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Lesson 248 - Culture, Samadhi and Snow (Audio)
New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the web archive, as previous lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why This Discussion?"
Also I was reading Raja Yoga by Swami Vivekananda in which he quotes Patanjali to mention many levels of Samadhi, and talks about Prakritilayas (sadhakas who don't reach the ultimate samadhi).
Can you please throw some light on the above two things.
A: Very good questions. Thank you.
I think the add-ons occur as a result of cultural factors, and humankind's propensity to create institutions. Not that these things are bad. It just takes some extra vision to separate what will make a difference in practice and what will not. That is the whole idea behind AYP -- sticking with the simplest, most powerful methods that actually do something to promote spiritual transformation in the human nervous system. It is pretty obvious that we are on to something here from all the feedback we have been getting from practitioners all over the world. I am very happy to be finding some enthusiastic company in what is obvious - keeping it simple and effective works!
The general rise in consciousness around the world is bringing more clarity to the situation every day, so we owe much to the work of the many great sages who have come and shared the practical details of yoga over the last century or so.
Another thing that institutions often do is segment knowledge into pieces for "ownership" by that institution, and then expend great energy to preserve and protect that piece of the whole, to the exclusion of everything else. The result is scattered, petrified knowledge, with little chance of adjusting and integrating it to fit changing times.
Science, on the other hand, constantly seeks to adjust and integrate knowledge into the most effective practical applications. Institutions that become devoted to that end will still compete with each other, but it will not be in their best interest to complicate or segment knowledge the way they have in the past. I believe that we are beginning a revolution in yoga that will compel institutions to integrate knowledge, rather than segment it. In this new age, institutions will survive only if they innovate, based on the rising spiritual desires of the people, by distilling and optimizing what has been learned before, rather than by further complicating and isolating segments of yogic knowledge. AYP is about this important shift in priority -- one of the early shots fired in the new yoga science revolution.
On grades of samadhi, you know, the Eskimos have many words for snow. Why? Because they see so much of it, and have come to know its many grades of manifestation. Do all these different words for snow mean anything to a Hawaiian? Not much -- not until the Hawaiian goes and lives with the Eskimos for a while. Then the words for snow begin to make sense. Samadhi is like that. When it becomes the common experience, then conversation about the different grades of samadhi begins to make sense. Until then, to study all that is an academic exercise. Does this promote enlightenment? Not really. Well, maybe it can motivate one to do practices. That is the real value of intellectual knowledge -- its ability to inspire action!
Having said that, there are certain traditions that rely on determining the level of samadhi one is experiencing to decide which style of meditation to do. For them, this is very important, and it is to be respected. In AYP we use one style of meditation that covers the full scope of mind from the surface to the silent depths, so making all the samadhi distinctions is not necessary for effective practice. They are "under the hood" as we drive the car of our nervous system along with the easy-to-use meditation controls. It is just the same as chakras, which have been discussed as being "under the hood" in the early lessons (see #47). When we have a simple, effective practice, delving too much into the inner workings can be a distraction.
So, in AYP we avoid going too far off into all those tempting tangents, whether they be intellectual tidbits or flashy experiences. We are interested in going deep into inner silence in meditation. Then we cultivate silence into dynamic manifestation throughout our nervous system with pranayama, samyama and many other means, until finally we see our Self, our inner silence, as being the essence of everything. Then we can appreciate all the grades of experience as manifestations of inner silence. And then we will be able to understand all those words for samadhi, and probably come up with a few of our own, because we will be living in it every day. It is much better to be cultivating our nervous system to live in samadhi than to be intellectualizing about it too much. That is the AYP approach.
Prakritilayas are yogis/yoginis who are distracted by experiences and don't finish their journey in this life, so it continues elsewhere. The fruit of yoga is not lost. There is evidence of this in seeing the many different levels of spiritual attainment (or lack of it) that people are born with. The important thing is to be doing what we can today to advance along our own road to enlightenment. When we arrive will be in this life, or somewhere further down the road. All we know is that we can do much to advance our progress here and now. And it should be done in such a way so as to be enjoyable. The journey can and should have the flavor of the destination in it - pervading peace and rising ecstatic bliss. Otherwise, why bother with it?
The guru is in you.
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Note: For detailed instructions on building a daily practice routine with self-pacing, and prudent management of experiences on the path to enlightenment, see the Eight Limbs of Yoga Book, and AYP Plus.
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