Yogi in the World

By Swami Prajñananda

The day of my grandma’s funeral, the sun was shining.  I remember thinking how odd it was that Mother Nature continued on while my family’s world was turned upside down.  In the past few months, the whole world has turned upside down.  Yet the sun still shines, the rain still falls and the wind still blows.  So where do we go from here?

As a yogi, you must develop your inner state and you also must act in the world; both are important.  If you deepen your inner state but hide away, the world will not be uplifted by your practices.  However, if you act from a place of fear, then your actions are ineffective, even harmful. Thus, while you participate in the world, you must develop your inner state.

To develop your inner state, meditation is your most important practice.  When you meditate, you are deepening your capacity to abide in the knowing of your own inner being.  Yet do not be so quick to leave that knowing behind when you get up from your meditation seat.  This is when your other yogic practices become important, especially mantra.  When you repeat mantra through the rest of your day, you are streaming consciousness through your mind.  Consciousness is who you really are.  When you weave mantra through your day, you are developing your ability to stay grounded in the state that you discovered in meditation.  Then, when you act in the world, your actions are powerful, uplifting and contagious.

An ancient yogic text explains the state of such a yogi:

Lokaananda.h samaadhi-sukham — Shiva Sutras 1.18

Such a yogi experiences the sweet bliss of the Self in every location and situation, and shares it with others. — Translation by Gurudevi Nirmalananda

Such a yogi is one who has discovered their own inner being, called the Self.  This yogi takes the knowingness of their Self into their life.  The knowing of who you are is blissful.  This is because the nature of your Self is Bliss-Itself.  Just as the nature of water is wet and the nature of fire is heat, the nature of your Self is bliss.  This is why you feel better when you meditate.  Through continued meditation, your ability to abide in the blissful knowing of your Self expands and deepens.  But this sutra does not merely promise bliss.  It goes on to say that you experience the bliss of the Self AND you share it with others.

Bliss is contagious.  You already know when someone is angry: anger spreads and infects those around them.  So why wouldn’t this happen with bliss as well?  Your inner state not only has an effect on you, it has an effect on those around you as well.  As you deepen into your Self, those around you feel it.  Your inner state makes a difference, but only when you step into the world.

While you may still be in the process of deepening into your Self, the Guru is established in Self.  The Guru is the yogi that the text describes: “The Guru experiences the sweet bliss of the Self in every location and situation, and shares it with others.”

The Guru loves to share!  When you spend time with the Guru, their blissful knowing of the Self starts to rub off on you.  While you may not be fully established in that state yet, you are on your way.  The more time you spend with the Guru, the more you deepen into the knowing of your Self.  While you and the Guru are both the Self, the difference is that you don’t know it yet and the Guru does.  Spending time with the Guru is a yoga practice, and it includes being in the Guru’s presence as well as doing the practices the Guru gives you.  To live in the knowing of who you are, spend more time with the Guru.