Written by Jack Barratt
Thus says the great Siddha, Maharishi Patanjali. Here we have an ample definition of yoga—it is the cessation (nirodha) of the patterning of consciousness (chitta-vritti). A yogi is a being who has accomplished this task, who has brought the limited patterning of consciousness to a point of total cessation. There is nothing more complicated to yoga than this. However, in this day and age, most of that which passes itself off as yoga is something that flies in the opposite direction to this fundamental statement of truth.
Many people see yoga as a hobby, interest or pastime—as something that we can use to build ourselves up or improve ourselves in one way or another. This is not the yoga of old. This is not the yoga of Siddhas and Avadhutas. Their yoga was, and still is, that which begins when the interest in all ordinary modes of self-fulfillment has been thoroughly exhausted, and when it is clearly perceived that the only way out of this often messy and uncomfortable life is found by going within. By ‘within’ I don’t mean within the interior world of imagination, conceptualization, and self-revolving reflection—the real ‘within’ is into the empty, non-localized, aware space that exists as the substratum of everything that can ever possibly exist. This empty space is the real cave—the Heart-Cave of Fire within which all fully accomplished, liberated Beings abide in timeless, spaceless unity.
Perhaps the word ‘yoga’ really has no use in this day and age. I believe that there was a time in the past, perhaps a very long time ago, when the word ‘yoga’ would inspire a sense of awe—almost as if the word itself would trigger a hallowed state of reflection, of turning inward. In these present times, this word, having been so confusedly intertwined with acrobatic exercises, fashion, interior design, identity crises, and the premature, foolish desire to call oneself as a ‘yogi’, ‘spiritual teacher’ or ‘guru’, has lost its spiritual verve, its potency. Can it be recovered? Who knows.
The Sanskrit language, with all of its scientifically accurate spiritual vocabulary, was formed as a concession to ignorance, as a way to express what Reality is to those who were unable to grasp the vast transmission present in the natural silence of elevated Beings. That is, at the point of the origination of language, there was still a link between truth and symbol, between the territory and the map. When real yogis said ‘yoga’, they looked at their own unified state of being and then expressed it in words—they thereby transmitted that state through language. When Siddhas said ‘samadhi’, they stared into the fortress of their own equalized space of consciousness, and then they transmitted it to those worthy enough to hear of it. However, right now, in this culture where everybody has their ‘own truths’, which are, supposedly, equally true, there can be a million definitions of these formerly sacred words, and these definitions will all necessarily be impregnated with the individual transmissions of the minds that conceived of them.
What is the upshot of all of this? It is no longer guaranteed that we can find spirituality through traditionally sacred language and imagery. The shlokas of Rishis have already been co-opted into the fold of ignorance. Abusive pseudo-gurus receive their corruption-born rewards with one hand whilst raising the other hand in the form of abhayahasta, of the blessing of protection. Thus, because of this, it can be said that yoga has truly returned to its abode of silence and stillness.
If we are not sensitive enough to detect the fragrance of that silence, then we will not find yoga. Yoga has withdrawn from its original language of expression. Yoga has also withdrawn from the spontaneous postures that occurred either spontaneously in those whose consciousnesses were activated or in those who were instructed by a qualified Master. Yoga has withdrawn back into the Cave of the Heart. In today’s swamp of spiritual corruption, fake saintism and hypocrisy, yoga has gone underground. Now we are more likely to find yoga in the blazing eyes of one who appears totally ordinary, or even uncouth, unsaintly, rude, or a little rough around the edges. Finding real yoga today is itself a spiritual practice—a yogic exercise par excellence.
This is all the play of Reality in the time and space within which we find ourselves today. But it is safe to say that one who truly longs for chitta-vritti-nirodhaha—the annihilation of the limited patterning of consciousness in the Self—such a one will sooner or later find themselves in the company of Siddhas and Avadhutas, who will lift them up from the realms of ignorant perception into the realms of inherent luminosity and perfection. This is the natural justice of existence.
May all beings embrace wisdom. May the wheel of Absolute Truth continue to turn for the benefit of all sentient and insentient beings.
Om Tat Sat
Reality alone is.