Defining Life-Knowledge in Action
WHAT IS CONSCIOUSNESS? – IS THERE SELF-AWARENESS OF LIFE’S JOURNEY?
It is easy and convenient to use terms in conversation when no meaning is attached to the words used in conversation. It is unfortunate to note schools have not designed instructional programs to use words with well-defined meaning attached to them. Basic terms like, man, life, existence, consciousness, and self-awareness have to be used after giving or attaching meaning to those terms.
Consciousness fundamentally involves awareness of one’s own existence. For example, Amoeba proteus is aware or conscious of its own living condition at any given time, and place of its existence. Consciousness may include awareness of thoughts, moods, and feelings and yet it is not mental function. Consciousness is biological function, a characteristic of all living cells. In Clinical Medicine, consciousness is always evaluated and it does not involve taking educational, or occupational history. What you are is described by Science called Anatomy, and what you do is described by Science called Physiology. If Life is defined as ‘Knowledge in Action’, this Knowledge is not experience acquired by cells of human body through man’s learning process.
Life’s Journey relates to functional ability called locomotion which depends upon the nature of living, corporeal substance called protoplasm, or cytoplasm which always exists in perpetual state of motion. This living condition in perpetual motion is synchronized with motions of Earth that provide alternating periods of Light and Darkness called Day and Night while the Sun shines all the time. No instant during the entire period of one’s Life Journey is the same as another instant. Each living instant remains unique, or one of its own kind as no instant can repeat itself. During Life’s Journey, man has no consciousness or awareness of motion of his own living substance and has no consciousness or awareness of the motions of Earth. Man may have intellectual understanding of motions performed by his living substance and of Earth on which he finds his existence. This intellectual ability does not provide direct sensory experience of Journey performed by Living Substance or Earth. For that reason, I suggest that the “Journey” from point A to point B on the surface of Earth that man performs is predestined for man has no ability to control either motion of his living substance or motions of his earthly abode.
I always ask my readers to read cell anatomy and physiology to discuss any issue that pertains to life. The Cell Theory is verified Science; Cells are building blocks of life.
To speak of human consciousness or self-awareness, the discussion demands knowing Egg Cell as conscious entity.
This Egg Cell begins Life’s Journey from the instant called Ovulation, later, Conception, and until another instant called Implantation. Does this Journey from Ovulation, Conception, to Implantation requires Consciousness or Self-Awareness?
Ann Arbor, MI 48104-4162 USA
WHOLE DESIGNER – WHOLE ARTIST – WHOLE AESTHETICS :
Plants have the ability of Photoreception but do not have organs of sense perception like eyes. They produce flowers as if an artist is at work. The flowers below all have two things in common: They’re beautiful, and they remind the human eye of something else entirely. These are flowers are just stunning works of art by nature.
NATURE IS AMAZING & ASTONISHING….
WHOLEDUDE – WHOLEDESIGNER – PHOTOCHEMISTRY
THE ART OF SPIRITUAL LIVING :
From the beginning of human history, the ideas about Spirituality included a desire to find Peace, Harmony, and Tranquility in all of man’s internal and external relationships, while man exists in a physical environment as a member of a social community or society. Both religious thinkers and philosophers have contemplated that Spirituality involves a potency associated with a Principle called Soul or Spirit. In Indian tradition, the term “ATMA” or “ATMAN” refers to Self, Body, Mind, and Soul depending upon different circumstances. In the YOGA System of India, the YOGA practice uses the term ATMA to describe Mind. The purpose of Yoga is to control the Mind and to draw it away from its attachment to sense objects. The term ‘Sensual’ refers to the body and the senses as distinguished from the Intellect, Spirit, or Soul. Sensual pertains to or it is about preoccupation with bodily or sexual pleasures. The term ‘Sensuous’ refers to a variety of things affecting, appealing to, or perceived by the senses. It implies easy susceptibility through the senses, enjoying the pleasures of sensation, and a strong appeal of that which is pleasing to the eye, ear, touch, etc., Since experience of sensual enjoyment involves the Mind, in Indian tradition, Mind is the Chief Sense Organ or ‘INDRIYA’. The term austerity describes a variety of spiritual practices. Austerity in relation to the Mind is a process that includes attributes such as Simplicity, Solemnity, Purity, and Control. Austerity aims to find Satisfaction through the use of Self-Discipline and Self-Restraint. A variety of spiritual practices like austerity, repentance, penance, expiation, and purgation involve accepting Satisfaction, a mental state that relieves the burden to take action to gratify the desires that seem to hold the Mind in a captive condition. In other words, the goal of Spirituality demands finding Contentment, Satiation, and Satisfaction in the living experience of man.
THE SIX INTERNAL ENEMIES OF MAN :
In Indian tradition, the six internal enemies of man constitute a group called ‘ARI VARGA’ and these are 1. KAMA or Lust, 2. KRODHA or Anger, 3. LOBHA or Miserliness, 4. MADA or Arrogance(Self-Pride), 5. MATSARYA or Jealousy, and 6. MOHA or Ignorance + Illusion known as Infatuation.These behavioral traits drive man onto a path of Self-Destruction. These six kinds of behavior are aspects of Desire. The Art of Spiritual Living deals with this problem called ‘DESIRE’ that takes charge of Mind to drive man to take actions that leave him restless, agitated, confused, irritable, resentful, and frustrated if the overpowering Desire is not gratified.
Behavioral Science includes any of several studies such as Sociology, Psychology, Anthropology, etc., that examine human activities, conduct, aptitude, manners, and responses that are observable. In Biology, Behavior explains an organism’s responses to stimulation or environment and the observed Behavior is often described as Biotic Interactions which could be Interspecific(interactions between different groups or species) or Intraspecific( within the same group or species, or within the same organism which could be a complex living system). The term Behavioral Therapy and Behavior Modification involve the use of techniques that seek to modify Human Behavior through application of the principles of conditioning in which rewards and reinforcements or punishments establish desired habits or patterns of Behavior. In Indian tradition, the analogy of a Chariot(“RATHA KALPANA” or the Metaphor of Chariot) helps to discuss the relationships between human body, organs of sense perception(Senses), Mind, Intellect which together constitute ‘The Lower-Self’ and Soul that constitutes ‘The Knowing-Self’ or ‘The Higher-Self’.
Pandava Prince Arjuna in The Bhagavad Gita, Chapter VI, Verse#34 stated the utmost difficult problem called controlling Mind :
“Chanchalam hi manah Krishna
pramathi balavad drdham
tasyaham nigraham manye
Vayor iva su-dushkaram,”
For the mind is restless, turbulent, obstinate, and very strong, and to subdue it is more difficult than controlling the wind. Mind is unsteady and unbridled for it gets easily distracted by the strong appeal of things which are pleasing to the senses. Mind when left alone to act by itself, will not be able to cope with the powerful influence called Desire.
The word DESIRE or craving involves strong, persistent, and passionate feelings to covet, wish, or long for something and it specifically suggests a longing for something lacking or needed. Craving suggests a desire to gratify a physical appetite, an urgent need that stresses intensity or ardor. The term Covet apart from eagerness, earnestness, and wanting ardently, it involves wanting something that another person rightfully possesses. The term greed and avarice describe excessive desire for having especially wealth, a desire for more than one needs or deserves. Greedy behavior involves wanting or taking all that one can get with no thought of others’ needs. Being greedy implies an insatiable desire to possess or acquire something to an amount inordinately beyond what really needs or deserves. A miser is a greedy person, who is stingy and hoards money for its own sake, even at the expense of personal comfort. Miserliness is often makes the person wretched and unhappy as there is no experience of satisfaction even though the desire is gratified. The greedy behavior that involves the habit or act of eating or consuming too much food and drink is gluttonous or gluttony. A voracious person is greedy to devour or gorge large quantities of food. A ravenous person is wildly hungry, is very eager for gratification. Ravenous may also describe insatiable pursuit for praise or social recognition. Such behaviors make the person rapacious; a person who takes things by force, by plundering, robbing or exploiting others. It leads to establishment of a pattern of behavior called predatory in which the person is waiting to seize the opportunity to take by force and is akin to an act of preying. The term lust describes excessive sexual desire especially the zeal or enthusiasm for unrestrained sexual gratification without idealized or spiritualized feelings like love, empathy, friendship, affection, compassion, respect, and commitment to defend the well-being of the person involved in the sexual interaction. The term Carnal describes preoccupation with bodily or sexual pleasures, sensual preoccupation with gratifying the bodily senses that generally involves grossness or lewdness. The behaviors characterized by greed, lust, and gluttony are acquisitive in nature as they stress exertion of effort in acquiring material possessions to an excessive amount or using people like material objects. The term grasping suggests an unscrupulous eagerness for gain that manifests itself in a seizing upon every opportunity to get what one desires. The problem of Desire is often accompanied by emotional feelings of anger, the feelings of resentful or revengeful displeasure that motivates the person to fight back at the supposed cause of the feelings. While anger is expressed in bodily language, facial expressions, words, and acts, the term rage describes a sudden, violent outburst of anger in which self-control is lost. Greed when combined with feelings of anger is often transformed into jealousy, envy, animosity in which the person is resentfully suspicious of a rival or a rival’s influence. It arouses feeling of strong dislike, hatred, ill will and hostility. The degree of a person’s susceptibility to Desire gets shaped by arrogance, or feelings of self-importance which manifests as overbearing or unwarranted self-pride. Along with arrogance comes a behavior in which the arrogant person claims or seizes things for which he has no natural right. In Indian tradition, the problem of DESIRE is manifestation of an underlying phenomenon called “MOH” or “MOHA.” Intense desires are primarily driven by ignorance, problems of sense perception, and operation of a force or influence called ‘ILLUSION’. Moha is operation of a false idea, a false conception, belief, or opinion which is not in accord with facts. Moha or Infatuation causes man’s alienation or estrangement from his true or real nature. The problem of Moha leads to obsession in which ideas, desires, emotions, etc., rule or take possession of a person and the resulting persistent desire cannot be gotten rid of by the use of reasoning or discernment.
In The Bhagavad Gita, Chapter III, KARMA YOGA, verse #5 Lord Krishna instructs that men act helplessly according to the impulses born of the Modes of Material Nature or PRAKRIT; therefore, nobody can refrain from doing something, not even for a moment. The term ‘DRIVE’ describes any of the basic biological impulses or urges such as self-preservation, hunger, sex, etc., The term ‘Motivation’ explains the motive, the forces influencing people so as to control the making of their decisions that further provides incentive and causes a person to do something or act in a certain way. The term ‘Instinct’ describes an inborn tendency to behave in a way characteristic of a species. The behavior contributed by instincts is natural, unlearned, and is often involves a predictable response to an external, environmental stimulus. Impulsive behavior involves a sudden inclination to act, usually without premeditation. For impulsive behavior, the driving force, push, thrust, impetus and incitement to action arises from a state of mind or some external environmental stimulus. Psychologists find relationship between behavior and external environmental stimuli, Psychoanalysts define Instinct as a primal, psychic force or drive such as Fear, Love, and Anger. In Freudian Psychoanalysis, instincts are of two kinds, 1. The Life Instinct(EROS), and 2. The Death Instinct(Thanatos). Some instincts may help in a secondary or subordinate way just like an accomplice who aids or abets commission of an unlawful act .
The Art of Spiritual Living involves the Mastery of Mind to review, to guide, to regulate and to refrain man’s actions and responses to his Enemy called Desire which can overwhelm man’s ability to preserve and support his mortal existence. The coping mechanisms involved in Desire and its Gratification determine the degree of Satiation, Contentment, and Satisfaction man may obtain at any given instant of his life. Contentment and Satisfaction are the building blocks to give the living experience called Peace, Harmony, and Tranquility. I would further examine the practice called Self-Discipline, the chief ingredient of Spiritual Living in my next article.
SPIRITUALITY SCIENCE – THE KNOWER – THE KNOWING-SELF :
WHO AM I ? THE INQUIRY ABOUT SELF :
Man’s role in the vast universe is insignificant. When man looks around, he as the rational observer gets easily overwhelmed by his irrelevance to the great universal order. Man has no choice other than that of knowing himself better. Man has to understand the truth and reliability of his own cognitive powers. Man has to know the truth about Self. Many of my Indian readers are familiar with India’s epic poem, Valmiki Ramayana. While Indians believe that Lord Rama is the Ultimate Reality or the Absolute Truth, in Ramayana’s Book Six, Yuddha Kanda, Sarga or Chapter 117(the final chapter), Prince Rama spoke to Lord Brahma(the Lord God Creator) inquiring, “I think of myself to be a human being by name Rama, the son of Dasaratha; You, as a gracious Divinity, tell me Who am I and Why I am like this ?” To know the truth and reality, man must begin his inquiry with the question, “WHO AM I ?”
Man is a physical being, a being with Matter and Form. What is ‘real’ must be distinguished from what is called ‘appearance’. In Indian tradition, the human body is described as unreal as its Form or appearance is subject to constant change. At the same time, it must be recognized that Matter has no independent existence of its own, and Matter gets recognition when it exists while it is associated with a Form. The inquiry about Self must include both Matter and the Form. The existence of Self is known and is experienced by the part of the body called “The Knowing-Self.”
The Bhagavad Gita, Chapter II, Sankhya Yoga, verse#13 reads:
“dehinosmin yatha dehe kaumaram, yauvanam, jara
tatha dehantara praptir dhiras tatra na muhyati.”
As the embodied Soul continually passes in this body from boyhood to youth and then to old age, a man of courage must not grieve about the passing of Soul after the body dies. This verse needs a very careful interpretation for Matter is neither created nor destroyed. The condition called death applies to the Form or appearance while the Matter has the divine attribute called imperishability. The Soul preserves the Individuality of the Individual who passes through various stages like childhood, youth, and old age with varying physical identities.
The Bhagavad Gita, Chapter XIV, Gunatraya Vibhaga Yoga, Three Modes of Material Nature, verse#3 describes the total material substance as Brahma, is the source of birth, and in that Brahma, Lord Krishna causes pregnancy(or the generation of varied forms) and thereby causing the possibilities for the births of all living beings. If Matter is Brahma, Lord Krishna is the Creator of Form or appearance using His creative potency which in Indian tradition is described as ‘Maya Shakti’. Brahma, Prakriti or Material Nature describe the material substratum pervading physical existence. Inanimate and inert Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Ether along with Manas(the seat of Mind, Buddhi, Intellect), and Ahankara(EGO) together constitute Lord Krishna’s eightfold material energies or differentiated aspects of Matter.
Both Matter and Form represent the divine attributes of a single, infinite Substance. In the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter XIII, Kshetra – Kshetrajna Vibhaga Yoga, verses 1,2, and 3 describe the material body as the Field of Activity called ‘KSHETRA’ and one who knows this body is called the Knower of the Field of Activity or ‘KSHETRAJNA’. Lord Krishna further clarifies that He is also the Knower of the Field of Activity in all living bodies. In Indian tradition to understand the human body and its owner is called Knowledge or ‘JNANA’.
The subject of man’s inquiry about Self is not about investigating the Infinite Substance or Nature called God. Man must explore his own body and understand what he knows and as to how he knows his own identity. For purposes of clarity, I divide man into two categories; 1. SELF which represents man as a Physical, Mental, and Social being. Self represents the thinking person, and the feeling person, or the person having thoughts and feelings, and 2. THE KNOWING-SELF which represents man as a Moral and Spiritual being. The Knowing-Self is the seat of consciousness where the contents of consciousness are composed in a very selective manner. The Knowing-Self is responsible for the condition called ‘AROUSAL’ that can keep man fully alert and awake. The Knowing-Self knows man’s thoughts, feelings, actions, and sensory experiences. The Knowing-Self plays a central role in maintaining and sustaining the vital functions like circulation, and respiration to support existence.
Indian tradition and various religious and philosophical traditions speak about Soul, Spirit, and Atman without describing its precise location in the human body which is comprised of trillions of independent, individual living cells which have their own individual life span or lifetime. If the information about Soul, Spirit, and Atman is valid, there must be some useful or practical applications of that information. Indian tradition while being silent about the anatomical description of Soul, Spirit, and Atman, speaks about the hierarchical arrangement of mental functions and guides man to control or exercise supervision of his intellect, mind, sense organs, and the body.
Indian tradition uses the term “SELF” to describe Soul, Spirit, or Atman. The “SELF” is the ‘Knower’, the Controller, and the ‘Supreme Enjoyer’, or the ‘Indweller’ of the Body which is often called the house or a place of residence. For example, KathOpanishad(KATHA + UPANISHAD),1:3:4 states:
“Atmanam rathinam viddhi,
Sariram ratham eva cha,
Buddhim tu Sarathim viddhi,
Manah pragraham eva cha,
Indriyani hayan ahur,
Visayams tesu gocaran,
Bhoktety ahur Manisinah.”
This statement may not give the precise location of Soul or Atman in man’s human body but shows as to how man manages his intellect(BUDDHI) to apply restraint on his mind which in return controls the organs of sense perception which are in hot pursuit of desires and cravings of the body whose actions and responses are driven by the sensory experiences of various kinds. It uses the analogy of a Chariot to assign Man and his organs to perform specific roles.
This statement must be carefully interpreted for it can have useful practical applications in promoting Man’s Physical, Mental, Social, Moral, and Spiritual Well-being.
Indian tradition is fully concerned about knowing the ‘identity’ of things. My concern is about the ‘unity’ of various parts to establish the Objective and the Subjective Reality of Man’s existence in the natural world. Man is a Mortal Being and his physical existence provides a finite experience for it is related, connected, bonded, associated, partnered or yoked with an Infinite Substance of which Soul, Spirit, or Atman is of interest for it brings Unity between the Infinite and Finite Man’s Physical Reality.
Using the analogy of a ‘CHARIOT’, Man can reach the Final Destination or ‘The Goal’ using the Knowledge(JNANA) about Self, Soul, Spirit, or Atman.
SPIRITUALITY SCIENCE – THE ART OF KNOWING :
When I write about Man as a Spiritual Being, the concern is not about glorifying people as saints. The issue is about man’s true or real nature. My theory of Spirituality is about “The Art of Knowing” that can provide tools to all people to know themselves in an objective manner. This is a simple challenge that can be accomplished without forcing people to attend Church or any other place of worship. The Art of Knowing does not involve what most people tend to recognize as spiritual practices such as Prayer, Meditation, Yoga, or Mysticism. The Art of Knowing simply involves training people to know what they know about others or about themselves. It must be noted that Life is essentially a state, a condition, or an act of knowing.
WHOLE INTUITION VS WHOLE MYSTICISM :
Henri Bergson, French philosopher, Professor at the College de France, was awarded the 1927 Nobel Prize in Literature. His famous works include Time and Free Will(1889) and The Creative Mind(1934). Bergson’s dualistic philosophy holds that the world contains two opposing tendencies, the life force and the resistance of matter against that life force. The individual knows matter through intellect but through intuition perceives the life force and the reality of time, which is not a unit of measurement but duration in terms of life experience. Bergson considered intuition to be the highest state of human knowing and held that mysticism is the perfection of intuition. Bergson emphasized the value of intuition in scientific thinking and argued that reality is beyond rational understanding. He formulated a Theory of Knowledge in which intuition plays a central role. He contended that the expansive and creative thrust of Life explained by Darwinian mechanism. Bergson claimed that ‘Evolution’ is creative and is not based upon mechanistic principles. For similar reasons, I shared my arguments to oppose Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. I formulated my theory of ‘The Law of Creation and Individuality’ for all known living things primarily exist as Individuals with Individuality and they have no choice other than that of existing as Individuals. In this article, I would like to recognize knowing as a basic cognitive function and this biological characteristic can be attributed to a popular term called ‘Spirit’ or ‘Soul’. In this context, I would like to interpret Bergson’s views about Knowing, Intuition, Mysticism, and the Reality of Time.
Intuition provides immediate understanding and it describes the ability to perceive or know things without conscious reasoning. Intuition is about direct knowing or learning of something without using the faculties of mind such as Intellect. The doctrine of Intuitionism claims that things and principles are truly apprehended by Intuition. The doctrine called Ethics describes that fundamental moral principles or the rightness of acts is apprehended by Intuition. In Biology, I would like to use the term Intuition to things apprehended by ‘Innate Knowledge’, the Knowledge that is inherent and not acquired, the Knowledge that is implanted in the Substance or Material called Living Matter. Plants know Light not because of intellectual ability but on account of an innate ability or intuitive power.
To learn the Art of Knowing, man has to know that the physiological basis for existence is dependent upon Innate Knowledge with which the human organism recognizes matter( such as molecules of Oxygen, or energy-yielding molecules of food substances) and further exploits matter and energy to support and maintain its living functions. To the same extent, the human organism defends its own existence by recognizing the molecules as Self or Non-Self. The immune defense mechanisms that the human body uses to recognize viruses, bacteria, protozoa, and other foreign antigens involve the recognition of molecules.
What is the Mystery of Life ??? Can Mysticism help to know the hidden truths about Life ??? Mysticism is the doctrine about knowing reality through intense contemplation and other secret practices that involve mental concentration. Mysticism is found in several religions of the world. The criteria and conditions for mystical experience vary depending on the cultural traditions, but there are three common attributes of Mysticism : 1. The experience is immediate and overwhelming, divorced from the common experience of reality, 2. The experience or the knowledge imparted by it is self-authenticating, without need of further evidence or justification, and 3. The experience is ineffable, its essence incapable of being expressed or understood outside the experience itself. The focus of Mysticism is not about the physical reality called existence but it is about a direct and immediate experience of the sacred, or the knowledge derived from such an experience. Mysticism is about the practices of those who are initiated into the mysteries, the practice of putting oneself into direct relation with God, the Absolute or any Unifying Principle of Life. Mystics believe that it is possible to achieve communion with God through their mystic practices. There are two general tendencies in the practice of Mysticism; 1. To regard God as outside the ‘Soul’ which rises to God by successive stages, and 2. To regard God as dwelling within the ‘Soul’ to be found by delving deeper into one’s own reality. Mysticism is extended to Magic, Occultism, and the Esoteric. Magic may involve the use of charms, spells, and rituals in seeking or pretending to cause or control events or govern certain natural and supernatural forces. Occultism is about hidden, concealed, and secret information that could be beyond human understanding. The Esoteric is about confidential, private, or withheld information that is intended for or understood by only a chosen few and as such the knowledge or information is beyond the understanding of most people. The rituals of Mysticism include meditation, prayer, and a variety of ascetic disciplines. If Mysticism is about Knowing the Secrets of Life, it does not demand the learning of Human Anatomy or Human Physiology, or any of the principles of Biology.
Bergson claimed that the Reality of Time is not a Unit of Measurement but duration in terms of life experience. How does the human organism knows about its own lifetime??? The human organism experiences the Aging Phenomenon which is related to man’s perception of Time. How is Time controlling or operating life experience ??? The physical reality called existence is controlled, is operated, or is directly influenced by events in man’s external environment, and the most important change in the environment is the alternating periods of light and darkness called Day and Night.
Bergson may have used the term life force to describe the vital, animating Principle called Spirit or Soul. In my view, Soul is an animating Principle for it is fundamentally related to the functional ability called Knowing. Soul is a vital Principle for it is fundamentally related to the functional ability called Nutrition, the power of a living organism to exploit matter found in its external environment. The functional attributes of Soul are related to Knowledge that is inherent or Innate and not acquired as learned experience. Soul describes man’s intuitive ability to know the fact of his own existence in a given environment and to maintain that existence while experiencing the aging process under the external influence called Time.
While writing about The Art of Knowing, I would like to remind my readers that certain things could be hidden from the human perception and man has no ability to know things even if he knows the reality of those things. Blaise Pascal, the French scientist who founded the modern Theory of Probability had claimed : “Man is a nothing in comparison with the Infinite, an All in comparison with the Nothing, a mean between Nothing and Everything. Since he is infinitely removed from comprehending the extremes, the end of things and their beginnings are hopelessly hidden from him in an impenetrable secret; he is equally incapable of seeing the Nothing from which he was made, and the Infinite in which he swallowed up.”
Which came first, the Chick or the Egg ??? Spirituality Science is not about knowing the Beginning or the Ending of things. Spirituality is about things that exist in the ‘Present’. The Physical Reality of Man’s Subjective and Objective experience of his lifetime is a functional attribute of Soul or Spirit which gives Man the cognitive ability called Knowing . If Devotion is used as a scientific method of Inquiry, ‘The Art of Knowing’ is about Knowing Man as a Spiritual Being.
SPIRITUALITY SCIENCE – WHOLE YOGA :
The UN General Assembly has declared June 21 as International Yoga Day. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his maiden address to the UN General Assembly on September 27, 2014, asked the world leaders to adopt June 21 as Yoga Day. He stated that Yoga provides a holistic approach to health and well-being; a holistic way of life that brings harmony between man and nature and promotes simpler lifestyles. Prime Minister Modi has expressed the hope that by changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, Yoga can help us deal with Climate Change.
WHAT IS YOGA ????
Yoga is a general term for spiritual practices, and spiritual discipline followed for centuries by devotees of both Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism to attain “Higher Consciousness”, liberation from ignorance, release from suffering, and Freedom from Rebirth. It is also one of the six orthodox systems of Indian Philosophy. Patanjali(2nd Century B.C.,) expounded the Theory and the Practice of Yoga called “RAJA YOGA”(Royal Yoga). He stated Yoga Sutras or aphorisms and divided the practice of Yoga into eight stages.
Patanjali considered “SAMADHI” as the highest stage of Yoga practice in which the Yogi, the practitioner of Yoga finds identification of the individual “Consciousness” with the Ultimate Godhead, or the Absolute Reality(often called Brahman). Hindu tradition recognizes three main types of Yoga; JNANA YOGA, the path of wisdom and discrimination, BHAKTI YOGA, the path of Love and Devotion to a personal, or impersonal God, or both, and KARMA YOGA, the path of selfless or unattached action. HATHA YOGA emphasizes physical control, holding body in systematized postures, and the practice of controlled breathing. In Jainism and Buddhism, the emphasis may involve withdrawing from the world, mental concentration without allowing the mind to get distracted by extraneous things. In Indian traditions, the highest meditative state is called “NIRVIKALPAKA SAMADHI”, content less trance that constitutes Liberation or “NIRVANA.”
While Yoga may explain the highest aim or purpose in “LIFE” for most Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains, certain physical practices have found their acceptance in the West without any concern for the religious doctrine or the philosophical basis. Even in the Indian tradition, the practice called “JAPA YOGA” which involves the repetition of certain sounds with mystic power or “MANTRAS” is concerned about providing relief to man while coping with “STRESS”, the physical, and mental challenges posed by day-to-day existence in a world where threats to existence come from several known and unknown directions.
The word ‘YOGA’ is related to the Sanskrit word ‘YUGA’ which symbolizes union, or association of entities or events. It may be noted that the problem of human existence is always connected to the TIME and the Place of man’s existence. In the Indian tradition, the events in one’s life are conditioned by the Cyclical Flow of Time, and the time cycles have designated names called “YUGA.” The term ‘YOGA’ is variously used in Indian tradition to describe the ‘YOKE’ which is often seen as a mark or symbol of bondage. ‘Yoke’ is commonly used all over the ancient world where the agricultural practices are similar.
Yoke (Hebrew. motah, an oxbow, a yoke, tsemedh, yoke of oxen; Greek. zeugos, a team and Zygos, yoke) in the literal sense, is a bar of wood so constructed as to unite two animals, usually oxen, enabling them to work in the fields, drawing loads and pulling the plow. For these two chief functions yoke was commonly used all over the ancient world.
The Yoke imposes a burden of its own and can be seen as a sign of bondage and servitude. At the same time, the Yoke provides some relief to the entities that are paired or joined together while they are subject to bondage and servitude for there is sharing of the burden. Man’s existence in the world imposes a burden for man has to constantly find an external source of energy to support his living functions. This burden of ‘Life’ is eased for man is paired with Providence, the term that describes God’s Compassion, Mercy, and Grace. Man is never alone in the toils of his ‘Life.’ I use the term “SPIRITUAL” to describe the nature of a relationship, a partnership, a pairing, “Yoking”, an association, a connection, or bonding between two, or more living entities to find Peace, Harmony, and Tranquility in their living experience. For man’s existence is conditioned and is constantly threatened by both internal, and external challenges from known and unknown directions, man has to find comfort and solace by pairing with the Divine Providence.
If spirituality is about finding Peace, Harmony, and Tranquility in the living, human condition, the spiritual practice called ‘Yoga’ demands the “YOKING” of man with “The Good Shepherd.” In The New Testament Book of Bible, The Gospel According to Saint Matthew, Chapter 11, verses 28 to 30 describe the ‘YOGA’ prescribed by Jesus Christ: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
In my view, the phrase ‘WHOLE YOGA’ is about establishing humility in the heart and to find rest, comfort, and ease from the burdens of ‘Life’ by accepting the “YOKE” that is Easy and whose burden is ‘Light’.
SPIRITUALITY SCIENCE – AHAM BRAHMASMI – UNITY VS IDENTITY:
This article is dedicated to this Indian Lady who symbolizes the Principle of Unity that appears as the verbal Sound or “SHABDA” called “ASMI” which means always present or ever-existing.
Should man search inwards or search outwards to find God??? I can search, if and only if my existence is supported. For my existence, I depend upon the ability of plants called Photoreception. If God is Light, the Light that sustains Life is not about the human ability of sensory perception called Vision.
I am asking my readers, specially those who study Indian Schools of Thought, to recognize the need for careful interpretation of the insights provided by Indian thinkers. The concern is not about duality and differentiation. The problem is not that of establishing the exact Identity between God and orders like Matter, Energy, Time, Space, Man, and Living Entities. The concern is about the fact of existence. Everything that exists is not exactly the same or identical to Brahman. It may be correct to state that everything finds its existence because of Unity or “EIKYATA”, the fundamental basis for existence and this Unity becomes the verbal Sound known as “ASMI” which describes BRAHMAN as the Cause of all that exists.
It is indeed true that man’s existence on planet Earth could be short-lived, ephemeral, transitory, and may even last only one day. Man is an organism with a brief life cycle. But, the Physical Reality of this existence demands the Unity described by the verbal Sound called “ASMI” which means ‘always present’, or ‘ever-existing’. The Physical Dimension of human life and human existence cannot be rejected as unreal and it is not an illusion for there are always both Subjective and Objective criteria to verify and to validate the physical form and physical appearance that is associated with existence. Man’s true or real Essence called Self or ATMAN cannot manifest itself in the physical world without Unity between the mortal nature of man’s conditioned existence and the eternal nature of Brahman which is always present, or ever-existing.
I use the word Spirit, Soul, or ATMAN to describe the Vital, Animating Principle that is involved in establishing man’s physical existence in the world. The issue is not about Soul or ATMAN’s existence when separated from its human body. The human form, the human appearance, and the human existence at any given age or condition is always dependent upon the Unity between Body and Soul.
It should not be of any surprise to note that ATMAN could be Unborn, Eternal, Everlasting, Immortal, and Imperishable. Those are the fundamental attributes of all Physical Matter that exists in this Universe. Matter is made up of Chemical Elements and the Fundamental Laws of Conservation state that Matter is neither created, nor destroyed.
To understand the concept of Unity and the Unifying Principle, we need not ignore the beautiful Reality that manifests itself in numerous, countless forms and shapes. There are no identical living things. Every living thing, every member of all known living species simply exist as Individuals with Individuality. The Statement about The Atman, “The One Without Second” is a mere reflection of the Reality that Science can experimentally verify. To know about Life, we have to know about each individual, living thing.
Brahman or God is variously described as the Creator, the Artist, the Designer, and the Architect of the Universe. Every created object exists as an original, unique, distinct, and one of its own kind of object. For the Architect uses Imagination to draw a Plan or Design, there is Unity while there is Diversity, Variation, and Differentiation of various parts that come together in Harmony to give the Whole Experience.
The discussion about Life and Death need not involve the separation of human body into separate or distinct parts like the Body, and Soul. At no time, the Body exists without its operating Principle called Soul, or ATMAN. The phenomenon of Death involves the physical form and appearance and not that of the Substance and the Chemical Elements that constitute the Living Things.
Man’s mortal or conditioned existence demands the operation of Unity or Unifying Principle that allows man and other living entities to exist in relationship with God. At the same time, Lord Krishna in the above image(The Bhagavad Gita, Chapter IX, Verse #4) clarifies that God’s Existence is Unconditioned and God does not depend upon man and other living entities to maintain or sustain His own eternal, everlasting Existence.
Indian tradition such as the above image of a statement from Kathoponishad(KATHA+UPANISHAD) may suggest the separation of human body from its indwelling Soul, Atman, or PURUSHA, I would ask my readers to be very careful to make an interpretation after recognizing the simple fact that man has no ability to separate the living entity from its Living Principle. Man may kill himself, man can kill other men and other forms of Life. But, the Union of Body and its Soul or ATMAN, or PURUSHA is not accomplished by man’s mental, or physical actions. Man exists with no Control, or ability to Rule or Govern his own existence at any given instant.
Indian Tradition often describes the Identity between the Self, ATMAN, and PURUSHA, the Eternal Cosmic Person. For I recognize that man is not the Cause or Originating Seed of his own existence, man must carefully describe his existence as that of Unity between man, and PURUSHA, the eternal Cosmic Person. Man is the result of the harmonious effect that brings Structural, and Functional Unity between various interacting parts such as the trillions of individual, independent, living cells that constitute the human organism.
The Complexity of BRAHMAN, THE PURUSHA, OR THE COSMIC PERSON can be understood by viewing the above image of “VIRAT PURUSHA” in which every Energy, Force, or Power is depicted with a distinct physical appearance and form. Man’s own physical form and appearance is derived from this Universal Form and it simply represents one aspect among the numerous manifestations. Hence I submit that the “MAHAVAKYA” or the Great Statement that appears in the Brihadarnyaka Upanishad, “AHAM BRAHMASMI” should be interpreted with a pinch of Salt and in Reality, man may speak of his Unity and not of Identity with “VIRAT PURUSHA.”