Tag Archive for: sutra

From the start I should have realized that there was no way I would implement an experiment on Asteya. First, I chose it because there was only one person in the group when we began forming groups. Choosing a particular spiritual practice because no one else is doing it is does not set oneself up for success.

 Secondly, I couldn’t really define it as being different from aparigraha. OK I could stop myself from recording music from the Internet as I assume that is technically stealing. But what else would I steal. Undeserved praise? That has never been an issue; in fact, I have always had the opposite problem of never taking credit for things that I actually did achieve.

 There were a few ideas I had that I could experiment with, but none of them compelled me. In fact I felt extreme resistance to any experimental ideas. I could have explored vegetarianism as a way of not stealing life from other creatures. I have been eating mostly vegetarian for the last couple months but I can’t say I have noticed any significant changes physically or emotionally. And I started that after thinking about it for a few months. And the more I thought about it for the experiment, the less interested I was in trying to remain vegetarian.

 I could also have implemented an environmental experiment as a form of not taking unnecessarily from nature. No single idea came to me for how to do this and I did not want to upset my routine too drastically to do this. Also, I could not see any great personal revelation coming from this.

 I did think about cutting down on TV and other things that “steal” my time. But the question is who decides what is a wise use of one’s time and what isn’t? Is every moment one is awake supposed to be leading toward something greater? Sometimes you do just need to watch something mindless on TV. It can stop the fluctuations of the mind! I am not ready to spend every free moment meditating, doing yoga, and reading ancient texts. The time commitment for the training is already enough “yoga time” for me right now.

 The fascinating thing for me as I continued to struggle with this and try to come up with an experiment was how much resistance I had to doing any experiment. I physically did not want to do an experiment. And I began to get even less and less interested in attending classes.

 So in a sense my experiment became reflecting on why I was not going to do an official experiment and why I was feeling such resistance.

I understand the concept of restraint and thoughtfulness, but the yamas and the yoga sutras of Patanjali appear to me at this point to be more about negation. I don’t want to negate myself and my body, I want to live more fully into myself and my body. I want to be alive. And I can’t imagine that sense of aliveness by negating everything around me—my senses, my mind. Why be alive?

Yes, I understand from the yogic perspective that there is no “me” to live into. But I am not sure I quite buy into that. I whole-heartedly agree and try hard to live by the philosophy that we are all more similar than we are different, and that we are connected to the wider world and universe in ways that are hard to explain. But at the same time, we are all created physically distinct from one another with a wide variety of skills and talents that we can use to make the world a better place. Those skills and talents make us unique creations. So while I don’t believe in a strong “I” as completely separate from everyone and everything else in the world, there is an “I” that has unique gifts to bring to the world.

 Maybe I am just struggling with the approach of the yoga sutras that feels more focused on what separates us and how we are not to live. I would rather approach life searching for ways that we are connected and how we are to live. Connections are the things that matter, they are what unite us and bring us together. In fact, most of my life has been striving to find those connections rather than looking at what separates us. Maybe my mind set is just not appropriate for the classical yoga of Patanjali. Maybe I am just a tantric yogi at heart.