Continuity & Change

By Swami Nirmalananda

Life is constant change.  Yoga’s ancient texts clearly describe this constant change in exquisite detail.  They explain that this world is based on change, a constant progression of events that are sequencing themselves through time.  There are two types of change, regardless of whether you are creating the change or whether it is being thrust upon you.

One change is simply for the sake of novelty or variety, also called entertainment. This is the one that you see most commonly — society’s norm.  A superficial type of change, sometimes you want to change things around just for the novelty of it.  A woman described to me that she drives a different route to work every day.  I asked her why, and she said, “A change is nice.”  Yes, it is.  However, usually you crave variety in order to distract you from what is going on inside.  There are inner blocks preventing your access to the deeper dimension of your own being, so you look for something to create an enjoyable diversion on the outside.

The other type of change is called personal growth. This is a change that clears the inner blocks preventing your experience of your own blissful, eternal, immortal essence.  Of course, if you don’t clear out these inner blocks through yoga, life’s seemingly random events will force you to this change.  Personal growth is actually an opening into consciousness, sometimes in spite of yourself.  It is the clearing away of the inner constrictions that currently block your deep inherent knowing of your own being as Consciousness-Itself.

When you do Svaroopa® yoga, you are choosing the personal growth type of change.  Whatever gets you started in yoga, when you get the thing you wanted — you were changed.  Maybe you wanted help with your physical aches and pains, healing on more subtle levels (to calm your mind or heal your emotions), or for stress relief and relaxation.  When you get what you have come for, you are changing.  This is personal growth, not just a type of entertainment.  This is an opening into consciousness.

Maybe you even started Svaroopa® yoga because you wanted to open the inner spiritual dimensions, but when they open — it is still a change from where you were.  Many of you are experiencing all of these changes simultaneously: healings, relaxation and opening into consciousness.  That’s one of the best things about yoga.

Along with change, you also want stability, safety, consistency and security in your life.  You have or you want a home, as well as to work in a fulfilling profession with a satisfying level of personal income and other things as pillars in your life.  You may have pets and you want them to be healthy and live a long time; you want your family members to be healthy and happy, and to live for a long time.  It takes a lot of work to pull this off — you have to do the laundry, get the car serviced, water and weed the garden, and spend time with the people in your life, even when they are cranky and unhappy – or especially when they are cranky and unhappy.  You have to remember their birthdays if you want them to remember yours.

All of this creates an external form of continuity.  You try to create this external continuity because you are hoping for a sense of safety to come from the outside, so the internal levels of panic will subside and your crazy mind will quiet.  The true sense of continuity comes from the innermost essence of your being, the Self.  The Self is consistent, complete, and content — the inner continuity of Consciousness-Itself, Consciousness-Itself being you.

The Supreme Reality of your Own Being is inwardly experienced as unbroken consciousness, the unchanging sense that “I am I.”  It is the unchanging Reality within.  — Shri Shankaracharya, Vivekachudamani

Have you ever been a passenger on a car trip and you nodded off?  You were watching the scenery, and the driver was driving, and you dozed off.  Maybe you were going along through the woods, and then you woke up and you found that you had arrived at the beach.  The outside is completely different and you don’t even know how you got to where you are.  But you still have this sense of inner continuity.  You don’t even have to think of it to make it exist.  You still are who you were, even though you are in a different place.

It’s like this when you go to sleep, even though your mind stops attending to things.  It can rain outside and you don’t know it.  There might be a thunderstorm at night.  The next day, someone says, “Did you hear the thunder?”  “No…  I was asleep.”  You are unaware of the outside, even though things are still going on.  But inside, at a deeper level than sleep, there is the Self.  It never blinks out.  It never goes unconscious — it is Consciousness-Itself.  It is never unaware.  It is always aware — even aware of your sleep.

You may have had the experience that you knew you were sleeping while you were asleep.  The Self is the knower — always aware, knowing all, experiencing all.  The Self is being all.  The one Self has become everything that exists, including you.  So when you wake up, you have this inner feeling of continuity.  Even though your mind was asleep, and the outside was not a continuity of experience, the Self was continuous.  The Self IS continuous.  You exist.

 

Excerpt from Continuity Amidst Change, published October 2003