Friday, November 18, 2011

Yoga Sutras - Part 3

This blog post comes AFTER class #3 instead beforehand. In our first two classes, we've moved slowly in relation to the stanzas or sutras themselves. But I warned the class that I had no agenda and would move about as our interests guided us and that's the way it's been. It's been more fun for me and more engaging for everyone. The very vibration of these sutras - no less a scripture - inspires in one who seeks their treasure with reverence, a wisdom beyond one's years! So let us continue.....

In the first two classes (out of only 4), we had proceeded only about 5 sutras into book 1 (Samadhi Pada), out of 4 books. We've all agreed that the material is very deep, for each sutra opens like a picture window onto a panorama at at once diverse, colorful and expansive. So in class 3 this week, we began with stanzas 6 through 11 in which Patanjali talks about the most elemental "vrittis" or "modifications" in consciousness. As is typical with the sutras, Patanjali is clinically austere.

The five modifications (or vrittis) he says that our consciousness creates in contact with the qualities of nature are as follows: we either perceive what is true, or we mistake the false for the real, or we live in the unreality of our own thoughts and words (unrelated to any reality other than our own), or we experience the voidness of sleep (and other similar states), or memory brings to our mind recollected objects.

In the state of mind that perceives that which is true, we find three levels: lowest is that knowledge which comes from sensory or experiential evidence; next is that which comes through logical inference, and finally comes the highest form, or intuition (direct perception). The first two are easily understood but in our culture, intuition is greatly misunderstood and mistrusted.

We all rely on hunches and the combination of memory and insight to give us answers, often under difficult circumstances. The process of creativity is nothing less than intuition. The process of creativity has been widely studied and has found that inspirations and ideas come from a "place" that goes beyond logic and typically requires that one suspend ratiocination for a time. Sometimes that means going for walk; taking a shower; "sleeping on it" and the like. When thinking "aloud" so to speak, we often look up, or up and off to the side, as if, like a computer, we are searching for a file on some invisible hard disk. Sometimes the response is "file not found" but often in that "pause that refreshes" and which clears the grinding activity of the  conscious mind, the super-mind ("superconsciousness" or "sixth sense") drops an answer into the lap of the intellect. It is correct to say that "I had an idea" but our language fails to admit that the conscious thinking mind didn't produce the idea. It simply appeared by a process that is stimulated by our concentration upon the need for an answer and upon our knowledge and commitment to the subject matter, but otherwise appears as if a gift from a power that is beyond our conscious control. In ancient times this gift of creative ability was said to be the gift of the Muse(es), mythical goddess(es).

In modern history when artistry left behind the almost exclusive realm of serving religious artistry and the sense of individual self-hood began to appear more commonly, creativity was ascribed to the ego and to the subconscious mind. Not surprisingly the cultural image of the artist as slightly mad and dependent upon the need for opiates (of one form or another) to fuel one's creativity came into being.

Yogananda described intuition as "the soul's power of knowing God." But God is truth in any form, from the location of your car keys to the theory of Relativity. Yogananda called this realm of the mind the "superconscious mind." It is unitive in nature and beyond the boundaries of time and space. It manifests in an infinity of resourceful ways in human life but includes such proven and dramatic powers as telepathy.

In this class I was able to draw upon some of the interesting material from the lecture notes from Yogananda's class series on the Yoga Sutras. For example, he told his audiences that to take stock of another person's character (when necessity demands it), concentrate in your own heart center until you are very calm and then visualize the eyes of the person and "watch" for what feelings arise in the heart. Of course you should first beware of any superficial attraction or dislike and make sure those reactions are not creating filters. As he put it: to take a picture you must hold the camera very still!

Patanjali in stanza 12 speaks strong of the need for non-attachment. After speaking on the need for non-attachment, on how to be impartial in the face of criticism, and the need to rise above being too personal, he describes non-attachment not as denial (as it is usual thought of), but, rather, as sharing what one has while not thinking that it is yours! What a wonderful, positive, and expansive way to think about non-attachment.

On the subject of material desires Yogananda counsels us to beware of denying the power of temptation lest it overpower you by your very denial. He says "of course temptation is made pleasurable! Why deny it? But it comes at a cost. Learn to live without and not depend upon anything for your happiness."

Now we get into some heavy material. Thus far, Patanjali's progression in book one begins with stating that Oneness ("yoga") is achieved when the mind is freed of the delusive power of the vrittis. In the stanzas described above he describes those vrittis and how they are stilled by non-attachment, practice, and devotion. Now he comes to stanzas 17 through 20 which describe the stages of "samadhi" or true knowledge born of deep meditative concentration and born of superconsciousness transcendent of ego and body awareness.

In Yogananda's commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita he digresses to bring together the "Gita" and the Yoga Sutras. He explains that Patanjali was describing an extended ladder of states under the term "samadhi." In his own teachings, Yogananda limited the use of that term to the two highest states (known as "sabikalpa" and "nirbikalpa" samadhi). But here, in interpreting the yoga sutras, Yogananda follows the thread of Patanjali's analysis and explains Patanjali's terminology under the heading of "samadhi."

The terms "samprajnata" and "asamprajnata," he explains, go together but have a lower octave of meaning and a higher octave or set of meanings and experience. Furthermore, within samprajnata (on both the lower and higher levels) there are four sub-levels. For those four sub-levels Patanjali uses the terms savitarka, savichara, sananda, and sasmita. In the first octave of samprajnata samadhi, savitarka refers to intuition that is mixed with inner dialogue that questions, reasons, and doubts the nature and meaning of the experience that is taking place. It has a particular relationship to the coccyx center (the muladhara chakra) at the base of the astral spine. (Now I warned you this was going to get heavy.) For example, in meditation you might hear the characteristic astral sound of the bumble bee but in savitarka state you are unsure whether that's the sound you are hearing; you doubt, you question, and you try to reason your way through the inner experience that you are having.

The next stage is more upbeat. In the savichara state of meditation, intuition is still mixed with inner dialogue of reasoning and pondering but we are clearer and surer of our inner perceptions. This is associated with the sacral (swadisthana chakra) center, one and a half inches above the base of the spine (opposite the sex organs). Sananda is the next state which happens when those perceptions resolve into their deeper essence of joy!

The example I gave in class goes like this: you see a rose. Looking at it, you wonder to yourself: Is that a rose, or is it a poppy or daisy? You are unsure of yourself. In savichara you conclude (rightly) that it is indeed a rose. That conclusion makes you happy. Focusing on the happiness you now feel, you forget the rose and notice and enjoy the happiness. This is sananda. In the fourth stage, called sasmita, the joy recedes somewhat in favor of pure self-awareness. The joy doesn't disappear entirely but the feeling of pure Self-awareness dominates the experience.

If you are following the progression of chakras you will have concluded on your own that sananda relates to the manipur (navel) chakra and sasmita to the heart center. These first four are the product of the awakening of that stage of Patanjali's famous 8-Fold Path (not introduced by him, however, until Book 2, Verse 29) known as dharana: concentration. This is the stage where the meditator can hold in steady focus the perception of such inner sounds (of the chakras) and other astral manifestations described in raja yoga. In the stage of dharana (see my prior blog articles on each of the stages of the 8-Fold Path), the awareness of "I" as the perceiver remains. "I am feeling joy." "I am feeling peace." "I am seeing the inner light of the spiritual eye." And so on.

When samprajnata and asamprajnata achieve their higher octave, they are synonymous with the stages of samadhi described with the terms "sabikalpa" and "nirbikalpa" samadhi. The four stages samprajnata are described now seen as preliminary steps towards nirbikalpa samadhi -- a state of cosmic consciousness from which the soul returns into so-called ordinary or ego consciousness. By progressive flights into cosmic consciousness the soul eventually retains contact with transcendence even upon returning to wakeful consciousness. That state is then nirbikalpa samadhi.

Getting back to the four stages of samprajnata that are the initial forays leading to nirbikalpa samadhi, we find that savitarka is no longer the doubting mind but is filled with reverence and wonderment at what it is experiencing. In savichara the soul perceives the very nature of God, while in Sananda the soul experiences pure bliss. Finally in sasmita the expanded Self feel its identity in every atom of space as though creation were its own body. It is a state of perfect calmness in which the soul is like a grand mirror in which all creation is reflected! (Whew! Imagine....well, yes that's an excellent meditation exercise.)

Yogananda then takes a fun little detour to explain that the chakras produce these sounds in the same way that if you walk up to the projection booth of the theatre you will hear the electric light making a buzzing noise as it throws its light rays onto the screen below. The prana which enters the astral body and then down the spine and out the doorways of the chakras is like a subtle and intelligent form of electricity. It therefore hums like electricity. Yogananda says the coccyx center (muladhara) produces an astral and electrical current that makes the bumble bee sound but whose purpose is to solidify the life force current (known as "prana") into atoms. It is known as the "earth current." In doing so it produces the power of smell.

The next chakra, the water element of swadisthan, makes a flute-like sound and produces the sense of taste. The navel chakra (manipura) is the fire element wherein prana glows with heat and light, producing harp like sounds and the sense of sight. At the heart (anahat) chakra, the current combines life force and oxygen producing the bell or gong like sound and the sense of touch. At the throat center (visuddha), the vibration current is very subtle. Yogananda says that this current maintains the etheric background in the body "timing it to all spatial vibrations." Space, he says, is a vibration upon which all objects are projected and can appear to be separate and three dimensional. The etheric current produces the sense of hearing and the sound of distant waterfall or ocean rumblings. Finally, the sixth chakra is the dynamo (or holding vessel or battery) of consciousness and life force as it continuously recharges with life current and intelligence the sub-dynamos of the lower five chakras. It's sound is the symphony or source of the other sounds. It is the sound the AUM, the sound of a might ocean or thunder.

For reasons that are unclear and upon which Yogananda made no comment, stanzas 42-44 make another attempt to further define samprajnata samadhi. This time it's as if there are only two stages, not four, of samprajnata. With respect to what he calls "objects" savitarka samadhi is when we achieve knowledge that includes simultaneous awareness of sound and meaning whereas nirvitarka samadhi (samadhi without question) is attained when only the object remains and no trace memory of sound, meaning or knowledge remains! When the objects are subtle (meaning the inner powers of the chakras which have the capacity and intelligence to produce the five senses), the same two stages are called savichara and nirvichara!

There is a higher level of consciousness into which all the stages of samprajnata evolves (whether in its lower octave or higher). This level is called asamprajnata. In its lower octave, asamprajnata is when we move from the stage of dharana (described earlier) into the 7 stage of the 8-Fold Path, known as dhyana (absorption). Here we are in superconsciousness: knowing, knower, known are One. There is no flicker of interruption of consciousness. In its higher octave, asamprajnata samadhi is, as I understand it, the equivalent of nirbilkapa samadhi: the final and highest stage of transcendence, or Oneness.

On that one note, I think I shall end with a sigh of relief!


Nayaswami Hriman.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Jesus Christ declares war on Zombies

“Let the dead bury the dead,” Jesus Christ says in the New Testament. So, there, you see: Jesus DOES believe in zombies!

In fact, we are surrounded by zombies. That’s what the craze in zombie movies is trying to tell us. The living dead are all around us. But who, where, how?

Seven billion people now share this earth, we are told. Most people sleep walk, going about their daily tasks with minds preoccupied with petty details, thoughts of the past, daydreams, anxieties, fears, being in love and all the thoughts and mechanical actions we are prone to.

Though we are awake (relative to our sleep state at night) during day, we are only relatively conscious. Think of some stereotype: I think of the proverbial “red-neck” personality. I can’t possibly define the term but let me say that someone who is a white racist, uneducated, uncouth in personal habits, uncreative, and living more or less just a tad above the level of an animal. Perhaps such a one never has an abstract thought in his life. If there is a such a person, and popular stereotypes suggest we are invested in their being a reality, surely this would be an example of a zombie living amongst us. Unreflective, lacking in self-awareness, humorless (unless at the expense of others), cruel and pig-like in personal habits.

This description, I grant you, is a bit extreme. But even mild-mannered people can live day to day, moment to moment, with very little self-awareness, even if they offend no one. Think of how much time is spent gossiping, judging, decrying this or that piece of news, shopping aimlessly, almost hypnotically, roaming the internet, Face book, reading trashy novels, playing video games, watching television, cartoon, soaps, reality shows and on and on and on.

So, yes, you see what I mean: the world IS filled with zombies! This is how an entire nation of otherwise good or at least so-called “normal” people, can embrace or accept the misdeeds of their leaders, even on a grand scale such as Nazi Germany, Rwanda, and countless other examples. This would include the grand misdeeds of large corporations.
The consciousness of our planet is like a silk worm struggling to break out of its cocoon to become a butterfly and fly away. Millions have awakened to feel a connection with the global reality in which we live. They have awakened with sympathy and understanding and harboring hope for a better world. They desire an end to war, plagues, injustice and exploitation.

Whether their hopes are justified or will ever be realized isn’t even my real point. It’s the consciousness that such a hope and desire even exists that is revolutionary. We really do have in front of us a war with the zombies. But even zombies have leaders, intellectuals, and captains and lieutenants whose embrace of their fear and greed based tribalism is creative, willful, even courageous, and, in its own way, conscious.

Thus, as it must needs be to keep this world going round, good and evil vie forever for the upper hand. It’s not a new war but takes new forms in every generation and in every age. In our age we could call it tribalism versus universality. It is the conflict between the seeming differences in outer appearance versus the recognition of an underlying unity.

In a dynamic and conscious way, it began with the American revolution and the Age of Enlightenment. At this time, the concept of being an individual began the cultural breakdown of self-identity that was tribal (national, etc.). As the generations moved along we’ve had struggles for racial and gender equality, religious freedom, economic freedom and so many other similar struggles. The famous post-World War II Nuremburg trials highlighted the issue of personal responsibility for one’s actions and the moral limits of authority and obedience.

This war of the zombies could also be described as a conflict between competition and cooperation; domination and equality; conquest and harmony.

It is important that we have realistic goals in life, lest we fail and consequently fall into disillusionment or bitterness. From the macrocosmic view of the God’s eye, it is wise to understand that these battles never end but are necessarily relative victories and relative defeats. But not to struggle to wake up from being a zombie is the duty imposed or offered to us by our own higher awareness.

On a microcosmic level we struggle day to day from falling into subconscious or addictive habits whose enticement and pleasure is but short-lived and, long-term, ultimately destructive of our health and happiness. That piece of cake invites another. That doughnut invites repeating; that cigarette invites a pack or a carton. Gossip attracts more gossip. And so on.

The war of the zombies is, therefore, more real than we might know. Rather than “fight” anyone, however, the secret is to wake ourselves up. The more awake and strong we are in the realization that we are part of a greater reality, the better and more lasting an effect we have on the zombie within us and the zombies around us. You can never kill them all, don’t you see? We need only to avoid being one ourselves. That’s the drama of this play we call life.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Why Me? Reflections of mortality and Kriya Yoga

Why Me?
Who has not wondered “Why me” when destiny casts a shadow across the path of one’s life? Even without the extremes of human suffering and tragedy, there are the disappointments, heartbreaks, and disillusionments experienced by most people.

After whatever initial response is required in the moment, the first question too often asked is “Why?” Ironically, it’s the most difficult question to answer with any certainty. Even if there may be a specific answer, it generally won’t come until we’ve had some psychic distance (usually in time and space).

 The “why” question can sometimes be a manifestation of the stage of denial because stopping to ponder, doubt, rail in anger and to contemplate this question paralyzes taking action and positive steps. (This isn’t always true because in the infinite variety of human circumstances and consciousness there’s virtually nothing that’s always!)

Nonetheless the hurt expressed in the question (and it is a question I hear often) postpones the inevitable and necessary stages of acceptance and redemption. As a teacher of metaphysical concepts in the lineage of raja yoga, the question of “Why has God created us (or this world, or suffering, or . . . . ) is a constant feature on the landscape of my daily life.

Paramhansa Yogananda, author of “Autobiography of a Yogi,” responded to such questions in various ways but one of those responses was “You will know when you will know.” He would counter that the more practical question is “What can do I about it?” On other occasions he would comment that when we achieve our true destiny (oneness with the “Father”), He will reveal all to us and we, like others who have gone before us, will say, “What a wonderful show — the greatest story ever told!”

An example Yogananda would give in this vein was to point out how when reading a novel, play or watching a great classic movie we might laugh and cry with comedy and tragedy, and then, leaving the theatre or putting down the book, we say: “That was a great story. I learned so much!” But, he would point out, how few of us can look at our own life with such a perspective? Are we not simply one out of billions (and billions who have ever walked this one planet, earth)? Even if every life is unique, do we not share essentially the same hopes, dreams, and tragedies, at least relative to our own frame of reference? Are not the crises of last year, last month, or yesterday, all but forgotten today? Yes, but . . . .

And so it is that the human heart, when broken, needs time to heal and time to find perspective. Yogananda once wrote that “the drama of life has for its lesson that it is simply that: a drama.”

But why do we suffer? I mean: in time, we can usually let a hurt go, cant’ we? The pain, at least, subsides, doesn’t it? If we can recover later, why not sooner? But why don’t we?

An animal may suffer but to a large and observable degree not as much as we. A child raised in a wealthy home with comforts will suffer more from a physical injury than the toughened street-wise kid or farmer’s child. Ironically, however, it may be true that the less self-aware we are the less we suffer, but suffering serves as an incentive to probe into the source of our suffering and to search for how to relieve or not repeat it. The street kid or farmer is less likely to go on in life in response to his suffering and do something about it, whether for himself or perhaps for others, or simply in a creative response to a setback, he may accomplish something worthwhile. It is an axiom of modern culture that the artist, writer, scientist, or saint is spurred to his particular form of creative genius by overcoming setbacks or tragedy early in life.

There appears to be in every form of consciousness (but let’s stick with our own, human awareness, for now) a innate impulse to avoid suffering and to seek happiness. This easily verified tendency is directional. It is relative. For one person, this aspect of human consciousness relates the sensory level of pleasure and pain, acquired through food, sex, comforts, survival, and self-defense. For others it takes the form of long-term, delayed gratification: seeking an education, to be successful in business, career, family, or health, or to achieve name and fame, respect, and money. Subtler still would be the inner drive to create beauty, to bring healing to others, to be a peacemaker, problem solver, protector or to accomplish worthwhile goals on a large(r) scale than one's own needs. The spiritual seeker or devotee epitomizes perhaps the most subtle, most elevated human striving, directionally: avoiding the pain of ignorance and delusion and seeking the joy of God.

Thus we, at last, come to my real topic: the promise of the scriptures; the promise of immortality; and the message of saints and sages in all ages. This grand creation of billions of galaxies and our own individual birth and existence is royally endowed with an impulse that goes far beyond mere survival and procreation (whose necessity and usefulness is readily admitted). It is the impulse towards greater consciousness; a dawning self-awareness; and, ultimately, the attainment of untrammeled happiness, unending existence, and knowledge that knows no bounds. In short we seek bliss, immortality, and omniscience.

[The evolutionary biologist observes the instincts of survival and procreation but cannot explain the “why?” Surely lower life forms, and, indeed, humans for that matter, don’t trouble themselves to think in terms of their genes dominating the gene pool for generations to come! To say that we seek to survive is, at its most basic level, a value judgment that exceeds the proper inquiry of science itself! The strictly rational scientist cannot truly say that it is better to survive than not to survive. He can only say that it appears, generally, to be a fact. Besides, another, equally important and unalterable fact is that we don’t survive anyway. Death comes to all beings! Seems, therefore, like plants, animals and humans are being, well, irrational!]

Who planted this seed of striving  into our bosom? Could it be the same One who has dreamed us into existence? The dogma-bound materialist must turn his back to us and walk away, but you and I are under no such compulsion. The rishis tell us that as all creation is a manifestation of consciousness (sparks of the Infinite Consciousness, the only reality that truly IS), so we partake of the intelligence, the impulse, the deeper-than-conscious knowing that perfection (bliss, immortality, omniscience) is our native land.

But like the prodigal son in the famous story told by Jesus Christ, we have long wandered in foreign lands of matter attachment. It takes the famine of unhappiness to drive us inward and towards the remembrance of how we once lived in our Father’s prosperous home. This beautiful and poignant story — so familiar and so natural to the human heart — dispels all notion of a vengeful God, ready to cast our souls into the eternal fires of hell. The corollary to this grand vision of life’s purpose must be the one fact that makes it all work: reincarnation!

Hell there certainly is, no doubt about it. We don’t need to die to experience it, either. Look around you. Genocide, suicide, depression, insanity, war, famine and plague! Look within you!  The hell of anger, addictions, compelling desires and lusts which can never be quenched and which burn us with their fevers. So, too, the hell of violence which causes unending cycles of abuse, generation after generation. There is, even, we are told, hellish astral regions where souls whose lives on earth were evil, dark or selfish sojourn until their next incarnation.

But the masters come into every age with a message of glad tidings and good news. We are not that sinful, broken, and hurting creature. We are not the body, the personality, our past, our hurts, our desires — we are a child of God. We princes who are dreaming we are paupers. We need first to desire an end to the cycle of birth, death, pleasure and pain! Then we must be blessed by an awakening in order to remember our birthright; then we must summon the will, humility, and courage to begin the journey, long or short, back to our home in God: in our own Self.

Kriya yoga has been resurrected from priestly secrecy and human indifference in response to souls crying in the wilderness and tired of sectarianism, mere beliefs, and religious rivalries. “The time for knowing God has come!” Paramhansa Yogananda declared.

Calmness, meditation, introspection, good works, devotion to the Supreme Lord, and attunement to the Guru who is sent for our salvation: these are the keys to the kingdom, to the secret garden of our own heart. Kriya yoga is an efficacious accelerator of inner awakening. The time is now!

Nayaswami Hriman

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Yoga Sutras - Part 2

This week we hold class 2 on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. My last blog article described the Yoga Sutras (“YS”) as both intimidating AND inspiring. Well, that comment is only further justified by my ongoing study. I’d like to share some key points, insights, and inspirations as they have occurred to me. As this blog format is rather truncated (neither a class nor a book), I cannot begin to pretend to share comprehensively, both for the depth of the YS which is beyond my ken and for its very content which requires more time and space.

The first thing that hits one in book 1 of the YS (“Samadhi Pada”), is the necessity and power of concentration. Like shooting a gun or cannon to take down a target (person, plane or ship, e.g.), all you need do is combine force (will) with a steady aim at only one key portion of the “body” you are attempting to obliterate, and the whole thing comes down. [Now I know some of more pacific readers just blanched, but this is Patanjali’s point: get over it. I’ll explain in a minute.] You don’t need to wrestle every inch of it, only the heart or head!
It is through the power of meditative concentration that the arrow of our attention pierces the body armor of maya (the delusive force and masking power of matter and the creation which hides “the Lord,” the Spirit who is, alone, all that Is). There is a well known sentence in Paramhansa Yogananda’s classic story, “Autobiography of a Yogi,” that I believe is inspired by a sloka in some Indian scripture that says “divine vision is center everywhere, circumference, nowhere.”

You could spend lifetimes trying to achieve realization of this key point. But for now, let me say the insightful point is you don’t have to acquire all the knowledge and wisdom of the world or to become scrupulously virtuous in thought, word, and deed to achieve freedom from this world of suffering, unceasing flux, and unending cycles of birth and death. To enter the transcendent state of Superconsciousness (and ultimately, cosmic consciousness), you need only one doorway: one “object” of concentration with which your entire being becomes One with.

I’ve heard my teacher (Swami Kriyananda, direct disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda and founder of the Ananda communities worldwide) lightly joke that you could worship a crocodile — indeed, anything. Why? Because the transcendent consciousness of Spirit is at the heart of every atom (“center everywhere”).

The second sutra (aphorism) of Patanjali is one of two most famous and most valuable: (and I paraphrase it) Suffering is transcended and Oneness with Bliss achieved by rising above identification with one’s body, matter, sense impressions, memories, fantasies, sleep (and all drug-induced states), likes, dislikes, attachments and desires. This second sutra (literally translated as “Yoga is the restraining, or calming, of the reactive process (mind-stuff) from taking various forms (vrittis)) states the concentration principle described above in negative terms. This isn’t a description of what to do. It is an explanation of what is necessary.

Because immediately thereafter, Patanjali launches into the subject of concentration. While it is true that our concentration in meditation is disrupted by our matter identifications (listed above).  And yes it is true, therefore, as Patanjali enumerates in his most famous sutra (listing the 8 stages of enlightenment) we must work on achieving right attitude and right action. And, yet (and this is the beauty and power of yoga concentration), we can combine those efforts to release the hold of maya upon our minds by the power of concentration. We do not have to fight to the death every delusion that pops up like so many assassins in a James Bond movie.

As we identify with matter, we lose touch with our true Self. It’s really that simple. By steady concentration upon any single object (in meditation), the hypnotic influence of maya dissolves and we enter a portal into Oneness.

Patanjali enumerates and defines the obstacles to Oneness and he also describes some of the stages of realization. These stages are not permanent but represent the process by which, step by step, we achieve true knowledge. First, we question, doubt or reason based on our inner perceptions. Then, we receive (intuitively) true knowledge about that which we are contemplating. From that knowledge we experience happiness or some level of satisfaction and bliss. Finally, that knowledge becomes permanently realized as our own Self.

Beyond such realization is the “seedless” realization which a state of Oneness without any process or object used or intervening. This is true transcendence. He also acknowledges that the speed with which enlightenment takes place is the result of our energetic commitment (or lack thereof).

Patanjali gives a one-liner acknowledgement that, despite his clinical analysis, Oneness can be achieved by devotion to God! (He adds no comment or explanation.)But, to be fair, he then goes on for several sutras to describe the Supreme Ruler (or Power) who is the true teacher of all rishis and gurus and whose name (and word) is AUM! Repetition and communion with the seed sound of OM is “the way.”

To remedy our shortcomings and attachments, he recommends deep concentration upon one object (OM being previously suggested). Another approach, he says, is to control the breath (pranayama, including kriya yoga). Meditating upon the inner Light (“Jyoti”), or upon a pure heart, or on the message of dreams (that all life is a dream), or upon the bliss of the dreamless state (of sleep), or “on anything that appeals to one as good!”

Wow! Dr. Patanjali, here, at your service! I make house calls. Can you imagine it? That's enough medicine for us all right now. Until next week, your own Self.

Nayaswami Hriman