As we have seen Practice and Non attachments are the two pillars on which the sadhana is established and through which we can eventually still the mind and therefore elevate ourselves in a state of pure consciousness. Different Traditions (see The Importance of Tradition) across the history of humankind have been discovered, elaborated and passed on to help seekers to reach this state. Many names have been given to techniques and teachings, alike different rivers going into the same sea. Some of them unfortunately dried out and we can see only the traces of their beds; others flooded destroying their levees and instead of being helpful to irrigate the lands became impossible to control and forced entire populations to start a new life somewhere else. Yoga is one of the six ortodox system on Indian spiritual Tradition and luckily for us it’s corpus is still very vivid and fertile nowaday.
What has changed in more than 2500 years is our capacity of understanding, learning and applying these immense heritage that has been tramandated to us in all this time.
The second chapter of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is entirely dedicated to the practice. It is a manual, with the instructions to achieve the needed results and it starts listing the three components of Kriya-yoga, the path of action. Patanjali is not indulging in philosophical o descriptive attitude; he is telling us what to do, period. The first component is Tapah, austerity, self discipline; the second is Svadhyaya or study of the self and of the Scriptures and the last one is Isvara pranidhana, submission to God: tapah-svadhyayesvara-pranidhanani kriya-yogah.
Here we need to step back to what we’ve been approaching in the article The importance of Tradition about the idea of God.
We find the assumption of God already in the first chapter, the Samadhi Pada, and now, again, we need to face an idea,a concept of something that is most far and I might say most unseemly in our materialistic society:
we need to accept our intellectual limitations and slide into the metaphysical field of Faith.
Through the practice of Kriya yoga we can weaken and take control over the afflictions that are the impediment to the state of samadhi. They are nescience or ignorance (avidya), ego (asmita), desire (raga) , aversion (avesa) and clinging to life (abhinivesah). Five, again…
Ignorance is the soil, the bed, on which all the other seeds of affliction can germinate; it represents the lock that keeps us chained to the cave, the bond through which our pure, eternal and limitless self, gets mistaken with the impure, non-eternal and limited.
‘Avidya is the divine illusion,a kind of vail, a morphic dose, a defect of psychic vision’ (Swami Satyananda Saraswati). it is what make us mistake a rope for a snake and identify ourselves with the ego and with all the consequences that we go through due to this.
Consequences that we have to face, now or in another time (kleshamulah karmasayo drstadrstajanmavedaniyah), no matter what!
This sutra (II.12) is one of the most important: Patanjali introduces the concept of karma. And reincarnation. It is clear that if we still have doubt in metaphysical layer of existence it will be hard to believe that we will pay the consequences of our actions in another moment, in another life. We need to see the picture on a larger scale, to step backwards, to create space between what we see and us.
Only if we start to consider things starting from the principles, indeed from the absolute, then we can put all the pieces together and find a reason, a justification for all the aspects of life.
It’s constant, everywhere, the reminding to principles and from principles to find reasons, explanations. Without this vertical tension we can’t go anywhere, we can’t ‘do’ anything.
‘Man has a will in everything; and each thing has a will in Man. The interchange goes on uninterrupted. But a woefully bad accountant is the failing memory of Man. Not so the faultless memory of Time which keeps a most exact account of Man’s relations with his fellow-men and all the other beings in the Universe, and forces him to settle his accounts each twinkling of an eye, life after life and death after death.’
Mikhail Naimy The book of Mirdad
As we are we do things meccanichally; due to our attitude we can be more instinctive, more emotional or more intellectual but still everything will ‘happen’ accordingly to certain patterns that we’ve been creating through our whole live. That is the personality, our structured ego. And these patterns are actually what we can call Karma: the rise and the fall of our thoughts, reactions and behaviours accordingly to a standardised mechanical response that goes on and on.
We need to get deep into this.
To be continued…