Q: The main aim of my remaining life is to make all possible efforts to get liberation from the cycle of birth & death in this life time only. I know that I have many weaknesses yet to overcome but still I wish to make all possible efforts to get rid of them & make this soul merged with the supreme soul during this life time. Is it possible or not? For this if I have to undergo more vigorous practices for a longer time I wish to do that also, that is, spinal breathing and meditation for a longer time or any other practices. Kindly guide.
A: Yes, I understand that you don't want to waste a minute to get enlightenment. Yes, absolutely! I have felt the same way since taking up practices in this life many years ago. You should continue with practices to your capacity using self-pacing, being careful not to overdo. If there is strain, then it is too much. We all have to go at our own pace, or progress gets stymied. I will do my best to see that everything you need will be here in the lessons. Everything but a purified nervous system. That you have to do yourself, swept along by your bhakti, your love of truth and God, which is God alive in you.
Keep in mind that "getting enlightenment" is an ego strategy, and not likely to be completed in this life if it continues like that on the basis of "getting." This does not remove the necessity for practices to achieve progress. But getting enlightenment is a letting go. A paradox. Not letting go of practices necessarily, but letting go of something. Letting go of our need to "get it." How can we let go of the thing we need so desperately? How can we let go of the very thing we have been cultivating – intense desire for God?
It is a strange thing. Somewhere along the line we stop trying to "get" enlightenment and find ourselves "giving" ourselves to it. We may be doing everything the same -- practices, bhakti, service, and all that. Maybe even more practices – yes, definitely more practices. The nervous system wants to do them as it opens. But something changes. Maybe it is in the rise of kundalini, and we no longer feel in charge. It is easy to give in to a powerful divine process happening automatically inside, even while continuing aggressive practices. As the ego is dissolving to become pure bliss consciousness it still craves enlightenment and struggles to do more to "get it!" Then, magically, our need to "get" turns into a need to "give." This is an important turning point that has its foundation in practices and rising bhakti. It is a maturing that occurs in our nervous system as it becomes purified.
I think the most effective strategy is for day-by-day. It is a higher path to take. Never mind enlightenment somewhere down the road. Is it good today? Is today better than yesterday, last week, and last year? That is something real and concrete. Enlightenment may be next year, or a hundred lifetimes from now. Who knows? How we feel today, and what we can do to feel better tomorrow -- that is not so nebulous. It is real, while enlightenment, salvation, or whatever, is out in the imagination somewhere.
The future isn't real. Today is real. It is misery to want a thing in the future, keeping it out there, out of reach. The future never comes. It is maya (illusion). On the other hand, it is bliss to want what we are having today, and tasting it being more already tomorrow. That is why I have said, "Do something nice for someone today." That is more enlightenment than we can find anywhere in our imagination of the future. If there is enlightenment, it is to be found today. It is a fine point. As long as we do practices for the future, enlightenment will remain in the future. If we do practices for happiness today and tomorrow, then enlightenment is suddenly much closer. Then we can relax a little and breathe. The relaxing and breathing is the enlightenment itself coming up.
Will we ever experience enlightenment in the future? No. We never will. We can only experience it in the present. That means today.
What does this mean in relation to our practices? Remember that meditation is going inward when we sit, and then going out into daily activity to engage the blissful silence we have gained. If we meditate all day we will have lots of silence. If we don't engage our silence in meaningful activity, we will not get full enlightenment. Maybe only the first stage – unending inner silence. That's not bad, but not the whole thing. Enlightenment is the union of inner and outer. If we are all inner and no outer, we will not be in yoga. We must move to all inner and all outer -- two fullnesses. Then we are becoming it.
I have been doing all this writing here for months. Why? Well, it is a good thing that needs to be done for sure. Many agree with that. From my perspective, it is going out with my inner silence into many lives, and that is helping me expand tremendously inside. The more I give away, the more I am filling up with ecstatic bliss. I am a very selfish person doing all this transmission of knowledge. Yet, my self is becoming more and more in everyone. Your joy is my joy. You can do the same thing in your life. Do your sitting practices, however much and whatever kind you find is good for you, and then go do something good for someone. That is rising enlightenment.
If we don't share it, we don't get it. It can happen today. Don't worry about enlightenment in the future. Claim enlightenment today by doing practices and then giving away your silence and your bliss to others. Whatever good feelings practices bring to you, give them away in daily activity. That is enlightenment coming up right now. All we have to do is say, "Yes" to the flow of divine love going out, and it will surge out through us like an endless river of ecstatic bliss.
Then we will be laughing like joyous innocent children all the time. That is what we are when all the obstructions and holding on are gone.
Getting enlightenment is giving it away. Getting enlightenment is letting it go.
The guru is in you.
Note: For detailed discussion on the role of service on the path to enlightenment, see the AYP Bhakti and Karma Yoga book and the AYP Liberation book.