In this era, the concept of Yoga has seemed to go hand in hand with the denial of sensory and bodily experience. On the other end of the spectrum, the new ‘Tantra’ seems to point seekers in the direction of a spiritually approved sensory indulgence into hallucinogenic drugs, sex and various other peak experiences that, supposedly, help one to transcend the mundane sensory world into a heightened world of ‘mystic spiritual experience’. However, both of these notions stem from an idea of spirituality that is originally corrupt; they are surrogate notions that sprout up when the true river of wisdom teachings, that are based on the authentic selfless transmission of the Unconditional Being, have long dried up and withered away.
Should one seek to deny sensory experience entirely? Should one seek to starve the body of natural enjoyment and nourishment? Beings who have promoted such spiritual escapism and fake renunciation have failed to understand the full scope of what the higher evolved consciousness, manifesting through certain wisdom teachings, have called ‘sensory experience’. The experience of the senses cannot just be confined to a select group of pleasant or unpleasant experiences that seem to bind one to a limited self-perception. Everything that is experienced through the senses, and in fact, everything that is experienced, is potentially binding and illusory. If one has a fixed obsessive idea about spiritual renunciation and asceticism, and one takes pride when one feels one’s stomach starving for food, and one prefers to enjoy the more ‘spiritualised pleasure’ of energetic highs created through voluntary pseudo-yogic acts then, this is also a certain binding to sensory experience. Any experiences through the senses that are still interpreted in a limited, conditioned way, and that still stick as an impression to the mind, are the binding sensory experiences that the original wisdom teachings have spoken about.
Fake yogic teachings that have taught that one category of sensory experiences are to be banished and another category of sensory experiences are to be cultivated, have overshadowed and corrupted the true Yogic teaching of stillness, selflessness and equanimity. The true Yogic teachings are based on an understanding of the essence of reality and therefore the essence of all appearances, perceptions and sensory experiences. When one understands the essence of something, then of course the perception of that thing is transformed. The idea was never to forbid the experience of the senses, but rather to first understand what the core and foundation of all experience is. As long as there is still the distorted and contracted perception of an individual body who runs around the world collecting a bunch of different experiences of both a positive and negative nature, then it doesn’t matter what kind of sensory experience or lack of sensory experience happens to be manifested, because that experience is not understood, and the perception of reality is still divided. For such beings, Yoga remains merely a dream and an idea.
Absolutely anything that appears or manifests within the scope of perception on any level can be binding and illusory. Both the most primitive hedonistic physical enjoyments and the peaks of meditative bliss may both be used as elements to propel illusion. One being may be sitting and enjoying a piece of chocolate cake, whilst another sits in a cave in a state of meditative tranquility. Yet, if the seed of separation still exists in the mind of the meditator and there is even the subtlest thought of, ‘wow I’m in such a great meditative state. I am surely in nirvikalpa samadhi and enlightenment will come soon…´, then the Reality is still not recognised and the illusion is once again propelled in an, albeit subtler form. On the other hand, the being sitting and eating their cake may be fully established in the Reality whilst the body enjoys. This is a great paradox because there is no way to recognise such a being for sure by any conditioned pattern of behavior. Therefore it is never the senses themselves that bind, rather it is the subtle interpretation and entanglement with sensory experience in general that is binding.
But what does the idea of ‘binding’ or ‘bondage’ really mean? If one speaks of binding, then one surely needs to know what is binding to what… To understand this, one has to be able to experience self in an unconditional equanimous way. It is only then that one understands that the bondage is of the power of consciousness and the natural attention of Being that, through the process of devolution, becomes lost in the appearances that it projects out of itself.
While there is still the idea that there is a separate limited being that wanders around a world of different positive/negative elements, sometimes indulging in one, and sometimes disciplining self and avoiding another, then the core of the path is not recognised. This is because it is the awareness itself that originally indulges and becomes entangled in such an obscure mode of perception. It is not that the awareness becomes specifically attached to this element or that element, but rather that awareness becomes attached to its projection, or that which appears, in general. This attachment is not undone by going into extremes and favouring one mode of sensory experience and attachment over another. It is undone by recognising the core and essence of all existence and cultivating that essence through equanimous absorption and integration with the manifested reality. This is what it means to abide in equanimity and neutrality. There are no senses to control and no one experience to favour more than the other. There is a natural selfless and content being to effortlessly recognise and abide within at each moment. From that point, one is able to grasp the essence of the path by the root and understand the essence of all wisdom teachings. Thus, one merges into the Space that is nothing for the attached, unnatural, illusionary and projected mind/reality.