Q&A #2 on the Spiritual Path 2/3

In this video, Ryan continues answering questions from Kriya Yoga students:

As a Witnessing Presence, I still retain a form of identity or separateness from the world.

That’s the first step: to become the Witness and know that you are not these things that you experience. Once you can do that, turn your attention within and practice pratyahara, learning to exist free of the senses and sensations. This leads to meditation.

Who is that identity that I experience as separate from the world?

We have to retain our sense of individuality to function in this world. We all have an ego, a point of consciousness, to do what we’re here to do. And we can do those things while knowing what we are. That is Self-realization. The Bhagavad Gita states that the biggest problem that keeps people from knowing what they are is this sense of individuality. The problem with the sense of individuality is not the fact that you have it, it’s the fact that you think you are it. According to Vasistha’s Yoga, the problem is conceptualization—thinking about things, labeling things, and identifying things all the time rather than just doing what is appropriate to the moment. For example, when you’re cooking breakfast, you don’t tell yourself that you’re cracking an egg or whisking pancake batter, you just do it. There’s no conceptualization there.

What’s going on when what we express as Spirit is “negative”?

In yoga philosophy, there are the gunas, the three primordial essences of nature. They are tamas (inertia, dullness), rajas (activity, striving, agitation, movement), and sattva (purity, peace, contentment). When a person is caught up in tamas, they need rajas to get their energy moving and get out of that state. Next, what is recommended is to develop tranquility, sattva—doing things without attachment to results. This is true yoga practice.

You want to be positive, joyful and purposeful, but when you experience a negative state such as anger or depression, simply observe it. Watch it with a poised, pleasant attitude, and let it pass. These are times when the gunas are just simply cycling through. You don’t necessarily want to fight it. When you fight it, you are giving strength to it. Just do your best to remain joyful and purposeful and wait patiently for it to pass.

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