Yoga

 

1.    The Upanishads develop notion of discriminative knowledge (jnana). Yoga is a means to this.

2.    Yoga: from yuj ‘to control’, ‘to yoke’ or ‘unite’.  Unite the self with the Supreme

a.    Technologies or disciplines of asceticism and meditation which are thought to lead to spiritual experience and profound understanding or insight into the nature of existence.

b.    The means whereby the mind and senses can be restrained, limited and empirical self or ego (ahamkara) can be transcended and the self’s true identity eventually experienced.

3.    Three features:

a.    Consciousness can be transformed through focusing attention on a single point

b.    The transformation of consciousness eradicates limiting, mental constraints or impurities such as greed and hate

c.    Yoga is a discipline, or range of disciplines, constructed to facilitate the transformation of consciousness

4.    Raja-Yoga

a.    Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra (100 BCE to 500 CE)  Raja (‘the best’) or “eight-limbed” yoga.  Codification of ideas about yoga over centuries

b.    “Yoga is the cessation of mental functions”.  A state of concentration in which the wandering mind, fed by sense impressions and memories, is controlled and made to be one-pointed (ekagrata).  This control occur by developing eight aspects or limbs of the yogic path (see Flood p.99)

c.    Still body and breath to draw attention away from the world (like a tortoise pulls its limbs into its shell)

                                     i.     In samadhi, no longer conscious of body or environment.  Highest state = ‘isolation’.  Consciousness purified of limiting constraints

                                    ii.     Patanjali assumes philosophical system of Samkhya

1.    Distinction between self as passive, conscious observer (purusha) and matter (prakriti)

2.    Liberation is realization of self’s solitude and complete transcendence, pure awareness, not identity with absolute

5.    An Esoteric Anatomy

a.    A subtle body with centers or ‘wheels’ (cakra) along which flows the energy, or life-force (shakti), which animates the body

b.    Kundalini (esp. later Tantrism): shakti present in the person, coiled and dormant snake at base of trunk.  Uncoils through cakras to crown of the head.

c.    Three channels of energy: central channel, trunk to head = vertical axis; two channels on left and right, from nostrils to base.  Kundalini awakened rises up central channel, piercing the centers