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Jivamukti Focus of the Month

Black is the True Face of Light

FOTM_April_18

Tad evā-artha-mātra-nirbhāsam sva-rūpa-sūnyam iva samādhih

Through the power of fixating suggestion on a chosen object the object alone shines forth, and there is undistracted identification with it. This trance is called Samadhi or same as the highest.

PYS III.3

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras III.3 Sanskrit pronunciation by Manorama – www.sanskritstudies.org

Siddhi is a Sanskrit noun often translated as “power” but more exactly means “accomplishment,” “attainment “or “success.” A siddha is one who has accomplishment or success. The third pada (chapter) of the Yoga Sutra is titled Vibhuti, and addresses the acquisition of siddhi. Imagine a conversation between two Siddha Masters, Patanjali and Nikola Tesla…

Patanjali: By performing samyama on the form of the body in order to suspend its reflective and receptive power, the contact between the eye of the observer and the light from the body is broken, and the body becomes invisible. 1

Tesla: Matter is created from the original and eternal energy that we know as light. It shone, and then appeared stars, the planets, man, and everything on Earth and in the Universe. Matter is an expression of infinite forms of light, because energy is older than it. There are four laws of creation. The first is that (it is) the source of all the baffling, dark plot that the mind cannot conceive, or mathematics measure. In that plot fit the whole Universe. The second law is spreading a darkness, which is the true nature of light, from the inexplicable and it’s transform (ation) into the Light. The third law is the necessity of the light to become a matter of light. The fourth law is: no beginning and no end; three previous laws always take place and the Creation is eternal.3

Patanjali: This principle also explains the power of appearance and disappearance of sound and the other sensations of taste, touch, and smell by samyama on the tanmatras, which are mostly psychic in nature. 2

Tesla: I am part of a light, and it is the music. The light fills my six senses: I see it, hear, feel, smell, touch and think. Thinking of it means my sixth sense. Particles of light are written note. A bolt of lightening can be an entire sonata. A thousand balls of lightening is a concert. 3

 Patanjali: These powers are uplifting and encouraging when the mind is turned outward, but they are obstacles to samādhi.4

Tesla: Knowledge comes from space; our vision is its most perfect set. We have two eyes: the earthly and spiritual. It is recommended that it become one eye. 3

Nikola Tesla, a visionary, and accomplished being of the modern era, said that he had family conversations with lightning and the colors of a sunset taught him invention. We know less about the historic Patanjali, but it is said that in his continuous pursuit of the light of knowledge he became a grammarian, an ayurvedic doctor, and a philosopher. Both of these people urge us to find perfection and capture our universal identity. 

So also does Kapila, the founder of Samkhya Philosophy, in this excerpt from the Srimad Bhagavatam where he instructs his mother, Devahūti: “Egoism in the mode of passion produces two kinds of senses—the senses for acquiring knowledge and the senses of action The senses of action depend on the vital energy (prāna), and the senses for acquiring knowledge depend on intelligence (buddhi).5 By interactions of the air and the sensations of touching, one receives different forms according to destiny. By evolution of such forms, there is fire and the eye sees different forms in color.6 My dear mother, the characteristics of form are understood by dimension, quality and individuality. The form of fire is appreciated by its effulgence.”7

 The Sun is the original source of light that makes vision possible. The fire/light of the yogi is the tapas that burns away impurities, and the ash that remains is the vibhuti; the sacred ash. Siddhi is the power that rises out of the black ashes like a phoenix from the fire of tapas. Patanjali reminds us that it is dangerous to be self-satisfied and halt progress with the acquisition of siddhis—restings  on our laurels.

In ancient Greece, the laurel wreath (Laurus nobilis) was a symbol of victory and status. Apollo is depicted with a laurel wreath on his head and is said to have declared the sacred nature of the laurel or bay tree after the nymph Daphne, who he was pursuing, would turn into the tree to avoid being captured. A laureate is one who is crowned with laurel leaves signifying their accomplishment. “Resting on one’s laurels” has come to mean becoming lazy and self-satisfied with temporal success.

We could never accuse either Patanjali or Tesla with resting on their laurels. In fact, most outstanding historic personalities worked feverishly to complete each day with the full potential of that present moment joined to the momentum of previous moments and moving into a future potential. This is Yoga as the perfection of action.

Teaching Tips

(Includes footnotes)

  1. PYS III.21 (trans. Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati)
  2. PYS III.22 (trans. Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati)
  3. PYS III.38 (trans. Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati)
  4. Srimad-Bhagavatam Canto 3, Ch.26, verse 31
  5. Srimad-Bhagavatam Canto 3, Ch.26, verse 38
  6. Srimad-Bhagavatam Canto 3, Ch.26, verse 39
  7. Discuss samyama, (simultaneous dhāranā, dhyana, and samadhi). This is the very advanced practice that leads to all siddhis. Instruct and practice each separately; concentration, meditation, and merging. Discuss each practice from the point of view of the practitioner, the practice, and the object. In dhāranā the concentrator, the act of concentration, and the object of concentration are all intermittent and separated. In dhyana the meditator, the act of meditation, and the object of meditation are all seamlessly held in consciousness. In Samadhi the practitioner, the action, and the object of the action all merge as one in consciousness. To practice all three simultaneously seems to be a contradiction, but perhaps it is not.
  8. Discuss the eight classical siddhis (Aṇimā: reducing one’s body even to the size of an atom, Mahima: expanding one’s body to an infinitely large size, Garima: becoming infinitely heavy, Laghima: becoming almost weightless, Prāpti: ability to be anywhere at will,) and the other siddhis described in the Yoga Sutra. Discuss the object of samyama in each case, and the relationship to the particular siddhi. Use these focus points in asana class, for example: lightness of a fluff of cotton, navel, Pole Star, etc.
  9. Investigate the relationship between light/color and sound (David Bowie – “Sound and Vision”). We speak of light as knowledge, clarity, freedom, etc. What do these metaphors tell about the nature of light and the relationship to energy?

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