Yoga philosophy views each being as a jiva, or individuated consciousness, that undergoes countless incarnations as it gains experience through evolution. We contain the memories of all these incarnations and through direct perception of our patterns in this life we are capable of knowing our previous lives as well – for the advanced yogi at least.
We mistake the transient for the eternal, the impure for the impure, what brings us misery for what brings us pleasure, and the non-self for the Self.
Buffeted by the constant winds of ignorance and its manifestations, we become trapped in duality, obscuring the cosmic vision from our view and trapping us in an illusion of separateness.
Somehow, consciousness found a way to cognize itself and communicate the dharma, or the Tao. How this happened is a mystery that brings every aspirant into wonderment and humility. To receive this vision, or what is called darshana, whether in the form of a person or a direct communication with God/Void/Tao, is a gift of Grace, or sometimes called the guru’s grace.
Patanjali’s yoga is sometimes called samkyha yoga, as it can empower one to experience purusha and prakriti as two independent and ultimate realities. To be established in this state of discriminative wisdom is known as kaivalya, or emancipation. Emancipation from what? Ignorance, which is the cause of suffering. In the ultimate possibility, it is liberation from the cycle of birth and death itself. Offer analogy for the chart – our subjective experience and a science to explore it – fire to sight – sound to hearing etc.) Knowledge and heart
Viewing the basic cause of suffering as ignorance (avidya), yoga deals directly with the causes of ignorance to achieve its goal of freedom. The root of ignorance is a basic amnesia that all life undergoes by identifying with its material experience – in yoga this is the mistaking of the observer with the observed, or in samkyha of Purusha with the manifestations of Prakriti – and forgetting it’s Divine essence/origin in the process.
Classical yoga is rooted in “samkyha philosophy”, which is one of the world’s oldest metaphysical worldviews and philosophies of spiritual liberation. It is called a darshana, which can mean a vision of the Ultimate Reality.
It views life as consisting of the interaction between two eternal principles; Purusha – Self, Consciousness, Spirit, and Prakriti – matter, primordial Nature. The intermingling of purusha and prakriti produces the impetus for all creation. All humanity has seen that life is produced when the Male and Female, or Father and Mother, are joined. When these realities unite they produce entities imbued with life-force, known as “Jiva”.
In the religious view, the purpose of each jiva is to evolve until it realizes its true nature. Each jiva has a place in the overall evolutionary scheme of life, called a sva-dharma. It also has a unique disposition determined by the balance of elements that comprise it, called a sva-bhava.
In Samkhya there is no “God” that is masterminding all of creation. There are universal design principles in nature which, when animated by consciousness, begin to produce the entire diversity of life. It’s amazing how the ancients understood that the entire universe is essentially made of holons, or wholes within wholes, each endowed with the potential to evolve different variations of the same underlying patterns of nature. Human beings are a unique species as they have both the animal and superconscious intelligence available to them.
Samkyha philosophy is an emergent metaphysics in which progressive development of the subtle and gross apparatus that has evolved for consciousness and nature to perceive and create reality. All the principles of creation, known as the tattwas, are the evolutes of prakriti with which life continues to generate it’s infinite manifestations. Of particular importance are the three modes of nature, or gunas, which are in a constant interplay to produce the various physical and psychological states of existence.
The premise of samkyha is that by providing a map of consciousness, each person can perform their own investigation to discover how the mechanism of mind and nature works within themselves. When we hear a statement like “all life is an illusion”, this is a statement made by yogis who have performed such an investigation.
Life is an illusion because of its constantly changing nature, based on underlying principles that create endless differentiations that appear separate on the surface. Just as a movie takes place on a screen and then ends when the reel is done and the light is turned off, so it is for our own minds. When we meditate and observe life carefully, we begin to see how the mechanism works.
Patanjali’s yoga is sometimes called samkyha yoga, as it can empower one to experience purusha and prakriti as two independent and ultimate realities. To be established in this state of discriminative wisdom is known as kaivalya, or liberation. Emancipation from what? Ignorance, which is the cause of suffering. In the ultimate possibility, it is liberation from the cycle of birth and death itself.
Viewing the basic cause of suffering as ignorance (avidya), both samkhya and yoga deals directly with the causes of ignorance to achieve its goal of freedom. The root of ignorance is a basic amnesia that all life undergoes by identifying with its material experience – in yoga this is the mistaking of the observer with the observed, or in samkyha of Purusha with the manifestations of Prakriti.
Whereas samkyha is inherently a dualistic philosophy, in many other yogic paths there is only One underlying Reality and it cannot be divided. Patanjali does not speak strongly for one or the other, according to him if our devotion or surrender to God/Void/Self brings us to samadhi, it is valid – no one else can coerce us into the conclusion of our Ultimate nature.
While samkyha philosophy provides an excellent blueprint, Patanjali offers deep insight into how it operates within the human mind and practical guidance on working with it. His penetrating clarity into the nature of the mind, the progressive stages of yogic development, as well as the obstacles that arise from the practitioner are an invaluable asset to a seeker.