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Excerpts about Yoga

Trapped by Concepts

Since the sixties, people in this country have been reading books on Zen, Taoism, Vedanta, Yoga, and Buddhism, so their minds are conditioned by the ideas and concepts in these teachings. Therefore, when you start to inquire and want to allow your nature to manifest, many of these concepts from Eastern paths, or the ones from indigenous religions, will tend to arise in your mind: "Aha! This is what Vedanta says... and Buddhism believes that...and here is what Christianity teaches," and so on. You become mentally involved and excited: "Oh yeah, that's what the experience I just had means," and you try to fit what is arising into a certain mold. You tend to feel happy when you fit within a certain model for a while. You take that as a corroboration or confirmation of your experience.

Everybody needs the support of confirmation during the early stages of the journey. However, seeking it by trying to fit into a model or ideal is a very powerful trap on the path and a great barrier to open inquiry. The conceptualizations become ideals and goals that we try to emulate, giving our ego another motive to keep on manipulating experience instead of letting Being flow and guide it. This conceptual trap is very deep and subtle, and an amazing amount of suffering arises from it for spiritual seekers. The question is, how can we learn from all these conceptualizations without getting trapped by them?

What is Required for Liberation

All spiritual traditions have known that understanding is what is required for realization and liberation. This is reflected in the Indian tradition of the various yogas, in the recognition that prajna (discriminating insight) and jnana (discriminating awareness) are the faculties needed for liberation. It is understood in the Buddhist tradition that discriminating wisdom is the function of spiritual guidance, which is required in the deeper states of realization. The Sufi tradition believes that what liberates the soul is the higher intellect. The Kabbalah holds that the higher mind, hochmah and binah, is what liberates the soul. The Greeks had the concept of the nous for this same function.

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