VI:33-36 Yoga – Sameness in the Midst of Change

There are really only two paths to Realization. Both paths are Yoga by any name, and one is not better than the other. We will all use them both at one time or another.

33
Arjuna spoke:
I do not see how this Yoga, which you call ‘sameness’, can have any lasting foundation because of instability. 

Arjuna is asking Lord Krishna how one can enter a state of sameness in a situation in which nothing is stable because of the actively changing nature of life.

34
The mind is unsteady, harassing, powerful and unyielding, Krishna. I think holding it down is, like the wind, extraordinarily difficult to do.

Even the mind is always changing and busy with something or other. It seems impossible to Arjuna that all this activity in the mind can be held in stasis long enough to reach the goal. But Lord Krishna has the solution…..

35
The Blessed Lord spoke:
Without doubt, the fluctuating mind is difficult to restrain, except by practice and indifference to worldly affairs.

Even though this is true about the mind, there is a solution: the practice of Yoga, and indifference to worldly affairs.

The outcome of the practice of Yoga, is yoga (union). Yoga takes place in the midst of action (change) but culminates in a state of sameness. The yogi experiences happiness in his practice, and gradually becomes indifferent to worldly affairs in favor of yoga.

In order to reach this state of union, one chooses the one thing that is eternally the same—Absolute God—and surrenders to That in meditation.

Sameness
Equality, equanimity, evenness, homogeneousness,

impartiality, indifference.

36
Yoga is difficult to attain for one who has no self-control. But if one is self-controlled, it is possible through the proper means by striving. This is my view.

This verse exposes two paths: The path of the will and the path of surrender. This has been the case all along, but this verse was crying out to make it evident. Here are two more translations to demonstrate this, both taken from the Sanskrit:

Will
Yoga is difficult to attain by one who has no self-control. But for one who is self-controlled, it is possible to attain by striving. This is my view.

Surrender
For one who has no self-control, union (yoga) is difficult to attain, except for one who is submissive (surrendered). This is the proper means. This is my view.

There are two different words being used in this verse that are translated as ‘self-control’. One means ‘attentive, self-contained, subdued’. The other word can mean either ‘subject to the will, desire, or control’, or ‘willing, submissive, subject to or dependent upon’.

Will – Desire based action. Subdued by controlling the attention by means of using one’s willpower.

Surrender – Surrendered action. Willingness to subject oneself and be dependent upon God through surrender.

Translators of Sanskrit mystical texts must settle on something, and are inclined to settle where their training takes them. Some are scholars with little or no personal experience of yoga sadhana to draw from. Those who do practice Yoga will draw from the teachings of their own path, most of which will be technique-oriented (using the will). Both of these make up the published translations of this text with one exception: those practicing non-technique-oriented yoga sadhana, which are few, and which represent my own translations.

The issue of self-control is valid for both the path of the will and the path of surrender. If one has not developed any self-control in life, they are not likely to want to follow the path of surrender anyway, for there would be little to surrender, and the experience would be weak and uninspiring. The path of surrender is really only useful to those who have had enough of control and the responsibilities and repercussions that go with it. 

Whether the path of the will or surrender, self-control is necessary just to get yourself into the meditation room, espceially in the beginning. So we can’t ignore it. But we can look at it closer:

Self-control

  • Using the will (to try to achieve a goal)
  • Self-discipline (going ahead no matter what)
  • Self-motivation (you don’t need to be told to do something, you just do it)
  • Correctly and honestly monitoring one’s practice of spiritual principles in life (Yama and Niyama)

In the beginning, it is difficult to keep the attention on one thing long enough to reach a state of yoga. This is true of either path. In the path of the will, you will use your will to try to remedy this. In the path of surrender, you will continue to surrender yourself to God in meditation and let Shakti work this out. Both paths require enough self-discipline to meditate regularly.

“The proper means” for the path of the will is to follow the directions of the guru. The proper means for the path of surrender is to follow the directions of the guru to leave everything to God/Shakti and accept what happens or doesn’t happen in your meditation.

The practice of Yoga as it is presented in the previous verses, and verses to come, will deliver you from any concerns. All you have to do to reach a state of sameness (yoga, samadhi) is to follow these teachings.

Namaste (I bow to the Divine One that You really are),
Durga Ma
durgama.com

 

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IV:28-30 Sadhana, the Practice of Yoga…

These verses paint a picture of Yoga sadhana and present us with the kinds of things that happen inside and outside of meditation that prepare the way for the equanimity of union with the Divine. 

Yoga – union.

Sadhana – spiritual practices: ‘the means of obtaining proof and mastery; the means of bringing about fulfillment, completion, perfection.’

28
Physical-material sacrifices, purification, yoga, self-inspection and the study of the scriptures are sacrifices offered by sincere aspirants.

“Sacrifices offered by sincere aspirants” – forms of sadhana performed by determined aspirants.

Physical-material sacrifices. In meditation: spontaneous actions of body, breath and energy. Outside meditation: living simply, selfless service, monetary gifts, food, etc. to the teacher.

Purification. In meditation: spontaneous purification of body, mind and feelings. Outside meditation: attention to diet, the practice of yama and niyama, asana, pranayama.

Any kind of spiritual path taken to the full will involve purification, whether through purification techniques or purification brought on by yoga itself.

Purification is one way to understand the Sanskrit word tapas, the third niyama. Usually translated as ‘austerity’, tapas means ‘to burn, melt down, warm’. This gives us a clue as to the kind of purification that is going to come of yoga itself. Whereas physical purification usually takes place by impurities leaving the body, when purification is achieved through yoga, impurities of all kinds melt away (tapas).

Yoga. In meditation: spontaneous asana, pranayama, pratyahara and union (samyama: concentration, meditation, samadhi). Outside of meditation: asana and pranayama.

Self-inspection and Study. In and out of meditation: contemplation and self-referencing with self-honesty, contemplation on the self and the Self; studying scripture, listening to and reading scriptural teachings, receiving oral teachings, teaching others.

A sincere aspirant will not stop just because he or she is taken out of their comfort zone. To do this is to refuse progress, for progress involves change, and change is rarely comfortable.

29
Other offerings are apana into prana, and prana into apana. Another offering is both prana and apana, restraining the movement of the life energy.

The offering of “apana into prana and prana into apana” is, on the surface, a reference to breathing out and breathing in, which is how some translations are worded. But it is also a specific pranayama (anulomaviloma) in which the breath is taken in through the left nostril (apana), held for a time, and released through the right nostril (prana), then repeated in reverse beginning with the right nostril. This is a very relaxing and balancing breath that anyone can practice.

The offering of “both prana and apana” results in “restraining the movement of the life energy” as the breath is held. Another, deeper way to understand this though, is that kundalini awakens with the marriage of prana and apana; their mutual ‘restraint’ is then understood as kumbhaka. From this point of view, it is a description of how kundalini is awakened and paves the way to the breathless state and samadhi.

30
Also, restraining food or livelihood is an offering of prana into prana. These are sacrifices made by sacrifice-knowers whose stains are diminished or destroyed through their sacrifices.

Stains – The Sanskrit for ‘stains’ refers to karma that has an injurious effect on oneself or others, and nullifies ‘good’ karma.

One of the first ways people try to improve their lives is through diet, which is reflected in this last form of sacrifice. The sacrifice of ‘restraining food’ as an offering of prana into prana, indicates that this sacrifice is made by means of intention, or will. However, with the practice of natural yoga, attention to diet comes about naturally.   

The Sanskrit word for ‘restraining food’ includes ‘livlihood’ and may be interpreted as living simply, which also comes about naturally for one who takes their sadhana to the full. A yogi has no time or interest in working for a living in the fast lane.

______________________

Verses 24-30 tell of different kinds of sacrifices, the various ways people do sadhana to diminish their ‘stains’. This brings more ease into their lives as they enjoy more inspiring meditation experiences, and augment their progress.

Verses 24-30:
24-25 All Is God and So Are You
26-27 Direct Perception

Does everyone who takes up the spiritual journey always run into these same things? In one lifetime or another, yes, and in every lifetime to some degree, all of them. To know what they are is to take aim and score!

Namaste (I bow to the Divine One that You really are),
Durga Ma
durgama.com

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