflection awakens the soul through the stage of dharana or the third chakra. If the soul’s progression is in pratyahara, they can begin to awaken the next chakra, through daily contemplation. If one contemplates easily, the soul is in dharana, at the very least. At best, the soul may be even higher.
There were many hurdles to overcome being raised in Christianity. Today, meditation has been widely introduced into the Christian culture but not during my youth. The Wesleyans and Christian Union denominations discouraged it as an eastern practice and therefore, idolatry.
In my twenties, especially during my seven years of darkness, extreme turmoil followed me every day. There were times that life became so difficult, that I could hardly think, let alone reflect. At that time, I used what’s called today as visualization meditation.
Water was my favorite pastime as a child, so I envisioned a beach near an ocean where the water seemed to go on endlessly. I could feel the warm wind in my hair and watched the tide, as it rolled into shore and back again. I looked up and saw the brightness of the sun and smelled the sweet ocean fragrance. I looked out and saw seagulls flying in the distance and singing their favorite tune.
Looking to the right, I saw a figure in the distance. I watched this figure walking closer and saw His robe blowing in the wind. It was Jesus and I began walking towards Him. The first time I envisioned this, I ran to Him, hugged His knees, and wept. There weren’t words for the depth of my sorrow and anguish, and none were said. I wept until I fell asleep from exhaustion.
Eventually, over time, the scene changed to a park bench suddenly appearing on the beach. He and I sat down together though we never spoke to one another. I could feel His Presence, which was peace and love. We would both look out over the ocean, together, and occasionally, I looked over at Him and saw His long, wavy locks, blowing in the wind. He was my refuge and Friend, in a friendless world.
Visualization meditation is a wonderful addition to sadhana. It also doesn’t involve reflection, which I couldn’t do at the time. It involves using the tools of one’s creative imagination.
Pick your favorite Incarnation or the one you look up to for guidance. Pick the scene that brings you the most joy and fill that space with the Atman’s peace and love. It will transform the soul when times are good and provide stability during difficulties.
If using the imagination is too difficult, try a still-frame of the Incarnation in one’s mind and after a time, a moving frame or picture. Focusing one’s attention on the Incarnations is transforming and a way of just being in the moment. No judgments about oneself. When I sat with Jesus, we never spoke to one another. We simply looked out into the ocean of being, as the waves splashed against the shore.
There are many ways to meditate. Some use breathing techniques, and it’s useful for preparing the mind to meditate, but the breath alone isn’t what transforms. It’s the focus of one’s mind into the inner sanctuary and looking up. If one is concentrating using their creativity, it also silences the chatter that seems never-ending.
For any who have difficulty silencing the chatter inside, passage meditation is also very good for this. Divine passages can be recited inwardly and slowly in the mind and yet this is not another form of guided meditation. It requires great inner attention and awareness. As the wise and noble words are invoked, one by one, it lifts the soul to higher and nobler ways of being.
Passage meditation is positive and transformative. I was not able to use this form in this lifetime. Growing up, I had learning disabilities with concentration and dyslexia. I tried on many occasions but memorizing passages was difficult, and pictures were easier to sustain.
The Damien Effect
In the movie, The Omen, there’s a stark warning for the sadhu represented by the boy, Damien. I’m referring to the original movie with Gregory Peck. The movie must have been written or directed by a bodhisattva and using their divine creativity, brought this to my attention.
The boy, Damien, had special powers, unlike the other children. This represents the sadhu/sadhvi who was in a higher chakra in a previous lifetime. Damien’s powers were superior to the others, so that could quite possibly represent the fifth chakra.
The soul is never stagnant and is always moving in one direction or the other. The chakras opened from a previous life can always be reclaimed but opening the higher chakras still involves more sophistication.
They can be opened once again through selfless service or karma yoga. They can also be reopened through contemplation and meditation. The soul, even without the chakras opening, carries the same level of creativity or soul memory from one life to the next.
The higher the chakra, the more advanced and the richer the creativity. It’s in this that the situation can get a bit tricky. Damien’s powers were twisted toward evil, and it represents the rich creativity of a soul who is looking backward. The base chakra is represented by the dog that keeps appearing. The first time Damian saw it, he smiled and waved.
The higher chakras that should have awakened for Damien, didn’t happen, or the outcome of the movie would have been different. The soul, too, can twist into more darkness, but with more creativity than one who had never reached the chakra in a previous lifetime.
Until the stages of samadhi, souls with the growth of the higher chakras, are in danger of falling should they not use the guardians of the soul, which are contemplation and meditation. By relating to the base chakra, they are in danger of using their rich creativity for evil purposes.
I’ve named it the Damien Effect and out of the hundreds of people I know, I’ve identified three. Their creativity far surpasses the wisdom associated with that much creativity. With the chakra opening, it provides a counterbalance and one’s creativity is useful and positive. If the chakra doesn’t open, then the soul uses the same creativity for evil.
Flipping the coin is relying on faith alone, and when the coin lands, it will always be tails. The soul will naturally cling to what is behind.
Turn your coin daily to heads and the chakras will open with the creativity to match. A rich inner and creative life involves the higher chakras and must be cultivated. Relating to the base chakra is an option and requires no effort, but it can also produce the Damien Effect.
By using the guardians of the soul, there is no danger of falling. Contemplation and meditation will protect the soul, awaken the chakras, and bring more spiritual awareness and growth.
Guard your progress as if it were gold. Don’t associate with the worldly or those who have little spiritual awareness. Don’t associate with the base chakra within the soul either but look up for your redemption.
The cell phone for the use of social media is another stumbling block. There is too much hatemongering and looking down at others. How many times in a day is this behavior repeated? The more time a sadhu spends doing this, the more the soul is twisting towards its lowest chakra and giving the ego its foothold.
If done in moderation and with the right intent which doesn’t involve hate, a sadhu should be able to rise above the snares of social media. It is the same with video games for it puts the mind into a fantasy world, replacing one’s own rich imagination. It becomes a stumbling block when it disrupts a person’s responsibilities or encourages hate and slander.
It is good to have a media fast or video fast for three days or more. Try smaller amounts of time if three days is too long. Looking down or back too often produces the Damien Effect and causes harm to oneself.
Harming others has even worse repercussions, so don’t let the Damien Effect visit your sadhana. Keep your eye on the goal which is looking up within. The Atman will steer you away from a fall and bring with it the fruits of your labor, which are peace, love, and profound joy.