Yoga & SpiritualityThe Biggest Question - Conscious Chirag

March 20, 2020by Chirag Garg0

Some believe that we are spirits in human form, others know we are bones and flesh. Some believe that there is a certain religious god up in the sky, others know that physical matter is all that is. Some believe that we go to heaven/hell after death, others know everything ends with the dissolution of the body. Ever since the beginning, humans are trying to solve a riddle thrown at us by nature. To make sense of the human condition, several theories have been circulated. Again and again, individuals rose who choose to disbelieve all the theories and try to figure out the truth for themselves. They don’t believe in anything unless they witness it for themselves. Such beings are referred to as seekers.

There are three main types of seekers:

  1. Scientists: Those who study physical forces in a controlled environment.
  2. Psychologists: Those who study the minds of individuals in various life conditions.
  3. Yogis: Those who study the nature of self within themselves.

1. Scientists study the existence very closely and drive conclusions based on experimentation. Everything that scientists claim can be tested repeatedly with the help of our sense perception i.e. we can either see, taste, touch, hear and smell the results. Science is a vast subject and mainly studies the physical phenomena (objects or matter) of life. Various approaches within science are being used by people from various backgrounds to make sense of existence.

In terms of seeking and making sense of the human condition, scientists in the field of cosmology, quantum physics and neuroscience are leading. Currently, the cosmologists are studying the behavior of black holes and origin of cosmos mainly by looking deeply into the fabric of the universe, quantum physicists are studying the nature of atoms and energy mainly by powerfully zooming into them, and neuroscientists are studying the source of human consciousness mainly by stimulating different areas of the body. However, all the fields are currently stuck and bewildered by their own findings. They are talking in a language that is completly alien to normal people. Cosmologists are saying that 95% of the universe is missing which is made up of dark energy and they have no idea what it is actually, quantum physicists are saying that solid matter is not real and have no idea what is underpinning physicality actually, and neuroscientists are saying that they just have no idea that where the source of consciousness is in our brain. To conclude, it seems like scientists are beginning to realise that truth can’t be found by using totally materialistic approach. 

2. Psychologists study the minds of various human beings and drive conclusions based on behaviors. Everything that psychologists claim can be tested repeatedly but there is never 100% certainty. There are rarely complete black and white scenarios in social sciences. One of the most interesting things in the world of psychology is that unlike material science they do accept the existence of a subject (separate self apart from the material body also casually known as “awareness”) which is at the center of all observations and behaviors.

In terms of seeking and making sense of the human condition, the theory by Ernest Becker (explained in the book “Denial of Death”) is leading. He explained how our subconscious fear of death is driving our behavior. Becker argues that humans live in both a physical world of objects and a symbolic world of meaning. The symbolic part of human life engages in what Becker calls an “immortality project.” People try to create or become part of something which they believe will last forever—art, music, literature, religion, nation-states, social and political movements, etc. Such connections, they believe, give their lives meaning. Moreover, he believed that conflicts between contradictory immortality projects, especially religious ones, are the main cause of wars, bigotry, genocide, racism, nationalism. Our particular immortality projects are so important to us, that we can’t tolerate others suggesting that our beliefs are misguided. But, Becker argued, religion no longer offers convincing arguments for immortality or meaning in life. Unfortunately, for most people, science doesn’t fill the void. In response, Becker suggests that we need new comforting “illusions” to give life meaning. He doesn’t know what these new illusions will be, but he hoped that having them might help us create a better world. Deep in our bones, we know that we are mortal. As Becker put it:

This is the terror: to have emerged from nothing, to have a name, consciousness of self, deep inner feelings, an excruciating inner yearning for life and self-­expression—and with all this yet to die.

3. Yogis meditate and practice certain disciplines which offers them insights into their own self. The laboratory in which they seek the truths is their own mind and body. Everything that yogis claim can be tested only by those who practice the methods and disciplines of yoga themselves. Yogis argue that the ultimate truth is not a physical object and thus, can’t be perceived by the senses. However, those who are willing to practise yoga and other disciplines to enhance their receptivity, perceptivity and sensitivity can witness it more clearly than the physical objects. Yogis even explain that once an individual starts perceiving the ultimate, the need for physical gratifications in terms of fancy objects, sexuality etc. and emotional gratifications like belongingness, recognition etc. completely falls off. The accomplished yogi starts to live in exalted states and endlessly drinks the nectar of Supreme reality.

In terms of seeking and making sense of the human condition, the eight limbs mentioned in Patanjali Yoga Sutras are leading. It includes Yamas (attitudes toward our environment), Niyamas (attitudes toward ourselves), Asanas (physical postures), Pranayamas (restraint or expansion of the breath), Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (complete integration); that are to be practiced in a certain way which lead to heightened state of perception and prepares us for the experience of the ultimate.

The theory of Advaita Vedanta is also popular among the yogis which explains very elaborately how the subject and object are the same one consciousness. Both scientists and psychologists mainly dwell on the objects of perception, not the subject who is experiencing everything. Advaita Vedanta points out that we are not a mind-body complex but, something much superior than that.

After the realisation, yogis usually lives in either of three states:

  1. Stay totally absorbed in the ultimate (Samadhi)
  2. Stay in a complete awe as physical world is now perceived as the ultimate itself. (Sat – Chit – Ananda)
  3. Stay dynamically active in the world for the benefit of society: It is not among the immortality projects as explained by Ernest Becker. It is but an act of compassion as the fear of death, the way we know it, is absent in realised yogis. (Karma Yoga)

 

It is recommended that one should dive deep into all the three branches and witness the ultimate truth for themselves. However, only when we will realise that we don’t actually know the nature of ourself and reality, we will truly open ourselves up to the ultimate.

If an intense fire to know in burning within you, truth is not far away.

Chirag Garg

Making tools of growth available to all human beings.

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