Tag Archives: Philosophy

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

How to be a Jivan-muktah

“The yogis, abandoning attachment, act with body, mind, intelligence and even with the senses, only for the purpose of purification.” Bhagavad-gita 5.11

During a class you’ll often hear me talk about yoga as a subtractive process; one of removing all the obstacles of the mind and impurities of the heart that prevent us from experiencing ourselves in our natural state of eternal, blissful consciousness; of being one who is liberated from illusion while still living in this world – a jivan-muktah.

Patanjali defines liberation (or samadhi) as the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind that results from the cessation of our identification with those fluctuations. So can we liberate our consciousness from the fluctuations of the mind and still be engaged with the world? As long as we have a body with which to act and a mind that’s generating thoughts that inspire those actions, we’d still have fluctuations of the mind and desires upon which we’re acting… so how can we say we’re liberated? Or, to put it another way, how is it possible to be a jivan-muktah if liberation is the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind? Continue reading