Focus Limitless

by Jutta Ariane Mele-Maurer |
September, 2024

It is the form and essence of intelligence, and it is experienced through intuition. It is pure, simple, and transcendental. It is ultimate reality, ultimate truth, and ultimate tranquility, which is called Brahman. It is bigger than the nucleus and greater than the greatest.

Verse composed and translated by Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati

The word Brahman derives from the root word ”brh” which means to expand, grow, swell, and enlarge.

Brahman is the Absolute. It is beyond everything. Brahman describes what cannot be described; it is not namable, has no form, is beyond the beyond, and is the truest, the highest, the supreme state. Brahman, as a metaphysical concept, refers to a single binding unity behind diversity in all that exists. Like anything that is not visible, it cannot be defined: any definition would limit its greatness. To quote David Life: ”We could also refer to Brahman as the state of Yoga. Yoga is the experience where we are missing nothing; it is the natural desireless state, the eternal, changeless reality; Yoga is who we are.” Consciously or unconsciously, we all want to experience this state.

Shri Brahmanada Sarasvati states in the Textbook of Yoga Psychology that, according to the doctrine of satkarivada (sat=existence of + karya =effect), which is one of the central foundations of Samkhya philosophy, each soul is potentially Brahman. Due to ignorance, “avidya”, we perceive the multiplicity of the universe instead of Brahman. By defining Brahman and limiting its potential, we also limit ourselves by definition. Just think of how many times you thought you could not do this or that: you didn’t even try to do something because you were convinced it would not make any difference. Every time this happens, you strongly identify with your ego-personality, which limits your capacities and potential, plus separates yourself from others, making you blind to union and interconnectedness -Yoga. This attitude becomes crucial regarding issues that harm the whole planet and all that exists, such as environmental problems, social injustices, animal slaughter, and abuses of all kinds. All yoga practices, if practiced for a long time, consistently, attentively, without interruption (PYS 1.14),may reveal to us more and more about our natural state, which is union, rather than separation. Therefore, changing our perception of what we can or cannot do softens our hearts and intensifies our innate compassion for all. There are many examples of human, civil, and animal rights activists who consciously or not are more connected with what is eternal rather than what is impermanent within themselves, who made a significant impact on the well-being of all: Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Ingrid Newkirk, Sharon Gannon, David Life to name a few, and so hypnotically can You!

Master Patanjali, in PYS chapter 3, talks about supernatural powers gained through practice. These powers may expand the perception of one’s limited self, but they also may hinder the revelation of one’s true Self. They also may fuel our ego (asmita) and be misused for self-centered purposes, such as dictatorship.

Patanjali warns us continuously that kleshas (obstacles) are always present, dormant or non-dormant, and they may come to the surface any time, even if you are just one step away from enlightenment. Therefore, many teachings recommend nurturing qualities such as humility, compassion, and kindness.

According to PYS 1.2, the root causes hindering us as individual souls from the possibility to identify with the universal soul are the citta-vrttis, fluctuations of the mind, or misidentifications on the field of citta (mind stuff) as translated by Manorama. We may not be able to command our minds not to think yet, but we can order our minds gently but firmly what to think. Mantra – repetition (japa) is one excellent technique to do so. Reciting the mantra “tat tvam asi“ thou art that, for instance, has sooner or later the power to transcend the thinking mind and to serve the purpose of identifying with the Brahman, the Absolute, the ultimate limitless reality.

Source: Yoga Textbook of Psychology, Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati; Jivamukti Yoga Chant Book, Lectures by Sharon Gannon, David Life

Teaching Tips

  • talk about Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati,share stories about his life and his importance in the Jivamukti lineage.
  • Explain the significance of the mantra “Tat Tvam Asi” and where it can be found.
  • Recite the mantra “Tat Tvam Asi” for 108 times at the beginning or end of class before meditation, then invite students to continue silently to recite it during meditation.
  • Recite the verse “Bodhi rupam…” 12 times or more.
  • Explain Advaita Vedanta, Upanishad, Samkhya and Yoga.
  • Discuss the Yoga sutras mentioned in the essay.
  • Asana practice, focus on inversions, especially shirshasana variations.
  • Focus on vinyasa krama.
  • Invite students to overcome their self-imposed limits, on and off the mat.
  • Underline not to confuse Brahma with Brahman.