THE 8 LIMBS

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Discover subtlety of transformtive joy.

The 8 limbs of Patanjali is a holistic system of yoga designed to be practiced simultaneously. Each limb is integral to the other. Meditation is the goal of practice, it is the doorway to real personal transformation, a true and lasting happiness.  

In the video (go straight to video→) I talk about each limb and how they work to synergise each other, overlapping and assisting you toward the key element, meditation which has profound effects on you and your experience.

The diagram below shows you how the system works from a holistic point of view. Each set of practices and attitudes is a doorway, when practicing all of them together as a system, a spinning wheel, you find total balance - a physical, emotional and psychological well-being that underpins an expanded knowledge of yourself, an ease that makes the process of meditation more fruitful. This foundation sets up the conditions to experience the final limb, samadhi, which is the by no means conclusive - it too must be practiced in order to find true freedom in life.


Samyana

 

Liberation is union. Concentration, meditation and samadhi - Samyana Inwards.

 

 
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The 3 pillars

Here I apply the 3 pillars of ‘revelation’ from the science of the Rishis to the study of the 8 limbs of yoga.

Shruti - They must be renounced in ageless scripture

Yukti - They must apply to reason by the individual aspirant’s rational enquiry and logical analysis.

Anubhava - They must apply to the experience of enlightened Masters as well as your own experience.

Why?

Because without our own study of the ageless scriptures, logical analyses and reasoning, as well as life experience, we will remain co-dependent on others to tell us what and why we believe.

This method of practice would be missing its foundation of actual knowing. To proclaim something, even to yourself, it must be founded in truth and your truth. Therefore these scientific values or principles allow for no blind faith, dogma or fundamentalism, just pure authentic journeying. This is why a Guru will ask nothing of you other than your own study of Self.


The 8 Limbs explained

+ Yamas

Moral discipline. What is the origin and why should we have moral discipline?

Shruti - Ageless scriptures

We must know that those who have achieved union, through Samadhi, no matter how or by which method, all return and say that selflessness is the liberation of humanity and, for the individualised soul, liberation from the cycle of birth and death. It is union with the Supreme.

Yukti - Reason, rational enquiry and logical analyses

What would the world be without selflessness? How can you hope to find union with the Absoulte or Supreme through selfish acts?

Anubhanva - Experience

Take the yamas and apply them throughout your life, slowly polishing the mirror through obervation, clear perception, concentration and meditation.

Observe the vrttis (fluctuations of the mind) and persist in Correct Knowledge - Pramana.

+ Niyamas

Inner observances. How do we know where past experiences, actions are responses have fogged our perceptions?

Shruti - Ageless scriptures

Past, present and future are all the same to the yogi who has achieved yoga. Apta - He was holy and unselfish, he has gone beyond the senses, he does not contradict the past knowledge of humanity.

Yukti - Reason, rational enquiry and logical analyses

If one such yogi has gone beyond intellect and has achieved wisdom and has returned saying, 'the same is true of each human being', then how can this not be possible for you?

How can you focus, concentrate and observe inwardly more intently, more accutely, more fully? What is the method best for you? How can it not be true, that if a man acts according the the higher aspects of his being, that he will not be more readily able to achieve union?

Anubhava - Experience

Take these inner observances written in their scientific formula, for your benefit, and like the pot, search for the clay, as form searching for substance. Find your own experiences from changes of perception through these inner observances and notice how the world of matter responds accordingly.

+ Asana

Yogic posture. What is asana useful for? What are you using the experience of asana to attain? What are the origins of Asana and why do they exist?

Shruti - Ageless scriptures

To sit steady and in comfort, as well as do the physical tasks and duties in life. To be unattached to the body life-span. The body being a vehicle for the four attributes or characteristics of the yogi, karma - service, bhakti - devotion, jnana - knowledge, raja - meditation.

Yukti - Reason, rational enquiry and logical awareness

If the yogi sees the body as a container for the individualised soul, as the starting point for the return home, as a tool for your sva dharma, the purpose on earth for unattached acts, aligned to the goal of yoga and the wisdom of the Supreme, how then will you use it? What is its purpose for you? How much should it be honoured? How best is your time served with it?

Anubhava - Experience

Take these reflections of asana and intergrate them into your daily habits, and see how the body effects the mind and how the mind can be trained for withdrawal of the senses and total concentration to absortion. What happens when you apply your sva dharma to your presence within the world in this body? How do your preceptions and obervations change according to the right use of your temporal body?

+ Pranayama

Control of Prana. What is prana? What is its purpose? Where is it held and how is it controlled?

Shruti - Agesless scriptures

The universe comprises of two materials:

1.) Akasha - omnipresent all penetrating existence. Everything that has form has evolved out of akasha.

2.) Prana - the infinite, omnipresent manifesting power of the universe. Like Purusha and Prakrti.

When the yogi becomes perfect there will be nothing in nature not under his control. To control nature is to control ourselves first.

"What is that knowing in which we shall know everything." Vedas.

Therefore to control nature we must know Prana. The generalised manifestation of 'force'.

Yukti - Reason, rational enquiry and logical awareness

If we are to fully know prana for ourselves and if we are to experience directly the control of prana, unless we have already attained levels of vibration that can control outward nature, should we not start at the source of Prana nearest to us, the breath?

If breath is force and force is prana? Are we not made, animated and brought into the perceptive world of form and held here by and within prana?

Anubhava - Experience

Take this knowledge of pracna and create a relationship with the breath and subtle energy within your own body. How does prana feel in various parts of the body? How does it shift and change according the breath control practices?

How does your practice of Pranayama improve the quality of sensation withing the nadis - the right and left channels of the spine and sushumna nadi, the centra channel? Can you feel the prana there?

Can you sense its potential for for awakening?

+ Pratyahara

Sense withdrawal.

What is the purpose of sense withdrawal and how does it allude to and inform concentration?

Shrut - Ageless scriptures

"It is far better for a race to remain wicked than to become good by extraneous control." Vedas

Perceptions are interpreted by the vrttis of the mind through the senses. For the yogi the mind has become strong by will, persistence and right knowledge. Total in thought, word and deed.

The mind of the yogi has gone beyond sense perception and has turned inward. First toward the Buddhi - intellect and then through the final lens or doorwary to Brahman or Purusha.

All those who have achieve Samadhi have practiced withdrawing from the senses both externally from the world and internally from the senses.

Yukti - Reason, rational enquiry and logical analyses

If you are easily distracted how will you be able to concentrate for extended periods of time or even, be so concentrated that all else dissipates?

If we are that which is formless and if we are here to achieve union, then how do our sense perceptions cloud our interpretation of reality?

What is consciousness if it is not our false interpretation of the minds reactive waves (vrttis) triggered through our senses and desires?

If we are to go inwards and our senses are for outward interpreations derived from animal survival, how can we train our mind to right knowledge, other than by withdrawing from the senses altogher and resorting inward back to Zero or the Supreme?

Anubhava - Experience

Use whatever means necessary to go inwards and to create a strong mind, with one pointed focus.

Where do you absorb naturally? In action - karma, bhatki - devotion, study - jnana or meditation - raja. Which works best for you?

Sound can be felt externally, processed internally and followed by silence. Follow this silence and discover what it holds for you.

Sit still in concentration, on one object or symbol and begin with contemplation, going deeper and deeper still. Slowly over time learning to ignore the senses tingling and pulling you back.

How much time do you spend in deep concentration? Were you aware of your surroundings at all?

What are the internal affects of any external form? Where did the reactions go? In your awareness are there any reactions?

Read and study the scriptures. Where did the time gone? Where were you?

Be your own conviction, learnt to not be disturbed easily and notice how this changes your outward view of the world.

+ Dharana

Concentration. The first element of Samyana.

What is it to totally concentrate? Where does concentration begin and end? How do we engage the mind totally without it wandering? Should we allow it to wander? How does concentration lead to absorption?

Shruti - Ageless scriptures

"Practice becomes firmly established when it has been cultivated uninteruptedly and with devotion over a prolonged period of time." 1.14 Yoga Sutras

"Dispassion is the controlled consciousness of one who is without craving for sense objects where perceived or described - in scripture" 1.15

"Empty yourself and I will fill thee." Paramahansa Manishanandaji

At first, order to empty the mind we must first fill it with all that is holy and higher. Why because if we try to emptry the mind, what will it do, other than behave like a monkey or runaway train?

If you do not know prayer, mantra or japa, what is the most holy thing that you have if nothing else? The breath.

Yukti - Reason

If the world is Mithya - dependent on something else for its existence and Brahman is Satyam - real, independent existent, then the yogi should know what is beyond Nama Rupa (name and form) in order to know truth and return home to union. How is this achieved?

In this way then, is he to be like Arjuna with the arrow, fixated not on the bird, but on the centre of it's eye, so concentrated that nothing would disturb the mind from it's goal?

Through right knowledge, can we not then take the teachings and practice the focused concentration required?

Many tools are suggested - how could these not be useful?

Symbolism, body, breath, sound, contemplation, service or study?

How can it be argued that "before all this was existence alone", if we do not attempt to know it for ourselves? How do we ever truely know anything unless we focus on it totally?

Anubhava - Experience

How can you experience "One without a second." Vedas.

What helps you reach a point of total concentration? What do you experience there? How can you let go further?

What have you learnt so far about your levels of concentration and the vrttis (reactive waves) of the mind?

Can you recognise your subtle body, physical body and mind as one tool for concentration to the point of absorption? How do you move through the veils or lenses of perception with non-attachment, yet remain persistent?

What are the energeitic points within the body, revealing to you beyond suggeston and past experience? Can you go deeper?

What are the feelings that are held there?

Create a space of intimacy, a sacred space where you can cultivate bravery and surrender.

+ Dhyana

Meditation - absorption. The second element of Samyana.

What is it to absorb? What effort if any is required? How does one let go of the fear of 'loosing oneself'? What is the ultimate purpose of yoga and how much time to you dedicate to the final outcome?

Shurti - Ageless scriptures

"Don't escape from responsibiity, duty. When Arjuna wanted to become Sanyasin, Bhagwan Krishna had denied him to do so and so preached him to face the war of truth and to follow the path of righteousness. Don't be an escapist, do your duty." -Paramahansa Manishanandaji

Mahavakya (declaration of the highest truth) "That thou art." Vedas

We are asked to be our true character and use our attributes for the praise of the Supreme. We cannot hide from our purpose on earth by saying we want to be spiritual.

Regardless of who or what we are here to be and achieve "That thou art." You are it! Therefore be brave, do good and spend time remembering and surredering. How is this done? By meditation.

Yukti - Reason rational enquiry and logical awareness

If we are to serve our sva-dharma and be our true nature, or character and offer service and attributes to the world, why bother to absorb and meditate? Is meditation just for the Sanyasin?

What happens when you align your habits to that of meditation?

How do you practice or create opportunities for meditation to arrise? By seeing your Shree Guru Dev in all things? By observation? By softening with the breath?

How do you continue inwards regardless of your external dharma? Is it a hindrance or a benefit?

Can you offer yourself first in service of the Lord, in the way it was intended, without attachment?

Why would the sutras of Patanjali ask you to Isvara Pranidhana - surrender to God, the Supreme or the Absolute? How is the selfless or useful?

What is a life without surrender? How do you honour that from whense you came vs your own worldly desires?

In what way can you increase your connection to consciousness?

Anubhava - Experience

"Don't force your mind to meditate, let your mind go wherever it goes. You should try to see your Gurudev wherever your mind runs. Try to see Gurudev in every thought. Then after a prolonged period of time your mind will automatically turn to meditation. No need to force. Everything will happen automatically by the grace of Shree Gurudev."-Paramahansa Maanishanandji

To begin the meditation journey, how often do you create a space or opportunity where meditation could happen?

How do you increase the odds each day of meditation being possible or a far more likely result? Do increase the opportunity - you must create them.

Create habits that begin and end your day with stillness or the practice thereof and see what happens.

+ Samadhi

Samadhi. The final element of Samyana.

The highest state of consciousness that a human being can reach in life. The goal of our spiritual journey on earth.

"Samadhi comes from trustful surrender to Ishvara, the ever-present guiding intelligence." Patanjali's Yoga Sutras (2:45)

Shruti - Ageless scriptures

"In his early childhood, Krishna was mischievous. One day he gave his mother so much trouble that she decided to punish him. But he ran away when she tried to catch hold of him. She happened to be holding a small rope, so she thought, “When I catch him, I’ll tie him to a post so I can do my work in peace.” She ran after Krishna but no matter how fast she ran, he was always a fraction of an inch ahead of her.

The great sage Narada, who was standing invisible in the sky, watching the whole chase, replied, “Maya, Mother, this last portion is tiny but it’s still a big distance. Whether you’re a million miles away or a quarter of an inch away, as far as the actual accomplishment is concerned, you’re still far, far away.”

Krishna’s mother renewed her effort to catch Krishna and the chase went on. Finally, she sank to the ground, totally exhausted and sobbing in frustration. Instantly, Krishna came up to her and said, “Here I am, Maya, Mama. Please don’t cry. Tie me as much as you want.”

Srī Shankarāchārya praised the God-Realised, liberated consciousness in this bhajan:

"I am not this mind, nor intellect, ego or consciousness, Nor the Gyāna Indriyas or the Tattvas. My form is pure consiousness and absolute bliss I am CHIDĀNANDA RŪPA SHIVA, the Supreme Self.

I am neither the five Prānas nor the seven Dhātus, Nor the five Koshas, nor this bundle of Karmas I am CHIDĀNANDA RŪPA SHIVA, the Supreme Self.

In me exists neither attachment nor duality, Neither greed nor jealousy, neither hate nor anger. I have nothing to do with the illusion of the ego, And also I am not bound by the four laws of the Purushārtha I am CHIDĀNANDA RŪPA SHIVA, the Supreme Self.

I have neither sin nor virtue, nothing to do with either happiness or sorrow, Or with Mantras, pilgrimages, the Vedas or ceremonies I am neither the food, nor the one nourished, nor the enjoyer I am CHIDĀNANDA RŪPA SHIVA, the Supreme Self.

I am the Ātmā, immortal and unborn Time, space and death have no power over me I have neither father nor mother, neither relatives nor friends, no Guru and no student I am CHIDĀNANDA RŪPA SHIVA, the Supreme Self.

I am desireless and formless. I exist in all living beings I am not bound, nor require liberation. My form is truth, consciousness and bliss I am CHIDĀNANDA RŪPA SHIVA, the Supreme Self."

Yukti - Reason, rational enquiry and logical analyses

What is there if you cannot surrender? What is there to be affraid of if you do surrender, that you will become your self, that you will arrive at truth, that you will know unconditional love and the force of that love, that you will achieve union, liberation?

What greater truth is there than surrender to the highest state of consciousness - Ishvara?

If all of the Vedas point to Brahman whether Dual or Non - dualistically, then what doubts do you have to the meaning of life or purpose of yoga?

Would you rather remain attached to your perception of yourself? Or are you concenrned for your and others?

Are there earthly considerations that require you to dedicate your service in other ways, such as children and householder duties?

Have you practiced enough to let go of your studies?

Do you need to understand more about Samadhi as an experience?

Anubhava - Experience

Samadhi is not a permanent state and it has various levels of succession. The great Saints of India and in other religions and cultures have gone through many stages or levels to achieve perment total union = God Realised.

Samadhi is the state of total mindlessness, one with consciousness achieved or rather arrived at through meditation and absorbtion.

It is not a permanent state and it does not necessarily mean that you will be a total realised being once you have experience it. Many people experience Samadhi and then continue with their lives. Yes their lives may evolve shift and change accordingly, but they do not dissapear or become clothed in linen and go off to the himalayas or have ashrams build up around them.

Therefore cultivate bravery and surrender in your concentration and meditation practices and learn to allow love, faith, joy. Slowly, slowly, slowly.

Realise that "it art thou".


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video

Ziba discusses the 8 Limbs and how they work together as an interrelated system of inner freedom.