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Courses

Sāṃkhya Philosophy: The Liberating Dualism

  • Yoga Philosophy
  • By Jacob Kyle
  • On Demand

About the Course

An understanding of yoga philosophy is incomplete without a knowledge of Sāṃkhya. Often referred to as the “metaphysical backdrop of classical yoga”, Sāṃkhya has roots in an ancient oral tradition prior to the written Vedas and is considered to be India’s oldest philosophy.

Far from being a provincial cultural artifact from a bygone era, the classical form of Sāṃkhya (as espoused in the Sāṃkhya Karika of Iśvarakṛṣṇa) remains a profoundly sophisticated and relevant system that challenges modern-day assumptions about identity, knowledge, nature, dualism, consciousness and liberation. Engaging with its mode of inquiry is a transformative encounter with a radically alternative way of approaching consciousness and the human experience.

In this 4-week online course, we will explore the many fascinating insights of Sāṃkhya philosophy. We will discover what liberation looks like for Sāṃkhya and how it’s teachings are still relevant for us today. We will look at its relationship to other Indian traditions like Yoga and Ayurveda, as well as engage in a cross-cultural dialogue with Western philosophy through figures like Immanuel Kant, Jean-Paul Sartre, Edmund Husserl and Jacques Lacan.

Please join us on this mind-bending adventure into one of Mother India’s most beloved transmissions.

In this module, we will outline the structure of Sāṃkhya philosophy and introduce its basic concepts, including puruṣa, prakṛti, ahaṅkāra, buddhi, manas, kaivalya and the gunas, We will introduce the 25 tattvas and how to best make sense of this seemingly abstract list of categories. We will explore how Sāṃkhya evolved from its first textual evidence in the Upanishads to its ultimate classical formation.
This module will focus on what it means to call Sāṃkhya a “dualism” and how this contrasts with what is referred to as “nondualism”. We will critique the perspective that privileges one over the other and explore how these two perspectives imply their opposite.
In this module, we will explore the relationship between Sāṃkhya and the schools of yoga and ayurveda. What happens to Sāṃkhya when it intersects with these sister traditions?
Sāṃkhya is on the face of it a seemingly alien system to Western minds. Yet, there are schools of Western psychology and philosophy that align with the Sāṃkhyan. In this module, we will explore the resonance of Sāṃkhya with Lacanian psychoanalysis and the movement in Western philosophy referred to as “Phenomenology”. We will explore the many ways in which we can still be enriched by the philosophy of Sāṃkhya.

Students who take this course will:

  • Acquire a comprehensive understanding of the Sāṃkhya philosophy, its fundamental concepts and logic
  • Trace the historical transformations of Sāṃkhya, from the more fluid Vedic period to its ultimate classical structuration
  • Learn how to relate to the 25 tattvas not as an abstract and arbitrary delineation of categories but as a map of our embodiment, from the gross to the subtle
  • Learn about dualism and nondualism and what the stakes are in their apparent struggle
  • Discover Sāṃkhya as a coherent philosophical and practical perspective, on its own terms
  • Learn about the relationship between Sāṃkhya and yoga and ayurveda
  • Learn how to “modernize” Sāṃkhya by understanding its perennial truths and how we might realize them in our personal practice and life

About Jacob Kyle

Jacob Kyle, MA, MSc, is a meditation teacher, writer, philosophy educator and the Founding Director of Embodied Philosophy, an online educational platform for wisdom studies and contemplative practices. Jacob holds an MSc in Political Theory from the London School of Economics and Political Science (2007) and an MA in Philosophy from the New School for Social Research (2013). In 2020, Jacob was initiated as an Acharya (authorized teacher) of Neelakhanta Meditation in the tradition of Blue Throat Yoga by scholar-practitioner Paul Muller-Ortega. Jacob is a devoted student and practitioner of the Śaiva-Śakta Darśana.

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Unlimited Membership

  • Access to this course, plus…
  • Member Only Content
    Unlimited access to premium articles, special podcast series, and other member only content.
  • EPTV Streaming Video Service
    Access to EPTV Original Series and our video library of over 250+ hours of lectures, talks and workshops.
  • Wisdom School Courses
    Access to 60+ on-demand courses plus two new courses every month.