Thursday, September 22, 2016

yoga: homelessness is authenticity!

sri ramakrishna

yoga starts with the idea of alienation the division of atman/brahman (all dualities for that matter).

atman generally doesn't find itself at home. 

why is atman homeless?

that depends from how you address oneness. is yoga social, even political? according to patanjali, there's no personal emancipation without social emancipation. again, this brings up MLK's motto: "We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools."

WE are all together. is there a better way of grab the "political" monster by the horns?

marx worked out a pretty good idea of alienation (Entfremdung) from the external point of view. the marxist critique of alienation is social: alienation is separation from one's own productivity, which contributes to the perpetuation of social suffering, which validates the acceptance of the status quo as unavoidable.

yoga on the other hand, makes alienation a basic status of existence.

alienation is now existential: suffering is essential to existence. if for marx, entfremdung points to a lack of balance: what belongs together is now separated, but this something is material, i.e., a yogi may counter that someone could be rich and live in suffering, someone could be poor and live a full life.

the effort of yoga can be described as an inward movement leading to enstasis (rather than one leading to ecstasis).

yoga presents this constant existential tension between purusha (self) and pakriti (matter). perhaps now we can understand jiva as a state of purusha bonded to pakriti through the glue of desire

the end of this bondage is the way, the long way of self-discipline moksha.

ontologically speaking, having a body means being bonded by suffering.  this is not that far from leibniz's compact masterpiece (#62 of the monadology)
although each created monad represents the whole universe, it represents more distinctly the body that is exclusively assigned to it and from which it forms, and just as that body expresses the whole universe through the interconnection of all matter in the plenum the soul also represents the entire universe by representing its particular body.  
yoga's metaphysics resembles "string theory."

let's take the gunas, which express vibrations:

each with a specific color. as rightness (or sattvas), passion (or rajas) and darkness (or tamas).

1- the rightness of sattvas is bright and joyful; the upward movement of things, belonging, bliss, etc. 2- rajas address the dynamic force in things, the restlessness within reality, the dialectic movement (from thesis, antithesis and synthesis), longing, dissatisfaction, pain. 3- tamas is the dark force, the anomic, passive, opaque aspect of reality.

doesn't this illumine our  previous discussion of punyas  and papas ?*

"reality" is determined by the dominance of one or the other of these qualities. however nothing is ever fixed, there are always inside/outside dynamics taking place. basically, being alienated means being outside the realm of the ONE (buddhi). 

what's the ONE? a plenitude within oneself, a totality of our emotional and intellectual possibilities, which we feel and obtain, but only in brief, evanescent moments.

if the release from moksha was strictly personal, then yoga wouldn't be political.

but let's problematize politics a bit: the received idea is that politics is too concerned with power (top-to-bottom normativity) instead of bottom-up (emergence). from the POV of the thing, processes starts where they start, i.e., the bottom.

how can we make societies and associations to change the status quo?

buddhi, the ONE, appears empirically in the suffering of the world, in the pain produced by the conflict between the opposites. he/she who identifies with ONE (God) does not seek to escape from the suffering of the world's conflicts, but rather gives up one's ego in a union with the ONE (God). the only way to conquer suffering is surrendering the ego, not the ideal.

what about social injustice? do we surrender to history's own karma? (food for thought).


the path: there are 8 stages of spiritual ascent.
the practice.

in yoga's sūtras, patanjali describes the practice of yoga as abhyāsa, which literally means repetition. rightness is a repetitive activity.

of course repetition becomes a ritual. all ritual is repetition. 

yoga is a ritual of repetitions.

yama (restraint): one is taken to a variety of stimuli, attractions and repulsions. if one abandons inner control, if one cannot resist the stimuli of opposites, one succumbs. yama indicates the charioteer who is in charge. in freudian terms, think of the conquering of the darkest forces of one's unconscious mind.

ahimsa: is the moral principle of yoga.

satya: veracity, which is more than truthfulness. it means a commitment to what is genuine, virtuous and honest. it takes the conscious understanding of reality.

in our alienated condition we are responsible for our egos as we are for any object of consciousness. example. "i feel pain," but what exactly? now i'm one with the pain. there is no distance between me and my pain. neither absent nor unconscious, the pain is part of that distance-less existence of positional consciousness for itself. this is ok, but there is more: what happens when i make my pain conscious? now i put distance between me and my pain, and as a result my pain is now transformed.

asteya (not taking what is not ours) take it as a form of socio-political order. in positive terms it means giving others what is due to them. it's a fight for equality  (not even you is your belonging?). 

aparigraha (non covetousness) not grasping after things, close to the apatheia of the stoics (ataraxia of the epicureans). developing the intuition of "when it's too much."

niyama: spiritual discipline with a second group of five principles:

1. asana: posture, it's the spiritual control over the body or the corporal control over the spiritual. Asana eases tensions and helps the spiritual project.

2. pranayama: controlled breathing.

Pratyahara: abstraction of the senses.

3. dharana: fixation on a single object as a phase of psychic activity aimed at absolute unity.

4. dhyana: sustained attention: In Buddhism jhana (Chinese, ch'an, Japanese, zen). It means the clear mind, absorbed into the object so that it does not advert to its former modifications. How long can one stay in this "concentrated" state?

5. samadhi: the superior state of consciousness. The object appears in its pure radiant form.

*actions that bear positive results and elevate a person are called punya. actions that lead to a negative fruit and degrade a person are called papa. imagine, for example, a person who wins a lottery must have had a lot of punya accumulated due to many past positive actions. a person murdered must be experiencing the accumulated effects of past papa.