SUNYA LECTURE: THREE PRACTICES OF SUNYA
Updated: Feb 1
Sunya is the practice of breathing in and out, yet we do not exert ourselves. Many meditation schools are rigid and spend a lot of time just sitting and doing nothing. This is a wrong form of practice. The primary purpose of Sunya is to train the mind and release its great potential. We calm our minds down to attain peace, and then we act with great focus, performing our duties with prosperity.
The mind and body cannot be separated. To train your mind, you need to train your body. By training your breathing, you can train both your mind and your body. The training of your body, breathing, and mind are the three areas of training in Sunya. The training of the body is easy, so we do it first. Sunya is synchronizing our breathing with our body and mind. The practice of Sunya is the natural form of yoga.
From Buddha's early teachings, we can deduce that the body, breathing, and mind training are the three essential training areas. All the instructions that are taught by Buddha are elementary and straightforward. The training of the body, which is the first area of training in Sunya, has led to commercial yoga inception. The modern-day gurus misrepresent the training of your body. They teach that the more you torture your body, the more you train it. In some cases, they indulge in drinking alcohol and doing drugs to enter a “spiritual realm.”
Today, yoga is a billion-dollar business. Many people spend a considerable amount of time doing yoga, and they invest a lot of money to buy yoga accessories and pay their gurus and tutors. Yoga is not being associated with Sunya anymore. It has become a purely commercial business to make money, and it does little to promote a healthy body and a healthy mind. Nowadays, the more the guru practices yoga, the more non-human they become. Next, in the breathing training, the gurus have introduced a weird breathing technique that puts the student in awe. They believe that the longer you hold your breath, the higher is your level.
In the original teachings of Buddha, you are supposed to observe your breathing in a natural state. This helps us to keep track of our physical and mental well-being. Watching breathing is just like taking your pulse. You should observe if your breathing is short or long, deep or shallow, and forceful or soft. If you’re breathing hard and soft, your body may be tense. Keep observing it, and do not interfere with your breathing. You will notice that the breathing turns soft and long when the body relaxes. This should be done naturally and not by force.
This highest level of Sunya is the union of your mind with your supreme consciousness. Many gurus drink alcohol and smoke ganja is to “union” their mind with God himself. This is all a façade. They are unfair practices, and it never purifies your mind. Buddha made it clear that the only way to cleanse your mind is not to be involved in harming and detach yourself from greed and craving. Now you know that it is risky to follow those gurus who do not follow the Sutras or the religious texts. For Sunya students, our first advice is to maintain distance from these gurus.
The training of your body involves two levels. The basic level is focused on the training of your upper and lower body to improve circulation. The advanced class is to control your body so that you do not cause any harm to yourself and others. I introduced the hand swing exercise, which has been practiced for thousands of years. It brings good health to the people and has cured many chronic diseases. You can practice hand swing before or after your Sunya practice. You can perform this exercise while you listen to music or watch TV. This exercise is used to circulate blood in your body.
After the hand swing, you practice rising and lowering your hand slowly. This is done to circulate your energy. When you raise your hand, the lungs expand, and you breathe in. When you lower your hand, the lungs shrink, and you breathe out. There are three ways of sitting while meditating. The most difficult one is called the full lotus, where you cross your legs such that the soles of your feet are up the thighs. This automatically straightens your spine. An easier version of this is the half lotus, where you place one leg above the thigh. This can be performed by most of us. However, your back tends to bend forward, and your spine may not be straight. For this, it is necessary to sit on a hard cushion, about 3 to 4 inches in height, to straighten your spine. The easiest way of sitting is to cross your legs regularly. A hard cushion is necessary for this as well.
We have employed some villagers to make these hard cushions for us in the future as a socio-economic project, and we promote it through the network of DXN. In Sunya, we always stress that you will not control your mind if you cannot control your body. To train your body, we follow the Pancasila. It comprises five guiding views:
i) You shall do no harm
ii) You shall not take what doesn’t belong to you
iii) You shall not disturb the harmony of any family and society
iv) You shall not make false claims
v) You shall not intoxicate yourself
The training of our bodies is easy. The method of Sunya is powerful yet simple.