In Kathopanitsad it is said, the nerves of the heart are a hundred and one. “All the extraordinary spiritual, mystical traditions continuously work on awakening the Third Eye. It is the easiest, most powerful way of awakening yourself to higher dimensions. Third Eye is an important power which is stored in every human being. It is a possibility in every human being. We need to awaken it. We need to make it as reality. Third Eye is not just an eye; it is the very source of your Consciousness. Creating awareness, centering yourself on the Third Eye means awakening your consciousness.”
Duality is the seed of conflict, “Duality is the idea or concept of separation”, Duality is based on createing division, This world of duality is an illusion. This world of duality is an illusion, The illusion of duality being the result of ignorance , will be dispelled by proper knowledge, therefore people on Earth will be kept away from real knowledge. Earth is not what people think it is, and is not working as people is teached by everyone.
Kundalini lies dormant but, like a tiny seed when the conditions are right, can awaken and grow into a mighty tree. In the same way an electrical cable connects a computer to the mains, the awakened kundalini connects human awareness to the all-pervasive power of divine love. Kundalini, then, is the divine power in man which when liberated becomes the causal factor in all higher experiences of the yogin.
So multiplicity is creation of the ignorance. Multiple names and forms are only appearance of one homogeneous principle. We study this, but this knowledge should settle within us. We should know this in totality without any doubt, simply knowing it in our faculty of intelligence but reacting to situations with our ego, i.e., with identification with body-mind interactions as the self, would not work.
That is the reason earlier it was said that the Knowledge cannot be comprehended through the mind, but we have to see the One only through the mind as it is advocated here. But how this will be possible? Possible through a Mind at Rest: The above discussions appear to be contradictory as it is first said that the Supreme cannot be comprehended through the mind and again later it is said to know That through the mind. But actually this is not contradictory. To know we have the only one instrument called mind.
In that mind we have to see the unity of our individual-self and the world with the Cosmic Self, One and the Only One. But it was said that such a realization is not possible through the mind since the nature of mind is to remain in a state of volition. Here in the above discussion we have already said, citi vistramya tisthasi, give rest to your mind, Control of the Sense Organs and the Mind,” p. 29).
So this Self-realization is not possible through a mind that is in volition but is possible through a mind at rest. When actions of the mind, citta, are halted, then that is called yoga. This is the unity or union of the individual with the source.
The Ego must be rmished: So for that delusion to be eradicated the ego must be finished.
I am not, the mind, man* not the intellect, not the ego, not the sub-consciousness, not the ears or the tongue, not the nose or the eyes, not even the ether or the earth, not the fire, not the airI am the form of Consciousness and Bliss, ciddnandera pah, I am Siva, livoham, I am Siva, fivoham. Here negation of the body, the five sense-organs, the five organs of action, the mind, the intellect, the ego, the subconsciousness and the five elements, viz., earth, water, etc., and contemplating on the Consciousness and Bliss as Christ or the Pure Existence is shown as the way. Christ means Bliss, removal of misery, Christ means Truth, the Pure Existence, and the principle that called the Self. Siva means the Pure Consciousness, the Knowledge. The yogic way of this negation is named samddhi, and this is inhibition of all the actions of the mind-stuff, citta. Then there are no cravings and aversions, and that is equanimity.
By control of the mind, all the yogis, attain fearlessness, removal of misery, knowledge of the Self, and everlasting„ peace. The seat of fear is only in our mind, miseries are only in our mind, the ignorance is only in our mind, and turbulences and disturbances are only in our mind. So the mind should be controlled to overcome these. This mind is the world, so purify it with care, so that the mind should be merged with That. This is the secret, and this is eternal.
So the purification of mind, is nothing but merging the mind, manolaya, with the Un-eroded Principle. Then there is eternal peace and this much is the secret. The Self should be Taught after Purification: From the above discussions we understand that the identity with the body-mind interactions is named as the ego, which is a product of the ignorance and is the cause of bondage.
This identity results in the enjoyment of various sense objects and gives pain and pleasures, but when one transcends that and sees the Self in all manifestations then he becomes established in the Knowledge and Bliss. But for this to happen, cleaning the senses and the internal organ named mind are of utmost necessity because without these the concept of unity of the individual self with the Cosmic Self or the Transcendental Self is not possible and if done so without cleaning the mind then there is danger of misperception of the body as the Self being strengthened to a highest degree.
“All the extraordinary spiritual, mystical traditions continuously work on awakening the Third Eye. It is the easiest, most powerful way of awakening yourself to higher dimensions. Third Eye is an important power which is stored in every human being. It is a possibility in every human being. We need to awaken it. We need to make it as reality. Third Eye is not just an eye; it is the very source of your Consciousness. Creating awareness, centering yourself on the Third Eye means awakening your consciousness.”
Yoga is the rule book for playing the game of Life, but in this game no one needs to lose. It is tough, and you need to train hard. It requires the willingness to think for yourself, to observe and correct, and to sur-mount occasional setbacks. It demands honesty, sustained application, and above all love in your heart. If you are interested to understand what it means to be a human being, placed between earth and sky, if you are interested in where you come from and where you will be able to go, if you want happiness and long for freedom, then you have al-ready begun to take the first steps toward the journey inward. The rules of nature cannot be bent. They are impersonal and im-placable. But we do play with them. By accepting nature’s challenge and joining the game, we find ourselves on a windswept and exciting journey that will pay benefits commensurate to the time and effort we put in—the lowest being our ability to tie our own shoelaces when we are eighty and the highest being the opportunity to taste the essence of life itself.
Yoga releases the creative potential of Life. It does this by estab-lishing a structure for self-realization, by showing how we can progress along the journey, and by opening a sacred vision of the Ultimate, of our Divine Origin, and final Destiny. The Light that yoga sheds on Life is something special. It is transformative. It does not just change the way we see things; it transforms the person who sees. It brings knowl-edge and elevates it to wisdom.
We must also come to see the relationship between nature and soul; yoga does not reject one for the other but sees them as inseparably joined like earth and sky are joined on the horizon. Yo u do not need to seek freedom in some distant land, for it exists within your own body, heart, mind, and soul. Illuminated emancipation, freedom, unalloyed and untainted bliss await you, but you must choose to embark on the Inward Journey to discover it.
The Inward Journey
Spiritual realization is the aim that exists in each one of us to seek our divine core. That core, though never absent from anyone, remains latent within us. It is not an outward quest for a Holy Grail that lies beyond, but an Inward Journey to allow the inner core to reveal itself. In order to find out how to reveal our innermost Being, the sages explored the various sheaths of existence, starting from body and progressing through mind and intelligence, and ultimately to soul. The yogic journey guides us from our periphery, the body, to the center of our being, the soul. The aim is to integrate the various layers so that the inner divinity shines out as through clear glass.
Kosas-The Sheaths of Being
Yoga identifies five of these different levels or sheaths of being (kosas), which must be completely integrated and in harmony with each other in order for us to achieve wholeness. When these subtle sheaths are in disharmony, they become sullied like a mirror reflecting the tarnished images of the sensory and sensual world. The mirror reflects what is in the world around us rather than letting the clear light of the soul within shine out. It is then that we experience disease and despair. True health requires not only the effective functioning of the physical exterior of our being, but also the vitality, strength, and sensitivity of the subtle levels within. Most of us think of our “body” as simply our physical form–our skin, bones, muscles, and internal organs. For yoga, however, this is only the outermost layer of our body or annamaya kosa. It is this anatomical body that encompasses the other four subtle bodies, or kosas.
When these bodies or sheaths are misaligned or clash with one another, we inevitably encounter the alienation and fragmentation that so trouble our world. When, on the other hand, we are able to bring the various sheaths of our body into alignment and harmony with one another, the fragmentation disappears, integration is achieved, and unity is established.
The physical body (annamaya kosa) must connect with and thereby imprint upon the energetic and organic body (pranamaya kosa), which must, in turn, accord with the mental body (manomaya kosa), the mental body with the intellectual body (vijnanamaya kosa), and the intellectual body with the blissful body (anandamaya kosa).
Likewise, if there is no communication between the blissful body and the physical body, then the blissful body cannot bring its illumination to the motion and action of the physical body, and there is darkness in life and not Light on Life.
The demarcation of the different sheaths is essentially hypothetical. We are unique and integral. Nevertheless, in order to achieve the integrity and wholeness we desire, there must be communication from the inner to the outer and the outer to the inner as each sheath blends with the next.
Only then are we bound together as one functional human being. If not, we experience dissolution and fragmentation, which make life uncomfortable and confusing. It is essential for the follower of the yoga journey to understand the need for integration and balance in the kosa.
For example, the mental and intellectual bodies (manomaya and vijnanamaya kosa) must function effectively in order for us to observe, analyze, and reflect what is happening in the physical and energetic bodies (annamaya and pranamaya kosa) and make readjustments. The physical body in other words is not something separate from our mind and soul. We are not supposed to neglect or deny our body as some ascetics suggest. Nor are we to become fixated on our bodyour mortal self-either. The aim of yoga is to discover our immortal Self. The practice of yoga teaches us to live fully-physically and spiritually-by cultivating each of the various sheaths.
After all, the goal of yoga may be the ultimate freedom but even before this is achieved, there is an incremental experience of greater freedom as we discover ever more self-control, sensitivity, and awareness that permit us to live the life we aspire to, one of decency; clean, honest human relations; goodwill and fellowship; trust; self-reliance; joy in the fortune of others; and equanimity in the face of our own misfortune. From a state of human goodness, we can progress toward the greater freedom.
Self-cultivation through asana is the broad gateway leading to the inner enclosures we need to xplore. In other words, we are going to try to use asana to sculpt the mind. We must discover what each sheath of being longs for and nourish it according to its subtle appetites. After all, it is the inner or subtler kosa that support the layers exterior to them. So we would say in yoga that the subtle precedes the gross, or spirit precedes matter. but yoga says we must deal with the outer or most manifest first, i.e. legs, arins, spine, eyes, tongue, touch, in order to develop the sensitivity to move inward.
This is why asana opens the whole spectrum of yoga’s possibilities. There can be no realization of existential, divine bliss without the support of the soul’s incarnate vehicle, the food-and-waterfed body, from bone to brain. If we can become aware of its limitations and compulsions, we can transcend them.
We all possess some awareness of ethical behavior, but in order to pursue yama and niyama at deeper levels, we must cultivate the mind. We need contentment, tranquility, dispassion, and unselfishness, qualities that have to be earned. It is asana that teaches us the physiology of these virtues.
The fourth petal of yoga concerns the breathing techniques or pranayama (prana = vital or cosmic energy, ayama = extension, expansion). Breath is the vehicle of consciousness and so, by its slow, measured observation and distribution, we learn to tug our attention away from external desires (vasana) toward a judicious, intelligent awareness (prajna). As breath stills mind, our energies are free to unhook from the senses and bend inward to pursue the inner quest with heightened, dynamic awareness. Pranayama is not performed by the power of will.
The breath must be enticed or cajoled, like catching a horse in a field, not by chasing after it, but by standing still with an apple in one’s hand. In this way, pranayama teaches humility and frees us from greed or hankering after the fruits of our actions. Nothing can be forced; receptivity is everything.
The withdrawal of the senses into the mind (pratyahara) is the fifth petal of yoga, also called the hinge of the outer and inner quest. Unfortunately, we misuse our senses, our memories, and our intelligence. We let the potential energies of all these flow outward and get scattered. We may say that we want to reach the domain of the soul, but there remains a great tug-of-war.
We neither go in nor out, and that saps the energy. We can do better. By drawing our senses of perception inward, we are able to experience the control, silence, and quietness of the mind.
This ability to still and gently silence the mind is essential, not only for meditation and the inward journey but also so that the intuitive intelligence can function usefully and in a worthwhile manner in the external world.
The final three petals or stages are concentration (dharana), meditation (dhyana), and total absorption (samadhi). These three are a crescendo, the yoga of final integration (samyama yoga). We begin with concentration. Because dharana is so easy to translate as concentration, we often overlook or dismiss it. At school we learn to pay attention. This is useful, but it is not in yogic terms concentration. We do not say of a deer in the forest, “Look, he’s concentrating.” The deer is in a state of total vibrant awareness in every cell of his body. We often fool ourselves that we are concentrating because we fix our attention on wavering objects-a football match, a film, a novel, the waves of the sea, or a candle flame-but is not even the flame flickering? True concentration is an unbroken thread of awareness. Yoga is about how the Will, working with intelligence and the self-reflexive consciousness, can free us from the inevitability of the wavering mind and outwardly directed senses. Here, asana serves us greatly.
When each new point has been studied, adjusted, and sustained, one’s awareness and concentration will necessarily be simultaneously directed to myriad points so that in effect consciousness itself is diffused evenly throughout the body. Here consciousness is pt·netrating and enveloping, illuminated by a directed flow of intelligence and serving as a transformative witness to body and mind.
This is a sustained flow of concentration (dharana) leading to an exalted awareness. The ever-alert Will adjusts and refines, creating a totally self-correcting mechanism.
In this way, the practice of asana, performed with the involvement of all elements of our being, awakens and sharpens intelligence until it is integrated with our senses, our mind, our memory, our consciousness, and our soul. All of our bones, flesh, joints, fibers, ligaments, senses, mind, and intelligence are harnessed. The self is both the perceiver and the doer.
When I use the word “self” with a small s, I mean the totality of our awareness of who and what we are in a natural state of consciousness. Thus the self assumes its natural form, neither bloated nor shrunken. In a perfect asana, performed meditatively and with a sustained current of concentration, the self assumes its perfect form, its integrity being beyond reproach.
Technically speaking, true meditation in the yogic sense cannot be done by a person who is under stress or who has a weak body, weak lungs, hard muscles, collapsed spine, fluctuating mind, mental agitation, or timidity. Often people think that sitting quietly is meditation. This is a misunderstanding.
True meditation leads us to wisdom (jnana) and awareness (prajna), and this specifically helps in understanding that we are more than our ego. For this one needs the preparations of the postures and the breathing, the withdrawal of the senses and concentration. This process of relaxing the brain is achieved through asana. We generally think of mind as being in our head.
In asana our consciousness spreads throughout the body, eventually diffusing in every cell, creating a complete awareness. In this way stressful thought is drained away, and our mind focuses on the body, intelligence, and awareness as a whole. This allows the brain to be more receptive, and concentration becomes natural. How to keep the brain cells in a relaxed, receptive, and concentrated state is the art that yoga teaches.
“Duality is the seed of conflict”.
We cannot all go into outer space to glimpse a planet where shared human goals can be achieved by peaceful cooperation. But when we look at photos of our blue orb hanging in space with no national boundaries cut into its surface and the white cloak of clouds enveloping it, we too are moved by the earth’s unity. How then do we live this unity? Duality is the seed of conflict. But we all have access to a space, an inner space, where there is an end to duality, an end to conflict. This is what meditation teaches us, the cessation of the impersonating ego and the dawn of the true, unified Self, beyond which there is no other. Yoga says that the highest experience of freedom is Oneness, the supreme reality of unity. But we cannot penetrate inward in order to experience immortal bliss without first harmonizing the five sheaths that encompass the soul.
In the final stage of samadhi (union), the individual self, with all its attributes, merges with the Divine Self, with the Universal Spirit. Yogis realize that the divine is not more heavenward than inward and in this final quest of the soul, seekers become seers. In this way they experience the divine at the core of their being. Samadhi is usually described as the final freedom, freedom from the wheel of karma, of cause and effect, action and reaction. Samadhi has nothing to do with perpetuating our mortal self. Samadhi is an opportunity to encounter our imperishable Self before the transient vehicle of body disappears, as in the cycle of nature, it surely must. Yogis, however, do not stay in this stage of exalted bliss, but when they return to the world their actions are different, as they know in their innermost being that the divine unites us all and that a word or action done to another is ultimately done equally to oneself.
Learning to Live in the Natural World
Before beginning this journey inward, we must clarify its nature. There is a frequent misunderstanding of the journey inward or the spiritual path, which suggests to most people a rejection of the natural world, the mundane, the practical, the pleasurable. On the contrary, to a yogi (or indeed a Taoist master or Zen monk) the path toward spirit lies entirely in the domain of nature. It is the exploration of nature from the world of appearances, or surface, into the subtlest heart of living matter. Spirituality is not some external goal that one must seek but a part of the divine core of each of us, which we must reveal. For the yogi, spirit is not separate from body.
A scientist sets out to conquer nature through knowledge-external nature, external knowledge. By these means he may split the atom and achieve external power. A yogi sets out to explore his own internal nature, to penetrate the atom (atma) of being. He does not gain dominion over wide lands and restless seas, but over his own recalcitrant flesh and febrile mind. This is the power of compassionate truth. The presence of truth can make us feel naked, but compassion takes all our shame away. It is this inner quest for growth and evolution, or “involution,” that is the profound and transformational yogic journey that awaits the seeker after Truth. We begin this involution with what is most tangible, our physical body, and the yogasana practice helps us to understand and learn how to play this magnificent instrument that each of us has been given.
The yogi knows that the physical body is not only the temple for our soul but the means by which we embark on the inward journey toward the core. Only by first attending to the physical body can we hope to accomplish anything in our spiritual lives. If a man or woman has aspirations to experience the divine, but his or her body is too weak to bear the burden, of what use are their aspirations and ambitions?
That’s all the more reason, therefore, for the vast majority of us who suffer from physical limitations and debilities to some degree to start yoga as soon as possible so that we may fit ourselves for the journey ahead of us.
Yoga offers us techniques to become aware, to expand and penetrate, and to change and evolve in order to become competent in the lives we live and to initiate sensitivity and receptivity toward the life of which we are still only dimly aware.
We begin at the level of the physical body, the aspect of ourselves that is most concrete and accessible to all of us. It is here that yogasana and pranayama practice allow us to understand our body with ever greater insight and through the body to understand our mind and reach our soul.
To a yogi, the body is a laboratory for life, a field of experimentation and perpetual research. For the yogi, the physical body corresponds to one of the elements of nature, namely the earth.
We are mortal clay, and we return to dust. All cultures recognize this truth, but nowadays we treat it as a mere metaphor. It is more than that. As you explore your own body, you are in fact exploring this element of nature itself. You are also developing the qualities of earth within yourself: solidity, shape, firmness, and strength.
Body will prove to be an obstacle unless we transcend its limitations and remove its compulsions. Hence, we have to learn how to explore beyond our known frontiers, that is to expand and interpenetrate our awareness and how to master ourselves. Asana is ideal for this.
The keys to unlocking our potential are the qualities of purity and sensitivity. The point about purity, or simply cleanliness as it is often called in yoga texts, is not primarily a moral one. It is that purity permits sensitivity. Sensitivity is not weakness or vulnerability. It is clarity of perception and allows judicious, precise action. On the other hand, rigidity comes from impurity, from accumulated toxins, whether in the physical sense or the mental, when we call it prejudice or narrow-mindedness.
Rigidity is insensitivity. The sweat of exertion and the insight of penetration bring us, through a process of elimination and self-cultivation, both purity and sensitivity. Purity and sensitivity benefit us not only in relation to the inward journey but in relation to our outer environment, the external world.
The effects of impurity are highly undesirable. They cause us to develop a hard shell around us. If we construct a stiff shell between ourselves and the world outside our skin, we rob ourselves of most of life’s possibilities.
We are cut off from the free flow of cosmic energy. It becomes difficult in every sense to let nourishment in or to let toxic waste out. We live in a capsule, what a poet called a “vain citadel.” As mammals, we are homeostatic.
That means we maintain certain mnstant balances within our bodies, temperature for example, by adapting to change and challenge in the environment. Strength and flexibility allow us to keep an inner balance, but man is trying more and more to dominate the environment rather than control himself.
Ultimately, when all the sheaths of the body and all the parts of a person coordinate together while performing an asana, you experience lhl· cessation of the fluctuations of the mind and also freedom from afflictions. In asana you must align and harmonize the physical body and all the layers of the subtle emotional, mental, and spiritual body. This is integration. But how does one align these sheathes and experience this integration? How do we find such profound transformation in what from the outside may look simply like stretching or twisting the body into unusual positions? It begins with awareness.
There is an exercise of will, but the brain must be willing to listen to the body and see what is reasonable and prudent within the body’s capacity. The intelligence of the body is a fact. It is real. The intelligence of the brain is only imagination. So the imagination has to be made real. The brain may dream of doing a difficult back bend Imlay, but it cannot force the impossible even onto a willing body. We are always trying to progress, but inner cooperation is essential.
Brain has to cooperate with the message it receives from the body. I will often say to a student, “Your brain is not in your body! That is why you can’t get the asana.” I mean of course that his intelligence is in his head and not filling his body. It may be that your brain moves faster than your body or your body may fail to fulfill the instructions of your brain owing to lack of right guidance from your intelligence. You must learn to move the brain a bit more slowly so that it follows the body, or you have to make the body move faster to match the intelligence of the brain. Let the body be the doer, the brain the observer.
After acting, reflect on what you have done. Has the brain interpreted the action correctly? If the brain does not observe correctly, then there is confusion in action. The duty of the brain is to receive knowledge from the body and then guide the body to further refine the action. Pause and reflect between each movement.
This is progression in attention. Then in the stillness, you can be filled with awareness. Ask yourself, “Has every part of me done its job?” The Self has to find out whether this has been done well or not. Pausing to reflect on your movement does not mean that you are not reflecting throughout the movement.
There should be constant analysis throughout the action, not just afterward. This leads to true understanding. The real meaning of knowledge is that action and analysis synchronize. Slow motion allows reflective intelligence. It allows our minds to watch the movement and leads to a skillful action. The art of yoga lies in the acuity of observation.
Self-consciousness is when the mind constantly worries and wonders about itself, doubting and being self-absorbed. It is like having the devil and angel sitting on your shoulders constantly arguing over what you should do. When you are self-conscious, you are going to exhaust yourself. You are also going to strain the muscles unnecessarily because you are thinking about the asana and how far you want to stretch and not experiencing the asana and stretching according to your capacity. Self-awareness is the opposite of self-consciousness.
When you are self-aware, you are fully within yourself, not outside yourself looking in. You are aware of what you are doing without ego or pride. When you cannot hold the body still, you cannot hold the brain still. If you do not know the silence of the body, you cannot understand the silence of the mind.
Action and silence have to go together.
If there is action, there must also be silence. If there is silence, there can be conscious action and not just motion. When action and silence combine like the two plates of a car’s clutch, it means that intelligence is in gear. While doing the postures, your mind should be in an interior conscious state that does not mean sleep; it means silence, emptiness, space that can then be filled with an acute awareness of the sensations given by the posture. You watch yourself from inside. It is a full silence. Maintain a detached attitude toward the body and, at the same time, do not neglect any part of the body or show haste but remain alert while doing the asana.
Horizontal expansion and vertical extension should synchronize so that you are extending in all directions. Freedom in a posture is when every joint is active. Let us be full in whatever posture it is we arc doing just as we should be full in whatever we do in our lives.
Extension is freedom, and freedom allows for relaxation.
“Perfection is achieved when the effort to perform it becomes effortless and the infinite being within is reached.”
There is always relaxation in the right position, even though you are fully stretching. The ego is an unrelenting task master. It does not know that one must balance activity and passivity in the asana, exertion and relaxation. When one extends and relaxes, there is no oscillation of mind or body.
One who knows the art of relaxation also knows the art of meditation. Whether one lives in the East or the West, North or South, everyone suffers from stress, and everyone craves rest and relaxation. If one stretches completely, one relaxes completely. Look at a cat, a master of stretching and a master of relaxation.
Through yoga one can begin to develop a perfect balance between both sides of the body. All of us begin with imbalances, favoring one side or the other. When one side is more active than the other, the active side must become the guru for the inactive side to make it equally active. To the weaker side, we must apply attention. We must also show more care. We show keener interest to improve a dull and struggling friend than for an eager and intelligent one. In the same way you have to show yourself this same compassion and act on the weaker side of the body while taking pleasure in the achievement of the active side. Precision in action comes when the challenge by one side of the body is met by an equal counter-challenge of the other. This ignites the light of knowledge. You must keep your balance by using the intelligence of the body (whether instinct, feeling, or ability) but not by strength. When you keep the balance by strength, it is physical action; when by intelligence of the body, it is relaxation in action. Evenness is harmony, and in that evenness alone you learn.
Balance does not mean merely balancing the body. Balance in the body is the foundation for balance in life. In whatever position one is in, or in whatever condition in life one is placed, one must find balance. Balance is the state of the present-the here and now. If you balance in the present, you are living in Eternity.
When the intellect is stable, there is no past, no future, only present. Do not live in the future; only the present is real. The mind takes you constantly to the future, as it plans, worries, and wonders. Memory takes you to the past, as it ruminatl’s and regrets.
Only the Self takes you to the present, for the divine can be experienced only now. The past, present, and future are held together in each asana as thought, word, and deed become one. One has to find the median line of each asana so that the energy is properly distributed.
When one wavers from the median line, then one goes either to the past or the future. Vertical ascending is the future; vertical descending is the past. The horizontal is the present. The present is the perfect asana.
When you open horizontally, future and past meet in the present. This is how dynamic extension and expansion allow you to find balance and live more fully in the present through your body. In asana, we find balance and integration in the three dimensions of space, but we also find balance and integration in the fourth dimension of time. The ancient sages said that the key to life was balance.
But what are we supposed to balance? The answer lies in the three qualities of nature, which are called the guna. These three qualities must be balanced in your asana practice and in your body, mind, and soul. Roughly they are translated as solidity, dynamism, and luminosity. We have seen that the essence of nature is change, a never-ending expression and re-expression of itself. What, we must ask ourselves, constantly provokes that change? Why do things simply not stay as they are?
This is because of the guna, the three complementary forces that Indian philosophy identifies as emerging from the very root of nature at the moment of creation. Understanding the guna, these three forces of nature, will be important for the success of your practice of yogasana and your inward journey to the Universal Soul. As soon as nature becomes manifest, these three forces shift. They lose their balance and create instability. That instability is very fertile. Mathematicians say that numbers progress from one to two to three to many. It is the number three that unlocks the possibility of infinite diversity. Infinite, unmanifested origin is one. Duality is two.
“Duality is the seed of conflict”.
“Duality is the idea or concept of separation”.
Dualityis the idea or concept of separation, of division, but alone it cannot I manifest in phenomena. Three is a wave, a sine curve, a vibration like light or sound. When two waves collide, a new phenomenon is created. That is the creativity inherent in nature. Even at the subtlest level, that of vibration and infra-atomic particles, nature’s built-in wobble sets it on an endless cycle of creation, destruction, and recreation. From three comes many.
Perfecting: Always Be Happy with the Smallest Improvement
Let the goal be to reach Perfection, but be content with a little progress toward perfection every day. Overambition can be destructive of sustainable progress. Perfection is ultimately only with God. So what is the value of perfection if it can be found only in God? We are creatures who can dream of perfection, and it is this dream that inspires one to improve. It is this dream that ignites the effort needed to transform. Perfection creates interest in art and life. The instinct that draws us toward the dream of perfection is really a desire for God. Sometimes our body is willing, but our mind is weak and says, “We don’t have time,” or “Forget it, it’s not worth all the effort.” Sometimes it is our mind that is willing, but our body is weak and says, “I’m really too tired for all this trouble.”
A practitioner must focus between the mind and the body, listening to the counsel of each, but letting the intelligence and the soul make the true decision, for this is where real willpower and real dedication are found. Do to your capacity while always striving to extend your capacity. Ten minutes today. After a few days, twelve minutes. Master that, then again extend. It is better to do a good pose minimum than a bad pose maximum. Do not say that you are disappointed with yourself. Find time every day to do something to maintain the asana practice. Sometimes both body and mind yield to willpower, and at other times they rebel.
Do not be afraid. Do not be attached to your body. Even if fear comes, accept it and find the courage to come through it. When you experience fear, you must practice without attachment to the body, thinking of it objectively as an opportunity for creative work. When fear is not there, you can treat the body more subjectively, as a part of yourself that nonetheless requires practice and cultivation.
Yoga is mastered only by long persistent nonstop practice, with zeal and determination. When the gardener plants an apple seed, does he expect the apples to appear at once? Of course not. The gardener waters the seed, watches each day, and feels happy seeing the growth. Treat the body in the same way. We water our asana and pranayama practice with love and joy seeing the small progress. While we know what the goal is, we do not focus on enlightenment. We know that when our practice is ripe, illumination comes. Patience allied with disciplined practices brings the required willpower. Willpower is concrete, not ethereal. When you do something, you demonstrate your willpower, and it becomes all the easier to have the same power of will the next time. When you perform your asana, you are physically demonstrating willpower through the expression of the muscles. Willpower is not just in the mind, but it is also in the body.
If there is an end, then there is no God. Creation by God never ends, so creation of your movements never ceases. The moment you say, “I have got it,” you have lost everything you had. As soon as something comes, you have to go one step further. Then there is evolution. The moment you say, “I am satisfied with that,” that means stagnation has come. That is the end of your learning; you have closed the windows of your intellect. So let me do what I cannot do, not what I can do. You have always to do a little bit more than you think you can, in quality and in quantity. This is what leads ultimately to beauty and greatness.
Never compare with others. Each one’s capacities are a function of his or her internal strength. Know your capacities and continually improve upon them. Over time the intensity with which one can practice develops.