Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.
As we know too well, real understanding comes when we look past the surface appearances, past the inter-net screens, past the constructed images and words into the deeper nature of things.
Just as more sophisticated tools of observation and analysis have made possible a deeper exploration of the ‘physical’ universe, sophisticated methods of consciousness exploration have allowed the wisdom traditions to develop a deeper, wider, more fundamental knowledge of the human psyche.
Meditative traditions in particular, have made a highly disciplined study of consciousness and psyche for millennia. Not from the outside, but through the lived experience.
One of the oldest of these traditions is Yoga.
There are many avenues of inquiry, practice and analysis in the multifaceted field we call Yoga, but if we were to trace a path backwards, this path would inevitably take us back about two thousand years to a system- a particular vision of reality, known as Patanjali Yoga– itself a compilation of the Yoga philosophy and practices present at that time.
As with all the Indian ‘visions of reality’, the prevailing orientation of the Yoga Sutra is soteriological, that is, it transmits a set of teachings meant to serve as a life road map that will aid the persons that come into contact with the text to better understand their experience of life– in the here and now.
By understanding the dynamics of experience and thus the dynamics of stress, of anxiety– of human addiction and compulsion, of pleasure and pain, Yoga aims to overcome and, …well… transcend these states.
We know that this same approach was taken by another mystic- one Siddhartha Gautama, a few hundred years before the time of the Yoga Sutra. And we know this is the basic thrust of all the ‘mystical’ schools originating from antiquity onwards…
Yet, Patanjali Yoga is based on another even older system of Indian philosophy known as Samkhya- which presents in great detail the principles or conditions that make human experience possible.
We will take a closer look at the Samkhya in the next post.