Sankara. Just read your recent posts about wanting to write more on pranayama. Did you actually dump all your old essays in the trash? I would think posting those again would be fantastic.
I had some questions about what you wrote. You often rag on entertainment and I suppose I understand but isn't entertainment a part of life? I'm not saying it has to be the goal but it is often a starting point. Being entertained can be a doorway to something more. I guess the type of entertainment I find to be the bad is the one that comes at the expense of others. I think a yogi once talked about life as a cosmic drama. If so I think the gods may need to hire a better editor (that was a joke).
I have nothing against entertainment, per se. They are modern mantras.
I also wonder, you say our society is upside down and not good for the practice of pranayama but has there ever been a time in human history or a group of people who have it better than we have it now in the western world? Earlier on people just struggled to survive, spent all their time trying to make a living and running away from those who would harm them for whatever reason. Only a handful of people ever had the time to contemplate Pranayama let alone practice it.
History books point to some times and places where asceticism was easier. Less distractions and more public support. Read a good book on world history or the history and religion and you will find several eras where there were sudden upswings in ascetic living. Sometimes, sociopolitical, economic, and religious forces work to foster that development, even if yogic knowledge is limited or lacking.
Third about the practice of Pranayama. You say you were disappointed that people did not push themselves further in their practice but sometimes even failing is part of progress. I have found that even a few minutes of meditation helps to calm the mind, gives me a better attitude, lets me focus more. That is progress at the individual level. Didn't Babaji say that even a little bit of practice can save you from dire fears and collosal suffering? I know to you he is a mythical figure, but what do you think of that statement?
I am very supportive of efforts, large and small, toward intuition. The dire fear the Gita, which he was quoting, referred to was the fear associated with the process of death, where the breath recedes. The practice of pranayama mitigates this fear through the practice of breathlessness. So, he suggests students to get used to that process, since it is our unavoidable fate. The more one practices, the less fear.
Speaking of entertainment, I found some books I thought you may enjoy. It is a fantasy series called "The Song of Ice and Fire", HBO has adapted the first book "Game of Thrones" into a television series. Ask any friends about it, it is a brilliant series of books and very meaty and realistic.
Thanks for the suggestion. A student visited recently who also suggested the show.
Anyways thanks for your time.
Your belief on God,why the chaos and suffering in physical
life,killing and such,is this something that will eventually end
Do you believe in reincarnation?
No, it will never end anymore than it ever begun, strictly speaking. It is the nature of the reality in which we are manifest.
While I don't believe, as belief is not a reliable avenue to knowledge, the division of awareness, according to the theory of self I detail in GWR, is prior to the division of time and space, meaning selfhood precedes bodies born, living, and dying. Follow this train of thought, and you may discover how this process might have informed the development of religious and spiritual beliefs around the world.
If we are all here to expand in consciousness into the infinite what expands? Does our individual consciousness go on in some form when we die? if individual consciousness does not go on then why make the effort?
If studied with an open mind the logical conclusion is that the shroud of Turin is the burial clothe of the historical Jesus, seemingly at the time of resurrection. my question is could Jesus be a casual being that has brought this world into existence to fulfill a desire to play the part of savior. He defiantly identified himself with YWA and the I AM of the old Testament. and if Jesus is this casual being how should we relate to Him?
Awareness expands beyond the divisional misperceptions of space, time, causation, and yes, the individuation of awareness.
Death is not the end of individuated awareness. If it were, then no effort would be necessary. Death alone would be sufficient.
The division of awareness, being prior to the division of space and time, continues after death but with far less of a narrow identity with the waking consciousness of self of which you are aware.
Efforts are made because the self eventually realizes that effort at expansion is unavoidable.
I studied the Turin Shroud while at Columbia, and marveled at the evidence it provided. That the Vatican felt damage control and apologies were necessary was also of note. However, that it provides historicity for the Jesus of the New Testament is a huge stretch.
No one causal being or god is behind this world, let alone the entire cosmos. Causal beings, meaning a self that realizes itself prior to causation, space, and time, can orchestrate small events in the world, not an entire cosmos just to be the savior on a single planet. And what kind of savior, after all, was Jesus, if indeed he existed? I can think of greater servants of humanity than an ascetic who died or vanished by the age of 33.
We can related to Jesus as we might to any mythic image of god, as an opportunity to focus the mind and expand the sense of self.
First, thank you for writing again. I appreciate it and I'm sure many others do too.
Here are my questions; any thoughts are appreciated:
Why do certain liberated souls return as avatars while others do not? Yogananda called this a "desireless desire" but that doesn't feel like a satisfactory explanation. It seems as though one who chooses to reincarnate to help others must inherently be more compassionate than one who does not. But how is this kind of difference possible among liberated souls -- aren't they all infinitely compassionate?
All beings that retain any individuation manifest their individuality somewhere. The very individuality means it exists. If this individuality is not a strong limit on the awareness, then it is serving the expansion of others. It is a large cosmos, and as dire as circumstances seem sometimes in the human world, a steady stream of manifesting infinite selves is not necessary or prudent.
How can one fall from sabikalpa samadhi if that is a state of infinite bliss? What could possibly tempt a yogi to fall back from such heights of ecstasy?
I don't view or place yogic power in a theological context of falling and temptation. Yogis who realize samadhi seek further knowledge and power, like everyone else. Sometimes, elements of their individuality seek further expression, thus forestalling liberation from divisional misperceptions.
What type of yoga you practice as meditation and
it you can transverse the 7 planes of creation up to God-Cosmic
Pranayama and asceticism.
Cosmic consciousness arrives long before the nullification of all division.
I am here right now, and I use a scooter to transverse Deepwater.
What is your personal experience, what is going through your mind when you show someone else the spiritual eye? Seems to me the ability to show someone the spiritual eye must involve some kind of semi-omniscience!
I force prana into the skull of the recipient.
So how many people have you shown the spiritual eye to now?
I have not counted, but not as many as I'd like.
My understanding from the lessons, from AoY and from other writings was that while the path to self-realization is extremely difficult, it is good to take even a few steps toward it. The whole discourse of the PY school seemed to be very positive ("even if you make a little effort now, it will go a long way"), saying that pranayama practice from the very beginning is accompanied by peace and spirituality, quickly creating a positive cycle where the practitioner is encouraged to practice more. Not that self-control is not necessary, but that genuine steps toward self-exploration are beneficial. It is in this light that I was hoping to build a spiritual practice.
Your discourse seems significantly different. You seem to be saying that until there is a huge desire for pranayama/self-realization, there is not really a point in practicing. Take my case - I do have a genuine desire to start a spiritual practice, but at the same time I have gone through a difficult couple of years, during which my repressed desires throughout college to experience joyous states through substances have been allowed to prosper. Since I have had some *profoundly* meaningful times with these substances, and since I have become dependent to an extent on this cycle (a lot of time spent with friends and these substances have kept me hinged, somewhat, in an otherwise unhappy time), I am hesitant to sacrifice these things with great speed. Intellectually I know this is not the path to happiness.
But then how will the cycle be broken? How will I build up the required spiritual ardor to be a serious aspirant? How will I develop devotion and reduce ego without doing anything about it?
Sufficient pain and suffering are endured to cause a shift in the self and break cycles, from microcosmic cycles of habits to the macro cycles of life and lives. As much as you have suffered, it may be that your life of entitlement has blunted the edge of suffering and pain and shielded you from the kind of questions that would have prompted deeper introspection.
Yogananda went for a quantitative following and movement. This does not interest me. Teachers are different. I respect his mission and decision as he respected, and even slightly envied, the role other yogis chose to play in relative obscurity.
As I've suggested to others, reread the story of Babaji's initial request to Lahiri to teach Kriya Yoga only to bonafide ascetics. It speaks volumes.
Yogoda/SRF are in India. Other teachers are there. Engagement with me is considerably more costly, both in money and probably time. Also, I am not easy on the narrow self.
If I am honest to myself, I must acknowledge that shallow as it may be, my desire to curb the hedonistic aspects of my life (substances, poker, a lot of time spent with friends) right now is weak. Perhaps this is so because I am dissatisfied with my married life as well as my work life, and this social outlet therefore has become a significant source of happiness for me. However, I also know that this is a phase and it will pass. My will power, which at one time was a huge source of pride for me, seems to have crumbled in the last few years. From perceiving myself as a strong person 6-7 years back, I've started thinking of myself as weak.
At the same time, I know that I must start building an inner life, not just for the eventual aim of self-realization, but also for self-transformation in more mundane ways like reducing anger, ego and increasing discipline, confidence, courage. I have always known that I would resume my spiritual efforts, but I've been passive about it. I want to start now. Even if I stumble along unevenly. I'm hoping that an earnest effort of an hour a day with pranayama will affect every aspect of my life positively, eventually making me look more toward the "sattvic" joys of life, like music, nature, and, of course, more pranayama. Since you say magnetism is extremely important, I'm happy to visit for a week every year. I am also not averse to severe ego-bashing - I hope I can muster the objectivity and humility it takes to acknowledge one's weaknesses. I am eager to develop intuition and learn techniques that will get off the talk mode and into the action mode.
As you know, I have been teaching yoga for many years. In those years, I have changed the format and requirements within which I am willing to teach. That is, while I can teach anyone, the practical considerations do not permit me to teach just anyone.
At this time in your life, teaching you will be extremely difficult for both of us. You have a lot of work to do before learning from me. A student that is still struggling with his or her attraction to pranayama is not ready for pranayama, at least not ready to learn it from me.
When it could take twenty years before the practice of pranayama bears fruits, especially considering that you will be alone in practicing it, have numerous sensory distractions with which to contend, and have minimal contact with a yogi, I expect that it will be very difficult for you to adhere to the practice.
While asking about a larger plan to your life, ask why you came when your mind and heart are mired in extremely worldly issues -- work, marriage, desires.
I have requirements for teaching. They are not negotiable, but I am willing to compromise on some of them if I feel that doing so is better for you. Avoiding your triggers in trust and belief is not something I care to do. In fact, I mean to prod them further.