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The Hindu Path to Enlightenment: Ashtanga Yoga Part 2

Bodhinatha first reviews the foundation of ashtanga yoga, the yamas and niyamas, and the classical goal of ashtanga yoga, enlightenment. Then Bodhinatha details the fourth through eighth limbs of astanga yoga. Asana, posture; pranayama, mastering life force; pratyahara, withdrawal; dharana, concentration; dhyana, meditation; samadhi, the true state of yoga. Bodhinatha quotes Gurudeva and describes in depth both levels of samadhi: sivakalpa and nirvikalpa.

Unedited Transcript:

Good morning everyone. We're getting ready for around a two week trip to western Canada, leaves two days, includes three cities: Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton. So we have, altogether we have eleven presentations to give, which vary from ten minutes to three hours in length. One of the major ones we've been sharing, guess we started last week, in Vancouver they asked for a two hour talk. So two hour talks are hard to give, right? Easier to give an hour talk, so also wanted a broad subject to reach out to a broader community, so title I chose was: The Hindu Path to Enlightenment. Enlightenment is always an interesting concept. So this morning I wanted to share the last part. It's in seven parts; this is part seven. I'll just summarize some of the material that went before briefly.

So one of the biggest problems in thinking about enlightenment is the false concept that enlightenment comes like lightening. You know you're sitting under a tree and inner lightening comes and all of a sudden, you're enlightened. Some magical transformation that takes place in a split second. So, in which you go from zero consciousness of God to a hundred percent consciousness of God in a split second. So, that's really inaccurate in the Hindu concept, because enlightenment is like anything else in life, it's a gradual process, it's not an instantaneous process. It's like learning how to do something. Like learning how to dance for example. We don't become a good dancer in one second, in one minute, one hour even one day, right? It takes years of practice to become a good dancer. It takes years to become anything really, with consistent study and practice. So enlightenment is no different. So, the way I describe it is: going from zero consciousness of God to one hundred percent consciousness of God, hundred percent consciousness of God is enlightenment, but we work at it gradually. And over the years we become more conscious of God; in fact even over lifetimes we become more and more conscious of God. And eventually we become so conscious of God, someone can call us enlightened. But it's a gradual process and it requires lots of practice. So, the talk goes on like that and gives some suggestions as to what to practice. That's a lot of what the first part is about.

And then the second part focusses more on the practice of ashtanga or eight limbed yoga, which we introduced last week and used to be self-explanatory, but more recently, there's some competition in the terminology. So if you go down the street and you see a sign that says: "Ashtanga yoga taught here," it's a different kind of ashtanga yoga. It's a kind that's become popular more recently which is a specific technique in hatha yoga. Specific kind of hatha yoga has become called ashtanga yoga. From Jois, is the main teacher of it. And it's a form of hatha yoga which has a series of postures and it works on breathing and exercise and builds up a certain heat within the body. So the terminology for ashtanga yoga we're using is the classical terminology, which has no relationship to the hatha yoga side, just means ashtanga.