The Three Gunas

Written by Kyra Clarke with inputs from Master Paalu

The Three Gunas have been defined as ‘the three fundamental qualities’ (A Sanskrit-English Dictionary 1866). That is, they are the fundamental ways of characterising people, foods, etc. These characteristics are present in all of us in different quantities and degree, combining to make a whole: we all have parts of the three gunas within our personalities. These characteristics cannot be judged as good or bad, positive or negative. Instead, what is most important is that we learn to recognise the three gunas and become aware of their effect on our lives. An experience of any of the gunas is only pure once we recognise them and create something or enhance or step away from our experience of them. The experience of them should be the instigator nor the stimulus to perform any future actions.

 

Traditionally, tamas means darkness – in Master Paalu’s words, leeching from others. An example might be using others to achieve your own goals while never giving back. In our lives it is important to reduce the influence of this guna. Refusal to come to light of things and using others’ efforts as a platform with little or no contribution from the individual to grow, taking full credit for the growth, if any. In relation to food, Tamasic food refers to, food that is not generated from the fundamental 5 compounds of nature primarily, namely fire, earth, water, space and air. On the other hand food is consumed through third party processing namely an animal or by processing it via machines. For example, when a chicken is consumed, the chicken is third hand protein, carbo or nutrients. The chicken would have consumed the worms or other food to grow its flesh. By consuming the chicken we also accumulate all those food consumed and processed by the chicken’s bodily systems.

 

My understanding of rajas comes from experiences of anger, although in translations from Sanskrit, rajas has been defined as ‘passion’ among other things. Rajas includes those things that stimulate us and get us fired up, although we must not become dependent on such stimulation in our daily lives.

 

For example, it would be ineffective for me to rely on becoming angry in order to get any work done. And yet, anger is one emotion that can be useful in gaining awareness of feelings and the gunas’ impact on our lives.

 

If I recognise how I feel when I am angry and why I become angry, I can recognise these feelings in future and thus manage my anger and direct it more usefully and creatively.

 

The definition of sattva as ‘essence’ (A Sanskrit-English Dictionary 1866) I believe is useful in understanding it – an essence can be the truth of something, but it can also mean getting to its core. Sattvic foods are those foods that are natural and fresh, containing the core nutrients that we need to survive.

 

In our lives, sattva can mean with time, work and discipline that we get beyond the comparisons and judgements we make constantly with each other and instead work on sharing and learning with others – coming to understand one another.

 

None of the three gunas may be regarded as good or bad as it is only in acknowledging these aspects that we can move forward. In this way, coming to purity within the three gunas may be viewed in a similar way to Jnana yoga (wisdom).

 

This requires combining the knowledge that we gather in our lives, experience and understanding of this knowledge, but also our own input, our creativity, to make something new and original. It is only through the combination of these elements that wisdom is found, but also purity in the three gunas.

 

Comparisons may also be made between the three gunas and the first three chakras. Muladhara, our root foundation (earth) located at the base of the spine may be considered as our animal instincts, our constant need for safety/security, food, water and lust. When these needs are the focus of our lives, the chakra spins anti-clockwise.

 

Like tamas, the influence of this chakra in our lives must be dissolved as much as possible, so that we can move on and above to the higher chakras.

 

Swadhisthana, self abode (water) in many ways may be seen to contain similar elements to those found in an understanding of sattva. When this chakra is spinning in an anticlockwise direction, our experiences may focus on jealousy, requirements for attention, success or indulgence. However when it turns in a clockwise direction it may be viewed as a sharing chakra, we want others to do well, indeed to do better than ourselves, to want success but not be obsessed with it, to perform better every day instead of comparing ourselves to an unseen goal, to enjoy our indulgences but reduce the quantity. That is this chakra may be viewed as self love, and loving the self completely, totally. Without loving yourself completely, it become close to impossible to love someone or something as it is.

 

The third chakra, manipura, jewel city (fire) is the position from which we transform, but in order to do so we need to fire up to rise above encumbrances. So just as in rajas we transform anger into creativity, here we can use these negative aspects of our lives to take a step forward into the higher chakras of Anahata, Vishuddha and Ajna.

 

More importantly, once we step beyond this chakra we can act creatively without the need for stimulation – that is, we can understand more clearly how to break the negative patterns in our lives in order to move forward and with this knowledge can do so more easily.

 

In this way, just as our knowledge, experience and creativity brings wisdom and our understanding and experience of the three gunas will bring us to purity, our internal knowledge, understanding, experience and acknowledgement of these three chakras can bring us to higher chakras and thus higher planes of experience.

 

(1866) A Sanskrit-English Dictionary, Longmans, Green and Co: London. Found at http://books.google.com.au/books?id=MDEOAAAAIAAJ&vq=sattva&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Pranayama – rediscover your best friend

 

Our journey on this earth will start and end with a single breath. Yet most of us have forgotten that breathing is so essential to our life. In our day to day life we are oblivious to it. And in truth we are really bad at it, well at least I know I was. I really wish I’d been taught how to breathe better at school or as part of physical education. It is a skill we would really benefit from an early age and for the long term…

 

The great gift of the breath is that it is also a volontary action, so we can take control and train our breath, with care.

 

First by just paying attention, how is our breathing pattern in this instant? Is my breathing long, deep, shallow, fast? Do I have a dominant nostril? Is the breathing pattern flowing smoothly or restrained in some areas? Gaining awareness of our breath is already a major first step.

 

Then by acting on the breath through Pranayama. What would be the most beneficial practice in this instant?, would it be to try to calm your mental state?, to energise you?, to balance your left and right channels?, to deepen your breath, making the inhale and/or exhale longer?

 

There are many different techniques depending on the benefit one is looking for. It doesn’t necessarily take long 10′ can be sufficient, although 20-40′ are recommended. Befriend your breath again and the changes will happen through a steady and regular practice. Remember there is no rush as this is one a few activity we’ll be able to practice till the end of our life 😉

Chakra galaxies

The chakras are the energy centers of our body. They are connected to our spinal cord and, on the physical plane, with different organs and parts of our body.

Whilst many people refer to the chakras as wheels or dots of energy, it is useful to visualise them as clouds or galaxies of energy. It entails several benefits:
– it gives a sense of dimension in space (3D perspective), whilst a wheel might cue a presence on a single plane only
– energy systems have boundaries that are less defined than what a wheel or dot suggest. Where does a cloud start? Where does it end?
– it illustrates the fact that chakras are constantly moving and shifting. They are very dynamic in nature and will their state will shift rapidly. They are vortices of energy, moving around a central axis, like galaxies do.
– they are complex systems, including sub dimensions and elements, like a galaxy would comprise several sun systems, each orbiting and moving within the parent system. This has been traditionally represented by the petals associated with each chakra symbol. For example, Muladhara, the root chakra located on the sacrum at the base of the spine, has 4 petals, ie 4 sub dimensions and qualities that will influence the overall dynamic and health of the chakra. When a sub system is unbalanced it will affect the overall balance of the chakra.
– as with any dynamic system, shifts are quite subtle and inter-related. This contrasts with some interpretations of the chakras that are quite  bipolar (chakra open vs close, positive vs negative rotation).
Overall analogies and metaphors are tools to help comprehension but they are limited in nature and nothing will beat one’s own experience of his/her own energy moving in the body, yet, till then, having relevant and powerful analogies can help grasp this complex and subtle subject a bit better. So when thinking about chakras, think about galaxies and how they move and influence your body and mental states.

Yoga philosophy: The yamas

The yamas are the the first limb of the eight limb path described by Pathanjali in the Yoga Sutras. They describe the five qualities and principles one should follow in everyday life to guide one’s interactions with the outside world.
There are many interpretations of these principles depending on the lenses, be it cultural, religious or spiritual, through which they are interpreted.
After hearing and reading a few commentaries, it struck me that the interpretations of the yamas can vary greatly and a few points grabbed my attention.
One is a tendency to focus on a negative, constraining interpretation of the yamas, eg. You shall not be violent, lie, steal, engage in sexual relations, be greedy – which undermines the positive essence of yoga and its ability to uplift and transform.
The other, which is sometimes linked to the former, is to be dogmatic and controlling in their interpretation.
As an example, Bramacharya is often interpreted as promoting abstinence and the repression of sexual urges. However when focusing on an energy based lense this yama rather encourages us to manage our energy mindfully and to lift our energy up the spine -from the base chakra to the top one- and therefore transcend the sexual urges.
Bramacharya is the way of life of enlightened beings who transcend their root energy for creativity and spiritual purpose. When understood dogmatically there is a real risk that repression of the powerful sexual urge will create tension and lead to attachment rather than freedom.
Focusing on positive, energy based interpretation of the yamas has definetely brought a new light on these five qualities, highlighting their liberating rather than constraining aspects and I can only encourage you to do the same and consider them through that lense.

Benjamin Button and Yoga

Remember Benjamin Button? He was the lead character from the 2008 fantasy drama that starred Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. The film, which received 13 Academy Award nominations and won three Oscars, depicted the life of a man who had to live his life backwards. Brad Pitt played the character of Button, who was born wrinkled and looked like an old man, but as the years passed, grew to look younger and younger. Eventually, he ended his life as a baby.
The picture, in my view, draws a number of parallels with yoga.
The first parallel is that a life lived backwards could be far more enriching. From a physical standpoint, the different inversion and backbend asanas from camel to wheel to shoulder and head stands, yield countless health benefits.
Two-thirds of our body resides below our heart most of the time.  The heart thus needs to work hard in order to send oxygen and blood round our body every millisecond. The heart also needs to send blood against gravity to our brain, which helps and guides the rest of the body to perform every menial task throughout the day. Whether upwards or downwards, the heart is a slave.
When we lift into a Sirsasana, all of a sudden, blood flows back to our heart more readily and our brain is a happy recipient of a pool of bonus blood and oxygen, making us more alert and reinvigorated.  Along the way, our digestive system takes the opportunity to remove stubborn remains in our intestines, just like how we flip our bags upside down to clear out rubbish sometimes. And strangely, there is a renewed sense of calm inside you just by viewing the world around you with an unusual lens.
The second parallel – the movie not only leaves everyone wondering whether Brad would end up with Cate, the film also piques the viewer’s interest from scene to scene wondering how he would look as he grew increasingly younger (and more handsome too!). I, for one, admit that when I first took up yoga, it was a case of using the stretching exercises in yoga to perform better at other competitive sports. It was a means to strengthen my core muscles, stretch out my hamstrings, and improve my flexibility.
But as I practiced yoga more regularly and developed a deeper understanding of this 5,000-year-old discipline, I started to realise, and experience, the anti-aging benefits of yoga too. My skin is clearer and firmer. My breath is deeper and more wholesome. My mind is clearer and more alert.  I feel young both physically and mentally. Today when I get into Trikonasana, it is not just about how I look, whether my body is in perfect alignment, it is also very much about how I feel and if I am happy. When I step out of the yoga studio, yoga has also become what I choose to eat and say, and very importantly, how I want to live my life and treat the people around me.
The third parallel — Brad knew when to give up when he needed to. In the film, he stepped back twice and left Cate, even though she was probably the only woman he had ever loved. As yoga students, we are told to suspend intentions or expectations because when there’s an intention, there is bound to be disappointment. When you do something without expecting anything, any outcome that comes along will be a bonus, a form of happiness. Do what you can, not what the person on the next mat is doing. It is only when you open up to your insecurities and fears, and acknowledge what your mind is telling you, that you can embark on a real path to conquer your wayward mind. And when the mind is conquered, the body will follow. So sometimes giving up and surrendering, in this case to yourself, is not a bad thing at all. You may just encounter a new, and happier, you.

Jala neti and Yoga

Kriya (in Sanskrit “action, deed, effort”) most commonly refers to a “completed action”, technique or practice within a yoga discipline meant to achieve a specific result. Types of kriya may vary widely between different schools of yoga. Another meaning of Kriya is the outward physical manifestations of awakened kundalini. Kriyas can also be the spontaneous movements resulting from the awakening of Kundalini energy.

 The Hatha Yoga Pradipika describes the six kriya cleansing techniques. These techniques should only be practiced under proper guidance especially for first timer:

In this article, Jala neti will be discussed in detail including the benefits and methods.Jala neti importance in yoga dates back to thousands of year.In order to benefit from yoga, it is imperative to breathe fully and deeply through the nose and this is especially needed in Pranayama. Pranayama is all about regulating and controlling the breath and sustaining the life force in us. It is responsible to bring about tremendous changes in our body and mind. Therefore, jala neti is important to ensure that our breath flow can be regulated. Through this cleansing, the pituitary gland will be stimulated which awakens the energy center behind the forehead called the Ajna Chakra.This Chakra must be sufficiently stimulated for higher states of meditation.In addition, Jala  neti also helps in relaxation with unobstructed and freely flowing breath.This helps to ensure an abundant supply of oxygen at the right temperature to stimulate relaxation.All these benefits sum up the importance of Jala neti in Yoga practice.
 Jala neti

For this technique, lukewarm isotonic salt water is poured into one nostril, so that it leaves through the other. The procedure is then repeated on the other side, and the nose is dried by bending forward and by rapid breathing.[2]It is also possible to sniff the water in so that it runs into the mouth, and to spit it out. In a more advanced reverse variant, the water is taken in through the mouth and snorted out of the nose.[2]

 
Benefits

  • Clears the nasal cavities and passageways
  • Regulate nose breathing
  • Flushes the tear ducts
  • Rejuvenate your sense of smell and taste
  • Stimulates the Ajna chakra
  • Stimulate relaxation nd beneficial in meditation
  • Moisten the dry nasal cavities and passageways
  • Reduce diseases like asthma and bronchitis and chronicsinusitis

Method: 
Tools:

  • Neti pot
  • Pure water

Venues:

  • over a sink,
  • a bowl on a table,
  • in the shower or
  • outside

Steps:

    1. First fill the Neti Potwith warm water of a temperature suitable for pouring in the nose. Neither too hot or cold.
    2. Pure water is best if available. Mix in salt to the proportion of one teaspoon for half a litre of water. This equates to 0.9% and is called isotonic solution – the same as human blood. Sea salt is best if available.
    3. Mix well so that the salt is diluted completely. You will find all this out with growing experience, it differs from person to person. Some like a higher saline solution, some even do it without salt. The tissue of the nose is very sensitive and reacts immediately if something is not right.
    4. Place the nose cone into the right nostril, sealing it inside the nostril with a few twists and slight pressure. Try to point the spout straight up in line with the nasal passage so as not to block off the tip of the nozzle on the inside of the nose.
    5. Open your mouth and breathe gently through the mouth. .
    6. Now slowly bend forward from the waist so that the tip of the nose is the lowest point of the head; and then tilt/roll the head to the right, so that the left nostril is now the lowest point of the nose. Tilt slowly so that water doesn’t run out the top of the pot onto your face.
    7. Keep the nose cone fully sealed into the right nostril so that it doesn’t leak. Keep on mouth breathing whiles the water comes through. Just wait a few seconds and the water should run out the left nostril.
    8. keep breathing slowly and gently through the mouth. After the water begins to run, wait about 30 seconds for about half a pot to flow right to left, and then remove the pot and stand up.
    9. Before changing sides, blow out gently through both nostrils to clear water and mucus from the nose.
    10. Repeat the steps as above, but with the nose cone entering the left nostril and the flow of water going left to right.
    11.  After the pot runs dry, stand up, blow out gently through both nostrils and then prepare to dry out the nose.
    12. Repeat the whole process if there is still a mucus blockage. However, it is recommended to see a doctor after a few trial as there might besome structural blockage in the nose.
    13. If further guidance is needed, do ask any yoga practitioner for help.

Finale stage:

  1. Nose drying is very important and always remember to do this.
  2. Bend forwards from the waist and hang head upside down with the nose pointing towards the floor. Point the nose towards the knees and let any residual water drain from the nose. Gently breath in the mouth and out for 10 breaths.
  3. Then stand up and do some fast breathing through the nostril for 10 breaths, sniffing in and out moderately. Close of the right nostril with one finger and do 10 fast sniffing through the left nostril only. Repeat this on the other side of the nostril.
  4. Lastly, do 10 fast sniffing breath through both nostrils together.
  5. If you feel there are still some residual water, repeat the whole drying process.
  6. Drying nose is very important so as to prevent manifestation of cold and also infection in the sinus passages/ eustachian tubes.

Alternative
Dugdha Neti – Neti with Milk

    1. This method is good for those suffering from chronic nose bleeds or are sensitive towards salty water.
    2. It is best done after using salty water

 Differences

    1. The flow of milk do not go from one side to another , it only fills the ingoing nostril and then withdrawn
    2. Once from each side is sufficient.
    3. This practice should be done under proper guidance and not done excessively.

The Eightfold Path

The eightfold path is called ashtanga, which literally means “eight limbs” (ashta=eight, anga=limb). These eight steps basically act as guidelines on how to live a meaningful and purposeful life and serve as a prescription for moral and ethical conduct as well as self-discipline.Through this eight fold path, they help practitioner to accept the spiritual aspects of nature. The most important aspect for building construction is the foundation, whereas the construction of the spiritual edifice of raja yoga is constituted by yamas and niyamas. More advanced practices such as meditation should also be pursued but there will be no substantial progress until the 10 practices of yama and niyama are established.

Yama
The first limb, yama, deals with one’s ethical standards and sense of integrity, focusing on our behavior and how we conduct ourselves in life. It should be noted that all yamas should be practiced in the spirit and put into practice. All 5 yamas are interconnected and should be practiced in relation to each other. Although sometimes they are contradictory,Yamas are universal practices that relate best to what we know as the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The five yamas are:

  •  Ahimsa: nonviolence . It also means “entire abstinence from causing any pain or harm whatsoever to any living creature, either by thought, word or deed.”Non-injury will require harmless mind & actions.
  • Satya: truthfulness. It is more than merely telling the truth. Everyone should practised what they preach and walk the talk.
  • Asteya: nonstealing and is self-explanatory. However, it is good to bear in mind that there are many subtle ways to desire what does not belong to us.
  • Brahmacharya: advocating chastity or celibacy as sex is the most depleting activity to the psychic and nervous system. Like all traditional spiritual traditions, yoga advocates restraining from indulging in sensual gratification. This energy is built up through the practices of yoga such as asanas, pranayama and japa but is dissipated during sensual enjoyment.
  • Aparigraha: noncovetousness and the state of being contented. This also includes the notion of not accepting gifts that would bind us to the giver.

Niyama
 Niyama, the second limb, has to do with self-discipline and spiritual observances. Regularly attending temple or church services, saying grace before meals, developing your own personal meditation practices, or making a habit of taking contemplative walks alone are all examples of niyamas in practice. The five niyamas are:

  • Saucha: cleanliness which includes purity of mind and thoughts. It also include the cleanliness of the boday which includes kriyas 
  • Samtosa: contentment with your life though it is good to do improvement to your lifestyle. One must remember that the world is not a perfect place.
  • Tapas: heat; spiritual austerities is required to strengthen ourselves physically and mentally . One of the best way is through fasting.
  • Svadhyaya: study of the sacred scriptures and of one’s self. For a vedantin the best scriptures are the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita and the Brahma Sutras
  • Isvara pranidhana: surrender to God’s will and devotion. All ethical and moral precepts of yoga culminate here.

Asana
Asanas, the postures practiced in yoga, comprise the third limb. In the yogic view, the body is a temple of spirit, the care of which is an important stage of our spiritual growth. Furthermore the posture must be kept still for a long time and therefore it needs to be extremely comfortable. When the meditator is not able to control his mind, he is advised to practice the asanas of hatha yoga in order to gain the needed mastery.
Pranayama
Generally translated as breath control, this fourth stage consists of techniques designed to gain mastery over the respiratory process while recognizing the connection between the breath, the mind, and the emotions. As implied by the literal translation of pranayama, “life force extension,” yogis believe that it not only rejuvenates the body but actually extends life itself.Very much like the wind creates the motion of the leaves, prana creates the motion of the mind which gives rise to the vrittis. Air is the primary physical medium of prana and breathing is our best method to gain control over the prana.
Pratyahara
Pratyahara, the fifth limb, means withdrawal or sensory transcendence. It is during this stage that we make the conscious effort to draw our awareness away from the external world and outside stimuli. The practice of pratyahara provides us with an opportunity to step back and take a look at ourselves. The analogy given to us is that of the tortoise which, under perceived danger, pulls in all its limbs and head.

Dharana
As each stage prepares us for the next, the practice of pratyahara creates the setting for dharana, or concentration. One-pointedness. The meditator is fully focused on the object of concentration, his mind as still as the flame of a lamp in a windless room. Extended periods of concentration naturally lead to meditation. Which is dhyana.In asana and pranayama, although we pay attention to our actions, our attention travels. Our focus constantly shifts as we fine-tune the many nuances of any particular posture or breathing technique. In pratyahara we become self-observant; now, in dharana, we focus our attention on a single point.
Dhyana
Meditation or contemplation, the seventh stage of ashtanga, is the uninterrupted flow of concentration. Although concentration (dharana) and meditation (dhyana) may appear to be one and the same, a fine line of distinction exists between these two stages. In dhyana there is still duality of consciousness which is the feeling of separation between the meditator and the object of meditation. When maintained long enough this state will lead to the highest rung of the ladder of ashtanga yoga which is samadhi.This may seem to ba difficult task , however do remember that practise makes perfect and at every stage of our progress, we will benefit from this practice.
Samadhi 

“The state of consciousness where Absoluteness is experienced attended with all-knowledge and joy; Oneness; here the mind becomes identified with the object of meditation; the meditator and the meditated, thinker and thought become one in perfect absorption of the mind.”

At this stage, the meditator merges with his or her point of focus and transcends the Self altogether. The meditator comes to realize a profound connection to the Divine, an interconnectedness with all living things. With this realization comes the “peace that passeth all understanding”; the experience of bliss and being at one with the Universe. This ultimate stage of yoga which is enlightenment can neither be bought nor possessed. However,  it can be attained through continual practice.

Cyci the Yogi: What my dog taught me about Yoga

Cyci the Yogi
You must be wondering, how this small, adorable little creature could have helped me in understanding profound Yoga philosophy concepts. Yet, the beautiful thing is also that the path of knowing is subjective to the individual and how each theory is contextualized in the lives of the students. In mine, I found my dog to be the best embodiment of Santosha.
Santosha is one of the 5 Niyamas under the second limb of Raja Yoga. Niyama refers to an observation within and how one handles themselves within the inside world – the internal battle. By achieving the 5 niyamas, the individual is on their way to the highest moral character and ethcial conduct.
Another word for contentment, Santosha refers to that inner peace of mind that should not be relied on external circumstances, since these external factors are always changing in ways byond our control.  This requires us to enjoy exactly what each day brings, to be satisfied with what we have. In other words, the action of seeking ceases. By elimination the action of seeking, one also clears out worries and burdens, which are deriaritives of seeking.
A simple definition illustrated by Master Paaulu defined contentment as being in the center of happy and sad.

Like in many other moral concepts in life, finding middle ground is always the preferred destination.
We can always practice Santosha in the beautiful and joyous experiences of our lives. For example, getting a pay raise, celebrating your birthday, receiving gifts from people, etc. However, Patanjali encourages us to be equally willing to embrace the difficult moments because when we can be contented in the midst of difficulty, we are truly set free.
A second part to this niyama also talks about the world’s evils and corruptions, such as achievements and acquisitions. Although material wealth and success are not evil, they can never in themselves provide contentment. Therefore, it is up to the beholder of these assessts to ensure that inner contentment still exists.  Neverthless, these world possessions opens up the floodgates for worries and burdens to set in, and Santosha to fade away, which is why many teachers may warn against materialism.
No, Cyci was not this master guru who warned me against materialism. He was in my opinion, the living example of what is meant to be contented. Midway during my 200hr teacher-training programme, Cyci was diagnosed with heart and kidney failure. Since then, he had to be hospitalized. My daily routine consisted of yoga classes till 3pm, then driving to the hospital to visit him before returning in time for dinner, and a few hours for me to read and write.
Although the first few days of his hospitalization wasn’t very smooth (his creatine levels were going up, and he was starting to have fluid in the lungs), my little boy was still extremely bright and energetic. To me, he looked like he had a perpetual smile on his face. (Trust me, you’ll learn how to judge a happy dog from a miserable one once you’re in the place full of sick animals)
This pained me terribly.
I couldn’t see the correlation between his inner body and his outer mannerisms. It was as though he did not know what was going on inside him. All he did was to look forward to seeing his family coming to cuddle and baby talk him. His innocence to his impending fate was so overwhelming and puzzling. I thought, he was not ready to leave this humanly world at all, he is still too happy!
Take this analogy for example. An old 90-year-old man being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer versus a 10-year-old child being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.
Naturally, people feel more for the 10-year-old girl. But, why is this so?
My revelation came when I read deeper into Santosha. This 90-year-old man would evidently have had more possessions in the natural world – more success, more experience, more wealth compared to the 10-year-old girl. Therefore, people would have felt that death for the little girl was unjustified since she has yet to experience any of those of the man.
This emphasizes the fact that humans derive happiness from material and wordly possessions. One of the ultimate goals in life for many people would be material abundance and financial wealth. Like how a saying in Singapore goes about the 5Cs of life – Car, Cash, Condo, Credit Card and a Coutry Club membership.
Cyci teaching me about Santosha!
Just like the 10-year-old girl, Cyci had none of these possessions. He didn’t care for any either, he never seeked. Despite his bobily weakness, his contentment freed him from all the unncessary worldy sufferings and explains his emotional brightness.
And when he leaves us, he leaves us pure, innocent, and untainted, with none of the world’s evil corrupting him.
As I write this article, Cyci has been discharged. He lies beside me right now, staring at me with his bright beady eyes. His heart weakens, his wheezing loudens, his kidneys slows…

Yoga Philosophy teachings reflects life

When I was introduced to Yoga philosophy as part of the 200 Hr Yoga Course at Tirisula, I didn’t quite connect at first but I kept an open mind because I wanted to learn more about it. After 2-3 sessions on Yoga Philosophy, especially the yamas and niyamas, I thought about the teachings and how this can be applied to my life. What struck me most was the fact that the teachings advocate high moral character and ethics. Furthermore, once you have understaood this basis, you find true freedom, peace and calmness within yourself. When you are void of negative feelings of hatred, anger, jealousy, etc… the energy flow of your chakras tend to open up more smoothly, become purer and in turn you become healthier in both mind and body. Then, you are able to focus more effectively (and think clearly and objectively) on the things that you want to do in your life, not only the asanas but the activities/ actions in your everyday life.

Philosophy Focus: Sutra 1.6 Pramana viparyaya vikalpa nidra smrtayah

Key words:
Pramana –          Factual knowledge
Viparyaya –       Wrong perceptions, faulty data
Vikalpa –              Fanciful knowledge, asking yourself endless “What if’s?”
Nidra –                 Sleep, dullness or inertia
Smrtyayah –        Remembrance of previous experiences and unquestioning acceptance
There are many methods people use to hide from the truth. I can understand why – the truth or extreme consciousness can be new, unfamiliar and (worst of all for me) lonely. It is difficult to step away from the status quo. When things seem to work fine as they are, why change them?
When I first read this sutra, I immediately saw many parallels with my career path. I had a good job in Hong Kong. I knew that my salary and hours were decent (pramana). My experiences told me that I wasn’t doing badly (viparyaya). Friends told me that I should be grateful for a job in these economic times (smrtayah and vikalpa). Most of all, I could sleepwalk my way through a work day with no difficulties (nidra). There was no reason to leave. But I did.
I had the appearance of a satisfying career but I wasn’t happy with it. Despite the facts that pointed to a good job, this was the truth of how I felt.
Today, I’m jobless and I don’t know what the future holds. But after abandoning these “kleshas”, I feel better. The “vrittis” I used to have about whether I was doing the right thing, are gone.
I know my (very uncertain) career story is hardly Samadhi, but it’s a micro-example of how removing barriers to truth can bring a person closer to a state of super consciousness. Similarly, Yoga is the process of steadying and clarifying your perception so that you can liberate and empower yourself.