“One of my goals in life is to do the slowest Primary Series anywhere… rather than the quickest”. Richard Freeman

NEWS:

New R. Saraswathi Resource page at the top of the blog to join those for Sharath R. Jois, Manju Jois, Pattabhi Jois, Krishnamacharya and Srivatsa Ramaswami.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Manju jois Led Primary plus Manju presenting pranayama and peace chants.


A nice Led Primary series video from  Manju Pattabhi Jois and Natasa Cvetkovic's Ashtanga Yoga Vienna.  Manju runs through Primary here in an hour, a little fast for my taste (although I'm just about to practice along with it for old times sake) but a nice thing about Manju's led classes is that he doesn't count while you're in a posture, you can count five quick breaths  or, as I tended to do, take two long slow ones. And besides it just a Led, a guide, framework for practice, on your own mat you can take it as slow as you like and modify as much as common sense suggests.

I haven't seen a full Led primary from Manju on Youtube before, bit of a treat so worth popping out of blog retirement for

Note the different levels in the class, Manju tends to encourage students to continue through the practice/series rather than be stopped (at Marichiyasana D for example), there are arguments for and against this of course, in my own case I kept working through the series modifying as I went. Modifications can often be given allowing one to continue working on a posture while continuing with the series.

Manju teaches an integrated practice, Asana followed by pranayama followed by chanting.

Ramswami mentions that Krishnamacharya encouraged an integrated practice Asana, pranayama followed by a meditative activity, that could be a regular Sit, chanting or perhaps even study of worthy text. Asana and pranyama are said to put one in an ideal (satvic) state for such an activity.

Thank you to Natasa Cvetkovic (whom I had the pleasure to meet and work with on Manju's TT at Kristina's wonderful Rethymno shala on Crete) for making and posting this and to Manju for allowing it to be shared.
Manju has an excellent Book and DVD. On the DVD he presents a call and response class, the class repeating every name, vinyasa count and drishti, recommended.







Here's a Link to my Manju jois resource including four posts on my TT with Manju in Rethymno Crete and a review of Manju's book and DVD.

I will be adding these videos to the resource.

http://grimmly2007.blogspot.jp/p/fykjfjyfyj-in-this-series-of-posts.html


NOTE:

It's unfortunate that this post follows one in which I question Sharath's new honorary Paramaguru title. It's a coincidence, I've been posting less. This shouldn't be read as a my teacher is better than your teacher thing or pitting Manju against Sharath. I practiced with Sharath's DVD for several months early on in my practice and I credit him with moving me from a David Swenson short form to the full series. Later I came back to Sharath's DVD and due to an appreciation of the efficiency, the economy of his practice I dumped my half handstand Kino inspired jump throughs and went with a gentle Sharath (almost) hop through. Sharath's lack of (obsessive) focus on alignment, anatomy, energy explanations and general simplicity of practice has as much, perhaps more, influence on my current practice than Manju who I credit with restoring an enjoyment of practice, taking it somewhat less seriously, and an awareness of how gentle an assist/adjustment can be, more of a support than a crank.

I credit Ramaswami with getting me over my asana madness while providing more context to the asana I practice and the options for modification and extension, slowing my practice right down via the breath and encouraging a fully integrated practice along with close study of Krishnamacharya's primary texts and his focus on longer stays, the employment of Kumbhaka as well as a better understanding of Yama/niyama and Yoga philosophy in general.

I respect all of the above but personally see no need to refer to any as guru or even as 'my' teacher, teacher is in itself a respectful term and feels quite sufficient and appropriate.

It's said you can't learn Yoga from a book or DVD, I would argue that it makes little difference (depending on your temperament) whether the input /inspiration for this practice comes from a book, DVD.... or teacher (1%), whether you practice in a shala, studio or at home, we learn from practicing, we learn what is most important from years of practicing (99%).

This turned into a blog post after all

NOTE 2

A quick note on the new blog header photo. I reluctantly took down the old ankle grab Kapo in my living room 'shala' photo. I've been thinking about it for a while. Sseeing as I only practice the first half of Ashtanga second series once or twice a week now my kapo has suffered and is a toe grab at best. The old Kapo photo no longer reflected my practice.  I do want to stress the integrated nature of practice, asana (proficient primary), pranayama, pratyahara and a decent Sit thus the new photo(s)

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Sharath, Paramaguru? What is the meaning, significance of the Paramaguru title.

I'd actually put this post back into draft however Sharath's new title seems to be gaining traction, in blog posts Eg. "Sharath Jois is the living paramaguru of Ashtanga yoga", the advertising and promotion mentioned in the post below as well as increasing casual reference on the internet by Certified/Authorised teachers and students alike such that it's origin seems worthy of comment. 

I was asked why Sharath is suddenly being referred to as Paramaguru (highest guru/guru of the parampara?) in the advertising for the current US Tour ( my reply become too long for an fb comment thus the post). At first I thought it might just be marketing on behalf of Sonima, the organisers of the tour, that was a depressing thought. However on digging it turned out that no other than Eddie Stern referred to Sharath as Paramaguru on his Brooklyn Yoga Club site earlier this year.

"Sharath was bestowed the title of Paramaguru, which indicates that he is the current lineage holder, or the Guru of the parampara, that has been passed down from Sri K. Pattabhi Jois". 
Eddie Stern's Brooklyn Yoga Club

 A little more digging and I found last months Namarupa with a special on it's 2015 'Yantra' (Himalayan retreat/tour). It turns out that although this was the first time Sharath visited Uttarkashi and only stayed a few days the elder Sannyasis and Sadhus decided or were asked (was there a donation involved or was bringing 150 tourists to the flood damaged area enough) see http://tinyurl.com/jrwuola) to give him an honorary title, Paramaguru (See extended quotes below from the namarupa article).



Sharath's relationship with his grandfather clearly had a powerful and influential effect on him, leading him to stress the concept of parampara in his teaching. Personally the concept doesn't interest me in the slightest, not in reference to Sharath (who I do happen to respect as a practitioner and teacher, as I do anyone who has practiced as long or significantly longer) or teachers I've spent a little time with like Manju (who jokingly calls out "Never fear guru's here" when he enters the shala at the beginning of a workshop) or Ramaswami or even Patabbhi Jois and Krishnamacharya for that matter. I find the concept of the guru and parampara, as presented, along with that of 'a lineage' or 'tradition' unnecessary, even a hinderance, and along with the growing adoration that seemingly goes with it perhaps the most off-putting aspect of recent Ashtanga. In this Krishnamacharya 'tradition' ( I actually prefer 'approach' or 'method' to tradition) it's enough perhaps to practice daily and for a long time some appropriate asana, a little pranayama but to focus more on working with Patanjali's Yoga Sutras (or another appropriate meditative practice along with ones own cultural yama and niyama ) and not worry too much about what you call it, who taught it or where it came from (I'm, very much aware of the irony here given the nature of this mostly retired blog).

I'm too cynical of origin narratives perhaps, and coming from the UK, of honorary titles. Such titles appear to elevate the holder and of course all those who claim association, in this case Sharath's students and those Authorised and/or Certified by the 'Paramaguru'. Surely, playing the game and not calling yourself a guru yet (even tacitly) accepting an honorary title like Paramaguru (The Guru of a parampara or specific tradition ) and allowing it to be used extensively in promotion suggests a worrying contradiction. Apart from anything, although he would probably throw something at me if I addressed him as guru, it's surely insulting to Pattabhi's Jois' still living and actively teaching son Manju Jois who has been passing along this approach to practice (as has his sister and Sharath's mother Saraswati) for over fifty years along with several other senior teachers and early students of Pattabhi Jois).

Perhaps it's best we just agree to disagree on this.

However, if parampara IS your thing, check out Lu's Ashtanga Parampara platform

http://www.ashtangaparampara.org/


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Below, the relevant quotes from Namarupa on how a small group of 'disciples' decided to take it upon themselves to request a title to be bestowed upon Sharath which then became used in the advertising and promotion for this years world tour and seems to have caught on in recent general reference to Sharath in certain parts of the community

"But sometimes the disciples of such a teacher wish to call him or her by a special name, and not simply by their given name. It is for this reason that we sought out the counsel of the elder Sannyasis and Sadhus of Uttarkashi, who also agreed that it was time for Sharathji and Saraswathiji to be formally bestowed with titles, and who, after conferring among themselves, decided upon an honorific title for each of them..." Namarupa

Isn't it enough to respect your teacher without elevating them to such heady heights, to approach our practice with sincerity and commitment without resorting to terminology like devotion and dedication?

Read a full account in the new edition of Namarupa. Below are a few quotes from the relevant section. My favourite bit is Saraswati saying "With all credit going to Pattabhi Jois", a bit like the friend or slave who would stand in the chariot holding a laurel wreath above the head of a Roman general receiving a Triumph for a great victory whispering "Respice post te. Hominem te memento", remember thou art mortal (Look after you [to the time after your death] and remember you're [only] a man), this was to protect from hubris.

UPDATE: From a friend who was at Uttarkashi.

"Hi , may I offer my perspective on the "paramaguru" title bestowed on Sharath last Fall? It may offer some clarity... 
    
 I was actually in attendance at the ashram in Uttarkashi when Sharath and Saraswati were given these honorifics, along with some lovely pashmina wool shawls bought in the local market, too, to commemorate the occasion. It was after a week of experiencing Led Primary each morning with both of them. I admittedly had some trepidation about being in a big group of global Ashtanga folks as I have not been to Mysore and didn't know what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised: it was a great week, there was lots of laughter and love in the room, and a real feeling of global community, too. Sharath was funny, wise, kind, teasing, all week. Saraswati herself was gracious, kind, wise - and those who were there with me noted how Sharath was a dutiful, respectful son, attending to her needs/wishes during the week, too. But, most importantly, the people of Uttarkashi, who really suffered in 2013 because of horrific floods that devastated their town and the entire region of Uttarakhand (whereby, most of their vital pilgrim tourism trade was lost) were extremely grateful for our group of 150 people bringing a needed boost to the local economy. In fact, Namarupa was the first big group, and first Western group, mind you - to return to the region since the floods.
     
My sense of the honorifics given to both Sharath and Saraswati was that they were a way of saying thanks and capping the week off. Sharath in particular seemed bashful about the honor. It's my belief that Eddie Stern, who was also in attendance, who honors Sharath as his teacher now, and who is responsible for the marketing of his world tour, has taken this opportunity to "run with" the title - it's my sense that it does not arise from any desire of Sharath to be referred to that way. My experience of him during that week was one of humility, kindness and simplicity. Just my take"!


http://namarupa.org/

"The Guru tradition is one of the oldest foundations of the Hindu tradition. The Upanishads and Epics are filled with instructions, dialogues, and teachings of the great Gurus, Sages and Rishis. These teachings have been passed down to us over thousands of years. Holy places such as Banaras, Haridwar, Rishikesh, Uttarkashi, and beyond, have been the dwelling places of these revered teachers where in yoga's long past they performed tapas. To be able to perform sadhana in the same places where they did is considered to be a blessing. It is widely known that a Guru never calls himself a Guru—it is a title bestowed by his or her disciples. The Guru has no desire for fame, or for being revered; a Guru only has the desire to perform service to humanity, to teach the knowledge that is related to liberation, to be devoted to the removal of suffering, and nothing else. But sometimes the disciples of such a teacher wish to call him or her by a special name, and not simply by their given name. It is for this reason that we sought out the counsel of the elder Sannyasis and Sadhus of Uttarkashi, who also agreed that it was time for Sharathji and Saraswathiji to be formally bestowed with titles, and who, after conferring among themselves, decided upon an honorific title for each of them...

"After learning for a very long period of time—because it takes good time to learn from the teacher properly —then we are supposed to practice on our own, mananam. For mananam, the disciple who really wants to practice on his own now comes from Kasi to Haridwar and Rishikesh and stays there. He does a lot of contemplation on whatever he's been learning. He starts studying by himself and he becomes master over the teaching. Once he becomes master, he travels to Himalayas, to Uttarkashi. He stays here; he rests in his knowledge, nidhidhyasana. This is the place of nidhidhyasana. Whatever he has learnt in Banaras (Kashi), and contemplated in Rishikesh and Haridwar, when he comes here, he lives it, he becomes a yogi. Until then, he's a student. If you come here and stay amongst the sadhus, then you take upadhi of a real yogi...

"[To Sharath] Now we consider you as one of us. That you now can become a leader, and lead us. Because you have properly understood whatever has been taught by parampara. We are very happy to have Sharath here, who has taken part in the parampara itself. From today onwards, we call this upadhi, Amma, as Guru Ma. And Sharathji as Paramaguru R. Sharath Jois...

Now, from today onwards, there’s a bigger responsibility of leading the world onwards on the path of yoga...

RSJ: Thank you. 

Saraswathi Jois: With all credit going to Pattabhi Jois.

RSJ: [to students]: You have wealth, you have book knowledge. You have everything. If you don't put your mind towards adhyatama, your heart towards spirituality, towards jnana, it's no use having this life, having everything. Guru is very important. Guru is the one who teaches, who will take us towards that jnana which is the true knowledge. He removes all the obstacles in us and he removes all the pollution in us. He gives us the true knowledge, jnana. It has touched my heart deeply, all the love and affection everyone has given. Thank you so much. See you again. 


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Earlier in the article devoted to Sharath's conference speeches he has this to say about the practice, parampara and the guru

"This practice that we are doing is an age-old practice; it has come from parampara, from the guru -shishya parampara—from Guru to his shishyas, Guru to his students. When a student becomes a master, then he becomes a Guru and passes his knowledge on to his students. Like this, the yoga knowledge has been passed on for generations. As we know it in this form of Ashtanga Yoga, it has come from maybe 300 years ago—I don’t know for how many generations this knowledge has been passed on".


And below Sharath talking about the idea of Guru with Sonia Jones of Sonima, the organisers of Sharath's current US tour.




The question of parampara came up at his years Ashtanga yoga Confluence, here's a recap from Tim Miller's blog.

Tuesday March 8th—The Ashtanga Yoga Confluence and the Parampara
This past Sunday during the final panel discussion of the 2016 Ashtanga Yoga Confluence, a question was asked about the concept of Parampara and how it is interpreted in the Ashtanga tradition. David Swenson reminded all of us that Guruji’s own eldest son, Manju, was present in the room, and if anyone could be considered the true lineage holder it would be him. Everyone in the room stood up and gave Manju an ovation. It was a very moving moment. I looked over at Dena and saw her eyes welling up with tears just like mine. Manju was very gracious and said that as far as he was concerned, all of us sharing the stage with him and countless other teachers throughout the world are all part of the Parampara.

Update
New video uploaded today on Sharath's Youtube channel, sharath jois rangaswamy, titled Paramaguru, Sharath Jois Yoga Class in New York.




UPADATE: This comment came in on a share of my post in FB, I hope the person who posted it wont mind me quoting it in full here

"All I can say is I just spent the last 6 days in one of his two daily guided primary series - he did 2 per day in Palo Alto, LA, NYC and Miami and he was super helpful, walking around adjusting over 200+ sweaty practitioner, making jokes and just generally being a super nice guy. So say what you will, but in my mind he knows the practice as well or better than any other living being, is an extremely hard working and dedicated guy, and a genuine nice guy. Not sure what else one can ask for. As he said to us after our practice today - "Keep Practicing!".

This is pretty much the impression I also have of Sharath, the same generous, good humoured work ethic I had of his grandfather and that I have of Manju and Saraswati too for that matter, it says a great deal, I would argue it says plenty and without needing to resort to names, terms and concepts like tradition, lineage, parampara, guru, guruji or paramparaguru

This post isn't intended as a critique of Sharath but rather of our pedestal building


UPDATE  2017
I was prepared to give Sharath the benefit of the doubt on this last year but here it is again, the 'Paramaguru' title rolled out once again again for this years round of advertising. I find it a source of concern that Sharath encourages or allows this 'title' to be used in his promotion.





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Note: Namarupa is a beautifully produced magazine and worth getting, this edition follows the 2015 Ynamarupa Yatra (tour/pilgrimage). The Sharath section mostly consists of an intro, two or three conferences which are basically the same as those that have come out of Mysore over the last few years (although here the three conferences follow on from eachother) and a couple of extra paragraphs to the above section on Parampara plus a few glossy photos of Sharath as well as a couple from inside KPJAYI.


See also this article, also from Namarupa, by Ramaswami on his relationship with his teacher, It's a free download. We might ask ourselves if we have a similar relationship with our teacher or our practice.

Free dowload

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

June 2016 Newsletter from Srivatsa Ramaswami--Dream (स्वप्न svapna)

I returned from Saskatoon in Canada on May 3, 2016after teaching  a fortnight long 100 hr TT program in Vinyasakrama Yoga . The stay was very pleasant and the participation really great. Thank you Ryan, Caitlin and everyone who participated in the program.

I have taught this 100 hour program in three places now, one in Chennai, one in New Delhi and this one at One Yoga in Canada. I am scheduled to do the same program in Los Angeles at LMU in July/August, where the registration is still sluggish and then in Madrid Spain at Dhara Yoga where there is a much much better response. So far about 100 yogis have completed this 100 hour program. There are a few shorter programs-- one at Yogashala in Connecticut in July (Yoga Sutras) two programs in Germany and one in Chicago. For details please visit my website
www.vinyasakrama.com/Events

I may probably do the 100 hr program again @ Yoga Vahini in Chennai, India in Dec 2016 and perhaps @ Yoga Institute, Sydney Australia in April 2017

Dream (स्वप्न svapna)

Physiologists and psychologists have been studying why and how of dreams for a long time and have produced impressive amount of information about dreams. Some study the electro-chemical changes and patterns that take place in the brain while others try to find out if there is a connection between the dream manifestation and the underlying sub conscious cause for such dreams. Why do some people seem to have pleasant and happy dreams while others dread going to sleep because of the recurrent nightmares? Why does a pauper has a dream of plenty while a billionaire nightmares that he is penniless. Why does the professor of physics, a Nobel Laureate has a bad dream of flunking his high school physics test? Why someone with a huge walk- in closet full of fancy expensive clothes dreams of cringing unclad  in the open?

Vedic philosophers also have studied dreams with a view to understand-get some clues about-  how we experience the  world around us when awake. It is common knowledge that the dreams take place inside the head inside the brain. Sometime while  one is sleeping the brain picks up some memories and creates a dream world out of it. The common understanding is that the dreamer experiences the dream within the brain. However the dream is not merely neurons floating around and the brain cells undergoing chemical changes. The dream is seen in space, three dimensional space. The old philosophers were not satisfied with the commonly held bland belief that the dream is experienced by the dreamer in the head. It is not a complete narration of what is happening. One has to explain how the dream is visualized, seen in three dimensions. The dream world occupies vast space much more than what the head could accommodate. The brain not only picks up some data from the memory, creates a dream space, creates dream objects and creates dream creatures, a la the world we see in our waking state, it also writes the script and produces a video called dream--sometimes pleasant ones and often times horror movies. Additionally the brain identifies one of the creatures it has created as the dreamer self to complete the dream operation. The brain is a creator, it plays god. It is capable of creating space, objects and creatures and a dream self to boot and make one believe that it is all true and really happening.

The Yogis and vedantins say that all that we experience  in dream takes place not in physical space which is obvious but in mental or mind's space called citta akasa. In this virtual space the brain projects the dream and it is experienced. Who experiences that? It is identical to waking experience of the physical world. There is space, there are objects, there are creatures, there are experiences and the individual dream self who acts just like the waking state physical self. It, the dream self, appears to have a body, limbs and senses and a brain too. Who is the experiencer here? Is it the dream self or the fellow who is fast asleep? Neither of them. While having a dream, according to physiologists there is partial paralysis of several motor functions and one becomes completely oblivious to one's own  physical self and only the prana  keeps vital functions like heart beat, respiration digestion etc going. There is no awareness of the physical self but there is awareness of the dream world and the dream self. The brain shuts off  its awareness of the dreamer and identifies with the dream self it has created. The  voluntary movements are inhibited during periods of the dream process. All brain signals to the voluntary muscles are stopped. In both the cases-waking and dreaming-, the common denominator is that awareness, that unwavering awareness of both the waking state world during waking state and the dream world and dream self during the dream state. That unvarying awareness is the experiencer  that the yogis and vedantins call as the real self as distinct from the physical self and the dream self. They call it drashta (seer), bhokta (experiencer) purusha (the indewelling principle), jnaH (the knower) etc.

The other or more significant state is the waking state, and how does one get the waking state experience? Of course there may be some mystery about how dreams are visualized but what is there to discuss about the normal waking state experience?   I have written about it in a few articles earlier but it may be of interest to consider along with the dream state. It is common belief that we see the outside world with our eyes. Likewise we hear sounds of the outside world with the ears, then taste with our tongue and so on. But the scientists say that the eyes do not see nor do the ears hear. They are like gate keepers which have the capacity to let in only the appropriate impulses and not other impulses. The eyes let light particles whereas the ears let in sound waves. According to them when light falls on an object the object absorbs some light and  reflects the light at different angles; the reflected light (light particles as rays) reach the eye which lets them to the retina by focusing the incoming light on to it. Then the retina converts the signals into electrical impulses which are transmitted through optic nerves to the sight center at the back of the brain where it is processed. Simultaneously impulses through the other senses also reach their respective centers in the brain. Then they are coordinated  analyzed, compared and finally a picture of the object is created in the brain with emotions, recognition, understanding added to it. Additionally—it is very, very important to note-- the brain constantly gets impulses within the body and collates them and creates an impression of the physical self in the brain. So the brain has the impression of the physical self and also the impression of the object from the outside world one sees and there is a composite picture of both the outside world and the subject, exactly as we feel when we see an object, simultaneously being aware of our physical selves..

  While a bit clinical, a scientist Antonio Demasio’s definition serves us well: A dynamic collection of integrated neural processes, centered on the representation of the living body, that finds expression in a dynamic collection of mental processes. That is, this thing we call the ‘self’ (the physical self) is the result of our neurochemistry interacting with our physical body and the outside world, resulting in not only what but how we think.

  So what we call the ‘self., 'the physical me' is a re-construction of our brain and the yogis and samkhyas call it 'asmita". First, think about what the term ‘self’ implies: understanding a separation between what you are, both physically and mentally/emotionally, and whatever is outside of you, or non-self. This total experience the yogis call as the cittavritti.  Now this composite picture is in the form of neurons flinging all over the brain. But we see the object in three full dimensions and it cannot take place in the limited brain space. Just as we saw with respect to dream state here also the brain will have to project the impression in three dimensional space. Yogis say that it is done in virtual space the mental space (citta akasa) like the dream space. So both the dream experience and waking state experience take place in similar virtual mental space in the brain. We may say that what we experience takes place within the brain and like the dream objects the brain projects what we experience in the waking state in a virtual space within the confines of the brain. Then who and from where we experience it, we cannot get into the brain and experience what is happening within the virtual space of the brain. The brain projects the whole experience. Since it also projects the physical image of the subject which itself is part of the cittavritti, it cannot be the observer too. The observer is the awareness which is unvarying. Further the brain is just matter made up of proteins and lipids or fat cells like the cells of the other parts of the body and do not have consciousness. While scientists have been able to identify the sense centers and understand the functioning of the brain, they do not appear to have located any awareness or consciousness in the brain. Even so the scientists hold that the brain processes the information, modifies it and also sees it. But the brain is a lump of protein and fat cells. It is a piece of organic matter. There is no capacity in it to observe its own  created images, or to create consciousness. Inert matter cannot create consciousness

 The awareness or the self  experiences  the physical self which itself  is seeing or appears to see the external object at once. Thus  we can not know and explain how the physical self sees the external object. When you start analyzing how we see the external objects we end up understanding that one (the awareness or purusha) is aware of one's cittavritti consisting of both the physical world and physical self. Let us take the example of you and I sitting and talking to each other. Let us take a snap shot of what I experience at this moment. What do I experience? I experience “I am talking to you”. So the totality of the experience consists of both you, the object and me the subject. And the experiencer is the unvarying awareness which the old vedic philosophers call as the real self. It is not some speculative soul which has to be searched. It is immediate.  And it could also be seen that there is no plausible explanation about how I (the physical self) see the objects outside, like you even as it is the first question the discussion started with.

So in the dream, the brain picks some information from memory and converts them into a dream that can be witnessed in the virtual mental space. Likewise the brain receives information through the senses from the outside world and also inputs from one's own body and creates a composite image in the mental space within the brain, Both are witnessed by the same consciousness and that consciousness the yogis vedantins and some religions call as the self or soul. Puruha/soul/self is not just a concept but the real witness of all what we experience all the time, the one that is aware of me writing this article. It is the real awareness of what we consider as the subject and the object in one mental frame. We start with the ordinary question about the relationship between the subject and the object and end up with Patanjali's purusha as the subject and cittavritti as the object. This analysis helps the yogi to focus on the subject which is pure non changing awareness on one hand and the succession of cittavrittis, the objects on the other. Here Patanjali advises the yogi to focus on the cittavrittis which according to him are predominantly painful for most people most of the time (parinama taapa...) His prescription is to reduce and completely stop all cittavritti so that  one remains for the rest of the life in absolute peace

There are some philosophers who while agreeing with the above line of logic, raise a significant objection. The brain is just organic matter with the ability to receive, collate,analyze, modify, add emotions and then project a composite cittavritti of both the objects and the physical self. But the brain is part of the physical self , and how can it project the physical self which contains the brain. It would amount to an anomalous situation, where the brain projects itself.

The view of Samkhyas, yogis, scientists and the common perception  is that the world is real,, made up of infinite space, many trillions of tons of matter and trillions of BTU of energy. There are a few ancient philosophies and faiths that address this objection raised above. One line is that since what anyone experiences is only cittavrittis it is not possible to assume that the waking state cittavrittis are caused necessarily by actual objects. There is no way one can ascertain if the cittavrittis created during waking state are actually caused by objects and if they are similar to dream vrittis. This indetermination is known as anirvacaneya. There are a few others who aver that there is no substance to the forms that we see outside. One popular far eastern religion/philosophy would say that the world is an illusion and the division of the  thought or cittavritti into the subject and object is unreal and is the cause of suffering. It would advise working towards eradication of the subject object barrier by meditation and view one continuum of cittvritti—a continuum of what is inside and what is outside.

Some religions imply that the creation is a grand illusion. One well known religion would say God created individual souls( the ones that experiences) and continuously creates the universe—like a succession of impulses. He also through scripture advises the individual souls not to be attracted by His creation but turn towards Him. In the puranas, even though one gets the impression that the creation is real, there are instances where it is indicated that the world is not made of brick and mortar. In the Bhagavat Gita the Lord says that He created the universe with the power of His Maya, and Maya is  the power of creating an illusion. According to the advaitins, the universe is an illusion that appears to be created within the one and only universal consciousness or awareness called Brahman which is identical with oneSelf, and the universe appears to exist without.

Even science agrees that what we deal with is taking place of the mind. Yoga says that what we deal with is the projection of the mind observed by the individual consciousness or purusha. Vedanta would say that there is only one consciousness the Brahman and the entire creation is an illusion just like the dream projected within the absolute consciousness.  If one can completely understand it by regular contemplation one will be less and less disturbed by the tumultuous happenings of the outside world. They would encourage to meditate upon the Self the Brahman because engaging with the outside world through the senses creates not only considerable unending pain as Patanjali would say  but also because the the whole experience is an illusion like dream. Once we wake up after a dream in the night we dismiss the dream experience as frivolous . So would the yogi/vedantin dismiss the waking experience as an illusion without substance.. It is because he knows that both waking and dream experiences are on par,-- both are essentially painful on one hand and are also  just illusions on the other. Just as one dismisses the dream experience as 'just a dream' the yogi/vedantin dismisses the waking worldy experiences as “Just a painful Illusion. '“Why perpetuate the painful nightmares, lifetime after lifetime?” I should tell myself.

The Universe  is within Brahman but appears outside of it like the dream that takes place within but  appears to be without and like the city (space and objects) which is within a mirror but appears to be without. On waking up one realizes that all the dream which appeared to take place outside is actually within one's own person. That is the power of Maya or the power to project  an illusion but not actual substantive creation. The above analogies are from a beautiful verse of Sankara in his Dakshinamurti stotram

विश्वं दर्पणदृश्यमाननगरीतुल्यं निजान्तर्गतं
पश्यन्नात्मनि मायया बहिरिवोद्भूतं यथा निद्रया ।
यः साक्षात्कुरुते प्रबोधसमये स्वात्मानमेवाद्वयं
तस्मै श्रीगुरुमूर्तये नम इदं श्रीदक्षिणामूर्तये ॥१॥
Vishvam Darpanna-Drshyamaana-Nagarii-Tulyam Nija-Antargatam
Pashyann-Aatmani Maayayaa Bahir-Ivo[a-U]dbhuutam Yathaa Nidrayaa |
Yah Saakssaat-Kurute Prabodha-Samaye Sva-[A]atmaanam-Eva-Advayam
Tasmai Shrii-Guru-Muurtaye Nama Idam Shrii-Dakssinnaamuurtaye

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A Reminder

from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi This blog included.

"So, as I said, Kalamas: 'Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering" — then you should abandon them.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

"Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them. Buddha - Kalama Sutta
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