After practicing yoga for over thirty years down in the big smoke we felt called to move back into nature into an environment ideal to go deeper into the higher limbs of yoga practice. The Vedas suggest that when one comes to the middle of ones life (around 50) to change ones mode of life and spend more time on spiritual practice in nature. This mode of life is called vanaprashtha (forest dweller). This same mode of life is suggested in many yogic texts. We took that quite literally and live now on a mountaintop surrounded by ancient rainforest. Living in nature inspires our practice greatly, which we can then share when we come back into the cities to teach workshops or retreats.

This blog will give you updates of what we are currently working on and it will give us the opportunity to stay in contact with the many people and students we have worked with throughout the last few decades. Of course if you want to post any questions, your mountaintop yogis will do their best to answer them. To sign up for our newsletter please go to http://www.8limbs.com/contact-us/

Uniting Opposites in Asana

More on what posture was designed to be. A few weeks back I posted my commentary to Patanjali’s sutras II.46 and II.47, showing how far removed modern yoga has become from it’s original concept. Here now sutra II.48, which deepens the inquiry: II.48 In asana there is no assault from the pairs of opposites. This stanza refers to the state where true posture is achieved and not the preparatory stage where effort and discomfort prevail. The first pair of opposites we encountered was firmness versus ease. By simultaneously integrating both extremes, we rest, effortless and free in the core. Then meditation on Brahman is possible. Now Patanjali defines true posture as that in which we rest free from any assault of opposites. The opposites are the extremes to which the mind tries to attach itself. For example, before I meditate I need to gain mastery over hundreds of different yoga postures. This is an extreme, and the mind might claim it in order to understand yoga, which by definition the mind is not capable of doing. The opposite is the attitude that meditation needs no preparation whatsoever. Here the mind dupes us into believing that no posture and no level of proficiency are necessary for meditation. In between these extremes is the state of pure being, where one just exists unaffected by the chatter of the mind. The mind is constantly trying to figure out what is going on out there. It develops a model of reality and then presents it to the chain of command ego, intelligence, consciousness. If we reach out and identify ourselves with any of those models that are here called extremes or pairs of opposites, then we are returning to conditioned existence and are strictly speaking only attempting yoga. Seeing that we are practising yoga, the mind gets interested in understanding what yoga is. It might say Ashtanga is the right way; other styles are wrong. Or it might say Mysore-style classes are right; talk-through classes are wrong. It also likes to come up with notions such as Hindus are good, Christians and Muslims are bad, or vice versa. Nowhere is this principle better explored than in the posture itself. We might be in a handstand and the mind might say handstand means pushing the floor away from you. Having attached ourselves to one pair of the opposite we fail to own the other side, which is to reach down into the floor and to draw the heart down into the floor. We have been struck by the assault of the opposites, which means to fall for one extreme and thereby lose our centre. Let us take backbending as an example: The mind says backbending means contracting the back of the body. But if we ignore the mind and stay unassailed by the extremes, we realise that we have to lengthen the back, because a shortened back cannot arch. If we are in Pashimottanasana the mind might first grasp this pose as ‘thrusting the head to the knee’. A year later the mind might have modified this to ‘pulling the heart to the feet’ – which is much better but still an extreme. Then eventually we stop listening to the mind and arrive there, where every cell of the body awakens and participates in the pose. If we are then asked ‘What is Pashimottanasana?’ we really couldn’t say any more. Any new concept would be just another set of opposites and extremes. Instead of reaching out and becoming one with concepts and extremes, we abide at the core and spontaneously just exist. Some commentators erroneously claim that Patanjali is speaking here about a type of anaesthesia, a numbness that arises if we have endured the pain of the pose long enough. This numbness will surely arrive if one promotes it, and in fact many yogis have gone down that avenue. Yoga, however, is a path to pure being that leads to greater sensitivity rather than numbness. In his commentary on sutra II.15, Vyasa explains that the vivekinah, the discerning one, is like an eyeball sensitive even to the touch of a cobweb, whereas the average person is like any other part of the body, which is numb to the cobweb. The vivekinah is therefore more sensitive to pain and not numb. Nevertheless he stays free, since he knows he is not the pain: he only witnesses it. Identifying yoga with numbness is a sad development. It robs us of such pristine moments as when we observe the sun rising and the first rays of light piercing a crystal-clear dewdrop on a leaf, and for the first time we observe pure being revealing itself without it being commented upon by our mentation. Then we know that the sun of knowledge has risen within – and no amount of anaesthetic will make that happen. This is an excerpt from my 2006 text Ashtanga Yoga Practice and Philosophy.

On Civilization in Crisis and What Yoga Could Do

Here Gregor discusses what the yoga industry misses out on by reducing yoga to asana, to a mere workout. Yoga can be a path to inner peace by calling off inner conflict, conflict with ourselves. Outer conflict is an externalization of inner conflict, conflict going on within us, with us. Currently outer conflict has reached a global scale where we approach ecocide, environmental holocaust. Yoga has a solution to offer by leading individuals and ultimately our civilization back to self-love, self-respect and from that to respect and love for other individuals, other life-forms and the super-organism, the biosphere. However, by reducing yoga to asana this remedy has been rendered impotent. To see video please click here These are only small snippets of a planed documentary called The Yoga Industry in which Gregor features next to many other yoga teachers interested in maintaining yoga’s integrity. To support this planned documentary please go to https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jamieleefilms/the-yoga-industry

A Brief Overview of the Eight Limbs

When BKS Iyengar was once asked what he thought of Ashtanga Yoga he said, “There is only Ashtanga Yoga”. What he meant was that yoga that is not eight-limbed is not truly yoga. In this short video Gregor is explaining what is missing in a lot of modern yoga. This is part of the planned documentary The Yoga Industry. You can support the project at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jamieleefilms/the-yoga-industry  

Only if posture becomes effortless can it support higher yoga.

Here is more evidence that the current Yoga-is-gymnastics-with-a-meditative-twist fad does not really stack up to what yoga truly is. In this stanza Patanjali defines the relationship between posture and the higher limbs. Included are many explanatory quotations from other scriptural sources and authorities. II.47 Posture is then when effort ceases and meditation on infinity occurs. The sutra is similar to verse 114 in Sankaracharya’s Aparokshanubhuti: ‘True posture is that which leads to meditation on Brahman spontaneously and ceaselessly and not what leads to suffering.’[1] Here again it is implied that as long as we are involved in effort we are not in the true pose. It is the preparatory stage to the pose that is signified by effort and discomfort. When, through training of proprioceptive awareness, the limbs arrive in the correct position, effort suddenly ceases. The cessation of effort has already been described in sutra II.27. Freedom from doing is there listed as a prerequisite to higher yoga. All effort and intent are finally surrendered in complete detachment (paravairagya), described in sutra I.16. The prana then flows calmly and the disturbing movements of the mind cease. Then occurs meditation on infinity, in which body and mind are experienced as emptiness. This meditation will happen spontaneously, as Shankara says, without any further artificial effort. This is because, once the emptiness nature of body and mind are perceived, the obstacle to meditation on infinity (ananta) is removed. How do we practise on emptiness? Patanjali does not talk about the infinity of space here, which is an unrewarding meditation object. The infinity of space can be understood through mental reflection; meditation is not required. Patanjali suggests here to meditate on the infinity of consciousness. The Taittirya Upanishad states, ‘satyam jnanam anantam brahma’[2] – Brahman is reality, knowledge and infinity. Infinity is here listed as an attribute of Brahman. Patanjali does not use the term Brahman, because it implies reducing his separate categories purusha and prakrti to one. However he uses ananta to refer to the infinity of consciousness, against which the infinity of space is insignificant. He will state exactly this in sutra IV.31. It is significant, though, that Patanjali uses the term ananta instead of Brahman, which is Shankara’s choice, to denote infinity. Ananta is another name for the divine serpent Adishesha, which is invoked in the ‘Vande gurunam’ chant. One of Ananta’s duties was to provide a bed on which Lord Vishnu could sleep. The Lord had a very weighty appearance at times. When he vanquished the demon king Bali he assumed a form so huge that he strode across the three worlds in three steps (trivikrama). With the third he pushed Bali back into the nether world. In the Bhagavad Gita,[3] the revelation of the universal form of Vishnu (Vishvarupa) is described thus: ‘Then the son of Pandu [Arjuna] saw the entire universe with its manifold divisions united there, in the body of the God of gods.’[4] Three stanzas later Arjuna exclaims, ‘I see you with many eyes, hands, bellies, mouths, possessing infinite forms on every side; O Lord of the universe, O you of universal form, I see, however, neither your end nor your middle nor your beginning.’[5] Vishnu is described as the God of infinity and vastness. As we have seen, when it was time to provide a sofa for his sleep, Ananta, the personified infinity, was called. The sofa needed to have two opposing qualities: it needed to be infinitely firm to uphold the vastness of the Lord; on the other hand it needed to be infinitely soft to provide the best of all beds for Vishnu. For this reason Ananta is seen as the ideal yogi, uniting the opposing qualities of firmness (sthira) and softness (sukham), which makes all of his movements true posture. One may think this a steep call for the third limb only, but Vyasa affirms, ‘When the mind is in samadhi on the infinite, then the posture is perfected’. We need also to understand that the Lord Vishnu is nobody but our own self, as the Yoga Vashishta states. Whereas then the mythological serpent of infinity provides a perfect bed for the God who represents our innermost self, on an individual level, if our body is held in perfect posture, which embraces the qualities of softness and firmness, then we see that very self effortless and spontaneous. In this way asana, although much sneered at by scholars, is an expression of the divine if practised from such a high perspective. Otherwise it is sport only. The view that Patanjali gives of asana is that of a frame or base for the two highest yogic practices, which are complete surrender (paravairagya) and objectless (asamprajnata) samadhi. Asana is engaged in to create a frame for these practices, its purpose being fulfilled only when we abide in these states. On the other hand, surrender and samadhi occur within asana. As we progress we don’t abandon the lower limbs, but they occur naturally and spontaneously to provide the base for the higher limbs. [1] Aparokshanubhuti of Sri Sankaracharya, trans. Sw. Vimuktananda, Advaita Ashrama, Kolkata, 1938. [2] II.1.1. [3] XI.13. [4] Srimad Bhagavad Gita, trans. Sw. Vireswarananda, Sri Ramakrishna Math, Madras, p. 226. [5] Ibid., p. 228. This is an excerpt from my 2006 text Ashtanga Yoga Practice and Philosphy.

What is Yoga Asana?

With yoga in they eyes of many modern practitioners reduced to posture (asana) here a timely revisit of what Patanjali, the ancient codifier of yoga, said about this third limb. This is the first part of Patanjali’s definition, given in sutra II.46. II.46 Posture must have the two qualities of firmness and ease. With the effects of the restraints (yamas) and observances (niyamas) given, Patanjali concludes his description of the first two limbs. He has described these two limbs only briefly. His descriptions of the first five limbs are in fact very concise, hinting at the fact that the Yoga Sutra addresses the more or less established student. He will now cover the third limb, asana, in three stanzas. That doesn’t mean posture is unimportant. Had that been the case, Patanjali would not have declared asana to be one of the eight major aspects of yoga. He will cover pranayama in only five stanzas and pratyahara in just two. Most of the Yoga Sutra deals with samadhi and its effects. It is here that Patanjali’s main interest lies. Teachers such as Svatmarama and Gheranda devoted themselves almost exclusively to the first four or five limbs, which does not mean they regarded samadhi as an inessential form of practice. Patanjali uses two qualities that are diametrically opposed to describe posture: firmness and ease. If the posture is to be firm, effort will be required – contraction of muscles that will arrest the body in space without wavering. Ease on the other hand implies relaxation, softness and no effort. Patanjali shows here already that posture cannot be achieved unless we simultaneously reach into these opposing directions. These directions are firmness, which is inner strength, and the direction of ease, which brings relaxedness. Vyasa gives a list of postures in his commentary to show that yogic posture (yogasana) according to yoga shastra (scripture) is meant here, and not just keeping one’s spine, neck and head in one line. He also says that the poses become yoga asanas only when they can be held comfortably. Before that they are only attempts at yoga asana. Shankara elaborates further to say that, in yoga asana, mind and body become firm and no pain is experienced. The firmness is needed to block out distractions since, after asana has been perfected, we want to go on to pranayama, concentration and so on. Mention of the absence of pain is interesting. If the field of perception is filled with pain, the mind will be distracted. Patanjali’s definition of posture as ease automatically eliminates that which causes pain. If you are in a pose and experience pain you will not be at ease. The widespread tendency in modern yoga to practise the poses in such a way that they hurt leads to being preoccupied with the body. This is by definition not yoga asana. According to scripture, in asana the limbs have to be placed in a pleasant and steady positioning so as not to interfere with the yogi’s concentration. The inner breath (prana) is then arrested and moved into the central channel (sushumna). Sushumna will eat time, and the fluctuations (vrtti) of the mind will be arrested. Meditation on Brahman will then arise. Asana is thus a preparation for samadhi, whereas practices that lead to pain will increase the bond between the phenomenal self (jiva) and the body, which in itself is the yogic definition of suffering. Those practices might be gymnastics, they possibly could even be healthy, but they are not yoga, which is recognising the false union (samyoga) of the seer (drashtar) and the seen (drshyam).[1] [1] Sutra II.17 This is an excerpt of my 2006 commentary on Patanjali’s sutra and associated subcommentaries. It is contained in Ashtanga Yoga Practice and Philosophy.

What is the Most Important Part of Yoga?

I recently received a lot of inquiries for technical support in regards to intricacies of asana, pranayama and meditation practice. How to do it right, what needs to be changed in times of trouble? How to react to setbacks, injuries and how to fit it all in with an increasingly demanding life, time constraints, job difficulties, health-, mental health-, family-, and financial issues. The profound impression was that most of those that asked me for help were in a state of inner conflict, struggle that then translated into their yoga practice. This is not surprising. If you grew up like me, fighting against yourself and society to first eek out and then protect some small plot of emotional serenity, this attitude must again surface in your yoga practice. Even if the techniques are then practiced in a decent fashion, the struggle with which they are performed must lead to further strain in body, breath and mind. So rather than trying to fix the problem by changing minutiae of practice, hoping that this will change our attitude to our practice and heal us from the outside in, we must dive right down into the centre of yoga, find that core, find that heart and let it radiate out and adjust our practices. What is then that core experience, that heart of yoga that has the potential to radiate out and heal us and our attitude to practice and to the greater life? Before I answer this question I need to first tell you that I am a very unlikely person to come up with the answer that I give here. When I was eight years old my Dad taught me to take out attacking kids with a single punch. I learned that I needed to hit so hard that they would never even think about attacking me again. I had my last big fight when I was around 16. I realized then that I was now strong enough to kill and if I continued it wouldn’t end well. I had learned that life is a bitch (only the words in which those lessons were conveyed were much, much severe) and the only way in which I could survive was to be meaner, tougher, faster and nastier than anybody else. While I learned those lessons in a particular crude way I think that competition, strife and ambition form the basis of todays corporate, financial, sporting and legal arenas. We think we are now more civilized but the attitude to outdo each other while expressing itself in areas that seem less violent nevertheless displays an inherent aggression that is just the same. Coming from this background I nevertheless was equipped with a deep yearning that is often called spiritual, which lead me to travel the world, read heaps of sacred texts and eventually washed up in India where I practiced for a long time asana, pranayama and yogic meditation. This practice culminated in the ability to go inside for prolonged periods and also to direct this experience further by placing the prana in particular chakras as the enquiry went on (methods I have all described in my books, this article is purposely not of technical nature). Since the inquiry began with, “what is the innermost, the heart, the core of yoga”, I regularly returned my focus on the heart chakra while remaining in a state of pure consciousness. While being centered in the heart, consciousness showed itself as being of the quality of pure love. That was not what I expected. I always thought that consciousness was empty, formless, infinite, quality-less (which it is) but I always thought of it as being a sort of cool, detached, witnessing awareness that made you rise above it all and nothing else. But when being in this state consciousness showed itself to be the nature of love itself. In this state there was only pure love, nothing else. There was no I, no body, no mind, no separation but initially also no perception of anything else but love. This was a profound state of beauty, freedom, peace and expansion. At some point then there was a thought-like impression telling me that I had been here long enough and had some business to attend to out there. I was to take this feeling of pure love and henceforth make it inform my actions. It was only when I heard this thought that the concept of I, of mind and of body returned into the equation. When I came out of this state of pure love (or in more scientific lingo ‘when the I experienced itself as again separate from pure love’ or even more far-out ‘when the separate I re-emerged’) the first thing that I noticed was myself and the thought that came was, “Uh, that sucker again”. I stopped right there. I asked how can I make my actions be informed by the sacred heart of Divine Love (sorry about the theological lingo, we’ll get to that later) when I hold myself in absolute contempt? I understood that when I wanted to let that love radiate out into the world I cannot make it stop at myself. The vehicle that carries the love itself needed to be loved. I cannot pass the healing flame of love on if I hate, loathe and denigrate myself, right? In that moment I realized that if I then wanted my phenomenal self (that is the self bound up with the phenomena, i.e. the surface self) to be cleansed and transformed by the experience of pure love I needed to totally call off and let go of all conflict and struggle with myself, with my surface self. This conflict seemed ancient, almost eternal. I think for an eternity-like time I have defined myself through the war I fought against myself. Letting it go I didn’t even know anymore who I was that long it had gone on for. It was only when I let go of this struggle that this radiance of pure love that I carried in my heart could then shine out to the world, including rocks, plants, animals and people, my brothers and sisters. The point that I am making is that if you are rejecting the I the love at your core can never shine out and warm the world. Love is the nature of pure consciousness, which you carry in your heart. The I which sage Patanjali calls “asmita” is like a girdle around or layer between the sacred heart and the world. If you are rejecting the I and hate it, hate yourself for being separate or for whatever you hate yourself for, this very rejection will create the very separation from consciousness for which you then hate yourself. In the moment in which you totally accept and love the I, the asmita turns from suffering (klesha no 2 in Patanjali’s system) to individuation (samadhi no 6 in the Sutra) that is you become a pathway, a conduit for which the sacred heart can radiate out and heal others. So this then truly is a psychology of self-love. If you do not love yourself you cannot truly love others. You may behave lovely but only to get love from them. And you only want love from others if you don’t really love yourself. Also, if you truly love yourself you don’t need to show it by spoiling, pampering and treating yourself. All that just shows the need for receiving love. The sacred heart of Divine Love does not worry about receiving. It is so overflowing that it always wants to give, has to give. So in the moment when you are one with love you do not need to prove it by being pampered. The need for treating yourself arises only if there is doubt, if there is emptiness where there should be fullness and overflowing. The same is to be said about the modern high-self esteem movement. True self worth arises through self love from the core. Telling somebody how great, unique and beautiful they are only bolsters their ego. True self-love and self-respect cannot be impinged on by being small, generic and ugly. So, how do we put that into practice. Yoga Sutra II.28, “From practicing all the limbs of yoga (i.e. not just asana but the lot) the impurities are removed (in this case negative conditioning regarding yourself) which makes the light of knowledge shine (i.e. the sacred heart of Divine Love) creating discriminative discernment (we worry about that one later)”. What that means is that we should not look at yoga methods (the eight limbs) as techniques to prop ourselves up for the rat race of industrial society. We can’t use them to go faster, become more productive, more successful, etc. We need to invite them as a form of healing and coming back to ourselves in a more gentle and less demanding form than society has taught us. In the meantime accept that you are an embodiment of that pure and total love at our core. In moments when your life become stressful and your yoga practice does not seem to shield you enough remind yourself that you are a crystallization of love, that your essential nature is love and that your yoga is not a path to conquer yourself and finally win or attain greatness or success. But that yoga’s goal is that this internal quality of love shines through your being out into the world providing healing for others and meaning for you. Because for this heart there is only one purpose to life and that is to make a valid contribution to the life of others. That is the heart and most important part of yoga. A disclaimer: the same facts could be expressed (after some deep thinking) without resorting to theological language. The truth is not contained in a particular combination of words but such words always only remain one possible path of modeling the truth.

Modern Yoga: What it is and What it could be

This interview was made by the Brussels-based documentary film maker, Jaimie Lee. She is currently working on a project called The Yoga Industry, which deals with how current mainstream yoga may have lost the plot and what could be done about it (my wording). To see the video please click here. You can see Jaimie’s work at https://www.motionhouse.org/yoga. There will be a kickstarter campaign to support the project commencing on the 6th March 2018.

What happens after liberation?

I received the following question: “I have read the sutras by Edwin Bryant and there is a concept that I don’t get. How can the individual soul, atman, be differentiated from another one, if the two beings were both illuminated? It seems to me that souls are distinguishable because of the imprints (karmasaya) they carry from life to life. Do the souls of jivanmukta “blend” together in some kind of cosmic Soul?” While some of you may think that’s a problem that may not concern you unless you are well advanced on the path of yoga, the truth is unless you know where you are going you will end up somewhere else. After 40 years of yoga I wish I would have been very clear on these things right from the outset. I would have saved myself walking down a lot of dead-end streets. Firstly, in the question above there is a trying to understand yogic philosophy against the backdrop of Buddhist/Vedantic terminology. The term Jivanmukta itself is usually associated with Vedanta whereas yoga uses more the term siddha. Also, in both Advaita/ Buddhism we have the idea that the atman/anatta merges into and dissolves in the Brahman/ nirvana like a drop that falls into the ocean and disappears into it. The very term nirvana means “extinguishing of the flame” or “entering nothingness”. In his Brahma Sutra Commentary the great Advaitin Shankara expounds that the individual self (atman) is identical with the cosmic self (Brahman). The very term Advaita means “not two”, but one. The English name for Shankara’s school is Unqualified Monism. Monism because there is only One and unqualified because that One is without form and quality. Therefore whatever has merged with this One must be formless and cannot be distinguished from the rest. In both systems, Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta, we would then see that what has merged with the Absolute (i.e. the soul of the fully liberated being) has disappeared or dissolved into it. Because this was the most vocal view held by Indian schools of thought modern Western yogis often identify if with the yogic view. However, there were many other ideas put forth in the history of Indic thought. An important view we should investigate is the one held by Acharya Ramanuja, Shankara’s great adversary and founder of the Visishtadvaita Vedanta school (qualified monism). Ramanuja put forth the identity-in-difference doctrine (beda-abeda), which tells us that on one hand the individual self is identical with the cosmic self in that both are pure consciousness. On the other hand, however, they are different in that regard that the cosmic self is omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent and the individual self isn’t. While this may sound abstract you can very easily ascertain it by the fact that when you identify in meditation with the consciousness within you you can experience yourself as infinite and eternal. When you get up, however, and walk away you notice that your body and mind are limited in scope and power. They are not infinite. Shankara’s Advaita solves this quandary by declaring the body and mind as unreal, as a mere mirage superimposed on the ocean of infinite consciousness. If that was the case then two liberated yogis would in fact not be distinguishable from each other. However, this view is not shared by the historical school of yoga. Firstly let’s look at the fact that the school of Yoga is sometimes called “Sheshvara Samkhya”, meaning Samkhya with Ishvara. This refers to the fact that Patanjali, the compiler of the Yoga Sutra, took over the entire framework of the Samkhya system of philosophy and only added Ishvara, the Divine. If you look at how oddly Ishvara fits into the Samkhya we must say that Patanjali had serious reasons to do so. In sutra I.24 Patanjali defines the Divine as a “distinct purusha, un-assailed by afflictions and karma, whether it’s fruit or residue”. Firstly, it is very important that Patanjali almost always uses the term purusha (embodied consciousness) and hardly ever atman (pure consciousness). Atman is a term that is heavily used in Vedanta and one of its nuances is that consciousness here is untouched and pure, with an illusory world only superimposed on it. For this reason there can only be one atman, which we all share. In Yoga, however, there are many purushas. While we do share some essential similarities, your purusha (consciousness) is embodied in a different body and mind than mine and therefore expresses itself completely differently. In yoga we go as far as prescribing different sets of practices for people with different bodies and minds. Let’s look now at the fact that Patanjali calls the Divine “purusha vishesha”, a distinct purusha. That means however high I may evolve through the practice of yoga, the Divine will always remain distinct from me. In this commentary to this sutra the ancient sage Vyasa says that as yogis we may become spiritually liberated and therefore in some way similar to the Divine. However, it will always remain clear that the Divine was eternally free whereas liberated yogis went through a course of bondage. This will leave a karmic residue behind, which is eternal. In yoga we see these residues as very important. For example Patanjali is thought to be an embodiment of the cosmic serpent Adishesha, meaning primordial residue. Adishesha is the combined residue of everything that was manifest and became un-manifest. This may become very clear in your life when an important person dies and their demise tears a hole into your life that will never be filled. Maybe you don’t want to fill it. Before my father died he said to me, “Keep me alive by remembering me”. Although my relationship with him was difficult at times, since that day I feel that he is always with me. That’s a case of residue. A living liberated person (jivamukti) will always carry a residue of who they were prior to liberation. Let me make here a brief interjection addressed to those of you who may feel peeved because yoga does not let you become one with the Divine. Bhaktas (devotional yogis) do not aim to become one with the Divine but remain in an ecstatic swoon apart from it. The knowledge that permanent union may impede or end an ecstatic relationship, however, is not exclusive to Hindu mystics. In her book Mating in Captivity the psychologist Esther Perel says that too much intimacy may impede a successful relationship as “you cannot desire what you have become one with”. Back to the sutras: Another important one to consider is III.32, “by samyama on the light in the head we get the view of the perfected ones (siddha darshanam)”. Here is a clear indication that a being that has attained a very high state of spiritual evolution does not just dissolve into some form of cosmic soup, ahem soul I mean. Patanjali actually suggests approaching them, the siddhas, for guidance. We must assume therefore that they remain distinguishable beings. So who are those siddhas and how come that they haven’t merged with each other seeing that they are only pure consciousness? The answer simply is, “They are not!” Have a look at sutra IV.4. Here Patanjali says that a siddha can create minds from pure asmita (I-am-ness). Firstly this obviously means that a siddha does not just consist of pure consciousness but also of I-am-ness. This is one of the most subtle and important points of yoga that needs to be implored. Did you notice that this mysterious term asmita doubles up as a klesha (form of suffering) and a type of samadhi? How can that be? Also, have a look at the sutras following IV.4. Patanjali says here that the mind(s) of the siddha are facilitated/empowered by the one pure mind (cosmic intelligence) (IV.5), what this intelligence brings forth is pure and without residue (IV.6), and if you follow it your doing will be karma-free, what the Daoists called wu-wei (IV.7). While I don’t want to go into too much detail here there is what we could call, “The Way of the Siddha”. In the following passage I will describe how this process “feels” to me and the description may or may not stand up to scholarly word-mincing: By going through the eight limbs of yoga, culminating in the first four training samadhis you come eventually to what’s called asmita samadhi. In asmita samadhi you experience that a Cosmic Intelligence wants to express itself through you consciously. We did go through a 3 Billion + years of evolution of life but only unconsciously. Now for the first time there is a conscious co-creation with Cosmic Intelligence. Once you let this Cosmic Intelligence come through you life seems to become effortless and what seemed impossible before becomes possible. Contact with this Intelligence is made through the process of meditation (dhyana) and samyama. It leads to a process of surrender and acting for the good of all. Since personal interest is not in the foreground but acting for the good of all beings no further karma is accumulated although action takes place. Because this seeming action is powered by a higher intelligence it seems to take around a centre, which is completely inactive. While the centre may feel identical to other beings, on the action level one may completely differ from others. Hence two liberated ones are easily distinguishable.

Immersion

In this little clip I am talking about my favourite teaching format: Immersions. https://youtu.be/wyXoYwXTvn0

How do you know that you live your own destiny?

In this video Gregor speaks about svadharma, becoming a vehicle for a greater intelligence and how to prepare for teaching.