Before continuing, I’ve got to hammer one point home:
Yoga simply means to bind, to yoke, to join.
This is where I might lose you, but please bear with:
Any obsession, any recurring fear, phobia, or worry
Any addiction, any craving
Food, water, breath
SEX DRUGS ROCK’N’ROLL
Anything that captures you, enthralls you, swallows you
Be it mundane, or transcendental
GOD, SOUL, UNIVERSE
or to paraphrase Ram Dass,
Chopping Wood, Carrying Water
Every single thing you make a focus of your mind is an object of Yoga.
Now, if you’re paying attention, you’re going to say:
That means everybody – EVERYBODY – is doing yoga all the time.
With perhaps the exception of those doing Yoga.
As opposed to those co-opting Yoga, thank you very much, Lulu Lemon.
But then again, by this definition, they’re doing Yoga too…
So here’s the point:
We’re all doing yoga, all the time.
Even Lulu Lemons.
Some Yoga just happens to be better than other Yogas.
And that’s where Patanjali comes into this…
But that’s also where You come into this, dear reader/listener:
Only you can determine what Yogas work best for you.
And that’s where Patanjali tries to help.
Consider his offering a menu, a set of best of practices, an 8 island buffet, but remember,
You can modify everything to work for you…
If you don’t, this is a useless pursuit.
Before we go further, let’s consider another classic of meditation, the Heart Sutra.
This is a Buddhist Mahayana text, one that has spoken to a countless number of souls over many centuries.
It records a mythic discussion between the Bodhisattva Avalokateshvara, the embodiment of compassion, and it ends with a mantra that is as familiar to me as my own name:
Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhi Svaha!
Beyond, Beyond, even further beyond, to the furthest shore, hail the Voyager!
So here’s a preliminary meditation. Read it, mull on it, and feel free to comment on it:
[Note: this version is a translation by Thich Nhat Hanh re-titled “The Insight that Brings us to the Other Shore”, and is part of the liturgy for his lineage, Plum Village]
Avalokiteshvara while practicing deeply with the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore, suddenly discovered that all of the five Skandhas are equally empty, and with this realisation he overcame all Ill-being. “Listen Sariputra, this Body itself is Emptiness and Emptiness itself is this Body. This Body is not other than Emptiness and Emptiness is not other than this Body. The same is true of Feelings, Perceptions, Mental Formations, and Consciousness. “Listen Sariputra, all phenomena bear the mark of Emptiness; their true nature is the nature of no Birth no Death, no Being no Non-being, no Defilement no Purity, no Increasing no Decreasing. “That is why in Emptiness, Body, Feelings, Perceptions, Mental Formations and Consciousness are not separate self entities. The Eighteen Realms of Phenomena which are the six Sense Organs, the six Sense Objects, and the six Consciousnesses are also not separate self entities. The Twelve Links of Interdependent Arising and their Extinction are also not separate self entities. Ill-being, the Causes of Ill-being, the End of Ill-being, the Path, insight and attainment, are also not separate self entities. Whoever can see this no longer needs anything to attain. Bodhisattvas who practice the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore see no more obstacles in their mind, and because there are no more obstacles in their mind, they can overcome all fear, destroy all wrong perceptions and realize Perfect Nirvana. “All Buddhas in the past, present and future by practicing the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore are all capable of attaining Authentic and Perfect Enlightenment. “Therefore Sariputra, it should be known that the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore is a Great Mantra, the most illuminating mantra, the highest mantra, a mantra beyond compare, the True Wisdom that has the power to put an end to all kinds of suffering. Therefore let us proclaim a mantra to praise the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore. Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha! Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha! Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha!”