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48Yoga Sutras 2.1-2.2: Kriya Yoga for Kleshas and Samadhi

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  • Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati
    Nov 26 9:08 PM
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      Yoga Sutras 2.1-2.2:

      YOGA SUTRAS 2.1-2.2: Yoga in the form of action (kriya yoga) has
      three parts: 1) training and purifying the senses (tapas), 2) self-
      study in the context of teachings (svadhyaya), and 3) devotion and
      letting go into the creative source from which we emerged (ishvara
      pranidhana). That Yoga of action (kriya yoga) is practiced to bring
      about samadhi and to minimize the colored thought patterns (kleshas).

      YOGA SUTRA 2.1: Yoga in the form of action (kriya yoga) has three
      parts: 1) training and purifying the senses (tapas), 2) self-study in
      the context of teachings (svadhyaya), and 3) devotion and letting go
      into the creative source from which we emerged (ishvara pranidhana).
      (tapah svadhyaya ishvara-pranidhana kriya-yogah)

      tapah = accepting the purifying aspects of painful experience,
      purifying action, training the senses
      svadhyaya = self-study in the context of teachings, remembrance of
      sacred word or mantra
      ishvara = creative source, causal field, God, supreme Guru or teacher
      pranidhana = practicing the presence, dedication, devotion, surrender
      of fruits of practice
      kriya-yogah = yoga of practice, action, practical yoga

      THESE THREE PRACTICES WORK TOGETHER: A bit of reflection will show
      clearly how the three principles (tapas, svadhyaya, ishvara
      pranidhana) work together. The principles are really familiar to us
      all, but seeing them clustered together as a single mode of spiritual
      practice is very useful. The mind can easily remember the three
      principles together as a single practice; it becomes a companion in
      daily life.

      REMINDING YOURSELF OF KRIYA YOGA: When thinking about life and
      spiritual practices, it is easy then to remind yourself of this
      foundation by internally saying such words as, "I need to train my
      senses, explore within, and let go of these attachments and
      aversions." Contained in a simple sentence like this is the outline
      of Kriya Yoga (that simple sentence contains tapas, svadhyaya, and
      ishvara pranidhana). Then, the many other practices of the Yoga
      Sutras, along with other practices you might do, can be done in this
      straightforward context. Remember that this is the gross level of
      weakening the colored thought patterns, and that this is preparation
      for the subtler part, which is done in meditation (2.10-2.11).

      ISHVARA PRANIDHANA: The emphasis of ishvara pranidhana practice is
      the release or surrender that is done in a sincere, dedicated, or
      devotional attitude. It is easy to get caught up in debates over the
      nature of God, Guru, creative source, and teacher. Yoga is very broad
      and non-sectarian, leaving it open to each individual how to perceive
      these realities. The more important part is that of letting go rather
      than holding on to the images and desires of the senses (tapas) and
      the personal characteristics and makeup uncovered through
      introspection (svadhyaya). Without such a letting go, the other two
      of the three practices in this sutra would be of little or no value;
      you would have knowledge but little freedom.

      MODERN VERSIONS OF KRIYA YOGA: Some modern teachers and institutions
      consider the entire Yoga Sutras to be Kriya Yoga, although Patanjali
      only relates the term Kriya Yoga to these three foundation practices.
      Often, breathing practices with attention along the spine (sushumna)
      are included, along with other physical practices. It is useful for
      the student of Yoga to be aware of these different approaches, so as
      to not get confused by the various public offerings. These adjunct
      practices themselves are very useful, whether or not you consider
      them to be a part of Kriya Yoga, or separate practices coming from
      Pranayama (breath practice, 2.49-2.53), Hatha Yoga, Kundalini Yoga,
      or Tantra Yoga, for example. In addition, the word Kriya literally
      means actions, and one might ask a teacher or ashram, "What is your
      Kriya?" meaning to inquire, "What kind of practices do you do and
      teach here?" Thus, many practices might be included in the phrase
      Kriya Yoga. To the Himalayan Masters, Kriya Yoga is a part of the
      whole of Yoga.

      YOGA SUTRA 2.2: That Yoga of action (kriya yoga) is practiced to
      bring about samadhi and to minimize the colored thought patterns
      (samadhi bhavana arthah klesha tanu karanarthah cha)

      samadhi = deep absorption of meditation, the state of perfected
      bhavana = to bring about, cultivate
      arthah = for the purpose of
      klesha = colored, painful, afflicted, impure
      tanu-karana = minimize, to make fine, attenuate, weaken
      arthah = for the purpose
      cha = and

      REASONS FOR KRIYA YOGA: This sutra provides the context and reason
      for doing the Kriya Yoga (tapas, svadhyaya, ishvara pranidhana):

      1) Kriya Yoga purifies the mind, allowing the gross level of the
      colorings (2.3) to be weakened (2.4).

      2) Kriya Yoga is an early stage of the journey, which leads directly
      towards samadhi.

      SEEING THE SYSTEMATIC PROCESS: It is most useful to see the
      systematic nature of these practices, whereby you first do the gross
      level of stabilizing the mind, such as through the methods in Chapter
      1 (1.30-1.32, 1.33-1.39). Then, the gross colorings (kleshas) are
      attenuated through Kriya Yoga, with is the subject of the sutras
      discussed in this section (tanu-karana means attenuating the kleshas
      or colorings, afflictions, or impurities). Then, building upon that
      foundation, the subtler attenuation is done (2.10-2.11), and the
      breaking of the alliance with karma (2.12-2.25).

      There is a very important principle in this sutra. That is, the means
      of reducing the kleshas is suggested. We might encounter many
      explanations, definitions, discussions, or debates about the meaning
      of the word klesha, but it is clear from the next sutra (2.3) that
      they have something to do with mental habits like attractions and
      aversions, with which we are all familiar. It can be argued that the
      meaning of klesha is extremely subtle, however, it also has very
      practical application to even the beginning level of meditator.
      Again, every one of us knows the problems caused by our attractions
      and aversions.

      Here, this sutra is telling us that the means of weakening (though
      not yet eliminating) those negative habits of mind is the three-fold
      method in the last sutra (2.1). While students of meditation might
      struggle with all of the seemingly complex principles, here is a
      simple suggestion that has only three parts. That is very, very
      useful in that these three principles of tapas, svadhyaya, and
      ishvara pranidhana are relatively easy to understand at some level,
      and are highly effective in weakening the mental clutter.