Introduction to Philosophy

Here we discuss the basic principles of Samhkya philosophy. Ray breaks down in simple terms and explains principles of Indian philosophy which are the foundation of our Yoga practices. It is a 45 minute talk and is the first in a series of talks aimed at giving students a clear understanding of the metaphysics behind Yoga and other philosophical systems in the Indian tradition.
Watch the video.

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  1. Hello,

    Thank you for including discussions on Yoga philosophy. Your explanations are very understandable and helpful. I am so grateful for your commitment to the practice and your commitment to your students.

  2. Mulang Wang says: - reply

    Hi ray! I’ve watched your online video and have a question: if prulusha is the really what we are, why we all identify ourselves as Prakratti? What karma can lead this?
    How do we approach prulusha? And how do we discriminate prulusha and self-conscious(which is mind?), for example: when I practice asanas, I want my leg to rotate, I think that’s my self-conscious(mind) is working, (just a bit confused about mind and prulusha..)

    If the prakratti is so not ‘important’ why alignment is so important?

    • Ray says: - reply

      Hi Mulang,
      We are hypnotized by Prakritti. We don’t experience the impermanence of the mind-body but instead believe that the “I” is unchanging. Mind has no consciousness. It is an instrument through which consciousness (Purusha) operates. Without Purusha mind has no awareness and it’s a dead object.
      We become confused that we are the mind-body (the “I”) and do not perceive Purusha. This is Avidya.
      The means to understand is through ashtanga (raja) Yoga, karma yoga, jnana yoga and bakhti yoga.
      Everything done in Ashtanga Yoga is to bring the mind into a state that is fit for meditation. It has to be brought into the sattvic state.
      So asanas have to do this as well.
      When we asked to align the body in an asana, it is not really about getting the body into an alignment. It is to activate the part of the chitta (the substrata of mind) which is capable of discerning true and false and not getting caught in desires and aversions.
      Manas is the part of the chitta which gets caught in desires and aversions. So when we do an asana we can very easily get trapped by pleasurable or unpleasable sensations creating desires and aversions. This is the Manas in operation.
      However, if we are asked to align the back of the body ,for example in Sirsasana, then we have to use discernment and discrimination to make the senses operate without distraction and create the alignment whithout getting trapped. To do this we must be calm, quiet, inward , pensive and alert. Nothing should disrupt the flow of discernment needed to get the feedback from all of the cells of the body. This is beyond the manas which is brought into a retrained state and it is buddhi which is now active.
      You have to understand the three components of chitta. They are manas, ahamkhara and buddhi.
      Manas is always oscillating between tamas and rajas.
      Whereas the nature of buddhi is satvas.
      So the object of alignment is to convert the chitta into a state of sattvas, through retaint of the ahamkhara and manas.
      In this way asanas become a spiritual endeavour.
      These are good questions. I hope to explain more clearly as we progress with the philosophy videos, where I can take time to explain more clearly.

      • Mulang Wang says: - reply

        Thanks for your answeringThere are lot of things to process, “mind is an instrument of purusha” I can understand, but I don’t really radically, cause my mind limit my understanding, I guess that’s why we need practical ways to approach it.. I feel like sometime things are not for to understand, it’s for me to feel…

        Do you have any books that you recommend reference to chitta?

        • Ray says: - reply

          The mind has to be transformed from its normal state. Normally mind is engrossed in kleshas. It is desiring or suffering aversion or in fear. It’s all avidya. Mind sees itself as the “I” and the source of awareness. Mind is a product of citta.
          Citta is the substrata of the mind. Prashant Iyengar describes citta as being like an iceberg. The mind is what can be seen above the surface and is knowable to a degree. In Western psychology mental problems are dealt with by mental means eg psychiatry, medications that affect the brain and mind.
          However, below the mind is mass of the iceberg. This is not knowable to the mundane mind. Citta is the storehouse of samskaras (9mpressions) and tendencies (varsanas) which give rise to the movements and tendencies and inclinations of mind.
          Citta is comprised of three components. Firtly, there is mind (manas) which is that which desires and experiences aversions. Then there is ahamkhara which is that which associates experiences, thoughts and sensory input with being experienced by the personality or individual ‘I”. Finally, there is buddhi which is the power of discernment and discrimination.
          As I said before when are concentrating on alignment in asana we must make the manas and ahamkhara quiet and allow the buddhi to function undisturbed. This is a meditative state.
          The role of the buddhi is to “present” the objects of the sense organs to the source of consciosness, Purusha. As I said before, Purusha has no form or body and therefore cannot by itself interact with Prakritti. It has no eyes, ears etc. In our case, due to Karma, the Purusha has become attached to Prakritti and has given rise to a creation in the form of a human birth.
          The buddhi presents the objects of the senses to Purusha and manas and ahamkara oscillate according to the samskaras (impressions from previous actions) in response.
          Hence we become aware of a sense object through this mechanism and manas either desires or becomes averse, saying “want” or “don’t like” then ahamkhara relates to the object with ego identification so the process becomes “I” want or “I” don’t like.
          Manas and akhamkhara when active oscillate between tamas (dullness, torpor, anger etc) and rajas (creativeness, restlessnee, agitation etc).
          The essential nature of Buddhi is Sattvic (peaceful. awake, illumined).
          The goal of Astanga yoga, which I will discuss in later talks, is to become Sattvic. Through Astanga Yoga the sense organs are turned inward and do not engage with the outer world. Desires come to a halt. Only the Buddhi is active and is Sattvic. The practioner becomes engrossed in peace and inner quiet. At this time the Buddhi reflect Purusha back to itself and Purusha becomes conscious only of itself. This is Self Realization.
          Then the Yogi, understands the nature of himself as being Purusha. From then on he is free from the dance of Prakritti.
          I will try and elaborate as time goes on in future videos.
          Thank you for your questions. Try Edwin Bryant’s “Yoga Sutras of Patanjali”. It’s quite clear straight forward and easy to get. Anything by Prashant Iyengar is highly recommended.

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