The conflict: universal expansion and retention

Advaita Post, Volume 16, no. 5

Text Satsang

From a talk with Douwe Tiemersma, Hoorneboeg, March 6, 2009

The conflict: universal expansion and retention

Breaking open in a radical way can go completely by itself. When that doesn’t happen it makes sense to look very carefully at what appears to be closed, what is stuck, but what can still break open. It will have to come into the light of consciousness, so that it can open. Through consciousness it can come completely free. It’s about yourself, of course, your own self-being. If there’s something in it that’s closed you will need to bring that very clearly into view. When it remains vague, there’s little question about what will follow. When this vagueness stays, and that’s all too easily the case, then your whole life is based on that closed off area. Then that has an effect on all aspects of your life, without you being aware of the cause. What can you say about these closed off things? They have the character of stuck energies. When all goes well, energies are allowed to expand and so take space. They flow, they dissolve, but they can also get stuck. It’s about energy, but at the same time it’s about the self-being that has identified itself with this energy. Within this energy there is a piece of consciousness. When a new individual life emerges, traditionally it is said: “The self-being incarnates in a chunk of energy and then says: this is me.” When this identification is there, there is just one complex: not just of energy, but of an ‘I’ and energy, an ‘I’-energy complex. The experience then is that everything that happens with that chunk of energy happens with yourself. What happens with the body, happens with yourself. Thus internally, you’re sitting in that piece of energy; there is an internal being in contrast to an external world. Everything from this external world which comes at that piece of energy/matter, comes at you.

Why can’t this energy/matter lump flow freely? Apparently there is a force that holds it back. If there were no restrictive force, the energy would take the space. In a very early stage of life that restriction for the most part is not so strong, but in order to start differentiating internal and external energies, that restriction gradually increases in strength. There are all kinds of forces that limit or capture the vital life energy. You see how quickly the energies are absorbed by the self-being, so that an ‘I’-complex is formed with all kinds of energetic shells which function restrictively (koshas). These restricting energies in the realm of the ‘I’-identity are expressed as judgments: “I can’t do this or that”, “I am this body”, “this belongs to this body but not that”, “there is a border here”, “it shouldn’t go any further”, “I am my brain”, “I think”, and so on. There is, then an internal conflict. On the one hand the energies want to take up space, and on the other hand they are held back. A congestion arises when the internal or external restricting forces are particularly strong. When this inner congestion is very strong the energy seeks a way out in a less attractive fashion, such as aggression. In an early phase of life there is still a very open situation. When this openness is attacked, it can be experienced so intensively that the reaction is total, a total fear, because it is experienced as a total threat. In the further course of life, this threatened reaction doesn’t come to the surface of consciousness that frequently because it is repressed. In addition, there are also complexes that you acquire later in life. All these things that you keep outside of your consciousness continue to still play a role in the shaping of your life.

When we are engaged in yoga as liberation from the body schema, it’s not usually about very heavy emotional things, but rather about the established physical structures that are deeply ingrained, such as top and bottom, left and right, the size of your body, and so on. When an expansion comes, you see that the simpler things come free first but increasingly you have to deal with much deeper issues that are more stuck, that are more restrictive and more emotionally charged. They come free when more space comes.

It’s good to see that inner conflict very clearly. Primarily energy has a tendency to expand itself. That expresses itself on the level of the person as a longing for liberation. Even when there is an identification with a solid chunk of energy, such as the body and traumatic experiences, that desire for expansion, for broadening still remains. That is something authentic, because in principle the self-being is not limited. That’s why everyone has a longing for this universal expansion. The other side is there, too. Through identification the self-being is linked to that specific form, this specific lump of energy/matter. This identity has become an anchor through habit, a certain basis which you experience as yourself. When this energy is in danger of falling apart, there is thus the fear that the self is falling apart. On the one hand there is that authentic longing for infinite unfolding, on the other hand there is the will to hold on to the form and so retain your normal-identity. That is a huge conflict.

This identity is continually affirmed externally and so then that’s continually a big dilemma.

Yes, but it turns out that you take on that affirmation. It’s an inner conflict. It’s the basic conflict that all people live with, the greatest conflict that there is. Everyone relates to it in their own way, but everyone has it. So it’s good to see how it works. People sit in that conflict with a double desire. On the one hand to be infinite and on the other hand to be identical with a form which man proposes shouldn’t change. That’s why people want to have an eternal life and will do everything they can to stretch it out a few years. That’s a huge misunderstanding, the biggest misunderstanding that there is. That longing for this infinitude is authentic because the self-being is not stuck in a form. This infinitude then gets identified with a limited form. Different levels get mixed together. Of course you get problems with that. You notice that this limited form is not eternal. Do you see the absurdity of this contradiction? Do you see the tragedy of man? Do you see now that that’s the precise cause of suffering? Do you see that it isn’t necessary?

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