WARNING: Your ego will probably have a strong “allergic reaction” to what you are about to read. Your ego will try to convince you that it is the director and, therefore, in charge of your life.
The wisdom traditions* are very clear that God created this experience we call life. He did not just create it and then let it evolve on its own. He is unquestionably the Director of this play we call life.
There is very ample confirming testimony to this fact from humans who have achieved God realization/self-realization/true enlightenment. Yogananda clearly states that man “…. was not created by his own will but by divine decree.” He goes on to add, “…so man must realize that his own happiness lies, not in pleasing men….. but God, the Earth’s sole President and Owner!”
As actors in this play we call life, we can play our roles well or not so well. We play our roles well when we live in accordance with Divine laws, like the injunctions to live life guided by love, compassion, and service to others. We are rewarded when we play our roles well with positive karma. When we play our roles not so well, the ego dictates self-serving, manipulative and deceitful, and hateful behaviors to name a few. We are “rewarded” for playing our roles this way with negative karma.
This play we call life comes our way every day. The greatest rewards to others and us come when we play the role we have been assigned in this life guided by the universal Divine laws. It requires living in the moment, the proverbial power of now.
* Click Here to read my blog defining wisdom traditions
In several places in the blogs on this website I mention the “wisdom traditions.” I thought it might be helpful if I defined what I mean by that term.
As background, over the decades that I have studied several great teachers and I came to realize that their core messages were the same. The terminology could be different, the stories supporting it could be different, and the context could be different. I connected more with some teachers than others, but the overriding conclusion for me was that great God realized teachers are sharing the same core messages, which is not surprising since they are a channel for God.
The major traditions that I have studied and influenced my wisdom inspired life are listed below.
- Paramahansa Yogananda and it is very extensive teachings publish through the Self-Realization Fellowship.
- Bhagavad Gita: especially Yogananda’s commentary in the two-volume set God Talks With Arjuna.
- Christian Bible.
- Buddhist written and oral teachings: primarily Soygal Rinpoche, Za Rinpoche, and the Dalai Lama.
- Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.
- The Ageless Wisdom.
Yogananda says it so much better than I ever could in this following quote.
“When guided by error, human will misleads us; but when guided by wisdom, human will is attuned to the Divine Will. God’s plan for us often becomes obscured by the conflicts of human life and so we lose the inner guidance that would save us from chasms of misery.”
The lower mind, which is the mind of information, logic, and emotions, is almost exclusively focused on the ego or “I/Me.” The higher mind, which is the mind of intuition and wisdom, not only connects with the Truth to guide a decision, but it is a decision that goes beyond self to provide for the well-being of others.
In this sense, and in many others, living a wisdom inspired life avoids the “chasms of misery.”
The wisdom traditions often referred to a difference between intelligence and wisdom. They will refer to intelligence as the lower mind and wisdom the higher mind.
Yogananda comments nicely on the relationship between intelligence and wisdom in the following quote.
“Wisdom never lies.”* Soul wisdom is revealed to man through the agency of intuition, direct perception of truth, not by amassing knowledge through the intellect. The seeker after wisdom should understand the difference between intuition and man’s limited faculty of intelligence.
Human beings have perception and intelligence to understand the world of objects; the soul is endowed with the power of intuition to understand not only the world of objects, but also all inner psychical phenomena and their intrinsic spiritual nature. Intelligence interprets phenomena, the outward appearance of things; intuition reveals the underlying noumena (object or event known without the use of the senses).
* Homer, Odyssey, III
Western science has done considerable research on intelligence and virtually none on intuition. Intuition exists in all of us although it is latent in most of us. Intuition can be developed and meditation is the best way of doing so. Meditation creates inner calmness which is an important and helpful prerequisite to connecting with and developing our intuition.
For the last couple of years, I have become acutely aware of my misery producing ego. When I really pay attention, I observe the negative and not so feeling good energy in my body when the ego has center stage. Strangely enough, even thoughts and feelings the ego considers good tend to create their own kind of misery.
Yogananda, my guru, writes about the need to stop living life from the perspective of the ego and start living life from the perspective of the soul.
- “The actions of selfish men spring from desires born of ego hopes. The divine man works neither at the dictates of egotism nor at those of selfish desires; he is devoid of I-ness, the idea of ‘ I am the doer.'”
- “The Gita stresses the renouncement, repeated so often! of ego consciousness, material hopes, and desires, because these renew the roots of cancerous longings that devour the soul’s peace. The roots of unfulfilled desires and frustrated expectations sprout into worries and misery making reincarnations.”
Shifting from an ego controlled life to a soul controlled life, while excruciatingly difficult, delivers levels of happiness and joy unimaginable by the ego. For me, it is worth the battle.
For the longest time, including innumerable incarnations, we live life largely satisfying the material needs of the ego. So much of this kind of life is spent working to pay for the material stuff in life. Life is typically filled with stress about how to get more material stuff and to take care of and keep the stuff we already have.
There comes a time when there is a break in this long, long pattern. Yogananda said the following:
“The materialist, after carrying the load of material duties – without the compensation of true happiness – begins of his own accord to think of cultivating divine qualities such as equanimity and calmness, and thereby starts a spontaneous introspection. It is at this juncture that wise men should strive to lift him to the higher strata of good attributes – discernment, meditation, and performance of actions without attachment.”
When we start to wake up there are several paths we can follow. Confucius said, “By three roads we can reach wisdom: the road of experience, and this is the most difficult; the road of action, and this is the easiest; the road of reflection, and this is the noblest.”
Breaking the pattern needs to come from inside. While there can be some external stimulation and input, this stimulation input has probably been around available to help us in our lifetimes. It’s only when we are ready inside that the shift can begin.
In my life it began with making the statement, “There must be a better way!” I did not know if there was a better way but I was fed up with the life I had been living. I had done everything to optimize it and that was not close to good enough. By asking that question, I began to wake up. I’m still waking up.
I recently read a very encouraging statement by Yogananda:
“Man has the potential to direct himself always through inner guidance, in every phase of his material, mental, and spiritual life.”
Inner Guidance: our intuitive inner knowing or wisdom mind
Always: very encouraging
We gradually develop this capability through spiritual practice, especially meditation.
January 28, 2013 in Arizona
I’m going to start this posting with a quote from my guru, Yogananda.
“Ultimate wisdom is found in man’s deepest interior consciousness, his soul…… wisdom cannot be achieved by man without some sort of mental and bodily participation…….. Until the body delusion is conquered, man is totally unable to manifest wisdom…….. Once the devotedly has rid himself of the delusions of body consciousness, he is automatically freed from the necessity for action (karmic duties).”
Expanding wisdom in our life requires expanding our consciousness beyond body consciousness. The wisdom traditions are very clear that there are three major levels of higher consciousness beyond body consciousness. Using the terminology in the Gita, they are super consciousness, Christ consciousness, and cosmic consciousness.
The “mental and bodily participation” referred to in the above quote relates to the paths we can take to higher consciousness. There are at least three major paths we can take, but the path of meditation is the fastest and most powerful.
For me, daily meditation done right is the most challenging work I do in any day. It requires a level of consistent concentration that is constantly challenged by my chattering mind or what some people refer to as the monkey mind.
Yogananda provides a wonderful description about how wisdom comes into our consciousness.
“Discrimination born of intuition through soul contact insurers right judgment in any given situation. The soul, through the agency of intuition, drops divine guidance into the consciousness of the devotee; the intuitive guidance manifests as wisdom through the discriminative faculty to guide the intellect or reason to the right determination.”
Intuition is the voice of the soul. Intuition “delivers” wisdom into our consciousness. At this point all is good. The ego and its emotions can jump in and interpret what it has received for good or bad. Even without any ego distortion, we face the challenge of acting on the wisdom skillfully or not so skillfully.
As we deepen our connection to our soul through meditation, the quantity and quality of wisdom that comes into our consciousness increases. Correspondingly, our ability to then act on its guidance skillfully also increases.
January 10, 2013