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Monday, November 23, 2009

Asparsha Yoga - Part 1

Several people are practicing some thing in the name of yoga all over the world. We really do not know how many of them have really understood what yoga means or how yoga has been explained in the parampara! The word yoga is not some thing new or need to be invented fresh. It has come since the start of this civilization and culture and has been consistent with its definition through out these many years.
Sage Patanjali in his treatise on yoga called yoga sutras gives us the technique how to reach the state of yoga with the help of ‘Astanga yoga’ which is very popular in the scholars’ circle. Adi Shankarachaya’s teacher’s teacher Gaudapada while writing the commentary on Mandukya Upanishad has given a method called “Asparsha yoga”, which is based on the principle investigation taken up by Mandukya Upanishad.
Mandukya Upanishad has a great appeal for the scientists because of two essential features. One is the simplicity and brevity of the subject content. No unnecessary information is given. And the second feature is the similarity between scientific investigation and inner investigation. Objects of the world may be many and random but in order to understand the matter science divides various elements into categories such as solids liquids and gases each category having common properties. Similarly our experiences may be many and appear very random. Mandukya Upanishad very successfully categorized our experiences into three categories and from there derives how this can lead us into the experience of the atman.
Atman is not a theory but we need to experience the state of atman. How can we have this experience? Is it some thing that has to come about or is it already there. If it is some thing which has to come then does it also not go away? If it is also having the quality of coming and going then why is it so important? Is it not like other experiences? Thus our enquiry has all these doubts.
Let us therefore take it slowly step by step to see how we can find out answer to all these questions.
All our experiences can be divided into three categories. First of them is the wakeful state experiences. It is the experiences in the gross world and the experiences are gross. There are nineteen (opening) mouths through which we have nourishment in this wakeful experience. There are few points we need to recognize here. First one is that nineteen senses are five perception sensory organs, five locomotion organs, five pranas, and four internal modifications of the mind namely mind, intellect, mind stuff and the ego. What ever interactions we have with these nineteen openings, they all belong to gross world. There can not be any experience which belongs to these senses and in the nature of subtle world. If I say that I am seeing with my eyes, it only means I am seeing in the gross world.
All these experiences are for gross nourishment. It is our decision to see what we interact is for our nourishment. If our interaction in this world is not providing us nourishment we can not blame any one but ourselves, because it is for us to accept things which are for our nourishment. We also follow this unconsciously. When we take banana we peel the skin away and take the fruit in it. The skin is not nourishing but the fruit is nourishing. Same way when we buy a toffee we take away the paper and eat the toffee. Even a child knows that, what is nourishing need to be taken and what is not nourishing we should just simply discord. Instinctively child throws away the food if child is full because eating food after being full is not nourishing. These cases are simple, but why not we think in the same way in all the cases. The food we eat should have the effect of nourishing if not we need not go for that. We find facts of nourishment in the form of labels on various food items these days and people select food accordingly. Organic foods are nourishing and foods which are chemically processed are not nourishing. Therefore, these days, people select organically grown foods and avoid foods which are chemically grown. An important fact we need to know in this regard. Nourishment factor has one more consideration. The food belongs to hunger. Food has to be given to hunger. If you are not hungry and give food that food is like poison and will be no-nourishing. We need to look at it more carefully. Are we giving food to the hunger within us? Are we eating food because we are hungry or are we eating food because of some other reasons? Many times we may be eating not because we are hungry but because we find the food interesting or we have nothing else to do so let us eat! Such food is not nourishing. When we take food it is also necessary that we have pleasant mood. Otherwise the food will not be nourishing. It is also not just the food items but the ingredients which go into food in what combination they are taken are also important. Instead of considering all thee things lot of orthodox people pay their attention seriously on who touches and what touches the food.
We can accept to some extent that we follow in food about what is nourishing very carefully. But the Upanishad says that the fact of nourishment does not belong only to the food that we take thorough the mouth but also to all other organs, because we nourish in this gross world through all our nineteen senses. What we hear through our ears has to be nourishing and what we see should be nourishing. We need to introspect ourselves about this. We read daily news paper or we read so many junk novels. Did we any time think whether what we read is nourishing or not. We see movies but have we thought if that movie is nourishing for us or not. Similarly we are engaged in gossip so often but have we thought of the nourishment we get out of it.
This awareness at once makes us a different person. You will recognize that a host of things in which we are engaged, become wasteful and non- nourishing. There is no reason for us to keep blindly taking it.
Another aspect is that, not only the external sensory organs, our internal organs are also for the sake of nourishing. The movement of motor organs is for the sake of nourishing. This concept is interesting. The animals and human beings are provided with the limbs which we need to utilize regularly on daily basis. If we fail to use our organs after few days or months we loose the ability if using the limbs. If we immobilize the limbs for few days the body part looses its functional ability. When we have a fracture or a dislocation we immobilize the limb for six weeks so that the bone rejoins. But due to immobilizing the part that hand or leg will not have any strength to perform simple duties. It takes some days of training before we can use that part of the body. Therefore it is necessary to continue to do the activities or exercise so that body will not become useless. In the ancient times people used to go to walk miles together in daily activities, sit down and stand up several hundred times in every day life and lift weights countless number of times every day. As we have become more and more sophisticated and technology developed we have appliances and gadgets to take care of all these activities and we don’t do with our body. We don’t walk any more because we need car even to go small distances. We don’t lift weights, which is taken care of by mechanical devises. Sitting down is nearly forgotten as we have couches and sofas which have also become a status symbol. Even a simple thing like hand writing is also forgotten by many because the computers have come. Since we don’t use these limbs and small joints we suffer from all sorts of ailments at body level. That is why Upanishad says that we need to do the activities with the motor organs so that we are nourishing. We need to do physical works such as walking, sitting and standing, lifting weights, all such activities for the sake of nourishing.
Not only the five pranas but the four internal modifications of mind stuff, namely mind, intellect, memory and ego are also for nourishing. What we think and what we memorize should also be for the sake of nourishing. We normally keep in mind only negative thoughts of any person and bad experience encountered and tend to forget good things. Even though it may be a single thing happened, we keep that in mind much more than several good things about him or her. Keep those things which are nourishing in your mind. We have to be careful to exercise ‘ego’ which is nourishing for us and if it is not nourishing we should have the freedom to discard it. People pursue their ego in all cases where it is non-nourishing. This is non spiritual according to the Upanishad.
- to be continued...

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