Archive for June, 2013

JUNE 27, 2013

Your Sadhana Should Strictly Be A Private Matter

Posted by Dorothy under Community Interests, Interesting Reads, Philosophy, Wellnessno responses

Yoga practitioners have always been taught to leave their ego aside not only in the yoga class, but also in all aspects of their lives. But sadly this is not the case with the big revolution of modern yoga. Some practitioners encourage competitiveness in their practice and stroke their ego by boasting about their achievements. These ego filled practitioners tend to forget that yoga is a personal relationship between the practitioner and the practice itself. At the end of their daily practice, one should be grateful with whatever happens, whether there is progress or not, as the focus needs to be in the now. There is no need to beat yourself up if you do not achieve what others in class or people you admire have achieved. On the other hand, you should not get too proud and announce it to others or feel egoistic if you have progressed, but be thankful and  have gratitude. In The Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Verse 11 states that:

Hatha yoga is the greatest secret of the yogis who wish to attain perfection (siddhi).

Indeed, to be fruitful, it must be kept secret; revealed it become powerless.

The translation which resonates to my liking is the one by  Swami Satyananda Saraswati and Swami Muktibodhananda of the Sivananda lineage. I will not attempt to summarise the translation as everyone should read the actual text and form their own perceptions and conclusions. So enjoy the following wise words.

This sloka is typical of any yogic shastra expounding higher knowledge, i.e. the science should be kept to oneself. Whatever a sadhaka gains or achieves during the period of sadhana should be a private affair. This may seem a little out of context as the book itself appears to be disclosing the secrets of the practices, but in fact, when you learn under the guidance of a guru, you will find that Swatmarama has only stated the bare essentials as guidelines for the practice of asana etc, so that the science of hatha yoga will be preserved for humanity.

Originally, Gorakhnath had written much about hatha yoga in the form of prose and poetry. traditionally, a shastra must be in Sanskrit; local dialects are not accepted as authentic works. Therefore, Swatmarama is continuing Gorakhnath’s original work. What has been given here is the system of hatha yoga without too much elucidation. It is left up to the practitioner to find out from his guru what is actually involved. Swatmarama is not advocating the performance of a particular sadhana; he merely noted down the system and outline the correct methods of practice. Your specific sadhana is between you and your guru. When your sadhana is mastered, the result is siddhi or perfection, and whatever you have managed to perfect is your own attainment and what the guru has enabled you to become.

Gorakhnath used to tell his disciples that hatha yoga is the science of the subtle body. It is the means by which the body’s energy can be controlled. He said that hatha is the means of controlling the two main energy channels of the positive/negative currents.

The positive-negative nature of energy exists in every part of our being. Hatha yoga not only brings a balance in the energy, but also in the duality of the mind, and between the lower nature and the higher mind, between the individual soul and the universal spirit. It involves your self and the atma, so why bring anyone else into the picture?

In the Shiva Samhita it says that the practitioner should keep his practice secret “just as a virtuous wife keeps her intimate relations between herself and her husband quiet”. This develops the love between husband and wife. Similarly, if you have any respect for your own beloved, the pure atma, whatever experience and power you are bestowed with is your own affair and has to be cultivated privately.

This is a purely logical and scientific process. When you have a small light burning in a room at night, the whole room is illumined. If you take your little light outside into the vast, open space, the light is engulfed by the night and absorbed in the darkness. The same principle applies to the power gained through your sadhana. The power may enlighten your own consciousness, but displayed and dissipated in the magniture of the outside world, it loses strength.

Sadhana is like a seed and siddhis are like flowers. If you want a seed to germinate you have to leave it in the soil. If you dig it up to show your friends and neighbours how it is progressing, it will not grow any further, it will die. Likewise, the siddhi is just the germinating point of your sadhana. If you are trying to cultivate fully bloomed awareness of atma, you will have to act properly. Sadhana is not a biology lesson where you dig up the plant to investigate its roots. Sadhana involves the growth of your own spirit and it is like the process of giving birth. When a foetus is growing in the womb, we cannot peep into the intermediate stage of its development, we have to wait for the final product.

Keeping sadhana and siddhis under cover has a powerful psychological effect. If you talk about and display your attainments, the sense of ‘I’ or ego becomes very acute. ‘I’ have achieved, ‘I’ had this experience, or ‘I’ can do this. If you want to experience cosmic consciousness, ego or ahamkara is the greatest barrier. Siddhis never last long, they are impermanent. After a certain stage of evolution they disappear. If you associate yourself with the feeling that ‘I’ have perfected this and that, you will expect yourself to be able to perform a great feat and so will others. You will be living to meet the expectations of others, otherwise they will not think that you are great. One day when the siddhi leaves you, how are you going to cope with the situation? In spiritual life it is very important to keep ego under control.

Most of the great saints and siddhas who had powers rarely displayed them. Only the people who lived very close to them knew their greatness. many siddhas who did display their powers were persecuted. Therefore, for your own good and for the good of others it is said, as a warning rather than mere advice, that sadhana and siddhis are to be kept secret.


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