Tag Archives: illusion

Svadhyaya

red-pill-blue-pill-matrixHere’s a fun thing to do on a slow afternoon: make a list of ‘me’s. I have plenty of them. And they’re predictable, arriving on cue like programmed robots. When I’m driving, the ‘impatient me’ arrives as soon as the car in front of me drives one mile per hour below the speed limit. When the sun deepens its arc into the western sky, ‘anxious me’ arrives to tell ‘complacent me’ that I’m running out of time for all the things I wanted to do today. ‘Complacent me’ couldn’t care less.

There’s ‘grateful me’, ‘grumpy me’, ‘garrulous me’, ‘guilty me’, ‘greedy’ me, ‘generous me’ – one way to create a list of ‘me’s is to just pick a letter of the alphabet and run with it. If you have enough time you can go the distance; I’ve got ‘me’s from ‘abiotic’ to ‘zippy’.

There’s one thing that all of these different ‘me’s have in common: they’re not me. Yes, they’re manifestations of various aspects of my personality but my personality isn’t ‘me’, either; it’s something I possess. That’s why I talk about it as a possession: I have a personality. Continue reading

The Straw Man of Happy Meat

Recently, The New York Times invited readers to submit an essay that describes why it’s ethical to eat meat. After reviewing thousands of submissions, one essay, by agroecologist Jay Bost, was selected for publication.

I wasn’t surprised that a former vegetarian who returned to meat-eating wrote the essay. Nor was I surprised that the essay failed to offer a compelling argument. But I was surprised to see yoga teachers expressing support for Bost’s argument. Yoga is, among other things, a moral philosophy that places primacy on the recognition of all sentient beings as purusas; spiritual persons of equal standing with inalienable and self-evident rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This philosophical principle is the foundation of any serious yoga practice. Continue reading

How to Charm a Rope

Continuing with our musings on the relationship between illusion and reality, I concluded my last blog entry with a couple of questions: how does Shankara, the founder of the school of absolute non-dualism, explain our experience of a dualistic world if, as he insists, we are, in reality, identical with Brahman – the highest truth – and Brahman is not subject to illusion nor in possession of energies that may be subject to illusion? Has the supreme reality of undifferentiated oneness somehow been subdued by an inferior illusion of differentiated many-ness? Continue reading

Is Illusion Greater than Reality?

Is illusion superior to reality? If you think ignorance is bliss then, well, yeah, maybe. But if we take this question seriously you might respond by saying, “Why should I even take this question seriously? Duh!”

Okay, conventional wisdom says that reality is (obviously) greater than illusion. So it may surprise you to learn that a lot of yoga folks subscribe to a brand of yoga philosophy that, if you follow it to it’s logical conclusion, actually says just the opposite: that illusion must be greater than reality.

It may not be so apparent at first glance, but there’s a bit of circular reasoning hiding inside some popular notions about yoga philosophy that results in an irresolvable internal contradiction. And this really matters for anyone who thinks that the goal of yoga is liberation from illusion because if it turns out that illusion is actually greater than reality, well… Houston, we have a problem. Continue reading

There Is No Tiger

Just like a man seeing dream: “Oh, there is tiger, tiger, tiger, tiger! Save me!” He is crying. Another man is, “Where is tiger? Why you are crying? Where is tiger?” But he, in the dream, he is actually feeling: “The tiger has attacked me.” There cannot be any meaning of this relationship except like a man dreaming and he is creating a situation. He is dreaming there is a tiger and he is creating a situation, fearful situation. Actually there is no cause of fear. There is no tiger. That situation is created by dream. Actually there is no tiger. Continue reading