INTRO / ON BRAHMACHARYA / THE ESSENCE OF YOGA | THE PROBLEM | ON PREPARATION | ON MEDITATION | ON INNER DIVINE LIGHT | ON AUM | ON THE 4TH PRANAYAMA | ON SAMADHI
I have shown that Yoga as fundamental God-search and fundamental religion. This section of re-ordered verses is intended as the practical section on how the aspirant proceeds. It deals with preparatory attitudes and practices for realizing the enlightenment of yogic attainment. All of the "how-to-do-it" verses of the Yoga-Sutra have been gathered together here, no longer scattered about the text.
Vairagya is the self-mastery in which one does not crave for objects, whether seen, unseen, or heard about.
Vairagya is detachment from the seen externals and situations of the world. Naturally this ingrained attitude, native to the developed yogi and siddha, is a prerequisite of still mind. This vairagya might seem inhuman and frightening. But each of us attains this total vairagya, along with recognition of the unreality of the external world, each and every night. As the day goes on we tire of the world. No matter how many thrills we may have still in store, how many charming people to consort with, or parties to enjoy -- comes a time we want to hit our bed. The real reason for this is that our soul has wearied of the false, empty phantasm and needs to experience fullness and reality again. While going to sleep and then during sleep, we forget about the world utterly and completely, no longer even believing that it exists and engaged with better things. Then with the world completely gone we are so well engaged that we lay there, for many hours, completely satisfied. There is nobody we are talking to, nothing we are eating, nobody seen in this world, yet we are satisfied.
So each night as we tire each soul is actually recognizing "This is nothing, let me go back to reality and happiness." Thus this perception of the world as pure suffering, or at least thoroughly unsatisfactory, is something every jiva achieves nightly. The refreshing that makes us able to go on another day in the samsaric ghetto comes from our night mergence in the infinite, imperishable Self, and not from any other cause. We remember our true nature, then become intrigued again with the pretend we were playing down in the samsara ghetto. So nobody should express dismay and say this wise view of the world is merely cynical or negative, because we all attain it at each day's close. The attainment of samadhi is indeed the attainment of the sleep state while still conscious. The yogi is simply the one who wants to continue to know his fullness, all sufficiency, and untouched state during the waking state, thus ending all suffering during that state. Spiritual development involves a developing cynicism about the value of passing worldly thrills, and a deep unrest about it. This was the state attained by Rama in the Yoga-Vasistha. In the tale, Rama the divine Prince became withdrawn and sober. He no longer enjoyed the royal pleasures. The king and queen were worried. 'What is wrong with our son? He doesn't sport in the pleasure gardens? He no longer engages in the games, listens to the music, or takes interest in the ladies. He must be in a terrible state!' So they called the wise sage Vasistha, who was a yogi and satguru, and asked him to talk to Rama. Upon inquiring of him Rama basically told Vasistha that he had recognized the world as a pointless, repetitive samsara. He related all unsatisfactory aspects of the world-miasm, "the seen," to Vasistha. The sage's response was, in sum: 'This is a very good day. Rama has finally arrived at wisdom. Now he can be taught.' You, also, should develop this view in order to reach the depths and heights of yoga by making your mind focused and solely God-directed.
The mind is assisted towards stillness and samadhi by responding with benignity, compassion, delight, and indifference respectively towards these four types of people: The fortunate, the suffering, the virtuous, and the sinful.
There is some confusion about this verse by the various translators and commentators. Some take it as an instruction to meditate on these four ideas (and some translations present it this way). Others take it as an instruction for how a yogi should respond to these four types of people while going about his life.
The latter is clearly the correct view: It is designed to assist the religious person in developing a degree of evenness and minimal engagement with the various persons (and situations) encountered in life.
The former idea -- that it means to meditate on these types plus these reactions -- is certainly incorrect. Later we will explore the incorrect understanding; what it is like and why it is incorrect.
This is an odd verse in YS terms. It combines a mental approach for developing equanimity among human beings with what may be a social teaching designed to cultivate the virtue of the populace. This includes the tactic of refusing to reward bad people with attention. Later we shall see how this tactic includes a profound occult imperative.
The verse categorizes experienced others into four groups, then prescribes a proper yogi's attitude toward each. This simplifies life, discharges the yogi's basic external duties, and helps him increase evenness or vairagya. He has a prescribed set of reactions to give to people and he doesn't have to spend much thought on it or get tangled up beyond those.
The sinful get ignored by the yogi-ascetic in this prescription, whereas the proper duty of a man in the kyastriya (warrior) phase of life would be to chastise, punish, or destroy the wicked.
The yogic path takes a less involved approach to all externals. By non-involvement with the corrupt or wicked, the yogi also develops less samskaras associated with "the wicked" as an experience or existent thing. This is similar advice to that given for transit through bardos during after-death states. It is said that when creatures reach out to you or try to distract you on approach to the light of God, one should not turn to look at them or engage with them. So this sutra tells the yogi living in this world to refrain from engaging with the wicked. Since duties fall away from the yogi, he no longer has any duty to engage with the sinful, in the way that we ask our police, soldiers, principals and kings (kyastriya figures) to do. The yogi is free of this duty, and this non-engagement with the criminal and corrupt helps his mind maintain equanimity and detachment.
The verse is a little problematic, in my mind, because where is the limit or end to compassion when it comes to the unfortunate? One can get very drawn into compassionate activities which is more worldliness and entanglement with what is essentially his own karma, chart and transits. That's not renunciation. Meanwhile, where is the limit in expressing delight in the virtuous? Should one get very mood-altered over them? Should one make donations to them? Write odes to them? Have celebrations to honor them? You can see that the verse bristles with possibilities for do-gooders, world-fixers, and ambitious heroes. One should make his benignity, compassion, and delight tokenary, superficial, passing while the indifference can be complete.
For this reason the verse can easily be classed in the preliminary category; just trying to reduce involvements and simplify the complex morass of samsara, plus simplify our responses to others according to some clear rules. The most interesting part, for me, is the ignoring of the wicked. For a kyastriya type deepening in his yoga, this is the most difficult while the other three come naturally. It's hard for me not to give a hit to the wicked, because of my protector instinct. But this verse is telling the yogi to set them all aside. They are just your own unfortunate karma anyway. He should practice non-engagement. Meanwhile, they pass by and this verse has a psychological function of withholding attention to the wicked for their wickedness. Indeed, whatever and whomever a God-man gives his attention to, even negative attention, that person or thing grows and is strengthened. He blesses them by criticism and blows! So why should he do that? That occult truth is also inherent in the verse.
Now, the Trevor Leggett translation, which is typically very spare and accurate, gives the verse in this way:
"The mind is made clear by meditation on friendliness towards the happy, compassion for the suffering, goodwill towards the virtuous, and disinterest in the sinful." Trevor Leggett Translation
Here the verse appears to be saying that these ideas should be used as meditation subjects; that such a meditation focus can lead to samadhi. It appears that the Sage Vyasa, considered an authoritative commentor on these sutras, is responsible for this idea. His commentary he says, in part:
"Such meditations produce pure dharma, and thereby the mind becomes clear." Vyasa
To compound confusion Sankara in his commentary on both (of the above) seems to be hedging his bets and entertaining both ideas. At the beginning of his commentary he takes it as a recommended meditation technique and in a typical useless restatement says:
"Friendliness is meditation on being a friend." Sankara
He accepts that a meditation focus is being proposed. But by the end of his commentary he seems to be referring to it as a social instruction for external dealings. In the following convoluted sentence he inventively tries to connect together these two ideas -- one of them a hairy and impossible prospect for meditation, the other a social teaching, and we read stuff like this:
"If indifference were not mentioned, the mind would become engaged with those habitually sinful, and from the taint arising from dealings with them, it would not be fit for meditations on friendliness and the others." Sankara
My view is that an original mistake was made by Vyasa by interpreting this verse as prescribing these ideas as meditation focci. (Other occasional chinks in Vyasian commentary can be pointed out.) There is simply no way that "the idea of compassion for the suffering" can be a proper meditation focus. Such a focus can only inflame the imagination, fuel the fires of discursive thought, and roll the samsara ball along. The results would be no different than daydreaming. It would be like saying to the meditation class: "Here, students, as meditation I would like you to imagine lots of situations where you encounter an unfortunate person and show compassion." It might be a good technique for helping budding novelists come up with ideas for novels, but it cannot be a good technique for meditation.
Yogic meditation is not about "positive thinking" or even "thinking about things." What use is an exercise in which you imagine evil people while imagining ignoring them?
No, the verse simply tries to give some reasonably workable advice for how to deal with the various persons in this world, at times when not sitting for meditation. After all, our many dealings with human beings, happy and unhappy, are one of the great beds of mental distraction when attempting to meditate. This technique both assists in creating fewer distracting dramas with other humans. Then when meditating -- you forget all four classes of humans mentioned and any other classes as well! aside from God, deity, or guru.
Sankara Deconstruction: It often occurs that a verse, whether in this Sutra or other Hindu scriptures, looks absurd, contradicts other verses, or is even scandalously primitive. (Like verses advocating that the Hindu approach a woman for sex and beat her if she's not interested.) Or, a verse may be abstruse and its meaning not at all obvious. The reaction of Sankara (in his commentaries) to these situations is typically to 1) ignore absurd or confusing content, or 2) Simply restate what has been said in almost the exact same language, or 3) In the case of contradictions or disparate ideas (as in the present situation, in which imaginary scenarios are proposed as a meditation technique) he may make clever bridges or rhetorical connections between selected ideas. Rarely does he simply correct the matter or state that any part of ancient verses is wrong. Occasionally I can discern Sankara also being "clever" in the lower sense of the word, or "dazzling with his gift for gab" we could say, but more like confusing with much assertive talk that avoids the problem. In his commentary on the above verse he seems to anticipate that the verse can be taken two ways; that it can be seen as referring to two different things. His response is to hedge his bets and refer to both ideas without really emphasizing either one. The highly problematic aspect of imagining human situations (lucky people, evildoers) as a kind of meditation alambra -- seems to be missed by him.
"Self-restraints, fixed observances, posture, pranayama, abstraction, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi are the eight limbs of yoga.
"The self-restraints are abstention from harming others, from falsehood, from theft, from incontinence, and from greed."
2:38 Brahmacharya-pratisthayam virya-labhah.
The necessary virya is obtained when the devotee gets established in continence.
It is continence -- brahmacharya -- that makes a man capable of meditation. It is continence -- cessation of emission of the creative substance and renunciation of fundamental sin -- that makes him capable of contact with, and interaction with, the transcendental perceptions. Of the restraints listed above, for the male, continence is of greatest importance, value, and effect.
The average male today, living in the nadir of the Kali-Yuga or the Porn Age, is far more incontinent than the average female who is constrained by nature to have only one debacle per month. However, once a male becomes a man and stops having continuous periods, he finds himself able to meditate with particular power and intensity, and also takes to austerities with exquisite spiritual pleasure. If he is a spiritual warrior he can even become continent beyond one month. Then he gets special ability to pursue meditation, samadhi, and the religious knowledge of the Yoga-Sutra.
The special advantage of the woman then becomes her heart and bhakti-potential. The female is supposed to learn austerity from the male; the male learns about devotion and bhakti from the female. It is the special province of the female to attain whatever the ascetic attains by attunement and devotion; and to get all his same meditation fruit. But for the male, nothing is attained without his continence. Meanwhile, moral sin of the female primarily distances her from samadhi because of the negative karma it creates and the ill reaction from the Divine Intelligence that such sin provokes. Men are distanced from God by incontinence; women are distanced from God by lust and the creation of incontinence in men, and that sin.
Thus both men and women benefit from chastity for the religious life and that sanctity is required in both. In this section I am going to expand on the topic of continence/brahmacharya so that the reader may become utterly convinced of its significance and have no doubt. Technically, it is very easy to adduce to this because it is brought up so much in the Upanishads, a relative of the Yoga-Sutra. And yet in the western literature on Yoga and the esoteric religion of India it is normally given short shrift. Let us start with the reaffirmation that Yoga is the quest for God and all Good.
The first thing that we must do, to achieve this is to be worthy of it; to develop the karma for that gift and the standing with God. God Himself (or Herself if you prefer) opens the door to the divine knowledge of Yoga through your merit, application, and devotion. One must have the karma to attain samadhi. One must earn it. And certainly in order to attain the Lord one must no be mordantly offending the Lord! The scriptures sometimes mention that the right teacher, enlightenment, and samadhi arise for the jiva after lifetimes containing some virtue; some good deeds; some sacrifice. It is a karmic fruit and a karmic inheritance.
One of the most polluting forms of sin, having some of the heaviest negative karma, is sexual sin and the abuse of the creative power. Then one of the best ways to develop good karma is chastity and respect for the Creative Power. One of the ways bad karma works is to obscure the path to God. Good karma opens up the way to God. For a male, upon sexual sin and seminal loss his mind is immediately darkened and his powers of perception immediately decrease. This means that he actually loses intelligence and understanding. He no longer "sees" things clearly or understands. Metaphysically, this is connected with the depletion of his very brain-stuff through the seminal loss itself. But the seminal loss is more than just biological agents or nutrients: It is consciousness itself! Thus he loses "consciousness."
This is likely the reason that the folklore "masturbation makes you blind" arose in the common mind. One one hand, it actually does weaken a man's vision and makes him likely to need glasses. More profoundly, it destroys his power to perceive thing and understand what is happening to him. The Power of Penetration The quest of yoga is to requires the penetration of things: The penetration of one's own mind and the penetration of the veil of nature. The quest is one of focus, concentration, and penetration. Notice that the male sexual act is a primordially penetrating act. Thus when doing this act, with its attendant loss of substance also imbued with the power of penetration, his mind loses its penetrating power. Thus to put it crudely, a man can either have many penetrating pelvic thrusts in his life or he can have a penetrating mind. The same substance and energy that gives a man the power of penetration sexually is what gives him, when retained, the power of penetration mentally.
For these reason some of the men with the most penetrating minds, as applied to matter or other things, were celibates. This included Nikola Tesla and Isaac Newton. The Power of Perception To find God one must be able to "see into" many things, and finally get the power to see God. This arises in literal terms as the yogi begins to see Brahman as inner light (bindu). There is, moreover, a great deal of penetration and "seeing" necessary in understanding the scriptures or the words of the teacher. With sexual loss a man's power of perception, not so much in the physical optic sense but in the spiritual and intellectual sense, sharply declines. This manifests immediately at his deepest core as the inability to comprehend what he has just done and its consequences for him. He does not perceive what the act has done to him, or the fact that his exterior world (and life experience) is now negatively affected. He may not even consciously comprehend how inwardly empty he has suddenly become. He is, in fact, thrown into a state of ignorance and non-seeing by the act. It as if veils descend over him. We could say that he has made himself ignorant and blind.
We could also say that the cosmic law of the Lord has punished him, and punished him first by making him ignorant and unable to see. Thus he continues to wander in samsara. We can look at this as a simple mechanical law woven into the fabric of creation; woven into the fact that our body itself generates the world and thus changes in our body change the world and our experience in it. (Strip-mine the body and the world manifests as strip-mined. Disturb the world and exterior world-disturbance stories are stirred up.) But we could also look at it as an act of offending God. The truth is, the Lord who we seek (Isvara, Brahma, the knowable God) has feelings. In fact, the entire riotous and beautiful Cosmos is a projection and material symbol of God's emotion. We can say that God as Nirguna Brahman is not "emotional," but is simply Pure Consciousness. But Isvara, the Lord, cares. He has love. He has possessiveness. He loves his devotees and protects them. He feeds all his children and wants to lift them up. He is a Lawgiver. He is a Judge. He is also capable of righteous wrath. He punishes. In his form of Shiva,Rudra, or Kali He destroys.
Now, the truth is there is no more profound way to insult God, and alienate Him, than to misuse the sexual energy. This is one of the great secrets of brahmacharya, and why the White Europeans had centuries of progress, prosperity and protection by developing a sexual morality standard (a brahmacharya value) in the context of the bhakti-yoga that is Christianity. It was because Jesus was a celibate that he imbued Christianity with that same understanding of the sacredness of sex plus various grades of restraint which became moral values among the White Europeans. It can be said that there have been "three sacred things" to the Aryans and the White Europeans. These are: 1) The sexual energy, 2) Religion and what reminds one of God, and 3) Duty to one's family and people.
It can well be said that the most sacred thing in the created material world is, indeed, sex and all things connected with it. Why? Isn't it clear that one of God's prime facets is a Creator? And sex is how human beings truly create: They become little gods, creating other human beings, highest form of life and intelligence. It is really by using the creative power of God that we create. The power of sex is the creative power of God. Because God is fundamentally a Creator we can say that that creative power is, in a useful sense, God Himself. It is the closest thing to God that we possess in the material world. In sum the feeling of sex, the results of sex (children, orgasm), and all things associated with sex (attraction, etc.) are the closest thing we have to God. In like manner, it is why women become, to men, little de facto gods to him. (This is part of what the serpent was deviously inferring to Eve in the garden: That through sex she could 'be as god' to Adam.) Another notable fact is that the orgasm is a taste of God-consciousness. It is bliss. God is bliss. That bliss is God. That is why all seek sex in this world more powerfully than any other thing. Because all feel God in sex. Because we originate from God who is bliss, we end up powerfully seeking the blissful feelings associated with sex: Attraction, feeling in love, being loved, affection, touching, sex, and the orgasm. We nightly encounter the central sexual impulse behind our life in nightly dreams. In many dreams of the lower astral plane we find ourselves highly sexualized. We have sexual visions or experiences despite whatever our waking values may be. This is proof of the fundamental sexual nature of ourselves, the universe, and also of God.
In the Buddhist metaphysics that explain reincarnation and the ability to get a human birth, sex is central. Of course, here on the human plane, it is already obvious that sex is the act that brings in new bodies and new souls. However, on the other side also, according to the Buddhist and Hindu rishis, sex is the central factor. Just as you find yourself often highly sexualized during the dream state the souls that wander the bardos seeking new bodies are likewise in a state of passion. If they were not, in the case of most souls, they would not be able to compete and get a difficult-to-obtain human birth. Occult knowledge of the astral plane and reincarnation arose in the symbol of the "Cupid" angels with their arrows causing a man and woman to fall in love. These represent the astral jivas in search of a body. The occult knowledge of the Tibetan Book of the Dead and other sources (and as witnessed by yogis who can travel the planes), state that numerous astral jivas intensely long for a body. To get one, they try to influence the thoughts of men and women they perceive on the human plane, hovering near them as it were, hoping they will become attracted to each other and create a procreation opportunity for the jiva. The jiva may send them sexual thoughts, or emotional thoughts, or images of family or of some past-life it it has with one or both of the hapless embodied couple.
Now, this jiva seeking a body is in competition, in many cases, with other souls who also intensely desire a body. The sages say that the competition is fierce and that only strong or highly focused jivas beat out the other ones. A primary factor that helps them succeed is a strong attraction or tie to one or both of the embodied lovers. The jiva with the stronger tie to one or both of the earthbound companions will tend to win the body, but this is likely due to their power of attraction itself. To get a body the jiva then merges with them during the time of sexual intercourse. (The Buddhists say that if the tie was stronger to the male, the jiva ends up developing the body of a female. If the tie was stronger to the female, it heads towards a male body.) The basic point is that even on the other side, in the matter of incarnations, the jivas are sexualized for getting a birth. Then finally this energy attends death, with the death process producing sexual phenomena such as erections for those with more carnal or heavy samskaras at the lower chakras, or phenomena at the head and upper orifices for those who have cultivating their life-energy more upward during life. In dying, too, there are finally blissful feelings similar to the orgasm as the soul leaves the body, just as in the dreaming state.
So the point is that the sexual energy is fundamental to our life and attends us at every stage of life. It is central to who we are. But if one wants the Divine, he has to recognize the sexual energy as divine. We can posit that of all things, the creator prefers that we regard the sexual energy as divine; sacred -- more than any other thing. When a thing is sacred we treat it with great respect. We operate with it according to rules. We do not use it in an everyday manner. We have a reverent attitude toward it. Treating a thing as sacred should entail, moreover, that its purpose is respected (such as the purpose of sex to procreate children; the desire of the sperm cells to find an egg and be inside of the woman, etc.) We can also surmise that treating a thing as sacred implies respecting it holistically (entire, as a whole) rather than parting it into parts and enjoying what we like, but rejecting the rest (such as enjoying sex but rejecting procreation and children.) Usually when a thing is sacred we cover it up except at proper times. It becomes as if "naked" when not properly covered. That "nakedness" is a function of its sacredness. We usually hide a sacred thing most of the time, knowing by instinct that sacred things usually are hidden in themselves, and often prefer to be hidden except under right conditions.
Notice how God, the Ultimate Sacred Thing, is hidden from us most of the time. Thus if we are treating the creative energy (sex) as sacred we will tend to treat it in these ways. Indeed, the White Europeans and most of the Hindus have treated sex in these ways, culturally, through the influence of the dharma. Now, I have pointed to human sex as the nearest thing to God in the material universe. This includes the very idea of sex (this is why people instinctively resist speaking of sex loosely no matter how the culture tries to casualize it), the feeling of sex, the actions of sex, and the substances of sex. The male generative material is, in reality, the most sacred of all material things. I have also pointed to the fact that the orgasm, which all humans seek and is associated with our very incarnation moment, is a spark of God's bliss or ananda thrown into the human mind. Now, bliss or ananda has several properties. -- It is pure consciousness -- It knows everything -- It sees everything Now remember that the man and woman, and the male infallibly, have a flash of this bliss during sex.
In the "Lord of the Rings" stories and movies there is an evil entity named Sauron who under certain conditions can see persons, from his position on another plane if they put on his ring. It is perhaps a flaw of the story that there is no positive entity who has the same power of sight and omniscience, perhaps made more critical during certain conditions. Such as a divine being who takes particular positive notice of a hobbit etc. under the right conditions. You may be wandering about the king's kingdom, in various villages, byways, and forests yet not particularly noticed by the king; not particularly bothered by him, or helped. However, if you take yourself to his throne room then you become particularly noticed by the king. If you go directly to his throne room everything about you is then seen by him. You come into his direct awareness. Accordingly, there may be positive or negative results depending on your condition or your manner at that time. Certain stupidities or flaws in your life at other times, and elsewhere, may be of little importance. But stupidities and flaws in this situation matter more. When we do the sexual act; when a man has the orgasm, he is visiting God's throne room and in fact interacting with God. The orgasm is God; is Pure Consciousness. And the Pure Consciousness knows everything and sees everything. Thus when a man and woman have sex, and especially at the orgasm, everything about that sex act is noticed by God. If the sex is adharmic and non-sacred, the Pure Consciousness is offended and It reacts by punishing you.
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To be continued... Now, because the aspirant is attempting to be moral, and because they are beginning to become austere, and because they have a little bit of devotion for God, guru, or saints, we can finally talk about meditation. He or she may even have a little bit of vairagya or dispassion, seeing that the world is not all its cracked up to be, and turned a little towards interest in God. Everybody who matters will notice.
Even the deities have respect for an ascetic. God Himself will be informed in His retreats. So now that these things are starting in you, it is meet and seemly to discuss meditation, and you may now obtain much good from meditation.
INTRO / ON BRAHMACHARYA / THE ESSENCE OF YOGA | ON PREPARATION | ON MEDITATION | ON INNER DIVINE LIGHT | ON AUM | ON THE 4TH PRANAYAMA | ON SAMADHI
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