Photograph by the author
—Jeanne de Salzmann, The Reality of Being, p. 63)
A real sensation isn't something I can get by trying; and it's nothing I can do. The question of developing a permanent sensation is not under my will; because a permanent sensation arises from a living force, the awakening of my wish in a different part other than the mind.
I always think that my wish comes from my mind. Because of the separation between the mind, the body, and the feelings, and the fact that the body and the feelings are so deeply asleep in this separation, I don't really have any concept or understanding of how the wish can awaken in the other parts.
This is what is meant by a voluntary participation — a word that Jeanne de Salzmann uses quite often. What is voluntary appears on its own, because it wishes to. Not because I invoke it or demand it or use some extraordinary effort of attention to push it into me.
There is a living force, a divine energy that flows into the body and awakens Being. My effort is always, every day, and as much as possible in every moment of every day, to become open to this living force. It never abandons me; it is always here. This living force can and must become a permanent presence that supports my inner work.
Of course exactly how and why this takes place — how sensation becomes permanent — is a mystery. No one has written any books on it; and even teachers can't necessarily explain how it works, or why. One could do yoga for 80 years and this might not happen — or it might.
The Reality of Being gives us, perhaps, the most detailed set of observations on this question available in print anywhere. Yet it is just a book; and the urgency of a work which opens to this question is far greater than anything one can print on page, or read in a blog post. It is an inner matter, an inner question, and requires an active intimacy that transcends the thinking mind. How one can approach this question when the thinking mind dominates so much is unknown.
It is this very unknown, this emptiness which I attempt to enter, where all of the necessary experience lies. And that is all there is there; experience. It is the experience of this moment, the experience of Being, which does not have the ordinary I as the central feature of its landscape. It is, in point of fact, a landscape; a timeless landscape, that includes all of its smaller parts without interfering with them.
This is a landscape which I need to find and learn to live in, all day, every day. Objects, events, circumstances, and conditions come over the horizon and arrive here; then they pass off into the distance. And one simply sits within this landscape, in the experience of Being. One sees the difference between the landscape, its contents, and Being.
It's odd that this question has dropped off the map of most spiritual work, even though it is so central to the conscious experience of Being. One can actually measure, to some extent, how real a work, or a teaching, are by the extent to which this particular question is understood; and yet one doesn't see it mentioned very much.
In some senses, it illustrates how very much has been forgotten.