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The Ultimate Book On Yoga

The Ultimate Book On Yoga

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The Ultimate Book On Yoga

Lunghezza:
335 pagine
4 ore
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Aug 30, 2020
ISBN:
9781005455804
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

Over a period of time Yoga has gone through such transformation that its original focus is completely overtaken by mystical ideas. This book demystifies Yoga and brings back its original pristine clarity and efficacy. The book presents Yoga in terms of simple, practicable, down-to-earth instructions, while analyzing each aspect scientifically based on recent advancements in neuroscience.

Some of the aspects dealt by this book include

Brain science that helps in understanding Yoga
How to minimize stress?
How do Yoga postures improve health?
How to sharpen mental concentration?
How to meditate?
What happens in the final stages of Meditation?
Is there a mind beyond our brain?
What is the ultimate goal of Yoga?

Editore:
Pubblicato:
Aug 30, 2020
ISBN:
9781005455804
Formato:
Libro

Informazioni sull'autore

Dr.King is an avid writer in the nonfictional category. In the past 3 decades he has written several books in the areas of philosophy, Yoga, religious practices, sculpture, gardening, and so on. His books often blend scientific outlook with traditional faiths and practices. His books especially in the area of ancient philosophy succinctly showcase volumes of ancient literature in a condensed form, providing very authentic, insightful and unbiased portrayal. These books are generally characterized as thought provoking, giving an incisive look at the otherwise difficult to understand topics. One can expect to find reliable information, devoid of glorification and hype that is typical in this category.

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Anteprima del libro

The Ultimate Book On Yoga - Dr.King

1. How to be happy?

If you are a person who thinks that you are always happy, then probably you don’t need to read this book. But unfortunately, most of us keep shuttling between happy and sad moments throughout our lives.

It looks like happiness and unhappiness are two faces of the same coin. Just when you feel that you are happy and relaxed, some problem or the other raises its ugly head!  You wish that you were always happy without break.

All of us want to be happy forever. All our actions and endeavors are directed towards that end. But what is happiness? Have you ever pondered over it seriously?

Our definition of happiness seems to be changing from time to time.

A new born child is most happy if it sleeps pressed to its mother’s body. It enjoys her body warmth. It feels secure listening to the rhythmic music that emanates from her heart.

And occasionally, sucking her breasts gives it incomparable happiness. It is not interested in anything else. It becomes terribly unhappy if it is disturbed from that state. It cries aloud as if the heaven has fallen on its head!

But the same child when it grows bigger, wants to look around and explore new possibilities of enjoyment. It wants to see, touch and taste different things; listen to voices of others around. It finds happiness in toys and human company. Just the mother alone does not make it happy anymore.

As the child reaches adolescent age, it starts enjoying the company of others of its age.  It shows interest in learning newer and newer things. It marvels at the colorful world around and gets fascinated by it. And slowly, as it grows, it feels more comfortable in the company of opposite sex.

Then comes a stage when money, power, name and fame become the source of happiness.

But if you have observed closely, all this happiness is derived by indulging in various physical activities. They are ‘physical’ in nature.

A few evolve to a stage where all these ‘physical’ pleasures don’t fully satisfy them. They try to derive happiness in intellectual pursuits. They become scientists, creative persons, or even philosophers.

But happiness always remains elusive. Some goal that appears to be attainable but never attained. There may be a phase, when you feel that ‘Yes, I have found it’ but after that phase, you will once again restart your wild chase towards a goal that is never reached!

Why does it happen?

Ancient Indians gave three reasons why we cannot be happy for long. There is an interesting story in one of the ancient Indian Upanishads, namely Brihadaranyaka Upanishad.

Sage Yajnyavalkya once decided to give up worldly life and take up Sanyasa – life of a renunciate. So, he distributed all his wealth to his two wives. One of his wives namely Maitreyi who was highly philosophical asked him whether all his wealth can make her happy forever.

Yajnyavalkya told her that no amount of wealth in the world can make anyone happy forever. The reasons being

Happiness derived from material things is short lived since anything material does not last forever. Nor our ability to enjoy is unbounded. However tasty the food is, you can’t go on eating since sooner or later you will feel full and can eat no longer.

You will never be fully satisfied with material happiness. You get satiated for a moment, but after sometime, the craving would erupt once again. Not only that, you would start expecting the next one to be more enjoyable than the previous one. You enter an endless chase after pleasures.

You get limited to your existence as a physical body. You will never be able to evolve further.

So what? you may ask. Keep enjoying as long as you can.  That seems to be the stand taken by most of us.

But our lives are of limited duration. Sooner or later we need to exit. When we exit finally, there will be many things that we were not able to enjoy in our limited life time.

If you are a Jew, Christian or a Muslim you have to wait till the end of the world or the final day of judgement.  Whether you are going to enjoy further or suffer forever is decided at that time. But there is no guarantee that you will get enjoyment even after such a long wait 😉 All depends on the almighty God’s mercy and your past deeds.

At least Hindus and others belonging to eastern religions are in a better position. They have a firm faith in rebirth after death. There is a hope that you may continue your enjoyment saga in the next birth 😉, sort of ‘continued in the next episode…’ kind of thing!

Assuming that unlimited rebirth is a possibility, even after enjoying endlessly, there is no guarantee that one gets satiated fully. And dissatisfaction leads to misery.

Ancient Buddhists in India found a smart solution. They said Make sure that you don’t exist at all. After all, our very existence is the root cause of our miseries, they said.

They spent their entire life to ensure that they don’t take birth anymore. No existence – no craving, no dissatisfaction, no misery … and, no happiness as well 😉. To be happy, you need to at least exist!

But their Vedic counterparts are smarter. They want to keep both options open – material enjoyment as well as total freedom from craving and dissatisfaction. They said that you can decide what you want. You can enjoy for some time, before you decide to switch the gear and get out of all the mess.

That is what sage Yajnyavalkya did. He enjoyed his life with all his wealth and his wives. But when he decided that it was enough, he took up Sanyasa. In Sanyasa Yajnyavalkya was planning to attain the ultimate realization that would lead him to eternal happiness.

That was the kind of approach taken by ancient Indians. Unlike the Buddhists, they were not against life. But they wanted to keep the option open to evolve further. And it is the body that helps one to attain that even.

I like this latter approach. Afterall, what is this body for, if all that we want is a freedom from its tangles? Buddhist approach appears counter intuitive to me. No matter why we got into this body in the first place, this body got to have a purpose?

Well, Buddhists don’t accept the concept of ‘we’ who are suffering. They question this concept of ‘we’. They say that there is nothing beyond body and mind! There is ‘nobody’ who enjoys or suffers. Subjectivity is just an illusion.

Then what was that all about? Why go through the arduous path of meditation and other practices? For whose sake? 

Let us just forget about that line of thinking.

On the other hand, I am not prepared to wait for eons for the final judgement day, just to be told that I am not qualified for any further enjoyment! I would rather keep taking birth after birth, hoping to get fully satiated, and then think of evolving further into the realm of eternal happiness. 😉

Jokes apart, I feel that we need to have an approach that is more prudent, one that can show perceivable results in the near term and not some promises of unseen future. Each religion has its own views and we don’t know which one is right. Not all of them can be right at the same time. Can they?

In the next section I will discuss a more practical approach taken by ancient Indians that seems to be the way to go.

The Right way to enjoy

Sometimes I get amazed by the rat race that goes on in the name of enjoyment. People go to any extent to ‘enjoy’.  For many people, enjoyment is the very purpose of their life.

I am not against enjoyment per se. I am not like those ancient Buddhists who looked at enjoyment as a cause of all miseries. They advocated shunning all worldly enjoyment.

But they frowned only upon worldly enjoyment. They had no problem with the enjoyment or bliss one experiences as a result of meditative practices.

Buddhism shunned worldly enjoyment and advocated a life of renunciation probably because of the extremities the mankind had ventured into in those days. The society was war torn and there was widespread killing.

Buddha appeared on this earth when India was riddled with bloodshed driven by extreme greed. The then prince Ajatasatru killed his own father to ascend the throne. He even conspired to kill Buddha.  But Buddha reformed even such a person by his sane advice and finally Ajatasatru renounced extremities.

Buddha wanted to limit this extremity taken by the mankind that would ultimately lead them to great misery. He came up with his ‘four noble truths’, one of which identifies uncontrolled desire for enjoyment as the root cause for all misery. So, he advocated total shunning of worldly enjoyment as a remedy.

The Vedic roots to which Buddha belonged, never advocated complete shunning of enjoyment. In fact, Kama or worldly enjoyment was one of the four attainables for any person. The other three being Dharma or righteousness, Artha or acquisition of wealth, and Moksha or complete liberation from worldly tangles. But there was a way to do it.

A person was first supposed to study righteousness or Dharma that governed both the individual’s life, as well as the individual’s participation in the society as a whole.

Once a person has mastered Dharma, then and only then he was allowed to earn a livelihood, again, earning without violating the norms laid by the Dharma or righteousness. That was Artha or wealth.

Once a man was well established in the society as a responsible individual, he was entitled to enjoy the world in a righteous way. That was Kama or enjoyment.

After enjoying as long as he wanted or as long as the body permitted, and most importantly without transgressing the limits set by righteousness or Dharma, one could choose to aspire for complete liberation from all entanglements. That was Moksha.

In this way Dharma – righteousness, Artha – wealth, Kama – enjoyment, Moksha – final liberation, were the four attainables one should aspire for, as per the ancient Indian way of life. The emphasis was on a responsible way of living, both as an individual as well as part of a healthy society.

At least in Buddha’s case, he went through the study of Dharma in his early life. He was a prince who inherited lot of wealth. So, there was no need for him to earn wealth.

He got married and even had a son. But finally, at the age of 40, he decided to renounce the worldly life to work for the betterment of the society and also for his own final emancipation. His over emphasis on the last achievable, namely Moksha may not have been meant for all people.

This was exactly what Sage Yajnyavalkya in the Upanishadic story that we narrated earlier, was planning to do.

In ancient India, the life of an individual was divided into 4 quarters each spanning 25 years. In the first 25 years one was supposed to study Dharma. At that time, one lived with his teachers in Gurukuls or residential schools.

During this time, worldly enjoyment was completely forbidden. One needed to focus completely on studies alone. No part time jobs. No dating or partying as we see the students now-a-days engaged in 😉

Only after one completes the studentship, one was eligible for earning as well as enjoyment. But again, within the limits of righteousness! He was entitled to get married, raise a family, and live a comfortable worldly life.

He played an active role in the society, helping fellow beings. That was the stage after first 25 years and for the next 25 years.

From 50 to 75 was the transition period when one prepared for a graceful exit from active worldly life. During this time, one entered what is called Vanaprastha or forest dweller stage.

During that time, he and his wife lived in the forest along with such other couple, subsisting on whatever is naturally available in the forests. They were supposed to gradually prepare for detaching themselves from the society and move towards spiritual life.

Only at the fag end of one’s life, that is between the age 75 to 100, one had the option to work on liberation or Moksha. But it was not necessary for all to attempt Moksha. They can continue in forest dweller stage till their death.

But what are we doing today? The word righteousness has lost its meaning. ‘Anything that is right for me’ is our definition of righteousness. Enjoyment has become the only goal.

But there is difference between enjoying and enjoying responsibly. Otherwise we become no different from animals that are totally driven by instinct, with no ability to think.

This theme flows in all the ancient Indian scriptures and was once the Indian way of life. One of the Upanishads, namely the Ishavasya Upanishad says that

"One should aspire to live for full hundred years, enjoying life. But one should keep doing one’s duty as well as avoid over indulgence.

One should not hoard wealth nor one should snatch someone else’s share. Afterall, the entire world belongs not to you alone but to everyone or to the creator of everyone."

It is the same message one sees in Bhagavad Geetha. Even the Yoga propounded by Patanjali starts off within the same setting.

The enjoyment talked about in the above verse was worldly enjoyment which is physical. That is derived either through the body or through the mind.

But that is not all.

Enjoyment beyond body and mind

All of us are familiar with enjoyment that we derive using our various senses and organs. We also enjoy through intellectual pursuits.

But most ancient Indian philosophers talked about enjoyment that is beyond body and mind. They called it Ananda or bliss. This bliss does not depend on physical objects nor on mental activity. So, in a way it is limitless.

Anyone who has had a taste of this bliss looks down on bodily or mental enjoyments. He does not go after them. He remains content with this bliss.

Many a times even if the body is in a bad condition, there does not seem to be any effect on this bliss. It continues as if nothing has happened. The body would of course suffer, but it does not affect the person.

In the Upanishads one comes across the story of one sage named Raikwa who always used to be in such a high state of bliss. His body used to be sore with infected wounds. He lay on a broken cart. But he was ever blissful.

When the local King Jaanushruti wanted to know the secret of his untainted bliss, Raikwa even refused to look at the King. He rejected all the riches that the King offered to him. He had no use for them! He was content with his bliss.

One comes across a story in Indian philosopher Sankara’s life when he meets a supposedly mad man. This man always used to be happy with apparently no reason. He used to run around singing with joy, rolling on the ground with ecstasy!  People thought he was mad.

But when Sankara saw him, he at once recognized the high state of the mind this supposedly mad man was in. Sankara accepted him as his disciple. He later became one of the well-known disciples of

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