Sunday, July 8, 2012

I’m a couple of weeks behind here, posting notes from June 25th. That class continued our focus on Patanjali III, 1-3. I think one could stay with these sutras for a long time and only begin to penetrate the depth of the teaching. They do, after all, articulate the final limbs of classical Yoga: concentration, meditation, and samadhi. It’s really all here in these three.

For many years, I was caught up in a notion of samadhi as the final limb of Yoga, and as that “final limb,” a mostly unattainable state. We might have moments, even hours, in samadhi, but sooner or later, consciousness would shift back into something more normal and the elusive samadhi would once again be just outside our grasp.

It’s only now, studying Chip Hartranft’s brilliant version of the Yoga-Sutra, that I begin to understand samadhi, not as a state, but as a practice, not as a noun, but as a verb. He chooses to translate the word samadhi as “integration.” And integration is something we can practice every moment. Integration is waking up to the truth of who and what we are. When we wake up in the moment, when we re-member ourself to the Self, we  integrate into integration.

Tadeva artha maatra nirbhaasam svaruupa shunyam iva samaadi
When only the essential nature of the object shines forth, as if formless, integration has arisen.

Yes, when only the essential nature of the object (the Self) shines forth, integration has arisen. Conversely, practicing integration, re-membering ourSelf, creates the fertile ground wherein the essential nature of the object, aka our essential nature, can shine forth. When the mind breaks open, when we shift into the shining forth, nirbhaasam,  integration, aka samadhi is happening. And that possibility is available to us in any moment. It’s not something to strive for or hope to attain. It’s another form of breathing.

Here’s my dharma talk on this topic:

Here’s the dharana I gave:

And this is a very short clip on the practice of swadhaya (concentration) before chanting:

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