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.”

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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

Karma Yoga — The Way of Work (part of the 4 Yogas of Hinduism series!)

English: Mother Theresa with Dr. S. Brahmochary

Mother Teresa with Dr. S. Brahmochary

(4 Yogas Main) Karma Yoga — The Way of Work — is for the active type of person. There are two modes.  wp.me/p2ukOd-5S

A. emotional mode. Work with no attachment to success, focused on one’s duty to the community.

B. reflective mode. Witnessing of self, focused on duty with no notion of profit.

In either mode, the essential ingredient is selfless devotion to service.

In modernity, the one person most known for selfless devotion to service is undoubtedly Mother Teresa.  She was already a nun, traveling to her new home convent in Calcutta, when she got what she described as “the Call within the Call,” to serve the needs of the poor and hungry.  She explained that this was a command from heaven.

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Bhakti Yoga — The Way of Love (part of the 4 Yogas of Hinduism series!)

Krishna and Putana - ISKCON desire tree

Krishna and Putana – Hare Krishna (ISKCON) painting

Bhakti Yoga, the Yoga of Love, is for the passionate type of person (4 Yogas Main).

The process is:

  1. Adopt God as an object of obsessive love.
  2. Connect to God using every form of love:  parent-child, friend, lover.
  3. Adopt a specific manifestation of God — in Hinduism, a particular diety — as your primary image and symbol of God. Make all others secondary.

The Hare Krishnas are the most well-known for Bhakti Yoga.  Their group worship consists of singing and dancing.  The musician sings a round of the chant, which is in Sanskrit (the sacred language of India — think of Latin in Europe), and the congregation repeats it.

Typically this begins with the congregation half-singing, half mumbling the chant — just like Christians singing hymns in church — but they get more and more into it, more and more worked up, like teenagers at a pep rally.

Individual worship may consist of chanting, reading the Bhagavad-Gita, saying rosaries, or so forth.

The purpose of all this is to get the person worked up and emotionally involved with the diety.  The Hare Krishnas have the goal of so fixating on their desire to be with God that they are totally focused on this at the time of their death.  The name of this mental state is “Krishna consciousness” and the effect is to ensure that they go to Krishna in the after-life.

Hindus often regard Christianity as a kind of Bhakti yoga.  Christ said that the most important commandment is to love God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your being.  He also said that the second commandment, which is like the first, is to love humanity in the same way. More

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

Carl-Jung-mod

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

Introducing the 4 Yogas of Hinduism Series

A sadhu performing namaste (W:Anjali mudra) in...

A sadhu performing namaste (W:Anjali mudra) in Madurai, India. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hinduism teaches there is a basic pattern to human development. The cosmology teaches people are reincarnated, and (often) that a person is born into their place in the social hierarchy depending on how far along they are. I’m not getting into that part.

There are 4 Yogas, four basic modalities of human spiritual development. They are independent of one another, and appropriate to different kinds of people, according to their characters.

Before the adoption of a yoga, there is the process by which a normal person develops into a spiritual seeker.

As one becomes a spiritual seeker, there is a preliminary clearing-out step in which one adopts the 5 Abstentions and the 5 Observances.

The spiritual seeker will then be drawn to one of the 4 Yogas:

The Way of Knowledge (Jnana Yoga) – note:  links go hot as articles are posted.
The Way of Love (Bhakti Yoga)
The Way of Work (Karma Yoga)
The Way of Meditation (Raja Yoga)

These are basic types, not rigid categories. They are forms by which the human psyche may attain the Divine — either Being with the Divine, or Becoming One with the Divine. Seekers usually have a preference. 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 Noble 8-fold Path and Obstacles on the Way (part of the 7 Sets series)

English: Path near Gamesley Fold Farm

The Noble 8-fold Path is most known of the sets in the 7 Sets. It is something like the 10 Commandments in Judaism and Christianity. One difference is that most of the 10 Commandments are prohibitions — thou shalt NOT — while the 8-fold path is a set of positive obligations.

(Westerners often say that means Buddhism is more permissive, but I’m not sure that comparison is valid, or true if valid. Which is more permissive — to be told 10 things you can’t do, or 8 things you must?)

The Noble 8-fold Path is:

1. Right View
2. Right Resolve
3. Right Speech
4. Right Action
5. Right Livelihood
6. Right Effort
7. Right Mindfulness
8. Right Concentration

Notice that 1-2 are internal, 3-5 are social, and 6-8 regard meditation and the path to attainment.  Some of these are addressed very thoroughly in the rest of the 7 Sets framework.

However, the social precepts — Right Speech, Right Action, and Right Livelihood — are less discussed.  There are rules for monastics.  There are guidelines for finding suitable employment.  Right Speech mostly boils down to not lying or being deceptive and not quarreling.

This is a good time to talk about the 5 Desires.  These are intrinsic drivers to attachment that are defeated on the path to enlightenment.

1.  Wealth
2.  Sex
3.  Fame
4.  Food
5.  Sleep

I hear the Buddha once said that if there were another desire like sex, he wouldn’t have attained enlightenment.

The 3 Sources of Bad Karma are:

1.  Hate
2.  Greed
3.  Delusion

These are to be avoided in yourself, but also one is to avoid stirring them in others.  No internet trolling, no being a con artist.

There are two lists of fetters.  There are the 3 Fetters and the 10 Fetters (which include the first three).

The 3 Fetters are:

1.  Identity View
2.  Skeptical Doubt
3.  Clinging to Rites & Rituals

Identity view is the idea that the self is real.  It is attachment to having a particular viewpoint.  The second and third are interesting in combination:  on the one hand, one ought not have skeptical doubt, but faith.  On the other hand, to cling to rites and rituals is a debased form of faith.

Rather than relying on rites and rituals, one should look into one’s own nature.  Doing this thoroughly shows up the emptiness of identity view.  The more you look at who you are, the more you find that you’re not there.

The expanded list of 10 Fetters, for those of you aren’t satisfied with only 3, is:

1.  Identity View
2.  Skeptical Doubt
3.  Clinging to Rites & Rituals  ………………The basic 3 Fetters
4.  Sensual Craving
5.  Ill-Will ……………………………………….. Fetters 1-5 are regarding this world

 6.  Desiring a Fine-Material Existence
7.  Desiring an Immaterial Existence ……… Fetters resolved with Bodhichitta
8.  Conceit
9.  Restlessness
10. Ignorance  ……………………………………Fetters 6-10 are regarding the next world

You can see how freeing oneself from the basic three fetters will tend to resolve the others.  Desiring a fine-material existence (to become an angel or guardian spirit, I imagine) will prevent attaining the enlightenment of the Buddha.  But really that has to do with identity view:  imagining that you exist, and further, that other sentient beings exist.

That doesn’t mean you should think that sentient beings do not exist:  it means that the language which expresses the question of whether sentient beings exist or not implicitly presupposes the problem that enlightenment resolves.

The 7 Factors for Awakening — Waypoints on the Journey to Enlightenment (part of the 7 Sets series)

English: Paticcasamuppada (In Pali), life Cycl...

Paticcasamuppada (Pali), life cycle wheel of beings, good to use for Vipassana mediators and important to understand.

The 7 Factors for Awakening set is a kind of a road map toward Enlightenment. (7 Sets main) These are the steps to take to become enlightened.

1. Mindfulness
2. Insight (or Analysis of Qualities — the behavior of insight)
3. Persistence
4. Rapture
5. Serenity
6. Concentration
7. Equanimity

The last four are the four Jhanas, which we’ve talked about.  These are levels of attainment achieved in sequence. One attains the Jhana of Rapture before one attains the Jhana of Serenity, and so forth.

Mindfulness and Analysis of Qualities probably do not need to be attained in that sequence. Rather, these are preliminary tools. Persistence clearly is necessary throughout.

I have seen Buddhism divided into three basic parts:

  • Vipassana — Insight into the nature of things.  This is the contemplation of what is true.  It is more intuitive than what we normally call “theology,” but constitutes a deep awareness of transcendent truths, and therefore might be considered metaphysical in nature.
  • Samatha — quiet mind.  This is the meditative version of what for a hypnotist is command of trance state, also called state control.
  • The Jhanas — the levels to Stream Entry.  These are enduring states of the psyche, or foundational changes in one’s spiritual body.
The 7 Factors for Awakening are these three, plus persistent effort.

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