The Philosophy of Classical Yoga

The Philosophy of Classical Yoga

by Georg Feuerstein, PH. D. Feuerstein
     
 

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This is the first comprehensive and systematic analytical study of the major philosophical concepts of classical yoga. The book consists of a series of detailed discussions of the key concepts used by Patanjali in his Yoga-Sutra to describe and explain the enigma of human existence and to point a way beyond the perpetual motion of the wheel of becoming. Feuerstein's

Overview

This is the first comprehensive and systematic analytical study of the major philosophical concepts of classical yoga. The book consists of a series of detailed discussions of the key concepts used by Patanjali in his Yoga-Sutra to describe and explain the enigma of human existence and to point a way beyond the perpetual motion of the wheel of becoming. Feuerstein's study differs from previous ones in that it seeks to free Patanjali's aphoristic statements from the accretions of later interpretations; instead, the author places the Sutra in its original context and sees it as the source of the whole edifice of classical yoga and not just as a summary of previous developments. This book will be of interest to comparative religionists, Indologists, and practitioners of yoga who wish to deepen their understanding of its philosophical basis.

Editorial Reviews

Doctor - Daniel Mariau
"An all too rare combination of sound scholarship, common sense and personal experience. Feuerstein's views, born of a long acquaintance with the original texts and tested against a large critical reading, are both fresh and mature, and he at last emerges from the role of skillful adaptor to be given his rightful place among the great masters of philosophy."
Corrado Pensa
"Provides us with a highly original overall picture of classical yoga...The other great merit of this work is that it never loses sight of the psycho-integrative and experiential matrix of a great many key concepts of classical yoga."
From the Publisher
"An all too rare combination of sound scholarship, common sense and personal experience. Feuerstein's views, born of a long acquaintance with the original texts and tested against a large critical reading, are both fresh and mature, and he at last emerges from the role of skillful adaptor to be given his rightful place among the great masters of philosophy."

"Provides us with a highly original overall picture of classical yoga...The other great merit of this work is that it never loses sight of the psycho-integrative and experiential matrix of a great many key concepts of classical yoga."

"This is certainly one of the most profound and original contributions to the understanding of classical yoga."

Mircea Eliade
"This is certainly one of the most profound and original contributions to the understanding of classical yoga."
Dr. Daniel Mariau
"An all too rare combination of sound scholarship, common sense and personal experience. Feuerstein's views, born of a long acquaintance with the original texts and tested against a large critical reading, are both fresh and mature, and he at last emerges from the role of skillful adaptor to be given his rightful place among the great masters of philosophy."
Prof. Corrado Pensa
"Provides us with a highly original overall picture of classical yoga...The other great merit of this work is that it never loses sight of the psycho-integrative and experiential matrix of a great many key concepts of classical yoga."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780892816033
Publisher:
Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
Publication date:
06/28/1996
Edition description:
Original
Pages:
152
Product dimensions:
5.25(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.60(d)

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

from Chapter 13

Tracking Intent

To understand a Toltec path, it’s best to know that it does not stem from a world of ideas, but from a world of intent. It does not deal with a world that is formulated and bound by reason; it does reflect a world that hinges on will. Its practices yield only to the domain of silent knowledge, which don Juan simultaneously defines as intent, Spirit, or the abstract, and thus descriptions always seem inadequate (Silence, 167).

AWAKENING INTENT

Don Juan thinks that in the course of human evolution, our ancestors became too fixated on trying to know intent objectively, as though it could be studied as something separate from human awareness. The more they tried, the more elusive it became. He says that the average person’s intent is practically dead. Realizing that they begin with a nonfunctional intent, Toltecs begin awakening it by performing a single action that is “deliberate, precise, and sustained.” Repeating the act long enough produces unbending intent (Fire, 179).

Accessing intent occurs in heightened awareness (Silence, 104). And proficiency with tracking and dreaming leads to heightened awareness. Thus a good way to start your awakening is to practice a variety of exercises. Then allow intent to lead you in the proper directions. Keep in mind that you’re going deeper and deeper in awareness. The understandings you have today often fade as you round the next bend. Also stay alert for the glimmerings of something waiting to unfold. The further you travel, the more you’re going to sense something looming, something waiting to break into full awareness. This is the unknown ready to become known.

MANIFESTING

By latching on to an intent, you bring that intent into view. Often this is termed “manifesting,” or bringing something—an idea, a goal, an object—into conscious awareness. From a Toltec perspective, manifesting concerns aligning your energy with the energy of the goal. This alignment produces the perception of it. In all phases of energy alignment, intent is the key.

Manifesting is a moment-to-moment process. In each moment we balance between the known and unknown. Ordinarily, this relation is so flimsy that we perceive new potentials only if they fit with our current, known world. And so we automatically reduce most potential. For this reason, an unyielding purpose is necessary to shift the focal point outside of its comfort zone. That is, only with such purpose can you deliberately step beyond your normal thoughts and habits that keep the focal point in place in order to arrive at new, transformative perceptions.

Don Juan says that intent is available to everyone, but its command belongs only to those who explore it (Silence, 105). Accordingly, the following views are offered to help you scout and track aspects of intent. Each of these is applicable to manifesting anything, but the bias concerns manifesting deeper connections with Spirit. Success requires giving Spirit complete control of your life without losing control of yourself.

ASPECTS OF MANIFESTING

We all face numerous influences, which govern how and what we manifest. Here are a few.

Decisions
When people make decisions, says don Juan, they merely acquiesce to a far greater power. Decisions are therefore a matter of allowing the first energy field to adjust to what’s already occurring in the second field (Tales, 243). In other terms, as awareness filters through into conscious awareness, you make a choice that echoes an Eagle’s command. To surrender the illusion of personal decision-making takes quite an effort. But with sufficient time exploring the world of Spirit, you realize that personal control doesn’t amount to much. You find that all of your gains reflect how well you have merged with the directives of Spirit. This might be why don Juan considers Spirit to be the real player and himself as only its agent (Dreaming, 200-205).

Learning to give yourself to Spirit is not done in a helter-skelter fashion. One bit of advice is that you make your decisions so carefully that you’re not surprised by what unfolds (Tales, 155). Another is that by applying personal responsibility, you make decisions that leave no time for regrets and that are always strategically the best (Separate, 184).

A decision unleashes energy. If you want to shift cohesion and make a new alignment, you need to apply steady, even pressure. When you can maintain strong, well-directed pressure, you have created unbending intent. As you learn to acquiesce to Spirit and remove personal wishes from decision-making, manifesting occurs as a result of becoming more aware. At the ranger stage, this means you build your life one day at a time. And to do this, you must trust your personal power.

Focus
Like a water-filled balloon placed in the ocean, you are one with, yet separate from, your world. How and where you direct your energies determines where you travel and what you experience. Manifesting, then, is basically a matter of focusing energy. Typically, however, we’re unaware of many of the influences affecting our focus. We all have habits and attitudes whose full effects we don’t realize or of which we aren’t even aware. To remedy this, self-observation is essential. Throughout the day, notice what draws your attention and where you aim your energy. Remember that how and where you place your energy determines what you experience. Ask yourself if what you’re doing is what you really want.

Furthermore, having a purpose focuses energy along specific avenues. The more intense the purpose, the greater the movement of energy. Accordingly, focus on the energy of your purpose from within your body. Sense it, guide it, live it. Hence, the primary focus is on gaining more awareness. When you can perceive the world without the artificial barrier of self-importance, and do so while maintaining the integrity of your personal energies, you’ve manifested a natural field. The balloon in the water ceases to exist, so to speak, but the energy within the balloon retains its own integrity and so a sense of individuality remains.

What People are saying about this

Corrado Pensa
"Provides us with a highly original overall picture of classical yoga...The other great merit of this work is that it never loses sight of the psycho-integrative and experiential matrix of a great many key concepts of classical yoga."
Mircea Eliade
"This is certainly one of the most profound and original contributions to the understanding of classical yoga."
Daniel Mariau
"An all too rare combination of sound scholarship, common sense and personal experience. Feuerstein's views, born of a long acquaintance with the original texts and tested against a large critical reading, are both fresh and mature, and he at last emerges from the role of skillful adaptor to be given his rightful place among the great masters of philosophy."

Meet the Author

Georg Feuerstein wrote a number of books on yoga and related topics, including Yoga: The Technology of Ecstasy, Wholeness or Transcendence?, The Yoga-Sutra of Patañjali: A New Translation and Commentary, and the award-winning Encyclopedic Dictionary of Yoga. An acknowledged yoga scholar of international stature, he was a founding member of the Indian Academy of Yoga, Benares Hindu University, a member of the advisory council of the Center for Studies in Science and Spirituality in San Francisco, and a contributing editor of Yoga Journal.

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