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SADHANA AS A TAPAS
Indian and Classical Greek philosophical traditions both recommend that we structure our lives around the performance of certain kinds of actions as daily and regular habits. Under some circumstances and for some individuals, this means merely doing what comes naturally. For others, it requires varying degrees of self-control. For yet others, adhering to these practices is impossible or unimportant, beyond the scope of their interests or abilities. I want to take issue with one familiar answer to the question of why this is and to suggest a different one.
The Yoga Sutras (II.29) enjoin us to cultivate the values and habits appropriate to the higher practices of yoga through consistent sadhana or spiritual practice – the daily performance of very specific kinds of action: The yamas are restraints on action that govern our relationships with others. They include nonviolence, avoidance of falsehood, abstention from theft, celibacy, and non-possessiveness or detachment. The niyamas are positive observances that govern our relation to our higher self. They include mental and physical purity, contentment, self-discipline, self-study, and devotion to the sacred. The asanas are physical postures that cultivate physical and physiological strength, flexibility, and balance. Pranayama consists of exercises that cultivate control of the breath, the strength and endurance of the central nervous system, and so mental and psychological equilibrium. Pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi are meditation practices that cultivate perceptual and intellectual discrimination, sustained and focused attention, and in-depth self-scrutiny. Adhering to all of these practices can seem like a lot of work. For this reason
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they are considered to be forms of tapas, i.e., disciplines or austerities we may choose to impose on our behavior that, at the beginning, generate heat and energy because our ego-selves resist them. The stronger and more expansive the ego, the harder the work of bringing it into line. However, we do not escape this work by turning to the Western philosophical tradition. Socrates in the Euthyphro enjoins us to “give [our] first and greatest care to the improvement of [our] souls” (30b1-2); “to set our thoughts on goodness” (31b5-6); to “not allow to grow in [our]selves the habit of dishonesty” (35c6-7); and to “make [ourselves] as good and wise as possible” (36c56). He warns us that “[i]t is much more honorable and much easier, not to suppress others, but to make [our]selves as good as [we] can” (39d6-8). And in the Crito he advises that “we ought not to repay injustice with injustice or to do harm to any man, no matter what we may have suffered from him” (49c11 – d1). Socrates’ counsel is more general than the detailed instructions for sadhana we find in the Yoga Sutras. But the similarities in the kind and content of actions he recommends are clear. It is tempting to interpret Socrates’ recommendations as telling us simply to be good and wise or to act honorably and truthfully – as though we could easily follow these recommendations through simple acts of will, as though we could immediately become the model of human excellence to which we aspire, merely by wanting to. This impression is reinforced by Socrates’ own behavior which embodied this model of excellence with ease and grace. Aristotle, Plato’s student, corrects this impression for the rest of us. He says we are to cultivate virtuous traits of character – courage, temperance, generosity, kindness, patience, truthfulness, friendliness, modesty, and so on – by diligently practicing them until they become second nature (1103a15-19; 33 – 1103b2). Through systematic repetition of the relevant actions, Aristotle tells us, these actions become habitual character traits. We then reflexively and naturally express them in action, as circumstances call them forth. He says: It is the way that we behave in our dealings with other people that makes us just or unjust, and the way that we behave in the face of danger, accustoming ourselves to be timid or confident, that makes us brave or cowardly. Similarly with situations involving desires and anger: some people become temperate and patient from one kind of conduct in such situations, others licentious and irritable from another. In a word, then, like activities produce like dispositions. (1103b14-22) I believe that Aristotle’s inspiration for this insight came from the
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Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, in which Yagnavalkya argues: As a man acts, so does he become. A man of good deeds becomes good, a man of evil deeds becomes evil. A man becomes pure through pure deeds, impure through impure deeds. (paragraph 232) Both texts argue that we sculpt our characters and inner selves using the tool of our physical behavior. Both challenge the Western psychoanalytic assumption that right outward action stems from successful inner selfscrutiny. Both claim that cultivation of character and self progresses in the opposite direction, from outer to inner. Once we have trained ourselves to be fluent and effortless in right action through practice and repetition, we already will have achieved the moral and spiritual character that such action naturally and effortlessly expresses. In the meantime, we may choose to exert ourselves in less ambitious acts of will. If we can now, on this occasion, bring ourselves to behave outwardly in the way a morally and spiritually developed person would behave, we begin to carve the pathways of habit and disposition in which we want our inclinations to travel. We in effect gradually mold ourselves to be the kind of person we aspire to be. In time, Aristotle assures us, the inner qualities of mind and temperament will follow. So we find in both Indian and Greek philosophical traditions the very strong recommendation to undertake certain physical and mental activities on a regular, indeed even a daily basis, and to practice them repeatedly and systematically until they become second nature; in short, we should train ourselves in human excellence. Both traditions regard the project of selfcultivation as centrally definitive of a worthwhile human life.
I said earlier that all this seems like a lot of work. But appearances, as we know, can deceive. It may be less work than it seems, when one is ready to undertake it, or more work for some people than for others, or more work at some points in one’s life than in others. For Socrates, it wasn’t work at all, but rather his happiness. These practices may require very great selfgovernance for one individual or under one set of circumstances. They may be not only effortless but also intensely pleasurable under another. One explanation is inherent in Aristotle’s account of habituation. These practices are perhaps the hardest work of all to the extent that one has had no prior experience with them, and they become easier and more effortless with practice. Just as learning to play the piano is most excruciating at the
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very beginning when one’s fingers are stiff and unwilling and one’s repertoire is confined to Hannon and Czerny fingering exercises, holding one’s temper or postponing the satisfaction of desire may be virtually unachievable if one has had no prior practice in doing so. The lesson here is that the work of self-cultivation is hardest at the very beginning of the project and that one must want overridingly to achieve this end – more than one wants, at that moment, to express one’s anger or satisfy one’s immediate desire – in order to make any headway at all. But this explanation leaves many questions unanswered. It does not explain why the hard work of self-cultivation, hard as it is at the beginning for all of us, is so much more challenging for some of us than for others. Nor does it explain why, however hard that work is, some of us but not others have the interest or ability to want it badly enough in order to prevail. Why is sadhana of interest to some but not others? Why is it so much harder for some than for others? And among those for whom it is difficult, why do some but not others succeed in continuing to practice it? Just how much of a tapas is sadhana supposed to be? A different answer to these questions is supplied by familiar versions of certain Hindu doctrines. These claim that lack of interest and difficulties or failures in the project of self-cultivation – like any other personal difficulties or failures – are the result of “bad karma,” i.e., that any such present difficulties are the deserved result of one’s own prior derelictions, either in this life or an earlier one. This answer thus motivates us to practice the virtues out of fear that any vicious actions we perform will come back to haunt us. It instructs us to accept any difficulties or failures we are presently experiencing as the just retributive consequences of vicious actions we have performed in the past or in a past life. And it thus implies that those for whom sadhana is easier are in some mysterious sense morally superior to those for whom it is hard. I take moral issue with the implied use of fear to motivate virtue, with encouraging acceptance of rather than constructive resistance to present personal misfortune, with the reasoning that any such misfortune – particularly to children, animals, and the innocent – is their own fault, and, therefore, with the illusion of moral hierarchy in a wisdom tradition that implicitly rejects it. But I focus here on the metaethics behind the “bad karma” argument. This argument presupposes two metaethical doctrines of Hinduism: the doctrine of karma and the doctrine of reincarnation.6
In both. (2) all actions have morally significant. in both Indian and Greek traditions. and 3. of a persisting individual ego-self. In what follows I suggest a different interpretation of these doctrines that is consistent with the metaphysics of the Upanishads but implies a different explanation for why sadhana requires more selfcontrol for some individuals or under some circumstances than others. The Spiritual Function of Sadhana
These practices fit into the context of a more general moral view.com — Readability
In its familiar form. community. 2.
III. The familiar doctrine of reincarnation states that: 1. through successive lifetime physical embodiments. reincarnation supplies the metaphysical and personal continuities of individual identities who are affected by them throughout time.veneermagazine. (3) morally good actions have morally good consequences and morally bad actions have morally bad consequences. And both assume that those behaviors and consequences can be morally evaluated. we undertake these practices.com/articles/yune0due 5/41
. independent of context. causally determined consequences. As stated.readability. (3) morally good actions in a previous life determine better life circumstances the next time around and morally bad actions in a previous life determine worse life circumstances the next time around. (1) all actions are causally determined by earlier ones. the doctrine of karma states that: 1. extending into the indefinite future. 2.12/7/12
SADHANA — www. but rather for the express purpose of cultivating the self
www. not as ends in themselves. Both assume the persisting ego-self as the causal origin of a succession of behaviors and consequences of behaviors that further mold and influence it. (2) the life circumstances in which one is reborn on a particular occasion are determined by the moral quality of one’s previous life. or culture. these familiar doctrines are vulnerable to many objections I cannot explore here. and 3. Thus both assume the temporal continuity. (1) an individual is repeatedly reborn in one life after another and one body after another. consistently and objectively over time. The familiar doctrines of karma and reincarnation are thus mutually interdependent: karma supplies the causal and moral continuities of acts and consequences throughout time.
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– of refining our moral. to make ourselves immortal. and his ego obeys the Self (par. we must physically. Because direct. Similarly. and undifferentiated bliss. when the intellect wavers not – then. in both traditions. say the wise. his intellect obeys his ego. impulses. lightly obey the rein (paragraph 55). But it is implicit in Aristotle’s remarks in the Nicomachean Ethics on the contemplative life as requiring self-sufficiency. 106-107) Here we find the probable inspiration for Plato’s metaphor in the Phaedrus of the immortal soul as a charioteer who governs the passions in the form of two horses. the pleasure derives from the lived experience of union with ultimate reality. in turn. his mind obeys his intellect. serves a further purpose: to achieve knowledge of ultimate reality. having established themselves in purity of conduct by following the yoga of renunciation.12/7/12
SADHANA — www. The senses of the wise man obey his mind. so far as possible. is reached the highest state. his senses. Our body and central nervous system must be conditioned and balanced. 61). and that we “ought. This calm of the senses and the mind has been defined as yoga.veneermagazine. The thought is that in order to grasp knowledge of ultimate reality. This experience is the final outcome of the practices already described which cultivate the discernment of underlying unity behind the multiplicity of appearances. and spiritual capacities to their fullest expression. these great ones attain to immortality in this very life. like the well-broken horses of a charioteer.com/articles/yune0due 6/41
. psychologically. Thus. one obedient and one not. our senses alert. This conception of sadhana is familiar in Yoga and Vedanta. This. and
www. intellectual. freedom from fatigue. our intellect sharp and clear. experiential insight into this underlying unity at the same time transcends the apparent boundaries between the knowing subject and the object known. The Katha Upanishad states: [W]hen a man has discrimination and his mind is controlled. when the mind is at rest. and spiritually prepare ourselves to receive it. When all the senses are stilled. … to do all that we can to live in conformity with the highest that is in us. the experience of union is simultaneously an experience of unconditional love. In Yoga and Vedanta. unrestricted freedom. the final outcome of sadhana is a release from the rigors of tapas because it is a release from the limiting constraints of ego-individuation: Having fully ascertained and realized the truth of Vedanta. and our vision impartial and unclouded by undisciplined desires. leisure. (par. or personal bias or preoccupations.readability. to achieve this knowledge is intensely pleasurable. physiologically. for … this is the true self of the individual (1177b 20 – 1178a4). He who attains it is free from delusion.
www. (1177b26-28) Here Aristotle describes contemplation as insight into “things noble and divine” lived and experienced “in virtue of something divine within [us]. what is unconditioned and unlimited is beyond the capacity of individuating words and concepts to capture. we thereby achieve a state in which these temporal and material constraints no longer exist. Having achieved knowledge of ultimate reality. Next. is the highest virtue of “the best part of us. is a process that advances us from the conditioned world of individuated appearances to experiential insight into the unconditioned.veneermagazine. The Metaphysics of Sadhana
Obviously. By definition.
IV. unified ultimate reality that lies behind it. He defines happiness as “an activity of the soul in accordance with or implying a rational principle” (1098a8-9).com — Readability
when their bodies fall away from them at death.” What we come to know through contemplation has a divine dimension. That is why the Upanishads refer to ultimate reality using not a descriptive term but rather a proper name.. nevertheless. Both Indian and Greek traditions associate the divine with the unconditioned – that is. i. and declares that “virtuous actions must be pleasurable in themselves” (1099a20-21).com/articles/yune0due 7/41
.” Whether this is the intellect or something else that we regard as naturally ruling and guiding us. we discover that tapas – the experienced friction of working against the resistance of our delinquent impulses – was also the felt resistance of the physical and spiritual bars that imprisoned us within our limited individual identities. 56) In hindsight. and we come to know it in virtue of the divine dimension within ourselves. with omnipotence. I would propose that Aristotelian contemplation. however. I set myself here an impossible task. they attain to liberation. I try to suggest what it is about this ultimate reality that enables us to arrive at it through the yogic practices of sadhana.…any man who lives it will do so not as a human being but in virtue of something divine within him. that will be perfect happiness (1177a12-18). and possessing insight into things noble and divine …it is the activity of this part. in accordance with the virtue proper to it. like yogic meditation. and unconditional freedom.readability. and in proportion as this divine element is superior to composite human nature. (Mundaka Upanishad par. virtue. Hence. Contemplative activity. Aristotle’s account of the happiness that comes with the life of contemplation is less explicit but. consistent with this account.e. Brahman.12/7/12
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Unlike a person named Susan. the One. In the Prasna Upanishad. he created all things. 1) Later. 32 – 33).com — Readability
Like the name Susan. and. He. thereby.readability.com/articles/yune0due 8/41
. 13. thought to himself: Let me be many. they characterize this first cause as intentional or object-directed. the Aitareya characterizes Brahman as pure consciousness (pars. let me grow forth. 40-41. 67). without a second. Later in the Taittiriya. 42) These descriptions of Brahman have three features in common. i. The Mundaka also describes Brahman as formless and self-luminous (pars.veneermagazine.” (par. and having projected out of himself the universe. I like to envision the rishis. and to try is to immediately fail. This in turn engenders its primal energy. all that existed was the Self. he entered into every being. 5). as conscious of the nature and consequences of intentional
www. they provide a first-cause explanation of the creation of the physical universe of name and form. 29. Then the Self thought: “Let me send forth the worlds. that he should make of himself many forms. the causal determination of the universe (par. they further characterize this first cause as selfaware. … meditated. 8-9. 3839). In the Mundaka. the referent of the term Brahman cannot be described. (par. prana (or breath). the rishis who authored the Upanishads could not resist the temptation to try. he entered into everything (pars. They disagreed violently among themselves as to how best to describe Brahman. It later declares that: In the beginning there was Existence alone – One only. and especially 60). the Aitareya Upanishad opens by declaring that: Before creation. 6. Third. Second. and energy (pars. The Taittiriya Upanishad narrates the way Brahman: [d]esiring that he should become many. 13. Nothing else was.e. light.. 15). These in turn engender multiplicity. however. Similarly. Nevertheless. Brahman is associated with the sun. First. Creating all things. The Chandogya Upanishad describes the realized form of the Self as light and its thoughts as true (par. reinforcing the characterization of the Prasna.12/7/12
SADHANA — www. which in turn engenders mind. each firmly ensconced within the solitude of his or her forest enclave. Brahman is described as the “source of all thought and life and action” (par. 9). the term Brahman designates something without purporting to describe it. Meditating. and so the subtle elements. 19. Thus out of himself he projected the universe. furiously e-mailing one another back and forth about this topic. the Self alone. Brahman is described as willing the universe into existence and engendering its material cause.
unitary state of consciousness that Brahman is in fact. causally-determined world of multiplicity and include human beings. is saturated with Brahman. But then there are two things that are Brahman. ultimate reality – or Brahman – is pure consciousness. And because – and here is where our extra assumption becomes useful – consciousness is identical to energy. Under this assumption. This provides one way of understanding the frequently repeated claim in the Upanishads that Brahman. However. We need only make one assumption that is implicit but not actually stated in the Upanishads..12/7/12
SADHANA — www. then an intentional consciousness can causally engender a physical state of affairs.com — Readability
conscious acts. and that consciousness which is neither – with the attendant distinctions of name that identify the distinctions in form which that consciousness has created. is a product of Brahman. too. this bipartite relation. and ultimate reality generates the world of name and form in exactly the same way consciousness always engenders multiplicity. That one extra assumption is that consciousness is identical to energy. Each iteration of the act of self-conscious discrimination creates further multiplicity and diversity in the objects of consciousness at the same time that it further detaches the ultimate Self from the multiplicity of objects its self-awareness has created.e.com/articles/yune0due
. And if energy is conscious. These individuated forms constitute our familiar. In the limiting case in which there is only one thing. i. So this world. consciousness is nevertheless conscious of itself. these acts of self-awareness generate intentional objects of consciousness that have physical reality as well. subsists not only in every living thing but also deep within every being of any kind. namely consciousness. Consciousness – or Brahman – is inherently intentional. object. From these three features we can extrapolate an account of the relation between the ultimate reality we may seek to know and the concrete practices within our familiar world of multiplicity by which we can come to know it. including humanity. namely Brahman as conscious subject and Brahman as object of that consciousness. and is also an illusion that conceals the steady. however slight.
www.readability. then every materially condensed physical object has some degree of consciousness. implies consciousness that is neither subject nor object but conscious of both. is co-extensive with Brahman. or the true Self. Brahman is now three things: subject. it is self-conscious.veneermagazine. it is always consciousness of something [please refer to Figure 303].7 If consciousness is energy and energy can condense into matter.
readability. sadhana trains us to observe and control our mental and physical reactions to stimuli. In this sense. we lose our connection to the true Self whose objects they are.com — Readability
Sadhana comprises spiritual practices within the familiar world of multiplicity that enable us to trace this path back in the opposite direction. unitary consciousness that engendered them. From this reflective standpoint. and. Like that original consciousness. who dwells as the self-conscious power in all creatures. we continue to experience the full force of these ego-states. individual human consciousness in turn creates further objects of awareness8 – then enters into them. amusement. and compassion. As we learn to view our ego-states from the standpoint of self-awareness. release. saw within themselves the ultimate reality. First. To release our ego-states from our consciousness is to release our consciousness from their imprisonment and so to rejoin the original. from the actions our emotions and desires move us to perform.12/7/12
SADHANA — www. From that standpoint. In the Upanishads.veneermagazine. absorbed in contemplation. all of the eight limbs of yoga train us in two habits. finally. unitary consciousness that engenders it. we see that our ego-states are not essential parts of our Self at all. the one God. as long as we survive as ego-selves at all. sadhana trains us in the habit of selfawareness. from the emotions and desires we feel in response to them.
V. “Bad Karma” and the Gunas
The Svetasvatara Upanishad describes how [t]he seers.com/articles/yune0due 10/41
. Sadhana teaches us to enjoy and applaud the dance without slipping a disk on the dance floor. individual human consciousness is an extension of the original. the self-luminous being. In different ways. Of course. we come to identify with that Self in us that views the ego’s antics as entertainment. finally. enjoy. the distinctions of name and form that give our ego-states such personal urgency are not all that important. and beliefs. They are creations of self-consciousness we can observe. we learn to regard the ego’s antics reflectively – with detachment. Second. and. sadhana cultivates the ability to detach our awareness from those reactions: from our perceptions. through sadhana. from the fruits of those actions outside us. sadhana really is our direct pipeline to God. Identifying with and pursuing the objects of individual consciousness we have created. interpretations. from “the world of name and form” to “the One without a second” that underlies it. then gets lost in them. We learn not to take our ego-selves too seriously. Thus.
and dullness. we are being rajasic. and spiritual constitution.com/articles/yune0due 11/41
. for example. and stupefaction. The gunas thus shape all physical and psychological entities and forces in the universe. When we are navigating effortlessly through our lives with ease. In human beings it is associated with ambition. biochemical. explosive energy or force. Rajas is the tendency toward forward propulsion. rajas. to identify the preponderant guna in Aristotle’s portrait of the magnanimous man: The magnanimous man is thought to have slow movements. The particular mix of gunas is different for each of us and may be different at different points in our lives. For since he takes few things seriously. a deep voice. Sattva is the tendency toward weightlessness. he is not high-strung.readability. the gunas shape our physical. (par. In the Bhagavad Gita. In human beings. All three of
www. psychological. the gunas determine the given traits of character we then may attempt to train and mold through sadhana. Try. and releasing their qualities and dispositions [please refer to Table 1]. the analysis of the three gunas has a distinctly moral and hierarchical inflection. and clarity. they do not necessarily indicate a person’s moral character. However. he is not excitable. So we release our egostates from consciousness by examining. Deep within all beings he dwells.com — Readability
He is One without a second. controlling. As psychological and spiritual dispositions. and tamas. Brahman as object. 4) The gunas are the three kinds of qualities or dispositions that differentiate ultimate reality into discriminable forms – as we just did a moment ago in distinguishing between Brahman as subject. delusion. and drive. hidden from sight by the coverings of the gunas – sattva. purity. and competitiveness. When we feel driven to speed up on the highway so as to outstrip the car that is trying to pass us. In human beings it is associated with the character traits of serenity. desire. we are sattvic. grace. and sensitivity. resistance. In human beings it is associated with ignorance. Tamas is the tendency toward inertia. It may be difficult for us to think about these three tendencies in and of themselves without making moral judgments about them. they are in themselves morally neutral. and Brahman as neither subject nor object. as natural cosmic forces.12/7/12
SADHANA — www. and since he counts nothing great. and joyfulness.veneermagazine. (1125a13-16) Aristotle’s magnanimous man sounds rather tamasic to me. and unhurried speech. We are tamasic after many hours of watching TV and even more so if we compound our couch potatohood with Big Macs and beer. dispersion. But.
as well as in the less admirable traits described in the Bhagavad Gita. Where we want to go is determined by our individual priorities and our social conditioning.12/7/12
SADHANA — www. the one God. who dwells as the self-conscious power … hidden from sight by the coverings of the gunas” within all of us. layer by layer. No matter how much tamasic inertia we each must resist. What we do or do not do with our lives now may well entrench some of those dispositions so deeply that they survive the dissolution of the body.readability. the self-luminous being.com — Readability
them are present in all of us to varying degrees. For all of us. It follows from this account of the gunas that any project of self-improvement – which relies essentially on one’s own initiative rather than external incentives – will be more difficult on the face of it for those of us who have a large proportion of tamas in our personal constitution. our apportionment of rajas is what drives us to formulate goals and ambitions and ideals for ourselves and what energizes us to achieve them. rajas charges up our sadhana to gradually peel away the gunas or mental tendencies9 of the ego-self. Moreover. It will be even harder if this inertial resistance is compounded by prior self-destructive or self-indulgent habits – whether learned or chosen – that must be overcome. as it were – is rajas. non-physical continuities of energy that persist throughout several individual lifetimes. Now back to why sadhana is harder for some individuals at some times than for others at other times and why “bad karma” does not provide an adequate explanation of this. They may then
www. and perhaps even pleasurable. persistence. some individuals may lack sufficient rajas ever to blast through these resistant habits of mind and body. Furthermore. The gunas are psycho-physical forces that determine the manner. neither science nor logic gives reason to dispute the thesis that there are individuated. from where we began to where we want to go.com/articles/yune0due 12/41
. until we reach “the ultimate reality. rajas is the force that propels us along the path. They may. Thus. and commitment. and quality of all entities that condense out of original unitary consciousness. If we want to go to Brahman. kind. because there is a greater proportion of sattva in their personal constitutions. quite simply. So they determine not only a person’s psychological dispositions of character but also the person’s capacity and inclination to alter or improve that character.veneermagazine. have other priorities. Rajas can find expression in passion. They may be unable to make themselves want cultivation of their higher self or union with ultimate reality enough to endure the tapas of selfdiscipline. the key to progress in cultivation of our higher self – to upward spiritual mobility. Others who lack these impediments will find the journey easier.
I find no texts within the Upanishads that might explain how this particular. Furthermore. literally. then I as an ego-self cannot be said to endure transpersonally. That mix may make my sadhana easy. self-canceling: the disposition to openness. I cannot be held morally responsible for the impersonal mix of gunas that give shape to my efforts in this one. personal accumulation of memory-content might endure transpersonally throughout several lifetimes. nor. my individual identity as an ego-self is determined by the personal content of the memories that I am constantly accumulating and shaping with each passing moment in my life. surrender. generosity. Other life habits may erase some of those character traits and replace them with others that are. humility.veneermagazine.readability. If the circumstances are never given.12/7/12
SADHANA — www. for example – dispositions that soften and dissolve the boundaries of the egoself and make union with ultimate reality much easier. Or my mix of gunas
www. character traits are dispositions to react to given circumstances with a certain kind of response. generosity – and express it differently because the circumstances that call it forth and the resources available to each are different. Most of all. Therefore. the latent disposition remains present but unrealized and unexpressed. but they are not sufficient. In this case.com — Readability
gravitate to and condense in newborn physical forms in which they find further expression. However. the response never occurs.com/articles/yune0due 13/41
. encounters. any that actually support and elucidate the thick account of reincarnation that virtually all of them avow. Those differences are what define each person’s ego-self. If I as an ego-self do not endure transpersonally. but I receive no moral credit for that. not the character trait they share in common. then I cannot be held morally responsible for the past-life moral successes or failures of any impersonal mix of gunas that may have found previous human incarnation. As we have seen. relationships. The person who has it is no less an individual ego-self for that. or self-sacrifice. the transpersonal continuity of individual character traits through several lifetimes – call this the “thin” account of reincarnation – does not imply the transpersonal continuity of an individual ego-self – call this the “thick” account. Rather. two people can have the same character trait – say. therefore. But it is precisely this continuity of personal memory-content that identifies me to myself and to others as the individual I am. my individual identity is determined by the personal content of my actual experiences: my particular environment. If this lifelong personal continuity does not endure transpersonally. These traits are therefore necessary conditions of individual identity. and my thoughts and feelings about all of these.
1971). trans. the proper subject of moral evaluation is what I do with the natural endowments I happen to have. Crito. and Ethica Nicomachea. D. Eds. Thomson and Hugh Tredennick (New York: Penguin Books. Aristotle. The Ethics of Aristotle: The Nicomachean Ethics. without me racking up any moral demerits. Thomas McEvilley. His burden is not “bad karma” but rather bad luck.com — Readability
may make sadhana hard or impossible or uninteresting. nor for my actions in a previous life that bequeathed me these gunas. 1985).
This discussion has been improved by comments from Christopher Chapple. trans. I am morally responsible for doing the very best I can – or not – with the mix of gunas I happen to have in this life. F. Euthyphro. or vice. But this does not make his personal difficulty a punishment for past-life moral dereliction. The Basic Works of Aristotle (New York: RandomHouse.12/7/12
SADHANA — www.readability. A person who finds sadhana difficult or impossible is a victim of misfortune. J. The Collected Dialogues of Plato (Princeton: Princeton University Press.com/articles/yune0due 14/41
. in Hamilton and Cairns. and no individual is being rewarded or punished with those character traits in this life for moral successes or failures in a previous one. Euthyphro. trans. And I can be blamed for squandering those resources on self-aggrandizement or destroying them through selfindulgence. Joseph Prabhu. selfishness. If I aspire to ultimate knowledge. A. It is neither morally reasonable nor metaphysically sound to pass moral judgment on those natural endowments themselves. Claudia Cummins. Hugh Tredennick. I have relied on the following translations: Plato. Ed. Terence Irwin (Indianapolis: Hackett. 1956). trans. J.1971). In any such case.veneermagazine. Ross. Church (New York: Bobbs-Merrill. K. Of course. Hence no individual morally “deserves” the character traits with which she begins her life. W. It was delivered at the “Ancient Crossroads: Greece and India” Conference at Loyola Marymount University in March 2003. Crito. trans. All references to the Upanishads are to the Swami Prabhavananda and Frederick Manchester translation (The Upanishads: Breath of the Eternal
www. and Pravrajika Saradeshaprana. For there was no “me” in a previous life to whom such actions could be ascribed. Lane Cooper in Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns. I have relied on the following translations: Aristotle. 1986). Apology. I can be praised for devoting every resource of character I have to the project of self-cultivation. I cannot be blamed for having these gunas. Nicomachean Ethics. trans. in Richard McKeon.
readability. and through emulating role models. our peers. Kaivalya1
I.and nothing in the Upanishads rules out this identity. and from individuals whose actions we admire. Aristotle distinguishes between moral and intellectual virtues in a way the Yoga Sutra does not. through one’s upbringing. We are instructed in which actions are worthy of emulation and practice from our parents. all claim Vedic authority to varying extents. the gradual process of letting go of the many entanglements that
www. including but not limited to the physical. This implies creating the actual states of affairs that these intentional objects denote only in the limiting case of original. unitary consciousness (Brahman) in which consciousness and energy are presumed to be strictly identical. analysis. we practice the intellectual disciplines of reasoning. I am going to use it.veneermagazine. according to which an omniscient and omnipotent Ishvara metes out consequences. and spiritual status in accordance with just desserts.com/articles/yune0due 15/41
. Brahmacharya and Vairagya
One of the great revelations I experienced upon becoming a brahmacharin in 1985 was how much easier this practice in turn made the practice of vairagya. Brahmacharya. this distinction is not as hard and fast as it may seem. Known technically as samskaras. Similarly. Vairagya. However. incarnations. Whereas moral virtues are learned through practice. I distinguish the metaethical from the religious version of these doctrines found in Shankara’s commentary to the Brahma Sutras.12/7/12
SADHANA — www.com — Readability
(New York: Mentor. I consider here only the former version. our environment. and deliberation are learned through instruction. we need instruction in which actions to practice. 1964). on the other. the intellectual virtues of reasoning. However. and deliberation in doing the assigned work in which a teacher instructs us.After all. Here I am aware of identifying two concepts associated with two different Hindu traditions – Tantric and Vedantic – often seen as radically divergent. just as we need practice in the intellectual habits in which we are instructed. Since it is a useful identity. This seeming divergence is rooted in the even more ancient philosophical tradition of Samkhya which sharply distinguishes between consciousness (Purusha) on the one hand and any kind of matter (Prakriti). analysis.
Since. disappointed. and you become addicted.readability. I obsessed constantly about things. too boring. desires. After awhile I even began to give up the manipulative strategies themselves. Thwart your addiction. Grow attached. my energy and attention gravitated toward the actions constitutive of these tasks – actions that had meaning in themselves. or professional obligations or build meaningful relationships with others. I also expended an enormous amount of energy in actively managing. I don’t claim that it became easy. I was more ready – sometimes eager – to drop such campaigns. and managerial manipulations caused constant psychological and emotional turbulence that my sadhana just barely contained. I was the poster girl – or rather. this attitudinal change did not prevent me from setting objectives.com/articles/yune0due 16/41
. (II)2 After settling into brahmacharya. or fatalistically content to toss my future to the winds. Confuse your mind. For example. nor did it lessen my drive to do my work or meet my personal. of course. and you confuse your mind. In these reactions I did not feel hopeless. their fulfillment or frustration of my plans. the mug shot – for the Bhagavad Gita’s warning: Thinking about sense-objects Will attach you to sense-objects. relationships. guiding. Be angry. social. and you miss life’s only purpose. not a fun way to interact with others or spend my limited time on the planet. and trying to control them accordingly. Increasingly. they came to seem just too much trouble. I found myself expending far less time and energy than before in attempting to direct external conditions and the fruits of my actions toward their intended objectives.com — Readability
bind us to the world of name. situations. you lose discernment. Lose discernment. none of these states of affairs were in fact under my control. Forget experience.12/7/12
SADHANA — www. Nor did it reduce the energy or attention or commitment I brought to any of these tasks. by contrast. and suffering. form. Rather.veneermagazine. without hesitation or regret. and objectives that did not develop in accordance with my plans. independently of their more
www. just easier. you forget the lesson of experience. Basically. people. it turns to anger. Before. upon the discovery that my strategies had been ineffective.
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distant consequences. began to gain in value. Once the urge to contemplate and comprehend reality began to outweigh the drive to bring it into line with my desires and expectations. Frankly. brahmacharya means abstaining from sexual orgasm. after which the practice of detachment seemed much easier and a corresponding sense of self-sufficiency or completeness more accessible.readability. The locus of meaning began to recede from the external results of my action to my internal experience of it. the desire to investigate and learn from it can never be frustrated. Why should it facilitate a sense of internal completeness and external detachment that generalizes to all similar drives and may even outcompete them? Why should abstaining from sex make it easier to let go of professional game-plans. whatever they were. Formerly.12/7/12
SADHANA — www. is to be avoided. and clarity as opportunities for deepening my understanding of reality. a troubled relationship. I was mystified as to why the practice of brahmacharya should have this effect. The Twinge
The practice of brahmacharya does not necessarily require abstaining from hugging or shaking hands or walking arm in arm or other small physical signs of affection – although it might require this for some individuals under some circumstances. I sought satisfaction in the world’s compliance with my personal agendas. and so exerted myself in various ways to force that compliance.
II. circumstances as they were. in either giver or receiver. For in the last analysis. insensitive to the personal benefits of compromise. As external results receded in importance. and the connection is not obvious: celibacy is a practice ostensibly aimed at a very specific human drive. Since reality is always a teacher. unyielding. both internal and external. and indeed the too-often grim struggle for survival itself? In this discussion I seek an answer in a playful but decidedly deflationary look at what it is a brahmacharin abstains from. the desire for wealth or longevity. that momentary twinge of sensory pleasure that
www. expectations about others’ moral rectitude.com/articles/yune0due 17/41
. The Yoga Sutras do not mention it. Any action that does. Whether it does or not depends on whether such actions in turn tend to awaken sexual desire either in the giver or the receiver of such gestures. I began to seek insight and peace of mind in the quality of my own actions and the state of my own awareness. Now. interest. whether the world complied or not. So beginning the practice of brahmacharya marked a turning point in my sadhana. In practice this meant that I became a complete nightmare to work with: stubborn. those desires and expectations themselves dwindled even further.
but hopes and expects. It may seem to some that self-stimulation expresses an even deeper lack of wholeness than this.veneermagazine. when someone’s desire
www. literally. it expresses a want of that particular experience that one at that moment does not have. There was much discussion of technique and technology and many scholarly essays on the subject. the twinge. therefore. for example. Combining these two questionable assumptions into an assumed connection between desiring the twinge and desiring another’s loving companionship merely compounds the confusion.readability. There is no necessary connection between these two. there is the assumed connection between desiring the twinge and desiring a relationship with another. However. Second. and from any action or experience that might encourage or promote it. through sufficient exertion. of lack. this view is problematic on at least two counts. For the minute the desire for the twinge appears. of wanting something. and freedom from inhibition. we briefly tried valorizing selfstimulation as an expression and celebration of self-sufficiency. But it didn’t come to much and didn’t last. In the second-wave feminism of the 1960s. one is in a state of dissatisfaction and neediness that lasts until the minute that desire is satisfied. there is the assumed connection between desiring the twinge and desiring love.12/7/12
SADHANA — www.com — Readability
obliterates thought and slackens muscular tension. that brahmacharya excludes self-stimulation. Certainly a person may be taught to associate the twinge with love and with companionship. This assumption seems even more problematic. But none can deny that at the very least. This means. The view would be that the self-stimulator is compelled by loneliness to engage in this practice and that the deeper need that self-stimulation expresses is the desire for a loving relationship with another.com/articles/yune0due 18/41
. for one thing. On this view. independence. She may expect that they will occur together and. it is the fact that the self-stimulator is so lonely or unfulfilled as to have to resort to this activity as a substitute for a satisfying relationship with another person that elicits our pity. that the real neediness and insufficiency that selfstimulation reveals is to be found in its solitary and “anti-social” nature. to obtain in the near future – namely. have emotional reactions to the twinge (or lack thereof) that are in fact caused by the relationship. as. Thoughtful individuals disagree about how to identify the lack or want that self-stimulation expresses. Self-stimulation was too obviously an expression of insufficiency. First.
and speed with which the twinge can be obtained.veneermagazine. and we can’t claim to express that love merely by experiencing the satisfaction itself. Indeed we may think of the sex addict as a compulsive self-stimulator who seeks the twinge not only through her own agency but also through the agency and participation of others and who must therefore orchestrate.com/articles/yune0due 19/41
. By forging a meaningful psychological connection with a single. In this case. whether the exertions necessary to obtain it are performed by oneself or by another is in fact relevant only to the convenience. conventional social practice obscures this fact by dictating that supplying and receiving the twinge are necessary prerequisites. transform it into an expression of love. The twinge itself is just what it is. we enter into an agreement – whether implicit or explicit – to satisfy many different kinds of needs and desires – including our shared desire for the twinge. and often damage particularly complex props. constantly on the prowl for serial participants through whom to obtain the twinge. Thus conjoining the desire for the twinge with the need for companionship is the acceptable social remedy for both insufficiencies. after all. again. independent of what one believes one is seeking. Some might argue that it is that deep and long-term interpersonal connection that gives the twinge meaning that can. It can certainly inspire gratitude. to be any less needy or incomplete than the self-stimulator. and disappointments can arise from an unreflective conflation of desiring the twinge and desiring a loving relationship. appreciation. independent of what one believes one is seeking. ease.readability. The desire for the twinge and the desire for loving companionship with another are different and have no necessary interconnection. Many different kinds of confusions. manipulate. in order to obtain it.com — Readability
for the twinge is frustrated by her anxiety about her partner’s unfaithfulness. Brahmacharya is strictly incompatible only with the first. But we can’t claim to love a person merely because he satisfies our needs. and nothing more: a moment of intense. suppose one in fact seeks the twinge. Then. On the other hand. long-term sexual partner. But it is hard to see how the twinge itself can be an expression of love.12/7/12
SADHANA — www. namely other people. For example. misunderstandings. We would not suppose the sex addict. loyalty. private pleasure that floods the
www. suppose one in fact seeks another’s loving companionship. First. Conversely. someone may experience obsessive attachment to his partner based on his craving for the twinge which turns into indifference toward his partner when that craving is satisfied elsewhere. a person may have emotional reactions to a relationship that are in fact caused by the twinge (or lack thereof). and affection – or even obsession – toward its supplier.
weight training.com/articles/yune0due 20/41
. the industry and resourcefulness involved in supplying the twinge for one’s partner may be no different in kind or quality from that involved in supplying personal care for a toddler. often dangerous. Even if both partners feel the twinge at the same moment. if the twinge is not willingly supplied or received. character. physical therapy for the incapacitated.readability. the human life’s worth of intelligence. then regardless of the other complex dimensions such a relationship may comprise. or food for the hungry. aerobics. a concert or book or sunset. ridiculous. But to thus devalue the person for the sake of the twinge she is assigned to supply is merely one troubling expression of the extraordinary. essentially.12/7/12
SADHANA — www. shuts down the mind. or tragic lengths to which we are prepared to go in order to obtain the twinge. At this point we may wish to reconsider the importance of the twinge in a committed relationship between life partners and scrutinize the function of the twinge in maintaining it. They may be sharing the moment. Just as conventional social practice diminishes correspondingly the value of other aspects of a life partnership when the twinge is absent. it is organized around production and supply of the twinge and subordinate in importance to it. It may indeed count as selfless service and similarly hasten one’s progress on the path to sainthood. Strictly speaking. A better candidate for the expression of love that is supposed to give the twinge meaning and value within a committed sexual relationship is the amount of work one is willing to do on behalf of facilitating the twinge for one’s partner. In this. dramatic coaching.veneermagazine. and a personal shopper being only a few among the relevant resources. and relieves muscular tension. Patience. but they are not sharing the twinge. for example. each is feeling his or her own private twinge. massage techniques. we are similarly inclined to multiply exponentially the
www. extended psychotherapy. Conventional social practice pressures us to infer. and personality one contributes to such a relationship is similarly subordinate in importance to the ease and alacrity with which one can supply the twinge for one’s partner. experience.com — Readability
senses. stamina. the relationship itself must be defective. If failure to supply the twinge signals the end or deterioration of a long-term. committed relationship. isometrics. a special diet or medical regimen. We may wish to interrogate the quality of the commitment that requires the twinge to maintain it. props. the twinge is not the kind of pleasure two people can share – the way they can share. In this case. and a spirit of self-sacrifice also may be required. This may require quite a sizable expenditure of industry indeed: acrobatics.
III. Yet the fact that the twinge has such overriding power for us does not explain why it does. power. as well as saturating our culture. dangerous. energy. social status. Is
www. Thus the face value of the twinge is directly proportional to the resources we are willing to invest in order to obtain it. in whose tiny skulls electrodes have been implanted that stimulate the pleasure centers of the brain when a lever is pressed. sleep. and biological given. the greater the importance and value it has for us. money. risk or sacrifice in order to obtain the twinge.veneermagazine. Thought. and even life itself are among the social goods human beings willingly risk in pursuit of the twinge. foregoing food. Sex addiction fuels our economy and our society. will press the lever repeatedly and persistently. We may try to distance ourselves from the sex addict as from an isolated case. social. connections. the more we are willing to invest.readability.com/articles/yune0due 21/41
. What the lab rat experiment suggests and what the widespread social phenomenon of sex addiction suggests is that our attachment to the twinge is so great that we may be willing to risk or sacrifice literally anything in order to obtain it. Lab rats. time. That it so often makes intelligent and reflective people do stupid. we are similarly vulnerable to that description. friendship. a psychologically damaged human being who for that reason alone is disposed to make a comparable trade-off. colleagues. and it would be a very great mistake to underestimate the overwhelming force of this drive. There is a lot of truth to such a conception of human sexuality. family. The Chakras
So far I have treated our pursuit of the twinge as a psychological.com — Readability
resources we are willing to invest – and risk – in order to obtain it. an innate drive whose force we are helpless to withstand. identity. But to the extent that we are willing to prioritize our lives or activities or relationships or risk our reputation or physical or mental wellbeing for the same end. and ultimately survival itself in order to prolong the twinge.12/7/12
SADHANA — www. to the exclusion of all else. or ridiculous things attests to its power. public reputation. self-definition. That human beings repeatedly demonstrate their readiness to risk or sacrifice any or all that is of human value in order to obtain the twinge is a reliable indicator that it very often outweighs the value and importance of anything and everything else. The greater the lengths to which we are prepared to go – that is. career. The success of the marketing strategy that associates sex with consumption in determining our actual patterns of consumption and mobility strongly suggests that the shoe fits.
This social programming is remarkably successful in convincing us of the power and intrinsic value of the twinge so that we are justified in arranging all aspects of our lives in order to maximize it. peer pressure.readability.veneermagazine.e. we in fact confirm the converse principle: that it is rather our drive to obtain the twinge at all costs that confers on it its special power and significance. But it might prevent us from investing in possessions and connections and schemes and relationships and social identities specifically designed to facilitate it. Of course. on Freud’s view. It conditions us to be self-stimulators writ large and to measure and evaluate all aspects of our lives and relationships in its terms. and thought around obtaining the twinge but rather around. this would not prevent some individuals from performing stupid or ridiculous actions or from taking dangerous or self-destructive risks in order to obtain the twinge. Our ingenious attempts to control and guide sexual energy furnish the underpinnings of social organization as well as the personal challenge of self-governance. We can measure the success of this campaign by our unreflective compliance with its edicts. self-definition. Were we not to organize our most important relationships. effectively. time. It operates on the assumption that we are essentially like the lab rat.com/articles/yune0due 22/41
. According to Freudian psychology.. biologically instilled fact of life. biochemistry. Our global “advertainment industry” underwrites such factors. by so complying. to drive our sexual urges underground where they would determine our behavior beyond the reach of consciousness. there are many individual psychological and social factors that enter into a person’s ascription of ultimate and incomparable power to the twinge: age. To accord it less of our attention would be. social and material resources.12/7/12
SADHANA — www. i. And it might prevent us from automatically evaluating as deficient a loving life partnership that failed to supply it.com — Readability
it the inherent power of the twinge that drives us to seek it at all costs? Or is it our drive to seek the twinge at all costs that confers power on it? Obviously. this principle is false. the power and importance of the twinge in our eyes would be considerably reduced and the value of justice for the disadvantaged correspondingly increased. say. This is only one example of a more general principle: that we assign power and importance to a state of affairs to the extent that we give it our attention. is a basic. energy. The sexual drive. The Freudian model predicts that we
www. However. obtaining justice for the disadvantaged. personal history. that we can be conditioned to do and buy and wear and consume everything that brings us closer to obtaining the twinge. and cultural norms among them. And we determine what is powerful and important by allocating our attention accordingly. to repress it.
politics. whereas the Freudian would speak of the “sublimation” of sexual energy into work. awakens our creativity. The third. determined by our obsession with sex. preoccupations. The first. releases our emotions and pours our energy into feelings of compassion and sympathy for others and into service on their behalf. directs prana towards sexual congress and procreation. On this model. and behavioral inclinations. directs our energy toward the acquisition and use of power. and hence no necessity underlying the contingent fact that in this society our behavior is. dense. A concentration of energy at any of these centers stimulates the connected complex of nerves.com/articles/yune0due 23/41
. The second. qualitatively distinct set of physical and mental dispositions. the Manipura Chakra. Yoga psychology of course does not deny the social fact that most of our behavior is determined in this way. or creativity. However. The fifth. In this tradition. These. and actions may find transpersonal or non-egocentric expression. there is no energy that can be identified as specifically and essentially sexual. These centers are anatomically identified with specific points along the inner canal of the central nervous system (or sushumna) at which the interconnections of nerve pathways (or nadis) extending to all parts of the rest of the body are particularly numerous. directs our energy toward survival. politics. the Vissudha Chakra or throat chakra. by and large.veneermagazine. it is here that we “find our voice” and channel our subjective experience into objective form
www. groundedness. the Muladhara Chakra. there are seven qualitatively different nerve centers in the body called chakras [please refer to Figure 304]. psychological. This is the first chakra at which our energy. that the advanced practices of yoga enable us to control and channel this energy into whichever outlets we choose. govern our experiences. which we absorb through the breath and which can take different forms and find different outlets – depending on the physical. and spiritual condition of the agent. The fourth. and equilibrium in the circumstances of our lives. activate a particular. in turn. the Anahata Chakra or heart chakra. attention.com — Readability
would ventilate this repressed sexual energy in even more self-destructive and self-defeating ways than we already do. or creativity as well as or instead of into sex. For example. further. attitudes.readability. the Svadhisthana Chakra. toward obtaining security. in turn. and these. and complex. Yoga psychology states. But it explains this fact differently. yoga psychology states more simply that life energy can be channeled into work. Yoga psychology postulates a pervasive life energy.12/7/12
SADHANA — www. yoga psychology sees the matter differently. called prana. There are several million such pathways in the human body.
In the majority of the world’s population. or jivanmukta.veneermagazine. prana circulates freely throughout the entire central nervous system. The corresponding nadis are clear. i. and spatiotemporal location. As the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad tells us: When a man has realized the Self. union with ultimate reality and freedom from the limitations of the ego. stimulating all of the chakras into mutual equilibrium. it eliminates them by turning our interest and attention away from their objects and toward something infinitely more compelling that transfixes and completes us. a sadhaka who has experienced ananda is not even tempted to expend energy in pursuit of the twinge. Often the only available respite from the struggle for survival is the twinge. When prana is able to reach the seventh and final chakra. and fully integrated. life energy is of necessity devoted to bare subsistence and so largely confined to the Muladhara Chakra. namely the ultimate reality of pure consciousness itself. beyond the world of name and form. causality. described in the Upanishads as bliss or ananda. the physical body.com — Readability
through artistic expression. The yogini’s all-encompassing hyper-awareness. And she sees into the deep reality of that moment. and fully sensitized. to satisfy it?3 Spiritual illumination does not satisfy all cravings. Restrictive and coercive social conditioning is absent. the twinge isn’t even in the running.. the immortal. the blissful.readability. the Sahasrara Chakra. The sixth. gives her the freedom. the Ajna Chakra. what craving can be left in him that he should take to himself another body. Thus.12/7/12
SADHANA — www. beyond the biases and distortions of superficial appearance. Compared to the experience of spiritual illumination. the ascription of ultimate power and importance to the twinge and the sacrifice of any energy or time or resources in its pursuit is not simply misguided. the pure. all-encompassing. in which energy is directed toward the Svadhisthana
www. and clarity of vision to respond appropriately to the circumstantial demands of the moment. balanced. everything else dwindles into insignificance and nothing else can hold our attention or interest for long. for insight into reality. we experience complete spiritual illumination. unclouded by preconceptions or compulsive inclinational tendencies. From the perspective of the Sahasrara Chakra. full of suffering. Consciousness at all seven levels is alert.com/articles/yune0due 24/41
. Once we have experienced this true Self. by contrast. In a fully illumined yogi. awakens our capacity for wisdom.e. The sympathetic and parasympathetic systems are under conscious control. There is simply no contest. flexibility. It is positively mystifying.
history. we can reduce its importance and interest by divesting and redirecting our resources accordingly. and psychological and material resources in it. Its values. both facilitates and increases sexual gratification and also threatens as well as buttresses stability and security – which in turn requires further accumulations of power to protect them. in order to manage the endlessly proliferating demands and consequences of each. in turn. And if we choose. and operative social norms nevertheless guide our energies and preoccupations toward these three lower levels of consciousness and enmesh us in this same vicious cycle. it is explained by the power and importance we assign it. Therefore.com/articles/yune0due 25/41
SADHANA — www. toward the Manipura Chakra. Attachment
So far I have argued that our obsession with pursuit of the twinge is not a matter of biological necessity but rather a contingent and reversible effect of our social conditioning and societal values. for most of the impoverished of the world. sex. our tendency to subordinate our relationships and our lives to it and to risk or sacrifice everything in order to obtain it is not explained by the inherent power or importance of the twinge. And the demands of survival and procreation in turn direct energy toward the accumulation of power and resources. i. Rather. Thus. Thus.veneermagazine. We make the twinge important and interesting to the extent that we invest our thought. And it implicitly criticizes the Freudian model as an ideological rationalization that turns a contingent matter of choice into a biological necessity. External conditions in these societies do not compel the expenditure of life energy on survival. These are matters of basic necessity. sex. On
www. and power with the same inexorability. determined by circumstance. and the physical and mental transformations that occur there. the incessant demands and consequences of survival. they are not matters of basic necessity for the advantaged mainstream populations of any industrially developed society. The four higher centers of consciousness. in order to protect them.. and power create a vicious cycle in which life energy is continually rerouted from one to another. This principle sheds light on the structure of attachment more generally.com — Readability
Chakra. yoga psychology explains our sociocultural obsession with the twinge as a largely unnecessary blockage of life energy at the sexual level – an obsession that it is within our power to transcend. remain inaccessible. energy.
IV.readability. Hence. However. they do not necessarily predetermine the level or quality of spiritual evolution of American society in particular. The result is that life energy is confined largely to the basic needs and preoccupations of the egoself.e. Power.
. Attachment comes only where we expect a return. investment: we expend considerable time. or an enterprise (for example. or an ideal (for example. pleasure.veneermagazine. Second.4). and resources we invest in obtaining that satisfaction. it is condemning action that proceeds from the delusory belief that there is a causal relationship between our ritual exertions in the service of desire and the rewards we will obtain from satisfying it. squandering strength and treasure.4 And when the Bhagavad Gita condemns one who acts “in the hour of delusion without count of cost. we may think of attachment more in accord with the metaphor of imprisonment: as being unwillingly shackled to that person. or an ideal. Both views of attachment are incomplete in so far as they neglect the importance of personal investment. or having our hands tied by that enterprise. The more of ourselves we pour into a desire. This is part of the sense in which. Its pull on us – and its power over us – increases with the psychological and material price we pay to obtain it and the expectations of obtaining it we thereby raise in ourselves. an enterprise. On bad days. or self-esteem. We consciously resolve to devote ourselves to a person (for example. Personal investment is about the relation between capital expenditure and net income. First. or feeling compelled or browbeaten by that ideal. The more time. in which everything given by you is a free offering to the world. by joining a club or ashram or political party). As Vivekananda tells us: If you invariably take the position of a giver. Attachment is a function of both the psychological output we offer up and the input in satisfaction we expect from it. heedless of harm to another” and one who “follows the object of his desire. by signing a contract). as Patanjali reminds us (II. looking for reward and personal advantage” (XVIII)5. the defining characteristics of attachment are two. then your work will bring you no attachment. without any thought of return. the more important and urgent it becomes that we obtain it.com — Readability
good days we may think of attachment as something like principled commitment – to a person. energy.12/7/12
SADHANA — www.readability. Attachment to a desired object mistakenly presupposes a systematic and rule-governed connection between the
www. or does a duty. the more attached we are to satisfying it because the more we expect to obtain through our sacrifice. by taking marriage vows). energy. On this analysis. attachment proceeds from ignorance. or seeks wealth. on the other hand. and resources on the object of attachment. return: we then expect our expenditure to yield us corresponding rewards in happiness.
but not merely because our sex-obsessed society encourages us to do so. really quite a lot of fun. by weaving a celebratory tribute to its importance. the liposuction. and dismantle those personal investments themselves. for himself. the performance anxiety. and learn the deep life lessons the twinge has to teach.readability.12/7/12
SADHANA — www. the planning. Now of course. though downloading pornography on one’s office computer. beliefs. if one was willing to risk society’s disapproval in pursuit of the twinge. But it then follows naturally that once we succeed in detaching ourselves from the twinge. detaching from the need for society’s approval becomes easier. The more the twinge disappoints our expectations of reward. why should two outer coverings embrace?”6 Now apply these ruminations to our pursuit of the twinge. We make this investment willingly. the facial peel. We are also free to love another disinterestedly. say. the killer high-protein diet. “the sexual act would seem utterly meaningless to us. Once we rid ourselves of this mistaken assumption. our relationships. dissect. But if not. subordinate things we were willing to sacrifice becomes much easier. the diplomacy. We make the investment because we falsely believe the rewards will be worth it. And this. We make it important. and priceless thing there is. activities.e. preoccupations.. the intrigue. of course. i. the twinge is fun. it was worth it. we can jettison the corresponding expectation of reward. then once one chooses brahmacharya. “If we really knew and loved the Atman within others. we valorize it as the most important. the expensive new outfits. To the extent that we thus convince ourselves to organize virtually everything – our social identities. the high-stakes negotiations.” Prabhavananda observes. the scheduling. If one was prepared to sacrifice the rewards and perks of
www. the revitalizing drugs. then all that was a waste. When the Atman is known to be everywhere and always a unity. This terrifying possibility leads us to react by valorizing the twinge even more. powerful. independently of the needs or desires he satisfies in us.com/articles/yune0due 27/41
. our lives. the morning-after hangover? If your answer is yes.veneermagazine. our social rolls. the weight training class. powerful. then you must go for it. But is it worth the social machinations. instills our addiction to it even more deeply.com — Readability
magnitude and content of our personal investment in it and the magnitude and content of the returns it will bring us. and expensive to the extent that we are willing to invest ourselves in obtaining it. then detaching from any of those other. For example. Then we are free to examine. from that for the sake of which we were willing to sacrifice everything. the more we must inflate it in order to justify the lengths to which we went to obtain it. and our work – around the project of obtaining and supplying the twinge.
The mind is nonmaterial.readability. and free.com/articles/yune0due
. by having unprotected sex with a stranger or cuckolding a murderous spouse. and ties on which we depended for such rewards. Both body and mind are conjointly definitive of the individual. then once one chooses brahmacharya. spiritual. This process leads us toward the ultimate self-sufficiency that is the final goal of yoga. we can put that lesson to work. a dualistic philosophy draws a sharp distinction between the body and the mind. The general principle would be this: In a sex-addicted society that subordinates everything to pursuit of the twinge. And if one was prepared to risk life itself in pursuit of the twinge. then.com — Readability
professional power in pursuit of the twinge. Thus.veneermagazine. through an adulterous affair in the workplace. whereas. Yoga is based in part on a dualistic philosophy called Samkhya [please refer to Figure 305]: In the European philosophical tradition.
www. we potentially already have a leg up in detaching ourselves from all those things we willingly subordinate. say. then. we free ourselves from false assumptions about cause and effect. Kaivalya
I said earlier that once we rid ourselves of the mistaken assumption that there is a systematic relationship between the psychological and material resources we invest in something and the returns it brings us. Once we choose to abstain from sex. this enables us to detach more easily from anything we might have sacrificed in pursuit of it. So the process of detachment occurs in stages: first. we can then banish our expectations about such returns. we gradually free ourselves from identification with and personal investment in the many things. we free ourselves from expectations of reward. dissect. the body is material. The body is regarded as the vessel or vehicle that contains the mind as its animating principle. events. conscious. and dismantle those personal investments themselves.
V. say. and are then free to examine. intelligent. natural. our obsessive attachment to the twinge teaches us what means to it we in fact regard as dispensable. Once we divert our attention elsewhere. detaching from the rewards and perks of professional power becomes easier. and causally determined. then the importance of survival at any cost dwindles to manageable proportions once one chooses brahmacharya.12/7/12
SADHANA — www. unconscious. and the mind that endures after death as the immortal soul retains the stamp of the individual’s character and personality but in a purer form.
The difference is that Samkhya classifies both the body and the mind as inanimate and unconscious matter that provides a mere vehicle for consciousness. spiritual. then from the microscopic material properties by which we identify them (the Tanmâtras). that imprison consciousness in matter. Perhaps the most significant contrast between the European conception of mind and the Samkhyan conception of Purusha is that Purusha is impersonal and objective rather than personal and subjective. or ego-self. it is different from the European conception of mind in lying beyond it. not unlike physical constraints. Purusha (or Atman in Vedanta). We achieve this through sadhana by practicing those yogic disciplines that gradually disentangle our sense of wholeness from dependence on external material conditions. conscious.12/7/12
SADHANA — www. mind. nature and spirit.e. first from macroscopic physical objects including the body (the Bhûtas). At each stage we discern our distinctness and independence from something with which. i. As we progress in sadhana. conscious and animate versus unconscious and inanimate. then from sensory interaction with them (the Indriyas). The role of Purusha in Samkhya is similar in some respects to the role of mind in European dualism: it is nonmaterial. we fully identified and in which we were psychologically invested. pure. Instead. and so on. and animates matter. It retains no stamp of individual character or personality.veneermagazine. free. at an earlier stage. for these are viewed as constraints.. Through sadhana we come to differentiate between our expectations and the facts and so gradually come to detach ourselves from those facts we recognize as extrinsic to our true nature and therefore unimportant [please refer to Figure 306].com/articles/yune0due 29/41
. So the relationship between Purusha and the mind is something like the relationship between you and your computer. in providing the animating principle of mind. Ignorance is that state in which we confuse consciousness with the material vehicles – the mind. and transcendent nature. immortal. we progressively withdraw our attention and interest. and our sense of
www. Purusha or consciousness in Samkhya is ultimate reality. However.com — Readability
Samkhya draws a similar contrast between the material and the nonmaterial. beyond the limitations of the body. body.readability. independent. and external physical objects – which consciousness in fact merely illuminates and animates. The ultimate goal of yoga is to detach our consciousness from its enmeshment in these material vehicles so that it can re-establish itself in its own free. and in merely illuminating the mind with the consciousness that we mistakenly identify with it.
The process of detachment begins with the physical properties we recognize. the term kaivalya refers to this state of ultimate spiritual self-sufficiency. To free ourselves from that attachment is to turn our attention and interest to our awareness itself. i.12/7/12
SADHANA — www. To finally realize what we are – namely Purusha – is to see that our imprisonment was self-imposed by our erroneous attachment to all of the foregoing material constraints – on which we are not at all dependent. to situate ourselves in consciousness alone.e.veneermagazine.readability. The relative ease of detachment that brahmacharya brings is merely a preview of things to come. But it proceeds by dismantling our identification with psychological properties from which it may be harder to disentangle our awareness: from recognizing that we are not identical with our minds (Manas) but rather may witness and dissect its operations from a distance to the recognition that we are not even our ego-self (Ahamkâra).com — Readability
wholeness and self-sufficiency grows stronger and deeper. as external to our true selves: our possessions.. too – its needs. you will pass through them safely if you never forget what you really are. Never forget that this is only a momentary state and that you have to pass through it. our connections. struggles. In Samkhya. Experience [of pleasure and pain] is the one great teacher …. and the Purusha so great that the whole universe seems as a drop in the ocean and falls off by its own nothingness. I’ll close with Vivekananda’s advice: So get this experience of husbands and wives and friends and little loves. on reflection. with its enormous scope and power to transport us in thought to anywhere.
www. It leads step by step to that state where all things become small. and to encompass any level of abstraction or generality. but rather may view it. to the realization that we are even greater and more than our intellect (Buddhi). independent of any of its objects.com/articles/yune0due
. any time. Now we see from a perspective beyond the limitations of our “pet human” just how confining those limitations were. and conflicts – from a reflective and compassionate distance. our worldly ambitions.
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