Excerpt from Prem Baba’s Book
From Suffering to Joy – The Path of the Heart
Four Keys to Sustaining Ecstasy, Introduction
Question: Yesterday I had one of the most profound experiences of my life. I saw myself dissolved. My body had no limits and all the suffering in me was consumed by love. But when I returned to the world to relate with people, this blissful state dissipated and sadness grabbed ahold of me. How can I maintain the state of ecstasy I experienced?
Prem Baba: It seems that you experienced what Zen masters refer to as satori, or a glimpse of the eternal. Many people experience the eternal without being aware of it. However, if you are attentive and determined, you may use this experience as an arrow pointing towards liberation. Satori is attained by emptying the mind. When you perceive the real being, you are present, and from presence springs truth.
Today we heard some beautiful live devotional music. Some of you sang along and thus co-created music. Creativity, and even the ability to experience beauty, is only possible when the mind is peaceful. If the mind is loaded down with knowledge and thoughts, we can’t create anything new, and we remain numb to beauty. Beauty is an expression of the fresh energy of Being.
“If the mind is loaded down with knowledge and thoughts, we can’t create anything new, and we remain numb to beauty.”
When the mind becomes serene we experience a connection with the eternal that reveals beauty. The more intense the experience of Being, the more we are able to see the brilliance and the beauty around us. This experience of heightened beauty is a sign that we are in a state of Unity. We are able to realize Unity because we were never actually disconnected from the eternal.
Everything begins with presence, with quieting the mind. This is the foundation of the practice. It’s from silence that truth is born. But to abide in this silence we must understand that compulsive thinking is a disease that we need to treat. Western culture conditions us to think compulsively, so that we lose our connection with beauty and truth. We may look at a beautiful view of the countryside without really seeing it, and we may hear music but not really listen to it – because our minds are busy classifying, labeling, evaluating, and interpreting all that we see or hear. The most we ever do is mechanically interpret what the sense have registered: “How pretty!” But in truth we still aren’t listening or seeing because for that to occur we need to be empty, we need a serene mind.
The mind can become so agitated that we no longer perceive our connection to the divine presence. When the mind is agitated, it prevents us from perceiving beauty. It blinds us to our own beauty and so keeps us from creating beauty. The agitated mind will produce more agitation, be it in the form of art, music, or any other means of expression. All the ugliness we see in the world is a result of this agitation. Fear, hatred, suffering, and people’s stubborn insistence on having everything their way – all of these are automatic reactions caused by the agitated mind.
“The agitated mind will produce more agitation, be it in the form of art, music, or any other means of expression. All the ugliness we see in the world is a result of this agitation.”
On the contrary, true action emerges from the heart. Heart is another name for presence, for serenity. The heart is Being. When the mind is serene, you perceive Being. You see that you are connected to everything, and that the body is but a small aspect of reality. You are life itself, and the first quality of life is love. What is the nature of a flower? It’s to perfume and be beautiful. And what moves this flower to exude perfume and beauty? It is love, because love moves all of existence. Love is the essence of life.
When we get a glimpse of the eternal, we feel this love. We are engulfed in love. Naturally, we want to hold on to this feeling, and so we try to get love from others. In the process, we lose sight of our true nature, which is love itself. Maintaining presence when relating with one another is the human race’s greatest challenge. Mental agitation and, at a deeper level, your imprints and sanskaras (the latent mental and karmic tendencies that shape your current life) prevent you from sharing your love with others.
The experience of the eternal will dissolve these imprints. Little by little you will be freed from selfishness, the master thief of consciousness. The freedom to be yourself and to love selflessly will help you sustain this enlightened state.
“The experience of the eternal will dissolve these imprints.”
If you want to experience unity and sustain the ecstasy you have tasted, it may help you to think of your inner path as a series of phases through which you transition, on after another.
Sri Prem Baba is a master teacher in the Sachcha spiritual lineage of northern India. Born and raised in Brazil, Prem Baba worked as a humanistic psychologist, yoga teacher, and shaman before his arrival in India. Prem Baba offers a method of self-discovery he calls “The Path of the Heart,” which bridges psychology and spirituality, East & West. Through self-investigation, the path works towards purifying and integrating the lower self, until one is able to sustain joy. Pre Baba is dedicated to helping people become channels of divine love by sharing their talents and gifts with the world and thus fulfilling their true purpose in life.