Thursday, September 08, 2016

The Eight Limbs of Yoga vs. The Noble Eightfold Path

The primary purpose of the Eightfold Path is to bring an end to clinging and the suffering caused by clinging. In describing the fulfillment of this purpose the Buddha occasionally mentioned a Tenfold Path. In this expanded list, Right Knowledge and Right Release are added after the more familiar list of eight factors. When the Eightfold Path leads to the ending of clinging and suffering, Right Knowledge is the insight that brings about Right Release.
— Gil Fronsdal

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras describes The Eight Limbs of Yoga as a sequence of practices that culminates in “Samadhi” also known as Self-Realization or temporary Release.

The Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path are more general and intended as a way of life (The Middle Way) that also leads towards Self-Realization or temporary Release and eventually towards permanent Release or Liberation (the end of suffering). This could include many elements of Pantanjal’s Eight Limbs of Yoga or other practices suitable to the practitioner. Thus they are complimentary paths with some overlap.

The Noble Eightfold Path

  1. Right View (or Understanding)
  2. Right Intention (or Thought)
  3. Right Speech
  4. Right Action
  5. Right Livelihood
  6. Right Effort
  7. Right Mindfulness
  8. Right Concentration

The Eight Limbs of Yoga

  1. Yama (morality)
  2. Niyama (self-discpline)
  3. Asana (postures)
  4. Pranayama (breath control)
  5. Pratyahara (sensory withdrawal)
  6. Dharana (concentration)
  7. Dhyana (meditation)
  8. Samadhi (realization)

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

The Reflexive Universe

Recently I came across a wonderful documentary on the life and work of Arthur M. Young that helped me to understand how Nature involutes (constraints, structure, ego) in order to evolute (freedom, growth, egolessness). The first part of this natural process is like building a broad and solid foundation, while the second part is like building a tower that reaches up to the heavens. 
Arthur also speaks about the difficulty in reconciling the teachings of Eastern philosophy, and in particular Buddhism, regarding the idea of "non-selfhood" and egolessness. He says that we're not really trying to destroy the ego, as some mistakenly believe, but rather eliminate the ego as a compulsive, habitual, unconscious trait. This can be understood as relegating ego to its rightful place as servant instead of master — using the ego instead of being used by the ego, which requires radical presence, attention, and awareness.