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Opening your sulice gates

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  • Swami J
    ************************ Swami J s Newsletter ************************ September 22, 2001 Dear Friends, In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali offers the metaphor of
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 22, 2001
      Swami J's Newsletter

      September 22, 2001

      Dear Friends,

      In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali offers the metaphor of the farmer's
      sluice gate to describe one of the most important principles of
      meditation and sadhana (spiritual practices).

      The crops in a field may be planted in many long rows. When the field
      is watered, the water is channeled to come into the end of the field
      that has the higher ground. Then the water naturally flows downhill,
      going into each of the many rows.

      However, the farmer may want the water to only go into one section of
      the field at a time, so he puts a "sluice gate" at the
      entrance to the various rows that supply water to the different
      sections of the field. Then the water will NOT flow into those
      sections closed off by a sluice gate. (The sluice gate may be a piece
      of wood or a little pile of dirt.)

      When it's time to water the field, the farmer does not go out to
      the rows and start pushing the water around with his hands. Rather,
      the farmer OPENS the sluice gate of the section of the field where he
      wants the water to flow, and it flows in accordance with its own

      In spiritual practices it can seem as if we are supposed to gain
      something through our efforts. The process does not really work like
      that. What has happened is that through our past actions we have
      created barriers, or sluice gates in the unconscious. It is these
      barriers that need to be reduced and removed.

      Thus, when we do a pious, proper, or useful act, it is not that this
      act itself brings us anything directly (That would be like pushing
      the water with our hands). Rather, what the pious, proper, or useful
      act does is to remove the effects of our previous impious, improper,
      or not useful acts that have turned into internal barriers or blocks.
      Then the purity underneath can naturally flow throughout the field of
      mind and body.

      But how do we do this? How do we learn to open our sluice gates? One
      of the first things to do is understand that we need to learn how to
      UN-learn. This may mean doing practices, going to classes, reading
      books, and asking questions. We are definitely gaining new
      information in these activities, but it is knowledge on how to remove
      obstacles, not knowledge of truth itself. That knowledge of truth
      itself comes from the UN-learning process. In this way we gradually
      learn how to be farmers skilled in the art of sluice gate management.

      The sage Vyasa gives descriptive comments on this Sutra of Patanjali,
      and offers an added metaphor of how a farmer cannot force the healthy
      sap to grow into the roots of corn, but must remove the weeds so that
      the corn can naturally grow.

      May your sluice gates open so that the Joy may naturally flow and
      grow a beautiful crop of corn that others may savor.

      In loving service,

      Swami J
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