Sherab Namgyal / April 26, 2013

Yoga philosophy, mental and spiritual functions, according to yoga teachers, for self realization


The Patanjala Yoga philosophy, which is one of the six systems constituting Vedic philosophy, is also known as Ashtanga Yoga (the yoga of eight parts or limbs) and is closely related to Sankhya and Vedantic philosophy. Ashtanga Yoga is the practical manifestation of both these philosophies. This practical system attempts to understand the nature of the elusive element we know as ‘mind’—its different states of being, impediments to growth, afflictions and the methods of harnessing it for the achievement of absolute self realization.

While Sankhya philosophy assigns three functions to the mental body—mind (mana), intelligence (buddhi) and false knowledge (mithya jnana)—Vedanta adds a fourth element to this—chitta or conditioned consciousness. But ancient yoga teachers collapse the category of the mental body with the mind and assigns intelligence and false ego as aspects of that mind with the chitta denoting the various states of the mana or mind. Yoga likens mana and chitta with a lake, which is essentially calm and peaceful but whose basic tranquility is obscured by various insubstantial surface waves. According to the philosophy, there are only two ways of disturbing this serenity and engendering patterns of thought—through sense perceptions (pramana) and when our memory (smriti) gets triggered off.

All other sources of mental activity lead to false knowledge. To quote the most venerable among yoga teachers, Sage Patanjali, who said in his Yoga Sutra: “…when the persons possessing a body mistake by their erring intellect, this very body for the soul (atman), this kind of bondage is wrought by ignorance (avidya); its annihilation is emancipation (moksha).”

The central doctrine of Yoga philosophy is that nothing exists beyond the mind and its consciousness, which is the only ultimate reality. The objective of this philosophy is to uproot misconceptions about the existence of external ‘realities’ from the minds of men. It believes that it is possible to reach this stage of self realization through regular practice of certain yogic meditative processes that bring a complete withdrawal or detachment from all false sources of knowledge and inculcates an inner sense of balanced calm and tranquility.

via Yoga philosophy, mental and spiritual functions, according to yoga teachers, for self realization.