What Is Yoga? by James Traverse

What is Yoga?

Yogas chitta vritti nirodha
Yoga is the cessation of mental fragmentation
(yoga is the cessation of the wrong turning of the mind).

Yogas: Oneness, yoga, couple, union, integration, intercourse
Chitta: mind, the mental ocean of perception and reflection
Vritti: wave, the action of rolling/whirling, modification, fluctuations, way of being
Nirodha: cessation, ending

‘What is yoga?’ is experientially answered with the understanding of these four words; the process defines both the ‘discipline’ and the ‘practice’ of yoga as the living answer of this question is being yoga.

Yoga: Patanjali defines ‘Yoga’ as a way of being in his first four Yoga Sutras as follows:

1. Now-Yoga.
2. Yoga is the cessation of mental fragmentation;
3. Then the seer abides in and as its true nature;
4. Otherwise the seer is regarded as a mental formulation.

The great challenge to experientially understanding the definition of yoga that Patanjali provides is to engage your thinking mind appropriately without limiting the definition to its optic (in other words the means is the end as the way of experiential understanding is itself Yoga). Patanjali, the father of yoga, does this skillfully with the words ‘chitta vritti nirodha’ where chitta is the ‘ocean’ or field of all possibilities, vritti is a ‘wave’ of mental activity/motion/fragmentation, and nirodha is that which flowers when fragmentation has ended – it is silence that is not broken by sound.

Three relationships that give the taste of the experiential understanding of this question are
a) Shakespeare and Hamlet; b) the Ocean and a Wave; c) Dancer and Dance:

a) Shakespeare and Hamlet
Hamlet is Shakespeare’s mental creation; Hamlet and other characters are the means by which Shakespeare expressed himself and without them Shakespeare could not be as he is known today. Thus Shakespeare cannot be/express himself without Hamlet and Hamlet cannot be without Shakespeare. Since Shakespeare created Hamlet it follows that Hamlet is of the same kind as his Source, Shakespeare, yet it is obviously preposterous for Hamlet, a fragment, to think of or regard himself as being identical to Shakespeare.

b) Ocean and Wave
There has to be an ocean (chitta) for a wave (vritti) to appear. A wave (vritti) is the means whereby the ocean (chitta) expresses itself. Thus a wave is in the ocean and the ocean is in the wave. The wave is distinct yet not separate or different from the ocean; the ocean is distinct yet not separate from the wave as the wave is its means of expression.

c) Dancer and Dance
The Dancer IS the Dance; the Dance IS the Dancer. A dancer is by dancing; without the dancer there can be no dance. A dance is the means whereby a dancer expresses her/himself; without a dance there can be no dancer.

The binary nature that all three of the relationships given above have in common are: 1) chitta 2) vritti 3) nirodha where:

1) ‘chitta’ is the mental field/ocean with its ‘subject and object’ or ‘ocean and wave’ duality described/regarded from the perspective of the ocean;

2) ‘vritti’ is the wave of mental fragmentation that is more than the fundamental process of thinking as it fragments/separates into ‘subject and object’ from the perspective of the wave (for example the mental activity of describing/regarding things like ‘chitta’ is the process of separation or ‘vritti’ whereby each thing is rendered distinct by mentally describing it, or thinking of it, in terms of the other; in other words vritti is thinking and it is also the separation that happens as a consequence of thinking).

3) nirodha is the silence that is always available and is when fragmentation has ceased; it is authentic silence that includes and transcends the silence that is mentally understood via ‘chitta’ and ‘vritti’ without self-contradiction; this is silence that like Om, music, song and dance includes sound and motion without breaking silence (it is the peace beyond understanding as the spiritual heart that is the homeground of being… it expresses itself – it is breathing as it flows as spirit~heart~mind~body [it branches or ‘waves’ and its branches branch] and it flowers as body~mind~heart~spirit).

What is your most fundamental need?

Like Shakespeare, the ocean and a dancer your most fundamental need is to express yourself – to act!

Like Hamlet you are not identical to your source when you mentally regard that you are because that conclusion is ‘vritti’ which negates Oneness through its separation. And yet when you experientially understand ‘What is yoga?’ you are Source because then mental fragmentation has ended and you are established in and as what you have always been which is your true nature by whatever name.

As Source you express yourself in the same manner that you have always expressed yourself – you breathe and act as this is your true nature functions. And your actions do not arise out of your thinking mind which means that they are not the result of knowledge or any need or lack; instead your actions come out of the homeground of being which is the heart that uses instruments like your thinking mind, senses and body to express itself as all that is for its own sake.

In this light ‘What is Yoga?’
It is Love and Love is what it does!

Peace Now ~ Love Always


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