What is Awakening

December 20, 2020

Awakening is a spiritual process that has no final ending destination. It is an ever-expanding process of ones’ spiritual journey, starting from the moment one experiences their initial awakening experience, and lasting until till their very last breath. There is no cookie-cutter shape of how one’s awakening process ‘should’ be like, nor is there a timeline or final destination that is to be met. Those that are awake are experiencing their awakening journey all at different levels and different states of consciousness. It is an experiential process that varies from smaller awakening experiences, to greater, and more destructive awakening experiences (please read What Is Awakening). Awakening is the process of finally seeing things for how they truly are. It is clarity. It is the ability to recognize who we truly are beyond the long-held identities that we carry. It is to see the beauty of our essence-nature, and confront the socially constructed personas that we held for so long. It is discernment to catch yourself when you are speaking from a place of Ego, latched tightly to its long-held beliefs, ideals, and socially constructed images. To be aware of these moments as one experiences them is the gift of being awakened. This is the process of awakening.

Awakening is a process. Awakening is clarity. Awakening is discernment. Awakening is infinite. It never ends if you are awaken to it.

 

WHAT IS LIBERATION

DECEMBER 20, 2022

Liberation is freedom. To be more precise: it is freedom of the Ego – the death of the Ego-self. It is this final reaching of Samadhi, the merging of the Self with the pure consciousness, param atman. Where awakening is the process of waking up to one’s false, self-constructed identities, liberation is the final dissolving of the Ego. It is to dissolve all mental-emotional identifications and social constructs. Liberation is a final goal. The falling away of encrusted, deeply held, and stagnant, unresolved mental-emotional energy. Now, you cannot actively get rid of your ego because whatever you do will establish a sense of identity, however noble or spiritual that identity is. The only way to become established in yourself is through the practise of yoga, through enhancing your awareness and meditation. Once the mental-emotional body is ready to surrender, the Ego will be dropped. This will bring you into an egoless state is a state where you are emotionally indifferent, where praise doesn’t excite joy and criticism doesn’t hurt you. The initial stage of dissolving your ego is to turn in and destroy your identifications with any external factors and characteristics. But in order to get rid of your ego completely, you will need to go a step further — you need to surrender.

Liberation is the destination. Liberation is ultimate freedom. Liberation is surrendering. Liberation is finite.

 

What is Non-Dualism Vs. Dualism?

January 17th, 2020

A common mistake that we make as yoga teachers as we begin to teach philosophy in classes is teaching with conflicting views or misunderstanding to the lineages that one aligns to. For example the common misunderstanding between Patanjali Yoga versus Tantra or Tantra versus Advaita Vedanta. Or perhaps the humble realization of not ever questioning the grounds of yoga philosophy that you stand for. The mass-uniform YTT structure and content that we are taught throughout the years has led us down this confused road of giving full credence to Patanjali Yoga – that Patanjali Yoga is the right Yoga. I am not one to say what is right or wrong, but just to call into question a little more critical self-reflection and self-study into practice that you preach; a little more critical questioning and examination into the practices that feel most True to you. This post intends to explain two distinct Views of Yoga: Non-Dualism Vs. Dualism, and the subset of schools of thought within those major thought streams. I hope that this post will give rise to more thought-provoking questions that will lead you towards greater illumination and clarity in which view feels most true to you.

DUALISM

SAMKHYA
Samkhya school approaches dualism on consciousness and matter. It regards the universe as consisting of two realities: Puruṣa (consciousness) and prakriti (matter). Jiva (a living being in a body) is that state in which puruṣa is bonded to prakriti in some form.

Samkhya philosophy includes a theory of gunas (qualities, innate tendencies, psyche). Guna, it states, are of three types: Sattva being good, compassionate, illuminating, positive, and constructive; Rajas guna is one of activity, chaotic, passion, impulsive, potentially good or bad; and Tamas being the quality of darkness, ignorance, destructive, lethargic, negative. Everything, all life forms and human beings, state Samkhya scholars, have these three gunas, but in different proportions. The interplay of these gunas defines the character of someone or something, of nature and determines the progress of life. Samkhya theorises a pluralism of souls (Jeevatmas) who possess consciousness.Samkhya has historically been theistic or non-theistic, and there has been debate about its specific view on God.

There is no god.

PATANJALI YOGA
Consciousness and Matter are two distinct things, there is a God – by becoming identified with Purusha (Consciousness) and disentangling oneself from the phenomenal/material world, or Prakriti – including the body and mind, one can come to know God.

Patanjali Yoga sees union with god through transcendence of the body.

NON-DUAL

Believe that the inherent nature of all things comes down to consciousness. That there is only One consciousness.

Advaita Vedanta
Advaita Vedanta is a non-dual view that recognizes the individual soul-consciousness “Atman” as a contracted form, separated from the collective soul-consciousness “Brahman”, within the body-form. I say body-form because the body is seen as a vehicle that contains and carries the soul in the manifest world that we call Earth.

In this view of non-dualism, advaita vedantees’ see all external objects such as the earth, body, thoughts, emotions as illusions, “maya” that obstruct us from connecting to the eternal, true reality, and that we must transcend the illusions of maya to fully immerse into the One consciousness, Brahman. Moving the individual, contracted soul “Atman” to the collective, expanded soul “Brahman”.

Well known teachers include: Ramana Maharshi, Swami Vivekananda.

Tantra
Tantra, on the other hand, declares that all of life that can be observed and experienced is the Divine Consciousness Itself, and should be honored as God, and is inherently as Real as the Consciousness itself. Tantra says that the body is Sacred, and through the body one can experience the Divine. And that through the body, one can achieve full liberation and full agency, known as the Svatantrya Sakti, the ultimate power of the Divine Consciousness that enables one to experience both inner and outer body states of altered consciousness.

Honor the Body and all the expressions of Creation because they are the Dwelling place of the Divine, and YOU are THAT. The body will one day wither away, but what will remain is the Divine essence that dwells in it, and you are the caretaker of that Divine Temple until such time God tears it down and builds a new one. You have been entrusted to the Sacred task of caring for the body, but the body is not yours, and nor is it “you”.

Abhinavagupta, Ksemaraja, Bhagavan Nityananda, Swami Muktananda, Chögyam Trungpa (Dzogchen), Tulku Urgyen (Dzogchen)

Both Non-Dual views share the same end “goal” of finding ones True Self as pure, unbounded, consiousness