Integration, Relaxation, and Original Innocence

October 19, 2022

Shambhavi talks about integrating practice into daily life and returning to our awakened original innocence. A podcast from Satsang with Shambahvi

In both Trika and Dzogchen there are three aspects or three layers of our practice that are happening simultaneously, maybe sequentially in some cases, but we're trying to have them happen simultaneously.

And the first one is recognition, pratyabhijña, that we have some experience of the base state of reality or the nature of the Self, that we have some direct perception, even if it's fleeting, but some direct perception of how things actually are. This is called recognition.

We cannot really enter into this kind of a practice, which is direct realization practice, very deeply without that recognition because we don't know where we're going if we don't have that.

Now, most of us have some sense of recognition of the real nature of things, even without coming to teachings, even if you're not aware of it, it's kind of what brings us to teachings, as we suspect that maybe we have experience, we recognize some more thorough way of experiencing reality and what is actually going on here.

We have many methods for having recognition. Many of the methods that we use, and especially what is called transmission or direct introduction where something happens with the teacher in the room, could be informal, could be formal, that you recognize as being different than your ordinary experience.

And then you're able to bring that into your own personal practice and sink into that more deeply, or re-recognize it over and over and over again.

And then the second layer, or you could say stage, but it might also just be a layer on top of the first is we have that recognition in such a way that we no longer doubt it. It may not be coming to us very often, but we no longer are thinking, well, maybe that was nothing, maybe I'm just imagining things.

We have a sense of confidence in our perception of the nature of reality or of the Self, and we're able to continue with that confidence and very much deepen our practice. So oftentimes this sort of middle layer is a zone of intense sadhana that people are doing with a lot more confidence about what is actually going on and what this is really about.

And then the third layer is integration, and that is the most important layer. Once we have some kind of recognition, integration means that we are being in the state of our practice, whatever that may be, because it's going to be different for each person.

We're being in the state of our practice. We're remembering our real nature. We're remembering, in some way or another, to be in contact with that primordial wisdom while we are out and about doing our work, having relationships, going to movies, eating at restaurants, strolling around, etc.

Now, there's many ways of doing integrated practice, and some of them involve remaining in the natural state. That is the most thoroughgoing form of integrated practice is that we have an experience in the natural state and we try to remain resting in that when we're going about.

We could also call this resting in the heart space. The practices that we do related to the heart space are all about learning how to find that living presence. I'm using lots of different names for this base state of reality because there are lots of different names for it and some of them might strike you one way and some of them another and maybe some not at all.

But it's good to use all of these different names, the Natural State, Living Presence, God, Shiva Nature, many, many names for this. So the most thoroughgoing, subtle practice is simply to remain resting in your real nature no matter what you're doing. And of course, to do that you have to recognize your real nature and you have to be able to remain in it.

That's what the first two layers are about. But there are many, many other forms of integrated practice you can do before you arrive at that capacity to just remain in the natural state.

Ayurveda is one of them, eating correctly for your constitution, applying different lifeways that keep you more in balance and give you more of a chance of relaxing into the natural state. Following certain precepts that help us to do that. Being honest in our dealings with ourselves and other people is an integrated practice.

Doing mantra, for instance, if we have a 15 minute break at work and we do mantra or simply doing mantra silently when we're going out and about, there are certain kriyas we can do when we're out and about in the grocery line, even when we're talking to somebody else. So there are ways of applying both lifeways kinds of practices and also things like mantra and kriyas that we can do in an integrated way.

It's said, and I think this is very true, that if we can remember to do integrated practice exactly in that circumstance where we're usually distracted by something else, then that is a very, very powerful form of practice and it really enhances our practice overall.

Same thing with Dream Yoga. If we can do practice of the night when we're normally at our worst in terms of alertness and awareness, then that is also a very powerful kind of practice that kind of zooms us along in our sadhana in its entirety.

So these are all examples of integrated practice. Anything we do when we're just conducting our normal lives, and particularly in Dzogchen this is just considered to be the most important aspect of our practice. It's supported by our seated practice, it's supported by whatever time we spend with our teachers and teachings and things like that.

But the idea is not that we just do some stuff on a cushion or hang out with our teacher at rituals or teachings and then whatever. Forget about it all when we're out and about.

The idea is that we are resting in our real nature or being in a state of guru yoga, another way of saying it, being in the state of our practice all the time unbrokenly. And of course most of us are never going to have that happen in this lifetime. There are always going to be some times when we're distracted but we can have a nearly constant awareness of that expansive natural state of wisdom.

That is definitely something that we can do if we apply ourselves.

The trick about integrated practice is remembering, remembering to do it because our work lives, our lives and relationship with other people out and about whatever we're doing, when we're not specifically thinking here I am doing spiritual practice, whatever we're doing that's not formal practice is a zone of forgetting.

It's a place where we forget who we are, where we're largely operating through rote karmas and habitual ways of being, habitual emotions and things like that. And when we're not remembering what life is actually about we have all kinds of contrivances and concepts about what life is about and we get lost in all sorts of eddies of this variety and the other.

So the biggest step with integrated practice is to simply remember to do it and to continually remember over and over and over again. Whatever condition you're in, when you are experiencing more of the natural state that is the state of your practice and you try to drop into that in every moment.

That's the most thorough form of integrated practice. We do a lot of practices in the morning now in the heart space and there's many aspects of those practices that you could just use when you're out and about.

You can silently or out loud chant any of those mantras, you can visualize any of those visualizations. You can just simply remember what it feels like to be in morning practice and just evoke that again for yourself. Relax and evoke that, that's what that practice is for. That practice is like twice a week direct introduction over and over and over and over again.

Different people are getting that to different degrees, of course. And maybe some people are not experiencing that at all. But at some point the penny's going to drop. At some point it will. And you just keep exposing yourself to that.

When some people are listening to a podcast or they're reading a book with teachings or about a teacher, they're only capable of listening to with analytic, intellectual, conceptual mind. And in that sense it's still good to do that. But it's not sadhana, necessarily. It's more just being in an ordinary condition and reading something and receiving it in an ordinary way.You never know what that might lead to.

But if you want to use this for remembering in the sense that I'm talking about, then there's a different kind of experience of reading teachings or listening to teachings.

That you read something and there's a wordless recognition, a sense of thrill, a sense of getting it. You read something and it changes you. It changes what condition you're in. And this is a form of transmission.It doesn't matter whether it's in one form or another. But if you are reading words that are tuned to whatever condition you came in in this lifetime from teachers who you're tuned to, in a sense, then you can have that experience of being able to drop more into the natural state simply from reading their words.

And you don't even have to have a complete understanding of what they say, like in an analytic way to have that experience. If you feel reoriented, you feel more relaxed when you read it, you feel more in touch with your non-performance self, you get back in touch with your original innocence, your original simplicity.

I've talked about this before, that there's kind of innocence we talk about when we're talking about infants or children. But that is an innocence that is not informed, it's not awake, it's not aware innocence.

When we return to innocence, we've gone through our lives, we've grown up, we've had horrible experiences in some cases. We've seen some things, right, and we've suffered some and we've had some pains and we've had some losses.

If we can then through spiritual practice, return to innocence, we're returning to something about our real nature, that's simplicity and sweetness, but with awareness.

We're doing it now with awareness. So that is like the flower of innocence. It's like a second innocence.

And so when we're reading Ma's words or whatever we're doing, listening to our teacher, if we can feel that sense of our original innocence that is wide awake, not asleep like little kids, wide awake innocence recognizing, oh, this is who I really am, not that self that I'm out there projecting, not that self I'm trying to convince myself I am, not the stuff that takes all this efforting to produce. This is who I really am. Yes, this is how things really are.

That kind of innocence that comes with absolute simplicity and recognition. Your original innocence is there, totally intact, despite everything that you've gone through.

And it will become your new normal one of these days. Relaxation is at the core of everything that we're doing. My Dzogchen teacher used to say, we relax and we enjoy. But what we're talking about is not ordinary relaxation. We're not talking about lying down on the couch and enjoying that, although we want to enjoy everything, including lying down on the couch.

But we are relaxing our concepts about ourselves, about the world, about other people. We're relaxing our habitual patterns of behaving and responding to things, AKA our karmas. We're relaxing our energy and our minds so that they can experience a kind of reconnection.

Not that they're disconnected, but we experience it as a kind of reconnection with larger mind and larger energy. So this is a relaxation that's happening on the most profound level and then we can enjoy.

So when we relax our concepts, including even our concepts of space and time, and we relax our habitual patterns of relating and emoting and responding, then we are not suffering anymore.

And so we are enjoying everything as it's arising and able to be in the world with more spontaneity and more freedom to express ourselves, more freedom to love, more freedom to feel and embody kindness and compassion. Those are freedoms that we gain through this very deep relaxation.

I had this question about you said that it was very important for people to have at least an hour a day practice in order to be able to practice with you more fully. I wanted to find out more about how people practice... Now, what would that practice be?

So we call our community the Mandala. A mandala is a city, basically, and it has four gates and it has many different rings. And so in Jaya Kula, in the Mandala, there are people who are not doing any practice. Just to be clear, not everybody's doing an hour of practice a day.

There are people that are doing practice intermittently. There are people who just like to hang out socially or help with seva sometimes and just come around now and then. There are people that have been coming around for years who are doing 15 or 20 minutes a day of sadhana. So all of those possibilities exist.

There is no requirement to be part of this community other than to show up and participate in some way, whatever way, of your choosing.

However, in this tradition, in Trika Shaivism and in Dzogchen, the relationship between the teacher and the student, if someone wants to go deeper, is a very active relationship.

And for me to engage with a student on that level, I ask people to practice at least an hour a day. This is a special circumstance. There are many people in the community also practicing an hour or more a day.

And I will, if they want me to, guide their practice very closely and we'll have a more traditional teacher student relationship, but that is absolutely not a requirement.

The way that you learn what practice to do is to come to a retreat called Trika Foundations. It's a Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. And the retreat gives you the whole view of the tradition and also a complete practice from Ayurveda and hatha yoga, mantra, meditation, kriya yoga.

It really runs the whole spectrum of everything that is offered in this tradition. And you can choose what to do and get help from me choosing what to do during the retreat.


Satsang with Shambhavi is a weekly podcast about spirituality, love, death, devotion and waking up while living in a messy world.