Yoga in its misunderstood essence, but well practiced form has made great strides across the world. Whatever does this mean?
Since most of us reading this are probably adults, we know that the Form of somebody or something is very different from that person or object’s actual essence, it is the same with Yoga.
The form of Yoga is Asana, Breathing Exercises/Pranayama, Kriya, Tantras, Meditations, etc. but its essence is something that many of us wouldn’t even want.
Detachment, Loss of self and isolation. These are some of the certain milestones on the path of Real Yoga. What then is the essence of Yoga? In one word, Freedom.
Freedom from attachments, freedom from a limiting self, freedom from social fallacies and ultimately freedom beyond self-identifying consciousness itself. Is this what you want? If so, the Path of Yoga is for you, for you have the True Perspective towards Life that Yoga terms Viveka or Discernment.
As the Hatha Yoga Pradipika states multiple times, Yoga alone without the True Perspective (of Raja Yoga) is not Yoga at all, it is only Karma, or Action. Of course, doing Asanas even without any higher or True Perspective of Yoga still leads to greater physical health, life expectancy and cascading anti-ageing effects. So this is certainly Good Karma, but it is not Yoga, for Yoga means ‘Being’/’Fusion’, the specific type of awareness of body and mind at any given time. This is why Yoga is transformative because only a body and mind which is willfully transforming is in Yoga.
Just like I cannot go someplace else if I want to continue staying where I am, in the same way I cannot transform myself if I am too attached (negatively or positively) to who or what I think I am.
My pain and problems come not from actual physical pain causing things, rather they arise from the internal part of my personality, my inner psyche.
It is the way things are perceived and not the being in itself that causes the Pain, memory of pain or trauma and their effect on our lives.
Yoga Psychology through the utilization of the Kundalini system identifies the six parts of the selves - the Instinctive, Egotist, Intellectual, Affective, Potential and Higher Selves.
The Behavioral self by itself cannot be understood for this six part self, for “Before Enlightenment fetching water, hewing wood and after Enlightenment fetching water, hewing wood” as the famous Zen Koan gives us to understand.
Further, the behavior of a person operating on a higher wavelength of cognition, not being understood by others, would only be misunderstood and therefore any person successfully walking the path of yoga would experience increasingly high levels of empathy but correspondingly increasing levels of isolation (due to not being understood) as well.
Then again, when you leave home or your older self, you do lose something, but you also end up somewhere else, which means you gain something you never would have, had you stayed home-attached. In the case of Yoga, what we lose is our old self and its overt sociability, and what we gain is a truer self and great empathy.
And just like every journey is at least as great the destination itself, ‘Vismayo Yoga Bhumikaha’ as per the Shiva Sutras, meaning ‘Full of wonders are the stages of Yoga’. In fact the ‘Stages of Yoga’ are Stages of Self-Discovery and wondrous are the different selves, each of which creates a completely new and awe-inspiring reality of the World and the specific self itself.
As the Layers of Citta are crossed over by the Citta itself, the Kleshas or Co-simultaneous selves are seen, experienced and realized. The first gift on the path of Yoga is the experience of personal immortality. The manifest, physical self, the outermost self will certainly ‘die’ or devolve back into the Earth one day but none of the internal selves do so.
Experiencing life as an immortal, but with a mortal body of amazing complexity, that is the first real stage in the wondrous path of Yoga.
Instead, if I were simply identified 100% as my mortal body, you can just imagine my sense of fear, desperation to stay young, consume and experience as much as I can before my unpredictable moment of death.
What keeps us from a true understanding of ourselves? Why can’t everyone experience this ‘immortal’ experience talked about above? The answer lies in Fallacious Identity and Fallacious understanding of the Known, the Knowable, the Unknown and the Unknowable.
To make it clearer, the first and primary mistake is when I identify with the tool of experience (the Body) rather than with the Experiencer (the Self/Consciousness). The Power of identification or identity is a function of Consciousness and this power of identity could be directed anywhere, of anybody and anything.
In fact, it is also the power of transposing identity that allows for empathy when we identify with the ‘other’. Since our primary method of experiencing the World and our Body is through our five senses and since the senses belong to the Body, we instinctively tend to fix our identity with that of the senses and therefore with the Body.
In fact we see nothing , hear nothing, feel nothing, smell nothing and taste nothing except for that which is ‘created’ by our brain - the simulation of Reality. Light does not enter the brain, nor do sound waves from the ear, smells picked by the nose, etc.
Instead, electric signals pass from the senses through nerves to the neurons of the brain. And the brain creates a simulation which is then experienced by consciousness as Reality. Believing these senses and brain to be the self is the first Fallacy. This is termed in Yoga as Avidya Fallacious Knowing and the specific type of Avidya or Prime Fallacy of identity is based on our Five Elements or the Pancha Tattva, their specific composition and their unique combination in each one of us.
This does not mean that we cannot improve and overcome our fallacy. Here, we see the role played by our ability to learn from the old saying, ‘there are three sides to everything, your opinion, my opinion and the truth.’ There is a lot of inherent clarity in this saying and basically what it means is that the opinions, whatsoever and whomsoever’s they might be are all false to some extent, whereas Truth stands alone. It also means that I cannot reach the truth as long as I have an opinion.
The reason why that is so is because, once again, opinions and belief in them come from the ever shifting personality and one’s, irrational belief in something so transitory as this shifting persona. Is your personality the same as your five year old persona? Was that the same as your fifteen year old persona? But at each stage of personality development we have opinions and believe in ‘our’ truth or ‘our opinion’ at the given time.
How do I get over my opinionated self and get to the truth beyond which there are no more questions, no more answers? That is the path and objective of Yoga, the Anuttara, beyond all questions and answers.
In fact, the answer to the above question is quite simple. Go beyond the personality. The only way to achieve that is to de-identify my self from the Tool (the Body) and then to quieten the voices in my self - created illusion, my persona. When the thoughts, self-identifying memories and emotions of the persona go silent, then the mask of persona within falls and one stands bathed in the radiant light of the truer self, the experiencer.
This is not just a self-transforming experience, it's a world transforming experience as it is the self that creates the perception of the world, as discussed above. Now, the awe-inspiring fact is that this ‘truer self’ is only the first in the self-willed evolution of the self-experience. In increments of mystical experience, a sage is reached where there is no more Self that can be defined separately from that which is not the Self, for All is Self and Self is All. Just don’t make the egotist mistake of thinking that this grand Self is you, but rather ‘you’ are a very small part of it.
And before we think of willfully expanding our self, let us first look in the mirror and actually see this magical self, as it is, in all its wondrous complexity, our selves, of which we have only the most superficial glimpse and sense.
Allow me to illustrate with an example. A largish dog weighs in at around 45 kg, while an average adult male weighs 70-75kg. A dog’s got a bunch of small sharp teeth, the man has fists and feet of crushing power. Why is the average man afraid of this dog when it charges aggressively?
Why can’t every person be a genius? Why can’t everyone have empathy and compassion? The dog is connected purely and solely to its INSTINCT, the genius is fully connected to his/her INTUITIVE INTELLECT, the empath senses completely the AFFECTIVE aspect. More the merging into any of the five ELEMENTAL states, more the power or PRANA, THE INSTINCTIVE PRANA of the ANIMAL.
Prana levels of the genius and the empath mentioned above are attainable by each and every one of us, provided we have similar access to our INNER SELVES. The INSTINCTIVE, the EGOTIST, the INTELLECTUAL, the AFFECTIVE, the POTENTIAL and Higher Consciousness/Pure Intuition/Prajna, the six Chakras or Circles of Illusionary Experiential Reality.
It is a well understood concept in Developmental Biology and Psychology of that Nature, or one’s genetic disposition and nurture, or the environment of development decides the personality and traits of each one of us and the same is true of all beings that have any form of organic genetic structure.
Did we have any direct control over the development of our own personalities, our likes and dislikes, our abilities and any lack thereof. And since we direct our lives and life-choices based on our likes, dislikes, hopes and fears (that we never willfully chose), do we have FREEDOM? Have we ever had it?
Internal understanding of the six Circles of Experiential Reality, the six Chakras are therefore essential to gain control over our selves and our lives, towards FREEDOM’s accomplishment.
These six Circles of Reality are not literally in the physical body, rather they have their existence in the Nadi Shaira or Body of Nadis (plural). This nadishaira by itself is a blueprint for the psycho-somatic body, is not the ultimate repository of the self, but only the second of the five Outer Selves or Pancha (five) Koshas, as per Yogic sciences. An easier way to visualize these ‘selves’ would be to look at the long standing academic question of the difference between Mind and Consciousness. Visualizing Mind and Consciousness as ‘belonging’ to different but co-generative selves is a solution to this eternal and as yet unanswered question. The Mind is temporal and ‘dies’, but Consciousness is eternal and immortal. In a similar fashion, a certain part, the materially manifest part of the Self is born, grows and dies whereas the non-material and more ‘internal’ parts of the self were never ‘born’, do not ‘grow’ nor ‘die’.
Considering that there are multiple selves, which one of these selves is true, which is false? The fact is of course that all these selves are relatively true and absolutely false.
As long as one self exists, it presupposes the existence of other selves, because without the ‘other’, that which is not the self, there can be no self. Therefore, Self is defined by that which is not the self. This is why you, me, ourself is true, relative to other selves or the ‘other’. In a similar way, multiple selves within ourself are true relative to each other and exclusive to each other, as each self senses and cognises itself as a separate entity.
What gives you instinctive, intellectual, spiritual and affective selves the sense of commonality or of belonging together as one self, though each of them are mutually exclusive? The answer is The Ego and particularly the Identifying faculty of the Ego that identifies with each of these elves with such a sense of proximity that each of these selves are permeated with the sense and cognition of our one and only self. If we were to extrapolate using the very Identifying Faculty of the Ego, to the External world around us, we can see how it is possible for the Ego to identify with or as anything at all.
The extension of the Identifying Faculty on a Universal Basis could mean All-Identification or Universalization of the Self, so there is no quality or object in the Universe not identified with, by such a Universal Self. This ‘Universal Self’ in Yogic Psychology is known as MAHAT.
Now, just as er unite the disparate selve such as the instinctive, intellectual, etc. into the one self through the ego’s faculty of Identity, we can integrate the higher selves, up to MAHAT within one sense of Self identity in which our present self identity becomes only an atomic part of the new whole. This process of integrating higher selves unto a more integrated and novel perceptionofSelf is known, in Yogic Psychology, as SAMADHI.
Since the objective of all YOGA is TOTAL FREEDOM, we cannot rest in a ‘higher’ or ‘lower’ self, immortal or mortal. We must rise above the ‘selves’, all of them, in order to attain TOTAL FREEDOM. So, the totality of ‘selves’ must be encompassed and crossed over for the achievement of TOTAL FREEDOM.
The existential ability to experience both the TOTALITY of differentiated ‘selves’ and the Non-Self nature of essential consciousness is called in Yoga, SAMADHI. ‘Sama’ means ‘same’ by which we mean equal sense of ‘REALITY’ or CO-DEPENDENT Reality, to be more accurate, is attributed to each one of the ‘Relative Selves’ as well as to this Non-Self essential consciousness. And there, the collection of ‘selves’ and non-self are experienced together, simultaneously and in synchronicity with each other, in the high existential experience of SAMADHI.
In contrast to SAMADHI experience, the existential ability to concentrate, our present body-mind into a specific self and to deeply experience that single self, whether ‘higher’ or ‘lower’ than the present self, is in Yoga termed SAMAPATTI.
So, if we went to ‘tune’ into the Animal World using our INSTINCT, or to completely oneself identity as the ‘other’ using the Identifying Faculty of the Ego, or to access INTELLECTUAL discernment of the most subtle levels or to step completely into the experience of INTUITIVE reality, and lastly, to experience ‘selves’ higher than these imagines or intuited by psychosomatic ‘spiritual’ processes, all these are SINGLE levels, which we access and experience through the process of SAMAPATTI or BECOMING.
Only when all of these are collected together as simultaneous experience and founded on the Non-self experience, is SAMADHI accomplished. And only that state, in Yoga, is considered to be one of TOTAL and TRUE FREEDOM, the ultimate objective.
We must therefore remember that all progress in Yoga must be measured in terms of STAGES of INCREASING FREEDOM. Freedom from physical problems, freedom from emotional problems, freedom from psychological problems. Freedom from intellectual mindsets, freedom from self, freedom from that which is not the self, until there is nothing that stands in the way of the only REAL TRUTH, that which is only experienced in the STATE of REAL, TOTAL and TRUE FREEDOM.
So, follow your GURU, practice the teachings through Methods, set your objectives, but always question, question everything until you find the truth in your heart. And that’s your personal experience. Don't “--”, don’t try to convert others to your way, let each one be free to live and think the way they want to. Each of us has his/her own idea and experience of FREEDOM, which is relatively true for each one of us.
The prerequisites for your growth and accomplishment of FREEDOMS depends, according to Yoga, on the following five Qualities and their levels extant in you:
a) Discernment, the subtle ability to differentiate between qualities, attributes and consequences in your experiences and our actions
b) Constancy of Practice despite and inspite of all seeming obstacles. As you pass through these obstacles thanks to your constancy and practice, you will see how these seeming obstacles were actually tests and strengtheners that help you more than anything else in life, provided you go through them and don’t stop.
c)Courage: Fixity gives security and to the human body and mind insecurity is one of the greatest fears. Therefore, the human body and mind tries to seek security, physically, emotionally and psychologically. The quality of courage necessary, to detach from this almost existential need for security, is very high and needs to be constantly maintained and increased.
d)Conative capacity: The intensity of resolve if high, and if the intensity of the method’s employed are high, then according to Yoga, success and accomplishment of your objective is very near at hand, in time and space.
apart from these above Five Cognitive and Behavioral qualities which are prerequisites for the PATH OF FREEDOM that is YOGA, we are also taught the import, in fact the crucial importance of our Affective or Emotional State. The stimulation of that Emotional State, which is balanced, positive and rising is known in Yoga as BHAVANCHITTAPRASADAM.
In order to possess this most sweet of EMOTIONAL states, all we need to do is maintain three essential affective traits: a) JOY, b) AFFECTION and c) HOPE, and we are all set.
There should really be no necessity to explain to another human being the absolutely stunning luck of being born as a human, that most breathtaking of all organisms yet known in the Universe. If one cannot but find Joy in and as a human, whatever the most basic powerful of all the Emotional states, Joy to Life.
Affection, or even better, Love towards the other State, by overcoming and purifying all opposing emotions with its irresistible power of grace.
The Gates of Hades, in Dante’s vision of the Infernal had as its motto, ‘Abandon all Hope,ye who enter.’ And in virtual Hell live the Hopeless here on Earth. Hope is the Eternal Light that guides one through the dark valleys of pain, suffering, failure and loss. And that Hope which springs eternal, when acted upon manifests the path to all goodness, progress and success.
So let us, having understood the above truisms of Yoga, raise ourselves Through the Enlivened and pacified Emotional Self unto that State beyond all Self, whilst journeying through the magical spheres of Self created Realities.
Ever detaching from the dead past, not living in the unborn future, synchronizing with the ever passing present, let us step out of the dark boundaries of memory and imagination unto the light of the Actual Self, Pure Consciousness and its inheritance, TOTAL FREEDOM. Victory to Yoga and to you its True Practitioner, for you shall be the Adamantine One that stands victorious over Dark Death.