Dec 28, 2012

Sutra 1.2. Nirodha (continuation). The Problem of Motivation to Practice

The problem of emotional content of words cannot be ignored as an insignificant one, and even if we no longer lose our sleep over nirodha it will still come before us in all its charm as we start to comprehend the two fundamental concepts of yoga and the Indian philosophy as a whole – the moksha and kaivalya. Though in terms of dealing with some simpler categories that we will come across very soon - like klesha and samskara - the shades of their understanding do dependent upon the emotional content as well.

Curiously, but even the possibility of a more or less correct reasoning upon this topic appeared in human mentality only half a century ago owing to the idea of Osgood’s test of semantic differential and psychosemantics in general, as well as due to those concepts that simultaneously appeared in other sciences (philology), Gachev’s idea of the national "images of the world" (culturology), etc. Without false modesty I should say that I have also “left my footprints” here by having set forth the concept of basic existential myths that underlie the way the particular person perceives the world and that "tint" such world perception in some certain mode. Of course prior to all these scientific breakthroughs there were poets like Velemir Khlebnikov who had caught the same thing but were as per usual ignored by “serious” people J.

But let us come back to nirodha. 
The problem of emotional content of the practice is tightly intertwined with another problem which nature is already deeply philosophical but that nevertheless preserves its actual topicality from practical point of view. I mean here the problem of motivation. 
These were probably the Buddhists who were the first to come across this problem and start to reflect upon it [1]. Indeed, if we get rid of our cravings and desires (I certainly simplify it here, yet for one’s understanding of the issues’ basic point this interpretation will be enough), then what is this motive force behind doing it? Isn’t it the desire? And will we be able to continue if we get rid of this desire? Or does the desire for practice (advance, deliverance, etc.) come as some separate type of desire that does not disappear in terms of the practice? [2]

Coming back to Yoga Sutras: if any of interpretations of nirodha is emotionally coloured, wouldn’t the practice of such nirodha come as a vritti itself? Wouldn’t such emotional content of the practice just intensify some particular vritti ... Especially to the effect that we rather often see the examples of this happening. We know people who are fanatics in their practicing yet are quite intolerant in terms of estimating other people and rather incisive and even aggressive in their comments. Maybe this is the aggressiveness that’s been boosted by the “aggressive” practice itself? Or is it still the vritti that had been originally there, yet was not worked up? The questions do remain...

Yet there is another side of the same problem. It's no secret that the majority of people starting to practice esoteric practices do it not so much under the influence of some "lofty" motives as guided by rather simple motifs. This is not because of the practice, it is because of people: first of all they are interested in self-realization in scope of lower chakras and this is not so bad. No matter how "social" the goal sought by the person is, if it is complex (if it is bigger than the person itself), it will give one the incentive to one’s advance, while yoga or any other sound system will provide with necessary tools for such advance. Our genuine desires are the language used by Universe to talks to us [3]. We refer to self-cultivation aimed at obtaining things that you will not be able to have without such cultivation as the Small Yoga [4]. And this is an inevitable step in one’s development.

Well, sometimes it does happen that there come people who do not have any social purposes and who are craving for “deliverance”, but this is not their real spiritual drive. This is a purely psychological problem of one’s dislike for life, so that such "thirst for liberation" is simply caused by underdeveloped lower chakras. Here we may refer to "The Shot" story from "The Belkin Tales" as an illustration of this idea. The “deliverance” of the practicing mystic who has already worked up his lower chakras and that of the socially not adapted person who just wants to escape from his problems to the realm of mysticism are two completely different things. Regarding this subject I recommend to study the concept of I. Kalinauskas about the Schools that give Shelter and the Schools that make up the Path [5].

However, if one performs the practice within any of major esoteric systems sooner or later he will leave neurotic desires behind, having realized the genuine ones and then proceeding to their implementation. And...the motive to practice will disappear? Life’s been mended. Everything one wanted to achieve has been achieved. Everything is well as it is. Has one’s advance been performed, or is there still something that would motivate a person to do the next steps, them actually being the practice of Big Yoga?

I shall so far leave the reader reflecting upon these subjects and I plan to come back to them when the logic of commenting Yoga Sutras once again brings us close to these issues.

[1] Frankly speaking I do believe that psycho-practices are deeply similar in all traditions. Moreover, I am ready to debate with all those who disagree within the following format. Tell me the type of practice from any tradition, or the effect of it, and I will give you its analogues from other traditions. However the interpretations of these practices and their effects do vary depending upon ideological, philosophical and other intellectual grounds of the tradition. Besides, there are more and less profound (well-considered) interpretations. And in this sense, no offense meant regarding anyone, I shall give the palm to Buddhism.

[2] By the way, the Buddhists have in fact eliminated this problem by means of introducing the concept of prajnaparamita.

[3] But please do not confuse desires and needs, as well as genuine and neurotic desires. Genuine desires are always creative and unhurried; another thing is that they bringing satisfaction not only upon their achievement but also within the process of moving to them.

[4] In the words of a popular internet meme: “To get the things that you have never had you must do the things that you have never been doing”.

[5] Also the understanding of “deliverance” by a religious person will not be identical to this understanding by the mystic who has outstripped the religiosity, because almost all modern religions somehow block the development of the lower chakras, while the relevant practices, even if they exist in scope of an esoteric doctrine that mimics a religious system, are of marginal character and not advertised.

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