End of the 4 Yogas of Hinduism series

Hamburger Heaven

Culturally, Hindus don’t eat cows.  A Hindu man living in America once told my father he eats cows when he’s over here because, “In this country you have a different breed.”  But in India, he didn’t eat them.

(4 Yogas Main) This ends the TiltedCandle series on Hinduism’s 4 Yogas. Boiled down to the basic drivers that make the 4 Yogas go, we have: wp.me/p2ukOd-5W

  • To identify with the soul and not the body.
  • To love God.
  • Selflessness by priority: to become selfless in devotion to the common good.
  • Selflessness by wisdom: to know the mind of God so well one’s Self is simply not important.

You can see each driver is essentially the same pattern, adapted to different functions of the soul: using deep understanding, or love, or the tendency to take action, or mental focus. Therefore you can put yourself through the same pattern with your mind, your heart, your will, or your identity.

A monk who meditates for a living and a worshipper who participates in ecstatic dance are not really doing different things.  They are using different parts of their humanity to do the same thing.

The pattern of Christianity, to love the world, is not fundamentally different from the Bhakti notion of loving God. In fact, when Christ was asked what the most important commandment was, he said, “To love God. The second most important, which is like the first, is to love your fellow man.”


Raja Yoga — The Way of Meditation (part of the 4 Yogas of Hinduism series!)

English: Kurt Friedrich Gödel (1906 – 1978)

Kurt Friedrich Gödel (1906 – 1978)

(4 Yogas Main) The Yoga of Meditation is for the experimental type.

The steps in this process are:

0. As a preliminary step learn physical stillness and mental focus.
1. Learn to direct the attention inward, shutting out the external world.
2. Focus on the object of meditation until there is no self, until forms dissolve.  There is then only the object of focus.

Buddhism can be classified as a kind of Raja Yoga, in much the same way Christianity can be considered a kind of Bhakti Yoga.

The disadvantage of this kind of yoga, of course, is that it is hard.  However, if you are the kind of person who likes abstract thought, you should know that it can be a vehicle to approach the Divine.

Kurt Godel is known for his incompleteness theorem, which proved that any non-contradictory form of proof could not demonstrate all possible truths expressible within its own system.

Godel is not known as a man of God, but that appear to be what he was.  He seems to have used a kind of “math yoga” to approach the Divine.

Rudy Rucker, before he became a science-fiction writer, was a mathematician who met with Godel several times.  This is of special value to us because Rucker was already leaning toward mysticism, and talked with Godel on the topic of using mental focus to contact the Absolute.

Rucker, in his Infinity and the Mind, reports asking Godel what he meant when he said he does “objective mathematics.”

Everyone believes that the Empire State Building is real, because it is possible for almost anyone to go and see it for himself.  By the same token, anyone who takes the trouble to learn some mathematics can “see” the set of natural numbers for himself.  So, Godel reasoned, it must be that the set of natural numbers has an independent existence as a certain abstract possibility of thought.

I asked him how best to perceive pure abstract possibility.  He said three things.  i) First one must close off the other senses, for instance, by lying down in a quiet place.  … ii) It is a mistake to let everyday reality condition possibility, and only to imagine the combinings and permutations of physical objects — the mind is capable of directly perceiving infinite sets. iii) The ultimate goal of such thought, and of all philosophy, is the perception of the Absolute.  Godel rounded off these comments with a remark on Plato: “When Plautus could fully perceive the Good, his philosophy ended.” More

Jnana Yoga — The Way of the Mystic (part of the 4 Yogas of Hinduism series!)


Carl Jung as a young man. Carl Jung would be the exemplary Jnana yogi of modern times.

Jnana Yoga is the yoga of knowledge, the way of the mystic (4 Yogas Main). It is the yoga best suited to the reflective type of person.

The process of Jnana yoga is:

1. Research the theory of the soul.
2. Realize its truth by metaphor.
3. Identify with the soul, not the body. Be the witness — observe your Self as if from an impartial observer.

The theory of the soul.  In modern terms, one may benefit from learning dream interpretation and studying  Gestalt therapy.  Properly ‘psyche’ means ‘soul,’ and psychology therefore means the study of the soul.  Modern psychology that is framed in the terminology of hard science, considering consciousness to be an effect of chemical reactions in the brain, is less useful for these purposes.

Therefore you might read Carl Jung or study dream interpretation.  Dream interpretation is particularly useful here because it is the study of metaphor.

Carl Jung is a master of understanding dreams as parables, and sees them in the same light as myths.  They are part of the uncanny working of the human mind.

Why metaphor?  Metaphor is a kind of reverse dream interpretation.  Here you are using the same symbolic meaning encoding process to realize a teaching with your dreaming mind.

Identify with the soul.  The soul is that which radically survives death.   Hindus believe that the bodily spirit in some part and to some degree survives death, to become reincarnated as a new person.  But it is the nature of the bodily spirit to become embodied, and that comes along with inherent problems.  Things for embodied people don’t work out, or when they do work out it is by its nature temporary. More

Normal People Are On The Path, Too (part of the 4 Yogas of Hinduism series!)

The general teaching in Hinduism is that everyone is on the spiritual path. (4 Yogas main)  This is understood as a long-term evolution of the soul that proceeds through many lifetimes.  Reincarnation teaches that after death we will be reborn as humans (or possibly as animals) and that we have been through many lives leading up to this one.

People who have not progressed far are on the path of desire.

The Path of Desire More

The 5 Aggregates (not part of the 7 sets series!)

The 5 Aggregates are not part of the 7 sets, so I’m not including them in the 7 sets series here on TiltedCandle.  But I won’t come back around to Buddhism for awhile, so, I’m sneaking them in here, so they’ll stand next to the 7 sets series, like a book on the bookshelf.

The 5 Aggregates, or Skandhas, aren’t really necessary in the 7 Sets, because they’re a philosophical scheme and all the sets in the 7 Sets are action-based.

The 5 Aggregates are implied in the 7 Sets by the 4 Frames of Reference.  The 4 Frames of Reference are basically Aggregates 2-5, given in terms of right effort.  “Matter” is omitted, since you can’t think with it.

The 5 Aggregates are:

  1. Form, or Matter
  2. Sensation and Feeling
  3. Perception, Cognition, and Discrimination.  Emotions go here, since they are based on the idea of discriminating between what is and what ought to be.
  4. Impulses, Volition.
  5. Consciousness

I drew you a little picture to show how this works. Consciousness arises out of the contact between consciousness and matter.  Note that when Buddhists talk about “form” they mean “matter,” which is structurally different from Western philosophy.  When Plato talks about “form,” he means a kind of intelligence inherent in nature — when we see something beautiful, Plato says it’s because our souls have contacted the form of beauty by seeing it in the beautiful object of perception.  Not so here. More

The 4 Frames of Reference (part of the 7 Sets series!)

cachemash #90: vipassanā

cachemash #90: vipassanā (Photo credit: eaubscene)

The 4 Frames of Reference are contexts toward which you direct your attention. (7 Sets indexYou just kind of zone out and focus on them. This is like a master painter contemplating his canvas and his paints. He may contemplate the colors of his paints, their texture, and so forth.

In your case you work backwards, unpainting your painting until you are contemplating the canvas, and then further until you are contemplating your not-even-the-canvas: Somehow considering the mental medium that will carry the form of the picture in the witnessing of it.

Again, you have perhaps looked at a computer or TV screen up close, seeing then the individual pixels and the pixellated fabric of the image. You might then become absorbed in the nature of the pixellated fabric itself. Or you might listen with an ear to the sounds you are hearing, the forms of the sounds, and the possibility of those forms.

Your thought itself has structure, and you can consider that structure. Beginning to pay attention to the right things is the 4 Frames of Reference set. More

Enlightenment Is the Goal — What Is Enlightenment? (7 sets series)


Maura O’Halloran
was a young Irish lady who went to live as a Buddhist monastic in Asia.  She greatly impressed her teachers, but was killed in a bus accident in Thailand after only a few years.  Her diary has been published by her family.

Patricia Dai-En Bennage quoted the following as a requiem for O’Halloran.  It is a quote from an unknown source.  Bennage explains that she copied the text into her notebook years ago, as a college student, at a time when finding any information in English about Buddhism was relatively hard.  She did not copy the source.  Therefore there is only this fragment.

Once renunciation and the awakened mind have been fully realized, the way to Buddhahood is clear.  Liberation is complete and such liberated beings are bodhisattvas and buddhas:  “enlightened ones” or “empty dwellers.”  Their usefulness to others both before and after their physical death is impossible to conceive.  They are nothing but useful energy leading to liberation for all beings still caught in conditional existence.

–source unknown.

That is enlightenment:  to become a bubble of pure consciousness, without attachment to any conditional state of affairs, free of the idea of self.

The 4 Spiritual Bodies in Buddhism — (part of the 7 sets series)

Fig. 7 Water's temperature does not change dur...

Fig. 7 Water’s temperature does not change during phase transitions as heat flows into or out of it. The total heat capacity of a mole of water in its liquid phase (the green line) is 7.5507 kJ. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The 4 Jhanas – this article is part of the TiltedCandle series on the 7 sets

The Buddha told a merchant that every man has four spiritual bodies. When the merchant asked him if every man has them at the same time, the Buddha told him no. We do not have them at the same time. The bodies are like milk, cream, butter, and cheese. We churn milk until it is cream, then butter, then cheese. We do not have milk and cream at the same time.

The process of developing a spiritual body is therefore similar to a phase change, ice melting to water, water boiling to steam. Also in my experience, there is a kind of latency effect. You pour energy and effort into the work, and there are results. But depending on how you observe, there may seem to be a plateauing effect.

When you heat water to boiling, there is a direct linear relationship between the energy you apply to the water and the rise in degrees of the water temperature over time. When the water comes to boiling, it does not get any hotter. Instead, that energy now has a direct linear relationship to the mass of the liquid water being liberated into steam.

The bodies the Budda was describing, which are organic and naturally-occuring phase changes, like the conversion of milk into cheese, are Jhanas. There is a little bit of slack and difference in the description of the Jhanas. It seems to me these differences are largely due to whether the source is describing the state the body is in (liquid or steam) or the process of conversion between them (boiling). More

What is “Faith” Really? — A Commonly Misunderstood Word

“Faith” is sometimes understood as belief in a doctrine, sometimes as confidence a religious narrative or spiritual point of view. wp.me/p2ukOd-2s

A man praying at a Japanese Shintō shrine.

A man praying at a Japanese Shintō shrine.

Those understandings of “faith” are OK.  But I want to say they’re OK as far as they go.  Consider why faith is essential in the battle against evil.

I do not personally believe that strong faith is essential to ensure one’s own salvation.  There is no punishment that arises from lack of faith.

Faith is incredibly powerful in the confrontation with evil and in delivering one from suffering.  Deep faith causes one to be immune and impervious to ills and afflictions of all kinds. More

The Slowness of Time Means the Starship Enterprise Will Never Be Built


NCC-1701 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The slowness of time. The speed of light, while fast, is not infinite. Light takes time to travel from one place to another. Einstein proved that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. It is the speed limit built into the nature of space and time.

The Universe has a speed limit. This creates some weird effects. We cannot witness these weird effects in the everyday human world, because the speed of light is so much faster than anything in our daily experience. But the effects are very real: clocks in satellites measure time a little differently than clocks on the surface of the Earth, as Einstein’s theory predicts.

What are “simultaneous” events? Suppose there are a number of space colonies in different star systems that are more or less in a line. Call them A, B, C, D, and E. Each is about 10 light years apart.

Let’s make this an exciting story.

Stars A and E unexpectedly go supernova, and the humans have to evacuate into hyperspace. Colony B sees the light from star A’s explosion before colony C sees it. Colony C sees the explosion before colony D sees it. Colony D sees the light before colony E sees it.

The reverse is true of the light from the explosion of star E, which travels first to D, then C, B and finally A.

Light from star A’s explosion reaches colony C in their year 72, which is 72 years after their founding. That same year, the light from star E’s explosion also reaches them. They write in their history books, “Stars A and E both were observed to go supernova this year!”

The history books of colony B would read differently. The light from star A reached them 10 years before it reached colony C. Then again, the light from star E reached them 10 years *after* it reached colony C. Therefore, their history records would say, “Star A was observed to go supernova, and 20 years later star E was observed to go supernova.”

Neither history is incorrect. The colonies really did observe the events happen at those times.

When the citizens of colony E come out of hyperspace, they will consider the damage to their colony world and begin to file lawsuits against the insurance companies, which will probably need a bail-out. These lawsuits could still be in progress 40 years later, when the light from the explosion of star A reaches them.

Therefore, star E’s history books say, “40 years after our star went supernova, colony A’s star was observed to go supernova, too.”

Of course, star A’s history books would record the fact that their own star went supernova, and 40 years afterward star E was observed to also go supernova.

We have not yet mentioned colony F, which is 10 light years further away than colony E. Colony F’s history books would agree with colony E’s, observing star E going supernova 40 years earlier than star A.

On the other hand, colony Zero is 10 light years further away than colony A. It is 20 years from colony B, 30 from colony C, and so forth. Colony Zero’s history would agree with colony A’s, observing star A going supernova 40 years earlier than star E.

Which supernova happened first? Einstein said that this was a meaningless question. The sequence of events is relative to the observer’s frame of reference. It is relative to their location and their speed.

Sorry, Kirk!

Bad news for Captain Kirk! To build Captain Kirk’s warp drive, Starfleet would have to figure out when the Enterprise, traveling from colony A to colony E, would pass through colony C. The idea that there is an absolute frame of reference — called “hyperspace” — that the Enterprise can zip around in, popping out into “normal space” at colony C to pick up more dilithium crystals, is impossible.

There is no absolute frame of reference that ties together the universe into a single NOW. There is only the current frame of reference, from which different events in the past can be said to be observed simultaneously — and any frame of reference is equally valid.


(Then again, consider the “slingshot manuver,” in which the Enterprise zooms very close to the Sun in order to travel into the past. When they want to return, they do it again. Why don’t they travel into the past again? Apparently the idea here is that it matters in which direction you travel while slingshotting!)


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