Monday, February 08, 2010
Saturday, February 06, 2010
The Uses of Samyama, 3 of 6
This is part three of six pieces on the genius state known as samyama.
The worldly use of samyama in education, science, politics, and arts is almost completely untapped. Patanjali is very open in the Yoga Sutras about the application of samyama to worldly goals, and it seems even behind his weird language it is an exceptionally powerful tool.
Samyama releases genius. In the field of economics, the real driver of capital creation is genius. Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein as individuals created more value for society than millions of people by their work. And the work of genius arises from concentrated, meditative absorption on the topic they choose.
In part two of this series we looked at the 3 components of samyama – dharana, dhyana, and samadhi. By applying these three approaches to a topic, you can easily penetrate the material form (through dharana) of any topic, comprehend it intellectually (through dhyana), and experience its essence (through samadhi). But it is by applying samyama that great leaps of genius insight unfold in whatever arena or field of knowledge it is applied in.
Samyama is the secret of genius. By samyama on a topic, you come to know it from the inside out, as you know yourself. Imagine knowing a person from the inside out through samyama, and the advantage it confers in dealing with them. Imagine knowing a political or business issue from the insight and the strength and clarity of insight it would bring to bear on the successful resolution of the issue.
I want to suggest that in the case of especially talented women and men, they have the unconscious imprint of the ability to samyama on certain topics or arenas. If they are able to unconsciously samyama on science, they may be a scientific genius. But without the requisite mind training their insights will seem accidental, random, and mediated through sleep, dream and reverie. With training in stilling the motions of the mind, otherwise known as yoga, this process becomes conscious.
If this idea is accurate, and unconscious samyama is the source of talents in everyday genius creators, then it opens a new path of inquiry:
Is it possible to teach genius through the systematic development of samyama?
More about Samyama, 2 of 6
This is part two of six pieces on the highest state of mind training known as samyama.
One writer defined samyama as “the flowing of attention, awareness and energy.” I would like to look at that some more. Each of these three characteristics refer to very specific practices and states of consciousness that are cultivated separately first. Samyama therefore is the synergy of three distinct practices working together as one practice.
Samyama as a single practice that is greater than the sum of its three basic practices. By putting samyama in the technical and systemic context of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra’s, the precise nature and power of samyama becomes very clear:
Technically samyama is the simultaneous and synergistic practice of the last three of eight limbs of Patanjali’s yoga system. Individually these limbs are technically called “dharana”, “dhyana” and “samadhi”. For samyama to be understood by the mind for the amazing power it is, each word needs a precise definition. The trouble is, Sanskrit simply does not work that way. Its beauty as a sacred language comes precisely from the wide spectrum of potential meanings surrounding every major word. So instead of a definition, here are some synonyms:
Dharana: concentration, attention, focus, resolve, mindfulness.
Dhyana: meditation, awareness, witnessing, detachment, insight.
Samadhi: contemplation, energy, light, absorption into the object of meditation, bliss.
Can you catch a sense or intuition of the meaning of these words?
Much more precision can be gained from carefully looking and practicing Patanjali’s text. The first five limbs of yoga might be said to be the source of dharana, concentration. This is a state where the mind is still, clear, awake, and lucid.
Dhyana, meditation, is for Patanjali any focus on this concentrated attention. He lists a number of possible focuses and the consequences of a given focus in the form of various powers and experiences. Dhyana arises from the cessation of the movements of the mind; it is the state yogas aim at.
But Patanjali is an equal opportunity spiritualist; he doesn’t seem to care about theological matters except insofar as they support or hinder practice. He seems eminently practical in this. Meditation is mind practice, dhyana – no more, no less. What you practice the mind on is up to you.
In that context, then, samadhi is entering INTO the object of meditation. It is becoming that object. It is a pretty radical idea, but it is not just a becoming. It is a revelation also. The essence of a matter is revealed by samadhi on it.
When you become something, all stands revealed. All doubt is resolved, and nothing is left to say or do. Samadhi is high-seeing (sama = summit, dhi = seeing). Dhyana is insight as a vehicle (dhi = insight, yana = vehicle). Dharana is (clearly) seeing a (material) form (dha = seeing, rana = material form).
All depends on the context here. If I were to present these notions in modern language, I would say that dharana means sound reality testing and freedom from neurotic imprints and emotional chaos; dhyana means meditative experience and skill with the abstract nonlinear content of mind that generates perceptual dualities, thereby giving rise to categories and conditional states of consciousness; and samadhi means direct experience of the context in which mind arises as a consequence of witness awareness. But the downside with all this modern jargon is that it dates fast, while Patanjali’s words remain.