What is Yoga?
- Now begins the teaching of how everything comes together
- It’s all about the ability to focus steadily on one thing without any distractions
- Then that thing appears for what it truly is
- Instead of what you want to make it out to be
Activities of the Mind
- There are five activities through which you relate to the world around you – each can support or obstruct you
- They are:
- correct understanding (based on what is before you)
- misunderstanding (based on what you think is before you)
- imagination (based on what you think with little regard to what is actually there),
- deep (dreamless) sleep
- memory (recalling what was once before you)
- Correct understanding is based on:
- what the senses report directly to you
- mental processes which you use to make sense of what the senses report
- what other (trustworthy) people (sources) tell you
Where you get your understanding is up to you – there are times when direct experience is best and there are times when asking or pausing to think are better.
- Misunderstanding is a temporary understanding that expires when it is replaced by a better understanding. You can live your entire life in a satisfying misunderstanding or you can stay open to new experiences in which cases misunderstanding may be a seed that grows into learning.
- Imagination is a mental process that sprouts from understanding and goes beyond it – it can stay imaginary and it can evolve into correct understanding – associated with reality. Imagination is a seed from which both insanity and creativity can grow.
- Deep sleep is a heaviness that overcomes the mind and brings it to rest. Heaviness is great when it helps you to sleep, it can be irritating when you are trying to focus.
- Memory is an impression left by experience – ideally it is a clear and true impression, but often it’s not. Memory is tricky because once its there – you have no way of telling where it came from – you can’t tell apart memories of understanding or imagination. Precise memory helps you move forward and build upon past experience – otherwise gaps between what you remember and what actually was, can get in your way.
- There are two things you can do to achieve steadiness and clear perception:
- Practice, practice and then practice some more
- Distance yourself from dogmatic opposites such as likes and dislikes, good and bad… this will come to you almost naturally if you practice.
- Practice should be something you can sustain consistently and over a long period of time. A teacher can help you find a correct practice.
- A practice will be effective if you can really get into, if you are passionate and eager about it.
- Such a practice will moderate cravings that lead you away from practice, it will pull you in.
Clarity & Focus
- Until eventually you will understand your true nature and will no longer get caught and distracted by it’s constant shifting and changing.
- Then when you focus on one thing – you totally get it, you will gain a new and deep perspective that goes beyond anything you’ve known before. You will feel at one with the object – so much that nothing around you distracts you.
- But even then you carry with you your memories – beware, they can arise and affect you at any time.
Faith & God
- Some people are born with the gift of clarity – they don’t need to practice for it.
- The rest of us need to have faith that this is possible – and though it may be against the odds it is possible. It takes time.
- Intense faith will propel you closer to clarity.
- Intensity of faith is different for people. It also changes over time – this change is in our nature. These variations and changes are reflected in the practice.
- If you don’t have faith – praying to God, if you are so inclined, may help.
- God is not some idealized religious symbol – it is simply that which never misunderstands, is not bound by suffering and therefore always acts based on clear & correct understanding.
- This concept of God represents something that is all knowing. Connecting with it is connecting with that knowledge.
- God is timeless – an eternal (past, present and future) source of spiritual guidance.
- Call God whatever works best for you, just make sure that you can relate to it with respect.
- When you do find this timeless, spiritual quality – try to connect with it as often as possible – spend time in its presence.
- This will be your practice, and eventually you will find clarity.
- You may encounter 9 distracting interruptions on your path to clarity: sickness, lethargy (“stuckness”), doubt, careless action, fatigue, overindulgence, delusions, low motivation and regression.
- You can tell that you have been interrupted if you experience any of these symptoms: disturbed thoughts, negative thoughts, disturbed body (can’t find ease and comfort), and difficult & unsteady breathing.
- Practice one thing, just one thing that supports you, practice it regularly.
- Practice calming social attitudes(instead of disturbing ones):
- Be happy (instead of envious) when you encounter happiness in others.
- Be compassionate (instead of gloating) when you encounter unhappiness in others
- Be joyful (instead of critical) when you encounter virtue in others.
- Be calm (instead of angered) when you encounter evil in others.
- Practice breathing with an emphasis on holding the breath and long exhalations.
- Inquire about the senses. They are your window to the world – control them so that they don’t control you.
- Inquire about the nature of life. Is there a bigger picture before me – something that goes beyond me and the things occupying my mind?
- Find inspiration. When you can’t find your own way, try to be in the presence of someone who has. Sometimes, just thinking of such an individual can help.
- Rest in sleep. Inquire into dreams that may occupy your sleep
- Meditate on something that shimmers for you – something you care about.
- Infinity is revealed when clarity is attained – your will have mastery over the infinitesimally small and infinitely vast – everything will submit to your will.
- When there are no distractions, your mind can focus completely on one thing. Then gradually, as you sustain this thing in your mind you become totally immersed in it. Your mind becomes like a clear diamond – filled with nothing but reflections of this one thing. This is a gradual process – it doesn’t happen all at once.
- At first, your perception is clouded with echoes of past experiences. Their reflections mix together with the reflections of whatever it is you are trying to hold in your mind.
- As you sustain your focus, your past experiences will settle down and the mind will become clear. Then it is as if you are not there – there is only clear perception.
- This kind of perception can be achieved with anything you choose – gross or subtle.
- There is only one thing the mind cannot comprehend – and that is the source of perception. That is the one place the mind cannot go.
- Whatever you choose to focus on – that will be the seed – the starting point for this process of evolving perception. You have to have an object that interests you for this to happen. Your interest in it will help you get over any initial distractions you may encounter. Without interest you will not get past them.
- When you have experienced such total immersion and pure perception you will experience not only the object of your perception but yourself as well.
- Now your experience of knowledge is the absolute truth.
- It will be a spontaneous and immediate knowledge. This knowledge is different from anything you have been told or anything your reasoning may have uncovered.
- As you practice this kind of immediate and direct perception – it will become a natural experience. It will keep you from reverting to your old habits. It is like a one way train – once you get on, there’s no getting off or turning back.
- Eventually the mind reaches a state where there are no more distractions. It remains open, clear and transparent.