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Note: For the complete lessons,
with additions, see the AYP
Easy Lessons for Ecstatic Living Books.
Lesson 248 - Culture, Samadhi and Snow
Date: Wed Jan 12, 2005 1:06pm
New Members: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the web archive, as previous
lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why
Q: At the face of it AYP seems very simple practice to reach the ultimate goal of human
existence. Then I wonder why did the Indian seers bog it down in so many esoteric
practices, tantra procedures, yantras, rituals etc.
Also I was reading Raja Yoga by Swami Vivekananda in which he quotes Patanjali to mention
many levels of Samadhi, and talks about Prakritilayas (sadhakas who don't reach the
Can you please throw some light on the above two things.
A: Very good questions. Thank you.
I think the add-ons occur as a result of cultural factors, and humankind's propensity to
create institutions. Not that these things are bad. It just takes some extra vision to
separate what will make a difference in practice and what will not. That is the whole idea
behind AYP -- sticking with the simplest, most powerful methods that actually do something
to promote spiritual transformation in the human nervous system. It is pretty obvious that
we are on to something here from all the feedback we have been getting from practitioners
all over the world. I am very happy to be finding some enthusiastic company in what is
obvious - keeping it simple and effective works!
The general rise in consciousness around the world is bringing more clarity to the
situation every day, so we owe much to the work of the many great sages who have come and
shared the practical details of yoga over the last century or so.
Another thing that institutions often do is segment knowledge into pieces for
"ownership" by that institution, and then expend great energy to preserve and
protect that piece of the whole, to the exclusion of everything else. The result is
scattered, petrified knowledge, with little chance of adjusting and integrating it to fit
Science, on the other hand, constantly seeks to adjust and integrate knowledge into the
most effective practical applications. Institutions that become devoted to that end will
still compete with each other, but it will not be in their best interest to complicate or
segment knowledge the way they have in the past. I believe that we are beginning a
revolution in yoga that will compel institutions to integrate knowledge, rather than
segment it. In this new age, institutions will survive only if they innovate, based on the
rising spiritual desires of the people, by distilling and optimizing what has been learned
before, rather than by further complicating and isolating segments of yogic knowledge. AYP
is about this important shift in priority -- one of the early shots fired in the new yoga
On grades of samadhi, you know, the Eskimos have many words for snow. Why? Because they
see so much of it, and have come to know its many grades of manifestation. Do all these
different words for snow mean anything to a Hawaiian? Not much -- not until the Hawaiian
goes and lives with the Eskimos for a while. Then the words for snow begin to make sense.
Samadhi is like that. When it becomes the common experience, then conversation about the
different grades of samadhi begins to make sense. Until then, to study all that is an
academic exercise. Does this promote enlightenment? Not really. Well, maybe it can
motivate one to do practices. That is the real value of intellectual knowledge -- its
ability to inspire action!
Having said that, there are certain traditions that rely on determining the level of
samadhi one is experiencing to decide which style of meditation to do. For them, this is
very important, and it is to be respected. In AYP we use one style of meditation that
covers the full scope of mind from the surface to the silent depths, so making all the
samadhi distinctions is not necessary for effective practice. They are "under the
hood" as we drive the car of our nervous system along with the easy-to-use meditation
controls. It is just the same as chakras, which have been discussed as being "under
the hood" in the early lessons (see #47). When we have a
simple, effective practice, delving too much into the inner workings can be a distraction.
So, in AYP we avoid going too far off into all those tempting tangents, whether they be
intellectual tidbits or flashy experiences. We are interested in going deep into inner
silence in meditation. Then we cultivate silence into dynamic manifestation throughout our
nervous system with pranayama, samyama and many other means, until finally we see our
Self, our inner silence, as being the essence of everything. Then we can appreciate all
the grades of experience as manifestations of inner silence. And then we will be able to
understand all those words for samadhi, and probably come up with a few of our own,
because we will be living in it every day. It is much better to be cultivating our nervous
system to live in samadhi than to be intellectualizing about it too much. That is the AYP
Prakritilayas are yogis/yoginis who are distracted by experiences and don't finish their
journey in this life, so it continues elsewhere. The fruit of yoga is not lost. There is
evidence of this in seeing the many different levels of spiritual attainment (or lack of
it) that people are born with. The important thing is to be doing what we can today to
advance along our own road to enlightenment. When we arrive will be in this life, or
somewhere further down the road. All we know is that we can do much to advance our
progress here and now. And it should be done in such a way so as to be enjoyable. The
journey can and should have the flavor of the destination in it pervading peace and
rising ecstatic bliss. Otherwise, why bother with it?
The guru is in you.
Note: For detailed instructions on building a
daily practice routine with self-pacing, and prudent management of
experiences on the path to enlightenment, see the
Eight Limbs of Yoga Book.
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