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Yoga as the Science of Inner Transformation Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 4

Day 3: Subtler Levels

60 min - Talk


We begin in meditation with an invitation to come back to breath again and again. We continue our studies in Chapter 2 with an investigation of our animal vs. spiritual natures and how we might become more attuned to receiving the whispers of the slightly subtler levels of our being. In Chapter 3, Ravi invites us into a self-inquiry on our personal resistance to change.
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Nov 02, 2018
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Chapter 1


Well, continuing the practice of meditation a little bit from yesterday, to remind ourselves of the vastness of the universe and the cosmic intelligence that is permeating the whole space, our part is to become more and more receptive to these subtle energies. So, deeper and deeper relaxation and finding the whole alignment, intellectual, physical, which allows receptivity, and paying some attention to our breath, which is again a reminder that the spiritual aspects of the universe enters into us as our breath. Now I find what in me wishes to be connected with these subtle energies, whatever label appeals to us, Holy Spirit, Brahma, sometimes they get more personalized as Christ or Krishna, and then also to watch how the ordinary mind has a natural tendency to freely associate with something or the other, even with one word or one memory. So I actually practice what is specifically called abhyas, which is literally meaning practice, but essentially a reminder to stay in front of whatever I have chosen to stay in front of. And I intentionally bring my attention to connect with simply breathing in and breathing out without artificially changing my breathing.

But the very fact that I bring attention to my breathing will naturally change my breathing. So I neither force a change nor resist a change. In either case, what we are trying, how can I allow a natural process which is being driven by very great forces which have created this apparatus that breathes, how can I allow that natural process to continue without my interference? On the other hand, because of our general social habits and anxieties and worries and jealousies, that natural process has slightly deviated from its proper course. So I do not wish to interfere, but I wish to assist.

So I wash the process, simply breathing in and breathing out, without imposing a change. And I keep returning to this even when my mind wanders away. I come back again and again. And actually to watch or even to assist as I breathe out intentionally to let go, any tensions in the shoulders or even the way my hands are. Am I grasping something or the hands are just sitting there?

And breathing in does not need to lead to tensions, but a little bit more awareness of energy in the body. And breathing in does not need to lead to tensions, but it does need to be. And breathing in does not need to lead to tensions, but it does need to be. And breathing in does not need to lead to tensions, but it does need to be. And breathing in does not need to lead to tensions, and whatever tends to now fascinate my mind, which is usually by free association, can I practice more and more freedom from that or detachment from that?

Even a sort of indifference to this constant distracting mind. And keep returning to simply breathing in and breathing out. Not holding my breath either outside or inside. And gradually even the ordinary mind can begin to assist if I remind it of very profound and deep statements, such as that, every time I take a breath, it's the breath of God in me that is keeping me alive. Therefore, turning my attention towards what is the demand from this subtle energy, why has it brought me into this body for only a few decades?

Not concluding, but wondering. And breathing in does not need to be. And breathing in does not need to be. And breathing in does not need to be. One reality check for each one of us, if the mind wanders away, often it leaves a residue of tension in the organism.

So again, I intentionally relax, reconnecting with the breath again and again, simply breathing in and breathing out. And breathing in does not need to be. And breathing in does not need to be. And breathing in does not need to be. I take three more breaths with the whole feeling of gratitude that I am able to breathe and therefore be alive.

We will stop now. Thank you. Well, we continue our conversation about various aspects of yoga as really a science of inner transformation.

Chapter 2


There is in all of us really a deep-seated contradiction. Almost what we most desire, we most resist. It sounds curious, but I invite us to actually reflect on this.

And I was in fact very much struck, myself on Mount Athos, just in a Serbian monastery, there is a very large painting of St. George struggling with the dragon, as you probably know the classical story of St. George's. And in this particular painting, the dragon is looking back at St. George and has the face of St. George. This is important for us to understand the struggle is not against somebody else. It's within ourselves, in a way one might even say it's against ourselves. But to approach this, we take an idea which is absolutely universal in all teachings, even philosophical teachings, but certainly spiritual teachings, namely that we have two natures. There are different labels attached to it.

For example, St. Paul, in the New Testament, says we have a spiritual nature and we have a carnal nature. Often, for example, in the Platonic literature, it will be simply just called higher nature and lower nature. Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita has really rather very strong statement. He calls it devic nature and asuric nature, literally meaning divine nature and demonic nature. But very common overall understanding that we have a spiritual nature coming, as it were, manner of speaking, from above. By above, I mean from a higher level of consciousness.

And we have an animal nature coming from below. This will be, it is almost a universal idea. This is why I intentionally quote it to you from two or three different sources, so that one doesn't think that it's only one teaching which has this kind of idea. This is absolutely universal idea. But what it also means, that these two natures are pulling in different directions.

Whatever label now, just for convenience, I would use the word spiritual nature and animal nature, but merely for convenience, you could choose any other phrases. But the animal nature, all we need to do is to look at the whole animal kingdom. And it will convey to us what is its general tendency. Food, sex, shelter, survival. One hardly needs to be against it. This is what most of us are occupied with.

And by the way, here there is a little bit of a difference which I might point out. In the Indian tradition, really following from what I said in fact yesterday, that because everything is Brahma, so that these two natures are at all levels, that even a serpent has two natures, even a frog has two natures. Generally in the Abrahamic tradition, it's only human beings who have two natures. Because there are great discontinuities, very great discontinuity between God and the highest angel, and between different levels of the angel, and complete discontinuity between even the lowest angel and human beings, and then a discontinuity between human beings and any of the other animals, this was the main objection to Darwin's theory of evolution. That from a biblical point of view, this will mean there is a kind of a continuity rather than a discontinuity.

And then a complete discontinuity between organic life and inorganic existence. Whereas in India, it's not a discontinuity, it's not levels like this, but it's like a continuity. And it has many different implications of this, but this is not the time I want to go into this, but because we are just staying concerning ourselves with human beings, just like you and me. So we have two natures that everybody agrees, animal nature and spiritual nature. And that these two have slightly different directions.

Animal nature is almost wholly occupied with, as I just finished saying, existence, survival, and therefore it needs naturally competition because other creatures are trying to eat it, etc. So all our psychological training and educational training is essentially geared to that. Competition, and every parent can recognize this. I am also a parent of two wonderful kids, but occasionally my daughter used to remind me when she got really mad at me, I did not ask to be born of you. I had to remind her that that is actually not necessarily true.

In the whole of the, especially emphasized in the Indian tradition, but it is not opposed in other traditions, that a person actually acquires certain kind of parents depending on what they have done in the past. So it was not wholly true that she did not ask to be born of me. Now she understands, but this was a long time ago. But the reason I am saying is that one can see even as a father or a mother, naturally we wish our kids to succeed. We wish them to prosper.

And right from practically day one, we create tendencies if they act in a certain way, smiling, so we can hug them more. Approval and fear of disapproval is created practically from day one, wishing for approval. And then survival usually means competitiveness because not everybody can get the entry into the best schools, cannot get scholarships, cannot get post-doctoral fellowship or whatever one's direction is. Or in business one wishes to succeed. Everywhere it is almost inevitable. This competitiveness is part of survival.

Now, on the other hand, the spiritual nature has a very different call. But what is important here is something I mentioned in passing the other day. The suggestion is not that my body acquired a soul, but it is that the soul acquired a body. We need to be clear about this for a few moments. That the soul being a part of the spirit belongs to a level of consciousness which is higher than that of the body.

So it's the spirit that is needing to undertake some action. And we have a very classical statement. Actually, this is from Ishwar Krishna, who is said to be the author of Sankhikarika, just as Patanjali is said to be the author of the Yoga Sutras. These are questionable things, but historically. But Sankhikarika or Sankhya whole philosophical system is very, very close to the Yoga system of philosophy. In fact, the Yoga absolutely accepts the whole philosophical background of Sankhya.

And these two are often coupled together, Sankhya and Yoga. And in the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna just assumes this to be the case when he speaks about philosophical background. So the reason I am mentioning this, because from the perspective of the Yoga people, this is the philosophical system which is very close to it. And this is what Ishwar Krishna said. Now he used Sanskrit expression, Purusha without Prakriti is lame. Prakriti without Purusha is blind. Now, just slightly to English it, spirit without the body is lame and body without the spirit is blind.

So because the spirit wishes to undertake some action in order to make progress. Now progress of what kind? We need to be clear about that also. It wishes to return to the source. The source being the ultimately highest level of consciousness. In the Indian terminology, Brahma. So every level, as I mentioned yesterday, there are nine orders of angels, so they are all spiritual.

So one should not imagine that one is at the top of the mountain, top of Mount Everest. There are many other levels in between. They are all spiritual levels. So let us say that at one level, one is trying to come to a higher level. In order to do this, it needs to undertake some action. Therefore, it takes on a body. So it needs to be clear from the perspective of any spiritual tradition is the soul that has the body, not that the body that has the soul.

Which is the reason why, in fact, there are many things which are common to all religious teachings. There are many differences also, but many things which are common. One of them is that the death of the body is not the death of the person. You can take any religion. You may or may not agree with it, but we need to at least understand what it is we are disagreeing with. If we are disagreeing with it, this is one of the commonest, common features of all religious traditions.

Whether it's Islam or Christianity or Hinduism or Sikhism, it doesn't matter what. The death of the body is not the death of the person, which is to say that the person is something other than the body, and usually identified with their spiritual nature. This sounds all very nice, but who is actually serving the spiritual nature? This is where the whole conflict arises. So, the spiritual nature or spiritual aspect, if you like, has taken on this body.

Now, I'm using the word body. In this context, it doesn't simply mean just the flesh. It includes the mind. For example, just a quick reminder to you in John's Gospel. This is the very first chapter when it is said the word became flesh. There is no suggestion that it became just a hunk of meat. That would be a weird thing to say. Clearly, it became flesh is to say it acquired a body, including the mind, including the feelings. Sometimes the word body is used for that whole planetary level.

This is true in Greek language as well as in Sanskrit. So, I'm just reminding you. Otherwise, it would be completely weird as if it just became flesh and nothing else. It would be a very odd kind of statement. So, keeping this in mind. So, the spirit or the spirit, one aspect of spirit, personalized aspect is the soul. Again, a simple reminder from yesterday. Spirit is transpersonal.

Therefore, should strictly speaking be written with a capital S. This is the convention in the English language. That whatever is transpersonal is written with a capital letter and personal is written with a small letter. In Sanskrit, we don't have the upper case and the lower case. So, everything has to be understood by the context. But Greek script as well as Latin script have upper case and lower case. So, it makes it a little easier. In any case, let me return. So, soul, which is a personalized or individualized aspect of the spirit, needs to rise in its level. Therefore, it needs to undertake some action. Therefore, it comes into the body.

Then the question is, is the body, including the mind, is assisting the soul or is it just doing its own thing? And if it is from the, you can, we don't need to simply buy any of this, but I am making this suggestion. You reflect on this. That the whole purpose, if you like, of any spiritual practice is, how can my body, and now including the mind, can actually serve the purposes of the spirit? There are different ways of saying it. Another one is, how can I become an instrument of Krishna? Or how can I become an instrument of God's will? And which is, of course, the classical expression of what is it that Christ as Jesus is?

On the eve of his crucifixion, he is not eager to die. He is not eager to be crucified. Yet not, well, maybe I quote the whole sentence, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by. Yet not my will would thine be done. That is the fundamental submission to something that great sages understand. That their existence is not to serve their will, but to serve, if you like, the will of God or the will of Krishna, but don't get occupied with the labels. I keep reminding you, because every culture, every language has different labels. But to understand the perspective. So, that the whole purpose of human existence from the spiritual perspective is, so that the body and the mind can be of service to something subtler than itself.

Or another way of saying, at a level higher than itself, at a more spiritual. And this is the reminder that the very word spiritual means a level subtler than the body and the mind. That therefore it cannot be wholly figured out by the mind. All our academic disciplines, in a way quite rightly, are committed to understanding everything with the mind. So, any spiritual teaching, first of all, would say, yoga sutra specifically right away says, shut up the mind. It puts it more nicely. Yoga sutra britin rova. Yoga is stopping all the movements of the mind.

Another remark I want to make here, there has been much hesitation from all the great sages to describe the real nature of the destination. Because they say it is impossible to describe this. So, at the best they would describe what it is not. So, even in this case, yoga sutra doesn't even say to cultivate the stillness of the mind. It actually speaks about stopping the movements of the mind. Because then stillness, one would wonder what is the nature of that stillness.

But the very first commentary that we know historically on the yoga sutra written by Vyas. Vyas literally almost means a writer in India. Whosoever, wherever we don't know who the author is, we say Vyas has done it. So, very first commentary translates this as yoga is cultivating stillness of the mind. Which is not literally what it actually says. So, but I am drawing your attention to it that it is very unusual actually for any of the sages to describe what nirvana is or what heaven is or what God is. At most they will say what it is not.

So, in a certain way sometimes it gets classified as negative theology. That's the way of saying it. Anyhow, coming back to, so the suggestion here is very much that the purpose of meditation, or really any spiritual practice, but especially in meditation, can I become more and more attuned to receiving the whispers from this slightly subtler than my usual mind level, a spiritual level. And very strong suggestion in practically all spiritual teachings that the heart can be touched by something even though the mind doesn't understand this. In fact, I translate this into a very usual situation. A woman falls in love with a man and her friends and parents keep asking, what the hell do you see in this man?

She may try to explain it, oh he is very handsome, he is wealthy or whatever. Nothing seems to quite satisfy anybody. But a person can't describe why I am in love. Heart is touched by something and the mind can try to justify it, but it almost never succeeds. I quote to you a remark of a very great scientist, actually, Pascal. Maybe you all know his name, we measure pressure in so many Pascals. He was a great mathematician and a scientist. He said, heart has reasons that reason does not know.

But most spiritual teachings very much, there are two things which are important here to remark on. Ordinary emotional energy is consumed by very undesirable emotions, such as worry, anxiety, jealousy, competitiveness, resentment. And of course sometimes very large, like anger, that can really deplete one. Which is the reason why almost all the teachings, first of all, say not to give in to these kind of emotions. So therefore, in a way, it's a very interesting thing that philosophically speaking historically, especially in the scientific world, they very much said anything coming from the emotions is not acceptable as reason for anything.

But one can, in a way, see why. If the emotion is at that kind of a level, it is not very conducive to any kind of real understanding. But the suggestion on the other hand is, some of the very great mystics, for example, Maestro Eckhart, in my judgment, the greatest Christian mystic actually, he says we have 40 layers in ourselves, 40 layers of emotions, so finer and finer emotions. So what is more reliable are some of these finer emotions, which we are all actually, we have experienced them, let me draw your attention to them, a sense of gratitude, a sense of wonder, a sense of compassion. Sometimes, I'm sure you have all experienced, it's not compassion for some specific action somebody did, or even for a specific person, but a generalized sense of compassion. These are very subtle feelings. Now, I'm sure you have all experienced these. At the same time, I invite you impartially, you don't need to answer me, in the last two weeks, how many moments did you actually experience any of these subtle feelings?

See, then one begins to understand that although we know something, we have actually experienced it, but in general, we are not in contact with that level. I'm partly just trying to convey to you the meaning of level, because we have become excessively democratic in this world. We don't realize that there are different levels of human beings. The Buddha is not at the same level as me, or Christ is not at the same level as me. It would seem obvious, but we somehow don't allow this kind of thing in our general understanding. But in all spiritual practice, this is really more or less assumed. You go to any monastery, or any Buddhist Sangha. Naturally, there is somebody there you listen to. Somebody who could lead a meditation.

You see what I'm saying? So we actually, in practice, understand this, but somehow it has become unacceptable that there are different levels. But more importantly, different levels within ourselves. As I yesterday also said, slightly in passing, every teaching says, there are many levels of reality, both outside as well as inside us, and that there has to be a correspondence between these two levels. Eyes of the flesh see the things of the Spirit, the things of the flesh, and the eyes of the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. Then, this is a very large idea, and it actually, one of the great Upanishads, Mundo Kupanishad, actually says, one who experiences Brahma becomes Brahma. And another Upanishad says, unless you become Brahma, you cannot experience Brahma. So it's very important that it's only the corresponding level inside me can relate with the level outside me.

So, again, what is the call of a spiritual discipline, or of yoga, for that matter? Can I become freer and freer of that total self-occupation, which is really another way of saying what the animal nature is occupied with? Survival, etc., etc. This is self-occupation. And then we use the phrase like selflessness. How do I become free? As I quoted yesterday from Christ, unless you leave yourself behind, you cannot be a follower of mine. Constant reminder, again I use this expression, this is another remark of Christ, my kingdom is not of this world. We can repeat this, but then we wish to understand what is the world of which he is the king. What is his kingdom? What is his kingdom? And the reminder that it is not of this world. What is again this world? I repeat this.

Driven by fear and ambition, or wish for approval and fear of disapproval. We can even wish for approval even from our idea of God, whatever we think God is. What would St. Peter do to me can become an issue. And a lot of so-called religious practice is bargain-making. So, one needs to understand this, not to be criticizing everybody else, but we need to see this in ourselves. Because if I see this more and more clearly, this is the whole emphasis on Swadhyaya, self-study. This I will specially speak about in the next talk.

But let me now return for the moment to the very strong emphasis on Abhyas and Vairagya. Abhyas is really in a way easier to say, practice, repeated practice. Because whatever one undertakes, any student will tell you this if you are practicing music even, or physics, or philosophy, it doesn't matter what, or yoga. One step forward, two steps back. It's always the issue for everybody. Sometimes two steps forward, one step back, or some steps on the side. This is everybody's experience, which is why constant reminder not to give up the practice, and a steadiness in the practice.

Staying in front is another way of saying it. So, Patanjali very much, in the first chapter, especially in the Yego Sutra, this is one of the great emphasis. And the other one is Vairagya. And we need to take a few moments to, literally, Vairagya can be translated as detachment, or non-identification, or distancing oneself from it. Patanjali speaks about two kinds of Vairagya. Lower Vairagya, and higher Vairagya. Lower Vairagya is, he doesn't go into these details, although he mentions both of these words. Sometimes one looks at myself in the world, and is struck by the absurdity of it, or the stupidity of it, or as I mentioned yesterday, Christ's remark, the whole world is in the sway of the prince of darkness. Sometimes you see these extremely wealthy people. What is the meaning of it? So they give up everything. It doesn't happen very often, but there are enough cases of this kind.

In the Indian tradition, I don't know how many people actually follow it, but it's a general idea that first 25 years, these are called four ashram, first 25 years you are more or less learning, education, skill, and then next 25 years you are a householder taking care of the family. Then 25 years is enlarged. The whole society is your concern, not only your family. And then the last 25, they speak in terms of 100 years. Bible speaks only in terms of 70 years. It's rather interesting. I don't think they live 100 years, but they talk in terms of 100 years. And then the last 25 years, the whole cosmos is your concern, not even the one society. But this is at least the theory part of it. But what is behind that is nevertheless the idea that at a certain stage, one's concern needs to be enlarged, not only self-occupied. And so the suggestion, but as I said, sometimes you see, actually some of the very wealthy people even have undertaken to give up a large amount of their money, for example, for charities.

Bill Gates is a good example of this. So it is true that sometimes one is actually struck that I have enough, I don't need more, but what is my life for? What is the purpose of it? But from the spiritual teachings point of view, that this is the concern that needs to be there right from the beginning, not only to wait until one is too old to do anything else. So vairagya can arise, as I said, lower vairagya because one is repelled by something. There is actually a very strong remark in the letter of James. The love of the world is enmity to God. Very strong statement. I think that is very strong. Nevertheless, the suggestion is that I can be holy, all my energy time can be occupied just with the animal nature. It is not serving the spiritual nature.

Therefore, one can be repelled by what one sees. And actually if you read the biographies of, in fact, most of the saints begin like this. They end up joining a monastery because they are fed up with the world. They undertake some other journey. Soon they discover that they carry the worldliness with them, even in a monastery. You would be actually surprised to see. If you have not spent any time in a monastery, I highly recommend for you to spend a few days. Because exactly the same problems continue there. Competitiveness, annoyance, resentment, jealousy.

I was actually very surprised the first time when I came across, this is in the Gospels, that even in the presence of Christ, his disciples are arguing with each other who would sit on his right side in heaven or who would sit on his left side. So you can see this is a very strong force. If they can do this in the presence of Christ, one would have to say that, my goodness, how can this be a stronger force than this? So it's a very strong force and many of these saints then realize that they carry this with them even in the monasteries. But nevertheless, this is often the driving force for people to undertake some other, my kingdom is not of this world, then one begins to wonder, how do I relate with this other world? But Patanjali makes a very interesting remark that higher vairagya comes only after one has had a vision of the transcendent being. Once you have seen something sublime or if you like, once you have experienced, if you like, a heavenly beatitude, then you are not so drawn to the world anymore. And in fact, then actually begins, in Sanskrit we say vaira raga, which is the way of forming musical melodies, that melody that arises because of separation, because raga has actually had union with Krishna, but now she is separated, that leads to the dark night of the soul.

This is a classical text of John of the Cross, by the way, a great mystic in Christianity, dark night of the soul. Because he has experienced something subtle, high, sublime, now nothing else is quite satisfactory. Much of the Sufi poetry, by the way, those of you who are interested, is actually very much connected with that attitude. Having seen something very subtle, high, nothing in the world is satisfactory. So, vaira raga, by the way, some of you may be familiar with this, I draw your attention to a great classic of Christian spirituality called the cloud of unknowing. There, the suggestion is that everything that we know should be put below the cloud of forgetting, and that is real vaira raga, and that God is on the other side of the cloud of unknowing.

I highly recommend that text to you, by the way. Now, in fact, great classics exist everywhere, but the churches are not interested in these great classics. That's the tragedy. But anyhow, higher vaira raga makes it easier to put everything below the cloud of forgetting. But a very strong suggestion in every teaching, even the title of this book already indicates that God is on the other side of the cloud of unknowing. It's not something that one can know, but one can be drawn to it by love. Again, you see the question of heart knowing something that the head does not know.

And very strong suggestion that mind cannot figure this out, the way the Upanishads put it, it's very close to this, slightly slight variation, that one cannot know Brahma, but one can embody Brahma. One can become Brahma, but one cannot know Brahma. That's the way it's put there. But the cloud of unknowing has a slightly different way of expressing it. So, Abhyas and Vareg are the two main emphases actually in the first chapter of the Yoga Sutras, but you can see the call is for us to see within ourselves that the spiritual nature or soul or the spirit is calling and in a language which is perhaps more accessible to the heart than to the mind, at least initially. And therefore not to be wholly relying on mental propositions, intellectual discussions. Nobody is necessarily against them.

But certainly if you look at either Lao Tse or the Buddha or Christ, they were not great scholars. In fact, very few great sages have been great scholars, although there have been some, we don't need to be against that. One doesn't need to be against anything, but more importantly to understand what it is that I am for. I actually invite you to keep this very much in mind, not what I am against, but what I am for, because this is where I need to bring my energy, my time, all my effort. Otherwise, one can be against many things. Whatever I am against, I come down to the same level.

So, then very strong suggestion, I am really more or less quoting Patanjali here, that when the mind is quiet, then the real knower, in fact he immediately even changes the word, he calls it the real seer. Because that is almost the definition of a sage. A sage says what she or he sees, not what she thinks or what she reads. She is not quoting. So, whatever she is directly seeing, that is what makes somebody a sage. We have again a classical description of this in the Gospel. The Gospel writer is saying that Christ spoke as one with authority, not as the scribes do. This is a direct quote, not as the scribes do. He spoke as one with authority, but the authority comes from a direct perception.

So, very much the invitation, nobody is against reading the classical text or the books. They can be a guide, they can invite us, but we always need to then wonder, what is my experience of this? Otherwise, it is very interesting to keep quoting these things. One can get into arguments, one can win arguments and all that. So, Patanjali then says that when the mind is quiet, the seer in its true nature, because that is already shifting. Even the word knower can be shifted to seer, although the word knower can still be used. Many times this word is actually used, but it is knower of a very different kind. Then Patanjali goes on to describe that the knowledge obtained in that state is quite different from knowledge either by inference, which is what all scientific knowledge is based on. I make certain observations, then from there I derive a certain law, by inferring a certain law, or by testimony. He says this knowledge is different from knowledge either by testimony. That is what Christ says, that is the testimony, but this is a direct knowledge. So, this knowledge is different from another remark which is important here to mention.

That that knowledge belongs to a state of consciousness which is free of time sequence. That consciousness, by the way, the highest state of consciousness in Patanjali's Yoga Sutra is called Kaibalya. It is free of time sequence. Now, what does that mean? It is not against time, but it is not bound by time. I take a slightly different example. When the Buddha was enlightened, it is said he became nirakal, which is to say beyond time or without time, but also trikal darshi, meaning seer of three times. So, it's not against time, but it is not bound by time. We have a very classical example, 8th chapter of John's Gospel. Christ is being accused by the gathered crowd that he is not following the teaching of Abraham, and Christ says, before Abraham was, I am. You probably all know this expression. This is the 8th chapter of John's Gospel. And then you can also see what is the nature of the crowd.

In the same chapter, in the beginning, the crowd want to crown him the king. By the end of that chapter, they are bringing stones to throw him to kill him to death. That's the crowd. So, you can see why the so-called spiritual teachings don't appeal to a large number of people, because it almost doesn't make any sense to say, before Abraham was, I am. But the suggestion is, if Patanjali is explicitly clear, this is the 4th chapter of the Yoga Sutras, that that state of Kavalya is free of kraman, is the expression, which in Sanskrit means sequence, time sequence. So, I think there are many things to be explored further here, but I hope you won't take any of these things dogmatically. Don't believe anything I say or anybody else says. Test, search. Is it true in one's own experience? At the same time, this is where it kind of paradox arises. At the same time, allow the possibility that when something develops in me, my own mind and feelings will come to a level that I could possibly experience what I don't now experience.

So, if I wholly rely on my present experience, then I am committed to remaining the way I am. On the other hand, if what I read now does not at all correspond to anything in me, then I am just simply a believer, not a searcher. So, this is a very interesting paradox actually. I invite you to reflect on this. How do I verify something and at the same time allow the possibility that maybe I will, if you like, get more mature or I sometimes joke about it when I grow up, that I will actually understand something differently. Okay, we will now stop. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. I would suggest actually a homework, but maybe I give a little background to that for you to think about it.

Chapter 3


There is a very strong suggestion actually even in Patanjali Yoga Sutras that we resist change because we are afraid of the unknown. And on one occasion in a little conversation with Krishna Murthy and there were three or four of us sitting there, usually he won't use that kind of expression in public, but he says at that time, Damn it, sir. If it is unknown, it is unknown. How can it create fear or anything else? He said the trouble is not the unknown. The trouble is the known. We are attached to the known, which is the reason why one of his books is called freedom from the known. So therefore here I am suggesting to you to actually inquire this as a question. What is my resistance to something that occasionally I feel as a great wish to undertake something? Then what resists it? Is it the fear of the unknown or fear of the known, losing the known? This is not to persuade anybody else. It is really self-inquiry. Thank you.


Kate M
3 people like this.
Fear of losing the "known" is indeed the great fear, in my experience. As Ravi has pointed out elsewhere, "abhinivesa" one of the Klesas or hindrances listed by Patanjali, is often translated as "fear of death" (a big unknown!), but it might more accurately be rendered as "fear of losing our grasp on the status quo". The universe is characterized by a flow of change - yet we find it so challenging to embrace that, and instead cling to the familiar. At least I do! In gratitude for this presentation, Namaste.
Hoda G
2 people like this.
With gratitude and appreciation for the relationship of Soul and Spirit. For the presentation on Authority comes from personal experience. For the complex relationship between known and the unknown. For the subtle differences that are in our lives... namaste
Caroline S
The suggestion for the "homework" is very much something that I am considering at present,  is it the fear of the unknown or the fear of the known that I am experiencing and object to?  Another great talk thank you!

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