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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Seven stages of True Insight

10/30/11 Sunday Meditation based on Patanjali's Yoga Sutras
Saraswati Andrea Lee and Chitra Jessica Sunshine
Starseed Yoga and Wellness of Montclair, NJ

Hari OM call/response chant lead by Chitra-ji.

Patanjali Yoga Sutra 2.27 tasya saptadha pranta-bhumih prajna - The Yogi's true insight has seven ultimate stages - One's wisdom in the final stage is sevenfold.

Last time we met we spoke about the differences between our Purusha, or our eternal spirit, and our Prakriti, which is our nature that changes all of the time. As we continue practicing meditation, Hatha Yoga, and doing selfless service we develop viveka, which means discriminative discernment. With viveka we gain clarity and begin to identify less with our Prakriti and more with our Purusha, our Divine Self with a capital "S".

Chapter two of the Yoga Sutras speaks to what a person may experience as this dis-identification and re-identification takes place. As we move from being ego-centered to spirit-centered we embark on a sevenfold path as stated by sutra 2.27. While Patanjali doesn't initially uncover these seven stages, Vyasa, one of the foremost and oldest commentators on the text lists them as follows. [Note:  It is clear in this sutra that Patanjali did not write the Yoga Sutras since he did not list the seven stages.  It is understood that Yoga is and has been an oral tradition for very long.  A student reading the sutras will go to a teacher for commentary and discussion.]  The stages are...

1. Through the practice of viveka, what is to be avoided (the causes of suffering) is recognized.  There is nothing further to be known in this regard.  The desire to know ceases, and thus, seeking authoritive testimony and knowledge can cease.

During the first stage we lose our desire to know anything more than what can be found in our own bodies and minds. Once we understand ourselves deeply we cease to want any knowledge outside of ourselves. All of the happiness that we've been searching for externally, we come to truly understand that it is not as lasting as the joy that is innately within. All we need to know we've established internally and our minds become neutral and clear because we are no longer grasping in ignorance.

2. The causes of suffering having been identified, are progressively weakened.  The causes are the kleshas (mental obstacles) and the ensuing karma as we know it.

At the second stage we cease to be controlled by our attachments and aversions. Two of the primary obstacles to our liberation are mental and physical attachments and aversions, or being ruled by what the ego wants for itself and what it wishes to avoid. Instead we live with the understanding that pleasure and pain are created in the mind. It not our avoidance or perusal of external objects that creations our emotions but, our fluctuating mind. Once we know this to be true, we put all of our efforts into correcting our mind's misperceptions and going deeper within.

3. Through nirodha-samadhi (the samadhi of restraint) - which is how Patanjali defines Yoga (chitta vritti nirodha) - the causes of suffering are eliminated.  The removal of the misidentification of the Purusha (soul)  with the Buddhi (intellect) becomes directly realized, and all affllictions and karmas cease.

The third stage comes once we come to fullest understanding of how our minds work. While previously we relied on books, schools, and teachers for our knowledge, we now continuously tap into the cosmic intelligence that can only be found as we tune into ourselves. We lose the desire to gain any new information that cannot be found through studying our own minds.

4. Mastery in viveka having been reached, there is nothing else self effort can accomplish.  Self effort can take the yogi no further because we are filled with effortless effort, doing and non-doing.

In stage four we lose the desire to do anything. This may sound strange considering that up until this point our spiritual journeys have been filled with doing -- whether it be meditating or fulfilling our daily responsibilities. What is meant by this statement is that the ego no longer thinks of itself as the "doer." We still do things but we don't have to make ourselves do them and we don't expect anything in return for our actions. It is as if we are propelled by an inner force, which some people call Universe and others call God. We don't take the blame or the praise for what is done, we simply act as Divine instruments with spirit working through us.

***Important to take notice of the similarites between the above first four stages and
Lord Buddha's Four Noble Truths***speaks about liberation from action or external events.
1. Suffering is inevitable due to disease, old age, birth and death
2. Suffering arises from craving
3. Suffering ceases when attachment to cravings cease
4. Freedom from suffering is possible by practicing the Eightfold Path
The last three stages are the natural outcome of the first four stages and pertain to the liberation of the chitta (mind) and the complete cessation of the activities of the buddhi (intellect).

5. Sattva dominates the functioning of the mind-stuff.  Intelligence has fulfilled its purpose:  to provide either worldly experience or liberation.

At this point, stage five, the mind disengages from the ego knowing fully that it is not the ego which is sustaining it. The mind becomes free of the ego and the impressions that the ego makes.  It is not a death of the ego, rather a taming or quieting of it.  The mind is filled with sattvic energy, balanced and tranquil.

6. The gunas, having fulfilled their purpose and loose their foothold, like stones falling from a mountain peak, and incline toward reabsorption in Prakriti, to emerge no more.

In stage six the mind loses itself and with it any remainders of our Prakriti. We literally lose our individual minds and merge with the Divine Consciousness. Vyasa compares this to boulders falling from the top of mountains when deprived of their support, crushing into the ground.  With nothing to hold them up, they change form falling into the ground.

7. The Purusha is realized as independent from the gunas (constituents of nature).  The Purusha is now eligible to shine forth in its own pure luminous state.  It is called Kevala, absolute freedom.

In stage 7 the Purusha alone is left and this is the highest state of freedom and liberation according to yoga philosophy. In this state one doesn't actually realize anything because now, by definition, one is fully detached and seperated from the organ of realization or discrimination, the buddhi.

Selections from Reverend Jaganath Carrera's Inside the Yoga Sutras, Sri Swami Satchidananda's Patanjali Yoga Sutras, and Edwim F. Bryant Patanjali's Yoga Sutras Commentary

Now, I have to say that all of this may seem utterly incomprehensible, improbable and even scary. Being as ego-driven as we are, the thought of the ego dissolving is petrifying. We think it's the end of who we are and what we know and in many ways it is. But, what remains is the bliss that comes from non-suffering and a return to our true Self.  Yoga is a science that provides a direct way to experience our own true light and true peace.  May you find your light and then share it with the world.  God bless you.

"One who renounces all evdeavour is known to have trascended the gunas."
 Bhagavad Gita 14:25

Practice of Brahmari Pranayama and Inner Visualization Meditation.
Closing Peace Chants
Asaato Maa Sad Gamaya
Tamaso Maa Jyotir Gamaya
Mrityor Maa Amritam Gamaya
Lead us from unreal to Real
Lead us from darkness to the Light
Lead us from the fear of death, to the knowledge of Immortality.
OM Shanti, Shanti, Shanti
Lokaah Samastaah Sukhino Bhavantu
May the entire universe be filled with Peace and Joy, Love and Light.
May the Light of Truth overcome all darkness!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this page. While reading Desikachar's chapter 9, I was looking for vyasa's commentary on Patanjali Yoga Sutra 2.27 Found here :)