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Yet, when given the chance in an open, healing, safe, sharing environment to actually open up about these deep feelings of 'lack,' what we find is everyone is intimate with it! We have been isolating ourselves from others by thinking we are unique in these feelings and find they are just what we universally share as human animals! It'd be funny if it weren't so tragic!
In the yoga community, we also have to acknowledge the devious influence of certain 'new-age' thought that shames so many into feeling that they suffer because they've 'brought it upon themselves.' I've known so many yogis who suffer more from thinking their practice must not have been 'good enough' or they wouldn't be having these human feelings/experiences etc.!
So, thanks for bringing this out in such a visible forum!
It is in such courageous sharing that we offer such a gift to others. I only just shared with 41 amazing yogis in retreat how the idea that so many of us hold; that we are "not enough," or that we are "too much," that we must hide and protect that which we think is shameful -- that we are less than, lacking something that we aren't even clear about, that we are defective in some way, and that if others knew they would withdraw any love is EXACTLY what keeps us alienated, alone, isolated.
This is what the 12-step programs call "terminal uniqueness," and the tragic reality is that what we think most personal and unique -- that we are somehow lacking or defective -- when once we finally share this feeling/mental formation we find we hold in common with most if not all others! The particulars may be different, but deep down we harbor this fear and it is only in exposing it that we move beyond it; what we think uniquely ours we find is exactly where we meet our commonality. We are human... and we are in good company!
I love you, dear sister. Let's get together real soon for that cup 'o joe and conversation, dear beauty!
My wife and I, when we decided to have a child, held a little ritual, in which we removed her IUD together. Now, with our daughter seven months old, my wife has received another IUD. The old one, is now a treasured little 'icon' on our altar of goddesses.
Again, thanks for this lovely essay.
Mountaineering? Have fun and stay safe....
The YS cannot at all be claimed to be 'logical.' In fact, I would have used the definition of purusha and ishvara as evidence of internal logical inconsistency...
However, 2:22 is generally taken as a refutation of radical idealism because Patanjali seems to accept the ontological basis of both purusha and prakriti. It is also most likely a critical swipe at the radical idealism of Yogacara Buddhism which was (is?) generally taken to posit that ALL forms are 'mind-only.'
More to the point, 2.22 is about the state of kaivalya and 3.3 is about samadhi. Despite many yogis taking samadhi as the be-all and end-all of yoga practice, it is explicitly said in the YS that samadhi is still external to liberation. Thus, my initial point that your use of these two sutras as evidence of either bad philosophy (there are many better examples in the YS!) or different authors is weak....
I think I commented on this post previously, but I really, really love it!
I was 14 when I saw The Velvet Underground in some dive on Long Island called The Barn and Beanery. Sitting there at a front table, the first song then did was "Sister Ray!" Sometime later in the set they did "Heroin," a some girl yelled out: "Jesus!" Lou joked, "You are some sick girl! "Heroin" and "Jesus" in the same set?" Interestingly, I too had some difficulty integrating my love of rock -- and later especially punk -- with my interest in zen, yoga and more 'spiritual' music. And then, ironically, I saw Lou Reed (circa "The Bells") at the Bottom Line and was surprised to see Don Cherry in his band! All the pieces clicked into one organic whole -- like the resolution of a koan!
As Brad Warner has said, punk and zen/yoga have the questioning of everything in common. What punk (like all rock, ultimately) failed to do, however, was question itself!
Oh, and for something a bit more extreme, check this out!
I found myself in deep resonance with the spirit of what I take your point to be. However, when you say that what contemporary Buddhist teachers who integrate western psychological insight "is not Buddhism," I must respectfully offer the following perspective:
1. For many years the argument was made -- and I believe is still made by some Therevadin monks, for instance -- that Tibetan Vajrayana is not Buddhism. In fact, it is so far from what the Buddha is reported to have taught in the Pali Sutras that some criticize Tibetan Buddhism as completely debased!
2. In every culture that Buddhism has entered, it has absorbed the indigenous culture. In China, it took on elements from both Confucianism and Taoism; in Japan it took on Shinto elements. AND in Tibet, it took on many "Shaministic" and Bon elements. For instance, many early sutras report the Buddha condemning monks who practice "prophecy" and yet the Dalai Lama relies on an Oracle!
Another example: if I were to treat my Korean Zen Master as a 'guru,' he'd kick me in the ass! The whole "guru" model is one that permeates Tibetan Buddhism because of the deep influence of Hindu-Yoga!
SO, as Buddhism is integrated into Western culture, it makes sense -- and I would argue it is a very good thing -- that it absorb from Western commonly understood culture: psychology; a more historical consciousness than often found in the East; the Western rational tradition; feminism; scientific inquiry.
It's a busy week here in Tucson, but I most certainly WILL get in touch with you when the more urgent aspect of our tragedy fall-out has passed.
In fact, I’d say that unless we are mindful of our feelings and emotions, we do not actually fully experience them! Typically, when faced by strong feelings (especially unpleasant ones) we think that there are only two strategies to deal with them: either we can suppress them, or we can express them. Yet, we know that repression is unhealthy, and we now know that expressing them in an attempt to avoid or annihilate them is also unhealthy! The third option offered by all Yoga traditions is to simply know them! We show our warrior-yogi spirit by feeling fully without suppressing nor venting!
And by fully knowing the feelings, feeling them fully, free from any conditioned reactivity of aversion or grasping, we free ourselves from the feeling’s determining how we act in the world. It’s not the feelings that we become free from; it’s the conditioning they create that we free ourselves from!
However, and here’s where and why I chose Buddhist Yoga as my path, to reify ‘witnessing’ as “The Witness” or even “Witness Consciousness” is a conceptual error – one that separates Patanjali from the Buddha, though so much of their teachings otherwise are very similar. And of course, the Gita also posits a Self that is the Witness! But here’s how the Buddha put it while a student of his Yoga teachers:
“Even when one has reached the level of neither perception nor nonperception, although there is then liberation from form and formlessness, there is still something left over – the thing that has been liberated from them, a watcher of ‘neither perception nor nonperception.’ As long as such a watcher, which some call a soul, remains, though one may momentarily be secluded from the cycle of suffering, the watcher remains as a seed of rebirth. As soon as the situation changes, rebirth easily takes place again. This is just what happens now when I get up from meditating. No matter how profound my absorption, after a short time I get caught up again in the world of the senses. The basic causes and conditions for rebirth have not been extinguished! Complete liberation has not been achieved.”
The rebirth spoken of here by the Buddha is not necessarily some literal, metaphysical rebirth. He’s talking about self/ego consciousness. I saw this truth for myself and in my students: Samadhi is great and all for as long as it lasts, but it ends, and if a sense of Self persists, no full freedom is available. That sense of The Witness becomes the seed for another cycle of ‘selfing.’