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Beginner on the path...

abisababa2010-07-04 11:15:24 +0000 #1
Hi everybody.

I have been doing yoga for some time and now realised that I am eager to learn more about the philosophy behind it. I realise that this is a vast area and that it will take me some time to find my way through but I want to begin.

So, I am asking you for help! Where should I start?

I have just ordered a book on The Upanishads (by Eknath Easwaran) because I feel that this is a quite fundamental text that I am curious in... but I really don't know much, so I am really asking.

I would be happy with any kind of advice and please remember, I am a complete beginner.


siva2010-07-04 11:25:43 +0000 #2

Listen to everyone. Follow no one.

What you're looking for in general is to study Vedanta: the end of knowledge. Read the Upanishads without adhering too strongly to any single translation. Look at others as well. Find the general gist and keep moving. You will have to come back to it again and again. Bhagavad Gita also is a staple you will read several times and of course the Sutras of Patanjali. These, like the Upanishads, all come from the Vedic texts, or Vedas, Vedanta.

A primary objective in yoga identifies what knowledge is and the role it plays in who we are (which is also an aspect of meditation). If you look at the meaning of Vedanta, "the end of knowledge," you immediately become aware of what is "not knowledge." Then look at Raja yoga and the eight limbs. See that knowledge is an action like other actions of which we are only a part of. Thought, and memory are similar actions that are also not knowledge. Dwell in this. Also look at karma, jnana and bhakti yoga in relation to raja.

And then look for comparative stuff too, like namaskar mudra and prayer hands. When you look at Bhuddism or even Christianity, you'll find the roots lead back to Vedanta. For example, Sun Tzu's "Art of War" echoes many of the same principles you'll find in the Gita. Look at how Vedanta spread east and west geographically and evolved into different forms as it was translated from Sanskrit into other languages. What survived? What was lost and why (those changes occurring as meaning evolved from a sound based language into symbolic)? Such as Om and Amen. Though comparative study you'll find vedanta is closer to home than you think.

My personal favorite and companion to the study of Vedanta is J. Krishnamurti. He has a very systematic way of "seeing" knowledge and bringing you to its end and does not allow you to use it to analyze, categorize or compare. Look for "Freedom From the Known," or "Total Freedom," which is a compilation of his writings and lectures. Most definitely check out his first address to the Order of the Star. This is an example of "living" vedanta. Also, read earlier contemporaries, such as Vivekananda and Sivananda. That's a start.

When you build a foundation of these elements in combination with your hatha, pranayama and meditation, they begin to reveal themselves as true to nature. In other words, through the practice of yoga, vedanta becomes self-evident.

It's a long journey with many ways to travel. Dig hard, dig deep and drink it up.

peace and good luck,

abisababa2010-07-04 11:36:27 +0000 #3
Wow Siva,

thank you thank you thank you.


InnerAthlete2010-07-04 11:59:24 +0000 #4

I personally would not start with the Upanishads though it could be perfectly fine. If it works for you then that is what matters. A start is a start.

I would more likely direct students to the Bhagavad Gita as a nice beginning but it's not a requisite beginning. You can start your exploration anywhere. Some material may be overwhelming to beginners, depending on their background and interests.
abisababa2010-07-04 12:46:45 +0000 #5
Thank you, Inner Athlete, for your advice.

I have already ordered the Upanishads so I will give it a try. But it's good to know that if I will have problems, there is another ally for me to take for a start... The Bhagavad Gita is definitely the next book I will look at.

Thanks a lot!




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