Note: For the Original
Internet Lessons with additions,
For the Expanded and Interactive Internet Lessons, AYP Online Books,
Audiobooks and more, see AYP Plus.
Lesson 248 - Culture, Samadhi and Snow
Date: Wed Jan 12, 2005 1:06pm
New Visitors: 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 ultimate samadhi).
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
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 changing times.
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 science revolution.
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 approach.
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
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,
and AYP Plus.