What is the benefit of doing these limbs, what is the purpose? By following these we remove impurities, physical and mental. Once we get rid of that we have better clarity. Jnana will flow within you, spiritual knowledge, you become wiser. This is the benefit, the advantage of practicing Ashtanga. Applying all the eight limbs, you can come closer to the last one, Samadhi.
We have been discussing yana and niyama, that no one can begin and follow immediately, transformation happens slowly, your practice is what makes the change. 99% practice my grandfather said, not too much talking.
There are many asanas, as we have said, for every living being, for every nervous system, only Shiva knows them all. Soma asana are not recommended for women, some are not for family men. There are lots of different types, so what is good for us? In the past yoga was only for sannyasi with no attachments, no family. Krishnamacayra changed this, he taught his wife and his children, through him people came to know that everybody can learn yoga. Everyone started practicing.
The process brings oneness within us, self transformation, this is why we do the asana, chanting, study. If we just party all the time, just feeling good, smoking, transformation is not happening. It is the changes that happen in you, change perceptions, thoughts, actions and reactions.
The six poisons each of us carry, kama (desire), krodha (anger), moha (delusion), lobha (greed), matsarya (envy) and mada (sloth).
In the ocean, how do you find a pearl? [Asks students for possible answers]
The pearl can be found inside a shell, and unless you break open the shell you can’t see it. Inside you there is purity, like this pearl. It is so attractive, your heart is this, so beautiful, covered up by these six shells. Once we break through the shells, through practice, then you have better understanding, you are able to see and realise what is inside each of us.
So again, the sadhana is very important. This is the purpose of asana, not for showing off, there is no use in doing asana if the changes are not happening within, with yama and niyama.
As you master asana, with many years practice, you can do pranayama, contraction of breath. The body is controlled by mind, and the mind controlled by the breath you take. Extend breath and extend life. First need to have lungs and nervous system strengthened through asana. Actually every day in asana we are doing basic pranayama to build this strength. I have personally applied this with many people, those with health problems, basic breathing technique brings lots of benefits. Sometimes we forget that this progress is coming.
After pranayama is pratyahara. Everything becomes one within you, this is the state of pratyahara, when the mind comes close to the divine. God doesn’t have a form, we have created these forms. For man, god is a superman, for a monkey, god is a super monkey, for tiger, a super tiger. God doesn’t have any form, with higher consciousness, you can become god.
[Sharath tells story from the Uttar Ramayana, where Hanuman, as the biggest disciple of Rama (an incarnation of Vishnu), had to show his devotion by fighting Rama. Rama draws his bow and arrow, Hanuman does nothing but chant “Rama Rama Rama” and so becomes Rama himself, unaffected by the arrows]
There is delusion. The six poisons make us think that we are not part of nature, part of the divine. Every day you are breathing, do you know this? Who is making you breathe? You cannot say. You are part of nature. Who is making everything happen? Everything is energy, god is nothing but energy. If you don’t have something, don’t worry. When you become attached life becomes miserable. When the mind is free there is progress.
Q: Sometimes in practice we have fear, how do we overcome this?
A: I have a sutra for this: “no fear, no fun!” You should have fun, with no effort there is no enjoyment. Everyone has fear, fear makes it special. When the fear is gone, you still have to be careful, if kapotasana is easy you still need to do properly and be careful.
Q: What about bad things that happen, how does god fit into this, is it god’s will?
A: Last year there was a huge flood in the Himalayas, afterwards investigation found that man had blocked the passage of water with hundreds of dams. If you block something, nature will find another way. With disaster, it is very bad that it happens, but it is part of nature. With human crime, this is ignorance.
People are destroying so much, we create global warming, India had 80% forest, people vanish the forest. It is not only humans that are important. How many plants have you killed in your life?
Save nature, nature saves you. How many wild animals have you fed and cared for? How many trees have you planted? There were 85,000 tigers in India, now only 2,000. Each and every species is very important. We have invited destruction, there is a lot of connection between us and these events.
People ask me will I have a third child, I say “No I will plant some trees instead!” For one person we need three hectares of forest, good air. Polluted air pollutes the mind. Destruction isn’t “god’s will”, it is caused by actions. Before the flood, many animals went further up the mountains to survive, they sensed it happening. We have to be sensitive.
[Sharath shows a photo he took in a jungle one hour away, it shows a leopard next to part of the trunk of an enormous 800 year old tree, the leopard is completely dwarfed by the tree]
Think about your last five years. Write down how many good and bad things you have done. Make a list. What have I taken, what have I taken that I did not need? Small things can change the world, one tree gives air to many people. Once you start caring for everything, not just humans, perception changes. Plant more trees and have less children, plant enough trees to be able to support the children you create.