In a couple of days, the world will observe the first International Yoga Day. Hopefully, people will venture away from their present faith-found belief mode of being and transition into self-validated and knowledge backed admissions in which diversity includes the miraculous and norm-range covers the extreme and the outlandish, though humanity will continue to opt for the merit of living the ‘ middle way.’ Personally, there is nothing more I respect and regard than the very human capacity to observe, inform oneself, think and analyse, and know and opine for oneself… than being told from the pulpit or rostrum and being compelled to trust men in green or white.
Not unexpectedly however, men and women have equated yoga with physical exercise, postures or ‘asanas.’ Admittedly they are a great help, combined with deep harmonised breathing, in setting the body up for happier experiences in terms of health, better functioning organs and limbs, metabolism and detoxed habits. Success through this part or sub-discipline surely lines one up for more : the real yoga.
Before I begin to sound confusing, allow me to layout a brief ‘tour’ through yoga disciplines : yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahar, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi … ending with kaivalya — absolutely liberated, totally unqualified, completely de-identified witnessing self infinite ! It really will take a very close study of standard texts detailing what constitutes each of these eight disciplines before we can embark upon them, and deal with obstructions faced as it suits. But, summarily, each is required to be taken up in their order, even though the others get auto-triggered in the backgound, the next most in the fore and the last farthest and faintest to us.
The first four are a group that brings us face to face with our ethical, physical and vital being. They are advisories to live the honest, truthful, compassionate, renunciate-at-heart and uncovetous life; to keep oneself clean both without and within, live minimally but with functioning regularity, efficient motions and effective speech, and the moderate life as suits; to sit for long, happily, with a straight comfortably rested spine, in line with the crown of the skull (as would top when gazing on ground about a feet in front); and, to breathe deep in and out, with a brief comfortably managed pause in between, gradually making the entire experience light and weightless, consuming minimum effort, enhancing comfort in the pauses when breathing stands suspended.
As mentioned, the beginning of the second group of disciplines autostarts even while we advance along our practise of the four in the first group. These are acute mental and spiritual disciplines that easier stated and herculean to attain : to bring the mind again and again to one and the same object or subject chosen to be rigorously retained in our focus, for the unwaveringly awake witness self; to hold our attention still, awake, increasingly aware, single-mindedly, upon the same object or subject chosen; to enter the still, focused awareness of the object or subject, effacing all bounds of form or identity, and witness the object or subject being from within; and, to give up all remaining psychosomatic sense, support, shed even the trace of identity anchors, and be absorbed entirely in the being, progressively from individual to cosmic entityhood.
Along the way, the text extolls three markers of fullness of awareness, of being or existence to the witness aware : one, filled with truth, when the witness is truly aware of the being bound in the object or subject in focus, all questions and doubt cease, and awareness in its respect no longer changes or mutates with time; two, bliss infinite, when separation of individual from cosmic reality is transcended, whereupon it becomes possible for the witness to seamlessly transition from one to the other; three, when witness consciousness is fulfilled with cosmic identity and can sense the being infinite, pure and absolute.
Kaivalya is the being infinite, absolute, immutable and pure, unqualified and unmarked… when even the identity associated with cosmic being is shed. It is the yoga we have all along striven for, the summum bonum of Raja Yoga, to distinguish it from all manner of sub– or secondary and tertiary forms of yoga men have found for themselves, most prominently Hatha — the yoga disciplines devoted to physical and vital health of the individual being.
Is this the image we understand or the stone from which it is unravelled ?