Advanced Yoga Practices
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Lesson 185 - Role of the Intellect
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: Sun May 9, 2004 1:58pm
Q: I have been reading the articles present in this group from about a month or so… It’s really wonderful that I see people are experimenting and experiencing the Yoga practices and finding fruits for their practices. I would like to bring a topic to your concern.
In all of these yogic practice articles that I have gone through I have found that people mentioning vision of light and other things connected to their vision. What I feel about their vision is that they tend to have a pre-conceived notion about having a vision of light, or what they believe to be an experience of kundalini expansion in nervous system even before they start their yoga practice. What I would like to get clarification is that is the duration of just one or two year of yoga practice enough to awaken the kundalini within us. I believe that they might be correct only to an extent of 10% though I have personally never seen their experience… I am making this statement based on the fact that for a good yogic practices it is very much necessary to have a good disciplined life of non drinking, non smoking other diets which will keep our body especially our nervous system free of any addictive effects.
The point I am trying to make here is that practising Yoga without any Jnana (understanding) could be a futile practice (…I am not saying they are not knowledgeable ).
The very term Yoga means Union and Union cannot be achieved by mere practising of asanas (I am not being sarcastic or skeptical here). Yoga of Karma only when coupled with Jnana (intellect) will help us achieve the Ultimate Nirvana or Mukti.
The reason that I am mentioning about Jnana is because Jnana according to me is the enquiry of Self which will kill our Ahankaara and other egoistic views about the world we see. It enables a good Yogi or Yoginis to not only find the real meaning of Yoga but also attain Mukti from the materialistic world.
I would request you to write more articles concerning the Jnana Yoga (path of the intellect) which will clear the Maya that we live in and see the real light of the world.
A: Thank you for writing and sharing.
In the lessons we start with meditation going immediately to inner silence, and through the connectedness of yoga this enlivens the yamas and niyamas (restraints and observances), which are the behavioral elements you mention as preparation for kundalini. So we approach those conduct things by going deep right away, and the conduct changes naturally. Instructions on diet and personal habits are not required much because the nervous system goes for that automatically with inner silence coming up.
Then one is ready for stimulating kundalini soon enough. Can it be done in a few years? Probably not awakened fully without previous experience in this life or another, and many do come wired for it like that, so their early experiences are real — not pre-conceived or imagined at all. Spinal breathing and associated mudras and bandhas are good for everyone, and will lead to awakening of ecstatic energies in due course. Everyone has to work from where they are at their own pace, and the lessons are designed for that. So you find people at many levels of experience here, all opening to their inner truth. It is wonderful!
Jnana (path of knowledge) is woven all through the lessons in the form of the primary inquiry, “Who am I? Is there something more?” and the decision to engage in practices as a result. Both the inquiry (which feeds bhakti) and decision (which feeds action in practices) begin as acts of intellect. Beyond those two basic yogic functions, the intellect has a tendency to build huge castles in the air, which is not much of a help to yoga. So the focus is on fanning desire to practice, not so much analysis, except for inspiring practices. It seems simple, doesn’t it? It works.
If you try daily deep meditation as given in the lessons for a few months you will see how the intellect naturally fits in with this efficient approach to yoga. I have deliberately avoided building an edifice to jnana yoga in the lessons. For most of us it can end up becoming a distraction — going outward into a maze of ideas instead of inward to the simplicity and power of pure bliss consciousness, and up into endless realms of ecstasy.
As for the many spiritual experiences, if they inspire continuing daily practices, that is good. If experiences are lacking, that can also be used to inspire continuing daily practices. That, and the importance of pacing practices so as not to overdo purification (discomfort), are the two main reasons why experiences are discussed. Beyond that, experiences can be a distraction also, and we mention that a lot, as you have probably seen. So we enjoy experiences as passing scenery if we are having them, and then easily go back to the practice we are doing.
The bottom line in the lessons is daily practices to stimulate the nervous system to purify and open. The heart and mind are used to inspire and sustain practices, and not much else. We don’t worry about our personal habits or lifestyle. If we have the desire to meditate, yoga is already happening, no matter what we are eating or smoking! Once meditation begins, the impurities (including non-yogic behaviors) start to drop off. The practices do work, and all the goodies come along naturally, including steadily increasing intellectual understanding of the intricacies of the process. It happens by direct observation.
Our purifying and opening nervous system is a very interesting book to read. Each day brings a new page filled with sacred knowledge. We are that.
The guru is in you.
Note: For more on the role of yoga practices in relation to “self-inquiry” (jnana-advaita) approaches to enlightenment, see the AYP Self-Inquiry book and Liberation book. See also AYP Plus.