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Advanced Yoga Practices
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Lesson 353 - Alternate Sutra for Self-Inquiry Samyama (Audio)
New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the archive, as previous lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why This Discussion?"
There is another question I have about samyama in general. At the end of samyama, a daily practice of mine is to contemplate or sit in silence and go deep into the source of "I" or beingness for a couple of minutes. Why does AYP choose touch and release (samyama) over going deep into something particularly in relation to inquiry? Is it a question of style or long term effectiveness?
A: The sutras, "I-thought Who am I?" and "I-thought What am I?" are equivalent. The one to use in relation to Lesson 351 is the one that most resonates with you.
"Who am I?" has been specified because it is the more common way of expressing the inquiry. Indeed, we have been using this phrase since early in the AYP lessons in relation to bhakti, which is a key part of self-inquiry also (Lesson 349). An equivalent phrase that resonates for the practitioner is also acceptable. We want to accomplish two things with this sutra in structured core samyama tag the I-thought, and inquire its source.
Who can say whether the Self is a who or a what? It is unknowable in the mind. We can only know by Self-realization, which is beyond the mind. And then it cannot be clearly described. All self-inquiry methods are for bootstrapping from the witness stage to Self-realization through intentions released in stillness.
Whichever sutra you choose in relation to the instructions on core samyama in Lesson 351 and Lesson 150, it is suggested to stay with it, as it takes time for any sutra to "bake in" with daily samyama practice. This is how our habit of samyama goes deeper, and then naturally expresses as we release our intentions and inquiries increasingly in stillness in daily life. This is why we do structured samyama.
On your second question about contemplation of the source of "I," this is a different practice. It is a good one ("jnana-transcending" per Lesson 350), and is best engaged in outside structured samyama. Soon after is fine if this is your habit. The objective of adding the new sutra to core samyama is to provide an easily incorporated additional tool for strengthening any self-inquiry we may be doing in daily life. It requires a minimal modification in procedure to current core samyama practice, and can bring a large additional benefit in results.
It should be mentioned that "touch and release" is "deep" in well-established structured samyama practice, where the sutras are well baked in. It is through daily structured samyama practice that we increase our ability to be immediately in stillness with all our intentions and inquiries during the day. It is the same cultivation principle we find in structured daily deep meditation, which increases the presence of abiding inner silence (the witness) in daily activity. We don't engage in structured practice for its own sake. We do it for the condition it cultivates outside practice while we are engaged in normal activity.
We are aiming to strengthen the connection between structured yoga practice and our normal daily activity. The field of yoga has been somewhat remiss in doing this with self-inquiry, leaving jnana yoga off as a sort of step-child, even though the path of yoga cannot be complete until it leads us through jnana to direct knowledge/experience of who/what we are. This is the stage of the journey that goes beyond the witness to unity/liberation, and beyond.
There is a lot to be said for having a portion of our structured daily practice that brings this kind of benefit into daily life, where things tend to be less structured. We already know that core samyama cultivates stillness in action. Now we are strengthening it for jnana.
By building an advanced element of self-inquiry into core samyama, we will be cultivating that capability in daily living, and be less inclined to be walking around all day tending to distract ourselves. We won't have to worry about it, because self-inquiry in stillness will become more a natural part of our life by virtue of sitting practices alone. This is not to replace self-inquiry as we may choose to approach it in daily life. It is only that we are bringing in reinforcements. Kind of like the cavalry, you know. Stillness galloping over the hill to the rescue!
The guru is in you.
Samyama Related Lessons Topic Path
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Note: For detailed instructions on samyama practice, covering advanced applications and self-directed research, see the AYP Samyama book and the Liberation book, and AYP Plus.
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