Browsing Tag

vedanta

RIMYI Experiences

The Ultimate Surrender – Intersection of Yoga & Vedanta

May 10, 2023

The philosophy of yoga and Vedanta sometimes intersect, and I love spotting this overlap in different classes.

During the last RIMYI class I took, Raya spoke about letting go.  When we talk about letting go of something, there is an assumption that you’re holding on to something.  It’s important to analyse this something.  How are you holding on to it?  Why are you holding on to it?  Once we analyse it, can we let it go?

To make it relevant to the asana practice Raya asked us to ask ourselves what we were feeling in the asana we were holding (Uttanasana).  What were we truly feeling?  Were we feeling our hamstrings hurting, or was the back hurting, or were we holding the abdomen too tight?  When you can identify what you are holding – you can begin to let it go.  “I let go of my back, I let go of my abdomen, I let go of….”  He asked us to do the same in Sirsasana, but focus on mental conditions/conditionings. He asked: Can letting go be voluntary?  Can we actively let go?

He gave us the example of how he came across a ratty old t-shirt when he was cleaning his cupboard.  Everyone tells you to let go of this old tee that you don’t even use anymore, but you can’t.  We need to understand that it’s not the object that we can’t let go – it’s the memories associated with it that we’re unable to let go.

What are we actually holding on to?  Can we analyse that similar to how we analysed Uttansana?  Mentioning yoga sutra 1.11 he asked us to ponder over what is the role of memory and cleansing the memory.  Can we actively identify and do something about?  Letting go of an old t-shirt is easier than letting go of memories.  Memories can be good, troublesome, traumatic, ecstatic.  How do we deal with this baggage of memories and how does it impact us?  Can we let go of attachment to the memory?  Can we actively let go of sad memories?  Going into parsva sirsasana he asked us to contemplate looking at the memory from a different angle.

अनुभूतविषयासंप्रमोषः स्मृतिः PYS 1.11

Memory is the unmodified recollection of words and experiences.

 

He spoke about two sutras that he would frequently speak to Guruji about:

सुखानुशयी रागः PYS 2.7

Pleasure leads to desire and emotional attachment.

दुःखानुशयी द्वेषः PYS 2.8

Unhappiness leads to hatred.

A person with a sense of discrimination should strive a balance between sukha and dukha instead of living a the mercy of these two.  There are so many triggers in life today – we are all used to certain manners, ways and customs.  But can we let go of getting triggered?  Raya told us that  us to actively open our drawers and pull things out and look at everything that comes out and ask ourselves if we are using it.  Have we been keeping certain memories in the cupboard, maybe even in the freezer.  And even in the freezer have they become rotten and started stinking?  Can we actively bring these memories out,  clean them up and throw them away?

How do we throw these memories away?  By turning it from klista to aklista.

 

वृत्तयः पञ्चतय्यः क्लिष्टाक्लिष्टाः PYS 1.5

The movement of consciousness are fivefold.  They may be cognizable or non-cognizable, painful (klista) or non-painful (aklista).

The fact that it happened remains, but the feeling associated with it goes.  Raya also stressed that we all want happiness, but we remember the sad things more – happiness has a shorter shelf life.  Happiness is like camphor or mercury – you can’t hold it, it evaporates.

Next in Sarvangasana, Raya asked us to finally consider what we can let of of intellectually.  He spoke of fear and how we’re all fearful of something.  But some are able to face their fear because they have practiced handling this fear.  Practice analysing your fears and insecurities – once analysed can we let them go?  After giving daanam in a temple, we pour water over our hands symbolically ‘washing away’ our attachment with what we’ve given.  We need to let go of claiming things – ‘I’ did this, ‘I’ own this etc.  The most difficult thing is to let go of this claim.  After letting go of these claims, can I let go of the ‘I’ itself?

When one moves from the grossest to the subtlest, neither the beginning is seen nor the end.

My Vedanta teacher always stresses the importance of balance in life.  It is important for us to seek pleasure, but also to accept that pleasure and pain come together.  As seekers we are encouraged to go after our dreams and desires, but we need to remember that the result of our pursuit depends on many factors.  Therefore, we can’t be swayed by victory or defeat, sukham or dukham.  We should pursue life according to dharma, and with the best of our physical, emotional and intellectual intent.  And surrender the results, fruits, fear and even happiness to a higher purpose.

What is left to surrender when I have surrendered everything?

My teacher explained the idea of surrender using verse 18.66 of the Bhagawad Gita.

सर्वधर्मान्परित्यज्य मामेकं शरणं व्रज |
अहं त्वां सर्वपापेभ्यो मोक्षयिष्यामि मा शुच: ||

In this shloka Lord Krishna is asking Arjuna for the ultimate surrender – the surrender of the ‘I’ or the ego.  Letting go of the ‘I’ in all the claims that I make.  Once I have surrendered everything, I surrender the ‘I’ too.  And in that way I merge with the One, the universal consciousness.

 

At the Blue Temple, Chiang Rai.

At the Blue Temple, Chiang Rai.

 

Enquiries Into Yogic Philosophy

On Guru Purnima

July 13, 2022

To commemorate Guru Purnima, we had a special Vedanta lecture this morning, focused on the meaning and significance of the day for seekers. Subhadra ma’am started with defining the word guru: remover of the darkness of ignorance. Vedanta is the study of the Self, and the Guru is someone who reveals the glory and magnificence of our Self to us. On Guru Purnima we invoke the essence of the guru parampara. We appreciate and acknowledge the efforts of those who have walked this path before us and made it smooth and easy for us.

Subhadra ma’am then delved into the reasons why we study Vedanta. She explained that the study of Vedanta results in self transformation. Through our study, contemplation and understanding, we hope to remove the obstacles that stand between us and this transformation. These obstacles are both emotional and intellectual. She reminded us that as students we must remember that removing these obstacles is a gradual effort that requires constant sadhana and dedication. It is a time consuming process, and transformation doesn’t happen over night or even in the course of a few weeks. This process is also known as the atma katha – the story/journey of our innermost self.

With Shriram, learning kalaripayattu and Acro yoga.

Next ma’am spoke about the greatness of the Guru. The Guru is great is because he has been blessed by the shastras. A Guru’s greatness can be conditional but the shastra’s greatness is ever existent, unconditional; it is this unconditional greatness that is transferred from guru to shishya. The Guru can be likened to a celebrity promoting Brahma vidya/sukha vidya/atma vidya/ananda vidya. Which is why the teachings are always in the form of a dialogue – the seeker has questions and is given answers. In the Bhagawad Gita (the second Vedanta text we’re studying), Arjuna frequently repeats his questions, and the Lord answers him patiently. This is symbolic of how, as seekers, we might not understand an idea or a concept at the first go, but Vedanta is patient and will support our endeavours.

To commemorate Guru Purnima, we worship and pay homage to the entire guru parampara – the parampara commencing directly from Lord Narayana, Lord Dakshinamurthy and the Adigurus, so that we can learn from the shastras. We look at ourselves in the mirror of the scriptures and see the beauty that lies there. We salute the entire lineage we’ve become a part of.

Thankful to my dance guru, Honey Unnikrishnan, for teaching me more than just dance, and being there to answer all my questions with honesty, openness and humbleness.

The guru-shishya parampara pervades all Indian art forms, perhaps because art is a discovery and exploration of Self. My dance teacher, Honey Unnikrishnan took some time out today to discuss the guru shlokas we recite in the beginning of class. The Guru is someone who holds your hand (metaphorically) and leads you to the light, never letting go of your hand on this journey. So the Guru is God in disguise and we must appreciate that. Guru is equal to God, if not above Him. Both my Vedanta and Mohiniyattam teachers emphasised transformation and change and stressed the importance of saluting not only your direct guru but the entire parampara

As I listened to these talks by two of my gurus, I thought about my own transformation. About how this past weekend in Auroville, I easily prostrated myself in front of Ramesan Lakshman, the guru at Kalarigram. A decade ago I believed the practice of touching anyone’s feet was regressive, a tribute to chauvinism, a ritual that had no place in this century. But over the years I’ve searched for and found wisdom, guidance, support and (dare I say?) enlightenment from gurus of classical dance, literature, kalari and yoga. And when I bow down before a guru today, I do so with a comforting sense of surrender and trust in this age old pramapara.

To meet a student where they are is a characteristic of a good teacher. I’ve attend classes with numerous teachers and have been lucky to gain insight and inspiration from the best. @Kalarigram