In my last post, we had seen How to Change Your Thoughts to Change Your Mind?. This post lets check out the answer to many people’s question – what is Raja-Yoga?
Raja-Yoga seeks to attain the Divine by igniting the flame of knowledge of the Self within, which can dispel the ignorance that binds the human soul to the world of dreams and desires. To attain Self-knowledge, raja-yoga asks the seeker to develop strong will-power by the relentless practices of concentration and meditation on the Self, with the support of pranayama, or control of breath; asana, or control of posture; and an uncompromising adherence to austerity and self-control.
The goal of Yoga, according to Patanjali, is neither communion with God nor union with the absolute, but a relentless battle to manifest the perfection of the soul by consciously controlling the outward tendencies of the body, mind, and senses and by practicing right discrimination.
Raja Yoga is for those who are introspective and scientific by nature. By sheer strength of will and power of concentration, such seekers control the outward tendencies of the body in order to realize the one reality of the Self. This leads the seeker to Samadhi or transcendental realization. Mastery of the restless mind through ceaseless meditation on Ultimate Reality is the greatest practice of Raja Yoga.
It is a path to unify our individual consciousness with our true Self. It focuses on the infinite world within our own being that we have forgotten, having become lost in the external world of delusions and fantasies.
Raja-Yoga maintains a pragmatic, matter-of-fact attitude towards the meaning of truth and refuses to endorse any dogma or tradition based not on reason but on mere faith. The way of raja-yoga is to dig deep into the layers of our psychophysical being and discover our true Self. Nothing can help us in this task except our own disciplined and rigorous self-effort.
When Yoga is practiced consciously, we call it a spiritual quest; when practiced unconsciously, we call it evolution. The only requirement to practice raja-yoga is to have a tenacious will that can overcome all obstacles on the path.
Patanjali presents the seeker with the eight-limbed practice to reach the goal of Yoga. The first two limbs are Yama and Niyama for achieving moral purity through strict self-control. The third limb is asana, which constitutes directions for yogic posture in order to gain mastery over the body. The fourth limb, pranayama, is the control of breath, by which the yogi seeks to awaken the mind.
The fifth limb is Pratyahara or the practice of withdrawing the mind from sense objects. The sixth limb of Raja-Yoga is dharana, or concentration, which focuses the awakened mind on a certain part of the body to the exclusion of all others. The seventh limb is dhyana or meditation on one single thought to the exclusion of all other thoughts.
The eight limb of raja-yoga is samadhi when the mind becomes completely absorbed in the object of meditation.The greatest roadblock on the way to raja-yoga is restlessness of the mind.
The essential teaching of raja-yoga is that the mind never becomes controlled unless we consciously control the effects of the mind’s restlessness – and not only the causes of restlessness. Success in the path of raja yoga solely depends on the will and sincerity of the seeker. It is a path of tremendous spiritual adventure.
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