how to study the yoga sutras of patanjali

Contemplation_by_Lizzie_Bitty

It is so ingrained in our education and training that to ‘study’ a text means to discuss it, which means intellectually. It took me years to realize that there is something besides thoughts. Now I find I am often at a loss how to convey to someone that the words of the ancient texts are not to be taken in only  intellectually, and there is a subtle energy transmission that happens when we ‘tune in’ to the frequency of the ancient transmission. Intellectual understanding if an important part of that tuning in, but if one does not go further and venture into the unknown (beyond the intellect) the yeast is missing in the cake mixture and the cake will be flat. Continue reading

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Connection To Silence

I met my teacher in 1979. I was living in Germany at the time and was taking a yoga class at the local Red Cross Family Center. The instructor, Roswitha, was a student of a man from India, Sri S. Rajagopalan. She invited Rajo, as he was called, to our town for a weekend seminar. I signed up for the weekend and arrived early Saturday morning to meet Rajo in the dressing room, preparing for the seminar. The moment I saw him I felt he was my brother, because he was so familiar. In short, I fell in love with yoga as Rajo presented it to us and became close friends with him. I worked with him for over 20 years and eventually taught his style of yoga for many years in Germany, as well as in other parts of the world. When asked by my students what kind of yoga I teach, I tell them that I teach  a form of yoga that allows me to access an experience of silence as the underlying substratum of existence. Continue reading

Attuning the Body-Mind

Buddha-simple-drawing

Attuning the Body-Mind Instrument

I experience a deep satisfaction in being present with the forms that surround me. This morning there was a kind of story-line in my mind from the last dream sequence before I awoke that is a kind of mental space. In that state it is a welcome relief to bring my focus of attention to my body, which is the form that my awareness is closest to. My body is an instrument for experience, and thus, my experience can be fuzzy and disjointed or focused and coherent. Continue reading

Godhead and I

Go With The Flow Sunita Anand

Go With The Flow
Sunita Anand

“The invitation is always to stop – to stop the projections, internally and externally, to stop what you imagine other people are projecting. You stop it all. It’s a hall of mirrors and it gets scary when it’s believed in. But when you stop, and you’re very still, there’s nothing happening.” Gangaji

Godhead: from Middle English godhede, “godhood”, and unrelated to the modern word “head” source

This term “godhood” points to what I often call the creative Force or First Principle energy, capitalized to signify the highest conceivable force or principle. Continue reading

vajra – the diamond state

RedGoldVajra

The Sanskrit word “vajra” entered into my consciousness a few days ago accompanied by a vision of a male figure sitting cross-legged inside a diamond-shaped geometric structure standing on end in space. The energy quality of the vision and of the structure with the man inside correspond with the character of the Vajra described below.

“Vajra is a Sanskrit word meaning both thunderbolt and diamond. Additionally, it is a weapon which is used as a ritual object to symbolize both the properties of a diamond (indestructibility) and a thunderbolt (irresistible force).”

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vajra)

This next short excerpt from a Buddhist text gives me the outline for my Vajra practice.

“The first yoga is called one-pointedness. One realizes that to remain calm, relaxed and aware of mind’s true, void nature is the one medicine which cures all mental ills. While cultivating experiences of bliss, non-thought and crystal clarity, one continuously lengthens the time that can be spent in deep meditation. The effects of the latter become more and more widespread, changing the quality of waking life and dreams.”

(Excerpt from “Mahadzog – The Great Perfection and the Great Seal” Part 2 – establishing enlightenment www.khenpo.eu/mahadzog.pdf )

The task is then to cultivate experiences of bliss, non-thought and crystal clarity and thus continuously lengthening the time that one can spend in deep meditation.

I see now that there is nothing else to do beyond cultivating experiences of bliss, non-thought and crystal clarity. I recognize that the state of Vajra, the energy state of diamond – thunderbolt, is a key for me. It attunes me to bliss. I see that bliss is the state of taking my stance from a position free of all residue of the past, of the conditioned mind flow. These experiences of bliss are born of the non-thought experience which in turn allows crystal clarity to arise. These three qualities of experiences are like three facets of a gemstone: all three belong together. I see how they are equated to sat-chit-ananda. Sat (absolute beingness) is the state of non-thought, chit (absolute consciousness) is the crystal clarity, and finally, ananda is absolute bliss. These three are existential imperatives that I am called to attune myself to in my waking hours like a radio set tuning into a certain frequency.

yoga – explosion of existential authenticity – seventh exploration

 

Beach Cave Where I Spend Time in Contemplation

Beach Cave Where I Spend Time in Contemplation

When the objects of the mind no longer hold attraction one explodes from the center into existential authenticity. This authenticity is new and fresh moment to moment. It is spontaneous seeing and doing without separation or lag.

One is drawn to the emptiness in the break between thoughts, between breaths. As one remains there longer and longer the emptiness increases. It becomes the only thing that one desires and it holds one’s attention, like a beloved, even in the midst of all other movements. Continue reading

yoga – steady state of mind – sixth exploration

This post is an excerpt of the text on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: “The Authentic Yoga” by P.Y. Deshpande, in which he gives an excellent overview from Sutra 4 to Sutra 44. This concise exposition of most of Part I of the Yoga Sutras will require some contemplation on the part of those readers who are not already familiar with the terminology and logic of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, thus it is not a “quick read”, but rather a resource for the earnest student of this path.
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yoga – a movement of discontinuity – fifth exploration

Calm

Yoga Sutras

I.2 yogas chitta-vrtti-nirodhah

My comment:

All that we perceive in the phenomenal world appears to be in a movement of continuity. One thing begets another as also one thought begets another. All phenomena appear to be part of a net of occurrences that are intricately conjoined and co-dependent. As small children when we reach the age where we are able to be self-conscious and look at our situation, we appear to be embedded within this net as an integral part of it. It is as if we are born onto a fast-turning merry-go-round that is not always so merry. When on the merry-go-round it is very difficult to see what is happening because we ourselves, as our center of phenomenal perception, are moving just as fast as the phenomena around us. Thus everything seems to be a spinning blur. Continue reading

Posture and Asana in Zen and Yoga

At the bottom of this article you will find the Posture chapter of Shunryu Suzuki’s book Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind and also the YouTube with Peter Coyote reading this chapter.

This short chapter is remarkable in several respects. Superficially it seems that he is describing the recommended zazen posture for the body. Looking more deeply at several statements in this talk, however, I realize that he is presenting us with non-linear Zen thoughts. Many statements impact me as wake up calls, directing me to leave my conventional thought patterns. This short talk is very rich and deep in its potential to show me the multiple levels that his communication contains. Here are some of my reflections on his statements from this point of view.
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Some Thoughts on Teaching Yoga

This is a message to anyone who might feel called upon to step forward as a teacher of yoga. Looking back at my various wonderful teachers over the years, whether Sri S. Rajagopalan in yoga, or Chungliang Al Huang in tai ji and also teachers from my school and college days there is one thing that stays with me till today: who they are. In other words, those who brought themselves into the learning situation with their whole perfect/imperfect living being are the ones who imparted something of value to me for my life. Others merely imparted some more or less good ideas or techniques that served to entertain me for a while during which I continued my never-ending search for the Essential Point.
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