We had a very nice Sutra discussion Sunday — quite a few ashtangis dropped by! Some of the ideas discussed and presented are listed below.
The eight limbs of yoga are listed in Sutra II-29. The first two limbs are Yama and Niyama.
Sutra II-30: “Yama is abstention from harming others, from falsehood, from theft, from incontinence, and from greed”
Sutra II-32: “The Niyamas (observances) are purity, contentment, mortification, study and devotion to God”
It is interesting to consider Yama and Niyama together; they are in a sense opposites:
– Yama refers to restraint and abstention; Niyama refers to observances
– Yama refers to things you shouldn’t do; Niyama refers to things you should do
– Yama is an outward, social practice intended to build strong relationships with others in the community; Niyama is an inward, personal practice, intended to build one’s own character
– If “ni” negates, then does “niyama” literally mean “not yama”?
Parusha and Prakriti
Parusha == the owner == one’s true essence
Prakriti == the owned == nature
When one becomes the observer, and sees his or her [body/emotions/thoughts], the distinction between Parusha (the observer) and Prakriti (the physical/temporal being) becomes more clear.
How does one resolve this duality, these two aspects of self? If Parusha is the true self, then is Prakriti a false self (an illustion)? But is not the physical/temporal being real? If we become too caught up in “being the observer”, are we guilty of denying/trivializing the natural self?
Layers of the onion
Consider the metaphor of “peeling the layers of the onion.” This metaphor is often used to describe peeling away the layers of illusion/habits/baggage that hide the true self. As each layer peels away, we get a better view of the light that shines in the center, a better sense of God that is in each of us, God that is each of us.
Now consider a different onion metaphor: consider that God is in each and every layer of the onion.