Yoga, defined in Sanskrit in the Yoga sutra is, yoga chitra briti derota – roughly translated as “stopping the turning like a wheel (brita) of consciousness.” (chitra)
This concept represents the attempt of the mind to catch hold of itself, which is what we call thinking or worrying, so you could say loosely that yoga is the cessation of thinking. It is not the cessation of awareness, but of symbolizing or trying to catch or clutch reality in terms of thoughts, symbols, descriptions, and definitions. We try to give up clutching, but it is not easy because we do it habitually.
However, until there is silence of the mind, it is almost impossible to understand eternal life, that is to say, eternal now. This is a stage of having no conceptions, or in Sanskrit, the stage of nirvikalpa, “not conceptual.”
So to understand nonverbal reality or non-conceived reality, called “suchness” or tathata, it is really very easy. In fact it is too easy, which is why it is difficult.
But then when you are fully aware and not thinking, you will notice some amazing absences: there is no past.
Incidentally, can you hear anything past? Can you hear anything future? They are just not there to the plain sense of one’s ears, and so in a way ears are easiest to begin with. Can you hear anyone listening to something else other than sound? Can you hear the listener? Of course not, because no sound is there. Then you become again as a child and simply forget all that you were ever told and contemplate on what is.
It seems weird, but you then enter into the eternal state where there is no problem. After a while you go back and you collect your opinions again, and you think: “Well, that will not do. How can I be practical and be in that sort of state?”
I remember in the Sermon on the Mount that Jesus had a lot to say about this. “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They toil not, neither do they spin, and yet Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.” Then Jesus said, more or less, “And if God so clothed the grass or the field which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much more clothe you faithless ones? So do not worry about tomorrow saying, ‘What shall we eat? What shall we drink? Or how shall we clothe ourselves?’ All the rabble seek after these things and sufficient to the day is the worry of it.”
You know, nobody ever preaches a sermon on that text, and I have heard lots of sermons but never one on that topic. Instead, people say, “Look that’s all very well because Jesus was the boss’s son, and he knew that he was really in charge of the universe and had nothing to worry about. But we have to be practical.”
Well, what do you suppose the Gospel was? It was the good news, but it never got out! You, too are the boss’s son: that was the gospel.
If Jesus had lived in India they would have not put him to death, because everybody in India knows we are all God in disguise.
So if he had said, “I and the Father are one,” in India they would have said, “Hooray! You found out!” Lots of people in India know that perfectly well, but here? No way! That’s a no-no! People in the Western world would say, “Just who do you think you are? YOU own the place? Yeah, right. You just keep your position! You’re just a critter.”
This understanding is reflected in the family system, as well as in everything else in India. They have their own way of doing it because they have delayed action on it. When you get to be a certain age, and after you have studied long enough with a certain guru, then and only then may you realize this. But, until then it is still a no-no. However, after you have put in the time they finally let you in.
But, in our culture you have to wait until you are dead.
- Alan Watts, from “The Tao of Philosophy – Limits of Language”