“Yoga is the work of the inner self on the outer.” ~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
The inner self often referred to in yoga is none other than your natural existence. It is that formless, shapeless nothingness that gives you the sensation of existence you have in this very moment. It was there before birth and is unaffected by the body’s death.
Many people start on the spiritual path but never make it past the outward approach. They are doing this or that to purify themselves, raise their vibration, or in some ways transmute themselves. They are of the mind that through action in the world of form, or subtle worlds of energy, that your inner will be made powerful and manifest.
However, the soul/awareness that everyone of us shares is the Divine itself, immutably perfect. It is inside us all, or rather we are all inside of it. It knows the body but the body doesn’t know it.
Rediscovering this perfect endless divinity is not a question of perfecting the divinity but rather allowing that divinity to perfect our outer selves. The touch and voice of that divinity acts on us in stillness and silence.
Meditation, prayer, devotion, and similar spiritual practices use that silence to guide us toward self-realization.
This is also why once a certain degree of effort has been made, the spiritual path can become effortless. You continue to learn from your own existence, which is to God as a ray is to the Sun.
Go inward and get an idea of what your inner divinity really is. Then regularly engage in spiritual practice to allow that divinity to go to work on you.
Namaste, sangha. Much love
In Zen buddhism, specifically the Soto school, enlightenment is considered an inherent part of our nature. In fact, we have no identity of our own outside of enlightenment. This is what they call Buddha Nature.
This doesn’t mean that everything has its own buddha nature but rather all things are Buddha Nature.
Enlightenment, therefore, is something that remains ever-present in this moment, as this moment. But when we add and fixate on our thoughts, feelings, judgements, and opinions, this Buddha Nature becomes obscured from our awareness. The Buddha Nature remains present as Buddha Nature but it is entirely unknown to us.
Spiritual practices like meditation are methods for expressing Buddha Nature. The idea isn’t to gain anything that isn’t already here but rather gradually to let go of adding things to our present moment.
To me, this is an important approach for the path. It isn’t enough to sit back and say all is Buddha Nature. Yet at the same time, one need not struggle to ‘attain’ buddha nature or anything like that. Buddha Nature is our Nature and the more we express that Nature through spiritual activities, the less obscure it becomes from our awareness.
Suzuki Roshi liked to say that we must do our practices without the idea of gain. This is because the desire for gain, to add or change something in the present moment, is the very thing that conceals Buddha Nature from our awareness.
Enlightenment, he said, is nothing added.