SPIRITUALITY SCIENCE – WHAT IS HUMAN NATURE?
Discussion about “Nature” of Man must make reference to Man’s physical structure described by Science called Human Anatomy. The use of terms like “Higher” and “Lower” Nature of Man have to be associated with parts or areas of Man’s anatomical organ called Brain if “Nature” is entirely viewed as mental function.
Indian tradition suggests that Man performs actions or exhibits Behavior and Action under the influence of three “GUNAS” or Modes of Behavior called Good(Sattva), Passionate(Rajas), and Ignorant(Tamas). The same Man can act and exhibit all three types of Behavior depending upon variable, external, environmental stimuli, or under influence of inherent, hidden, mental stimuli as described by Theory of Psychoanalysis.
Human Nature must not be confused with Human Behavior and Action.
Human Nature need not be studied as mental function. I ask my readers to explore the Structure and Functions of Red Blood Cell to arrive at understanding of Human Nature.
For that reason, I cannot verify terms like Higher and Lower Nature of Man. However, mental activities described by Indian Tradition, activities such as Thinking & Imagination( Manas), Discernment, Intellect, Knowledge(Buddhi), Feelings and Mood( Chitta), and Self-Pride or Arrogance(Ahamkara) can be assigned to different areas of Brain.
All those four kinds of mental activities can be traced to areas of Brain that can be called “SELF.” These activities are known to part of Brain that I call “Knowing-Self.” I make this distinction as there is distinction between Contents of Consciousness and Composition of Consciousness. The Contents of Consciousness are experienced in different areas of Cerebral Cortex.
The part or area of Brain called Reticular Formation is the site where the Contents of Consciousness are composed and relayed to different areas of Cerebral Cortex where “Self” becomes aware of those contents. Reticular Formation can be called “The Knowing-Self” and this part plays critical role in regulating Respiration, Circulation, Arousal, and Motor Reflexes. It provides the basis for Self-Discipline, Self-Control, and Self-restraint.
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From: Devinder Singh Gulati
In the orthodox statement of Raja yoga, concentration upon the Divine is optional, it is not compulsory, it is not imperative: you may concentrate upon the Divine or you may concentrate upon any object. The aim of Raja yoga is to control the mind, and for controlling the mind, you can pick up any object. It is even said that if you are in love with somebody and concentrate upon the object of love, even that would give you the stability of the mind. So, it gives many options. So, even concentration upon the Divine is also one of the options. But here, in the exposition of Raja yoga in the terms of the Gita, Sri Krishna says that you should become My–minded, concentrate upon Me, upon the Supreme.
yuñjann evaṁ sadātmānaṁ yogī niyatamānasaḥ |
śāntiṁ nirvāṇaparamāṁ matsaṁsthām, adhigacchati ||15|| (VI)
“Having restrained his mind, the Yogi constantly applies his mind to the self, attains peace, the Supreme Nirvana, which abides in Me.”
Now, there are two important points here. We had said that by the higher self, you should control the lower self; and if you do all these practices, then you will be able to sustain your self in the higher self, and in that higher self consciousness, you will have two important realizations. One is nirvāṇaparamāṁ śāntiṁ: there is ‘Akshara’, experience of complete inactivity…but matsaṁsthām,, but even that Akshara is seated in Me. That is: “I am still higher than that condition of inactivity”. Nirvana is not the ultimate goal; it is a part of the goal but not “the” ultimate goal because even…“That śāntiṁ, even that peace is not final; matsaṁsthām,, you should see that even ‘that’ state is seated in Me, and I am more than activity, I am more than inactivity. I am Purushottama. ”
yadā viniyataṁ cittam ātmany evāvatiṣṭhate |
nispṛhaḥ sarvakāmebhyo yukta ity ucyate tadā ||18|| (VI)
“When the citta is properly restrained and is established in the Self alone, then one becomes free from all desires, and is called a yukta––one who is established in Yoga.”
This term Chitta is used here, and that is a very important term in Raja yoga; one of the very first statements of Raja yoga is the definition of Yoga, and it says:
cittavṛttinirodhaḥ yogaḥ (yogasūtra 1.2)
“Yoga means, cittavṛttinirodhaḥ, retrained, cessation of the modifications of citta, of the stuff of consciousness.”
So, Sri Krishna uses here the same word: “When the Chitta is properly retrained, and is established in the Self alone, then one becomes free from all desires, and is called a yukta––one who is established in Yoga.”
yathā dīpo nivātastho neṅgate sopamā smṛtā |
yogino yatacittasya yuñjato yogam ātmanaḥ ||19|| (VI)
“Just as a lamp does not flicker in a windless place—such is the simile declared for the Yogi whose mind has been curbed and who practices union with the Supreme Self.”
When there is no wind at all, the light does not flicker, simile the mind of the Yogi does not flicker, it burns steadily without any kind of wavering.
yatroparamate cittam niruddhaṁ yogasevayā |
yatra caivātmanātmānaṁ paśyann ātmani tuṣyati ||20|| (VI)
“When Chitta is restrained by the practice of Yoga and is withdrawn from the worldly material activities, then the Yogi beholds the self within his own Self and he finds contentment.”
What is the nature of this contentment?
sukham ātyantikaṁ yat tad buddhigrāhyam atīndriyam |
vetti yatra na caivāyaṁ sthitaś calati tattvataḥ ||21|| (VI)
“One experiences this Transcendental Bliss…” This contentment gradually becomes an experience of the Supreme Bliss, “…Bliss which is atīndriyam, which transcends any sensual experience.” In other words, whatever may be the climaxes of sense experiences, and the delight, this Bliss goes even beyond that. “…it can be ceased by the intellect, buddhigrāhyam; it can be conceived and then, it goes even beyond Buddhi to experience it.” It can be conceived by Buddhi, but actually it goes, in experience even beyond that.
Is Raja yoga different from Buddhi yoga? The answer is this: in Buddhi yoga, the processes of Asana, Pranayama, and gradual processes of Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi, all that is not in a regulated manner given. By ‘mere process of thinking’, very clearly, you arrive at a distinction between the Real and the unreal, and then you get fixed in the Real. In that process, you are not required to seat down quietly, in an Asana, you are not required to do Pranayama, you are not required to go gradually from step to step, but it will show that Buddhi yoga is something relevant to those who are capable, intellectually, of making a distinction between the Real and the unreal. But all people may not be capable of that distinction. It is ready for those who are able to think so clearly, their minds are so clear that they can arrive at this distinction. But those who are not capable, for them a regular, a slow process is necessary. Therefore, you might say that elements of Buddhi yoga are present in Raja yoga, but the details of Raja yoga are not present in Buddhi yoga. Ultimately the distinction that has to be made between the Real and the unreal, that distinction even here in Raja yoga ultimately you have to do, but in a gradual manner, because this Raja yoga is particularly addressed to those people whose minds are really unstable. It is a special kind of a process given to those whose minds naturally does not seat quietly; and in fact most of us are like that therefore it is very valid for all of us, mostly. But it may not be so for those who really have developed…by birth it self they have a great capacity to be very quiet, so for them, all the Ashtanga Yoga is not necessary: this is the distinction. [In Gurbani Yama, Niyama, Asana and Pranayama are insisted upon. Dharana. Dhyana and Samadhi are founded on “Liv”, from where you start.]
… is it really possible for a human being to climb? It is as if, after having accepted all this statement, a lingering doubt may still remain in the mind of the seeker, and you might say that: well, what you are saying is wonderful, but is the human being capable of this climbing? That is why this 6th chapter begins with the statement that “you must raise yourself by the Self”. And even if you find that your mind is very unstable, there is a method by which you can control it.
What is that method? What is the special method? That special method is the special method of Raja yoga. It is that Raja yoga, which is very briefly stated here; we do not expect a complete exposition of Raja yoga here, but his basic element. And the basic elements of Raja yoga, the special distinguishing feature of Raja yoga is that you should first of all, regularly, attain to the mastery of Asana. The minimum condition in which you can control your mind is not to be fidgety, remaining at one place, dangling your feet all the time, and looking here and there, hither and thither. These are the minimum things that should be completely avoided, eliminated: ‘capacity to be really stable’. Before you can stabilize your mind, at least stabilize your body, at least make your seat absolutely firm. You should be able to sit erect; you should be able to be very quiet.
So, Asana is the first thing, and that is why here Sri Krishna will tell us:
śucau deśe pratiṣṭhāpya sthiram āsanam ātmanaḥ |
nātyucchritaṁ nātinīcaṁ cailājinakuśottaram ||11|| (VI)
He gives the description of Asana, how should you seat: firmly, stably.
“He should establish a firm seat in a pure place which is neither too high nor too low, and upon which is spread either Kusha grass or a deer skin or a cloth.”
tatraikāgraṁ manaḥ kṛtvā yatacittendriyakriyaḥ |
upaviśyāsane yuñjyād yogam ātmaviśuddhaye ||12|| (VI)
Now, comes the mental aspect of it. That was the physical aspect, now, the mental aspect: “Having seated on it, let him practice Yoga for the purification of the mind, after making the mind to a state of one–pointed–ness (ekāgraṁ cittam), and controlling his mind, senses and activities.”
This is what is called in the Raja Yoga more elaborately: first of all you should have ‘Asana’; then you should have Pranayama, which also Sri Krishna will come to very quickly. In the actual process of ‘Yoga’, if you read the Raja yoga, it is called aṣṭāṅga Yoga, there are eight steps. The first step is called the state by which your moral purification is first achieved: ‘Yama’ and ‘Niyama’; then comes ‘Asana’; then ‘Pranayama’; then ‘Pratyahara’; then ‘Dharana’; then ‘Dhyana’; and then ‘Samadhi’. These are the eight steps of Raja Yoga.
Now, all these eight steps are not described here exactly in the form in which we get in Raja yoga, because here they is a summary statement, and it is understood normally, because it is well known. Therefore you don’t need to expand the whole thing in detail in the same way in which Rajayogis do, but the essence of it is all given here. So, it says: “Having seated on it, let him practice Yoga for the purification of the mind.” This is a kind of a process of what is called pratyāhāra. Pratyahara is a state in which you withdraw from other objects. Even before you concentrate upon one object, you withdraw from other objects: this is called Pratyahara. [Pratyahara is called in Gurbani, establishing “liv”]
Then, concentrate upon one subject is called dhāraṇā. Then dhyāna is a real pointed–ness, you really dwell upon it, and having delved upon it sufficiently, you get merged into it: that is samādhi. These are the different stages, but basically it is one–pointed–ness. So, in summary it is said: let him purify his mind by one–pointed–ness,ekāgraṁ manaḥ kṛtvā, in one phrase it is given, manaḥ ekāgraṁ kṛtvā: you should completely be one–pointed in your mind.
The next verse is nothing but the same statement described in other words:
bandhur ātmātmanas tasya yenātmaivātmanā jitaḥ |
anātmanas tu śatrutve vartetātmaiva śatruvat ||6|| (VI)
“For one who has conquered his very self by his own Self, his very self becomes his friend, but for one who has not conquered his self, his very self will act inimically, as would an actual enemy.”
Now, once you begin to rise above…now the consequent and subsequent statement in the Bhagavad Gita speak to you once again of the state of equality. As you rise in freedom more and more, your capacity to be equal minded becomes greater. You will see through out the Gita, there is constant emphasis on equality, a subject that we discussed last time with all its paraphernalia, with all its delusions, with all its different stages, but ultimately when this freedom is being exercised more and more, then you will be free even in adverse circumstances; you will not be exited even in unfavorable circumstances; and you will take your own stand in which no desire can touch you:
jitātmanaḥ praśāntasya paramātmā samāhitaḥ |
śītoṣṇasukhaduḥkheṣu tathā mānāpamānayoḥ ||7|| (VI)
“One who has conquered his self and has attained tranquility, who remains balanced in cold–heat, pleasure–pain, and honor–dishonor, his mind is centered on the Supreme Self.”
The 8th, 9th, 10th they are again re–statements of this very position of equality. So, we shall rapidly study them. In the 8th verse it is said:
jñānavijñānatṛptātmā kūṭastho vijitendriyaḥ |
yukta ity ucyate yogī samaloṣṭāśmakāñcanaḥ ||8|| (VI)
“The Yogi whose self is content in knowledge and in realization, who is immutable, master of his senses and for whom an earth–clod, a stone, a piece of gold are the same, is said to be controlled in Yoga.”
sādhuṣv api ca pāpeṣu samabuddhir viśiṣyate ||9|| (VI)
“He who has a balanced mind towards well wishers, friends, enemies, the indifferent, the impartial, the hateful, relatives, saints as well as sinners, he excels.”
yogī yuñjīta satatam ātmānaṁ rahasi sthitaḥ |
ekākī yatacittātmā nirāśīr aparigrahaḥ ||10|| (VI)
“When you begin to rise into this freedom, into the state of equality, you begin to feel greater and greater attraction towards ekākī, you begin to become more and more solitary…yogī yuñjīta satatam ātmānaṁ rahasi sthitaḥ |
ekākī yatacittātmā nirāśīr aparigrahaḥ ||10|| (VI)…you have no personal hopes; you have no desire to collect and store things; your whole mind is concentrated, your citta is concentrated upon the Self; you remain isolated, you remain solitary; and then you remain in a state of equality.”
“A Yogi should constantly concentrate his mind on the Supreme Self remaining in solitude, all alone, with controlled mind and body, free from desires, and craving for possessions.”
Now comes in the next few verses a very important subject. We are now shifting entirely from uddhared ātmanātmānaṁ, you should raise your self from the self. From that subject we are now coming to a new subject, although connected with it. It is said that your citta should be concentrated upon the Self, (upon the higher self), but already earlier Arjuna had raised the question that this citta, this manas, this cancalam, it is too vivacious, so unstable. Even if you want to raise yourself, can you raise yourself? Or is it prakṛtiṁ yānti bhūtāni? So, Sri Krishna now enters into that subject, and gives an exposition of what is called ‘Dhyana Yoga’. Now, this Dhyana Yoga is actually speaking, in our classical system of tradition, is called ‘Raja yoga’.
Therefore, when we speak of Yoga in the Bhagavad Gita it may give an impression that the book of Bhagavad Gita is nothing but the same Yoga, which is Raja Yoga and of which we have spoken today in general parlance, and we had said that the Yoga, the word Yoga is not used in that sense in the Bhagavad Gita. The word Yoga used in the Gita has a larger connotation, has a larger meaning, a larger sweep.