by Swami Nirmalananda Saraswati & Rukmini Abbruzzi
If we could be there with you, we could ask you a simple question in a very personal way, “Who are you?” What’s the first thing that pops into your mind? Would you say, “I’m a yogi,” or “I’m a wife/husband,” or “I’m a parent?” Instead, what if your very first thought was, “I am Consciousness.”
The goal is to abide in svaroopa-vidya, the experiential knowing of yourself as Consciousness-itself. Once you know, you will never not know. What’s more, you will recognize everyone and everything as an embodiment of the same Divine Reality. This description of your future comes from a yogic text:
Chidaananda laabhe dehaadi.su chetya-maane.svapi. Chidaikaatmya pratipatti daardhya.m jiivamukti.h. — Pratyabhijnahrdayam 16
When the bliss of Consciousness is attained, you are established in the permanent identity of Consciousness, while you experience your body and all objects as forms of Consciousness. This is liberation while alive.
You don’t yet live in that knowingness all the time. Instead, you get your sense of identity and personal meaning from your body, your relationships, your job, your age, your gender, your skills, etc. Think of it all in a new way: you have a body, an age, a job, but these are things you have — not things you are!
All these outer realities are important to you, yet they will inevitably change. You are the unchangeable capital-R Reality that is hidden at a deeper level within. Each of your identities is limited compared to who you really are at the deepest level. The sages describe it like the ocean. You are the whole ocean, with each identity being a current in the ocean. When you’re caught up in the stuff of life, you’re caught in a current, buffeted by the waves. You must dive deeper into your Self, so you know that you are the whole ocean, including the currents and the waves.
Svaroopa® yoga gives you powerful tastes of this deep, calm, peaceful, blissful, expanded state, because your innermost essence opens up when you decompress your spine. Plus the Shavasana at the beginning and end of your classes settle you deeper within. In addition, you are used to the halo effect of your practices, the way your yogic state affects how you show up for life: you are nicer to your family; you take difficult things in stride; your internal pressures lessen or dissolve. Unfortunately, they come back. This happens because your state is not yet steady; you are not yet established in svaroopavidya, the experiential knowing of your own Self.
Svaroopa® yoga poses give you a temporary experience of peace and bliss. When you have this experience, you have stepped into in the beginning stages of enlightenment. Then you lose it. So you need to do more yoga, to experience the peace and bliss of your own Self again. And again. And again, every time you do core opening poses.
Instead of experiencing peace and bliss, what if you experience yourself as the source of peace and bliss? This sutra says you can experience this, and that it will be all of the time. How? By doing more yoga. All of yoga’s practices teach you to be a scuba diver, to dive beneath the waves and swim in the vast inner space of consciousness — your own Self. Swamiji describes the process in an informal sutra:
Again, again and again turns into always.