Yoga Misunderstood so far …
Yoga is the only methodology available with the humanity which has anatomized the human existence without opening a human body. It is the oldest and the deepest psychology of the human existence. It is unlike the present day psychology which studies only the mind of the subjects. Yoga is not constrained to the personality, mind or any aspect of mind of people; rather it gives a complete description of the whole existence of the humanity, its mental fabric and a methodology to transcend it.
Yoga in itself has been a diverse field. In Indian philosophy many a schools attach themselves to Yoga. Ashtangik Yoga, Gyan Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga, Raja Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Mantra Yoga and Tantra Yoga are a few schools attached to Yoga. This article constrains itself to the Ashtangik Yoga only. In this article term Yoga will refer to the Ashtangik Yoga as propounded by Patanjali in Yoga Sutra.
Whatever practical about a human being can be said about his physic, psyche, mind and Chetna (in English no better word than awareness is available for this) is there in Yoga Sutra. Yoga Sutra starts with the proposition that the mind’s expositions (Vritti) are attracted to the worldly objects (Vishayas) and by confining mind’s expositions from being attracted to the worldly objects a seeker can realize his existence and hence liberate himself from this world’s afflictions.
The difference in the approaches of the Indian Yoga and the modern psychology is because of the differences of visions of the two schools. The modern psychology begins with the hypothesis that the Psychology is the science of the mind; that the human mind is the most complex machine on Earth; that it is the source of all thoughts and behaviour. The modern psychology believes that there is a mind and it has to be in consonance with some prototype mind. The modern psychology believes that the mind can be and usually is sick; its sickness can be cured. The real minds have tendencies. These tendencies of a real mind can be molded. A mind can be trained and can be taken to some sort of proximity of that prototype mind.
Yoga views the mind differently. For it a mind can not be infected by sickness but it is a sickness in itself. It cannot be cured because it has this form of sickness as an essence for the physical existence. Physical existence is not possible without the mind. Yoga does not speak of ‘a mind’ rather its subject matter is ‘the mind’. Modern psychology studies, treats and cures an individual mind while Yoga is for the generality of mind. Psychology is particular in approach and it discovers generality from particularity. In Yoga the mind in general is explained and a particularity approached from the generality.
For Yoga the mind is an obstacle in the path of self realization. This obstacle of mind is very much intrinsic and an essential ingredient of the creation (the Srishti). To attain your absolute state you have to transcend the mind. Yoga does not prefer wasting its time in curing a sick mind to make it healthy. There is nothing like a healthy mind in Yoga’s vision.
Yoga’s vision starts with a proposition – confining mind’s exposition from being allured by the worldly objects is Yoga i.e. Yogashchitvritti nirodhah योगश्चित्त्वृत्ति निरोधः।. For the self realization, the Yoga has proposed an Eight Fold Path called Ashtangik Yoga. Its Eight Fold Path consists of: Yama, Niyama, Aasan, Pranayam, Pratyahar, Dhaarna, Dhyan and Samaadhi.
Non Violence (Ahimsa, अहिंसा), Truth (Satya सत्य), Not stealing other’s property (Asteya अस्तेय), Not retaining the surplus things (Aparigrah अपरिग्रह) and a good Sexual behaviour (Brahmcharya ब्रह्मचर्य) are five Yamas. Practicing these five Yamas makes your surrounding healthy and peaceful. By and large these five Yamas are the five cures of basic ulterior tendencies which cause disputes in your neighbourhood. Yamas provide a calm and serene environment around you.
Next it is the Niyama. Hygiene (Shauch शौच), Contentment (Santosh सन्तोष), Effort (Tapah तप), Introspection (Swadhyaya स्वाध्याय) and Surrender to God (Ishwar Pranidhan ईश्वर प्राणिधान) – these five are the Niyamas. Once a calm environment is attained by practicing Yamas, the next step is the personal purification through these five Niyamas. The Yoga proceeds step by step. First it prescribes for a healthy environment and then for the personal purification of the seeker.
The third stage of Yoga is Aasan. An Aasan is a posture in which your body becomes stationary. These days various gurus are available in the market, who prescribe these Aasans for a weight loss program. Yoga did not have any idea of weight loss in its conception. During the period the Yoga was compiled surplus calories was not a problem before the seeker. The problem of surplus calories is the problem of modern life style. The originator of Yoga would have not given a solution to a problem which was unknown to his time. The Aasans are meant for a more subtle purpose. In Aasan you sit with your fixed and stationary body. Through these Aasans the Yoga master wanted you feel the presence of a restless thought process inside that stationary body. Aasan is the most suitable form of practice which encounters you with the duality present ‘within you’. It makes you realize that you are not a body alone; that you are not limited to your physical dimensions; that “something” more subtle, more live, more pervasive is there inside your visible body. Thus Aasans for the first time makes you visualize your inner self.
Then it comes the Pranayam. The chief proponent of Yoga, Patanjali says – tasmintsati shvasprashvasyogargativichheda pranayam तस्मिन्त्सति श्वासप्रश्वासयोर्गतिविच्छेदः प्राणायामः i.e. visualizing inhale and exhale separately and distinctly is Pranayam. Different forms of Pranayam made available by the modern Gurus were never described by Patanjali the great master. Pranayam is the beginning of the internal journey going to be attained through Yoga. Patanjali had a unique approach to go inside. He chose the easiest route through breathing. The seekers who practice Yoga must have experience the relationship between your breaths and your thoughts. When you inhale your thoughts are more itinerant than you exhale. When a new seeker starts meditation and goes inside deeper often he feels his breathing as being stopped. This is the conjunction between your breathing and your thoughts. Yoga has termed your breathing as your Praña. Pranayam is the visualization of Praña. Hence it is the visualization of your itinerant thoughts.
Upto the end of this fourth stage Yoga has completed one half of the journey; the outer journey. Henceforth the Yoga enters inside the seekers. Next stages of Yoga are meant for an internal transformation. Pratyahar, Dhaarna, Dhyan and Samaadhi are four milestones on the internal highway. The part of mind which is enchanted to the outer worldly objects has been named as Chitta in Yoga. Chetna meaning something near awareness in English is derived from this Chitta. As body is the subject matter of the outer expedition of Yoga, Chitta is the subject matter of internal exploration through Yoga.
Eyes are to see, ears are to hear and so on. Yoga says it is the nature of the eyes to see the things in the world. It is the nature of the ears to hear the sounds from the world. The same is true for the other senses. The senses have a natural tendency of being attracted by the worldly objects. This is an outward flow; an outward flow of your Chitta. This is the tendency or affinity of Chitta which flows from inside you to the objects; the Yoga calls it the Vritti. Yoga says that the mind has a natural tendency or affinity to be attracted by the worldly objects. This outward motion of your mind creates a bipolarity with you at one end and the world at the other. The Chitta is an abstract entity and is not perceivable as are the worldly objects. Hence out of the bipolarity only the worldly objects are visible. The viewer i.e. the Chitta forgets himself and keeps remembering only the vision i.e. the visible objects. The Chitta starts living in thoughts.
These thoughts are nothing but either your memories or your imaginations about future. Thoughts originate either from your past experience or from your mental permutations – combinations of your imaginations. The past is passed and is not existent. The future has not happened so far and hence it is also not existent. Both the past and the future are non existent. You live, through your thoughts only in past and the future. You try to exist in non existent entities. This is the only fallacy of the mankind from which Yoga wants you to get rid of.
You are never in your present. You usually do not observe you because of your sleep. You have forgotten of yourself. You are not aware of yourself. You know yourself only as much others know about you. You know your name; a few relationships; your office; your money and your thoughts etc. At night when you sleep all these particulars of you are forgotten but you still remain alive. It shows that you are more than your name, your relationships, your office, your money and your thoughts. What is that more? What is your essence? You are not aware of it. You are in deep sleep about your existence nevertheless your eyes may be opened. Yoga awakens you towards you.
It its early phase of journey, Yoga has shown you that in your common life, in your unawakened life you exist as a dichotomy or a bipolarity (as used in other articles in this section).
In Pratyahar Yoga speaks of getting rid of the psychological addictions of senses. A mirror shows you your image. It shows when you rose up from the bed in early morning, it shows when you are untidy, it shows when you comb hair, it shows you after your make up. It shows you all the times without any hesitation, without adding anything in you or subtracting from you. It has no hesitation of time, frequency or any other factor. You come in front of it and it shows you in return. No deference, no disdain; no temptation no escape simply a reflection. Yoga says your senses should reflect the world in the same way with No deference, no disdain; no temptation no escape simply a reflection of the world. This is Pratyahar.
Some thinkers have described it otherwise also. They say that seeker is to renounce the world. He has to withdraw his senses from the worldly objects. He has to take his sense away from the world. This view is difficult to be appreciated. Whenever you open your eyes they will receive the sensation of light. In jungle you may not be having houses, roads and vehicles but tress, grass, birds would be there. Sky is there. Your limbs are there. Yoga does not prescribe mutilation of senses. It speaks of non addicted senses. King Janak and Lord Krishna would have not attained the absolute knowledge (Brahamgyan) if this theory of mutilation of senses is resorted to. Pratyahar speaks of unaddicted vision.
This unaddicted vision i.e. Pratyahar liberates you of the dichotomy. You clearly see yourself and the world as two distinct and separable entities. Now the Yoga speaks of existing in yourself. Dhaarna, Dhyan and Samaadhi are the stages of existence. Dhaarna, Dhyan and Samaadhi are different in degrees and not in kind. The main difference among them is regarding the duration for which a seeker can stay in that state of existence. Therefore this article will discuss them under the common name – Dhyan. (however Patanjali has used a term Samyam for this)