The further we find ourselves at this point in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the deeper our understanding dives into how this transliteration of the practice of Anuttara Raja Yoga breathes life and reasoning into not just our meditation, but our day to day existence as people. Beneath all the poses that exist within the practice we have been cultivating and refining an understanding of how the emotions and the mind are indeed interwoven into the foundation of what we do.
First in the second chapter we find ourselves breaking down the meaning of Kriya-Yoga, learning that the yoga of action relies consists of 3 important elements of exploit:
Physical discipline and austerity through action
Mental actions; this is the work of in-depth introspection and self-study
Spiritual action; the practice of devotion to God and meditating on God, whatever it is that means to you.
One admirable aspect of the way yogis like Yogacharya Philip express their theology or their own perception is that it is done with tact and great respect to all religions and theologies. Whenever the word “God” in any of its forms becomes a subject of conversation he does his best to make it relatable across the board, and avidly discloses to us the intention of being all inclusive about whatever spiritual practices make up the room.
In doing so this week Yogacharya shared with us a person memory in which he recalled a conversation with his father during which he inquired about the existence and the meaning of God, and his father responded with something I found so exceedingly profound because it was so very simple:
I honestly cannot remember the last time I did a group project since high school, so this should definitely be interesting…
In this context it is hard not to be open minded about a discussion on divinity, because if we talk about how important it is that the yogi go to God as a friend it is easy to feel connected to this search for spiritual growth through self-examination and discipline.
Speaking of discipline, Chapter 2 leads the class into identifying and breaking down the 5 Klesahs (afflictions) that are deep-rooted in every aspect of the daily human experience, and when we allow the Klesahs to be in control we are inevitably influenced by the forces of nature, and the outside world clouds our higher consciousness with its worldly circumstances.
- Avidya- Ignorance
Philip asks us to take a closer look at how ignorance infects our lives and challenges us to evaluate, and through the practice elevate, how we address our ignorance.
- Asmita- Ego
The ego being such a great enemy of yoga, we talk about how this unrealistic and unreliable mindset can undermine the flow of our lives. We also examine ego as the second evolute of nature- Ahankara- which is a translation of “ego” is an “I” as the higher self. Asmita is a “me” that is naïve to believe the consciousness confuses itself as the mind or body.
But you are not your mind or body… you are the divine.
- Raga- Attachment
Attachment exists everywhere in life. We get attached to the way things are; the people we’re used to and the feelings we enjoy as measurements of our human senses. Letting go of the things we attach ourselves to is the means by which we will further our relationship with our higher self, because we stop cluttering the space between our thoughts with addictions and obsessions of our pleasures.
- Dvesa- Hatred
When we reach this affliction, Philip makes a priority to point out that all these Klesahs are related to Avidya (ignorance). With Dvesa it is an emotional ignorance thriving on aversion and contempt rather than on the present. In Dvesa we feel misery that ripples out from our addictions or adversities, without accessing the insight to see past these things.
- Abhinivesah- Fear of Death
Going beyond the primal survival instinct, we talk about accepting death. The thought of death should not be feared, but understood as a transition for our consciousness in its own evolution. Seeing how some have surpassed this, we ask what would be the point in higher consciousness creating itself if only to be erased by death.
Page by page we read through a detailed depiction of the things in life that stand in our way. Yogacharya uses each step as an example of why the practice and the science of Anuttara Raja Yoga are just as amazing as the rich history and culture it was born from. Studying the sequence of notes it all makes sense; these pieces of a reflective and markedly robust philosophy make logical sense, and the mental health aspect ties in perfectly with the psychology of the practice and the Yoga Sutras.
The Yoga Sutras explain our afflictions then give us the awareness to overcome them without causing more suffering. All the while we grow more studious as individuals and more inquisitive as a group, and one can tell these Anuttara Raja Yoga Teacher Trainees are truly absorbing the meaning of these texts.
Until next week- Grace and Peace