The Art of Egg Hatching
Tapas is quite an interesting Niyama. It is normally understood as “austerity,” yet if we go to the root of the word we’ll see a deeper story. First and foremost, take all of the aspects of it that recommend body mortification and the typical ridiculous austerities and put them in the trash, because they won’t take you anywhere but toward misery. Don’t give any thought or credence to this type of “tapas.” Tap means “to burn” or “to heat,” and Tapas can itself be seen as “fire” or “heat.” Fire, as you can probably guess, is intimately related to Kundalini energy. Through Kundalini Yoga, Kriya Yoga, and other spiritual disciplines, the inner fire (Kundalini) is awakened. This is Tapas—hence why it’s also called meditation, the art of “egg hatching.” In other words, it’s the incubation of your attention on your inner world with the purpose of awakening the Kundalini (fire) and giving birth to the realization of being God, the infinite consciousness. Tapas is, therefore, synonymous with spiritual practice, which is the crux of all spiritual work. If you don’t practice, you’re not going anywhere. Whenever you do spiritual practice, you are cleaning both the conscious and the subconscious mind by increasing the power of your life-force, discernment, understanding, quietness, concentration, mindfulness, clarity, awareness, and boosting your yearning for enlightenment.
Intellectual spiritual understanding is a good beginning, but if you don’t put instructions and theory into action, then you’re merely playing makebelieve. You must also consciously infuse spirituality into your whole life. A seeker can’t expect to practice for one hour per day (sitting practice), sleep for 6 to 8 hours, and then spend the rest of the time engrossed in the world without any lucidity, just being his “old self.” Not that there’s a “new self” that we want to reach, but it is a fact that when you make the switch from a non-seeker (i.e., someone totally uninterested in spiritual or self transcendence endeavors or someone who lives their life without ever looking within or giving a second thought to what is real, life, consciousness,
or God) to a genuine seeker (i.e., when you realize that enlightenment, Selfrealization, God, Buddha-nature, etc., is what you truly want), there are
certain aspects, qualities, and characteristics that emerge in you, such as a sudden dispassion toward superficial things, increased interest in all
spiritual matters, a heightened sense of introspection, and a strength to face one’s own beliefs, trauma, etc. In addition, some spiritual books like this one help to awaken the required discernment by shedding light onto your understanding, providing deep insight and “aha” moments. The more you practice Yogic (e.g., Kriya Pranayama, Kriya Supreme Fire), Buddhist (e.g., Anapanasati, Tummo), nondual (e.g., Self-Inquiry, Shikantaza), or any other type of spiritual practice, the more your mind will be focused and silent throughout the day, and the more you’ll get used to and actually value inner silence and lucidity
Spiritual Practice is the Golden Shining Jewel
Meditation is the art and process of realizing our inherent unity with the Cosmos—our non-separateness. Meditation, spiritual practice or sadhana is the ultimate form of activity. The majority of your spiritual progress is achieved through your efforts in sitting meditation and its after-state that is applied and integrated throughout your daily life, constantly upgrading the “base level” of your relative consciousness .The necessary insight, discernment, and maturity to reach your true potential and realize your unlimited nature are outcomes of a proper and diligent spiritual practice or meditation.
Meditation, however, is a term that is poorly understood. There are countless definitions, some more concrete, while others are entirely abstract
and ambiguous. Its meaning is also dependent upon whichever tradition we’re studying, because different traditions have ascribed different meanings to what western languages such as English have translated as meditation. To make sure it is clear, whenever the terms spiritual practice or
meditation are used in this book, they mean: the employment of our body, mind, and awareness in a methodical and practical manner for the purpose of achieving a deeper state of consciousness that allows one to gain insight into and then abide as one’s essence. Spiritual practice is the endeavor of finding out who we truly are. We are using our individual consciousness to go beyond its narrow field of awareness into a broader and more expansive universal awareness. In other words, we are attempting to go from being a person (limited individual consciousness) to being God (unlimited universal consciousness).
Our individual consciousness, descending from the universal field of consciousness where everything lies in potential, manifests itself via the life
force (prana) which runs through our energy body by virtue of the nervous system (or nadis), passing through the seven main chakras (the main
plexuses). Imprisoned in the body, consciousness becomes identified with its limited physical boundaries. This is the “default state” for all human beings, regardless of their social status, financial position, level of intelligence, academic or scientific prestige, honors, physical prowess, or life experience.
In this default state, it can be quite easy when going about mundane, everyday tasks such as eating, walking, or buying groceries, to be lulled into
the belief that we know perfectly who we are or what it is like to be “I.”
But do we really know who we are?
“Who am I?” is the old dictum that humanity has been asking since time immemorial. It is the most important question we can ask ourselves.
Many have tried to answer this question through intellectual effort, logic, analysis, and so on, but the chief means of Self-knowledge that still prevails
today is spiritual practice/meditation. Pragmatically employing the art of spirituality through practice is the way. Spiritual practice is the whole-being endeavor of finding out who we truly are. Since people’s minds are always full of thoughts and noise resulting from their chaotic lifestyles, they never allow themselves a calm and relaxing moment to look within and deeply self-investigate what or who they are. Therefore, most seekers have to start the meditative process by putting in tremendous, consistent effort to dig through their mental mess, constantly losing their attention and awareness, and gently coming back over and over again to their practice and point of focus.
Meditation or spiritual practice will, in the long run, lead every seeker to an experience of profound tranquility, spaciousness, and joy. If properly done, it awakens a stillness of being that is so profound that it leaves no question as to whether it is our natural state or not. The physical body also receives great benefits through meditation: the breathing, blood pressure, metabolism, and heart rate slow down along with the thinking processes (and all of them can even temporarily subside during some yogic techniques).
However, our culture leaves little free time for this self-discovery, so you will have to create this for yourself amidst your probably busy life. If you are reading this book, you are probably already practicing some form of meditation. Make sure it’s a proper practice (i.e., one that leads you to profound stillness so that you can abide in the presence of awareness). If you haven’t started practicing yet, this is a call to begin. Any practice is better than nothing !
It is not about sitting down and having an experience and then putting that aside and going on with life. It is about uniting and integrating that experience with your whole life; it is about realizing that life is the blissful silent stillness of being that is undifferentiated from the deep state of being that you experience while practicing. That’s the natural state of our true Self.
When Tapas Is All There Is
All spiritual practices require a genuine connection with our internal dimension, otherwise they will be dry, barren, and devoid of grace and joy.
They must never become a chore. Spiritual practice is not a mechanical activity, but one that should be very alive, fresh, and lucid. Whenever you do it just for the sake of doing it, or because you’ve taken a vow or made a promise, there will be a high chance of that session being a shallow meditation. Furthermore, people often believe that a serious and consistent practice of meditation should be done (or it will be better if done) in a remote location, alone, and totally detached from interacting in and with the world. For this reason, many seekers who desire to engage in a long or continuous meditative practice, do so (unconsciously) as a form of escapism.
Suffering is not to be escaped, but to be defeated. You mustn’t try to shut down life and use meditation as a form of escape. You will not go far if you do so. Meditation is a process (to achieve the realization of who we truly are), rather than a goal in itself (escaping from life’s issues and problems).
It’s not about attempting to overlook our human existence and its problems, but instead it’s about overcoming those problems and embracing and bathing our human existence with the peace that is inherent to our very core.
Meditation must be a reflection of life itself. As we purify our mind and manage to bring our meditative state into daily life, the whole of life itself
will become a meditation or spiritual practice. There will be many disturbances from outside (people, work, events, society, media, etc.), in addition to the distractions that occur from within (thoughts, emotions, etc.)—but you have to plunge through. See these as positive hurdles that will show you how stable the spiritual depth is that you’ve integrated into your life, or how profound your mindfulness has become.
“The life you lead conceals the light you are.”Sri Aurobindo
The majority of our daily life is primarily done on auto-pilot through some form of routine. Routines have their purpose and they can be quite useful. If you go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, you won’t need an alarm clock. You’ve taught your body and mind the correct times to fall asleep and wake up. This is really useful because you’ll always wake up refreshed and ready to tackle the day. There’s no problem with this whatsoever. You can constructively apply different conditionings to different things, such as always doing sitting practice at the same time, which
conditions your mind to enter into a meditation-prone state quickly.
The problem arises in other forms of auto-pilot or routines. If you take the same route to work every day, for example, regardless of whether this is
done by car, bike, foot, or public transportation, there’s a high probability that your body will do what is required to travel the path, but your mind—
because it doesn’t have to exert nearly any conscious effort to travel the path —will be free to wander. And what happens then? You get lost in thoughts or daydreaming, and are not using the free time in a conscious and attentive way.
If the mind is not consistently brought back to the present moment, it will habitually drift toward the past or future. This phenomenon is not new—
you’ve probably been aware of it before. If you witness this attentively, you will notice how rarely you are present throughout the day. Even if you do
stop the mind and try to be present for a while, you may find the mind sliding into judgments, narrations, or labeling what it is currently perceiving.
Living mindfully is being present at every moment rather than being absent and letting your life be lived by your mechanical habits and reactions.
Sitting practice is what will give you the ability to commit every moment to being fully present throughout the rest of the day. It’s a catalyst that enables you to experience a state of pure equanimity which grows and expands from the depths of your inner peace, embracing your life and of those who come in contact with you. Tapas is your life. You don’t do it—you become one with it.