Yoga’s Eight Limbs


ii. 28-29 Yoga’s Eight-Limbs are the means to transformation

2.28 When the impurities have dried-up, Right Perception dawns pointing the way to Re-union with the Unborn.

The upcoming sutras focus on Patañjali’s practical means to subdue the skandhas and rise to Noble Ascent in the Unborn. This Ascent is a Re-union, since originally Mind, before its adventitious outflows, is perfect within It-Self. Before this can occur, as the previous sutras pointed out, all skandhic impurities need to be allayed. The forthcoming sutras offer the means to this task.

2.29 Yoga’s Eight Limbs are:

Yama (Right Abstinence)
Niyama (Right Observance)
Asana (Right Posture)
Pranayama (Right Breath Regulation)
Pratyahara (Right Control)
Dharana (Right Concentration)
Dhyana (Right Meditation)
Samadhi (Right Contemplation)

As was stated in the initial blogs of this series, Yoga is actually a “Dis-Union” with the lower constricted-body consciousness in order for proper Re-Union (Recollection) with the Unborn. These Traditional Eight Limbs of Yoga primarily originate in Raja Yoga:

The science of Raja-Yoga, in the first place, proposes to give us such a means of observing the internal states. The instrument is the mind itself. The power of attention, when properly guided, and directed towards the internal world, will analyze the mind, and illumine facts for us. The powers of the mind are like rays of light dissipated; when they are concentrated, they illumine. [Swami Vivekananda (2012-12-25). Raja Yoga (Annotated Edition) (Kindle Locations 107-110).  . Kindle Edition.]

It’s fascinating how the first limb is called Yama. Yama is regarded as the Lord of Death. Yama, within Yoga, in-like fashion ushers in the Death of all constricting mind-structures (originating in the body consciousness) that inhibit proper Re-union with the Unborn. Right off the bat one needs to abstain from all wrong actions, like engaging in immoral acts, propagating false views and teachings, and total lack of self-control.

Niyama, or Right Observance translates as daily revering the Buddhadharma, as well as approaching these Eternal Truths in proper frame of mind and cleanliness of body.

Right Posture, or Asana, is right positioning of body and mind. This entails daily bodily exercises like yogic-stretching (for myself this entails daily primordial Qigong exercises).

Pranayama (Right Breath Regulation) is akin to the former. The technique of remaining “prior-to one’s breath” (as reinforced in Zenmar’s teachings) is a good yogic tool. This can also be enhanced with daily chanting (like with the Dhyani Buddhas) as higher-states of consciousness can be reached. If faithfully adhered to, these practices will lead to the enhancement of the following:

Pratyahara (Right Control): this entails mastery over all the senses. In particular in association with Right Breath Regulation, one will soon discover remarkable abilities to manipulate the senses. For instance, during a recent physical exam the nurse mentioned that my oxygen level was low; I explained to her my daily yogic-exercise routine that regulates the oxygen supply in the body, such that less oxygen is needed. I simply began breathing more rapidly and she was more comfortable with the oxygen level. This ability has completely amazed me. I find myself growing less fatigued during my daily walks and can even go-up hills under the power of just one sustained breath. Also, during my early morning chanting, I’m discovering that my breath-control has changed so much that less oxygen is needed to complete the 30 minute exercise.

Dharana (Right Concentration): within yoga this is referring to developing a “one-pointed-awareness”, much akin to the one-pointed Samadhi within Unborn Mind Zen. As mentioned earlier, The Tozen Black Dragon-Eye Mandala is an excellent tool to develop this ability.

Dhyana (Right Meditation): zen and ch’an, are alternate terms for Dhyana, or Meditation. Zen Masters like Tsung-mi assert that this is a long-term, gradual approach that leads to better mind cultivation.

Samadhi (Right Contemplation): as fully articulated in our commentaries for Book I, this is the Ultimate Mind Progress. Mind alone Recollects Mind. Deep looking upon Deep. Truly THE breakthrough in Mind’s Self-Recollection in the Unborn. The yogin/yogini learns to act as a conduit for this Pinnacle of Self-Recognition. Indeed, a whole New Mind-Constitution is created.

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