What Is It Like To Be “Unchangeable”?

3.13 In this state, it passes beyond the changes of inherent characteristics, properties and the conditional modifications of object or sensory recognition.

One of the greatest questions in Yoga is:  What is left of me when I no longer have my identity?  Good question. Everything that we have, our values, thoughts and personality are vested in our identity with the world.  How is a person going to get by without an identity? The answer to the question is: You don’t. You will always have your identity in the world because even if you have given up your identity internally, the world will always associate you with what IT thinks is your identity.  If you are male, the world will still be there to tell you what a proper male is. Your parents view of who you are is not going to change. To your government, you will always be “taxpayer number 1234567”

A lot of the teaching of Paramahansa Yogananda is revolved around the concept of life as a movie and the people merely spectators.  In modern times, we associate this with movies like the Matrix, where we are all part of some computer program. As times change, so the definitions and symbolism of our projected world.  Nevertheless, the concept of internal non-identification will stay the same.


So when you have reached a state of non attachment to  thought in your mind, you essentially become unchangeable by new triggers of thought.  The largest problem practitioners will find is that they still have existing karma to resolve, so the idea of being in a world that actively promotes attachment seems ridiculous.  This is where one of the greatest talents a modern yogi can develop will come into effect. It’s the ability to play your role in life with detachment. The coming of the unchangeable state will be like a bolt of the blue out of nowhere.  As your universe changes inside if you, the rest of the world will still function the same. Therefore, weather you are a wife, husband, father, mother, poor or rich, you will still have to play out your role, knowing that after death it will not be reprized.

Sutra 3.12 A Thought Is A Thought

"The mind becomes one-pointed when the subsiding and rising thought-waves are exactly similar."

We are born, raised and later put into a world with an identity that is often not of our own making.  When we go through life believing that we must live within the same boundaries of thought established for us by society, our experiences and our parents, we never learn how truly free we can be.  Have you looked around recently and seen how many self help books there are?  Many of them state the solution to life is “living your own story” or “conscious narrative construction”.  This is because when we are free from the constraints of though, we can write our own story.  What Sutra 3.12 is telling us, is to take it a step further and realize that all of the stories and narratives in our mind are nothing more than a collection of symbolisms by which our minds uses to make sense of the world.


In earlier Sutras, I talked about the nature of vritti nahrhotah, which is the Sanskrit term used to describe the cessation of thought waves in the mind, which results in a state of meditation.  This state is stillness of the mind and reveals the true nature of all thought.  People go through life identifying themselves with their thoughts and falsely believe them to be their core.  Do you know where you thoughts come from?  Are your thoughts a part of a larger political philosophy?  Do you regularly attend church and get thoughts delivered to you through sermons?  Even as you read this blog post, the letters form words and the words have symbolism associated with them, so if you are one of those people that reads aloud to yourself in your mind, you are witnessing thoughts generated in real time.


As one becomes cognizant to that nature of thought, you must be careful not to start passing judgment on thoughts themselves.  You have been working all this time to detach yourself from your thoughts, passing judgment on them at this point will lead you back into the land of samskaras.  I have heard in some circles that we are responsible for the nature of our own thoughts, and we then pass judgment on ourselves thinking that thoughts from previous lifetimes or one relayed to us through different mediums are a direct assessment of our character.  You have to  act on a thought before it become part of your true nature and then it may still not be so.   In Vedic Astrology, we can see this very fatalism play itself out in the birth chart, which is nothing more than a map of samskaras and probable outcomes.  As we work through ourselves with the Yogic method, we naturally diminish this probability.

Book 3 Sutra 11 - Navigating the Mindfield

"The contemplative transformation of this is equalmindedness, witnessing the rise and destruction of distraction as well as one-pointedness itself."

The Yogic path unfolds in unique, subjective ways.  In my experience doing Yoga, it is a non-linear path that has many twists and turns.  The Yoga Sutras mentions various stages of consciousness and in this Sutra, we are talking about the transition from Samyama to Samadhi.  Remember that Samyama is the balancing of meditation and concentration.  That odd contradiction of combining letting things go while focusing on them at the same time.  "That's Impossible!" you might think, but no it's not.  It's the inevitable result of practice.  Every state of consciousness obtained eventually becomes habit and looses it's meaning.  Samadhi is the permanent state of effortless Samyama.

Any state of realization reached in Yoga needs effort to maintain, and even then, it may not be in the practitioners best interest to stay there.  Really it depends on our Karma and what we have left to accomplish on our particular paths.  At some point in any incarnation cycle during the process of enlightenment, it's normal for a person who has reached a state of Samadhi to desire seclusion from the world.  You can see this in Vedic Astrology as well when you analyze the twelfth house.  For instance, a person who has the South Node of the Moon in the twelfth house has probably lead a life of seclusion in the past and now has to work in this life to finish past Karmas.    

I myself reached a point where I wanted to be secluded, locking myself away for hours at a time for meditative practice.  After obtaining a state of Samadhi, I had to engage re-engage with the world.  The need for self introspection must  be balanced with action.  Is it possible to take action in the world without accruing any Karma?  I would say no, that is just the nature of reality.  You can, however, take action in the world from a balanced state of being, acting with detachment from results.  Intuition eventual becomes the guiding force of action, and when that intuition is in sync with universal consciousness, everything will naturally work out.


Book 3 Sutra 10 - Dispite all my rage, I'm still just a rat in a cage!

 "From sublimation of this union comes the peaceful flow of unbroken unitive cognition."


When you think of purity of thought, what comes to mind?  When we are children, most of what we think is "pure" come from external conditioning.  In the Judeo-Christian tradition, we have the ten commandments.  In Islam, the Five Pillars represent a form or purity.  Earlier in the Sutras, I wrote about the Yamas and Niyamas, which are the do's and don't of Yoga.  Those are all great for beginners, but we are now on book three.  Time to throw those concepts away!

"What, why would I do that" you ask?  Everything a Yogi does, EVERYTHING, is a means to an end, that end being Moksha.  The natural state of the universal cycle runs in three phases: creation, preservation and destruction.  The Yogi's worship the deity Kali, the name given to the dissolution principle.  Yoga is ultimately about taking things away, not adding things.  If this sounds like a contradiction, it is.  It's the only way to express something in linear thought that exists outside of time.  So we start with a basic framework, build ourselves up within it, then tear it down again to approach the same subject with a larger framework.

This Sutra is speaking about the state of consciousness when thought is no longer initiated by external stimuli.  It's a hard feeling to describe, but when you feel it, you will know it.  This is where the guidance of a Guru or community of fellow practitioners can help.  Now you are running on pure intuitive experience balanced with untainted logic.  Just realize that when you reach a new level of understanding, you are going from a smaller construct into a larger one.  Constructs need to be consistently dissolved until they no longer exist.  So like Smashing Pumpkins lyric from Bullet with Butterfly Wings said "Despite all my rage, I'm still just a rat in a cage!", you move from a smaller cage into a larger cage.  Don't worry, at some point, you will leave the zoo.

Book 3 Sutra 9 - Sponge Bob Brain Pants

"The significant aspect is the union of the mind with the moment of absorption, when the outgoing thought disappears and the absorptive experience appears."

I'm a person who gets distracted easily.  While I was growing up, you would be hard pressed to get me to sit in one place for more than a few minutes before my mind would begin to wander.  The way that my mind processes information is called "divergent thinking", or I tend to process things from a larger, abstract concept, then fill in the pieces later.  The traditional education system was more of a detriment to my development than helpful in any way I can remember.  Honestly, I spent most of High School skipping class because I did not see the value in the information presented to me.  Looking back all those years, I can say that I was right. 

I think that is why I took to Yoga and Vedic Astrology so well.  There is so much information in Astrology to process, that I will never get through it all.  I find something new to discover every year.  Studying the Yoga Sutras allowed me to delve into the abstract in ways I could never imagine possible.  It absorbed me, which is the subject of this sutra.

Have you ever gotten so absorbed in an activity or experience that you lose all track of time and space?  People who have studied this state of mind have called it being in flow or having a "Zen" moment.  If you are one of the lucky ones that can have this feeling while earning a living simultaneously, then consider yourself lucky! 

I call this state of mind "Sponge Bob Brain Pants".  When you get so absorbed in what you are meditating on, you lose all track of the outside world.  This is what a Yogi can truly define as meditation.  The senses no longer disturbing the mind with sensory input.  Does this mean that you actively go deaf or bling?  No, not at all. Think of the senses as just being in active, like when you are eating an apple, you are not paying attention to how your socks are fitting.  Your brain is a sponge, absorbed in a state of timeless being, but still not asleep.  Now is the time that we start repairing active samskaras and move on toward moksha!



Book 3 Sutra 8 - The Tree In My Garden

"Even that is external to the seedless realization"

The analogy of the tree is used a lot through the Yoga Sutras.  Specifically, it is used to illustrate how Karma unfolds in the mind, then manifests into our lives.  Karma stores itself in the Chakras as "seeds" and will ripen when the right circumstances occur.  The Vedic Astrology birth chart shows the timing of the fruition of the seeds, Yoga is the tool we use to stop them for sprouting.  We have a lot of seeds planted in us, some will spout small plants, others will develop into gigantic trees, blocking us as we move along the path.  In this Sutra, the seedless realization is referring to Samyama.  In this state of awareness, no new seeds are planted, leaving us to tend the garden we already have within ourselves. 

How do seeds get planted in the first place?  It all happens when our senses trigger reactions to event.  Most karmic events in life will pass us by without notice.  Simple things like the food we decide to eat, the colors we choose to wear and people we choose to associate with happen at a deep level of awareness.  It makes a lot of sense.  If we had to actively monitor and consciously participate in every function of our being, we would never have time to do anything else.  Nature throws us a bone and takes care of these things for us.  In some circumstances though, these simple choices can cause us a lot of pain when then are interfered with by deep routed patterns.


For example, I was in a horrible car accident many years ago.  To make a long story short, I was feeling sick and the next day I had to perform a critical function at work,  I spent the whole night tossing and turning, thinking about how much sleep I could get in order to be fully alert and functional the next day.  I ended up taking a lot of cold medicine, thinking that it would help me sleep more.  The next day, I left for work, feeling sick and still woozy from all the cold medicine I took, and ended up getting into a bad accident.  From that day forward, I developed a fear of not sleeping.  Everything revolving around that event and set the tone for many years, changing my behavior in ways that I am still working on today.

Samyama has helped me start to get over the events surrounding those days.  That accident is the tree that has sprouted in my consciousness.  Seeing the event for what it was put me on the path of being able to tend to my own inner garden.  


Book 3 Sutra 6 - The Scribbler

"The application of mastery is by stages"

Now that we have gone through the first two books, we are getting into the territory of esoteric experience.  What do I mean by that?  Sometime the words we choose to write and speak cannot convey the true intuitive meaning of a Yogic principal, so the best any writer will have is the use of analogies.  This is why we see so many religious texts take on a narrative form.  How can you best give the sense of feeling other than to put it into a story? 

In Sutra 3.6, the concept we are dealing with is called Sanyama.   Sanyama is the result of stillness of the mind combined with mediation.   Yoga, is and will always be about finding some sort of balance.  We live in a world of dualities and our thoughts whisk us between opposing modalities, in essence, tricking into believing that we are following a linear path.  In yoga, the linear path runs straight down the middle, working to balance opposites.  Sanyama is the balance between meditation and concentration. 


In my experience, everything in the Yoga Sutras is a means to an end. When I first started to meditate, I was fixated on perfection.  Trying to get the room at the perfect temperature, trying to keep all the noise out by wearing ear plugs, working on getting my meditation posture in the best alignment and so on.  I got to a point that I was so focused on perfection, that my routine was doing more harm than good, so I stopped formal meditation all together.  For years, it went on like this until I was bashed over the head by the power of the middle ground. 

The irony of Sanyama is that the Yogi is simultaneously concentrating and letting go, which leads to and effortless understanding on how to interact with any object of meditation.  It's a tool for universal understanding that is used to dig out our subconscious proclivities called Samskaras.  I had to learn to find the perfection in imperfection and found that both are just boundaries we draw in our mind.  Did you color in the lines when you were a kid?  I never did, so I was called a "scribbler".  Looking back, I just realized that I was drawing my own boundaries and not living in the box society puts us in as we grow.  Try coloring outside the lines, it will do you some good.


What Is the Age of Aquarius?

I'm sure you have heard the Fifth Dimension song "The Age of Aquarius".  I get asked on my Periscope broadcasts all the time about what this means and how it works.  It's really not as complicated as it might sound, but the idea has been perverted by hippie and new age culture beyond the astrological intent.  

Personally, I take issue with New Age and Counter Culture and what it has done to pervert and misrepresent astrology and eastern traditions.  First, take a look at what Yoga has become in the United States.  Yoga was never about poses in its purest form.  If you have read my other blog posts on the fundamental text of Yoga, the Yoga Sutras, poses are never directly referenced.  They were added about one thousand years later as a method of loosening up the body to prolong meditation.  The same thing has happened with astrology.  From what I have surmised, people think that the "Age of Aquarius" will usher in an era of utopian society by which all of the world problems will be solved and we will live in love peace and harmony.  Umm, no.


A fundamental misconception of astrology is that humanity can somehow reach the pinnacle of mass group consciousness from that of unawareness in just a few years and by of effort.  Tell that to the Heaven’s Gate cult that committed mass suicide, believing that they would be taken up into a space ship flying behind the Hailbob comet.  Frist, and I can't say this enough, beware of any belief system that sets up exclusivity.  This has caused so much damage in human history, and now I see it being used by New Age spirituality to push agendas and cults of personality.  Nothi

Ok, so, what does this mean from an astrological point of view?  In astrology, the three outer planets, and yes, Pluto is a planet, connect us to group consciousness.  By using these outer planets and their relationship to each other, I can make predictions of the context of world events.  For instance, every rebellion has is causes, but fundamentally they are the same.  Right now planetary configurations are close to what they were during the French and American Revolution, with a little bit of 1968 mixed in.  Rebellion against the established order is the context of the day, and all major global events play out in this framework.  Uranus is the plane that rules the sign of Aquarius in western astrology and links us with the first echelon of group consciousness, which is the way that information and communication is distributed.  Uranus rules rebellion, sudden change, astrology, bolts of creativity from the blue and electronics.  So in actuality, the Age of Aquarius shows that the way information is shared and distributed will change to a flat model vs. a hierarchical model.  The way I see it, knowledge will be freely exchanged between parties without the need to filter it through distorted mediums such as government and propagandized press.  This will lead to greater understanding on a person to person basis.  It's all about the internet and how it impacts human perception.  

Do you see how the old world is dying?  What does that mean?  In my opinion, the keepers of the knowledge are doing whatever they can to sow the seeds of conflict, thereby distracting us from what is going on.  Many so called rebellions are fabricated events meant to stoke the fear of the masses.  It's not sustainable and people are waking up to the lies.  With it comes a host of people that are trying to control the information for themselves.  New media stars, conspiracy theorist on the internet, you name it.  When the system breaks, it takes a while to settle into a new norm.  My advice to you to only control what is in your direct scope of influence.  Help a neighbor carry in the groceries, volunteer, or just be kind to the people you meet.  The world will always be full of drama, you can count on that.

Book 3 Sutra 5 - Squeezing the Water Balloon

3.5 By mastery comes wisdom.


Hard work pays off, especially in Yoga.  When we try to become masters of our mind, the wisdom associated with higher states of awareness is the outcome of our efforts.  I like to look at the concept of mastery as developing a new habit.  

Wisdom is the ability to see a situation in a new light outside of our perspective and be able to take correct action.  As stated in the first two books of the Yoga Sutras, our perspectives are tainted with the “colorings” associated with thoughts.  In turn, these coloring make up our perspectives, which we use to make judgments about the world around us.

Have you ever gotten “stuck in a rut”?  Do particular situations play out the same way over and over again and you don't know why? That is why the thought categorization process in Book one is so important.  You notice that you use fantasy as a refuge from uncomfortable situations arising in your life.  This could take the form of drugs, video games, television, social media or books.  Fantasy is one of the five forms of thought we need to avoid, but it's not going to have the same effect on one person as it may on others.  The plan is to see new situations from different perspectives and then make changes accordingly. 


It's a never ending cycle: evaluate, adjust and then reevaluate.  We get wiser with each new cycle, but keep in mind that cycles tend to repeat themselves in different context.  I my practice, I have found it's impossible to know how high I have climbed because whatever I adjust to becomes a new normal.  Then I notice something else I need to work on and the cycle start over again.  I keep on climbing though knowing that there will always be a need to return to the fundamentals.  Just when you think you have one situation resolved, new ones pop up, like squeezing a water balloon. 

Book 3 Sutra 4 - Enlightenment with Moe, Larry and Curly

3.4 The three appearing together are self-control.

This is going to be a fun blog post and not just because The Three Stooges are the greatest comic trio in history.  I'm referring to the three stooges of out being: the conciseness, the mind and objects of attachment.  These three are intertwined and take a long time for use to sort out.  Eventually we do, but we have to do through all kinds of comic high-jinks to get there.  


Our consciousness, like it has been said in previous Sutras, is nothing more than pure awareness, without anything else for it to reference, it just exists on it's own.  This kind of reminds me of Larry. Does the guy really do anything other than get slapped around a lot?  

Next we have the objects of attachment, which lead us in all kinds of different directions.  In reality and at their most basic form, this is what has control of our everyday consciousness.   Moe seems to be the leader of the group.  He tells them where to go, what to do and how to act, but the whole gag is that he doesn't really know he is doing.

Finally, we have the mind.  It goes where it is told.  It does what we think it wants to do, but in reality, it is following the directions of the sensory objects aka Moe.  When we meditate, we have to separate Moe and Curly so that Curly is not getting slapped around by Moe so much.

Getting to the point of this Sutra, we need to get these three facets of our being to work together instead of against each other.  The Stooges get themselves out the situations they are in eventually.  Our free will, which become stronger as we practice, is the ultimate director of the film staring Moe, Larry and Curly.  The director has to yell "cut!" at some point, and the three actors come off the stage and realize they were in a film the whole time.  We are participants in a film, metaphorically speaking, and at any time, we can stop the fighting of these three facets of the mind and awaken into greater awareness. 

Book 3, Sutra 3 - More Tribbles!

3.3 That same meditation when there is only consciousness of the object of meditation and not of the mind is realization.

Let's get into some deep philosophy.  When I mean deep, I'm talking the middle of the ocean with lead weights on your feet deep. Getting deeper into meditation has one purpose, and that is to realize that the mind, body and thoughts are separate from pure awareness.  Yoga is the process of stripping things away one by one until there is only one thing left.  What is left is always going to be pure awareness, but what can get murky is what exactly does this Sutra mean by "object of meditation"?

I struggled with this concept when I first began my yoga practice and it is still a little fuzzy to my today.  So, using the concept of "fuzzy" as an example, I'm going to break it down for you Star Trek style, by using the tribble.


If we were to meditation on specifically a tribble, we see that it is just a fluffy bunch of cute reproducing fur. They're great until they start multiplying out of control and get all up in your star ship.  What happens if we meditate on a tribble? The meditator notices the qualities such as the fuzziness, what it looks like and the cute purring noises it makes.  These are all sensory qualities that our mind associates with the object.  The next level is how does the tribble make us feel? I laugh a lot when I see "The Trouble with Tribbles".  

All of these feelings and sensory perceptions mask the true nature of an object.  During the process of meditation, the Yogi works to strip these away, so nothing but the pure essence of the object remains.  Yogis use mantras, idols, candles as objects of meditation as well. It gets confusing trying to figure out what can be used as an object of meditation. It takes practice and dedication, but in the end it really does not matter.  Whatever you settle on will get you to the end of the road, so use a tribble in the mean time,


Book 3 Sutra 2

3.2 Unbroken continuation of that mental ability is meditation.

I personally love this part of the Yoga Sutras.  It's time to get down into the basics of what meditation really is.  In this Sutra and may more to follow, we see the state of mind that is needed in order to gain and maintain the technical state of meditation.

I use the term "technical state of meditation" because the term is so broadly used in western society.  What do we consider meditation? Some of us like to use imagdy, some like to star into a candle, some visualize and others consider running as a form of meditation.  Don't run and meditation, you will break you ankle or worse, maybe fall into a hive of killer bees.  We have them here in Arizona, and they don't like anything, but they really geek out on meditating runners that fall into their hives.


So when when all the thoughts have been categorized and we begin to break our conscious associations with them, it state of meditation is like riding a bike.  I like to describe it as a state between wake and sleep, relaxation and focus.  Try as I may to explain it, true yogic meditation is something that needs to "bee" experienced.  Now that you have laughed so hard at my pun you fell off the sofa and on to the floor, give it a try.  See if you can stop your thoughts.  I'm sure your can't, and that is ok.  The active process of stopping your thoughts is, in actually a passive process of paying attention to them in order to get rid of them.  

Book 3 Sutras 1 - Staying on Point

3.1 One-pointedness is steadfastness of the mind.

Time to wade back into the pool of the Yoga Sutras.  It's been a little while since I have written about them, but writing on the first two books had proven to be such a large undertaking, that I needed a break until I starting Book Three.  With that being said, I can think of a better way to dive in then the the first Sutra of Book 3

Book 3 is more about the results of practice then actual practice itself. Book one is an intro, with book two being methodology.  In this Sutra, one pointedness referrers to the ability of the mind to concentrate on on particular object.  This is referred to as Bindu, which translates loosely to dot or point.  

Goswami Kriyananda gave a good description of this phenomenon in his commentaries.  If we look a triangle, it represents the simplest polygon that can occupy three dimensional space.  Then, the line is a representation of two dimensional space.  Finally, the dot is a representation of one dimension, a single point in space. So, when we meditate, out focus starts to go from larger perceptions to a more focused state of mind.  That focus is what Yogis use to reach the state of enlightenment.  

The process of this is explained further in the book.  Once the mind is clear, this one-pointedness is the natural result.  It filters into out daily lives as well, giving us the ability to focus on one task fully at a time without being distracted.  I honestly think that people are not capable of actual multitasking, but instead change focus from one activity to another, even if they put the previous activity on hold while their mind moves on.  We are expected to function this way in our modern technological society.  Let's face it, we can only do so much at one time!

Sutras 2.51 to 2.55 - Book II Wrap Up

2.50 It may be external, internal, or midway, regulated by time, place, or number, and of brief or long duration.

2.51 Energy-control which goes beyond the sphere of external and internal is the fourth level- the vital.

2.52 In this way, that which covers the light is destroyed.

2.53 Thus the mind becomes fit for concentration.

2.54 When the mind maintains awareness, yet does not mingle with the senses, nor the senses with sense impressions, then self-awareness blossoms.

2.55 In this way comes mastery over the senses.

So here we are at the end of Book II.  Book II focused on the physical and moral practices of Yoga, how to go about it, and what we can obtain by it.  The fundamentals are always something that we will need to come back to from time to time.  The farther you go down the path, the greater you will be established in the basics.  When these basics become ingrained, the Yogi moves on the the esoteric portion of Yoga in Book three.  

Most practitioners get involved with Yoga at either a superficial level, or go straight to the esoteric level.  Book two gets mixed up somewhere in between.  Do not think that there is anything wrong with wanting to jump into the deep end, but untill you learn a how to tread water, you will drown in a sea of confusion.

I jumped straight into the deep end.  My path was the path of knowledge, which lead me to data overload.  Drowning in my own confusion, I swam to the shallow end of the pool and worked my way back to the understanding I was trying to achieve from the get go.  When I read Autobiography of a Yogi, I wanted to have everything that Yogananda did.  I thought that Yoga would give me the ability to move stuff with my mind and ascend to higher levels on consciousness.  I found out it does not work that way.

 Credit for this picture goes to Swamij.com.  One of the best sources on Yoga.

These last five Sutras talk about mastery of the body and it's energy, called Prana.  With mental and physical purity, the foundation for deep meditation is laid.  If you have started meditating, you should notice how distracting it can be.  I started out by using foam ear plugs to block out the noise around me.  Ever-time my dog barked it was like a stab in the ear.  My dog must have the loudest bark on the planet.  I have heard him from a block away with all the doors and windows closed.

Notice that Sutra 2.51 and 2.52 speak about going to the fourth level and the destruction of the darkness that covers the light.  The fourth level is that which lies beyond the thought and absolute stillness of the mind.  Words cannot describe because words are just symbolism put into verbal and written form.    It goes beyond abstract concepts such as our awareness of space, time and even the Yoga Sutras themselves.

I hope that you have found my commentary on Book II useful and hope that Book III is beneficial as well.  Hopefully it wont' take me another year to finish.

Sutras - 2.48 and 2.49 - Flow Control

2.48 From that there is no disturbance from the dualities.

2.49 When that exists, control of incoming and outgoing energies is next.

We are getting close to the end of Book two, so the last few Sutras are what I would call a "wrap up".  I talk a lot about the concept of duality and will do it more in future posts.  The concept of duality cannot be separated from Yoga.  It's the transcending of duality that leads to enlightenment.

Specifically related to the Yamas and Niyamas, these two Sutras states that when we have balanced out the ten qualities, our state of mind is free of duality.  For instance, purity is the same as not engaging in vice.  Engaging in peace is the same as contentment.  In reality, there are only five sets of qualities, tow existing at the opposite ends of the spectrum.  If your into math, that is the same as saying a negative of a negative equals a positive.  I hate math, so I may be wrong on that.

So we apply this balance to the the three levels of action: thinking, speaking and doing.  Then they also get applied to the five senses of sight, smell, hearing, tasting and feeling.  Sutra 2.49 is speaking directly about the input and output of those senses.  So, for instance, when we feel something, the natural result of that is a course of action on the three levels.  First we think about it, then we may or may not speak about it, depending on the circumstances, finally, we have a locomotive response.  Reflexes bypass the two higher levels.  I mean, do you really want to have to think about weather or not you should move your hand away from a hot stove?

Have you seen pictures of yogis that sit on a bed of nails, or are able to puncture their bodies with spikes?  It's a good carnival trick, but they have mastered the flow of information in their central nervous system, which can allow you to control pain.  I have seen modern medicine poking into the concept of the mind and how it manages pain in our bodies.  Don't go poking spikes into your cheek to prove you are some kind of badass.  I suggest you read the book 

The Open Focus Brain

 which can help you if you want an alternative to pain management.  It has helped me manage pain.

Sutras 2.46 and 2.47 - Meditation Posture

2.46 The posture should be steady and comfortable.

2.47 In effortless relaxation, dwell mentally on the Endless with utter attention.

Steadiness of body and mind go hand and hand like milk and Oreos.  In my practice of meditation I have noticed that muscle tension is a reflection of mental tension.  For instance, I sit most of the day at work and I get these really annoying tense muscles in my ribs.  I forgot the exact name, but it's in the left side just below my pecks.  This was something that had been bothering me since I was about the age of sixteen.  When I started doing things such as progressive relaxation and breathing, I learned how to take conscious control of the muscles and let them relax.

The thing is, the pain will always come back during times of stress.  IT support is not what I would call a relaxation profession and I am sure anyone who sits all day in a high pressure environment will experience some sort of discomfort.  Once awareness of the tension is realized, it tends to hurt more.  It's not that it's actually hurting more, you are just noticing it instead of mentally blocking it out.  Our minds are amazing the way they adapt, aren't they?

Traditionally, Yogic meditation is practiced sitting down with the spine perpendicular to the floor.  Metaphysically speaking, this is so prana can flow through the spine without hindrance.  Practically speaking, you will fall over if you start to fall asleep.  Falling asleep is not a bad thing, it shows that you are getting to a level where your mind has been calmed.  When the mind is calmed, it's natural instinct is to fall asleep.  Meditation is the line between awake and asleep.

So what posture should you use?  You should do whatever makes you feel comfortable.  If you can do the lotus position, more power to you, but if you have to put more effort into holding a position, then doing meditation, it will just interfere.  I used to fret over what kind of position I should use, but after a decade, I just plop my ass on the couch and sit cross legged.  Since I am not Gumby, I don't foresee myself ever being that bendy.

Sutra 2.45 - One Pointed Focus

2.45 Realization is experienced by making the Lord the motive of all actions.

Bhatki Yoga is the yoga of devotion.  Have you heard of the Hari Krishna movement?  They are formally know is the ISKCON movement, or the International Society for Krishna Conciseness.  Being from the Kriya Yoga tradition, I am not that big of a fan Bhatki Yoga, but none the less, it is still a path to realization.

If you are Christian, you know the path of Bhatki Yoga well.  Complete faith in Christ and surrender to God as the sole source of creation works practitioners toward the same one pointed ideal.  Yogis will chant mantras, while Christians will sing hymns and pray to God.  When you dig deep into it, both Christianity and Yoga are very similar in their practices.

OK, getting to the point.  The universe is full of infinite objects with infinite diversity.  Our awareness, the one constant we can interact with, is entangled in the myriad of existence.  From moment to moment, our awareness it pulled in whatever direction changes in our environment drag us at that time.  In fall, you can rake  leaves into a pile, but a gust of wind can blow that pile back on to the lawn.  The pattern of the leaves will never fall on the lawn the same way.  Single pointed consciousness removes us from the frustration of raking.  We will do our chore, getting the lawn clean, knowing that it will never be fully clean.  With one pointed focus on awareness, our awareness is steady.  It's like what I did: Move to the desert so you never have to rake leaves again.

Sutra 2.44 - Study

2.44 By study comes communion with the Lord in the Form most admired.

Jhana Yoga is the art of realization through intellectual study of the scriptures.  I tend to fall into this category myself.  Intellectual study, however, is just one path that a Yogi can take to enlightenment.  I have seen videos of young Bhrmanistic priests being trained in India.  The use hand movements in association with syllables in the scriptures to help memorize them.  Memorization of the scriptures leads to a greater understanding of their meaning.

Scripture is written in Sanskrit.  The power of Sanskrit lies in is phonics and not necessarily in it's literal meaning.  In past posts, I have written about the power of chanting mantra.  All Yogic scripture is a mantra.  Hypothetically speaking, you could chant the Yoga Sutras from beginning to end and use it as a mantra.  Sacred books, such as the Bhagava Gita are chanted in the form of song, and the title translates to Song of the Soul.

So how does this work?  Intellectualism has it's limits.  Spirituality is something that is intuitively understood and is hard to put into words.  The point of intellectualism is, if you have the zeal to bury your nose in scriptural and occult study, you will get to the point where your brain will see the redundancies in information study, hopefully to turn to intuition to process the information.  Taking higher knowledge and putting it into words is the only way we have to communicate it's meaning, but it loses it's meaning when put into words.  Using finite symbolism such as language to convey concepts beyond symbolism is impossible, but you have to start somewhere.

Sutra 2.43 - Detoxification

2.43 Through sanctification and the removal of impurities, there arise special powers in the body and senses.

Ironically, as I am writing this post, I am thinking about the place i happened to be at today.  It was at an alternative healing center.  I'm sure many of you have heard of these places.  The specialize in acupuncture, massage and naturalpathy.  Indian and Chinese medicine are more popular today than in the past as people seek different routs for healing.  Yoga has it's own view of the body and how best to heal it.

Indian philosophy builds the premise that there are three layers to our body.  The first layer is our physical being: bones, skin, muscles, etc.  This body is nothing more than a lump of meat that encases out consciousness to interact with physical existence via our senses.  Without awareness, the body has no other purpose.  The astral body is the next metaphysical layer.  When we pass away, the Hindus believe that our astral body sheds the physical body on it's journey to the next life.  The astral body contains much our our stored up karma, the chakras, and corresponds with the nervous system.  Finally, the cuasual, or ideational body, contains the "thought of our body".  Basically, it's the imprint our consciousness has carved out of the greater whole in order to exist as a separate entity.  If you want more information about the three different bodies, see 

Autobiography of a Yogi

Yoga works through different process such as breath control, meditation and asanas to balance energy in the body.  The fundamental life force is called Prana.  If you are familiar with the concept of Chi in Chinese medicine, prana is analogous to it.  Having the ability to use our life force at will to heal our body is one of the goals of Yogic practice.  When you have control over autonomic functions in the nervous system such as your breath rate, heart rate, and even the ability to relax tense muscles at will, you greatly lengthen the life span.

There is a lot more to this subject for sure.  Look up Aruvedic medicine or pranic healing if you want for information.

Sutras 2.41 and 2.42 - Contentment

2.41 As a result of contentment there is purity of mind, one-pointedness, control of the senses, and fitness for the vision of the self.

2.42 Supreme happiness is gained via contentment.

Goswami Kriyananda said that Contentment and Non-violence where the most important traits we can develop as Yogis.  Discontentment leads us to do things that we would not normally do, but keep in mind that discontentment is not always a bad trait.  If we were never discontent, we would not bother to do Yoga in the first place.  Discontentment drives us our of complacency in actions that better ourselves.

One thing in life that we all must acknowledge, however, is that discontentment on the whole can never be fully satisfied.  Consumerism is dependent on our discontentment of our looks, possessions and place in life to sell us a basket of good we don't even need.  Since I work in the IT industry, I see this facet all the time.  Companies will release newer versions of software that are larger and add more features, but most of the features are not even needed.  Oh, we have a larger software package, guess what?  you are going to need faster hardware to run it!  Thus we have another shiny object dangled in front of our face for us to chase after.

I also used to like video games a lot more than I do now.  Perhaps I'm drifting into grumpy old man territory here, but the quality of video game concepts has not changed that much.  Sure, the make them prettier, but the core creativity of them has not changed.  I still run around, shoot and blow stuff up.

We here the phrase, "Attitude of Gratitude".  Gratitude is the first step toward contentment.  At least it begins to put life into a positive focus so we can focus on the things we really need to change instead of feeling like we need to change it all at ounce.  Like I said in earlier posts, you will know what you need to change when you begin the process of Yoga, but you have to accept where you are now, at this point in time.  Wear you gratitude like a light jacket:  Put in on when you need a mild warm up, but if you feel the heat too much, take it off and get to work.