Some sense objects bring you bliss immediately, but the bliss that we are looking for inside – it takes years to get to that. In life in general, everything is always happening so fast. We are running here, going there, going to the Guru, drinking green juice, eating salad, reading the scriptures and it’s all rather painful. Now, watch out! Some of you have the instrument (physical body) that you can get pleasure very easily.
Let’s say, if I was handsome, tall, had blue eyes – do you think I would be here teaching yoga? I would be in California dating because under those conditions there, the bliss comes so fast. It comes fast, but it keeps going off fast and disappearing, as well.
So, to get the kind of bliss that lasts, you have to keep doing Pranayama – the breathing exercises. If you do your breathing regularly, you slow down the heart beat and affect your cerebellum under the skull at the top of the brain. And then cravings and desires diminish. After 20 minutes or more of Alternate-nostril Breathing or Calming Breathing, you feel really calm.
Even your eyes are still and you don’t have a constant longing for activity. Also, you have to use your whatever spiritual and practical knowledge you have when dealing with temptation. Let’s say, for example, your knowledge about food. Let’s say you are often tempted to drink alcohol. At the time when this craving disturbs you, remember your liver and that alcohol destroys brain cells. Also, alcohol disturbs your psychic channels, and then you really become open to cravings and desires.
Remember always to use your intelligence. If you are seeking enlightenment, you have to do your best to develop self-control. Otherwise, there will be no success in meditation (sustained concentration). You become attached to all objects of the senses. The more you enjoy the sense objects, the bigger and “fatter” they grow.
Also, do your meditation consistently as a way to turn the attention inward and away from the outer sense objects. Most important, if you lose your self-control, don’t get angry. Sometimes, according to your deeds from the past, cravings and desires will torment you like hell. Just do your best. If for some reason the result is not the way you like, you have to be content. “I did my best, my L-rd.” What more can you do?
I remember once I stopped doing everything unhealthy for three years. I had no contact with my family, I ate no cooked food, no candy, I didn’t watch any movies and I went to the yoga class every day. After three years, I suddenly couldn’t hold to that any longer. I went to 42nd Street where the movie theaters are/were with my pockets stuffed full of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Almond Joy bars. Almond Joy was my favorite! I went to the movies all day long.
When you try to renounce too much all at once, that’s what happens. You climb, and then you fall down hard. It’s better to go slow, but to make steady progress. At the same time I was passing through all this, I have a younger brother that was also with me in New York studying with the Guru and his disciples.
When I stopped everything, I was so proud. I kept saying to him: “How come you are still eating the eggs? How come you still eat this and this and that and drink coffee?” He said back to me: “Don’t worry – I go slow.” I was so proud – always looking at the others; where they were at and what they were doing. One day when I fell, I fell really to the bottom. Eating pizza – I even started smoking again! Movies – all kinds of garbage. And then I learned a lesson.
So, very simple: just wait (be patient) and do your best. I went sometimes to my Guru and I kept saying to him: “I can’t follow any of your instructions!” He always said back to me: “As long as you do your best, even if you end up doing what you know is not right, don’t worry about it. You are not committing any sin. It is your Shastra – impressions from the past that torment you. Just keep trying. When that is finished, when the Karma has played itself out, automatically, you stop.”
I remember that I could not stop smoking cigarettes. I kept saying to G-d: “Oh, my L-rd, I’ll try every day, but if I have to smoke in this life, next life, next life: okay, but I will keep trying to quit.” And then one day it’s finished. Or, sometimes I was praying to G-d like this: “Oh L-rd, if you give me a little more of the bliss, then I don’t have to smoke any more cigarettes.” So, do your best and don’t worry. When the time comes, the Karma passes. Even then, you have to always be on guard against temptations.
It’s good when you have some knowledge. Knowledge about the Self and the senses is of great value. The senses are one of the ways for us to experience pain and suffering. The mind also experiences what you have done. Doubts – you feel like you don’t have control. All these are of the mind. You can see that, right? “Oh, I see myself – I have no control over my senses!” So, when you have that knowledge, it helps. You pretend that you are a witness all the time. As you keep pretending and pretending, the witness will be visible more and more.
I remember once when I had just started understanding this concept, I was in pain and eating pizza. “I can see myself eating pizza and depressed!” As soon as I noticed that, that was the beginning of: “Oh, that’s it!” You have to try always to do this. According to your deeds from the past – your Karmas, you have no choice. You keep moving, keep waiting for the chances because everything’s already there.
Let’s say you are born to experience five years of torture from cravings from food. You have no choice: you have to go through five years of this. But, if you see yourself doing something about it, then it’s not five years of torture at all. Maybe, you have only one year total. But, if you are not doing anything about it, you almost can predict that you are going through more and more doubts, losing self-control and being all the time a victim of food and attachment.
When I was in the Ashram and had dedicated my entire diet to the Guru and was so proud of my all raw vegan diet that I began to have contempt for everyone around me who was not up to my level, one day I saw a woman who came to class eat a single Dot candy and I felt outraged by this. How could she eat that garbage! When you get to be like this, you are just preparing yourself for a big fall. I fell back so much farther than even from where I had started and it took me a long time to recover. You have to always have compassion for those who cannot do what you think you can because in reality, you are no different from them. Also, it’s very good for the teacher to fail at things because then they know how to advise and help the students when they struggle for having struggled themselves.
**This post was transcribed and edited by Adam Frei