\ Dharmatalks
The Discipline of No Discipline
Yoga Teachings of a Dharma Bum

"In it what's in it."

Dharma is Truth. It exists. Irreverently disrespectful of our opinions, yet comprising more reverence and respect than we could possibly imagine.

Truth is for each of us to perceive. It can be a formally accepted scripted and transmitted doctrine, but is certainly not limited to that. We can study all of the scripts, but eventually it boils down to what we know and how we each practice it. And how we describe it to others, for each of us is always being asked to teach, or at least live well, what we know.

There is the Tao, the Way which requires no knowledge. Not just that no knowledge is required, but that in order to live it perfectly, it requires that no knowledge be implemented. For in the moment, the use of knowledge posits one's intelligence, and the Tao cannot be posited.

I want you to be aware that awareness does not increase, nor does our capacity for it. Except inversely proportional to our letting go. And what do we let go of, and who are we to let go of anything?

Studying the combination of Zen Taoist Buddhist teachings of Sanskrit Yoga Vipassana Sufi Christianity makes me want to write it all down once and for all beginning with personal definitions of Sanskrit Tibetan Pali words that are by now immortal in the minds of Hindu Tibetan Buddhist saints and scholars of the aforesaid scriptures.

It starts with "Avidya", loosely translated as ignorance but ignorance of what the scholars say, of self. "A" in Sanskrit implies absence of and "Vidya" means knowledge (of self), or life. The masters says that Sanskrit is the language of self. It is the Voice of the Soul explaining itself to mortal learning ignorant men and women scholars and would-be saints and mystics all. And that knowledge of self is the ultimate destiny of all.

Avidya, Absence of Knowledge of Self is the root cause of suffering, the base existence of which is undeniable since we have all experienced and witnessed it. This Suffering is called Dukkha, interesting to note the phonetic similar in Arabic is Dukhan which means smoke, i.e. the product if fire, along with ashes. And Holy languages and scriptures are revealed to alleviate ignorance, and such is the drama of life.

So the first of the four noble truths as determined by Siddharta is the existence of Suffering. Immediately followed by the statement that there is an End to Suffering which can be brought about by determining the Cause of Suffering - which there is one - which statement is the Third Noble Truth, and by the following of the Eightfold Noble Path which is the statement of the Fourth Noble Truth.

The eightfold noble path consists of three divisions of teaching,
  • Being a moral person, Sila - right speech, right action and right livelihood.
  • Attainment of right focus and concentration, Samma Vayana - right effort, Samma Sati - right awareness, and Samma Samadhi - right concentration.
  • and the development of wisdom or insight.
The first third comprises three of the eight and it is called Sila or moral discipline comprising
right speech, right action and right livelihood. It is interesting to notice that the precepts of these three moral disciplines are based on negation of their damage. It means for example non-violence, no thievery, no bad word like slander etc. It occurs that good and morality and decency are more difficult to describe and may indeed be endless but they are more easily understood by alluding to the elimination of their opposites since everyone knows what it is to be bad and may indeed be even more familiar. It is implied that what is meant by moral and decent behavior is simply the eradication of traits harmful to self and others.

The similarity to the Ashtanga or the eight limbs of yoga is striking in that there again the eradication of 'negative' or harmful characteristics is how the morality is described.

The Yoga path is described similarly with almost the same characteristics but the language is different although the similarity in meaning can be easily distinguished. For example the second of the three trainings in Vipassana Buddhism is the third in yoga but they are both characterized as concentration and both use the common word Samadhi as the third and final goal of the discipline the discipline of concentration, contemplation and comprehension. One goal and means of Reality Therapy is Samadhi Yoga.

There is a similarity to this process not only in the Sufi teachings of lillah, billah and fillah and `ilmul yaqin, `ainul Yaqin and Haqqul Yaqin (which are similitudes of the highest order and usage of the terms and are only mentioned here for the interest of the students of the Sufi Science and are explored in depth elsewhere on this website), but also in the most common and ordinary of tasks.

Thinks of it like this. We discover a word that we know nothing of or an object or a word in a foreign language that we'd like to know how to use more effectively. So we place it in front of us, so to speak, and practice using it, saying it, contemplating it and we simply do not give up until we 'got it'. By that I mean thoroughly comprehend its meaning significance and usage to the degree that we are no longer interested in it any longer by virtue of the feeling of its complete mastery, comprehension and inclusion of its principle so that we are then free to move on and discover something else to which we might apply the same diligence. This process of gaining comprehension including its conclusion is called Samyama and it is also written about in greater depth elswhere.

It would be nice to mention the definitions of some key yoga terminologies also. Where the threefold process of Samyama comprises Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi (sometimes thought of as contact/focus, connection/contemplation and the bliss of satisfaction/comprehension) in the Sanskrit Yoga passages, they are called in Buddhist Vipassana language Samma Vayana - right effort, Samma Sati - right awareness, and Samma Samadhi - right concentration.
The eight limbs of Yoga are:

A. - Tapas (disciplines, i.e. asanas and pranayama)
1) Asana (posture requiring a Taoist balance of Yin and Yang, called sthirasukha, the balance between softness/comfort (sukha) and alertness/tension, and requiring vinyasa krama, special (unique to you) steps, starting where you are in truth),
2) Pranayama (breathing, self-control, unlimited energy, much more on this later),
B.- Svadhyaya  (self-investigation or introspection) Each has five components.
3) Yamas, or social constraints, rights to society and practice of moral virtues (similar to Shari`at in Sufi lore),
4) Niyamas, or personal development, rights to self, similar to tariqat in sufi lore.
C.- Ishvarapranidhana - Surrender, or Devotion to God.
5) Pratyahara, withdrawal of senses, cessation of lust for sensory pleasure, redirection of focus and separation from outward to inward.
And now The Samyama Process

6, 7 and 8 are what can be done as a result, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi. Focus, Contemplation and Comprehension, together called Samyama.

The eight limbs are similarly broken down into three groups. They are Tapas (disciplines, i.e. asanas and pranayama) Svadhyaya  (self-investigation or introspection), and Ishvarapranidhana, or devotion to God. Summed up as Health, Inquiry and Quality of action.

Samadhi has the beginning quality of absorption beginning with 'got it' or comprehension, but if the focus is right and the effort is right, there is a continuing effect of understanding that leads to bliss by virtue of continued abidance in original nature.

Kaivalya is the natural freedom of the fully liberated organism.