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Lions Roar : July 2008
SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2008 100 and the phenomenal world, enters the final stage of integration, in which nature is seen to be a shower of irreducible experiential states (dharma-megha). This realization extinguishes both the causes of suffering and the cycle of cause and effect. Once all the layers and imperfections concealing truth have been washed away, insight is boundless, with little left to know. Then the seamless flow of reality, its transformations colored by the fundamental qualities of nature (gunas), begins to break down, fulfilling the true mission of consciousness. One can see that the flow is actually a series of discrete events, each corresponding to the merest instant of time, in which one form becomes another. Freedom is at hand when the fundamental qualities of nature, each of their transformations witnessed at the moment of its in- ception, are recognized as irrelevant to pure awareness; it stands alone, grounded in its very nature, the power of pure seeing. Though awareness has been designated as “purusa” and lin- guistically cast as an entity, it is not even an “it,” being naturally of a different order (kaivalya) than the birth, identity, thoughts, and experience the yogi had previously confused it with. Al- though most inherited and acquired personal attributes will continue to some extent, they are joined by the post-cessation knowledge that they are mere processes. Even though spinning like juggler’s plates, held up by the momentum of some earlier push, they’re doomed to topple before long. Thus, the yogi has not become free from anything. Awareness was already free, awaiting recognition from a purified conscious- ness. Not unlike the power in Dorothy’s ruby slippers, the path to awakening is waiting within us, ready to appear when mind is brought together with some aspect of unfolding reality and yoked to it persistently enough for the dizzying dramas of self to dissipate. The yogi now feels an unprecedented security in the impersonal and impermanent: there’s no place like home. Mat and Cushion: The Yoga Continuum If Patanjali dropped in on a yoga class today, he might not rec- ognize very much of it as yoga. His yogic path moves directly from the pulsating world at large to the subtlest, most ineffable aspects of experience. The terminus of this path is consciousness stilled to cessation, leaving at least an instant of unconditioned knowing. This doesn’t happen very often in downward dog pose, or any of the other familiar moves we undertake in yoga rooms around the world. So, when we’re on the mat are we really doing yoga? Yes, even if not in a way that brings us to the brink of liberation. It’s no accident Yoga’s Path to Liberation continued from page 51 JULY 100-112.indd 100 JULY 100-112.indd 100 4/25/08 11:48:03 AM 4/25/08 11:48:03 AM