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Τετάρτη, 6 Ιουνίου 2012

Yogasadhanas in the Gita 2

Yogasadhanas in the Gita

Part Two

The complete satsang will be presented here in four parts and will be updated fortnightly.

Sri Krishna instructs Arjuna in the process of pratyahara. He tells Arjuna, "In order to stabilise the mind pull the limbs of the mind and the senses inwards, just as the turtle pulls the limbs of his body into the shell." The state of pratyahara is defined here. The turtle has six limbs sticking out of the shell; two arms, two legs, one tail and one head. Humans function with five senses and the mind - six senses in total. The mind represents the head of the turtle and this mind has to be pulled inside. The five senses represent the arms, legs and tail of the turtle, pull them in. Withdraw the senses from their sense objects and pull them within yourself. This is the practice of pratyahara as defined by Patanjali and also as taught to us by Sri Swamiji.

Pratyahara begins by stilling the physical senses through kaya sthairyam and by regulating the breath. Breath is the mirror of the mind and mental conditions and moods are reflected in the breath. When the mind is hyperactive, breath is rapid, shallow and fast but if the mind is at rest then the breath is long, deep and slow.

Therefore, in order to access the mind, regulate the breath as well. If you can regulate the breath and equalise the inhalation and exhalation, through the practice of nadi shodhana pranayama, then you can access the mind through breath. To still the physical senses practise kaya sthairyam. To still the mind use a physical agent, regulation of the length of breath and then focus the mind on awareness of the higher Self.

But before one can focus on the awareness of the higher Self, the layers of mind have to be traversed. Just as to reach the bottom of the ocean one has to swim through many, many metres of ocean water, in the same way one has to go through many layers of mind to eventually realise and see the presence of higher consciousness within. The deepest part of the ocean is six kilometres deep and you have to swim all the way down. In the same manner you have to walk through six kilometres of your mind before you come to realise the presence of the supreme Self within you.

Identify with the sattwic karma
When you walk through the six kilometres of your mind you will encounter different experiences which are instigated by insecurities and anxieties and passion, kama. By cultivating self awareness and knowledge, one learns to manage the behaviour and the manifestation of insecurity, anxiety and passion. Sri Krishna instructs Arjuna to continue to focus on performance of karma diligently, effectively, creatively and perfectly. If you are able to perform karma creatively, perfectly, diligently, effectively without any selfish motive it will liberate you from the clutches of samskaras and the behaviours of the mind.

If you continue with karmas for selfish reasons, without cultivating awareness and understanding, then the karmas will further bind you into gross awareness. Therefore, continue to perform karmas, but identify with the sattwic karma rather than with tamasic or rajasic karma. Do not identify with the limiting, conditioned, detrimental and confining effect of the karma, but identify with the sattwic, luminous, creative and perfect aspect of the karma. Try to remain detached from the karmas, without expectation of the result. Try to maintain mental equipoise while engaged in the world and in the karmas.

Whether you succeed or you fail is not in your control. What you can control is how you act, so try to act in the best manner possible using the best of situations that become available. Don't be a soggy face. Try to maintain mental equipoise in success and failure. Sri Krishna says, "Maintain this mental equipoise by remaining fixed on my memory. Any of the senses can disturb the mind, just as a sailboat in the middle of the ocean is moved by the gale and hurricane as well as a gentle breeze. Even a soft gentle breeze of the senses can attract the mind, not only the gale and the hurricane. Absolute awareness has to be maintained as one journeys through the layers of mind, perfecting pratyahara and performing karma".

Arjuna asks Sri Krishna, "With what do I identify, so I can perform karma in the correct manner?" Sri Krishna answers that karma which is according to dharma and natural human justice should be performed. Karma which follows the mandates of dharma should be performed because it will always uplift the individual and the surroundings. Learn to identify with those actions, perceptions and attitudes which will help bring creativity in life. Arjuna asks, "How do I improve the karmas?" Sri Krishna answers, "There is no question of improving anything. Only dedicate your karmas to me."

The same teaching was given to Sri Swamiji when he asked his guru Swami Sivananda, "What do I do after I take sannyasa?" Swami Sivananda replied, "You have to carry on with the same things that you have been doing till today. You have been cleaning the ashram daily. You have been looking after the office, the income, expenditure, kitchen, press, and correspondence?" Sri Swamiji said "Yes." Swami Sivanandaji said, "Continue doing the same. There is no change in your duty or karma." Then Sri Swamiji said, "Well then I can return home and continue to do my karma."

Swami Sivanandaji replied, "No, the difference is that when you perform karma thinking you are the cause of that action and expecting a result, then that karma is binding. In ashram you are performing karma but you are not responsible for the result. Your duty is to act in the best manner possible, but the result whether positive or negative belongs to Guru. Do your best and do not have any expectation of the karma."

Therefore according to ashram tradition a sannyasin has to live for twelve years in the ashram of the guru doing guru seva. It is not sadhana, but guru seva that is mandated, because guru is able to connect us with the right way of action. In karma when the creativity and perfection is expressed then it becomes karma yoga. But one also has to be aware of and manage the responses and reactions that karma generates.

If you do well other people get jealous and try to pull you down. If you do badly other people will still complain and want to pull you down. That is the law of life. Nobody speaks any good word about anybody else, it is always complaints. The best way is not to react with praise or abuse. If somebody tells you, "You are a dog", rather than getting angry and barking at that person, "How can you call me that?" if you say, "Wonderful, only another dog recognises another dog," the moment passes in a light manner, without anger. In this manner reactions have to be managed and instead of becoming the cause of grief, they should become the cause of laughter.

Thy will be done
If you acquire that ability, then all your actions are offered to Brahman, the highest supreme Self, because you become like an instrument who is played. A harmonium can play beautiful music but not by itself. The player has to play. In the same manner, the realisation eventually dawns that I am not the doer in the world, nor I am the enjoyer. As long as the attention was diverted for self-oriented and selfish reasons, motives and purposes I was the doer and I was the enjoyer - I do and I enjoy. But once the attitude, identification and perception shifts from a self centred focus to the realisation and understanding that I am not the doer, surrender of the limited ego to the higher self begins.

The entire teaching to Arjuna given by Sri Krishna uses meditation as a tool to withdraw the senses, develop awareness and knowledge. Meditation is not cutting off from the world but becoming more involved with the world. Develop the knowledge of the situation, your duty, commitment, obligation, mood, and intention. Manage passion, fear, anger, attraction, attachment. Become active creatively. Develop and expand your awareness so that you increase your knowledge. Meditation is used to increase gyana, awareness of oneself, of how one behaves in different moments and different situations.

Restrain the wild movement of the senses by fixing the mind consciousness and mental attention, and try to attain the experience of the higher Self by going through the layers of the mind. Remain true to your goal - perfect pratyahara. Do not let different expressions and experiences of the mind divert your attention and awareness. Just as a wisp of wind can move the sails of the boat in the ocean, in the same manner, a simple diversion at any level will shake your boat as well.

Then Arjuna poses a question, "How do I control passion? You have spoken of antar mouna as the process to manage conditions and states of fear, anxiety, attachments, but how to manage passions?" Sri Krishna gives Arjuna a sadhana, to fix the mind at the eyebrow centre and regulate the breath, make the inhalation and exhalation of breath as long as possible and in the gap between inhalation and exhalation, focus the awareness on the inner Self.

This is the practice of nadi shodhana pranayama. By placing the two fingers at the eyebrow centre a pressure point is created where the mind is fixed at the eyebrow centre. Regulate the breath to minimum of 24 matras per incoming and outgoing breath. Each matra is like a second.

The Gayatri mantra of 24 matras is used to practice nadi shodhana pranayama, "Om bhur bhuva swaha, tatsavitur varenyam, bhargo devasya dhimahi, dhiyoyonat prachodayat," 24 matras is one inhalation. This is the training Krishna gives to hold the mind fixed.

When you regulate the breath the brainwaves are affected. High alpha and theta waves predominate and with these two waves predominating, the nervous system and mental dimension experiences a state of relaxation and balance of energies - physical, sensorial, mental, emotional, psychic and spiritual. When you practice slow pranayama the body will feel different. With fast pranayama and rapid breathing the body condition will be different.

The word which has been used in Gita indicates long, deep breathing and lengthening the ratio of breath. Slow and deep breathing will relax the physical structure, nervous system, and the brain. This relaxed condition influences the mental and psychological behaviour. Many therapists use pranayama to create a change in the mental behaviour of mentally challenged people and in the early days I have also used pranayama in a prison and in a catatonic care centre, so I can tell the efficacy of pranayama. By balancing the energies of ida and pingala personality changes happen for the better.

Sri Krishna speaks of pranayama as a method of managing the hyperactive passionate mental behaviour. Passion is not always sensorial, sensual or sexual. Passion is any desire or thought that dominates the mind. It represents a condition of mental behaviour in which one item becomes predominant and highlighted and all the reactions, responses, actions, thoughts and interactions revolve around that one particular thought or idea. This sustained mental function is known as passion which can be directed and used for anything. An artist can become a passionate artist, a sculptor can become a passionate sculptor, a yogi can become a passionate yogi. That energy, awareness and mentality can take any form and shape, negative or positive, tamasic or sattwic. By regulating the prana shakti, pranayama balances out the extreme behaviour of the passions and levels the mental extremes.

In this way Sri Krishna teaches ways of managing different types of situations which we all encounter on a day to day basis, by using very simple practices of yoga and ideas to cultivate understanding and awareness.Paramahamsa Niranjanananda Saraswati
Bihar Yoga Bharati
The complete satsang will be presented here in four parts and will be updated fortnightly.

LINK to the first part

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