self-study, and continuous contemplation on Isvara constitute practical yoga.
giddy full moon crew set out to begin to explore the second Pada, which deals
with the practicalities of achieving the sublime states described in the first
Pada. Since the Gurukula class always focuses on relating the teachings to our
everyday lives, this part will be much more familiar and “user friendly.”
Admittedly, many participants have struggled with the complexities and
abstractions of the first part, but those who have stuck with it should find
the going much easier from here on.
class assessed the three aspects of kriya (practical) yoga listed by Patanjali
as being negative, neutral and positive, respectively. They are also roughly
parallel to tamas, rajas and sattva.
or self-purification, is the process of paring away the impediments we have
accumulated. If you didn’t know that we have been doing tapas all along in this
study, now you do. Svadhyaya, self-study, is coming to know ourselves as we
are. Until we dig down deeply into our psyche, we imagine we are the being we
have been cajoled to believe in by others. Isvara pranidhana, contemplation of
the ideal, offers a positive model toward which to direct our actions, our
kriya. Isvara, as you may recall, is Patanjali’s term for the Absolute.
three of these examinations should take place in concert, otherwise they become
lopsided. Bill talked about how Western psychology is obsessed with the
negative afflictions of the psyche. There is no admission of any higher unity
to kindle optimism, so even if you root out many negative factors you may well
remain depressed and unsatisfied.
many seekers prefer to associate only with their positive side. They imagine
that admitting to having negative proclivities makes them appear unspiritual.
It’s one thing to be “in the groove,” but what often happens is that the dark
side is merely suppressed so that we can appear to be already realized. If
something ugly pops up, instead of dealing with it, the seeker feels guilty and
keeps it under wraps. As Jan put it, under their surface cheerfulness is a
“simmering anxiety” that she has noticed on numerous occasions. It is only a
in all this wallowing and pretention is the development of the true self
according to its interests and talents. Self-study isn’t just study. Nowadays
we would call it self-expression, or the joy of living. Unfortunately, the term
‘self-study’ conjures up an image of sitting at a musty table in the library
reading a book. What is meant is that all actions and reactions are examined
with an eye of neutrality, right in the thick of the fray.
wondered if the neutrality we were talking about was anything like the
equanimity she is familiar with from her Buddhist studies. That’s a very astute
question. Equal-mindedness is a goal in both Vedanta and Buddhism. What often
happens, though, is that it is also treated as a means to the end. When that
happens, important aspects of the psyche are suppressed in favor of a peaceful
exterior. With that, instead of being the crowning achievement of
self-liberation, equanimity becomes a tool of self-repression. You stifle your
ups and downs to appear calm, instead of curing them to become truly calm.
mentioned how grateful she was that when some negative part of her psyche
surfaced, she could now see it as a healthy thing. She knew she could examine
it and either dismiss it or correct it, and it would lose its unconscious hold
on her. The class agreed that such “uprisings” were a sign of mental health,
and repressing them was a kind of mental malaise. At the same time, there was
nervousness among some that those impulses could take you too far, and you
might get knocked out of balance. We have all learned to fear the suppressed
aspects of our unconscious, and that fear is the very feeling we have that
impels us into the suppression mode. By no longer being afraid of herself, Jan
was exemplifying the more open type of equanimity. It requires bravery and
repeated effort (known as tapas) to learn that attainment, which is a true and
is a reference at the end of the commentary about verse 8 of Atmopadesa
Satakam, in relation to
attuning to the voice of the spirit, either from within or from an experienced
preceptor. There isn’t much about it in that commentary, really, but I did find
this bit that addresses what we’ve been discussing. The verse likens our
sensory life to five birds flitting about and eating fruits:
of the birds is qualified as nayena, evasive. The word naya has several shades of meaning. The
tactics of a diplomat are called naya.
The implication is that in outward form one seems to be upholding ethical norms
and correct behavior, while at heart one is maneuvering with conceit. The
defense mechanism of concupiscence is naya.
In the Holy Koran one can find hundreds of passages decrying this kind of conceit.
For a spiritual or moral life, one is asked to be straightforward and simple.
Freudian concept of the clash between the id and the superego being reflected
in the neurotic behavior of the ego, can be used to more fully understand the
connotation of the term naya. The
operation of the moral authority of the superego is a kind of mirroring within
oneself of a fake image of public expectations. One then tries to conform to
the requirements of that pattern with continuous deliberation, while at the
same time indulging in a secretive enjoyment of forbidden pleasures, privately
painting them with altruistic motives to look as bright and acceptable as
wanted to know where the authority promised in this sutra’s commentary was
going to come from. Similarly, Paul wasn’t sure how to distinguish the
authentic inner voice from the selfish promptings of the ego, since both sound
the same to our mind. Both can be equally convincing to us, depending on our
inclinations. This is another very important consideration for the seeker of
off, as Deb and others maintained, we are trying to learn to listen to the
authentic inner voice, because that is the final authority. Isvara teaches from
within; it is within. Disaster comes
when the voice of authority moves to an outside agency. That being said, it is
very helpful to have a wise preceptor or guide to help us distinguish between
our own authentic voice and the selfish, manipulative one we know so well. All
agreed that that was a primary role of the group setting of the class. Despite
a lot of experience, none of us is beyond the need for constructive criticism.
When we say something that seems perfectly true to us, the class provides
feedback on whether it is valid or in what sense it is off the mark. With that
kind of support we can rapidly learn to distinguish the source of our inner
was a widely held feeling that the class really was acting as a kind of guide
for all of us, and everyone felt powerfully sustained and encouraged by it. A
brief but profound meditation period closed the evening. Whether it was the
moon or the sharing, the ebullience and inspiration were palpable. Several
people mentioned at the door how the ideas we talked about continued to
resurface all week, and how much they meant to them. It is very gratifying to
see how the group has matured and grown stronger during the course of this
challenging and intense study. Aum.
is] for the purpose of bringing about absorption and attenuating afflictions.
a companion to the first sutra, the second sutra gives us the opportunity to
really explore how the threefold technique of kriya yoga—tapas, svadhyaya and
isvara pranidhana—is accomplished in our lives. I asked for people to share
what they do, but it’s going to have to be a future input. No one was ready to
talk about their spiritual program, but Patanjali is going to lead us along
with detailed and explicit instructions, so later on maybe we will be able to.
Please think about it, and write or share it when you can. Spirituality is not
just one monolithic program. Each of us is unique and has our own methodology.
week we loosely categorized tapas, svadhyaya and isvara pranidhana as
respectively addressing negative, neutral and positive aspects of our sadhana,
our spiritual development. All are essential and should go together. Like the
Holy Trinity, they are three aspects of one single impetus: the aim of
attaining samadhi, unitive absorption. It is important to know how we express
them in our own lives.
lays out the import of the sutra very clearly here:
to reach the summit has three
stages. First is exerting yourself physically and mentally (tapas). The second
is understanding your own resources and applying your abilities to the best
advantage (svadhyaya). The third is fixing your goal on the summit and
attacking the problem by getting into a constant dialogue with the Absolute (isvara
pranidhana). When these three disciplines go hand in hand, you are disciplining
yourself with kriya yoga.
is easy to imagine. It is a little
more difficult to explain to another what you see in your imagination. It is
even more difficult to act according to your word. That is why action is given
primacy in the self-discipline that is recommended. Kriya yoga has a positive
goal. It also has a negative goal. The positive goal is to bring yourself into
a state of equipoise and imperientially obtain absorption. When the mind is not
disturbed by conditioned states, absorption naturally comes.
The last sentence presents the negative goal.
positive and negative approaches are critically important and balance each
other out. Many superficial seekers downplay the negative aspect, but in yoga
both sides have equal weight and value. The class discussed how conditioning
warped our perceptions and conceptions, so that without purifying ourselves of
them our positive imagery is likely to be false. We are prone to delusion.
used the handy example of George Bush, though the type is as common as fleas on
a dog. As President, he knew for a fact that he was tight with God, no doubt
about it, so he could act like the devil and never have a twinge of guilt. His
advisors were busy protecting him from any negative feedback or contrary
information, so he could plunge ahead heedlessly. In addition, he was
pathologically screened off from critical self-examination, preferring an
overblown self-image to reality. God help us from ever falling into such a
trap! We beg to know our shortcomings so we can stop inflicting injury and
misery, even unknowingly, on the world around us. But unless we critically
examine our premises, we will be tempted to think of ourselves in this way.
describes tapas as critical reasoning of a contemplative order. He recalls the
classic metaphor of a gold nugget concealed in worthless detritus. We bring a
hot fire to the slag, and the gold melts and drains out to stand alone and
untarnished. Nitya says, “As dross leaves molten gold, so unwholesome emotionalism
and wrong conditionings leave us when we insistently enforce our right
means we should approach spirituality from our own authentic position and not
as imitators of somebody else’s style. We need to learn to be ourselves. It
sounds easy, but so many forces constantly tear us away from ourselves that
it’s more difficult than we imagine.
pranidhana refers to the goal we are seeking. What predominant interest drives
us to study yoga, for instance, or seek God or strive for perfection in some
way? We are all highly motivated, yet no one in the class was able to verbalize
their personal motivation. Odd. We did admit that who we are runs through our
entire life, and possibly beyond. Bill and Susan talked about finding old memorabilia
and realizing it spoke volumes about their interests and talents, as much today
as back then. Others recalled reunions with old friends and classmates that put
long stretches of their life into a perspective where they could perceive the
continuity of their self, of the gold core beneath all its trappings of
temporal ups and downs. The consensus was that even though we have made a lot
of progress, we are still the same.
hope that in the coming weeks we can share more of how we perform these three
aspects of kriya yoga in a personal way. In the interim I’ll share some of my
own ideas so the idea is clearer.
a child I loved piano music so much that I was passionate about it. Each new
piece I wanted to learn I would think to myself, “If I could just play this, I
would be happy, I would be satisfied, I could die content.” It seemed like
heaven to feel those sublime emotions and be able to share them with dear
friends. Sometimes I wondered if I should sell my soul to the devil for the
ability to play like a virtuoso, but I decided that was going too far. My
heart’s desire impelled me to try really hard to play very difficult pieces,
and the interest drew me back time after time. I didn’t know it then, but this
was an instance of isvara pranidhana.
a young adult though, I had decided that doing yoga and meditating was the
whole point of life, and I had dropped playing piano as just another useless
encumbrance of an enlightened existence. One day I was driving Nitya around in
my VW, and he said to me, “Meditation doesn’t just have to be sitting in lotus
pose with the eyes rolled up. Music can be a very fine meditation.” From that
moment my love of music came roaring back. I saw how relating to it was a kind
of yoga, and how well it suited me. I’m a rajasic type with a very active mind,
so sitting for hours on end doing nothing, mumbling mantras or counting beads,
drives me nuts. I want a big, cosmic challenge, with something beautiful as the
bonus output. This is the svadhyaya, the part about being yourself. Nitya saw
who I was better than I did, and with just a nudge put me back on track.
Without that insight I might have spent long years drearily imitating all those
exemplars who “do it right,” all the time wondering why it wasn’t working for
for the tapas aspect, there’s always lots of hard work and discipline involved
with even a mediocre talent development. You have to overcome plenty of
obstacles to have practice time and lessons, and so on. As an example, I bought
an electric piano with headphones that just barely fit in my car that I could
haul to work and play after hours. Often it had to be out behind the fire
engines, moved whenever there was work to do there. Beyond the obvious, there
are subtle factors to negate also. My well-meaning father was so awed by the
abilities of professional pianists, which are truly unbelievable, that he
convinced me that I could NEVER be successful at it. Like pretending Jesus is
not a human being, he convinced me that pianists weren’t human, and so I could
never be like them no matter how much I tried. Too bad, but then I’ve enjoyed
my life more as an amateur lazy bum than as someone who had to put their every
moment into one thing, no matter how wonderful it was. So perhaps it’s just as
well. But I relate this as one of the obstacles that’s been at the back of my
mind impeding my progress and self-confidence, which took some critical
contemplation to neutralize. There are always plenty more. Every time you
conquer one you become a little more free to exercise you abilities, or as the
rishis put it, become one with the Absolute. So tapas is as essential as the
other two and just as liberating, even though we describe it as negative.
his commentary Nitya compares the Greek legend of Sisyphus with the Indian
story of Narayanathu Bhranthan. Sisyphus was punished to endlessly roll a heavy
boulder up a hill, only to have it roll back to the bottom. Narayanathu
Bhranthan did the same task, but voluntarily, and he purposely let the rock
roll back down, laughing hilariously at the joke. The class had a lot of fun
with the two very similar myths, recognizing how we can never fully complete
our program, which is cyclic and endless. If we ever secured the rock at the
top, the game would be over. Several people shared the popular belief that we
aim for the goal of enlightenment or what have you, attain it, and then that’s
the end of everything. But then what do you do for the rest of eternity? Luckily,
life will inevitably cycle you back to the beginning of something new.
figure that such ideas come from static training in schools and businesses,
where simple tasks have a definite beginning, middle and end. But life is not
like that, even though we have learned to treat birth, life and death as
matching the same formula. Reality keeps on keeping on, cycling around and
two myths demonstrate alternative ways to feel about our life: either it is a
punishment and endless drudgery, or a delight and a source of undiminished
amusement. Obviously we want to enjoy the second attitude, but whatever
physical, mental and spiritual ailments we have force us toward the first.
Kriya yoga therefore includes “ways and means for healing and correction,” as
Nitya puts it. Most of us have this need in some form most of the time. If you
are lucky enough to not need it, you are a rare and fortunate individual who
would also have no necessity for a class such as this. For the rest of us,
there is challenging and exciting work ahead. Aum.
Sutra II: 3
The afflictions are ignorance, ego identity,
hatred, and lust for life.
class had a small celebration to say goodbye to Charles and Brenda, who are off
to India for a goodly stretch. We wish them the best on their voyage of
we settled down, we took a brief look at each of the afflictions, though this
is pretty much old hat for the class. Still, even old hats fit, and it doesn’t
hurt to dust them off occasionally. Perhaps the most interesting discovery was
that they are all closely related, five facets of a single psyche, with fear
being the energizing basis.
we set out to define ignorance. Bill said it meant ignorance of our true
nature, which therefore is a universally shared generic state. The only cure
would be to come to know our true nature, which is a rare enough
accomplishment. Deb described ignorance as separating the outside from the
inside, in other words, imposing duality onto the essential unity. There are
many degrees and levels of ignorance, some of them beneficial and some not. We
can only be separate individuals—which is the game we are currently playing—if
we temporarily forget our true nature. Moreover, we would be overwhelmed if we
took in all the data flooding our systems, so our brain selectively chooses a
tiny but pithy part to attend to. It seems to me that this type of ignorance is
word translated as ignorance is avidya,
meaning not vidya. Vidya, according
to the dikker, is “knowledge; science, learning, scholarship, philosophy.”
This, then, is the cure for avidya, which takes on a less sweeping aspect in
this light. We don’t know everything, and we are incapable of knowing
everything. Unfortunately we often act on the barest minimum of information. We
should first learn as much as we can, and examine our assumptions closely,
before leaping to conclusions. While there is but one dramatic cure for generic
ignorance, which is to know the Self, there is plenty of improvement we can
make on our native state of intellectual ignorance.
situation begins with us knowing nothing about it. Then we start to discern a
smidgen of shape, and like a blast of storm our mind supplies the rest. Too bad
that the subject is drowned in the tempest, and that all we see is a projection
of our stored expectations. In our ignorance we are quite satisfied with that,
because it is just what we expect. Oh really…. We shouldn’t be surprised it is
what we expect, because we project our expectations and then are satisfied that
we see just what we expected. It’s a closed loop. Our mind has become an
isolated fortress, shutting out all contradictory or even simply new input.
type of affliction of ignorance is called the ego. Asmita means the sense of mine-ness. We glorify our separateness,
erect flags over the battlements of our fortress, and only admit others who are
on our team. Our ignorance becomes ossified, highly resistant to enlightenment
in any sense of the word.
correction for this necrotic state is to open the gates, let down the
drawbridge, and admit some fresh air. Where the ego has grown shrunken and
desiccated, we need to expand the boundaries and flush it all with the water of
life. Having an ego is natural and normal. Nitya always described it as the
locus of consciousness, essentially a mathematical reference point. It’s the
thick walls that are the problem, the affliction. We may not be able to extend
the walls to include everything, but we can open the doors and invite the world
attachments are the result of the ego deciding what it likes and doesn’t like,
and refusing to reconsider its choices. These get fixed in stone, like the ego
that selects them. In earlier classes we have discussed the positive side of
attachments. Possibly the most prominent is our attachment to our children, who
rely on us to keep them alive for many years until they are capable of doing it
on their own. If we weren’t attached to them, the first time they were a hassle
we would just walk away. Our attachment to a project allows it to be completed,
and our attachment to our job means we will show up again tomorrow. None of
these are afflictions.
attachments go wrong is when they are inflexible and grounded in our overall
ignorance. In our extended metaphor they reinforce the walls of our fortress;
in fact, in many cases they are the walls. We become attached to our false and
defensive mental states, and then spend a lifetime braising in our self-imposed
misery inside. These attachments become so fixed that it is nearly impossible
to overcome their inertia. And they are self-reinforcing: the pain they cause
is projected onto the outside world that threatens to erode them and wash them
away, so the psyche puts all its energy into protecting them and shoring them
up. Without a conscious decision to take them down, they are going to stand
didn’t talk about hatred much. It is a predictable outcome of a separated
psyche feeling miserable but adroitly suppressing all the real reasons for it.
We are masters at blaming something external for our internal woes, and then
beaming the white heat of hatred onto it. A handy example is the right wing
mobs currently storming about in the US. Talk about a tempest in a teapot:
there is no actual basis for any of it, but false beliefs fueled by
worm-tongued liars in the mass media have got them in a rage, capable of any
criminal act. When the fortress is threatened, rage and fury mount the toughest
defense. It is impossible to even reach the walls when those psychic hurricanes
block all approach.
the most easily misunderstood of the afflictions is abhinivesa, translated as
lust for life. It should be clear that the joy of living is not meant here. We
want to live and love to the maximum. It’s when the enjoyment of life becomes a
craving and a subject for selfish manipulation that it goes wrong. Abhinivesa
is an interesting word, meaning (MW), “application, intentness, study,
affection, devotion, determination (to effect a purpose of attain an object),
tenacity, adherence to.” The first half are not afflictions, but they become
more so toward the end. There is a sense of desperation in some people when
they feel that life is passing them by, which, if they are locked in a mental
fortress, it is. We want to be careful here: rushing around ever faster within
our prison is not the cure. Calmly unbolting and throwing open all the doors is
more like it. Most of the societally prescribed palliatives are of the former
of this is easy to accomplish, because underneath all our afflictions and
holding them together is fear. Scotty talked about how much he wants to be free
and live as an artist, but whenever he tells that to other people they throw
cold water on his aspirations. When people have become accustomed to their
little boxes, the thought of someone stepping out of theirs is a threat to
their false sense of security, so they try to talk them out of it. And usually
they succeed. We have to be strong enough to not need the approbation of others
to make our moves, but we've been trained to "read" ourselves in their
have to keep in mind that none of this even reaches consciousness without a
sincere effort. It’s not a conscious choice to remain afflicted, but a
preconscious decision made early in life and then held onto with dogged
tenacity. For instance, many children are smacked for being curious. A
prominent fundamentalist “psychologist” advises you should wait until the child
is nine months old, any earlier doesn’t do any good, and then start the
beatings. When you are struck for being open and curious, you quickly learn to
fear wondering about anything that doesn’t bear the stamp of parental approval,
which is most things. All through your life, at the back of your mind you are
anticipating another painful swat, and to avoid it you shun any and all independence.
Most of humanity carries this cross and many more.
also talked about how this can begin in adulthood. American soldiers have a
high suicide rate—actually higher than the battlefield death rate—because they
cannot admit their fears in combat. The cult of bravado they are part of forces
them to bury their feelings and never talk about them. Once they are on their
own, those suppressed feelings cause searing pain, but all they have been
taught to do is beat them down and try to ignore them. To ignore is to
cultivate willful ignorance. Suicide and insanity are the ultimate achievement
of our afflictions. That should motivate us to get down to cases and take yoga
seriously. These afflictions are bad medicine indeed.
finished up with a wonderful story from Moni. At work there was a bipolar
client who had everyone terrorized. No one had been able to get him any
treatment because he refused to cooperate and would even beat them with his
cane. He called for an appointment, and everyone decided Moni should handle
him. Moni didn’t know anything about the situation, but after they set up the
appointment with her, people came and told her how dangerous and mean he was.
Moni was nervous, but when he arrived she saw he was a small and weak fellow,
and she began to relax. In her kind and gentle way, she reached out to him. It
took some time, but she was able to become friends, and get him on the road to
some badly needed assistance. People like him can easily sense the blocks and
negativity in others, and the fact that Moni was open and not hostile made all
the difference. If Moni had given in to her fears, the logjam would not have
been cleared, but instead she overcame them with wisdom, and the result was a
win all around. This is a shining example for all of us.
How nice to receive a thoughtful response like
This is how you make quantum leaps in your life:
for the great notes on our enlightening class. I had a couple of afterthoughts.
Thinking about the false and inflexible viewpoint, and how underneath its
fortress is fear, I thought of how in some families, as was true in ours, some
of the body of fear came from real places and events like the depression, or
the Holocaust. When ancestors lived with fear of destitution and death, I think
they tended to become imbalanced and then passed on those neuroses to their
kids. In our family, anxiety over money grew to huge proportions and sort of
blended in with the other types of fear we are talking about, so that I often
felt if I strayed from the parentally approved path of careers...well I would
starve and end up living on the street. I had a hard time early on making
choices for myself and to further my dreams because of listening to these
voices. With my kids, I am trying to give them a sense that they can pursue
their dreams and that the "means" will be there. No doubt though I am
passing on some fears too, unawares. I tell them that starvation and
destitution are not ever going to happen - wanting to remove that fear from their
psyche, yet just talking about it may be making it a concept for them. This
week, I want to pay more attention to situations where I might not be letting
in enough new flow and info, and keeping my mental fortress closed. As I have
said before, I always think of the dialectic tool. When I see myself taking a
position internally, and needing to defend it to myself or see that it holds a
lot of psychic energy, I can try to step away from it and embrace its
opposite...waiting for the seeds of truth to emerge from that place. Good
fodder for the mind while gardening. Take care, Jan
Nescience (avidya) is
the field for the others, whether they are dormant, attenuated, alternating, or
was unfamiliar with the term nescience, which is a favorite of the Gurukula
gurus because it perfectly matches avidya. Just as avidya or ignorance is the
opposite of vidya, meaning knowledge or science, nescience (NEH-see-ence) means
‘not science’. Ignorance. Here Patanjali acknowledges what we discussed last
week, that ego identity, attachment, hatred, and lust for life are specific
examples of ignorance. Further, ignorance is accompanied—consciously or not—by
the sense of fear, which is an all-pervasive emotional partner to it.
emergent urges under consideration are important vasanas that a yogi must
attend to make his or her sadhana worthwhile. The four stages enunciated by
Patanjali in this sutra paint a picture of how vasanas in general develop, from
a potential seed state to full-blown raging expression. Nitya cleverly compares
them to the genie in a bottle of The Arabian Nights. Until we know better, we
imagine we have dredged a treasure up from the depths, but when we let them
loose they threaten to kill us, psychologically at least.
sutra holds an important secret for our confrontation with vasanas. When they
are in a dormant state they are pure potential. We might speculate on their
existence, having read about them or heard about them from a teacher, but they
are nonetheless out of conscious reach. As they “attenuate” the faintest whiff
begins to tickle the back of our mind. We have an inkling, an intimation. This
would be a great time to be paying attention and catch them before they have
gathered momentum, but let’s face it, we seldom do. Even if an advisor points
them out to us, they seem so innocent and harmless it’s hard to take them
suddenly they are upon us! The alternating state listed by Patanjali refers to
the struggle we have when we have been caught by a vasana, but we still have
the good sense to resist. We go back and forth, sometimes giving in and
indulging and sometimes standing firm. Nitya describes this stage as resembling
a two-headed monster. Westerners have the classic cartoon of a miniature angel
on one shoulder and a devil on the other, each one prevailing in convincing the
poor confused soul to obey them. But once we have gotten to this stage, the
battle is already lost. It’s like the old principle of rhetoric: if you can
frame the debate in your own terms, you have already won the argument. Here is
where we fall over and over again, while feeling heroic and even spiritual. But
all we can succeed in doing is repressing the urge for a period of time. We can
trick the genie back into the bottle, but there is plenty of pressure for it to
come back out.
course, when we lose the battle, the vasana is fully expanded and we no longer
resist, we promote it. We believe in
our hatred, our lust for life, our favorite attachment, or the shape of our
ego. We are prepared to defend it, and are very clever in doing so. If a wise
teacher tells us that our attachments are blocking our freedom, we will nod and
smile, but as soon as we are alone we worship at their altar once again. Our
best shot, then is to address vasanas when they are still attenuated, before
they have gotten their claws buried deep in us.
of claws, Nitya likens the vasanas of our afflictions to a hungry beast:
If a tiger is exposed
starvation for a long time and has no power even to get up, it may look at its
prey with a sort of indifference. But if it is given a little more time, it
will gather all its strength and pounce. Similarly, a man may starve his
sensuous appetites for some time, causing his urges to become weak. But by
merely starving one’s appetites, deep-seated urges will not leave. When the
environment becomes favorable, they will return with added vigor. Based on this
theme, Rabindranath Tagore wrote the story of a sannyasin who thought he had
transcended all of Nature's allure during his solitary meditations but found he
had no taste for solitude after his hand and heart were touched by a young
woman seeking his solace and protection from a cruel world.
So repressing our urges is destined to fail,
and it often
fails spectacularly, like a steam boiler without a pressure relief valve, which
when it goes off it destroys the whole house as it rockets through the roof.
Nitya recalls the beautiful verse of the Bhagavad Gita that tells us how to
overcome our evil genies: “Objective interests revert without the relish for
them on starving the embodied of them. Even the residual relish reverts on the
One Beyond being sighted.” (II, 59).
was some grumbling from the crowd that this was old fashioned and hard to understand,
which I suppose it is. That’s why people write commentaries…. Here’s part of
mine on this verse:
saying, sure you can starve yourself of pleasures
as a way to get over an obsession with objects, but this is a hard road.
Paradoxically, pushing something away can make it grow in importance, become
secretly more desirable. The better way is to come to know the Absolute, which
is so absorbingly interesting that mere objects no longer convey the thrill
they once did. We extinguish the torch we are using once the sun comes up. The
bliss of the Absolute puts mere transitory enjoyments to shame; more, it
infuses everything with meaning and joy so that they are even more fun….
For this reason
the Gita recommends seeking the One Beyond
first, and all else becomes perfectly simple and natural. The Bible teaches the
same thing, though with a more materialistic cast: “But seek ye first the
kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto
you.” (Matt. 6:33, also Luke 12:31.)
has been pondering the notion of dharma recently, and she wondered how it fits
in with this teaching. This led to an excellent discussion. The popular notion
of dharma is that it is all about following rules and doing your duty, but that
is the opposite of the Vedantic view. Dharma means living in tune with your
true nature, your native talents and interests, the Absolute, or whatever you
like to call it. Rules and duties stifle our dharma.
have all kinds of propensities, good and bad, laudable and horrible. We also
have the opportunity to promote the best of them and repress the worst, and
outside advice can be helpful here. But we need to not micromanage our life,
much less allow other people to manage it for us. There is a beneficent flow to
our life that we should allow ourselves to float in. Too much manipulation will
take us toward Calvinism or some other form of Puritanism, which will squeeze
the life out of us. Still, as Linda reminded us, once we have decided on a
course of action there is nothing wrong with feeling duty bound to stick to it,
lest we get lazy or give up prematurely.
gave the classic analogy of the banyan tree. It grows in a certain way, and
provides shade to grateful people in the hot climates where it flourishes. But
it doesn’t think, “I have to grow like this so that X number of people can sit
under me.” It just is like that. Because it doesn’t warp itself by conscious
design, it is perfect as it is. So its dharma is to give shade, but it doesn’t
have to figure out how to give it, or be instructed.
thought Moni’s work with the difficult client she told us about last week was a
perfect example of living her dharma. Moni has a propensity to make tough
situations better, and life offered her one more opportunity to express her
abilities. She not only helped a troubled soul but gained self-esteem in the
process, not to mention the esteem of her co-workers and friends. But she could
never have planned it to happen that way.
concluded with a beautiful and relevant poem by Oregon’s eternal poet laureate,
William Stafford. Anne sent it to us just in time for it to be a fitting close
to our class. You can see how our mutual musing has added more depth to an
already perfect expression:
time when the river is ice ask me
I have made. Ask me whether
I have done is my life. Others
come in their slow way into
thought, and some have tried to help
to hurt: ask me what difference
strongest love or hate has made.
will listen to what you say.
and I can turn and look
the silent river and wait. We know
current is there, hidden; and there
comings and goings from miles away
hold the stillness exactly before us.
the river says, that is what I say.
Nescience is taking the non-eternal, impure,
the non-Self to be the eternal, pure, pleasurable, and the Self.
is one of those sutras that “says it all.” If you look into it far enough, you
can comprehend the whole scheme of the practice.
readily apparent that Nitya was feeling frisky when he dictated his commentary,
with its mix of humor and potent critique. His best classes were often like
fifth sutra is rich with potential for personal transformation. We discussed
each of the four pairs of polar opposites in turn, and the door is wide open to
do more work on them. Our examples should be jumping off points, not in any way
the last word. Before our discussion we did the suggested exercise, ten minutes
of examining our minds without recourse to name and form. The meditation
attempts to lead us to a unitive state where our familiar surroundings are
discarded for a brief period. Powered by the group setting, we all felt a
measure of success in the endeavor.
idea, of course, is that name and form and all our conceptualizations based on
them are the non-Self, and they go very deep in our self-image. We are not only
to intelligently struggle to convert from nescience to science, from the non-Self
to the Self, but the whole process is simplified if we can simply sight the
Self at all. A meditation that merely sifts through different ideas is fine but
limited. At least some of the time we should try to go beyond everything that
pops into our head. Surprisingly, it works, if you actually do it. After awhile
the brain stops throwing up concepts and sits quietly in an open space, where
it seems as if we are “dissolved away in an infinite consciousness.” Most of
the time, though, we are content to think about it and not really do it. There
is a world of difference there.
the four pairs of dual factors, we spent the most time on eternal versus
transient values. The basic example I offered was of how our sense of ‘I’ stays
steady through our entire life, even as our bodies and minds change shape.
Other people insist that we are nothing more than our external, perceptible
characteristics, and we may eventually buy into it. Then we spend time crafting
what we look like and trying to learn things that will impress others. By
focusing on externals we become hollow, and as the modern world with all
its peacock feathers shows
all too plainly, we have to go to extremes to impress people who don’t really
care anyway. We become more and more desperate, until we give up.
well remember my feeling of outrage as a child when my friends and family
insisted I was my externals. I knew perfectly well that those were tangential
at best, but if I tried to talk about it I was scorched with scorn. I
was accused of denying the truth of who I was. Despite my initial good sense, I too became
preoccupied with crafting a well-camouflaged persona so I could mingle with
other humans and not draw their ire. Because I never forgot completely though,
when Vedanta came along and turned the whole game upside down, I welcomed it
eagerly. Vedanta insists that your core is eternal and your body and mind are
destined to disintegrate, so identifying with your core is a key issue. My
recent near-death experience reinforced that truth big time, with the perceived
environment being hyper-transient while my sense of self remained intact,
amount of pain we experience because we identify with our flawed exteriors is
astronomical. With a healthy conception about what is more important, we can
disown that garbage and be much happier and stronger.
offered a nice example from a very different perspective. The other day she was
looking up at the clouds and had a reverie about the Earth’s water cycle: how
those clouds had risen from the ocean heated by the sun, and they would pour
their rain onto some mountain, where it would form streams to nourish plants
and animals and eventually return to the ocean to continue the cycle. All she
could see was a cloud, unique and rapidly changing shape, but Anita was able to
philosophically locate it within its greater system. Here there is no right or
wrong about how you look at a cloud. It’s just that one version is limited and
one is complete. Understanding whole systems can add a dimension of
appreciation that isn’t available if you only look at the surface of things.
This is personally satisfying, but it also can have important practical
applications as well. The water cycle, for instance, is taking center stage as
the human race depletes its resources and casts around for new supplies.
and Paul surmised that anything could be viewed in terms of nitya/anitya,
eternal and temporary, and that’s right. Nataraja Guru felt this was one of the
most important theoretical issues for us to examine in our studies, bringing it
to bear on every aspect of our lives.
next pair, pain and pleasure, can be misleading, so we have to be a bit
careful. Nitya points out that both pain and pleasure are neural agitations,
and that sukham, transcendental pleasure, is not a form of agitation at all. He
excel in their ability to cultivate masochistic tendencies. When a person
smokes for the first time, it is far from being pleasurable. But many people
cultivate pleasure in torturing themselves with agitation. Similarly, every
so-called pleasure, when closely looked at, is a pain cultivated as a
specialized form of pleasure. When masochism is complemented with sadism,
personal agitations and disturbances are shared with the community and it is
even eulogized as “culture.”
of this, I told the tale of my first night of getting seriously drunk, and how
the social pressure and fantasy liberation outweighed the horrible misery of
the event, revolting tastes followed by incredible sickness and stupidity. Yet
I couldn't wait to do it again. No amount of wise philosophy is going to keep teenagers
investigating the mostly false claims about the wonders of alcohol, however,
and vast numbers learn to treat the body’s rejection of the poison as a rare
had a unique example for us. This past Valentine’s Day he got a job delivering
flowers from secret lovers and admirers. He was looking forward to it, and had
even thought that it might be a great job to have. His expectations were high
as he went out on his first run, the day before Valentine’s Day. But to his
amazement it turned out to be a horrible job. Instead of the wonder and delight
he thought people would evince, they were suspicious, hostile and unfriendly.
That night, emotionally stung, he swore he would never do it again. But the
next day he gave it one more try. That day he had no false expectations, so
while it was unfun, it didn’t knock him for a loop. Basically he had been
reminded to not expect the external world to fulfill his hopes and desires for
happiness. Luckily, Scotty has a strong inner stability that weathered his
close look at the vagaries of pain and pleasure.
can see from this example that all four pairs of values can be perceived in
every instance. While the pain/pleasure dichotomy was strongest, it could also
by described as mistaking the non-Self for the Self, the impure for the pure,
and the fleeting for the lasting. Regardless, there is really only one thing
happening. Often called ignorance, which is an overused term that has become a
cliché, the Gurukula Gurus have substituted nescience, which is a more neutral
and less pejorative term.
I had a talk with a young woman who had been hurt in love and so decided that she
was not only unfit for a satisfactory relationship, but that there was no hope,
so she was giving up. Actually, she wasn’t just giving up, she was erecting
tough barricades against any repeat of the experience. If Prince Charming came
knocking, she would have him thrown out. I have met a significant number of
people who have followed this pattern, and all were very disappointed at how
well it worked. Sadly, it’s much harder to undo after the barriers are up.
was amazing to me how hard the young woman argued for the barricades, yet pain
drives us to it, and it drives us with a vengeance. If she could
to work half as valiantly for openness and purity of heart, the results would
be palpable if not stunning. This is where mistaking the painful for the
pleasurable really impacts us and deforms our life. Nitya brings the point
home: “The very reasoning and cogitating faculty
on which a person
depends for discerning truth is vitiated by its own imperfections.” He then
conjures up Kant’s image of a soul that is isolated in a prisonlike castle,
with only stained glass windows to look out of. Some of us even decide to nail
plywood over the stained glass so that no light can get in or out.
example touches on purity as well as pain. Erecting barricades is the
definition of impurity; conversely, purity means living without them. This is
very different from the cheap moralistic version puritans are fond of
cited my Gita commentary’s discussion of purity, from XIII, 7, which I hereby
saucham, is usually associated with so-called
moral behavior. Striving to always be good and pure feeds the spiritual ego
like nothing else, leading to intractable problems. Spiritual purity is
actually a totally different matter. When we latch on to certain static states,
such as when we feel ashamed or upset or guilty, then we aren’t open to the
next thing that comes along. Our vision becomes clouded whenever we cling to
the familiar, because we are not free to be open to the next moment. To stay in
the flow we have to release our hang-ups and fixations. Whenever we get stuck,
particularly in emotionally-charged states, that is precisely where we need to
do our work, to restore our fluidity.
purity becomes a part of us, we will see life as lila, a divine sportive play, where all meaning occurs within the
unfoldment of events just as the tree develops from the seed. Such an attitude
allows for easy detachment and the flexibility to let go when the flow sweeps
you away from what you cherish or cling to.
Christian scholar Elaine Pagels had the lost and unorthodox Nag Hammadi scrolls
fall in her lap, certainly an “act of God” if ever there was one—and was
unsullied enough to realize their value and bring them to the attention of the
public, starting with her book The
Gnostic Gospels. If Pagels had had a stake in the status
quo of the
Christian Church, she might have done what others have often done before her
and buried the scrolls in some musty college basement. But she was unattached,
and so able to act with purity of intent. Her work has led to an avalanche of
fresh and valuable perspectives on the human history of the planet.
you are pure you can set aside your egoistic desires and act for the greatest
common good, which includes your own enjoyment. This is very different from the
aptly named Puritanical notion that purity means not breaking social rules, or
not having any fun, such as enjoying sex or imbibing psychotropic substances.
Dr. G.H. Mees puts this succinctly in The
Key to Genesis:
In Europe and America
there is a
strong tendency to identify morality and spirituality. But anyone who has
common sense and looks around, is aware that there are a great many people who
are moral saints, but lack inner peace and do not know true happiness. In the
East the identification of morality and spirituality is as a rule avoided.
of soma, anyone who has taken psychedelic medicine has almost certainly learned
the importance of saucham, purity.
Any and all extraneous thoughts are like catching a wave wrong in surfing: you instantly
wipe out and get rolled under in the churn. Worse, what you think or fear
manifests instantly as a vision, so if you conceive of something awful, that
something will immediately become your experience. As far as you can tell, it
is just as real as any other “normal” experience. You really believe you’re
dying, or being cut in pieces, or being raped, or what have you. So it is
absolutely incumbent that you remain in the neutral zone and don’t let your
mind wander into projections. This is the source of the certitude that what you
think becomes your reality sooner or later, “what you see is what you get” as
the old song goes. Ordinarily there is a time lag so it’s much harder to notice
that what we imagine is unfolding as our experience, but during the soma trip
the feedback is instantaneous. Purity means not initiating such chains of
events by cooking up harebrained schemes.
was little discussion of the Self and the non-Self. The exercise we began with
was an implicit training session in the subject, and people often referred
vaguely to “that ten minute thing” we did at the outset. It’s hard not to be
vague when you can’t reference name and form! Deb did point out that as long as
we are embodied we will always be conditioned, so it’s not that we are supposed
to throw it all away in advance. We are learning to live well here and now, and
cope with our limitations. All these subtle suggestions by Patanjali are
intended to help us to have a better life. He wants us to stop magnifying our
limitations, is all. They are potent enough without us adding anything to them.
Asmita is the identification of the seer, as
it were, with
the power of seeing.
class struggled with this problematic and difficult sutra, so it was one of
those nights when we wandered afield and examined some tangential concepts.
This is a sutra where we especially wish our readers would weigh in with their
the ego sense or sense of ‘I’, is the first specific affliction listed in II:3,
after the blanket category of ignorance or nescience. Next
attachment, hatred, and lust for life. We will examine each in turn.
most popular idea from the commentary was Nitya’s description of how the ego
appears from a cosmic perspective:
In the morning when the Sun shines it can
mirrored in all the dewdrops. If every dewdrop were endowed with a
consciousness so it could say “I am,” that would be the same as all
individuated beings identifying the central locus of their consciousness as “I
think we all had an inward vision of swarms of little dewdrops all singing “I
am” at the top of their voices, and we had a lot of fun with it. Dewdrops are a
classic Vedantic analogy because they are illuminated by the same sun but each
reflects the world from a unique perspective.
was reminded of a different analogy of Wittgenstein. He claimed that each
person carried around a box with a beetle inside it. No one ever opened their
box, so no one ever got to see the beetles, but everyone knew they were in
there. Apropos our study he also said, “A man will be imprisoned in a room with
a door that's unlocked and opens inwards; as long as it does not occur to him
to pull rather than push.”
did some work with Nitya’s suggested exercise to distinguish nature and spirit.
We have talked about this dichotomy a lot in the past, so there is no need to
repeat it. One thing about the exercise is that when you try to subtract nature
from spirit to see what’s left over, a lot of the parts that you thought were
spirit turn out to be part of nature and zip! away they go. This led us to
discuss stroke and other brain injuries, where the parts we take for granted as
“really us” are suddenly not there anymore. It’s a major shock, believe me. Our
core of spirit is utterly without appendages, and so is just a very still
witness. Language, communication, memory, and many other key aspects of who we
are fall into the nature camp.
key to understanding this sutra is expressed in II:17,
near the end of
this section on afflictions: “The cause of that which is to be avoided is the
conjunction of the seer and the seen.” The movie theater analogy is very
helpful with this. Our true nature is like the projection booth, with its
bright light being beamed through a multicolored film. But we, in our role as
projectionist, have become so fascinated with the play of images on screen that
we have forgotten how we are producing them. We the seers have become attached to
the scene seen on the screen.
course, any chance we have to affect the action must happen in the projection
booth. The main thing is to change what movie we’re showing. Once it is
projected onto the screen we are helpless to alter any of it. We try and try,
but if we have selected Disaster Movie Highlight Reel or Sad Tales of the
Nether Lands, that’s what we’re going to see. We reach out to make an
adjustment and the action has already roared ahead to a new conundrum. It
doesn’t matter anyway, because there is nothing to grab hold of, it’s just a
very realistic illusion. Only by replacing the film in the projector with Alice
in Wonderland or Wisdom’s Frame of Reference or some such are we going to
accomplish any real transformation.
after we have fiddled around with the onscreen images for awhile, we realize we
can’t have any impact and we resign from the game. We give up. This is the kind
of negativity that Arjuna felt at the outset of the Bhagavad Gita. Luckily his
guru Krishna helped him to turn around and discover himself and learn how to
calls such a fixation with the outer play of events egoism. Rediscovering our
true nature as identical with the Source is samadhi, the cure.
next three afflictions stem from this primary ignorance of egoism, and are more
or less side effects of it. For the resolution of all of them Patanjali is
going to recommend pure contemplation, along with a “regressive remerging” into
their origins. In our metaphor, then, we are to withdraw our attention from the
screen and slowly turn around to view and closely examine how the whole thing
works. The trick (which is a very appropriate term) is that our habitual
mindset prefers to play out the saga on the screen and not actually carry out
the yogic transformation. We are content to imagine the process and then think
of ourselves as realized, when in fact we are only deluding ourselves further.
This produces the spiritual ego, which is an order of magnitude more entrenched
than the relatively guileless ego of ordinary people who are content to munch
their popcorn and be amused or terrified by the movie itself.
Attachment (raga) is that which accompanies
began the class with the suggested exercise, where we are asked to listen to
music or watch a sunset and try to see how the source of the joy it elicits is
in ourselves and is not directly supplied by the music. I played a Debussy
piece on the freshly tuned piano as the light faded out over the mountains, so
we didn’t have to simply imagine the concept. We had both the visual and
auditory stimuli on hand.
started us off by fine tuning Nitya’s statement that you are to “think how much
more melodious is your inner appreciation than the music you appreciate.” Actually
they go together, and your inner appreciation is very much a mirror image of
the music. It is like our potential for joy is activated by the specific form
of joy which we encounter.
think the problem is only in the wording. Nitya wants us to know that we are
the source of our experiences, both positive here and negative as described in
the next sutra. We become convinced that the outer manifestation is the source
of our happiness, and then we believe we have to repeat the experience or a
homologue of it in order to be happy, as Nitya puts it “each time with
added vigor and a variation in the form so that monotony may not dampen your
is an aspect of the teaching that meets with a lot of resistance. We are
attracted to that which brings us joy. When we are challenged to stop
projecting the source outside, the temptation is to see this advice as a
bringdown and move on to another format that promises a longer period of
most enjoy the feeling of some outside source sustaining us, caring for us and
guiding us. Essentially we are unconsciously seeking to restore the carefree
times when our parents dealt with all the hassles and we were free to play and
play. ‘Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished! The most successful religions
intentionally supply this very comforting aspect of life, which is eagerly
gobbled up by needy people for as long as it lasts. Even if a religion doesn’t
start out that way, people are desperate to take refuge in the Buddha or Jesus,
say, so that develops into a major force over time.
have found that this very challenging section of the Yoga Shastra causes some
to lose interest for that very reason. They prefer to play up the fun aspect
and have it as the lodestone of a new belief system, instead of making the
effort to turn around and know that they are the source itself. It’s not easy,
but anything less would only cheapen the wisdom, turning it into an exotic
version of the same old misguided attitude. That’s not what the Gurukula is
to know that we are joy incarnate means that every moment of life will be
filled with true happiness or will be tending toward it. Since we’re not quite
perfect, most of us react to shocks, but then we can pull ourselves back
together to let the light shine forth once again. It’s not that nothing affects
us, but only that we don’t hold onto it. This sutra should awaken us to the joy
in even the most mundane parts of our life. For instance, many people complain
about doing the dishes, as though that was such a major drudgery that their
life is spoiled by having to deal with it. I can attest that with the right
attitude it can be fun: transforming dirty things into clean ones, making slow
progress, feeling the warm soapy water, recalling the pleasures of the meal,
knowing you are contributing to complete a cycle. It’s all in the attitude.
the music I love may sound like hell to someone else. Where we admire a sunset,
someone else will barely notice it. It’s not that the music or the scene is
different, but the way it is interpreted surely is. We have been trained to be
choosy and decide between better and worse. We want to always been seen on the
right side. Nitya calls this the tyranny of form. Our happiness gets truncated
into having to always be on the good side, to always align ourselves with the
hip, the cool.
reason this is particularly important will be brought home in the next sutra.
When our happiness is linked to certain forms, those eventually fade out or
otherwise disappear, and then our happiness goes away with them. We first
become upset, and then miserable. If we can blame it on some external cause we
will fly into a rage, and might even go into attack mode. False prophets abound
who profit from inflaming our frustrations into hatred of other groups. If we
are ever to stop falling for the siren call to charge forth into disaster, we
need to see how our fixation on external happiness leads us astray.
Bhagavad Gita describes the process in a little more detail than Patanjali: “Meditating on objects of
sense-interest there is born in man an attachment for them; from attachment
rises passion; in the face of passion (frustrated) arises rage. From rage is
produced distortion of values, and from distortion of values memory lapse, and
from memory-lapse comes loss of reason, and from loss of reason he perishes.”
(II, 62-63) Perishing means psychological destruction, not actual death, of
course. Here’s my commentary on verse 62, which is quite relevant:
is a very subtle business that creeps up on us without our conscious awareness
of it. At first we are merely amused or entertained by something, so we repeat
the experience. Before long it becomes a need, then in some cases an addiction
or obsession. Obviously some amusements, resonating with our vasanas and
samskaras in the depths of our being, are more binding than others. We usually
learn about these when we try to stop reinforcing them and find that we have
hooks in us that make it much harder than it should be. The belief that this
means the behavior is therefore good for us is off the mark; we can be hooked
by both beneficial and harmful interests. Krishna will show where the
deleterious ones lead, and it is up to each of us to observe whether we are
sliding down this slippery slope or not. Since we are masters of denial, it
doesn’t hurt to have a guru or other advisor to give us the bad news. It is
famously hard medicine to swallow the criticism when someone tells us we are
going wrong, and our ego will likely shape shift into a parade of demons to
resist it. And as Freud said, even the willing patient will push the dentist
away when he approaches their mouth with his pliers.
how the process works. In the normal course of becoming separate individuals, early
on we retain a neutral balance in our nature, but very soon we learn to move
toward our likes and away from our dislikes. This is where imbalance becomes
possible. We can’t always escape what we don’t like and we can’t always have
what we do like. Frustration sets in, followed by manipulation and scheming to
get “ours.” Even small children can be seen to become violently angry when they
don’t get their way. Later they adopt “tricks” to coerce their caretakers into
granting their requests. Adults retain these attitudes, though they are better
disguised by civilized behavior. But just try to get an addict to undergo
treatment, for instance, and the civilized part falls away quickly enough.
enraged is only the beginning.
when Nitya would see a rose or a sunset he would say, “Ah! Look how beautiful I
am!” Our first thought was what a crazy idea. But he was doing, nay living, the
exercise of this sutra. He knew if he wasn’t there his experience of the flower
would not have existed. The flower was there, but he was bringing the bliss of
appreciation to it. This was his continuous state of mind. It didn’t depend on
the flower, it merely took that shape while the flower was present.
helped us with a fine practical example. The other day her teenage daughter was
in a major snit. In the past, Susan has become very anxious and felt like she
needed to wade in and turn the tide. But this time she thought she would leave
her alone. She got a book and sat in a back room reading. After awhile her
daughter peeked in as she was walking by. A few minutes later she reappeared
with her own book, and sat down near her mom to read it. Without any exchange
of words, they were happy together again, and it was even a kind of implicit
apology. Because Susan wasn’t trying to “fix” her daughter’s state of mind, it
gave her room to settle down on her own and in a gentle way reestablish their
connection. It’s very beautiful, and exactly the point of this sutra. We
actually make matters worse when we show up like a drill sergeant to put
everything in its proper place. But by turning the focus back onto ourself, we
allow ripples of peace to invite others to do the same, and love is
reestablished on a solid footing.
the class is made up of well-adjusted, artistic types, we mostly discussed
aesthetic experiences, and as Eugene said, there really isn’t any point in
revisiting their downside. Rarely do we get so carried away by them that we
become addicts. They are good for us and do not require us to agonize over
are more salient examples to clarify the problem that leads Patanjali to
consider this kind of happiness an affliction. Drugs are always Exhibit A, in
that they provide a temporary state of pleasure followed by a trough of negative
reaction, which stimulates an urge to repeat the experience. Any habit like
this is an end in itself, and carries with it no desire for any yoga practice
that requires hard work and deferred satisfaction.
whole subject is an excellent field for self-analysis. I recalled in my
childhood being rocked by a well-advertised candy bar, the Three Musketeers.
Three guys in Musketeer drag sliced one into three BIG pieces with their
rapiers and shared them in a spirit of divine brotherhood. I remember being
totally entranced by how delicious they were: heaven on earth. I couldn’t wait
for Halloween, when I could pilfer a bagful of them and their cousins from the
neighborhood. In the meantime I spent hours plotting how to get the next one,
and spent more hours wandering the streets picking up pop bottles and loading
them in my red wagon. Two and a half pop bottles at two cents apiece would net
you one five-cent candy bar at the store. It was good times, learning how to
find happiness in junk food.
example more germane to adults is money. While very useful for normalizing
exchange, it can also be manipulated into corrupting exchange, as we see with
CEOs who make the same as a year’s wages for their underlings in 2 hours at the
office. In capitalism money is worshipped as a God, and whole lives are
dedicated to its service. It and its markets are credited with deciding all
things with an absolute righteousness, and any attempt to add mitigating
concepts in the form of regulations is considered blasphemy.
Guru describes this type of projection of our happiness onto outside factors as
a mirage: as we move toward it, it recedes into the distance or vanishes with a
change of the light. Devotees never think that it is the fault of the God that
they don’t find happiness, only they haven’t done enough. All I needed was
another candy bar. With money the decision is always for more and more, a
never-ending pursuit, since happiness does not reside anywhere in it. Not only
is poverty a side effect of greed, but disasters like the current one in the
Gulf of Mexico are a direct result of it also, and they will continue as long
as money is worshipped. Typically, the financial profit itself is invariably
used as the justification for degradation of the environment. This is tautology
at its best: the value of the world is only what money can be made from it,
therefore we should extract all the money we can from the world.
thing Biblical Paul put well, if a bit exaggerated: “The love of money is the
root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the
faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” Greed is the king of
we play around with our obsessions, sure that ours are legitimate and that we
can handle them, until they sneak up and catch us in their net. This is an
arena for a fundamental rethinking of our personal values; in our former
analogy, of turning away from the movie screen and examining the projecting
apparatus in the booth of our mind.
sent this response, which reminds us of the indomitable
strength that a
sane life sometimes demands of us:
too have been grappling with concerns about addiction and obsession. Since my
own ecstatic experiences are rare and unpredictable, I find I am putting a
great deal of energy into not falling down the despair pit. I am launching a
new strategy aimed at just "Happy.” It is not a botox, false smile, but
turning what feels like abandonment and silence into ways that are wonderful.
Little things bring joy too. Like searching for joy in every grain of sand
beneath my feet as I walk. It's TOUGH. Since surgery, and allergic to most pain
meds, I am one grumpy person. I have something I can take at night but then I
worried. I obsessed about the night meds as finally bringing blissful sleep and
pain relief. So I took them then during the day, too. Now I worried I was
addicted or would become addicted and stopped all pain meds. The obsession was
like walking through the Mohave Desert in bare feet. The pain kept me real. I have
to work at being balanced (that sand is very HOT), finding that one or all
grains of sand as works of art. The art of finding my inner strength and
knowing love surpasses pain.
am not polishing my halo anytime soon. What you wrote was another grain of
helpful sand to ease the pain of existence (when there is so much hidden joy).
Hatred (dvesha) is
that which accompanies pain.
flip side of happiness was much easier to distance ourselves from. We spent a
moment meditating on the exercise to establish a witness for our obsessions and
inhibitions. Like pain and pleasure, sukham and duhkham, obsession and
inhibition are two sides of the same coin of exaggerated attraction and
course, while sitting quietly in a peaceful environment it’s very easy to
practice witnessing. It’s another matter when some provocation ignites a latent
reaction and we blow up. That’s when we really need to do our yoga. But in
anticipation of such an event we can practice in our spare time at home. And
again, the group setting makes it so much easier. Our meditation at the end of
class was so blissful and intense that I had to force myself several times
before I could begin the closing chant, and everyone seemed equally reluctant to
come to the surface and join in. Balance is indeed a delightful state,
especially as it does not have an obverse aspect.
is where the important difference lies between the bliss of unity and mere
pleasure. Pleasure has its shadow side, its compensating negativity. We usually
choose to ignore it until it builds up into a towering thunderstorm that blasts
into our atmosphere. Yet, like a thunderstorm, emotional outbursts can act like
a corrective to reestablish balance, and without them our world would become
very dry. As Nitya puts it, “You cannot hold onto the pleasures of life and
boycott the pains of it. The true happiness postulated by the yogi is neither
embellished by pleasures nor embittered by pain.”
thought we should offer incidences of our own negative emotions to see where
they arose, and I picked out a few of my own. Then, as I meditated on them
during the preliminary exercise, I realized they weren’t really examples of
hatred, they were outbursts of rage that were due to my own desires being
thwarted. And looking back, some were like thunderstorms in clearing the air
and reestablishing peace. Only where I couldn’t quell the accompanying upset
did they metastasize into prolonged misery.
of my favorite examples took place in spring of my senior year in high school.
My best friend and I were hoping to travel to Europe that summer, and I had
saved up enough money from various neighborhood jobs to pay for it. Europe in
those days was dirt cheap. We were going to travel with my friend’s sister, who
I had a secret crush on, and one of her best friends. Probably my inner
mechanism wanted to arrange for me to marry her and spend my life with her,
which I eventually did, but I wasn’t consciously aware of any such
considerations at the time.
parents had only one word for any independent ideas I ever had: No. I tried
every argument, but without success. One night at dinner the issue came to a
head. I can still see my fury, boiling up like a volcanic eruption. My whole
life was being stifled. I had a vision of adventure and excitement, but the
gate was being shut and locked. I remember shouting, and taking a steak knife
off the table and hurling it down on the floor, where it obligingly stuck,
waving back and forth. Then I stomped out the front door, a large pane of glass
in a frame, slamming it so hard that the glass shattered into a million pieces.
I didn’t look back, but stalked the three miles down the road to my friend’s
house. In my mind’s eye shimmered the stunned looks of my father and mother and
brother’s faces. Ours was a family where you never raised your voice or
revealed your emotions, and I had shattered that tacit prohibition as surely as
the door glass.
or six days later I got a call from my mother, asking me deferentially if I
would come home so we could talk about the trip. They had decided to allow it.
Miracle of miracles.
of the lesson here is that anger is sometimes justified. I wonder what my life
would have been like if I had not gone away that summer. It seems that
everything in my adult life unfolded from that seminal adventure: liberation
from bondage to menial necessities and joining my life partner, who led me to
Nitya, among many other things. So there was a cosmic flow boiling invisibly in
my life, and the outer world wanted only to pretend it didn’t exist. If I had
remained meek and mild, well-behaved, I wouldn’t have ridden my dharma and
eventually become myself. I shudder to think how close to psychic disaster I
was, and how fortunate that fate guided me through. I only knew my good fortune
after the fact.
offered a similar example. In dealing with her son’s medical care, she
mentioned one doctor who she disagrees with on some issues. She accepts her,
but some of her stuff is off the mark. Instead of simply nodding her head and
agreeing with her claims, Jan can see herself getting resistive. She has had a
long struggle to obtain proper care for her son, battling walls of ignorance
and misdiagnosis. So her ire rises, and she stands firm about what she wants.
This is good for everyone concerned. It isn’t hatred at all, only righteous
anger is permanently lodged in place, it may be called hatred. Intelligent
people who can look to root causes realize there is no place for hatred
anywhere in their life. Anger has its value, but then we must return to the
witnessing state as soon as possible, to prevent permanent derangement.
S. Hall, in his new
book Wisdom, From Philosophy to
Neuroscience (Alfred A. Knopf, 2010) writes about regaining
what he calls emotional regulation. “Emotion
regulation may be the most powerful lens in human psychology; polished by time
and curved by intimations of mortality, it allows us to see what is really
important in our lives.” (78) He describes a team of researchers at the
University of Wisconsin headed by Richard Davidson that has done studies using
fMRI and EEG. One finding was that
Adults (the average age was sixty-four)
their emotions well showed a distinctly different pattern of brain activity
from those who didn’t. Indeed, the pattern seemed to reveal a conversation
going on between different parts of the brain, which, when weighted in one
direction, kept negative emotions like anxiety, fear, and disgust in check.
These even-keeled people—Davidson specifically refers to them as “emotionally
resilient”—apparently used their prefrontal cortex, the front part of the
brain, which governs reasoning and executive control, to damp down activity in
the amygdala, those twin almond-shaped regions deep in the brain that process
emotional content. In people who are unable to regulate their emotions,
amygdala activity is higher and daily secretion of the stress hormone cortisol
betrays a pattern associated with poor health. “Those people who are good at
regulating negative emotion, inferred by their ability to voluntarily use
cognitive strategies to reappraise a stimulus, lead to reductions in activation
in the amygdala,” said Davidson. He added that such regulation probably results
from “something that has been at least implicitly trained over the years.” In
other words, these people have somehow learned
to regulate their emotions. (74)
Wisdom may in part be a function of cognitive
attention. The ability to maintain emotional balance, and to ignore extraneous
or emotionally disturbing information, appears to be strongly correlated with
the focus that often accompanies contemplation or reflection. (74-75)
significant part of the class was spent talking about our role in teaching our
children. The general consensus was that we project our fears onto children
especially, since—at least as teens—they seem to be more dependent on us than
they actually are. Paul and Deb made it clear that in the teen years they
intentionally take an opposite stance to pretty much everything we want to
impart to them, so it is wise to not be overly doctrinaire. Susan maintained
that we should turn to ourselves as the source of the anxiety, and not worry
about them so much. Paul added the very important idea that they learn vastly
more from experience on their own than they every would from not listening to
our preaching. Therefore they should be given reasonable freedoms to discover
truth for themselves.
my experience, kids have finished absorbing much new input from their parents
somewhere around ages seven to ten, and after that they need to learn to
individuate. Thwarting that natural process is more dangerous than trusting
them to be wise when they still fall significantly short of the ideal.
don’t hate our children, obviously, but we hate some of what they do and what
they champion. That hatred has its roots in our own fears and myopias, so we
can brighten the scene by biting our tongue and looking into our heart.
Projecting our fears onto children is commonplace but deleterious. Yogis need
to look within to find the field that needs tending.
to life (abhinivesha) is sustained even in the learned, as in the ignorant, by
the dynamics of one’s own deep-rooted interest.
a real puzzle to see how abhinivesha is an affliction. We’re talking here about
our interest and our will to live, without which life would be short and dull.
The subject bears some serious examination. We gave it a first look in the
notes for II:3, on 4/15/10, which are helpful to review. I noted there that the
word is defined as “application, intentness, study, affection, devotion,
determination (to effect a purpose of attain an object), tenacity, adherence
to.” If these are afflictions, then they are ones we are happy to have. There
must be something deeper down that we should be dealing with.
awoke this morning with a new idea of how to address this matter. Narayana Guru
has pointed out that even the lowliest of creatures will recoil from an attack,
and therefore all sentient beings have the survival instinct. Because of this,
non-hurting is of paramount importance.
easy to imagine how the avoidance of danger would be one trait that was
naturally selected through survival of the fittest. In a primitive environment
of eat or be eaten, those who were easygoing and non-fearful would be consumed
before they had a chance to reproduce. Only the fearful escape artists would
live long enough to have offspring. So deep in our vasanas—our genetic code—is
the urge to cling to life, and because of this we are here today.
at least some parts of the modern world, though, we live with a high degree of
protection from being killed for someone else’s benefit. We now have the
potential to develop a higher state of mind, where trust, love and kindness
prevail over the impulse to scurry under the fridge when the light is turned
on. This higher state has actually been under development for a long time; it
is now thought that dinosaurs were social beings that cared for their young
communally. Cooperation and caring have recently come to be considered
hard-wired in our brains. Certainly, acting as a group offers a lot more
protection than living as a lone individual, so communal cooperation was an
evolutionary leap forward.
is to be hoped that modern humans have made significant progress since the
Triassic Era. In the historical period, thanks to moral education and
protective laws and the policing of them, we now have the opportunity of
stripping our psyches of those prehistoric gut fears. We no longer have to be
hyper alert when approaching a stranger. We can relax and radiate good will,
and the stranger will most likely respond in kind. After three and a half
billion years of evolution, we at last have the potential to craft a world
based on loving kindness instead of threat and violence.
too surprisingly, those who are still in the thrall of their fears feel
threatened by such a concept, and are working hard to make sure it never
happens. If we fight them, they automatically win, because we have joined their
side. If we ignore them, they may shoot cruise missiles into our wedding
parties, or throw us in jail for smoking pot. It takes contemplative brilliance
to steer a course between the two impossible options of fighting back or
turning away. I think that’s what Patanjali is getting at here. That’s also
what Krishna tried to teach Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita.
is a dialectic secret
for us to discover.
class followed up on Nitya’s suggestion that fantasies about immortality are an
important mode of clinging to life, and that these delude us enough to be
considered afflictions. If we are aiming at perfect neutrality—and the whole
postulate is that neutral balance is the key to yoga and samadhi—then mooning over
what will happen in the next life actually prevents us from attaining that
the thought that we are immortal is exciting and energizing, and provides an
important incentive for the novice. Yet as we sink into the cessation of mental
modifications, becoming established in more mature understanding, incentives
become unnecessary. In fact, they become albatrosses weighing us down.
Patanjali is asking us to shed their weight and be free.
to the longing for immortality is the desire to be noticed and acknowledged by
others. We want to know we exist, and we want our surroundings to tell us this,
over and over. It is natural to want to have a positive impact, to “do good,”
and to be honored for our achievements. Again, a novice works harder by
imagining that someone else will be impressed by their efforts and
accomplishments. But at some point we have to shed that outward-directed
motivation too, and learn to act from our true center.
class also had a high admiration for the suggested exercise. The one here
applies to our whole life; it’s not something you do for a few minutes during
meditation. It epitomizes the attitude of a wide-awake yogi. We are asked to
discern whether our action is intrinsic to the natural unfolding of our dharma,
the rationally intentional development of intellectual and other skills, or
motivated by some powerful emotion. In the first case we are to merely witness
the unfolding as resembling the opening of a flower. In the second case we
should look into the benefit and the impact on everything that might be
affected by it. In the third case, which we ruefully acknowledged as being
distressingly common to all of us, where a surging emotion runs away with our
good judgment, we have to counter the pressure by intentionally holding back.
As we ponder the situation, the pressure will gradually diminish below the
threshold where our mind can clear again. We should additionally try to see
other people’s perspectives, and not be in a hurry to defend our own. All this
will keep the pressure down to a manageable level.
often we mistake the third condition for the first. We believe our emotional
urges are the unfolding of our dharma, and so we allow them free rein. It’s not
surprising that the horse of our libido runs wild in that case.
is not a heinous affliction, like egotism or hatred, but by its acceptability
it is hard to even notice its binding effect. Because of this, it is perhaps
more tenacious than the more obvious afflictions. It is omnipresent, occurring
in the wise as much as the unwise. If we can look at it in our contemplative
moments, we can see that it is indeed extraneous to us, and then we can
exorcise it by looking deeper, into our true core. This is precisely the
curative effort Patanjali will be propounding in the coming sutras.
will have several more classes where we will look at our afflictions from a
contemplative perspective. It will be beneficial if participants can identify
their own versions, and we can then work with them in the group. Part of us
resists such spiritual cleansing. This is an important stage to press ahead,
since the resistance is the ego defending itself. Yes, it will probably win,
but we can learn a lot from the skirmish, and all growth is to our benefit. Like
a blade of grass pushing up through a concrete sidewalk, we have to overcome
daunting obstacles before we can surge up into the light.
further aspect of immortality we discussed was the urge to live vicariously
through our children. With the best of intentions we strive to inculcate what
we know of the world, to give our offspring a notion of how life looks to us.
We hope to establish a smidgen of stability for them in a rapidly changing
world, and keep them as safe as possible.
problem with this is that kids learn from our example, and not so much by what
they are told, especially by their parents. They learn the most through
imitation of us, without even realizing it. The problem with words—and this
goes for many other situations too—is that there isn’t always a clear
connection between what we say and what we do. The link is mysterious and we
generally take it for granted rather than seeing the connection ourselves.
Because of this, there is often resistance toward our words, even as there is
tacit acceptance of the deeds. Nataraja Guru distinguished communication
via words and deeds as
metalanguage and protolanguage, respectively. He well knew that children
communicated better pictorially than verbally.
urge to cling to life disrupts our ability to communicate clearly to our
children, and everyone else for that matter. Our desire to put forth a nice
bouquet of images masks our honest inner core, from ourself as well as others. It should be obvious that this is a truly major
impasse that can only
be gotten over by serious self-examination.
Stephen Heller gives many examples of how the naïve mind reads—or
misreads—words, in his book Monsters and
Magical Sticks. One is close to my heart: if you tell
a child that children
should be seen and not heard, and then praise them for being quiet, they will
grow up to be shy and withdrawn. Many of Heller’s examples involve major
lifelong inhibitions, and they are fascinating to read, since he is a genius at
cancelling what he calls the post-hypnotic suggestions involved. Here are a
couple more brief ones:
In the “real”
world of everyday
life, hypnotic communications and transactions take place all around you. As
you open yourself up to the many possibilities, I am sure you will begin to see
more of them. What of the parent who gives a small child a “dirty” look and
says, “You’d better clean up your room or else,” and then walks away leaving
the child to wonder, “Or else what? The Jolly Green Giant will throw me away?”
The child then becomes anxious, agitated and then waits for disaster. What of
the child who is told, “What’s the matter with you? Can’t you do anything
right?” and the child begins to think, “I can’t do anything right,” turning the
question into a directive. S/he may even come to believe that mommy and daddy
will be pleased if s/he doesn’t do
anything right. If the child begins to carry out the suggestions often enough,
well, I don’t need to tell you what those
results could be. (31-32)
point of all this is that if we stop trying so hard to get a message across to
our intended recipient by pushing harder at them, and instead look into the
meaning of what we want to say within ourselves, we will actually be able to
communicate much better with all kinds of people. Our
of clinging to life and more a matter of simply being alive.
can be removed by a regressive reemergence into their origins.
of the commentary will note that pratiprasava
is translated here as re-emergence and later as remergence. I suspect the
former is an inadvertent error, and yet it has a certain appeal. I remember
Nitya as a master contrarian, and can easily imagine him visualizing the word
as meaning the emergence from the miasma of afflictions that have temporarily
beset us, back into our original state of grace. Still, the word is best
defined as remergence, even though that is a Nitya-ism. My spell checker allows
for reemergence but not remergence.
(the dictionary) has pratiprasava as “return to the original state” in the
yogic context. Interestingly, the historically earlier definitions are:
“counter-order, suspension of a general prohibition in a particular case,” and
“an exception to an exception.” By the way, for you youngsters out there,
‘counter-order’ does not mean what
we’re having for lunch.
like the ancient senses of the word, because our afflictions are like
exceptions to a free life, or prohibitions (like inhibitions) against true
happiness. Our work is to countermand those bedazzlements to reveal the
blissful essence they are blanketing. If our afflictions are considered
exceptions to our normal state, then we want to except the exceptions.
the sutra on a long walk yesterday, and noting that this is the stretch of the
Yoga Shastra where a lot of people drop out of the study, it hit me hard that
most of us actually love our afflictions. Well, perhaps it would be better to
say we are very attached to them. When it comes right down to it—and this part
of the study is where it does, where rapid progress begins to show for all our
hard work to date—we are very comfortable with our afflictions. They are our
working model for how to live, those carefully chosen likes and dislikes, and the
awareness that we are actually beginning to change frightens us into a
retrenchment. The threat of abandoning our afflictions strikes us as scary, a
leap into the unknown. Better to leave that crap for somebody else to deal
with! So we may secretly abandon our efforts, even as we continue to pay lip
service to the practice.
of the near-impossibility of overcoming our own preferences and habits without
assistance, Nitya extols the value of a therapist. In ancient India, the
therapist was called a guru, and a long period of dedicated time combined with
reverential deference was spent in perfecting rapport with them. In the
Gurukula we call this bipolarity. Nowadays few have the time for it, and
respect is little observed. The afflictions militate against dedication to a
recondite and abstract goal like liberation. It is extremely rare to have the
good fortune to stumble upon a real guru who has the time to work with you, and
to whom you can dedicate the adequate time and energy in return. For the rest
of us, we pick up a bit here and there and hope it will eventually amount to
could call a close relationship with a preceptor the induction method. This
month’s The Sun magazine has an apt quote from Clarence Buddington Kelland: “He
didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.” A very great
deal is communicated in this way that can never be adequately transmitted by
important technique of therapy is to decode our dreams and other symbolic
language of the deeper mind, since once we bring the light of conscious
awareness to them, we have a golden opportunity of pulling their hooks out of
our flesh. Nitya tells us that Patanjali, like the Gita, recommends flooding
our interior with light, and then using the light to correct our “surface
disturbances, personality maladjustments, and dysfunction of the psyche.”
class talked a lot about dreams, and how they throw light on our path. Scotty
had a pair of important ones back to back. He dreamed of two ostriches. He was
admiring one when the other suddenly charged in and bit its head off. He was
shocked and stunned. Then in a subsequent dream he was in his car. There was a
mouse on the window sill telling him “you have to get past me if you want to
get anywhere.” He swept the mouse out of the way. When he awoke he felt sad for
the dead ostrich and the mouse. But in talking about the dreams with his
counselor, and so bringing in the light of reason, they realized that ostriches
stand for burying our heads in the sand, in other words, ignoring our problems
and hoping they will go away of their own accord. Thus killing it is a good
thing, and it marked a breakthrough for Scotty in taking control of his own
destiny and severing the bonds of his childhood inhibitions. The mouse was seen
as a tiny insignificant creature that was preventing him from being the driver
of his life-car. As long as we allow ourselves, we can be held up forever by
minor impediments. With the smallest flick Scotty cleared his window so he
could forge ahead.
both dreams his sympathy was initially with the affliction. Only upon
reflection did he come to realize that his sympathy was for the wrong things.
These dreams perfectly illustrate the theme of the class, that we cherish our
afflictions and thus get nowhere. Working with a helper, Scotty was able to see
how his affections were misplaced, and muster a thunderbolt to sweep them out
of his way. Without the help, he might well have stayed stuck, but instead he
Michael Meade has a great quote in The Sun also, referring to the importance of
this type of breakthrough and how it was once built into the social fabric:
“Ancient peoples invented rites of passage in part to break the spell of
childhood and move the initiate from the mother’s lap to the lap of the world.
To this day, a person must dismantle the spell of childhood or fail to find
their place in life.” The sea of adult children we swim in testifies eloquently
to a devastating absence of this crucial step, a void that Scotty’s dreams
helped him to fill.
question arose about the meaning of Nitya’s idea that
It is not easy to
regressive remergence into your own system without knowing how the microcosm is
integrated into the macrocosm and what psychological forces are sculpturing the
symbols of an inner secret language that is entirely individualistic.
What he means is that our personal language
understanding is at variance with the actual structure and meaning of the
outside world. While it’s true that social cohesion is comprised of a motley
conglomeration of individual interpretations, there is nonetheless a general
notion of what it amounts to. This is even more true of what we call the
Absolute, or the innate structure of the universe as a whole, which is entirely
cohesive. We would like to have easy access to this “macrocosm” but the
idiosyncrasies of our microcosmic comprehension throw up roadblocks and deflect
us from the necessary straightforward openness. We have to “normalize” our
shaky understanding by erecting a close correspondence between our mental
structure and the real basis of the whole. In practice what this means is that
we constantly need to reassess our perceptions, which as often noted are
notoriously prejudiced. In a group setting, or better yet with a trusted
counselor, we open ourselves to correction, since others can much more easily
see where our blind spots block our vision.
transcending our afflictions is so important, several more sessions are
dedicated to it. We really can’t progress further in yoga without a triumph in
this area. If we coddle our afflictions, we might continue reading along, but
our psyches will be stuck here, blocked by our habitual mindset from making
Nancy kindly searched the book for further reference
pratiprasava, and found these, which both favor remergence:
That is why a return to the source, pratiprasava, is the most important theme to study in Yoga.
Three stages are conceived: an original state,
a state of
transformation, and a state of final union. In Semitic religions the original
state is considered divine, the second state as the egoistic phase of
rebellion, fall, and regret, and the third state as the return to the source.
In Buddhism it is the mindless state, the conditioned state of habit formation
making many cascades of turbulent karma, then coming to the state of nibbana, the cessation of streaming. In
Samkhya and Yoga, the original state is the equipoise of the triple modalities
of nature in which the association of purusha with prakriti cannot be
discerned. The second state is the impact of the three modalities and three
states of consciousness affecting the purusha through wrong identity, and the
final is the release of purusha into the state of aloneness through the
discipline of pratiprasava,