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Awareness, Will and Life Force

Learn from the experience of others following the yamas and niyamas thereby quickening progress in life. Awareness gives us energy. Willpower (mati) needs to be governed by intelligence, used wisely. Keys to cultivating willpower. Develop concentration and willpower most easily during external tasks. The more you use your willpower the stronger it gets; it doesn't run out.

Unedited Transcript:

From today's Living with Siva lesson: "Awareness, Will And Life Force."

"The primal life force ever resident within the body, emotions and mind of man is, when used or allowed to function, what I term willpower. Now we can see that the ever-present persistence of life force gives an overabundance of willpower and with it the ability to direct it from deep within. This ability to direct the willpower is the jnana, the wisdom we seek. We have but two choices: to gain jnana through learning the tried-and-tested, set patterns for living and conducting our self or, through assuming a relaxed approach of ignorance, be guided by the 'good' and 'bad' and mixed emotional forces of the wills of others."

So, that's a good point and why religion gives practical guidelines. It's trying to have us learn through understanding the set patterns for living and conduct which in our tradition are called the yamas and niyamas. The more we can learn from others, the less we have to learn through our own trail and error experiences. But, is particularly relevant to parents of older children, you know we can't take away the need to learn through trial and error. In other words, children just aren't going to learn everything by following the rules of conduct and by the wisdom of their parents. Some things they're going to try out on their own even though we wish they wouldn't. And we have to have the patience and understanding to work with them when that happens.

I remember the former mayor, Maryann Kusaka, was explaining, you know, how it is in the schools -- used to be a school teacher -- that you try and train the kids not to go out on the weekends and party on the wrong things. Lot of time is spent in the schools explaining this but lots of kids go out and do it anyway because they're not able to learn through the explanation of someone else. They're not able to learn from the experience of someone else; they need to go out and experience this particular thing themselves. So, the more we can learn from the experience of others and follow the guidelines then the quicker our progress in life, certainly.

"Therefore, the devotee seeks to gain the conscious control of his own willpower, to awaken knowledge of the primal force through the direct experience of it, and to claim conscious control of his own individual awareness. Thus we can begin to see that our individual awareness, willpower and the primal life force deep within body, emotion and mind are, in fact, one and the same--that willpower, individual awareness and life force, their habits and usages, are but various aspects."

So this is a great meditation and that willpower, energy and awareness are the same thing. It's three different ways of looking at the same thing. So, what's an example of that? Well the example that Gurudeva gives somewhere in the Master Course, I remember is: Young man at the end of a long workday is kind of tired and then a friend invites him to a party and all of a sudden he's energetic. So, you know, we have energy when we're interested in something. It's the interest or the presence of awareness that gives us energy. You've probably noticed that and sometimes something's kind of hard to do because you're not that enthusiastic about it; you're not that interested in it and therefore, you can't seem to find the energy to do it. So, Gurudeva's approach would be: Well try and find a way of looking at it that's more interesting, that captures your interest more. And if you can find another way of looking at it that's more interesting you'll find you have more energy for finishing it, for doing it well, than you had before. So, it's a very interesting point that with awareness, which means with interest, comes energy, just automatically is there.

"You will notice that, through our study together, these three aspects are referred to time and time again, individually as well as collectively. However, in the study of yoga it is important to keep in mind the totality of their sameness in order to fully identify your personal and continued experience of yourself as a being with unlimited will, constantly and fully aware of the primal life force flowing through the body and emotions, as you, awareness, travel through the mind. This is the goal of the jnani, the one who has attained to wisdom, to the acquisition of divine knowledge and the personal experience of what he has learned. A child in his early years becoming acquainted with living with his family on this planet will show tendencies toward a quiet, peaceful will or a provocative willfulness. The wise parent teaches the culture and etiquette of the household and the community at large, ever endeavoring to bring forth the inner knowledge within the child as to the wise use of his willpower, guiding him carefully away from impulsive, willful behavior so that, little by little, he becomes responsible for the action he causes, as well as its reactions."

So that's saying in a cultured household we try and teach the consequences so children understand and therefore learn to think about what's going to happen if I do this, you know, what's it going to cause? What's the reaction to this action going to be? How's it going to influence me and others?

"The unwise parent with no particular cultural heritage, completely vulnerable to his own instinctive impulses, overlooks this area of childhood training. Therefore, impulsive willfulness bursts forth from within the children, cultivating abilities to hurt themselves as well as others, and to upset the home, with no particular remedy in view. This of course is the opposite to what we have in mind to obtain for ourselves. It is the attainment of that ever-collected mastery over our faculties through holding our inner perspective of them that keeps a heavy reign over the aspect of awareness called willpower, maintaining an even balance between the emotional-instinctive, the intellectual and the spiritual aspects of our being."

In other words, will needs to be governed by intelligence. You know we want to encourage the use of willpower; we need a strong willpower. We want children to grow up with the willpower but we want them to learn to govern it with intelligence or use it wisely.

"It is through the study of raja yoga, while always holding a silent overview as to what you are learning and how it relates to your particular life patterns, that you will come to know that an inner change is taking place. Harness the powers of your will in the ways indicated. The reward is simultaneous with the effort employed. The results are immediate."

So some other material on willpower. Willpower is part of the niyama, cognition -- mati. Mati is to develop a spiritual will, an intellect.

"Willpower is the strength of will to carry out one's decisions, wishes or plans. People who regularly make plans and fail to carry them out lack willpower. For example, a student often plans to get up early to study for his tests but always when the time comes decides to continue sleeping instead."

We don't know anyone like that, right?

"Willpower is channeling the rarefied energies of the body, of awareness itself, into attention and concentration upon everything that we do through the day. How can this be cultivated?"

So, of course, Gurudeva gives us two keys. You probably remember the two keys to cultivating willpower.

#1: Finishing each task that we start. Never starting something and abandoning it. Finishing each task we start.

#2: Doing it well. And Gurudeva goes on to say: "In fact doing it even better than our expectations."

So that's the two step process for cultivating willpower. Finish each task and do it well.

"Nothing is done with half our mind thinking about something else. Nothing is dropped in the middle. Developing these two important habits produces an indomitable will power."

So this is one of the points we make in the "Work is Worship" talk. that we know when we sit down to meditate we need good concentration and good willpower. And otherwise the mind wanders. So where do we get that? How do we develop it? Well, it's most easily developed in our external tasks. Cause it's the same ability. It's easier to see it when we're doing something physical. See our tendency to let the mind wander; think about two things at once. See the tendency not to finish something; see the tendency to make a decision to do something and not do it. You know, it's easier in the external to see these qualities than it is when we're sitting and meditating. But they're the same qualities. So we can strengthen our concentration and our willpower by following Gurudeva's principle of finishing each job we start and doing it well. And then that ability is there. So, it starts out in schooling of course, for children. So, doing well in school is an important way that we develop concentration and willpower and then when we're older in our work, in our tasks, daily tasks, applying that principle and it develops in that way.

So willpower's interesting. Some things when you use them, you run out. Cook all the, cook the food and eat it and run out, right? You use it up. But, Gurudeva says, willpower: "The more you use your personal your personal, individual willpower, the more willpower you have."

So you can't run out of it, you can't use it up. In other words it's like a muscle. Muscle's the same. You know, the more you use a muscle the stronger it gets. It's the use that strengthens it. So likewise, the more you use your willpower the stronger it gets. It doesn't run out. "Once we have an indomitable will power, how then can we spiritualize it? We spiritualize it by living a spiritual life. This means controlling our instinctive impulses through following well the yamas. It means striving to perfect the niymas especially contentment, austerity, giving, faith and regular worship. It means holding the humble attitude that our intellectual knowledge produced through memory and reason is quite limited and pales before the knowledge that comes from our superconscious. And it means engaging in regular worship and meditation in which we strive to personally experience the divine realms of the Gods and of our soul."

So that's the idea and as I say, that meditation, that energy, awareness and willpower are one and the same thing is a worthwhile one. You can learn something about yourself through pursuing it.

Thank you very much.

Aum Namah Sivaya

[End of transcript]

Photo of  Gurudeva
Meditation is not an escape from the exterior world. We have to straighten ourselves out in the exterior world first before meditation and inner life can really be successful.