"No one can really experience freedom while their The Great Rebellionremains bottled up inside of the me, myself, the “I.” Understanding the myself, “my persona, what I am,” is imperative if we sincerely wish to attain freedom. There is no way we can destroy the fetters of our enslavement without previously and totally comprehending this question of “mine” and all that concerns the me, myself, the “I.” What constitutes slavery? What is it that keeps us enslaved? What are the obstacles? We must discover all of this. Rich and poor, believers and nonbelievers, all are actually prisoners, although they consider themselves to be free. We will remain imprisoned, as long as the , the Essence, the most dignified and decent part within us, remains bottled up inside of the me, myself, the “I”—in our cravings and fears, in our desires and passions, our preoccupations and our violence, and in our psychological defects. The sense of freedom can only be fully understood when we have annihilated the shackles of our very own psychological incarceration." - ,
In this course we are learning how to experience the steps of yoga as explained by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. Patanjali taught Ashtanga Yoga, which means "eight-limbed union," and it is the same practical approach that you will find in any spiritual tradition. The eight steps described by Patanjali are presented according to the point of view or idiosyncrasy of yoga, but the practical steps are the same universally, as is the experience they are based upon. In other words, this is similar to viewing the sunrise: we may use different words to describe it because of our language and culture, but the experience can be had by anyone, they just need to be in the right place at the right time. Similarly, by knowing how to position the, we can also experience what Patanjali experienced and taught about, because that experience is accessible to the of any living being.
In this course we are studying the eight steps of yoga because they are easy to understand and easy to practice. This is the main thing in this course: we are emphasizing facts.
wrote in his books:
"The hour has arrived to abandon theories and go directly to what is practical."
In this course we are focusing on making our spiritual life practical.
Up to now in this course we talked about the first three of those eight limbs: Yama, Niyama and Asana, how they relate to each other, and how we make them practical in our day-to-day life. They are lived through our ethics and through being relaxed.
To have genuine ethics we have to be aware of ourselves. Awareness is not explicitly presented in Yoga as one of the eight limbs. It is not intellectually written as one of the eight limbs. Instead, it is implied. This is because its original audience did not need to be told about awareness. To them, it was obvious and well-known that awakeningstarts with being present, in the moment, here and now, all the time. Nowadays, that is not obvious to people.
It is implicit in every step of the eight limbs that one needs to be developing cognizance, which is awareness that has understanding. It is awareness that knows. It is awareness with intelligence. That is what we mean by cognizance.
We can also use the word comprehension. In this tradition we use the word comprehension not to refer to an intellectual understanding, but a conscious one. Really it is related to the heart. It is when you just know something, you may not be able to intellectualize it, but you know it. That is what we mean by cognizance.
These parameters that I have outlined for you, facts, awareness, cognizance are all implicit in those first three aspects of Ashtanga, the eight-limbed path of yoga or what we can call royal yoga or Raja Yoga.
The first four lectures of this course we went into detail in all of that. I have been reminding you and refreshing you because you have to remember that in order to understand today’s lecture. If you do not recall and remember those things go back and study them because in this lecture we are getting more into the real difficulties of the problems that we face when we attempt to practice genuine yoga.
Yoga means union. It means to unite ourselves with something true, something real.
"The word yoga means in general to join one's mind with an actual fact..." - The 14th Dalai Lama
Real yoga is the same as the Latin Religare, the root of the word religion, which means to reunite what was separated. That term is useful in the western religions because western religions are based on the simple understanding that in ancient times we as athe purity that we have within was separated from the purity of , of divinity. There was a division that occurred within us. In Western religions, that division is symbolized by the expulsion from Eden. The word Eden literally means “bliss.”
That division occurred because of impurity. Purity and impurity are like oil and water. They cannot mix with each other. They can be scattered in the same place, but when you look closely at the different parts of a given entity that has purity or impure elements in it, those elements are not joined. This is true in our psychology as well. The impure elements are desires:, anger, pride, envy, fear, etc. The pure element is the part of that is not yet trapped in desire. In us, they are a jumbled mess, and we have not been educated to differentiate between them, nor how to remove the impurity so we return to a state of happiness. Real yoga teaches us how to do that. Awareness is the beginning.
The pure and impure elements within us are in conflict, chaos. But, although they might be mixed up like when you make a salad dressing and you mix up the oil and the vinegar, they don’t really blend. If you leave the dressing to sit still, it will separate again. If you leave a glass of dirty water to sit still, the heavier parts will sink and the lighter parts will rise. This is basic science, and it applies to our psychology, also. All of us are filled with impurities. But, if we stop stirring the mind, if we let it rest, the confusion of elements will separate, and then we can not only have peace, but we can more easily tell the difference between what is pure and what is not.
Our confused, chaotic, impure inner state is why we do not have union with what is pure, which is our Inner Being, what we can call God or the Buddha or the Father. There are many names for that spirit. In yoga we talk about this as Ishvara, which we described in the previous lecture. Ishvara has many implications as a term. It means our creative power, but that divine creative power related to purity, divinity. The individual that we think that we are has been separated from that because of our own actions, because of the impurities that we have in us. That separation does not occur because of God, because of the divine, or because of some kind of cosmic joke. It happens because of desire.
Hinduism and Buddhism recognize that the cause of suffering is desire. In Western traditions, this is symbolized in various ways, but over time has been obscured. Of course, this notion is completely rejected by modern society, who adores and worships desires of all kinds.
The desire that causes suffering has many faces. It includes the gross, obvious desires, but also many very subtle psychological elements, which act like filters on our perception, causing us to perceive inaccurately, and thereafter respond inaccurately.
Real yoga is about recovering true perception. True perception is the natural state of the, and to experience it, we simple need to remove that which conditions the . The conditioning is psychological impurity.
This image from the Mahabharata represents how the pureperceives the divine. In the story, this woman is a virgin, which represents the virginal, pure, clean, undefiled . She represents what is called in Buddhism our Buddha nature: Tathagatagarbha. It is a seed, an essence, that all of us have inside, but is trapped in defilement. It is asleep. It is undeveloped. Because of her purity, she receives from the divine a pure child: that represents how the divine can grow that seed into a perfect human being.
To have yoga (union with divinity), we have to remove that seed from its conditioning, and nourish it so it will grow.
or liberation (moksha) is what most people want when they come to religion. Liberation means to be freed of suffering. means to know the reality of oneself. To achieve this we have to dissolve all impurity that we have within ourselves, to completely clean everything, and have no impurities at all inside oneself, psychologically, on every level. It is not an easy task, but it has been done before, and can be done by any of us. We all have that potential. That is in the ultimate sense of what is meant by yoga: one is totally clean of impurity, which we can also call karma; then the union happens spontaneously, naturally, because that union is the natural state of the mind, to be unified with its root nature, and perceive that, and experience that, without any conditioning, without any obscuration, without any suffering.
That is why that state is called Nirvana. That word means “cessation.” It is when all the cycling and repeating Samsaric (means circling) elements have stopped. Desires repeat: desires want more and more and more. Desires are never satisifed. They are a sign of samsara: circling, the tendency of theto repeat. When those impurities are removed from within us, what remains is the purity (the freed ) united with its root, its true nature ( ). It is a long process to reach that. So, that is “yoga” in the full and complete sense.
We can also use this term union or yoga in a smaller or relative sense to describe an experience of liberation. So, union or yoga can describe having a brief feeling of theliberated from conditioning, to experience it, and to actually know from ones own experience what that liberation really is.
Let me explain something important about this point. I am not talking about someone’s ideas about liberation, or anyone’s theories or anyone’s beliefs, or anyone’s scriptures about it. I am talking about the experience that thehas when it is freed — even briefly — from its cage, its condition: from desire. Even a brief instant of liberation is an intense, beautiful, liberating experience. And important. Anyone who practices the steps of yoga can experience that. Yet, we have to understand that a momentary experience of liberation is not the same as full liberation, full realization, the actualization of liberation. We can equate this to a prisoner in a cell, which we truly are. The cage or prison is our sense of self, our psychological condition. We are so accustomed to it, we think it is normal, but it is not: it is a cage. Only someone who has experienced what is outside of that cage will know there is something more than the cage. So, people who have had such experiences likewise know there is such a thing as liberation. Nevertheless: one has to be completely free of the cage before one is truly liberated.
This distinction is important, and it is lost in many students of yoga. Many think as soon as they reach an experience of being liberated (which they may call Samadhi) they think they reached full liberation, and then they call themselves a master or a yogi, and they go around teaching people that they are “swami so and so, and I will teach you the way to liberation,” and they are mistaken, because they still have thevery alive: a lot of pride, a lot of , a lot of anger, and a lot of envy. Sure, they may be able to reach those states, and experience that, and help others do that, but that is not the same as being liberated.
How can we recognize the state of true liberation? We study those who reached it: Krishna, Buddha, Jesus, Moses, etc. We also study ourselves: if we have pride, we are not liberated. If we have, we are not liberated. And so on. Moreover, we can apply these words to ourselves:
"...Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." - Jesus, from Matthew 5
These distinctions are important and are all illustrated here in the Tree of Life, which symbolizes all the levels of, the levels of ourselves. In simple terms, the superior levels we can call heavens or nirvanas, directly in the middle we see the physical plane, and below that we see the inferior worlds, which is our own mind. In English we call it hell. That is our own mind. Union, yoga is when the conditioned is liberated from the lower worlds and all of this above becomes one thing, its true nature, and experiences that. That liberation that yoga as I mentioned can be brief or it can become permanent. Obviously our goal is to make that permanent. Today we are going to discuss how that can happen.
“These are the obstacles [to achieving yoga]: disease, dullness, doubt, carelessness, laziness, intemperance, worldliness or sensuality, mistaken notions due to illusions, missing the point, instability, causing distractions of the mind.” - Patanjali, Yoga Sutras
The first obstacle that is mentioned here is this word in English: disease. In English we think disease means leprosy, aids, those types of physical ailments, but here disease has a much deeper meaning. In Sanskrit it is Vyadhi, which can mean many things. It can mean simply disorder, sickness, plague, any tormenting thing. So, disease includes any kind of disequilibrium, not just physical, but also emotional and mental. Any disequilibrium or imbalance that we experience is an obstacle to us achieving yoga. Lets analyze that a little bit because this is critically important.
Firstly in this tradition we talk about the facts. If we are trying to achieve yoga, meaning we are trying to adopt some spiritual path, then where do we start with facts? We have to start with who we are here and now, not the theories that we have, not the beliefs that we have, not what we want to be or are afraid of being, but the facts.
First fact: here I am in my physical body; this I can confirm through my perception. In this physical body, I can experience physicality. We can call the activities of the physical body a type of intelligence that functions without much intervention on my part. The body digests it breathes, it moves it acts; it has many functions that does not require my constant oversight. We call that the motor-instinctive-sexual brain. It is a whole range of activities related to the spinal column.
We can also confirm through our perception that we experience emotions that are in flux constantly in reaction to our perceptions. We also experience thoughts. So here are two more brains: an emotional one and an intellectual one. Often these two are in conflict with each other, and are also in conflict with the body. This is why we are tense all the time. This is why we are sick all of the time. This is why we are in doubt, in despair, in confusion, in uncertainty, angry, unhappy, because these three parts of ourselves are out of balance with each other. They are all out of control. We scarcely know about them. We certainly do not manage them with cognizance. Remember I explained that word. Cognizance: attention with understanding.
When one has cognizance in the present moment of the, one manages them intelligently and with awareness. When one does that, one is relaxed, one is at peace, there is no conflict, so we can say that state of being is a type of yoga, union, where the are unified by a controlling power, which is the . That is a type of yoga. In this tradition we call it psychological equilibrium. It is the absolute prerequisite to get any further in the teachings. For example, if you want to reach Samadhi, you have to have psychological equilibrium first.
How do you know if you have psychological equilibrium? First, equilibrium is a state of serenity in which thedo their jobs harmoniously, and the remains aware of them. One remains in conscious control of the . That is, one is not controlled by the impulses or states of the intellect, emotion, or motor-instinct-sexual brain. Rather, the controls them.
Having psychological equilibrium means you can transform impressions consciously. That is, whatever you are perceiving and experiencing, you do not lose awareness of yourself, nor do you become identified with anything you perceive. You, as the, retain control over your . If you are forgetting yourself, you are not in equilibrium. If your are wild, without conscious control, you are not in equilibrium.
Having psychological equilibrium means at any given moment, anywhere, anytime, you can sit still, close your eyes, and enter Samadhi: that means with yourperceive the reality. That means you can meditate on a given thing, enter into that thing, and get information about that thing. That may sound like a magical power, but it is not. It is the natural ability of the liberated . It has that ability naturally, spontaneously, on its own by itself. It does not require any effort, it just happens. We all have lost that because we have no psychological equilibrium, and our is asleep and submerged in chaotic desires, memories, worries, etc.
When we close our eyes and try to meditate, we see a chaotic, stormy sea of thoughts, emotions, and sensations in the body. Anyone who tries to learnfaces that reality: the brain, the heart, and the body will not stop. The thoughts keep coming, coming, coming, emotions keep coming, coming, coming, memories, wishes, desires, wants, fears, pain, discomfort, sleepiness, excitement — all these states that seem to be random and constantly changing, and then we fall asleep, and then we wake up a half hour later and realize “I was supposed to be meditating.” Right there is the proof that we have not reached psychological equilibrium. It is a simple fact.
You need to get psychological equilibrium to go any further. This is the first obstacle: dis-ease in the: imbalance.
The antidotes to dis-ease are simple: study your. Become aware of your , and how they function. Do not theorize about them. Instead, look at the facts. Study yourself as though you are a doctor studying a patient, or a scientist studying a strange life form. Study all the activities of the and the results of how they are used. If you find a negative state in yourself, observe the facts of what happened before that state occurred. How were the being used?
Look at your physicality. Study the health of your body. Work on it and improve it. This body is the first floor of your temple. If your temple were filled with chemicals, junk food, cigarette smoke, alcohol, and drugs, why would God come there? If your temple were filled with prostitutes, why would God come there?
Your temple has three floors: the physical body, the heart and the mind. If you want to experience divinity, prepare your temple. Clean it. Make it a sacred space. Make it pure, like Jesus drove the moneylenders out. That is a symbol for us to drive out from our temple the worldly ones: our desires. Those desires are the obstacles to yoga. God is not the obstacle. Our inner Being is not the obstacle. Our desires are.
The first step is to study the facts of our.
Start with the body. Establish good health. The first way to do this is to radically improve your diet. In synthesis, do not eat junk. Find out what foods give you genuine and observable nourishment. Pay attention to how your diet affects your mind, heart, and body. If you truly eat well, you will not get sick, you will have lots of energy, you will be relaxed and capable of enormous activity.
We have a whole course about this called Healthy Spirituality. Study it, and put it into practice.
What you eat affects everything about your life. If you want a good life, eat the cleanest and purest food you can get.
If you have good physical health, your other two brains will be much more balanced and capable. Good physical health is the foundation of emotional, intellectual, and spiritual health. If your physical health is poor, everything else in you suffers.
Really observe, and be cognizant of eating. Do not just eat and watch TV, or eat and talk with your friends, or eat and talk on the phone, all without tasting every bite. With each bite that you take, be cognizant of it. In that you are applying all the power of yourto transforming that material into an energy that will saturate all the atoms of your body with a much higher value then food that is eaten like an animal. An animal eats mindlessly, instinctively, automatically. If you eat mindlessly, then you will get that result: a mindless result, an mechanical result. But if you eat cognizantly, with awareness, your food will have a new vibration, especially if it is very good food, clean food, with no chemicals or artificial substances, not something that is coming out of a factory, can or a box, but something that came from Mother Nature.
Drink good, healthy liquids made by nature, especially clean water. Abandon factory made drinks, sodas, sugars, alcohols, and all the poisons that society is trying to stuff down our throats. Do not drink those artificial substances. They are junk. They were made to get your money, not give you health. They do not feed the. In fact, those artificial drinks rob your glands and organs of all their powers. If you do not realize that, study it, and you will find out.
Apply the same principle to breathing: do not breathe in chemicals or toxic smoke, such as cigarette smoke, etc. What you breathe goes directly into your blood stream, and into your heart.
All of these factors may seem small, but they add together and make something big.
The next part of the physical body is sexual energy. If we are experiencing loss of the sexual energy, then we are depleting the body of its most potent source of energy. There is no source of energy that we have access to, practically speaking, factually speaking, that is more powerful than the sexual force. This is why all the ancient traditions emphasized the need to restrain that energy and transform it for spiritual purposes, and not to utilize it for desire or, not to utilize it for pleasure or entertainment, but to devote it to our spiritual practice. That is why beginners are taught practices like , types of breathing practices, and transmutation practices like bodily positions where you learn to transform that energy and to harness it. It is a type of . It is a type of purity that trains body to recover its normal, natural state, of holding that energy within rather than wasting it in orgasms, and to instead transmute it, liberating it from animal . If we are constantly losing that energy, whether willfully or not, we will never experience the states of we are longing to reach. If we are trying to reach Samadhi, we never will. Without stored and purified sexual energy, it is impossible. We also can never reach liberation. It is impossible. The sexual energy is the power that liberates the . It is that power that becomes harnessed by , by the , and becomes what is called . It is the sexual force.
When the sexual force is transformed and illuminated, it becomes the, the herself, her power, her energy, her force, her intelligence, which liberates us. In Hinduism, this is represented by Durga, a beautiful goddess who rides a lion. Durga has many arms and many weapons, and she conquers the demon . She is that flaming fire called , which is the sexual force awakened and pure. Without that force within us, she cannot do anything to help us.
We must stop the loss of sexual energy, whether through masturbation, the sexual act, wet dreams, through any type willful or unwillful loss. It has to be restrained and transformed.
When that energy is restrained and transformed, rather than creating an external physical sensation or creating an external physical body, it begins to create on a higher level, within us. Contemplate that; this is very logical.
Everyone wants the beautiful ecstasy of Samadhi. What energy can create that? If you think about it, if the sexual energy produces that minor brief pleasure of the, then it makes sense to realize that the same energy is what produces the ecstasy of the , when the energy is redirected within up the spine throughout all the energetic centers in the body into the brain. Of course it is going to produce something, something magical, something wonderful.
That is why all the old traditions emphasize all the beginners start with restraining the sexual energy, and then, when they can control it, they work their way towards sexual cooperation between man and woman to fully harness that force. This is symbolized in every religion. Here, we are explicit about it. We teach it directly.
If we restrain and harness the sexual force, psychological equilibrium can be reached quickly.
Additional factors to watch out for as signs of physical imbalance include constipation, incontinence, sicknesses — these are all physical signs of disequilibrium, and we need to find their causes and repair them.
But remember, dis-ease is not merely physical.
If we discover that emotionally we are always swinging on a pendulum, in which one day we are depressed and we hate life, and the next day we are so ecstatic and happy because we spent time with our friends or family, and the day after that we want to kill ourselves. That pendulum swing is a sign of a terrible imbalance in the emotional center.
Perhaps we are addicted to expending emotional energy through gossip, tv, sports, music, etc.
Maybe we are addicted to expending intellectual energy through reading too much, theorizing too much, debating too much, analyzing too much.
Perhaps we are addicted to expending physical energy though hyperactivity, excessive exercise, obsessive behaviors, etc.
We need to study our centers for imbalances.
From moment to moment, from day to day, we are not in control of using the, but instead, they run on automatic, switching from one center to the next, without any sense of direction at all. When we should think carefully about something, we instead react instincively or emotionally. When we should respond emotionally to a situation, we instead respond with the intellect. In short, we do not know how to use the . So, we waste energy, and make messes of so many situations, and the sum total is at the end of the day we are exhausted from wasting our energy, and as confused and uncertain as the day before, and often worse; we are constantly impacted by all of our problems, pains, sufferings, and desires, and unable to get control of ourselves. This is not normal. This is a type of suffering; it is a dis-ease, an imbalance.
Someone who has balance in theis calm, relaxed, and is able to handle challenges with equanimity, without being shocked, with out overreacting. They might experience pain and happiness, they may experience displeasure, they may experience frustration, but it does not knock them down. They can take it and still smile, still be in control of their temple.
One way to really work on this and establish equilibrium is to work consciously with theeveryday. Really start to become aware of them. A great way to do that is to make sure that everyday you use each one consciously and in a positive way. We recommend everyday to use your intellect and study scripture, read. Use your intellect to analyze good things, positive things that will help you and help others. Use your emotional center in the same way. Listen to positive, uplifting music. Make art. Work in a garden, cook food, help someone who needs help, go to your neighbor’s house and help them if they need something. Take care of someone who is sick. Use your emotional energy in a way that helps you and others. Care for people. Be kind.
Exercise your body. Eat well. Drop bad habits and adopt good ones.
Many people work at jobs where they are sitting in front of a computer all day long, then go home at night to a computer or TV for the rest of the night. That is absurd. That is why we are killing ourselves. If you have that type of lifestyle, change it. Give up the TV; give up the internet at home, or whatever you do on the computer, browsing around looking at nothing. Use that time to use your other brains. If you are on a computer all day with your job, then when you get home do not touch the computer or TV, be active. Go out for a walk. Play an instrument.
Engage youreveryday, and in this way you start to learn how to balance them, how they work, and how they affect you, and how to use them for the benefit of yourself and others. This is very practical and will change your life.
None of these steps are hard to do, but they have measurable effects. Change them all, and you will find big changes in your experience of life.
The next obstacle that is mentioned by Patanjali is Styana, which is dullness. It can also mean density, apathy, sloth, heaviness, idleness. This is interpreted as a lack of enthusiasm to do spiritual practice, a lack of energy. Dullness in this sense means to have a type of psychology that the teachings are not penetrating. Really, this is the case for most of us and most of modern society. Sure, we may like the teachings, but are we practicing them in a way that is creating powerful changes in our ways of thinking, feeling, and acting?
We are so identified with sports, with dramas on TV, and with our bank account that we do not really put the teachings into practice.
Life goes by very quickly, and is over before we realize it. You cannot get back yesterday. It is gone. Each particle of energy that you expend is gone. Each instant that you expend is gone. Each instant, we are marching closer and closer to death. We do not comprehend that.
We think spending our time browsing Facebook is useful, or looking through gossip magazines, shopping at the mall for junk we do not need. We are asleep. This is dullness. This is a lack of comprehension, lack of cognizance, lack of understanding.
We do not see the reality. We exist in a dream state. We waste so much time and energy on so many stupid things. This is dullness.
Our dullness must change if we really want to reach yoga, if we really want to experience the facts of the, the facts of . We can do it, but we have to break through our own dullness, whatever it is that lulls into a false sense of security. Be watchful of this times that you go on autopilot, or those times when you forget to serve yourself, to remember yourself, to be present in the moment gathering information about your psychology. Whenever you are not present, observing, watchful, working on yourself, it is because of dullness. Find the qualities in yourself that allow that dullness to emerge, and change them.
The antidote to dullness is to drop bad habits and adopt good ones. Use practices that can energize you, such as , runic practices, rites of rejuvenation. These are practices that activate and utilize energy to stimulate the . When you learn , you retain your sexual energy and the (which means “to harness the wind”) takes the forces of the sexual energy and saturates the nervous system. It loads it up with energy. The purpose of that is to stimulate the to be awake, to be, to perceive and cut through illusions, to wake up. The rites of rejuvenation and the runic practices do the same. We learn to charge ourselves with solar energy — not physical solar energy, but Christic solar energy — to feed and nourish the so we can break through the illusions of dullness. These types of exercises are powerful, but they are not powerful if they only remain a theory for us and something we have only read about. They have to be used everyday.
Listen: you are not alone. Every student without exception lacks willpower to awaken. All of humanity is in this conditioned state in which we feel defeated, weak, hopeless, full of despair, we lack any confirmation of any truth, it is all a bunch of theories to us and it sounds interesting and we really do not know… that is a state of dullness. You can break it, but you have to make effort. The effort is not with the intellect, it is with the. The effort is not with belief, it is with the , so for the to become present in the moment, to start perceiving the truth, you have to energize it. You energize it by saving sexual energy, saving physical energy, saving emotional energy, saving intellectual energy, harnessing all of the energy of the , and putting the to work. That is what breaks dullness.
Another great way to work on dullness is to serve others without any reward for yourself. In Hindu traditions, this is called Seva, or karma yoga. Volunteer, donate, give of your time and energy to help people who need it. Helping others energizes your.
In Sanskrit, Samzaya literally means risk, doubt, danger, hesitation or sleep.
In Yoga, doubt refers to that tendency of theto look for contradictions, especially when the itself feels threatened. Specifically, the most important doubt is how the seeks any means to take us away from spiritual practice. The doubts the scriptures, the teachers, the masters, the practices, the methods, everything. Sadly, because the is asleep, we go along with the doubt. No matter how ridiculous or superficial the doubt, we generally lack the ability to see it for what it is. This is how even the most devoted students of spirituality eventually drift away. Doubt infects them.
Really, doubt has power when we do not have experience. Doubt has power in those who do not practice. When we are dedicated to spiritual practice, we gain experience, we see the results of the practice, we have facts to rely on. Thus, doubt is rendered powerless. When you experience a fact, doubt cannot challenge it. But if you have not experienced something, doubt is very powerful. That is why even the best believers, the most fervent believers can become the greatest cynics, and vice versa. The most cynical, negative, anti religious person can suddenly become the most devout, religious person. This flip flop between belief and disbelief is a pendulum of disequilibrium, and is caused by doubt, a lack of experience of the facts. That is, doubt is a mental construction, so it has two contrary poles: yes and no, acceptance and rejection. This duality is a hypnotic force that clouds our perception of reality.
Doubt is subtle. We often do not realize we have it. Ouris very tricky with doubt. It says “I have studied that teaching, and it is really interesting and I like the concepts, but the people at that school are so annoying. That tradition must be fake.” That is doubt. It is using an excuse, a justification, to keep the away from the real path. We do that all of the time. We do not realize how our mind is creating our perception. We just accept it as true. We do not realize that it is wrong.
Thewill find any excuse it can to keep us from the path. For instance, many people read the books of and reject them because of how he wrote. They do not like his tone. It is really amazing that people are given the most sacred science that exists, but reject it because they don't like the package it came in. That is doubt, that is the , and it is really sad.
Doubt exists because we have ideas about the spiritual path, but our ideas are wrong, and we are unwilling to see that. Generally, we only want to believe whatever is convenient to our desires. Anything that contradicts our desires is rejected. So, many people rejectbecause they are unwilling to give up pleasure. They are unwilling to recognize that identification with pleasure is the cause of the suffering. That is one form of doubt. Their is behind that doubt. The does not understand that someone who is awakening actually experiences superior types of pleasure, related to the .
The antidote is acquired through experiencing the facts. The only way to expel doubt is to experience the facts of our spiritual practice.
Thewants us to believe that we can become spiritually developed while still enjoying all the pleasures of the senses, and there are many people who genuinely believe that. The facts demonstrate otherwise, but no one is willing to see it. Our doubt, fed by the , refuses to see the reality. Instead, we project our desires onto our perceptions. We want to see a certain way, and do our best to avoid anything that will contradict our desire. We do not want to see the truth.
A friend of mine told me a story that illustrates this point. My friend worked at a retail store where there are a lot of employees to handle all the customers; some of the customers were regulars. This store is near a very famous fashion school, so many of the customers were models and fashion designers from all over the world. One such customer was an exceptionally beautiful, petite young woman from India, who was quite famous for her beauty. Of course, everyone noticed her. There was one employee who was dumb struck by her. He was a big, tall, bold, confident, handsome man, but whenever the beautiful, petite woman would come in, he was overcome with nervousness, and refused to go near her, but would watch entranced from a distance. After she left he would go to the other employees and say, “That woman is so pretty, she makes me nervous, I cannot talk to her. I wish I had the courage to talk to her.” My friend tried to tell him that the girl was no one special, but he refused to believe it. He was too impressed by her appearance. The employees were all entertained by this, because this guy who seemed so confident the rest of the time would become like a scared child around that woman. Finally, it happened that when she came in, he was the only one available to help this girl. He had no choice but to approach her. He was terrified. Of course, all the other employees were watching. So he reluctantly went to help her, and he said, “How may I help you?” When she answered, every other word that came out of her mouth was filthy, foul, gutter talk. As soon as she started talking, he realized she was crude, dirty, repulsive. All of his nervousness went away. All of his admiration of her vanished.
All of us suffer this same illusion. We want to believe what appears to be beautiful really isbeautiful. But, especially these days, the packaging may be beautiful, but inside is garbage. This is true of people, food, products, religions. Modern culture capitalizes on the tendency of our. We ourselves live by this tendency. We struggle to make ourselves appear beautiful, while ignoring the filthiness that is inside of us.
Whatever we perceive, we interpret, but according to our desires. The man saw a beautiful woman, but did not see her for what she truly was. Everyone else did, but he refused to see until he was forced to. Similarly, do not see what is real. We are seeing what the mind wants us to see. We see our desires. We see our fears.
Doubt and belief are the two extremes of the same problem. Neither are based on facts, but are instead interpretations that seek to affirm a precondition. Religious fanatics see everything in accordance with their fanaticism. They interpret everything to fit their view. They do not see reality. They twist the facts to fit their belief. In exactly the same way, the science fanatics do the same. They twist the facts to fit their limited view. They are the two extremes of the same tendency: “doubt.” One says “There is God,” while the other says, “There is no God.” Neither one has any experience of the fact of God. They only have beliefs and doubts. One believes religion and doubts science. The other believes science and doubts religion. Both are mistaken. Both are deluded by their own mind.
The one who experiences does not doubt or believe. The one who experiences the reality knows. When one knows, one does not need doubt or belief.
We have all kinds of doubts and beliefs about religion, spirituality, heaven, etc. but it is all fantasies, because it is not based in experience. We have fantasies about heaven, about liberation. We have fantasies about Samadhi. We have fantasies about astral projection. We have fantasies about what the masters are, about what angels are. We have fantasies about the past and the future. None of it is real. And the sum of it all, it makes us suffer from this condition doubt. Doubt is not just to say “no it is not like that.” It says “it is like that instead.” Doubt is belief that is mistaken. It is a mistaken idea. A mistaken belief. That is what is mentioned by doubt. It is not to see truth. That is whysays:
“The path of wisdom does not rely on believing, not believing, or doubting. The path of wisdom consists of acquiring, analyzing, and meditating and experiencing.”
When we experience the reality of, when we have a real experience of Samadhi and the is liberated from the even for a brief moment, there will be no more doubt for you. That experience becomes a part of your . You will never forget it. The mind still has doubt, but the has experienced, and it gives you incredible power to overcome the doubt of the mind. It gives you certainty; it gives you knowledge, because you experienced what is real.
The antidotes to doubt are many. Acquire experience through practice. Practice, practice, practice. For every page of scripture that you read, you should be meditating much more time then it took you to read the page. Most of us will read hundreds of pages and listen to hours of lectures and then meditate for ten minutes. That is imbalanced. It should be the other way around. Ten minutes of reading and hours of practice. This is how you should really work. If you really want effective change, work like that.
Study root scriptures. Do not read new age, popular spirituality. Study proven masters, proven teachers, proven traditions. You can rely on Jesus, Buddha, Krishna. You cannot rely on writers who want to make money. They will only tell you what will earn them an income.
Jesus said “you will know them by their fruits.” If you want to know if a tradition is good, look at the people that are following it. Are they really changing, are they really becoming better people? Are they helping others? Are they exemplifying the qualities that they are talking about? Are they becoming what they are trying to encourage you to become? Or are they still lustful, angry, vengeful, materialistic, crude, lazy, etc.?
Put the teachings in practice in the real world.
Revive your sense of wonder and astonishment by getting back in touch with nature and all of its creatures. Many of us are never in nature. We are surrounded by concrete, plastic, and steel, all of the time. That has a very powerful influence on our psychology. It is really important to go out and to really look at the universe. Really look at it like a child looks at it, the way that a child looks at a butterfly, a flower, or star. Recover that sense of astonishment, that sense of wonder. Recover the mind that does not know, but is inquiring to know. There is no doubt in that mind, there is only openness to the new. We have all experienced it. Remember when you were a child, when you were able to perceive and look at things as if you they completely new, because they were, and how different life tasted. It was not cynical, dark, or sarcastic. We were not always trying to hurt each other, or criticize each other, and seek the things we did not have. We were incredibly impressed by a raindrop, a snowflake, by the shape of the clouds. All of us have that capacity inside. It is part of the, it is part of the . Revive it, work with it as much as you can. That dispels doubt very powerfully, and you have the power to engage it. It is all a matter of your perception, how you are choosing to perceive your world.
The next important obstacle in Sanskrit is Avirati. It can mean intemperance, incontinence, worldliness, and sensuality, which we think refers only to sex, and it does relate to that, but really it is about the attraction to sensations. Sense-ualty. All of us are addicted to the senses and the vibrations of energy in the senses. All of us. We do not understand the senses at all. We are addicted to the sensations of sex, the sensations of certain foods, the sensations of certain music, of certain fashions, certain crowds, certain words. We love the sensation of being praised. Some of us love the sensation of being blamed or of being criticized. Some of us love the sensations of fighting, or being in conflict with others. Some of us love the sensation of feeling defeated or feeling successful. These are sensations: physical, emotional, and intellectual sensations. This is sensuality. We are captivated by the illusion of the senses. We need to cut through the illusion and see the truth.
Sensations are impermanent, unreliable, and deceptive.
“Pleasure never endures long enough, and this is why the thirst for pleasure is the ailment that makes the intellectual animals most pitiable.” - Samael Aun Weor
Even so called spiritual people are constantly searching for pleasure, so-called spiritual pleasures, like the pleasure of being at church, at temple, the pleasure of being with the group, or with spiritual friends, the pleasure of the sexual act, the pleasure of doing rituals, or looking like we know spirituality and teaching someone and feeling like a spiritual authority.
We all have attachments to sensations, yet do not realize that is all they are. Sensations are illusions, and attachments to them are obstacles to real yoga. We need to cut through illusions and attachments. The way we do it is to analyze the facts.
Study impermanence. Sensations are temporary. Become cognizant of that, and you will lessen the power that sensations have on your.
Study the pendulums of nature. When you indulge in pleasure, pain will be the outcome. This is a law of nature. Observe those who become addicted to pleasure: their addiction destroys them painfully. Liberate yourself from addiction to pleasure, and you liberate yourself from much pain. You instead come to know peace.
Study karma, cause and effect. Every action has a cost and a consequence. Chasing pleasure has costs and consequences. The mind does not want to see this, but it is a law of nature.
Become free of the chain of the senses. Learn to see sensations for they are: impermanent, temporary flares of energy. In this way, one observes how pleasure arrives, lasts a moment, then passes away. So does pain. With this point of view, one is not disturbed by pleasure or pain. One does not seek them out, or strive to avoid them, but instead, observes them for what they are. This attitude liberates energy and. It frees us from much suffering.
We need the capability to be indifferent to sensations, and be serene in any situation. When we have serenity, then conditions are no longer conditioning. They come and go like clouds. We do not suffer because of them. Instead, we remain cognizant and able to act appropriately, without being a victim of illusions.
The next few obstacles listed in that scripture are:
Mistaken notions due to illusions.
This is referring to our tendency to confuse a bad state for a good one. Specifically this passage is referring to how in spiritual practice, we can become attached to certain sensations or states. A student may become concentrated and believe that state is good, and they become attached to it. This is mistaken. Similarly, students become attached to getting out of the body, or being in the sexual act, etc.
This statement also refers to external circumstances. People mistakenly think that once they are a member of a group, it is enough. Or, once they are following a teacher, it is enough. They are mistaking a set of external conditions to be sufficient, but it is not. It is impermanent. It is unreliable, it is not changing the condition of the.
So, this line of the scripture refers to mistaken perception of internal states and external events.
The next one is
missing the point.
This is how we believe those illusions, and become diverted from the path. For example, we start attending a certain spiritual group. The teacher is very charismatic, and we think that by following this teacher, tradition or religion we are on our way to heaven. We are not practicing effectively, measurably, instead we are just a follower, a listener. This is “to miss the point.”
Instability is the general fickleness of the mind. It is never satisfied. It is untamed.
The next line says
“Pain, despair, tremor of the body, [irregular inhalation and exhalation are the companions of the causes of distraction [oscillation of the mind].” –Patanjali Yoga Sutra 1
If you are experiencing any of these in your physical body, emotions, or in your intellect, then you know you are in psychological disequilibrium.
Physical pain is obvious, but what about emotional pain? What about pain in the mind? When there is a mental conflict that we cannot resolve, it becomes very painful, and we cannot see the answer to something that seems absolutely unsolvable. That is a painful situation for the mind.
Pain really refers to frustrated desire. Pain does not just mean physical pain duringpractice. It also means the frustration you feel when you cannot meditate.
Despair is to lose hope, to lose faith, to feel like we cannot do it. It is defeatism. We think, “I am not capable of the spiritual path. I have sinned too much, or I do not have a spouse, or I do not have an instructor, or my mind is too crazy, or I have a sickness, or I have a problem physically or emotionally, or I have something that is stopping me.” This is all despair; this is all thetalking. It is an illusion.
Tremor of the body is vibrations that happen because of disequilibrium in the. Are you tapping your foot or your finger? Why? That is a tremor of the body, something in you that is venting energy. Usually, it is impatience, frustration, anxiety, stress. When we meditate, is the body relaxed? Or is it tense, in pain, unsettled? All of that is because of the state of the mind, because of disequilibrium in the .
Irregular breathing is the same. Notice that when you get upset your breathing changes. Your body becomes tense whether you are excited, despairing, or angry. That is a sign that your mind is imbalanced. When you have equilibrium, your breathing will be relaxed and steady.
When you are meditating, you can watch for these obstacles and know that they are telling you that something is wrong psychologically.
To prevent them, all of them, the scripture says:
“One should have intense practice on one subject.”
This is the ultimate antidote explained by Patanjali. He is talking about concentration.
Practice is something you keep doing. A professional athlete does not stop practicing. A professional musician does not stop practicing. A real meditator does not stop practicing.
Modern intellectuals say that to reach mastery of any given task we have to perform it for ten thousand hours. How many hours have you meditated in your lifetime?
Now, that is just what the intellectuals say, but let me point out something about that statement to show you that it is completely wrong. There are a lot of people who have driven their cars for ten thousand hours, and they are terrible drivers. There are people who have cooked for ten thousand hours, yet their food is terrible. So, just because you have done something a lot does not mean you know how to do it well. There are people who have prayed more then ten thousand hours, but they really do not know how to pray. There are people who have meditated for ten thousand hours, but do not know how to meditate. To put in time and effort is one thing, but to know how to do properly is something else.
This is why we need to know how to study ourselves. With every spiritual practice you do, check the results; do not just do something blindly. Measure it. Make sure that each step that you take and each action you perform is effective. If it is not, find out why.
Listen: the state of youris what is at stake. This is not a game. This is not something to be taken lightly. This will affect your future lives: not just this one, but also your future lives. And not just your life, but also those people you will influence. Contemplate that.
What if the Buddha did not double-check his own practice while he was practicing? What would have happened? We would not have had a Buddha Shakyamuni. What if Jesus did not double check himself and constantly refine what he was doing? Constantly check himself against the scriptures and against the masters? What would have been the result? His mission would have failed. We need to practice and check our practice against the facts, everyday. We need to constantly refine and improve our spiritual practice.
This scripture says to prevent these obstacles one should have intense practice on one subject. In the previous lecture, we studied how if you really want yoga, learn to concentrate on theOM, not only when you take time to do your each day, but throughout all of your activities at all times and in all places.
Did any of you actually do the practice from then to now? Are you still chanting OM constantly in your mind? I would be surprised if even one person did it, because most of us are too lazy, or did it for a few days then forgot, or think we know better, or we think “I am going to do this other thing that I have been doing for years and years.”
Ask yourself: did it work? Did what you were doing since the last lecture work? Did your spiritual practice advance measurably? Can you actually measure any progress in yourself for the last month? Can you quantify that? Can you qualify it? Can you prove it? Do you have facts to back it up? If you do not, then you have a psychological disequilibrium, a serious one, because it is affecting your spiritual work. This is the type of spiritual facts that you must be dealing with if you really want to understand yoga and experience reality.
You have to hold yourself to a very high standard. You cannot be lazy; that is one of the obstacles. You cannot have doubt; that is one of the obstacles. You cannot have sensuality, to be indulging in the senses all the time; that is one of the obstacles.
We need a very rigorous self-analysis, daily, constantly. That is why in the very early part of this course we recommended starting a spiritual diary, and working with it everyday. I am quite sure no one here has done that either. What is the point of listening to lectures and studying the material if you are not applying it? You have to ask yourself that question.
If you are not doing the practices we recommend, and if you are not following the sequence of things that are being provided to you, then why are you here? If you are not doing the practices of the school that you are following, or the teacher you are following, or the course that you are following, fine, but is what you are doing giving you measurable results? Are you actually achieving some spiritual development that is measurable and congruent with the teachings? What are the facts? Not beliefs, not wishes, not intentions: facts. Is your psyche changing for the better? Are you awakening in a measurable way? Are you penetrating into the causes of your suffering, and rooting them out? If you are, wonderful, continue.
Do you consider yourself to be a serious student? By what measure? Having serious intentions is admirable, but useless if measurable gains are not acquired. Everyone has good intentions. How many actualize them?
There are many who consider themselves serious, and are even instructors, but they cannot concentrate. Remember the stages of yoga:
Go now to meditate, and see what stages you can access at will, right now.
If you have psychological equilibrium, and truly understand yoga, then you can reach Samadhi anytime, anywhere, at will.
Listen: having intellectual understanding is not enough. You need to be able to experience all of these states, at will.
I know beginners who can access all these states, because they are serious about practicing.
I also know many more students who have much more intellectual knowledge than those beginners, but cannot even experience pratyahara. If they cannot establish pratyahara, they definitely cannot go beyond that to dharana, dhyana, or samadhi. So, really, they are wasting their time.
I also know instructors who cannot reach pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, or samadhi, even though they teach about them. Why? Because they are unwilling to revise their practice. They think they already know how to practice. Secretly, privately, they are in great pain, despair, and doubt (the obstacles we described above), but they are not serious about changing. They are not serious about revising their practice and improving it. They think they are already advanced, and do not need the basics. That is precisely their problem. They ignore the basics.
If you are able to meditate, reach Samadhi, and acquire comprehension of your defects, that is excellent, and you have what you need to go further on the path. But if you are not capable of that, then you need to analyze your practice, find the weaknesses, and improve.
I recall that during the time I visited India, I met many students of yoga who were very serious about theirpractice. Subsequently, they were able to experience and access all the stages of yoga, even up to Samadhi. They did not have even a fraction of the knowledge we teach here, yet they did have seriousness and dedication to practice. If any student were to combine these two — real dedication to practice, and the complete knowledge that is available now — experience in would be acquired easily. When students complain to me that they are not having experience in , it is obvious that they are not serious about recognizing and overcoming their obstacles. They might attempt to meditate for an hour or two a day, but if they are not advancing, it is because of one of the obstacles.
Patanjali says that to conquer these obstacles, we need to learn concentration. He suggests theOM, which is the name of our Being.
When you utilize theOM, it engages a tremendous energy. For this to work, first one must be saving energy in all : saving intellectual energy (by avoiding useless thinking), saving emotional energy (by stopping emotional indulgences), and saving sexual energy (by avoiding the , and in general). The one who saves energy and uses this OM all day long, concentrating on that sound, being present, rapidly develops concentration. This overpowers the obstacles and makes them visible to us.
Then in addition to that, one should also take time to sit still, shutting all the senses down except imagination, and concentrate on imagining that. When doing this, one should be focused only on the OM: nothing else. Forget the body, forget the outside world, do not pay attention to thoughts, emotions, sensations. Focus 100% of your attention on OM.
This is the same practice that we gave in the previous lecture, but now we have to go deeper with it. Use thisOM in all times, in all places, and in all things. Use it to help you balance your . It invokes the presence of your own .
Let us consider something for a moment. All of us come to these types of studies because we really long to be free of suffering. We are tired of pain, we are tired of suffering. We want to know something about the reality of God that is inside of us. That reality can only be known by ourselves, through our own effort. I cannot give you that, and no one else can give you that. Become serious. Study your temple. Study your body, your heart, and your mind. Find the impurities and remove them. When you find things in yourself that make your inner temple dirty, now you know why God is not coming there. So change it. Clean the temple. Fill your inner temple with that.
Now let me explain how this type of concentration works.
There are two primary forms of concentration practice. First is the exclusive type. Second is the non-exclusive type.
Exclusive concentration focuses attention on one thing, and excludes everything else.
Non-exclusive concentration pays attention to everything that is perceivable, and seeks to expand attention more and more, to perceive what previously was not perceivable. For this, one needs training, very good concentration, and lots of energy.
The more powerful and potent type is the non-exclusive, but it is more difficult. It requires that you first have some ability to concentrate. So, in order to prepare for the non-exclusive type of concentration, we teach the exclusive type in the beginning, like in any other tradition.
To meditate on OM is an exclusive type of concentration. What that means is you are excluding everything but that. That is why the scripture says to intensely practice on one subject. You do not have to use OM, you can use anything. If you want to meditate on a rock go ahead. If you want to concentrate on a stone or a leaf, or a flower, anything at all, go right ahead. You can do that.
The reason we recommend OM is because it has added power. OM has more power then a rock. Om has more power then a catchy phrase or a drawing on the wall. The OM has an energetic power. If you want to work with a symbol of OM that you hang up in your home and visualize and look at, do it. This is an effective type, as long as you do it in the right way.
Exclusivemeans when you are concentrating on OM do not pay attention to anything else. One hundred percent of your attention needs to be on that object. Your mind, heart, and body will not like this. They will all try to distract you with discomfort, pain, sensations, hunger, thirst, thoughts, feelings, memories, desires — anything that the mind can use to keep you identified.
If you have sufficient willpower, you work hard, and you relax, you will discover that your concentration gets stronger. The more you do it, the stronger it gets. Especially if you are saving energy and practicing all day long to be concentrated and present, then concentration develops very quickly.
The state that you want to reach is to be able to pay attention to something and not forget that you are doing it. Carefully consider that. If you reflect on yourself, you will realize that you cannot even wash the dishes without thinking about something else.
When you sit to meditate, you have all the enthusiasm in the world, and after thirty seconds you become distracted and start dreaming. That shows a complete and utter lack of concentration. Zero concentration. Fix that. Develop concentration. It takes hard work, but it pays off.
Here is what you watch for: facts. Observe the facts in yourself. There are periods of time which you are aware of what you are doing, and periods of time in which you are not. For most of us, we are not aware of what we are doing. If you are not sure what the answer to that question is, every single night, sit down and close your eyes and remember every moment from the whole day. Put together a picture of your memories of the whole day, and you will find there are big gaps of time that you do not remember. If you do not remember what happened, then you were not present and paying attention at that time. You were asleep. That shows you that your powers of concentration and your ability to be present are extremely weak. That is the value of this type of practice. It will change that. The more you work with these technique, the quicker you will change it. If you work seriously with this type of technique, in proportion to how hard you work will be the shortness of time until you reach the stage at which you do not forget what you are doing. Someone who changes this can concentrate for an hour, two hours, three hours, and not lose awareness of what they are doing, ever. This is a wonderful achievement, but still a beginner level. Such a person needs to begin using the non-exclusive type of concentration.
Really check yourself against the facts. If you think that you are an advanced student, check it against the facts. If you can access Samadhi anytime and anywhere, then all you need to do is meditate on your defects and comprehend them.
If you cannot access Samadhi anytime, anywhere, then you need to learn about the obstacles within you that are keeping you from it.
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