Either-and Vedanta & Rajas Yoga
As solar flares were having their way with my sleep patterns again in the past weeks, the question of either-and Vedanta and Rajas Yoga came up for discussion. The topic in this blog brings two schools together, hence the post might be a bit on the long side.
For most part of my studies in my twenties and early thirties, I focused on the 8 limb yoga path/ Raja Yoga based on Patanjali’s sutras***. I had a dream one night, in the dream I was trying to get up the hill with my little car, yet the car was filled to the brim with baggage, the car got too heavy and were unable to go further. In the dream I got out and was told that these 2 books will take me further on the path, leaving the car and baggage just there on the road. The next day, my then teacher, handed me a translation of Patanjali’s Sutras and instructed me to only focus on first 2 sections. Thus it was not 2 books, rather 2 sections of a book, my soul was trying to convey in the dream to focus on, while I walked away from my baggage, which was dragging me down.
A side note here; it might sound terribly glamorous to have a first teacher or multiple teachers or to just have a teacher in your life. Let me assure you it was never glamorous, nor was it a pretty sight. Most of the time I fought the urge to run away, get in my car and drive away, which I did on numerous occasions. Always to return as the urge to know was stronger. Now I really wished I counted the amount of eye-rolls I received as the ‘rant’ of the pack, those eye-rolls is now my price possession, a testament to persevering regardless. Stripping away the beliefs and masks we so strongly identify with is a dirty job, as Yogananda*** would say, there is no way to be nice to the ego (false self). We do not leave those treasured beliefs and masks graciously, we kick and we scream, we tantrum and insist we know best. Only to get a slap from the universe every time, stripping away anything and everything that parade itself to be us.
Back to Patanjali’s Sutras. The 8 fold path indicate different states. It is precisely there that lies the problem. What we are is not a state, thus when I encounter Vedanta and the clear precision of the logic, I was disillusioned by Raja Yoga, as it was clearly it could never get you there… of course there is “no there, nowhere to go, or nothing to achieve”. Yet at a certain part of the path, that is the visceral experience. At the time I did not realise that it was because of the 8 fold path that I was ready to hear and assimilate the knowledge of Vedanta.
Vedanta*** has a list of qualifications, simply it means certain developed qualities that have been identified by the sages without which realisation is not possible. At the time of encountering I did not pay much stock to these as Vedanta was very clear and easy to understand. Only after spending satsangs with James Swartz*** did I realise the true value of the qualifications. It is not to keep anyone away from knowledge, it is just a practical fact that without them, you do not have the focus to concentrate, nor have enough stillness to observe the knowledge, in a nutshell, you lack Sattva/stillness/intellect to assimilate the knowledge.
The 12 Qualifications is mainly focused on the state of the mind.
Having an open, reasonable, discrimination and dispassionate mind, that is willing to question its assumptions about the meaning of life, while not inclined to superstitions, opinions and beliefs. Applying intelligence to avoid the petty dramas, conflicts and willing to abandon sense indulgences, emotional passions and intellectual beliefs for the sake of peace.
Further be have a disciplined, patient forbearing, balanced and motivated mind, that observes that which produces understanding, can withstand the unpleasant and relatively intraceble situations that will not be resolved immediately. While retaining equanimity as the peaceful state by consistently detaching from sense stimuli, feelings and thoughts, fueled by a burning desire for freedom, while preserving with determination to overcome obstacles on the path.
Attending to Self Duty by taking care as much of your own needs, as that of others, plus attending to your part in the play of life as required. Further a masculine temperament that take-charge, with a seize-the-day attitude and the power to appreciate what has to be done and then take action to get it done.
Lastly devotion and belief that the knowledge will set you free when wielded by a skillful teacher and to have the patience to apply oneself wholeheartedly to the task at hand.
The qualifications list might be daunting as very few have all the mind attributes indicated above. All of these can be developed and vary in development day to day living. Quite simply, here is where the value of Rajas Yoga really lies, it is a “step-by-step guide” on how to become qualified to understand and assimilate knowledge.
The 8 Fold Path of Rajas Yoga consists of; the great Vows which are universal and provide rules on how to deal with others. Nonviolence is to not bring harm to yourself or others. Truthfulness to be true to your word and let your word be true. Integrity to not steal and to walk your talk. Moderation to use wisely the life force within you. Generosity to give more than you take, for nothing in the world really belongs to you.
The Principles are regulationing practices that aim to guide the inner state. Practice purity by being unsullied by anger and vengeful thoughts. Practice contentment by being at peace with what is and what is not. Practice austerity, purifying and rejecting greed, lack, envy and the endless desire for more. Study and cultivate knowledge. Open your heart to all that can be known. Surrender and become one with Spirit, aware of your sacred nature. Know that you are woven into the intricate matrix of creation.
The Postures refers to being steady in intention which will make the posture steady and then a steadfast posture can come naturally. The practice of Breathing is like a gentle breeze that lifts the veils blocking your inner light. Breathing deeply you will experience the life force and become steadfast, able to concentrate. When the mind no longer darts from one object to another, one thought to another, it is free to Turn Within. In Meditation when attaining mastery of the sense you experience yourself as the stillness. Spirit is the source and cause of all action, understand this and attain Infinity.
Practicing the 8 fold path will foster the qualities needed for Vedanta. At the very least, you will be a much more peaceful and happy person for it. Rajas Yoga will not set you free, it will however assist you preparing for freedom.
Just applying the Vows and Principles will bring great equanimity of mind and soul. Identify the ones that you have not developed yet, set your trajectory on them and remember to breath deeply!
Yoga, Power and Spirit, Patanjali the Shaman Alberto Villoldo
How to attain Enlightenment, the vision of Nonduality James Swartz