In the Indian scriptures, concern only with the ida, or concern only with the pingala, is called the dark path – the path of the pitaras (ancestors). This is the path of delusion.
Simultaneous awakening and balance of the ida and pingala is called the path of light – the path of the devas (divine beings). This is the path where there is simultaneous expansion of inner awareness combined with corresponding action in the outside world.
This is such an important topic that it is mentioned in many texts. For the purpose of illustration and explanation, we will give quotations from the Ishavasya Upanishad: “Those who only follow the path of avidya (action in the outside world) enter into blinding darkness. Conversely, those who are engrossed only in vidya (inner knowledge of the mind or more specifically meditational practices) also enter into blinding darkness.” (verse 9) This is a clear statement that should be remembered: both those who try to open up the ida (inner world) alone through meditational practices and those who are concerned only with the pingala (worldly activities), remain deluded.
The same idea is further expanded in the next verse: “The wise have told us that meditational practices alone and external activity alone will each give a different result.” (verse 10) A certain level of understanding is attained through total concern with worldly activities; another level of understanding is attained through total concern with exploration of the mind through meditational practices. But each eventually becomes a block to further progress. The text continues: “He who knows both vidya (the inner world) and avidya (the outer world) crosses the abyss of death through avidya and attains immortality through vidya.” (verse 11) These three verses are probably the most important verses in the entire literature of the Upanishads.
Both extroversion and introversion must be practised together. Neither must be rejected. One must simultaneously do meditational practices to unfold inner awareness and also work. There should be continual observation of and alertness to the inner process of the mind, while simultaneously acting in the world. This is the path of light, the path of the devas. Balance is given to both the ida and pingala. One becomes a man of inner knowledge while acting in the world. Both karma yoga (the yoga of action) and dhyana yoga (the yoga of meditation) are combined and integrated into one’s life.
Let us explain the meaning of the word ‘death’ given in verse 11. It does not mean death in the usual sense of the word. It means the death of delusion – the death of laya (loss of awareness) during meditational practices.