Exploration of Indian Yoga Psychology

A blog on the Transpersonal Psychology of Indian Yoga and the Spiritual Genius of India (another blog of the same author – www.integralmusings.wordpress.com)

The Roots of Bondage -II- Asmita :The Division of Egoism-M.S.Srinivasan

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The Knot of Mineness

The  second  Klesha is Asmita which mean “Mineness” or  egoism. In the Sankhya philosophy on which Rajayoga is  based Ego  is  called Ahamkarathe “I – Maker”.  The Ahamkara is a  cosmic  principle which creates the sense of separative individuality in the unity of  Prakrithi and  makes  each individual being feel that he is distinct and  separate  from others  with  a distinct and separate body, life and mind of  his  own.   Here there  are some philosophical differences between the vedantic  and  rajayogic conception of ego and the purusha.  The differences are on the points  whether the  Purusha is one or many and whether the source of unity is in the  Purusha or  Prakrithi.   But  these philosophical subtleties  are  irrelevant  to  the practical psychology of Yoga.  For, whatever may be the differences between the philosophical  position of Vedanta and Rajayoga, when it comes to  Yoga,  both the  vedanthic  and  patanjali’s Yoga agree that Ego is the  central  knot  of bondage  which  makes the individual forgets his true nature and makes  him  a limited, conditioned, bound and suffering entity; both of them also agree  that the  true  nature  of our self is not the limited ego  but  the  unconditioned freedom  of pure being and to realise our true nature we have to dissolve  the ego.

The Tangle of Identification

This  is  the  principle of Ego, Ahamkar, Asmita  or  egoism  is  the psychological effect of ego on the individual.  Ego is the principle which makes us  feel “I am a distinct individual separate from others” and egoism  is  the principle  which  makes  us  feel  whatever I possess,  think,  feel  enjoy  or experience  is mine”.  Now let us see how Patanjali defines Asmita or  egoism.  In Yoga suthra Asmita is defined as “seeming identification of the Seer  with the  Seen”.  To get into the meaning of this definition we have to understand clearly  the highly technical and specialised terminology of the Yoga suthra.

The philosophy of Raja Yoga resolved the entire subjective and  objective existence  into  a triad of the Seer Dark, the Act of Seeing Darshana  and  the Seen  Drshyan.  The Seer is the Purusha in his true highest and essential nature  as the pure conscious Being.  He is the ultimate, highest  and  inmost source, ground and essence of our subjective being.  He is the supreme  knower and seer and the witness of the Dance of Prakrithi.  And Prakrithi, who  is the  source  of  all objective existence is the Seen Drhsyam.   As  yoga  sura defines: “The seen(drsyam) consists of the elements and sense organs and is of the  nature of luminosity (prakasa), activity (kriya) and stability  (sthithi) and has for its purpose (providing the Purusha) with enjoyment and  Liberation”  In  the  above verse prakasa, kriya and sthithi refers to the  nature  of  the triple  qualities of the Prakrithi: satwa, rajas and tamas which according  to the philosophy of Rajayoga form the warp and woof of all existence.   Darshana “seeing”  is the acts which links the Seer and the Seen.  It is the act of  the instruments of knowledge made of mind, sensations and intelligence, Chitta, Manas and Budhi.  The word  Darshana means  all acts of perception of the senses, mind and the  intelligence.   The Purusha  in  his true essential nature needs no instruments of knowledge to  know.   He  knows every  modification of the Chitta and every activity of the Prakrithi  by  his pure  actionless,  omniscient and self-luminous consciousness inherent  in  his being,  not  by  an act of reflective knowledge, but by  a  direct  immediate, perception.   But  the  instruments of knowledge like  the  senses,  mind  and intelligence  are not self-luminous like the Purusha.  They are, according  to the psycho-philosophical position of Rajayoga are essentially insentient jada.  They derive their sentience from the reflection of the light of  consciousness of the Purusha.

Asmita is the power bywhich the power of the purusha appears to be as  if identified with the reflected light of the instruments of consciousness,  that is,  with  that of the, senses, mind and intelligence and says “I  am  seeing, hearing,  touching,  smelling,  thinking, feeling  and  willing  enjoying  and suffering”  .  The Purusha in his true and essential nature knows  himself  as the Seer Dark, distinct, separate and detached from the Seen Drsyan, made of the world  made  of Mind and Matter and also from  the  act  of  seeing Darshana, by which we perceive the world.

We  must  note here that from the point of the Purusha in  his  essential spiritual  nature,  this  objective world, the Seen Drshyan is  the  world  of matter as well as the mind.  For as we have explained earlier  according to the philosophy of Rajayoga, mind is as  much  material  as matter;  both  matter  and mind are the result of the  mechanical  activity  of Prakrithi.  The  sentience of the Mind is derived from the reflected light of the  Purusha.  So the Purusha “sees” or in other words, Purusha is the seer and knower of not only  the  seen, the objects of knowledge, but also the act  of  seeing  darshan, which belongs to the world of mind.  But in the state of ignorance Avidya, the Purusha  identifies  himself with the reflected light of  the  instruments  of knowledge  in  the  mind and the objects of knowledge and the objects of knowledge in matter as well as in the mind.  But according to Yoga suthra this identification is  not real  but only a seeming identification.  This means Purusha never forgets  or looses his true nature but only appears to be so.  The Asmitha is the power or principle which creates this seeming or illusory identification.

Dissolving Asmitha

The inner liberation aimed at yoga comes from dissolving Asmita.  This is achieved by Purusha becoming conscious of its illusory entanglement in Prakriti, and disidentifying itself from Nature.  The process begins with the awakening of Buddhi, the intelligence in human nature, getting awakened to the distinction between  Purusha and Prakriti, which leads to an inner detachment from all objects of the outer world of matter and also from the inner world of mind.  We will discuss this process in greater detail in our subsequent articles.

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This entry was posted on March 22, 2013 by in Rajayoga.
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