Posted: 07 Feb 2014 07:33 AM PST
One of the recommended readings for my yoga course is this book: Beyond the Superconscious Mind, by Avadhútiká Ánandamitrá Ácaryá.
Below is part 1 of my book summary and some of my thoughts.
As the world develops, human increasingly desires to overcome the limitations of physical existence to gain full mental potential. This is probably the stage where human aim for "self-actualisation" under Maslow's hierarchy of needs and the exploration starts to go inwards.
To embark in a journey into our inner space, we need to address 2 questions:
We first need to familiarize ourselves with the passage through which we would explore to eventually find the destination.
Our expedition begins with our physical body, which is the vehicle for our travel through the inner space.
Our body runs on a system of glands known as the endocrine glands, which secrete hormones into the bloodstream. Hormones affect body functions such as growth, metabolism, digestion, energy level, heat, sexuality and also the mind. Irregular secretion of various glands can cause mental disturbances and negative emotions like anxiety, hatred, anger or fear, which destroy health and peace of mind.
Ancient philosophers identified the gland located at the centre of the brain, the pineal gland as "the controller of thought". The yogis described this gland as the "third eye", it is suggested that when properly developed or "opened" by yogic practices, one can "look into" past, present and future in a blissful state of higher consciousness.
Yogis have, for centuries, recognised the need for balanced hormonal secretion to control and transcendence of the mind, so they developed a series of physical exercise (Hatha Yoga) to specifically target at stabilising the endocrine glands.
The physical body could be known as the outer most layer of the mind is called "Annamaya Kosá" [Sankrit], which means "shield made of food". This material vehicle is a machine of the mind, to operate in the physical world. Thus the fundamental awareness of spiritual development is the realisation: "I am not this body".
According to Yogic Philosophy, a person's mind is divided into five (5) layers or kosás [Sanskrit, also Kosha]. As one moves up each layer, there is more joyful and expanded awareness; the higher the layers, the greater the source of energy and knowledge. Beyond all 5 layers is the realm of infinite consciousness, the pure self within. In this state, one experiences perfect peace and eternal bliss. This is the goal of Yoga and the goal of life: to elevate the mind through higher layers until one realises the infinite blissful self within.
We'll look at explanation of the 5 layers in Part 2 of this series of posts.
Shantideva said: "All joy in this world comes from wanting others to be happy, and all suffering in this world comes from wanting only oneself to be happy."
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