Yoga to do at home

The similarity to Buddhism continues, as the YS states that the kleshas produces memory traces or seeds in the mind (II. 15) that lead to suffering. These seeds are called samskara, another central Buddhist concept (it is one of the five Buddhist skandhas). Samskara can be compared to unconscious or hypnotic programs causing a person to suffer. These subliminal orders, hidden from the conscious mind, determine the behaviour and life of a person and will even follow him into the next re-incarnation. They have in other words karmic effects (III: 9,10,18). However, through the impact of kriya-yoga (or Buddhist practice), they can slowly be eradicated, and new positive seeds can be planted. These positive seeds predispose the mind to calm, so samadhi or nirvana can arise.

In other words, the YS, in chapter 2 (and parts of 3) struggles to combine two different discourses. It takes the ritual practices of the Brahmins (tapas, svadhyaya) and combines them with Buddhist psychology and liberation philosophy (trisna, samskara, avidya, nirvana, citta) (Carpenter 2003). Post 2 leads us to conclude that there is a connection or a bridge between the three kriya practices (heating up, repetitive chanting and devotion) and the Buddhist analysis of a mind suffering from unconscious activators (based in ignorance). However, a modern psychologically oriented reader is left wondering how Brahmin asceticism, chanting and devotion can eradicate our psychological attachments and subliminal cravings. These techniques would instead induce trance in the mind. It is easier to see how Buddha’s recommendation to cultivate wisdom to fight ignorance (which creates suffering) would solve this problem. Many Buddhist schools in fact argue that practices like asceticism, meditation, expecting help from gods or studying scripture (Buddha recommended scepticism instead) would not help in achieving nirvana!

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