Tuesday, October 1, 2013

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 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 difference. Repetition is not the same but rather a 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 own unfolding. As the movie 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 always -even if arduously-- interact with "yourself." There are parts of the movie you don't like and you try to "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, sometimes we're too "absorbed" by our own role in the movie) or (b) we choose to possibly change aspects of our own story as it unfolds.  

3. Attachment is as difficult as it is obvious. We are always amidst a rajasic 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 -and briefly- 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, 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 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?