Unbroken Practice, Wisdom, and Enjoyment

February 7, 2024

Shambhavi and the Jaya Kula community gather for satsang and get real about all the questions we humans want answered. Intimate, courageous, heartfelt spiritual talk about pretty much everything. So happy you are here! A podcast from Satsang with Shambhavi

I thought I'd mention an aspect of the traditions that I practice in, and of this community. And what it has to do with this, what's called unbroken practice. Akhanda sadhana. Endless practice.

All day long, you're practicing your habit patterns. All day long, you're practicing unconsciously.

What's desired is that we would be aware, we would be practicing, we would be in the state of our practice more and more and more until it became natural and effortless.

We have many ways in this community—it's very unusual, I think—of giving people opportunities to remember who they really are. And remember what's really of value. And remember their hearts. Remember their sadhana. Remember God.

We have many different ways, and a lot of those ways are not formal. Hanging out informally, which has been somewhat interrupted [laughs] by COVID.

But those of you that have been around since pre-COVID know that there's a lot of me encouraging people to hang out in cafés with me. There's a lot of that happening.

Encouraging people to just come over and do whatever they do... Here. Like, even bring their computers and do their work somewhere, in the house, here, or wherever it happened to be.

And there's going to movies and having dinner. And then there's, of course, a lot of opportunities to get together in teachings, satsang...

All of these things are happening. They're all different points of entry. All different gateways to being in a transmission situation, remembering who you are, being able to relax, hopefully.

And it's kind of interesting because around the teacher, of course, one often isn't relaxed. But it is a different kind of non-relaxation, hopefully.

The kind of non-relaxation that happens around the teacher– if things are working as they're supposed to, of course. Often they're not, but let's just be optimistic.

The kind of non-relaxation that happens around the teacher is kind of, like, uh-oh. [laughs] All the stuff that I have fooled myself into thinking is working is not working.

And that is actually... At least half of my job is to be a kind of a non-reactive surface off of which your usual stuff bounces and reflects back to you and creates an uh-oh. [laughs]

Creates an uh-oh response. I just did that thing I normally do. I've done it– that thing I've done 100,000 times.

The way I've tried to get emotional attention, the way I've tried I've tried to sound smart, the way that I've tried to sound better than other people, the way that I've tried to seduce.

All those different things that people do. And it just fell on totally deaf ears. And now what? Now it's back in my court.

That's what makes it uncomfortable. And of course, when a teacher really is 100% in on that and not giving people breaks, that's when the teacher gets called fierce.

But then there's relaxation that also comes, which is just from being in a circumstance where you know you are valued and loved and where it's for the right reasons. And there's no conditions. There's just no conditions.

And that's an unusual circumstance, and it's often a mind-blowing circumstance.

We want to try to be around that as much as possible so that we can see what we're doing to avoid ourselves and avoid being in our real nature. And so that we can also feel our real nature and remember that.

The teachers in this tradition were by and large householders. People would be coming over to their houses and hanging out. This is not something I invented.

I may be doing it slightly differently. I mean, I don't know if teachers of yore went to cafés with their students. I sometimes doubt it. [laughs]

Although I did once get taken to an espresso bar in Varanasi, which I was very surprised there even was one. It was out on the street, and the only place to out was a little wooden bench, but still, it was fun. [laughs] That was the Varanasi version. There are cafés there now, though.

So when you access this community, when you're a member of this community, however frequent or infrequently you frequent us, there are many, many opportunities to engage. And it's really up to you how you want to engage.

I'll be encouraging. I'll say, well, why don't you come over? Hey, we're doing this. Or, let's have dinner! Or, I'm going to do practice every morning. Come on, it's fun.

I'll say stuff like that, but ultimately it's up to you. No one's going to run after you if you don't want to do this.

But this is the opportunity here, and I think among a very small handful of other things, it is what gives this community its flavor. That we have all of these opportunities to be in the state of our practice and be with the teacher and be with each other.

I remember that when some of my students were working at the food co-op in Maine when we were there. Maine, you know.

I remember I was in that same supermarket and this old guy came up to me and he just... I don't know why he started a conversation with me, but he did. And then he said– asked me what I did. And I said, oh, I'm a meditation teacher. And he said, [interested tone] oh.

And somehow the subject of kirtan came up, and he had never heard of it, but he was interested. I mean, that's, like, a very typical kind of Maine conversation. Where you're just starting with the very, very basics.

So, sometimes people at this co-op, when my students were working there—at one point, there was, like, four of my students working there—would be like, what are you people doing? Why do you spend so much time together? It's so weird. [laughs]

I'm sure that half the people there thought we were a cult of some sort. [chuckles]

Anyway, I just wanted to introduce that to the people that are newer and give you a little hint of why that's happening and how that fits into this practice. Ultimately, the goal of the practice is to be in a condition of what's called samavesha.

Samavesha. It means immersion in your real nature and the equality of all phenomena. An immersion in God. I mean, there's a million ways you could say the same thing.

But that immersion is immersion in wisdom 24/7. So we are practicing that by doing everything we do.

The other thing that might strike you is that there's a lot of indulging, one could say, in enjoyment. And that is because the view of this tradition is that the state of reality itself, existence itself, that living awareness, is a state of profound enjoyment.

Hopefully, it's not license or unconscious enjoyment. It's actually, in the best circumstance, more awake, aware, alive-feeling enjoyment. And more– enjoyment that is not numbing. That's really what we're trying to experience.

But we're trying to be in that condition all the time. So having unbroken practice is heading in that direction.

I want to hear more about pleasure for numbing versus pleasure for aliveness and enjoyment.

Everything that is limiting is self-referential. Everything that is limiting is limited because it refers to your experience of a separate individual self.

So, for instance, when new agey people go on and on about their crazy, you know, enlightened experiences, it's always about them. 'I felt this.' 'I was so that.' I, this. I, the other.

Even that is an aspect of numbing.

So you can always tell when something's happening that is product of natural limitation, because it is self-referential. It creates lack of intimacy on some level or another. Lack of intimacy with nature, with other people. You're more shut down. It's very easy to identify.

Anything that has to do with actual realization of the nature of the self connects you to more. Widens your field of reference. Makes you less self-referential and more referential toward the rest of the world. That's, like, [the] absolute hallmark.

So the enjoyment, I would say, enjoyment of worship that one experiences when you're more experienced with that fundamental nature of reality.

That enjoyment is the enjoyment of being in the world. And experiencing the wonder of what exists. And of participating and caring for people and sharing those wisdom virtues with people.

Being unstinting and unstintingly generous and letting everything just flow out. It's very easy to tell the difference.

So even if people sound super spiritual—what we call god realm or new agey—if you hear them talking and they're very self-referential, it's just another costume of limitation.

When you have enjoyment of the nature of the self, you cannot help– it's inevitable that you want to have everyone else experience that, too. And you're not keeping it to yourself as some sort of brand.

You've been using the word worship lately, and I wondered if you'd talk a little bit about worship.

Worship is the state of all of reality. This is something you just discover. It's not a concept or an aphorism of any sort.

In Dzogchen, it's said that this reality is in a state of natural contemplation. That's another way of saying worship. Because what it is in natural contemplation of.

It's in contemplation of itself, because there's nothing else here but that. Then, it's also ENJOYING that.

So it's not just some bland, neutral contemplation. Some people think self-realization is very bland. It's actually suffused with this unimaginable enjoyment of itself.

We call that, in Indian traditions, ananda. And ananda means the bliss in the contemplation of oneself. In the contemplation of the real nature of reality.

It's really hard to even attempt to put into words what that is, but it certainly isn't some garden variety notion of bliss that is serving some individualistic purpose.

On the one hand, it is a kind of aesthetic bliss in contemplation of and immersion in the unimaginable creativity here.

And we have a little echo of this in our own lives that we repeat over and over and over again. That echo is when we create something, and then we stand back and we enjoy it.

If we bake a cake or cookies, we had an idea of what we were going to do and how we were going to decorate it and what was going to be in it. We had an internal idea of that.

And then we externalize that. And we now have a cake or some cookies freshly baked sitting on the counter.

And we stand back and we just contemplate that and we enjoy it. Why? Why do we do that? [laughs] It's kind of weird.

We do that because it's something that we brought out of ourselves, and it still partakes of self.

So when we get those cookies baked or that cake baked, it has an uncanny relationship to us. It's not completely external. It's something we made. It's something we imagined. It's something we created.

And so it's related to us. And it's an aspect of us. It's our own self-expression. What we are actually enjoying is our own self-expression.

Same thing when we write a poem, or paint something, or make a piece of music, or even just buy really great clothes and make a great outfit. Or anything that we do that's even slightly creative. We enjoy it.

There's that moment when we contemplate it.

So this is the state of the Lord making the whole manifestation and being in a state of continual wonder that, oh my God, I can't believe this, all of reality came out of me. [laughs]

If you can imagine YOUR enjoyment of... even, like, just writing a great text or something. I mean, it could be anything! And we do this.

So if you can imagine your enjoyment, imagine if you were all of reality enjoying being the creator of all of reality. It's like THAT on an unimaginable scale.

And it has this aspect of clarity, also. So, ananda also includes this incredible clarity. Clarity of vision and clarity of perception is absolutely critical to the maximum enjoyment of creation.

When you have a certain kind of depression, you feel very cloggy and loggy, heavy, sticky. And then you go out in nature and everything's just dull and uninteresting. You're just kind of, like, [deflated noise].

But when you're feeling more relaxed and lively, then the colors start to pop. The glistening of the leaves and all the little sounds. And then you're enjoying the clarity of your own perceptions.

So, imagine having unimaginable clarity of perception. That you enjoy everything with that brilliance.

And this is why, in both Dzogchen and Trika, manifest life is described as a jewel or an ornament. It has that jewel-like precision, quality, color, and line, and sparkle. Really, these words are completely inadequate.

But this is also why we have to... If we want to have this magical experience, this magical perception, really, we have to practice consistently for a long time.

We have to give ourselves time to re-calibrate our senses, because, for instance, right now, if you were just auto-magically catapulted into a state of total enlightenment, you would be completely overwhelmed. Like, your sensorium would not be able to handle it.

You wouldn't be able to handle the brilliance and the clarity and the overwhelming influx of perception. You wouldn't be able to.

So we need to acclimatize slowly over time as our senses slowly open, our mind slowly opens. And we become more used to being more alive, basically.


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