Friday, February 5, 2010

Kriya Yoga or the Yoga of Action

Ch 2 Sutra 1: Tapa Swadhaya Ishvarpranidhan :Kriya yoga

Tapa: Self Discipline
Swadhaya: Self study
Ishvar pranidhan: Devotion to God.
Kriya: Action / To do

Self Discipline, Self study and Devotion to God is the Yoga of Action.

Isvarpranidhan means to dedicate all your actions to God. Leaving aside your doer attitude, you see yourself as a small cog in the big wheel of life. As humans we must perform action; but action should be done as a duty leaving aside any thoughts of the results. Duty simply means to do what is good and right for that particular moment.

Kriya yoga leads to purity by removing Kleshas (suffering) caused by certain structural defects in our thinking. One of the biggest defects is avidya or wrong knowledge.

Knowing the non-eternal to be eternal; the impure to be pure; the painful to be pleasurable and finally the non self to be self are the four areas where we are full of avidya. This leads to craving, aversion and a strong sense of ego which are the main causes of our suffering.

Tapa, swadhaya and Isvarpranidhan can be applied to any action in life. Let us take the simple example of an activity we perform many times a day. While eating we can practice tapa by choosing the right wholesome and nutritious food. We can study ourselves as we eat to observe the affect of different food on our body and mind. We can observe how much food is enough and not overeat. We can eat with a feeling of gratitude towards all those who have helped bring the food on our plate’s right from the farmer who grew the grains to the shop where we purchased them.

According to the Karma theory - As you sow, so you shall reap. Ironically, most of us are very careless with the seeds we sow in terms of thoughts, the things we say and do. However when it comes to harvest time we feel cheated and disappointed by the fruits given to us.

Yogis realized that purity needed to be practiced by them as a purely selfish means. The purer they were the more peaceful and happy they felt. They suggested consciously cultivating the right kind of feelings as a way of studying the mind.

Maitri – Friendliness towards all beings.

Karuna /Compassion – Empathy (putting yourself into the other persons shoes) along with action for bettering the situation of the other.

Mudita / Goodwill – Being happy for some else’s success, happiness or good qualities.

Upeksha / Benevolent Indifference – Upeksha is a quality of being able to overlook the bad in people or situations. It is not passive acceptance of a wrongful situation, but actively doing what you can to improve it and then being able to not be affected by it.

Classical yoga, based on the Yoga Sutra's of Sage Patanjali

Classical Yoga is based on Sage Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. This entire book consisting of 196 sutras can fit into one single page. Each sutra however is loaded with meaning. This scientific study of the human mind still holds true 2500 years after it was written.

 The book can be divided into 4 chapters:

 Samadhi pada: Defines what is yoga and gives practices for the student with am ekagra citta or one pointed mind.

 Sadhana pada: The eight limbs of yoga (Asht-ang ) were devised for the student with an occasionally scattered and occasionally concentrated mind. The popular practices of asana & pranayama fall into this category. It is very interesting to note that the aspects of yoga which are most popular today - asana and pranayama have only 8 sutras dedicated to them, that too in the later stages of the second chapter.

 Vibhuti pada: The various siddhis or powers one can attain with the practice of yoga. Here he warned that these powers can easily lead to corruption, misuse & ego and should be largely ignored.

 Kaivalya pada: On liberation and Samadhi.