Saturday, October 1, 2011

Yoga as pris de conscience!

 Elizabeth Magill, Lower Lough, 2006.

(This post should go along our reading of the Patanjali Sutras). There are a few things I want to come back to. Keep in mind that Yoga is a methodology, a HOW TO manual for spirituality. This is not a set of formulas one debates trying to find apriori reasons. It's more knowing-as-doing, doing-as-feeling.

To find out about Yoga's validity one has to try it.*

There are two ways of looking at this: You don't accept a whole model but take some of its parts, or you reinterpret the parts. Let me address some of these concepts as I see them:

 Elizabeth Magill, Parlous Land, 2006.

1. Reincarnation is repetition. Is repetition the same throughout? The idea is that (R)eality is a ground of reverberating intensity. If that ground is difference (perpetual differentiation) then repetition cannot be of the same, but only of the different, i.e, the renewal of the different. We never wake up to the same morning!

2. Purification is pris de conscience! (i.e., taking charge). As in quantum physics where the observation alters the result of the experiment, purification takes one's disturbing one's -ongoing- movie. 

 Jeff Wall, After Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, 1999.

We live at a par of our unfolding. So, as the moving-picture plays, there is a possibility to see it -AS IF- we were outside it. This position of "being-outside" as "being-inside" means that you can interact with yourself. There are parts of the movie you don't like and you change them as the movie plays. This is what the yogis call niyama.

We have two options: (a) like so many people, we just let the movie play (doing nothing), or (b) we choose to possibly changing aspects of our own story as it unfolds.  

3. Attachment is as difficult as it is obvious. We are amidst a raja vortex of forces. We're matter, only in a high state of complexity. And matter craves matter. Yet, MIND being an emergent property of matter, can sort of detach itself from matter. This is the difference between sattvas and tamas.

Elizabeth Magill, Oncoming, 2006. 

4. Attainments. Now comes the big one: What is samadhi? Liberation, a sort of riding with the wind. Finding oneself (being-one-with- ______). Of course, that is too general to make sense. What's key here is that finding of oneself presents us with a goal. Pursuing the goal is a way to do it. The journey!

We must not forget Patanjali's caveat about samadhi which is a point he shares with Nietzsche's own idea of rapture: "... the path to one's own heaven always leads through the voluptuousness of one's own hell."

This is why Patanjali is so careful about attachments. If the voyage into the horizon of the infinite fills us with a "thrill," this is because something is glimpsed in samadhi which is in excess of the human, something that is "too much." A voyage into the eye of the maelstrom: Nobody can do it for you.

5. Dhyana invites a unique question: Why not thinking about non-thinking?
*Only then, as the French say, en connaissance de cause, one can say "it's not good."  **In keeping with Buddhism's central teaching of pluralism that there are many ways to heaven, we can say that Yoga is another way.


David Perez said...

2 hours since our last class have passed and my mind has gone a million miles an hour with different ideas of what we discussed. We discussed how salvation at the end of the road is actually damnation. This made me think to myself how could salvation possibly be damnation and then it hit me. Here's some food for thought: What if where we are living right now actually IS salvation? Now I know you might say "You're crazy David, how could this be salvation? We live in a universe of horrible natural disasters that kill thousands of people, murderers, diseases, tragedy etc." But see like we said in class, Its the journey that makes it interesting. If people didn't die, if there wasn't suffering, if there wasn't obstacles to overcome what would be the point. I mean seriously, If I told you that your salvation consisted of going to a place where you could have everything you wanted without moving a finger? Sure it sounds nice but eventually this eternity would be boring.

Maybe that is why it is so difficult for us to completely rid our minds to this point of nothingness. It wanders to prevent us from this "salvation." But then again what do I know...Maya is always deceiving me.

Great lecture Triff, thank you!!! It was very enlightening!

-David Perez

Gerald said...

I think that the idea of one’s hell being their path to their heaven is simply the point of view of the person not walking that path. A warning of how difficult the journey will be from the perspective of one not ready to grasp at Samadhi. The idea of letting one’s id slip away, along with the very concept of concepts, would seem terrifying to one stationed in the first or second mind. There is a price to pay to become one with the all, and it is the sacrifice of the self. What could be good about actively becoming nothing? Why do anything if life’s accomplishments have no meaning? There is the hell, there is the nihilism, but it is illusion. The problem here is that this mindset is of the observer, one who is not on the path. These illusions no longer exist in one who achieves Samadhi. If it were easy, if one could arrive with their ego intact and boast of their great deeds, then everyone would be in the state.
For one to reach Samadhi they would have to let go of its very concept.

Anonymous said...

How could anyone discover their inner peace? I assume by letting go of the guilty pleasurees that we find to be rather innocent. When there not as innocent as we may think. For example, going clubing. See, maybe to some it isn't a problem. Even I don't see the harm in going out celebrating and having a few drinks, and dancing. No problem! But I guess it's the fact that we can't admit when we can easily be persuaded or tempted. Where is the will power to take control when you need it? Life throws it's many tricks to throw us off balance but we never seem to notice when it happens. It simply does. But then again, it always hits me on how short life is. Should I decide not to do what I want just because it may be bad for me or because I can't enjoy things without feeling like there's a limit? It still comes back to how life is strangly a constant battle of "should I live my life" or "should I make an attempt to live my life." It's strange because although a question may have many answers, life almost never has enough of them to come up with a true solution. Which makes me wonder, could anyone live peacefully knowing that even when their in control they never really are?


Lava Arms said...

When I look at eastern philosophy, I do not see philosophical ideas. I see laws that pertain to all things in our current state of existence, be them spiritual or material. It is important to understand that though this may be called a "philosophy", it is a more literal sense, an ancient science of mind, body and matter. It truly fascinates me how much Brahman and Hinduism constantly reflects upon many theories proved even by quantum physics; that our world is mostly empty space, matter simply an illusion made by photon particles, seemingly attracted together by some "unknown force" (of which even has a name, dark matter).

"There is an indefinable mysterious power that pervades everything. I feel it, though I do not see it. it is this unseen power which makes itself felt, and yet, defies all proof because it is so unlike all that I perceive through my senses; It transcends the scenses. But it is possible to reason the existence of "God" to a limited extent. " - Ghandi

Lava Arms said...

Surely, if brahman is really you, and we are brahman, then he is aware of his own suffering. But, as brahman is the true Satyagrahi, he is lacking a body, and feels not the pain of loss in mortal flesh, for he is alive in spirit, permeating through all of matter. Of course, it is sad to think that it must be alone to float around in timeless space alone with yourself forever, but this might be because you do not love yourself and could not possibly stand to be alone for ever. This is where detachment gains its virtue.

Lava Arms said...

If you find love in yourself, then Brahman will know, and the very floor on which you walk is sacred, and the very food in which you eat is sacred, for when your eyes meet a stranger, it is no stranger, but your long lost companion of whom you've been forever been floating endlessly with in time.

Anonymous said...

Can we ever find ourselves being one with something? Yes, but I do not believe it will last, as everything else; it runs its course then ceases to exist. I think we are in a constant search to be one with something, to matter to something and to then attach ourselves to it. As you mentioned in this section “matter craves matter” and if we cannot find it in our lifetime then comes re-incarnation. However, it is different due to the fact that if we come back as the same exact person we will never find what it is that we’re looking for. A never-ending cycle of meaningless repetition unless… we change what it is that we do not like. I think that would be hard though, many of us don’t realize that we can change things that we don’t like and interact with ourselves.

Also, the path to our salvation lies within us. If we make our lives a personal hell in hopes of attaining a heaven like state when we die then we are fooling ourselves. Heaven is the path or journey we take, it is the trouble and tribulations we go through, and the feeling we attain when we overcome our obstacles. We worry too much about the after life that we don’t realize that we are here now; present and able to shape shift our lives for the better or worse.

Anthony DeCollibus

Alivia Poirier said...

It seems obvious to me that the path to one's heaven must lead through one's one hell. But by also saying that we find our salvation in the journey, are we saying suffering, duka, is salvation? Could acceptance of our trapped state in the human condition allow us a certain "enlightenment"?

I've read a lot of those Intro to Buddhism kind of books, all which give you a minor tutorial in meditative techniques and buddhist philosophy and vocab, but theyre all pretty much saying "alright, the point of all this Buddha stuff is to become enlightened and reach a higher level of consciousness and be one with the universe and blah blah blah blah". that concept is pretty played out. The idea that oh, here's a checklist, do all this stuff and you'll REACH ENLIGHTENMENT and feel SUPER GREAT had to be too good to be true, i knew it... It almost seems that this concept saying "to rest in these accomplishments is no better/possibly worse than what you came from" was staring me in the face the whole time. To relish in enlightenment is to be attached and therefore not enlightened at all.. I can see how some yogis might end up throwing their arms in the air and howling in frustration at that one. So maybe non attachment to our human condition is "enlightenment" and we should continue our path of purifying the mind and body because it could just be the path that really counts.

Alex said...

I sometimes see reincarnation being represented not just a repetition of life, but also a repetition of thought patterns, and daily events. Also perhaps Déjà vu is a form of reincarnation. You seem to remember the event occuring to you to be exactly how it was sometime before. As if reliving that momement, a reincarnation of the past--or present. I very well take part of what the yogis call niyama. When I watch a film, read a book, see live performances, etc., I changed them in my head--branch out to my preferred POV--as I continue watching, or reading. Sort of a personal purification of my experience. I now believe attainment to Samadhi is really about the journey, and not the destination. At first I believed what the Yogis doctrine was to be used as a guide to reach Samadhi, and there would be more to it once you've reached it. But it was more like a rising climax, and bang, it hits you, and slowing subsides. Once you have reached this point, there's no turning back. Just an enlightened mind that was reached because of the journey, and not the destination.

Daniella de la Riva said...

When i think of the last line you posted, Triff, "We never wake up to the same morning," I think of the preface to the book Everything Matters! by Ron Currie Jr. The preface says: "We are here because we are here because we are here..." Which evokes the idea that yes, we are here and we eat, sleep, speak and so on, but that repetition is not stagnant it is ever changing, riddled with variety. The repetitive action to speech changes every time I open my mouth, the seeming mundaneness of opening my eyes in the morning is different every time I do it, because I may open the left eye before the right, one day, and vice-versa another.

I don't think repetition/reincarnation is a bad thing or a trapping I think its sort of a liberation and a comfort.

niggi stardust said...

most people in the world consider theyre own person life, not just the state of our planet, to be "hell". A repitious cycle of suckyness day after day, you go to work you , you barely get paid, you eat some shitty food, and go to bed. However, if this were true then why would should we live longer then one day? why do anything more than once? why have sex more than once? why stay up till sunrise more than once? or ride a rollercoaster or swim in the ocean? Because each experience is different , each time you see something new, their are an unlimted amount of perspectives and at any time you can change yours. People think that they are constantly in a living "hell" and therefore there must be something greater after death...salvation, but what they dont know is by changing that perspective just a bit they can make their hellish life their true salvation.

Laura Vargas said...

The idea of “riding with the wind” and making the journey be the most important path of life reminds me of the struggle I go through in the creation of a painting. When I stand next to a blank canvas and I see the tubes of paint, I feel complete terror. The possibility of failing, the fear of not exploiting the materials to its best, is completely daunting. It is the same with my life. In the same manner a painting moves along with each stroke of paint carefully placed, the journey of one’s life unfolds. Nothing is worse than not knowing the destination, the final product.
However for an artist each movement, color and brushstroke is a lesson learned. The method followed and the challenges faced are what will make the next painting a success or a failure. In this case the journey is what’s more important. The interaction of all the necessary parts made the piece come together at the end. But this end is not important. The artist does not care much for what was created, but will forever treasure the experience that lead to that creation.

Vanessa Vergara said...

Awareness and the path to reincarnation require us to see everything with brand new eyes and “lift the veil” so to speak. Once we stop looking at life as one long repetitious cycle then we’re getting somewhere. Something begins to click, and make sense to us. This purification stage takes us out of our comfort zone. We can’t get these a-ha! Moments on our own so naturally something has to illicit this reaction from us in the first place. If you’re keeping score about how many times you’ve experienced these moments of epiphany, then you’re thinking about this the wrong way. What resonates with us varies from person to person of course, but the easiest way to begin doing this is by prompting interaction and by living a more active consciousness. It’s hard, especially when we are juggling school and work along with other things. We barely have time to think, let alone contemplate concepts like this and so we give up. We are generally insatiable beings (much like matter craves other matter), so these feelings of defeat don’t last all that long. Forming a more active consciousness attunes us to the smaller details that we probably missed. Oftentimes what may initially seem insignificant can actually reveal new truths to us; all we need to do is pay attention. Shut off our inner commentary sometimes and just observe.

Zabdi_Rodriguez said...

Sometimes I sit around and ponder. "what is it like to not be able to think" .. At times its scary because it leads me to think about death. About the end of my existence and everything I know. It makes me wonder what is life really is it just my own perception. I mean the brain creates everything. It is the receptor for your thoughts, feelings and reaction to the world around you. Sometimes you need to think to realize whats going on in your life and how to change those things. Our mind learns from our thoughts and in a life time those thoughts are renewed. Its like a rebirth of thoughts and actions and they constantly evolve and age with us at the same time. Someone once told me that no matter how similar something might be it will never be the same. Everything is different no matter what it is or when it has occurred or if its similar to the past it is different in every single way.

Anonymous said...

This must be the first time in my life that I have read most of these topics. Coming from a family like mine, there isn't much open minded thought to have. A house that religion conquers all and it's a life style. Reincarnation is one thing I have never heard much about. The idea of reincarnation is still fresh to me and seems like a subtle topic. "We never wake up to the same morning!"- this caught my attention. Reincarnation means to repeat but when we repeat it won't be the same as the first time. That's what the renewal ofthe different must mean in my opinion.

I've been here pondering for the last half an hour on what I believe in when it comes to a voyage. The journey is definitely what makes the destination glorious. Im thinking back to when I first went out looking for musicians and how it took several months to find the right ones. That was a journey I will never forget, but once I found them a new journey began. The journey never ends, as long as you stive for something more. This is what I believe. We must head through hell to arrive at heaven.. that would be a very harsh thing for my parents to understand let alone even bother with.


Tim said...

I am intrigued by this idea of "attainments" that was brought up in this post. i especially like the way that it is proposed. like "riding with the wind" .its true that that is a little vague but i think that it is also a very succinct way of putting it. It reminded me of the film "American Beauty" which i know we have discussed before. There are two separate scenes, one with the character Ricky, and the other with Kevin Spaceys character. but they both basically say that they had spent their lives trying to grasp at and hold on to beauty, only to realize that the key is not to hold on but to let go and let it flow freely. at least in my mind that is the same idea of attainment of a true understanding. its also tied to the idea of "Finding oneself" because i think that all of these big spiritual epiphanies probably all happen like one after the other, or all at the same time. it always seems to me like a domino effect of self realizations.