Discovering Yoga sutras

I consider myself extremely blessed that via the yoga teacher’s training I was exposed to the Patanjali Sutras, Hatha Yoga Pradipika and Gheranda Samhita. Its like I have taken a dip in ocean of divine knowledge…

I wish I was taught this in my childhood by someone. It would actually have built my respect for Hinduism as a way of life.

I have been born a Hindu but the actual meaning of the philosophy of why we did what we did never really made sense. I always had a curious mind and I could not find the right people for the answers.

As I grew older and life kept happening, the questions grew and there was no answer to satisfy me until I worked with various modalities. Each spiritual modality would give me a glimpse of something, maybe answer a few questions but the queries inside never stopped bubbling.  The Bible and Buddhism brought me closer to exploring the art of living life with some good concepts and very soon I realised that they also had their roots in the old ancient philosophy when there was no clear concept of religion. But again, as I searched subconsciously, I could not find anyone who could explain to me. I wished there were was someone who would extrapolate the ancient wisdom to grains of word that would be easily be possible to digest.

In my quest, I found Swami Rama’s books, Sri M’s commentaries and his autobiography was an eyeopener and my hot favorite is Adi Shankaracharya… and I am still diving…

As I started this new phase of my life learning how to teach and strengthen my personal practice, I was introduced to Patanjali’s Sutras. And I am still amazed… Short and succinct and it has so much meaning and such profound interpretations that has placed everything I look at with a beautiful perspective.

Chitta Prasadana is one aspect from the Sutras which has been on my mind for a couple of days. Chitta Prasadana as I understood it deals with mind purification or rather helps in making our mind tranquil. With so many ups and downs it seems that the art of being in balance has been forgotten. Chanting helps, meditation helps but digging deep into the Sutras also opens up so many avenues of thought process.

I was wondering about how as a teacher one could sustain the sattvic attitude of giving and not just showing off what one knows. Then with personal interactions with peers and public including myself where the people are so enmeshed in their “knowing” and “experience” that anything different or out of the box is difficult to accept or imagine..

Then it struck me… Chitta Prasadana. The ancient sages have already decoded this point and here we are trying to reinvent the wheel in our own mind trying to find quick fixes for our experiences or rather the events which bring us stress or conflict.

This thought liberated me to an extent – when I was struggling with the ego part from me and others… and it has at least stilled my restlessness. Practicing it in life definitely brings forth a kind of mindful and emotional evolution. Specially when we are attempting to follow yamas and niyamas which is quite difficult in this age.

Here is something I read which I want to share.

 

YS. 1.33:  Excerpt from http://www.ahymsin.org/docs2/News/1212Dec/01.html

Maîtree-karuNaa-muditopekShaaNaam sukha-duHkha-puNyaapuNya-viShayaaNaam bhaavanaatash chitta-prasaadanam

(bhaavaartha=paraphrase): The mind-field is made pleasant and clear by the practice of amity towards the happy, compassion towards those in suffering, joyfulness at seeing others meritorious, and the practice of indifference towards the transgressors of virtue.

It appears simple enough but the actual meanings are profound; this becomes clear by studying the explanations given by commentators, starting with Vyasa. He adds:

By practising these there arises in one the bright virtue (or bright attributes) (shukla dharma). Thereby the mind-field becomes pleasant and clear; thus made pleasant and clear it attains the state of stability and stillness (sthiti-pada).

Only such a mind can be stabilized in meditation and can attain the desired stillness.
It answers a question the sadhakas often raise: why does my mind not settle down during meditation? Why does it keep wandering? The answer is implicit in the sutra: Dear Sadhaka, your mind wanders, does not attain stability and stillness because you have not made it pleasant and clear through the practice of the four right attitudes of chitta-prasaadana.

I term this as emotional purification. Without emotional purification in daily life, there can be no ‘pra-saadana’ of the mind and consequently the mind will not attain stability during meditation which alone leads to stability and interior stillness.

The commentators go further into the psychology of these practices. Vachaspati Mishra (VM) states (paraphrased here):

The sutra states the means and methods for making the mind-field pleasant and clear that serve as antidotes to the negative attributes like malice (asooyaa) and so forth. It is because the mind that is unrefined is filled with these malice and so forth, it cannot bring about samadhi and its supporting means and methods.

These practices are the methods of refining the mind (pari-karman).

It works as follows:

When one practices amity towards those who are happy and in comfort, his mind-field’s dark stains of jealousy are turned off.

When one practices compassion, that is the desire and inclination for eliminating others’ sufferings in the same measure in which one wishes to remove one’s own, then the dark stains of any inclination towards harming others cease.

When one cultivates joyfulness at seeing other beings virtuous, the dark stains of malice are turned off.

When one cultivates indifference, that is neutrality, remaining in the middle (madhya-stha), then the dark stains of intolerance vanish.

So this kind of gave me an idea ( I am still figuring this out) how to work with the mind and the pull and push from outside. The knowers and the doers and the haters and the players… its all a game… if I focus on the mind and understand what state I need to be in, and just follow the sutras keeping my ego totally out, there is so much more to achieve then…. WOW…

Well I am just a babe in these woods and still trying to comprehend how to work through this… inside myself… so more later… 🙂

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