Advanced Yoga Practices
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Lesson 176 - Dissecting Samyama
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?”
Date: Thu Apr 29, 2004 11:35am
Q: The question that arises is about the coherence and definition of samyama, but without these two, we don’t have teachings, right?
I think that the yoga sutras state about the 8 steps and mean that dharana, dhyana and samadhi are levels that our consciousness pass along one practice, so, while practicing dharana, I am not yet in dhyana and samadhi, once my dharana reaches dhyana, I am not in dharana or samadhi, and when my consciousness attains samadhi, I am no longer in dharana or dhyana, is that right?
How can I apply these three disciplines together? Probably only if I attain samadhi, so I can lower my consciousness to produce thoughts as objects of dharana to bathe the practice with the permanent state of being that is samadhi. Dhyana will occur as a melting of the two (dharana and samadhi). Is that right?
Bringing the focus to our samyama practice, is the inner silence after meditation on mantra a kind of samadhi? But if it is, what kind of samadhi is described in chapter 1 of patanjali’s sutras, this inner silence fits?
I know that this will be different in each person depending on how deep one goes in meditation, but the second question is that the levels of samadhi of chapter 1 of patanjali’s sutras are not easily identifiable.
Probably we don’t need to understand this.
A: Your last statement is correct: “Probably we don’t need to understand this.”
When we get in the car to drive, we don’t have to understand all that that is going on under the hood of the car. We just press on the gas pedal and go. Good integrated advanced yoga practices are like that. We just need to know where the easy-to-use controls are, and we use them and go. All the practices in the lessons are like that.
Keep in mind that Patanjali was trying to dissect and describe the inner workings of the human nervous system. The nervous system is there, and he (or you and I) do not define how it works. We can only try and describe it, understand its underlying principles, find the controls to open it, and use them to our advantage.
Dharana, dhyana and samadhi are words to describe aspects of the process of conscious mind that can go in two directions: Inward from attention on an object (dharana on right mantra in this case), to fading away (dhyana), to pure inner silence (samadhi). And outward from inner silence (resident samadhi – it can be any level and we don’t split hairs on that), to attention/subtle feeling of an object (dharana on sutra) which is let go (dhyana) in silence. Then a flow of divine energy comes out from inner silence – samyama producing purification and siddhis.
We don’t have to understand all these elements to do the simple practices of meditation and samyama. The practices themselves are enough to activate the machinery of the nervous system. The dissected elements Patanjali has identified are occurring mostly at the same time, overlapping in time. Some inner silence is there all the time once meditation has been going on for a few months. Dharana is a very little thing on a sea of silence – an instant of attention on something that is letting go immediately by the developed habit of meditation in the mind, and that letting go is dhyana. It is all a mental process involving cultivating and utilizing the natural state of stillness/inner silence in the mind. In doing that, we change everything in the body too, providing the foundation for the rise of ecstasy in our nervous system, and the joining of silence and ecstasy to produce the unity stage of enlightenment – ecstatic bliss and ever-flowing divine love. This is what we are designed to become on this earth. This is the “car” we are driving.
The practices are all we need to know. The rest is automatic. The primary purpose of intellectual understanding (the dissection of the process into named elements/limbs) is to remain confident of what we are doing so we will continue daily practices. Other than for that, we don’t need to know the inner workings. It’s all under the hood. Just press on the gas pedal and go. It is that simple. So simple that many have missed it for thousands of years. It is time for everyone to be informed on what we all have — this human nervous system, the gateway to the divine, easily opened if we know where the simple controls are. That is what the lessons are about. Only that – nothing else. Spiritual science is interested only in reliable results that anyone can produce using the most efficient methods. And spiritual science is always looking for even better ways to utilize natural principles in the nervous system to open to the infinite within.
The guru is in you.