Friday, February 22, 2013

Fall in yoga: yoga bhrashta and what the saints say

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I keep warning students not to take any pose for granted. Everything must be propitiated, treated with respect. For me, a pose is a very live being. Like an animal or living thing that senses your thoughts, the pose too reacts to this. Often, those who do something to impress others, don't learn the pose completely. Others have all sorts of reasons to do a pose: impress their partners, to look good or whatever. For me, a pose is a spiritual thing. I dislike rituals, but a pose is the best replacement for this. It is an act of worship, it is a platform cleansed, for that Tao mind. so, unless that cleansing happens, often a pose could leave your body, even after you learnt it right. I see this often, when people who have learnt the basic headstand can fall down! 

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But the yoga of the mind, beyond the poses, can be even more difficult. Think of that, when something solid and sensate like your body over which u believe u have control (do u?:) can let u down, how much more tricky that vague, amorphous thing which is your mind. 

Here are some thought on this topic: 

How tough it is: 

"This path is difficult to tread. No one can walk it easily. It is like a terrifying, difficult-to-traverse forest that has many snakes, creeping creatures, and pits, as well as numerous thorns but no water. Or it is like a forest without edibles, or with its soil burned after a forest fire, or like a path abounding in robbers which only strong men can traverse safely". This dire description of yogic hurdles of the mind is by Sage Bhishma, in the Indian legend of Mahabharata.

What can cause this fall?

Sage Patanjali, in his compact yogic treatise famously known as the Yoga Sutras, lists the nine obstacles in yogic path: disease, inertia (tamas or lethargy), doubt, heedlessness, laziness, indiscipline of the senses, wrong views, lack of perseverance and backsliding. 

Similarly Buddhism, which has a lot of concurrence with yoga and veers towards rigorous mental austerity,  includes two other hurdles: `craving for satisfaction at levels of pure forms' and `craving for satisfaction at formless levels'. 

(My words: that is why I do not like to discuss spiritual goals or experiences with my students, like the kundalini rising or some secret achievement they feel they have reached): 

No one is immune: 

"Finding even the knower leans towards objects and enjoyments, forgetfulness throws him off the guard, like an adulteress her paramour, by clouding his intellect. As moss moved from upon the face of water stands not away even for a minute, delusion (Maya) envelops even the knowing one, if he is off his guard," remarks the guru of Advaita Vedanta (non-dualism) Adi Shankaracharya in his sparkling text titled Vivekachudamani.

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