The academic study of yoga is subtly at odds with its practical objectives.
What should our work be, here and now, as producers of knowledge?
One of the most interesting things about what we call “knowledge” is its extraordinary flexibility.
Scholars of religion, it turns out, often have profound religious experiences reading and interpreting the texts they critically study, and these events have consequences for the methods and models they develop, the conclusions they come to, and even for the traditions they study.
Tias is a popular yoga and meditation teacher.
Swami Swatmananda is an acharya of Chinmaya Mission of South Mumbai.
Mirabai Starr is an award-winning author of creative non-fiction and contemporary translations of sacred literature.
Jeffrey is the Associate Dean of the Faculty and Graduate Programs in the School of the Humanities and the J. Newton Rayzor Chair in Philosophy and Religious Thought at Rice University.
Jagar comes from the Sanskrit root, jāgṛ, which means “to go on burning, to be awake, to be watchful and to awaken.” It refers to the first state of consciousness described in the Māṇḍukya Upaniṣad—waking (jāgrat). It’s distinguished from the two other states of the conscious mind—dreaming and deep sleep—by the quality of consciousness experienced.
Māyā: the very name conveys a sense of mystery. Cognate with the English word magic, māyā does, indeed, refer to something magical. Like magic, māyā involves the diversion of our attention from the real to the unreal, or from reality to the appearance of reality.
Indian traditions can be categorized by the degree to which they proffer a world-denying (via negativa) or a world-affirming (via positiva) perspective. Both world-deniers and world-affirmers see everyday attitudes toward the world as, in important ways, illusory; it is thus their respective responses to the world’s illusions that distinguishes them.
Virtual reality (VR) is a term generally used to describe three-dimensional computer-generated environments that can be explored and are interactive. There is a perceptible relationship between VR experiences and Eastern philosophies, which lies in the involvement of visualization, simulation, and illusion.
Māyā simultaneously displays the infinite attributes of the divine for our benefit while also veiling the fullness of the divine from our sight. So it is also with our own simulations, which we can develop as models of being that can help us navigate in and beyond māyā or that we can take as reality itself, thereby closing ourselves off to our own divine depths.
Māyā is “illusion,” a core concept in the Advaita Vedānta or “non-dual” school of Vedic thought. It’s key to understanding the way you construct the world through false perception. Māyā is thinking you’re separate from the Divine. Enlightenment is realizing this isn’t true.
Dreams, the act of dreaming, and the elusive identities of the dreamer play a central role in the philosophy of the Yogavāsiṣṭha. Reality in this text is always virtual; nothing has fixity. The only constant is change, tempered and formed according to the principles of karma.
This analysis reveals that the self cannot reasonably exist outside of the body and the experience of consciousness. It cannot be intrinsically associated with the physical constituents of the body since it does not have any location, shape or color. Finally, the self cannot be found in the stream of consciousness, within which past thoughts have gone, future thoughts have not yet arisen, and present thoughts do not abide.