Apr 14, 2017

Difference Between Ancient And Modern Commentaries

Thorough analysis of primary sources assumes concurrent study of authentic commentarial works. Thus in the process of writing my commentary to every new sutra I usually thumb through primary classical commentaries that I here enlist. Some of them have turned into “favorites”, that is, must-reads: Vyasa, Mishra, Sankara, Bhoja, Sadashivendra. Aged 1000 years and even older, these texts (but for the last mentioned) are truly authentic, i.e. introduced in the framework of intact Indian culture so far not deformed by conquerors. I also had a pleasure of reading commentaries on classical texts of other darshanas (in addition to yoga). 

However, in the process of reading these commentaries I’ve noticed myself to have a kind of dissatisfaction which essential nature has become clear to me only recently. The matter is that notwithstanding the fact these texts are all commentaries, there is a drastic difference between the core point of commenting processes in classical India and in modern science.

Apr 3, 2017

Why Read Ancient Texts?

They have once again asked me: why in general read ancient texts, the more so commentaries on them? Why a person like me, a modern yogi who is rather future-focused than past-minded, the one who objects to traditionalism in all its manifestations and gives skeptical smile to talks on “paramparas” and consecrations, decided to spend heaps of time studying Sanskrit and leafing through ten- or fifteen-hundred-year-old commentaries? Is there anything in them that one cannot evidentiate by experiments based on modern scientific concepts?

Yes, there is.
A seeker of our days, when driven by scientific attitude and intellectual approach, can find many interesting things there.

First. Descriptions of genuine mystical experience that is both functional and based on psychological techniques are rather rare. What I mean here is real experience that differs from all possible forms of visionariness, philosophical waxing and contacts-setting.

Mar 27, 2017

Brahmacharya and Continence in Yoga. The Story of Confusion

Deconstruction (from lat. de – ‘top to bottom, backward’, and constructio – “erection”, “putting together”)- a concept in modern philosophy and art that represents understanding by means of breaking the stereotype or introduction into new context. It is underlain by the assumption that meaning is constructed in the process of reading while traditional ideas either lack due depth (are trivial) or are attributed with author’s repressive instance. Thus there’s a need for provocative act that initiates an idea and liberates the text undertones that author does not control. Developed by Jacques Derrida, it has its roots in Martin Heideggers’ concept of ‘Destruktion’ – repudiation of construing tradition for the purpose of hidden meaning revelation.

I shall once again and for a while withdraw from text linearity for the sake of brahmacharya – one of the most argued and controversial issues in Yoga. Brahmacharya is known to have been listed by Patanjali as one of Yoga yamas. Most of popular books on Yoga promote the concept of brahmacharya to be sexual abstinence, celibate and singlehood. But the absurdity and controversial character of this idea can be judged at least by the fact of Tantric sexual practices existence. 

Mar 21, 2017

Mind Wholeness, Absent-Mindedness and Torpid Mind. Mistakes in Meditation

Summing up the block of seven lines that Patanjali dedicated to exercising the state of mind wholeness (chitta-prasadanam), I shall try to explain why this subject has been essentially significant. One can by intuition guess that mind non-wholeness (chitta-vikshepa) correlates with vritti. And indeed, this opinion was shared by all commentators of Yoga Sutras 

We all now know yoga to be chitta vritti nirodha. And he was already the first commentator – Vyasa - who specified several stages of chitta sophistication on the way to nirodha.

क्षिप्तं मूढं विक्षिप्तमेकाग्र निरुद्धमिति चित्तस्य भूमयः।
kṣiptaṃ mūḍhaṃ vikṣiptam-ekāgra niruddham-iti cittasya bhūmayaḥ

Mar 14, 2017

Sutra 1.40. Chitta Extension and Densification

We have analyzed sutra 1.40 in the context of cognitive aspect proposed by Vyasa. But there can be a different view on techniques the sutra proposes. This kind of energetic practices can be found in all major esoteric Traditions though they may come under different names. In our School we refer to them as “the techniques of chakras fields extension and densification”. But let us consider the subject step by step.

Mar 6, 2017

Sutra 1.40. Another Post About Miracles

Many people are looking for kitschy miracles

but turn their blind eye to the major one

The sutra 1.40 been quoted out of context gave rise to numerous twisted fantasies that I intend to dispel.

This sutra completes the passage on scattered mind (chitta vikshepa) restoration and stabilization methods, and reads as follows

परमाणु परममहत्त्वान्तोऽस्य वशीकारः ॥ ४०॥
1.40 paramāṇu paramamahattvānto'sya vaśīkāraḥ 

In order to explain what I mean I shall instead of giving the line detailed interpretation first start with quoting the translation variants available:

Feb 27, 2017

Sutra 1.40. Eight Supreme Siddhis of Yoga Tradition

The next line of Yoga Sutra (1.40) dwells on siddhis – at least this is what most of modern commentators think – so I shall give my brief note on this disturbing issue, all the more so as some readers have already become restless in anticipation of this theme. Let me also remind that there’s been an article on my blog dealing with yoga’ view on siddhis that was based on the report made by Dominik Wujastyk.

Now, they traditionally distinguish between supreme siddhis (or mahasiddhis) and minor siddhis – the whole of the rest.

The list of 8 supreme siddhis that can be attained by a practitioner is drawn in both early as well as late yoga texts. This is a well-known information: even Amarakosha – the major Sanskrit thesaurus – has it given on its first page, while most of texts on yoga also consider this to be conventional issue giving no list details yet introducing it as “animaadi” – anima (the first siddhi) and so on (adi).