Many Paths one Goal: Yoga and Vipassana

Vipasana means observing the movements of body and mind in a systematic manner as they are in the present moment.  It is one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation. It was taught in India before the birth of Goutama Buddha. Goutama Buddha re-established its importance of this path to get freedom from human suffering. The three foundations of vipassana are sila, samadhi and panna. Which means:

Sila :  Moral conduct

Samadhi: Observation and Witnessing

Panna: Wisdom of the ultimate.

Vipassana Meditation as taught by S.N. Goenka in the tradition of Sayagyi U Ba Khin, is well known. There are one hundred and twelve methods in Vijgana bhairaba, vipassana is one of them. Theravāda vipassana teachers like Mahasi Sayadaw emphasize the importance of examining the kalapas as a means to gaining insight.

Great Vipassana master Sri Amit Ray who wrote,  “Yoga and Vipassana: An Integrated Life Style” , combined the vipassana and the eight limbs of  Patanjali’s yoga as follows:

  1. Yama and Niyama: Self Discipline and morality
  2. Asanas :  Observation of the movement of the body postures
  3. Pranayama : Observation of  the breaths
  4. PratyaharaObservation of the senses
  5. Dharana : Observation of the thoughts, the movements of the mind.
  6. Dhyana : Witnessing the feelings of the pain and pleasure
  7. Samadhi : Union with the ultimate

Frank Boccio, in his book  Mindfulness Yoga, agrees. “Patanjali talks about asana as stability and ease,” he mentioned, “and when that happens, there is the dissolution of the sense of separation, an overcoming of the pairs of opposites. That’s the whole practice right there: People feel more able to sit with whatever is arising.”

Click here to know more about the essence of yoga and vipassana.

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Yoga Sutra

Sage Patanjali in his book “Yoga Sutra” explained the complete procedure for the integration of body mind and soul in 4 chapters as follows:

Samadhi Pada (51 sutras) :

Samadhi refers to a blissful state where the yogi is absorbed into the One.  Here, the sage Patanjali explained the nature and the means to attaining Samadhi. This chapter contains the most famous definitional verse: “Yogaś citta-vritti-nirodha” (“Yoga is living above the mental fluctuation level”).

Sadhana Pada (55 sutras)

Here, the enlightened Guru Patanjali describes “Ashtanga Yoga”  the eight limbs that together constitute the complete Yoga system.

Vibhuti Pada (56 sutras)

In Sanskrit the word “Vibhuti means “power” i.e. the Super-natural powers.  In this chapter Sri Patanjali explained that the attraction of these super natural powers should be avoided and the attention should be fixed only on realizing the ultimate truth.

Kaivalya Pada (34 sutras)

The Kaivalya Pada describes the nature of  ultimate freedom and the reality of the transcendental Cosmic Self.