Monday, May 7, 2012

Yoga FAQ

What is Yoga?
Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations (vRRitti) of the mental plane (chitta). Once that is achieved, the seer resides in its own true nature, otherwise the seer is absorbed in the fluctuations of the mental plane.

What are vRRitis?
There are five kinds of mental fluctuations - right knowledge, error, imagination, sleep and memory and these may be either detrimental or non-detrimental to the practice of yoga.

Right knowledge consists of sense perception, logic and verbal testimony.
Error is false knowledge stemming from incorrect notion of something.
Imagination is the usage of words that are devoid of an actual object.
Deep sleep is the mental state based on absence of any content.
Memory is the retention of images of sense objects that have been experienced.

What is chitta?
In Yoga, human body consists of three layers:
a. Gross Physical body
b. Subtle Internal body
c. Soul or puruSha

The Internal body is know as chitta and consists of three layers:
a. manas or mind, which generates the notion "I am A, different from B"
b. ahaMkAra or ego,  which generates the notion "I am" i.e self-awareness
c. buddhi or intelligence, which generates the notion "I" i.e awareness

The Internal body and gross body are evolutes of prakRRiti or primordial matter.

How can the vRRitis be stilled?
These vRRitis of mental plane are stilled by practice (abhyAsa) and dispassion (vairAgyam).

What is abhyAsa?
Practice is the effort to be fixed in concentraing the mind and requires uninterrupted cultivation over a long period of time.

What is Dispassion?
Dispassion is the controlled consciousness of one who is without craving of sense objects. This is of two types:
a. indifference to sense objects (vairAgyam)
b. indifference to the guNas themselves (vaitRRiShNyam)

What are guNas?
guNas are the constituent strands of prakRRiti. There are three such strands:
a. sattva or lucidity, tranquility, wisdom, discrimination, detachment, happinesss, peacefulness
b. rajas or action, movement, creation, hankering, power, restlessness
c. tamas or inertia, ignorance, delusion, disinterest, lethary, sleep

The guNas are in continuous tension with each other - sometimes one dominates the other and then some other one.

In this context, the purpose of yoga is to maximize sattva and minimize rajas and tamas.
Ref: Edwin Bryant, Yog Sutra of Patanjali

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