Surrender & Skill October 12, 2020
I grew up at the Jersey Shore. I remember sitting on the rocks of the jetty, the wall built to protect the land and hold the ocean in highest respect for her encroaching power. Sitting there, I would watch the waves powerfully crashing to shore, power apparent. Then the silent return, seemingly so subtle in its movement. It was only when standing in her that I could feel the strength and majesty of that returning current.
One must be in it, locate it to know, experience and utilize its power. So too with our meditation practice. We must locate the inward current and then silently permit awareness to ride naturally to source.
I was also taught to respect the power of the ocean. To read her; to intuit when I was able to playfully ride the waves to shore and when I must surrender and dive deep under her tumultuous power. And always, never to turn my back on her authority. Most importantly, as a child I was taught to look out for rip tides or rip currents. Those impenetrable places unseen from the surface unless eyes are highly sensitized and trained. These powerfully eddies would catch and trap you in their grip. Neither moving in or out, tiring, weakening and frightening you in their grasp as you struggle to be released. You are limited in your strength to fight this sort of power no matter your skill at swimming.
The only hope was surrender. Not in a complacent manner but a respectful one. Release and feel, then at the right moment, whoosh… you would be released. Of course the point of leaning about them was not to get caught in the first place.
This sort of natural power demands respect. We are helpless at the feet of its influence. To project my will only serves to hold me in the rip tide. Awareness heightened, align, surrender and then at the right moment, participate; moving in the desired direction catching what is naturally powerful.
Rip tides are at also at work on the surface of life. We find ourselves caught in the powerful grip of saṃskāric patterns swirling and pulling awareness in a direction unseen until it is too late. We are caught and thrown, thrashing into a repeated pattern we are unable to release. We vow to do better next time but how? We must work on two levels.
1. Just as in the ocean metaphor, we must locate the current that naturally and powerfully moves inward- jyesṭha. Merge into silent source. Its natural effect is not only for the time of practice; this releasing has transformative powers, heightening and refining senses, a settling not just of the mind but of the body too, and in that a slowing down. In this subtle space, expansion occurs and there is a change in our sense of time. More and more these same effects are felt on the surface. We do not emerge from practice unchanged; we bring something back. Just as when we emerge from the ocean, the water may dry but salt is left on the skin.
2. So too the effects of diving into the oceanic depths of being are felt upon emergence. Daily practice feeds and reshapes our response. We are able to see what was previously unseen, the rip tides of our saṃskāric patterns. Senses heightened, space opens between the trigger and our response. This middle space, the madhya, is sacred. Expanding this we are more and more able to choose how to act as opposed to reacting in habitual pattern. In this choosing we naturally align more and more with our heart’s highest values. We become more skillful in enacting the injunction of the Bhagavad-Gita, “Yoga is Skill in Action” not as an inspirational slogan but as a lived experience.
We fulfill the agenda of yoga spoken of in the Yoga Sūtras II.2: increase states of samādhi and attenuate saṃskāras. Samādhi here defined as profound meditative absorption in which the knower and known object are merged and awareness is melted into the profound silence of source that is dynamically potently alive; and saṃskāra, as habitual pattern, a stored impression or residue from a previous thought or action held within the subtle body that triggers outward response.
We work daily at the root, level 1, in our deep meditation practice. Then the addition of the Tantric Masters: the transformation of the prakritic body-mind so that true knowledge and experience in this body may be had; this is level 2. These two levels mutually feed each other and we must participate in order to bring its fruit to bear.
The non-dual Tantric Masters, do not indict life but rather seek to expand and fulfill its promise. To transform life, the vehicle in which life is lived and known must first be refined.
We meditate not only to take refuge in the silence, but to pull from the powerful source of creative intelligence and participate in the transformation of life altogether.