Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Sex and the Noble Eightfold PATH factors

Dhr. Seven, Amber Larson, Ashley Wells, Crystal Quintero (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly: Wiki edit
This is the Middle Way, the Path the Buddha, Sage of the Shakya Clan, showed.
THE NOBLE EIGHTFOLD PATH
This is the direct way to the end of all suffering once and for all:
  
What is the Path?
1. RIGHT VIEW (sammā-diṭṭhi) "right understanding" or "right comprehension," the grasping that our karma (actions) have consequences, that death is not the end, that our beliefs also have consequences after death (in the next and in many future lives), and that the Buddha followed and taught a successful path out of this world and out of the other world (blissful and miserable planes).

The Mahācattārīsaka Sutra, a Pāli canon text, describes the first seven practices as requisites of right samadhi, starting with right view: 

"Of those, [mundane] right view is the forerunner...And what is the right view with defilements, meritorious, resulting in gains? 'There is [a result of] what is given, what is offered, what is sacrificed [givto pren up]. There are fruits, and results of skillful and unskillful actions. There is this world and the other world[s]. There is mother and father [who are different for an individual in terms of the significance of karma, skillful and unskillful, towards them]. There are spontaneously reborn beings [without mother and father]; there are wandering-ascetics and Brahmins [temple priests] who , faring rightly and practicing rightly, proclaim this world and the other[s] after having directly known and realized them for themselves.' This is the right view with defilements, meritorious, resulting in gains..." 

2. RIGHT INTENTION (sammā sankappa) "right thought" or "right aspiration," the resolve to renounce the worldly life [let go internally though not necessarily externally] and dedicate oneself to a spiritual pursuit. "What is right intention? Being resolved on renunciation, on freedom from ill will, on harmlessness" (MN III.248).
Like right view, this factor has two levels. At the mundane level, the thought or intention includes non-harming (ahimsa) and refraining from ill will (avyabadha) toward any being, as this accrues karma and leads to a miserable rebirth. At the supramundane level, the factor of right intention includes a resolve to see things as they truly are, namely, as ultimately impermanent, suffering (disappointing), and impersonal (without self).... 

Even seen still not believed.
3. RIGHT SPEECH (sammā-vācā) in most Buddhist texts is presented as four things that a wise person would abstain from, such as is stated in the Pali canon thus:
"What is right speech? Abstaining from perjury, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, and from useless chatter: This is called 'right speech.' "
Instead of the usual "abstaining and refraining from wrong speech" terminology, a few discourses such as the Samaññaphala Sutra and Kevata Sutra in "The Collection of Lengthy Discourses" (Digha Nikaya) explain this virtue in an active sense, after stating it in the form of an abstention. For example, the Fruits of Recluseship Discourse (Samaññaphala Sutra) states that a part of a Buddhist monastic's virtue is that "one abstains from false speech [referring to perjury or bearing false witness].

One speaks the truth, holds to the truth, is firm, reliable, no deceiver of the world." Similarly, the virtue of abstaining from divisive speech is explained as delighting in creating concord. The virtue of abstaining from abusive speech is explained in this sutra as including affectionate and polite speech that is pleasing to most people. The virtue of abstaining from useless chatter is explained as speaking what is connected with the Dharma's goal of liberation.

In the "Fearless Young King Discourse" (Abhayarajakumara Sutra), the Buddha explains the virtue of right speech in different scenarios, based on its truth-value, utility-value, and emotional content. The Buddha or Wayfarer (Tathagata), states in the "Fearless Discourse" (Abhaya Sutra), never speaks anything that is unfactual or factual, untrue or true, disagreeable or agreeable, if it is unbeneficial and unconnected to the goals.miscond

Further, adds this discourse, the Buddha speaks the factual and the true, but -- in the event that it is disagreeable and unendearing -- only if it is beneficial to goals, but with a sense of proper timeliness.

Additionally, adds the Abhaya Sutra, the Buddha only speaks with a sense of proper timeliness even when what he speaks is the factual, the true, the agreeable, the endearing, and what is beneficial to goals.
 
The Buddha explains right speech in the Pali canon, according to Ganeri, as never speaking something that is not beneficial but only speaking what is true and beneficial, "when the circumstances are right, whether they are welcome or not."

4. RIGHT ACTION or KARMA (sammā-kammanta) is, like right speech, expressed as abstaining but in terms of bodily action. In the Pali canon, this path factor is stated as:
"What is right action? Abstaining from taking the lives of living beings, abstaining from taking what is not given, abstaining from taking sexual liberties. This is called right action."
First human depictions of the Buddha from Mes Aynak, Afghanistan
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The injunction to preserve life (not killing) is a precept in Buddhist texts that applies to ALL living beings, explains Christopher Gowans, not just human beings. Bhikkhu Bodhi agrees, clarifying that the more accurate rendering of the Pali canon is an injunction on "taking the life of any sentient being," which includes human beings, animals, birds, insects, but excludes plants because they are not considered sentient beings [even if they are associated with devas that may inhabit them].

Furthermore, adds Ven. Bodhi, this precept refers to intentional deprivation of life, as well as any form of intentional harming or torturing of any sentient being. This moral or virtue in early Buddhist texts, both in the context of harming or killing of animals and human beings, is similar to the nonharming (ahimsa) precept found in texts of other dharmas, particularly Jainism and Hinduism, and it has been a subject of significant debate by various Buddhist traditions.
 
The injunction against stealing in the Pali canon is an abstention from intentionally taking what is not voluntarily offered by the person to whom that property belongs. This includes, explains Ven.  Bodhi, taking by stealth, by force, by fraud, or by deceit. Both the intention and the act matters, as this precept is grounded on the impact on one's karma.
 
Sex versus Sexual Misconduct


Wait, are we allowed to talk about sex?
The injunction against taking sexual liberties (sexual misconduct or kamesu micchacara) in the Noble Eightfold Path, explains Tilmann Vetter, refers to "not performing sexual acts [with the ten forbidden persons who are off limits]." This virtue is more generically explained in the Cunda Kammaraputta Sutra, which teaches that one must abstain from all sensual misconduct, including getting sexually involved with anyone who is under the protection of:
  1. mother
  2. father
  3. guardians
  4. siblings
  5. one's community
  6. spouse (a married person)
  7. betrothal or promise (garlanded) to another
  8. fiancee
  9. a convict [determined to be off limits by law]
  10. or by dharma [duty, social obligations, notions of right and wrong in society].
For Buddhist monastics [novices, Eight- and Ten-Precept trainees, and those intensively meditating on retreat], abstaining from sexual misconduct means complete celibacy, explains Christopher Gowans, while for ordinary lay Buddhists this means avoiding adultery [which is phrased as sexual contact with someone who is married as well as infidelity toward one's spouse] as well as other forms of sensual misconduct.
 
We're lay-Buddhists, right? - Yeah, lay, baby
Later Buddhist texts, explains Ven. Bodhi, state that the injunction against sexual conduct for lay Buddhists includes any sexual involvement with someone married, a girl or woman protected by her parents or relatives, or someone prohibited by dharma conventions (such as relatives, nuns and others). 

5. RIGHT LIVELIHOOD (sammā-ājīva) is nonharming with regard to supporting oneself, a precept mentioned in many early Buddhist texts, such as the Mahācattārīsaka Sutra in "The Middle-Length Discourses" (Majjhima Nikaya) as follows:
"What is right livelihood? Right livelihood, I say, is of two sorts. There is right livelihood with defilements, meritorious, resulting in gains. There is right livelihood that is noble, free of defilements, transcendent, a factor of the Path.
"What is the right livelihood with defilements, meritorious, resulting in gains? There is the case where a follower of the noble ones [enlightened persons from stream-enterers to arhats] abandons 'wrong' livelihood and maintains life by right livelihood. This is the right livelihood with defilements, meritorious, resulting in gains.
"What is the right livelihood that is noble, free of defilements, transcendent, a factor of the Path? The abstaining, abandoning, abstinence, and avoidance of wrong livelihood in one developing the noble path whose mind is noble, whose mind is without defilements, who is fully possessed of the noble Path."...
The early canonical texts state right livelihood as avoiding and abstaining from wrong livelihood, but this shorthand formulation appeared to early English and European translators as tautological (completely obvious and redundant). This virtue is further explained in Buddhist texts, explains Vetter, as "living from [alms gathering], but not accepting everything and not possessing more than is strictly necessary."

For lay Buddhists, explains Harvey, this precept means that one 's livelihood avoid causing suffering to any sentient beings by cheating them or harming or killing them in any way.
 
The "Numerical Discourses" (Anguttara Nikaya III.208), explains Harvey, asserts that right livelihood means not trading in weapons, living beings [slavery, prostitution, human trafficking], meat [slaughtering or raising for slaughter], alcoholic drinks, or poisons.

The same text (AN V.177) asserts that this applies to lay Buddhists. This has meant, explains Harvey, that raising and trading cattle livestock for slaughter is a breach of the "right livelihood" precept in the Buddhist tradition, and Buddhist countries steer clear of the mass slaughter houses [abattoirs] found in Western countries.

We can all meditate like monastics -- with knowledge, practice, and persistence.


6. RIGHT EFFORT (sammā-vāyāma) is presented as consisting of four parts in the Pali canon, such as the "Exposition on Truth Discourse" (Sacca-vibhanga Sutra) as follows:
"What is right effort? Here the monastic [meditator] arouses will, puts forth effort, generates energy, exerts mind, and strives to prevent the arising of unskillful and unwholesome mental states that have not yet arisen.
"One arouses will...and strives to eliminate unskillful and unwholesome mental states that have already arisen. One arouses will...and strives to generate wholesome mental states that have not yet arisen.
"One arouses will, puts forth effort, generates energy, exerts mind, and strives to maintain wholesome mental states that have arisen, to keep them free of delusion, to develop, increase, cultivate, and perfect them. This is called 'right' effort."
Unwholesome (akusala) states are described in Buddhist texts as relating to thoughts, emotions, intentions, particularly the Five Hindrances (panca nivarana)
  1. sensual craving
  2. ill will of any kind
  3. restlessness
  4. drowsiness-sluggishness
  5. skeptical doubts about the path.
Only persistence pays off on the Path.
Of these, the Buddhist tradition consider thoughts of sensual craving and ill will (attraction and aversion) as needing more right effort. Sensual craving to be eliminated by right effort includes anything related to pleasing and attractive sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touch. Ill will (hate) to be eliminated by right effort includes all forms of aversion including hatred, anger, resentment towards anything or anyone. 

7. RIGHT MINDFULNESS (sammā-sati) in the "Exposition of Truth" (Sacca-vibhanga Sutra) is explained as follows:
"What is right mindfulness? Here the meditator remains contemplating [being mindful of rather than thinking about] the body in the body, resolute, aware, and mindful, having set aside worldly desire and dejection; one remains contemplating feelings in feelings; one remains contemplating mental states in mental states (dhammas, dharmas, phenomena related to the Five Aggregates of Clinging]; one remains contemplating mental objects [enumerated in the sutra] in mental objects, resolute, aware, and mindful, having set aside worldly desire and dejection. This is called 'right' mindfulness."
This factor in the Noble Eightfold Path helps the meditator/monastic to guard the mind/heart rather than (as was common before meditation) endlessly craving and clinging to any transitory state or thing, by complete and constant awareness of phenomena (dhammas, khandha, skandhas) as ultimately
  1. impermanent,
  2. disappointing, and
  3. impersonal (not-self).
The most detailed discussion of the right mindfulness in the Pali canon is in the "Setting Up of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness Discourse" (Satipatthana Sutra), where the emphasis is to consider the four subjects of contemplation -- body, feelings (pleasant, painful, and neutral sensations), mind, and phenomena -- as just that and nothing more rather than reflexively ascribing to them any substantiality or "eternal self."

According to Theravada Buddhism, these "four contemplations" through the systematic setting up and practice of right mindfulness lead to liberating insight into the Three Marks or Characteristics of Existence: (1) impermanence (anicca), (2) unsatisfactoriness (dukkha), and (3) not-self (anatta). And they cover the Five Aggregates clung to (the skandhas, groups, or heaps we commonly cling to as "self" and a separate "ego," "identity," "soul," "personality," "I," "me"). 

Ah, I finally see! The Buddha was right!
8. RIGHT CONCENTRATION (sammā-samādhi) or "right coherence of mind" or "right meditative absorption" (attention, consciousness, heart, awareness). Samadhi is a practice in Dharmic religions of India [and the preceding Ancient Indus Valley Civilization]. Although often translated as "concentration," as in the limiting of mental attention to one object, it reall refers to the clearness, coherence, and heightened awareness of mind that appears through prersistent and prolonged practice of dhyana (Pali jhana, "absorption").

The term samadhi derives from the root sam-a-dha, which means "to collect all together" or "bring into coherent functioning," so it is often translated as "collectedness" or "unification of mind."

In early Buddhist texts, samadhi is also associated with the term samatha (serenity, tranquility, calm abiding). In the sutras, samadhi is defined as "one-pointedness of mind" (cittass'ekaggatā).

The famous commentator and scholar-monk Buddhagosa defines samadhi as "the centering of consciousness [cittas] and consciousness-concomitants [cetasikas] evenly and rightly on a single object...the state in virtue of which consciousness and its concomitants remain evenly and rightly on a single object, undistracted and unscattered."

Neither the Four Noble Truths nor the Noble Eightfold Path discourse, explains Johannes Bronkhorst, provide details of right samadhi. The explanation is to be found in the canonical texts of Buddhism, [in the many commentaries, the tika, and subcommentaries, particularly the "Higher Teachings"/Abhidharma, in several sutras, such as the following from the "Exposition on Truth Discourse" Saccavibhanga Sutra:
"What is right concentration? [i] Here, the monastic, detached from sensual craving, detached from unwholesome states, enters and remains in the first absorption (jhana, level of coherence/concentration, Sanskrit dhyāna), in which there is applied and sustained attention, together with joy and pleasure born of detachment;
[ii] And through the subsiding of applied and sustained attention, with the gaining of inner stillness and one-pointedness of mind, one enters and remains in the second absorption, which is free of applied and sustained attention, but in which there are [still] joy and pleasure born of concentration;
[iii] And through the subsiding of joy, one remains equanimous, mindful and aware, and one experiences in the body the pleasure of which the noble ones [enlightened persons] say: "equanimous, mindful, and dwelling in pleasure [is the person who attains the state" and thus one enters and remains in the third absorption;
[iv] And through the transcending of pleasure and pain, and through the previous disappearance of gladness and sadness [elation and dejection], one enters and remains in the fourth absorption, which is beyond pleasure and pain, and in which there is pure equanimity and mindfulness. This is called right concentration."
Shakya Land, the Buddha's home, the Middle Country, was present-day Afghanistan.
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According to Bhikkhu Bodhi, the Noble Eightfold Path factor of right concentration is reaching a one-pointedness of mind and unifying all mental factors [so it it called better translated as "coherence" than the commonly misunderstood and misleading term "concentration"], but it is not the same as "a gourmet sitting down to a meal or a soldier on the battlefield" who also experience one-pointed ["wrong"] concentration.

The difference is that the latter have a one-pointed object in focus with complete awareness directed to that object -- the meal or the target, respectively.

In contrast, "right" concentration -- according to Wisdom Quarterly -- refers to the meditative factor on the Buddhist Path, a state of heightened awareness [mental expansion] with a good (wholesome, beneficial) object or subject (such as the breath, a person toward whom one is cultivating loving-kindness/metta, or any of the 40 commonly assigned meditation subjects, and ultimately onto the Four Foundations of Mindfulness (satipatthana) that lead to insight (vipassana), direct realization/knowing, enlightenment (bodhi), and glimpsing/experiencing nirvana (nirodha). More

Vatican cardinal charged with child molestation

Associated Press (ap.org); Pat Macpherson, CC Liu, Pfc. Sandoval (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly
Sure, we could have done it sooner, decades ago. But we waited. He's our sacrifice (AP).

Australian police charge Vatican cardinal with sex offenses
McQueary on Sandusky
SYDNEY, Australia - Australian police charged a top Vatican cardinal on Thursday [ June 29, 2017] with multiple counts of historical sexual assault offenses, a stunning decision certain to rock the highest levels of the Holy See [the small country that is the Vatican].

God is good; Catholic priests not so much.
Cardinal George Pell, Pope Francis' chief financial adviser and Australia's most senior Catholic, is the highest-ranking Vatican official to ever be charged in the church's long-running sexual abuse scandal.

Pell said he would return to Australia to fight the charges.
 
Victoria state Police Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton said police have summonsed Cardinal Pell to appear in an Australian court to face multiple charges of "historical sexual assault offenses," meaning offenses that generally occurred some time ago.

Patton said there are multiple complainants against Pell but gave no other details on the allegations against the cardinal. Pell was ordered to appear in Melbourne Magistrates Court on July 18 [2017].
 
The Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney issued a statement on behalf of Pell, saying the 76-year-old cardinal "strenuously denied all allegations" and would return to Australia to clear his name. "He said he is looking forward to his day in court and will defend the charges vigorously," the statement said.
 
Patton told reporters in Melbourne that none of the allegations against Pell had been tested in any court, adding: "Cardinal Pell, like any other defendant, has a right to due process."

[Some of those boys were asking for it; they are little teases in their altar boy robes?]
 
The charges are a new and serious blow to Pope Francis, who has already suffered several credibility setbacks in his promised "zero tolerance" policy about sex abuse [but he still allows child rape].

For years, Pell has faced allegations that he mishandled cases of clergy abuse when he was archbishop of Melbourne and, later, Sydney. His actions as archbishop came under intense scrutiny in recent years by a government-authorized investigation into how the Catholic Church and other institutions have responded to the sexual abuse of children.

Join the Boy Scouts; have a gay old time!
Australia's Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse -- the nation's highest form of inquiry -- has found shocking levels of abuse in Australia's Catholic Church, revealing earlier this year that 7 percent of Catholic priests were accused of sexually abusing children over the past several decades.
 
We all do it. Only a few of us get charged.
Last year, Cardinal Pell acknowledged during his testimony to the commission that the Catholic Church had made "enormous mistakes" in allowing thousands of children to be raped and molested by priests over centuries. He conceded that he, too, had erred by often believing the priests over victims who alleged abuse. And he vowed to help end a rash of suicides that has plagued church abuse victims... More

The Black Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt (video)

STR8 FFWD TV (youtube.com); Pat Macpherson, Pfc. Sandoval (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly
Was Queen Nefertiti most beautiful woman in the world, elongated-skull ET, black?

Secrets of the dead black pharaoh King Tutankhamun? (STR8 FFWD TV)

Lynching in America: Confronting Legacy of Racial Terror (lynchinginamerica.eji.org)
 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

What is the Buddha's "Path"? (Dhammapada)

Acharya Buddharakkhita, Dhp XX, Maggavagga: The Path, Dhr. Seven (ed.), Wisdom Quarterly

Noble Eightfold Path
273. Of all the paths the Noble Eightfold Path is the best; of all the truths the Four Noble Truths are the best; of all things passionlessness is the best: of humans the Seeing One (the Buddha) is the best.
 
274. This is the only path; no other results in the purification of insight. Tread this path, and you will bewilder Mara [Death].
 
275. Walking upon this path one will make an end of all suffering. Having discovered how to pull out the thorn of lust/craving, I make known the path.
 
Buddhas point the way to freedom.
276. You yourselves must strive; the buddhas [supremely enlightened teachers] only point the way. Those meditative ones who tread the path are released from the bonds of Mara.
 
277. "All conditioned things are impermanent" -- when one sees this with wisdom (insight), one turns away from suffering. This is the path to purification.
 
278. "All conditioned things are unsatisfactory" -- when one sees this with wisdom, one turns away from suffering. This is the path to purification.
 
279. "All things are impersonal (not-self)" -- when one sees this with wisdom, one turns away from suffering. This is the path to purification.
  • These are the Three Marks, which are also called the Three Characteristics of All Conditioned Existence. They are true of all phenomena, which arise, turn, and fall away and so are radically impermanent at every moment. They are utterly incapable for providing lasting satisfaction. And, most difficult to comprehend, they are utterly impersonal, without self, neither the parts or property or constituents of a self.
The Path of Purification (Buddhaghosa)
280. Idlers who do not exert themselves when they should, who though young and strong are full of sloth, with a mind full of vain thoughts -- such indolent one do not find the path to wisdom.
 
281. Let one be watchful of speech, well controlled in mind, and not commit unskillful deeds in bodily actions. Let one purify these three courses of action [body, speech, mind] and win the path made known by the Great Sage.
 
282. Wisdom springs from meditation; without meditation wisdom wanes. Having known these two paths of progress and decline, let one so conduct oneself that one's wisdom may increase.
 
283. Cut down the forest (lust), but not the tree; from the forest springs fear. Having cut down the forest and the underbrush (desire), be passionless, O meditators!
  • (V. 283) Meaning: "Cut down the forest of lust, but do not mortify the body."
284. For so long as the underbrush of desire, even the most subtle, of one partner towards another is not cut down, one's mind is in bondage, like the sucking calf to its mother.
 
285. Cut off your attachment in the manner of one who plucks with hand an autumn lotus. Cultivate only the path to peace, nirvana, as made known by the Exalted One.
 
286. "Here shall I live during the rains, there in winter and summer" -- thus thinks the fool. One does not realize the danger (that death will eventually intervene).
 
287. As a great flood carries away a sleeping village, so death seizes and carries away the person with mind/heart clinging, doting on children and wealth.
 
288. For one who is assailed by death there is no protection by kin. No one there are to save such a person -- neither children, nor parent, nor relatives.
 
289. Realizing this fact, let the wise person, restrained by virtue, hasten to clear the path leading to nirvana.

YOGA: poses are only 1/8th of the path

Patanjali (Wikipedia edit); Amber Larson, Ashley Wells, Dhr. Seven (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly
Finally, Fatso Griffin starts a yoga regimen...but does it while driving for Uber (Family Guy).
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Yoga is an eightfold path that, like the Buddha's Noble Eightfold Path, tries to formulate a path to liberation (moksha), but here it twists "liberation" to mean "rebirth with Brahma." This was later corrected or expanded to mean "merging with Brahman." Brahma is the God of the Brahmins, whereas Brahman is the ultimate reality, GOD, or Godhead (godhood). Sadly, the majority of Westerners think "Yoga" means postures, poses, and pretzel twists...and really cool pants. What are the Eight Limbs of Yoga trying to formulate a teaching as popular and effective as the Buddha's Path?
 
1. Yamas (rules)
Om is the universal sound
These are the ethical rules or moral imperatives. The five yamas listed by Patañjali in The Yoga Sūtras (2.30) are:
  1. Ahiṃsā (अहिंसा): nonviolence, non-harming other living beings.
  2. Satya (सत्य): truthfulness, non-falsehood.
  3. Asteya (अस्तेय): non-stealing.
  4. Brahmacārya (ब्रह्मचर्य): chastity, marital fidelity, or sexual restraint.
  5. Aparigraha (अपरिग्रहः): non-avarice, non-possessiveness, non-grabbing, non-hoarding.
Patanjali, in Book 2, explains how and why each of the above self-restraints help in the personal growth of an individual. For example, in Verse II.35, Patanjali states that the virtue of nonviolence or non-injury to others (ahimsa) leads to the abandonment of enmity, a state that leads the yogi or yogini to the perfection of inner and outer amity with everyone, everything.

2. Niyama (obligations)
The second component of Patanjali's path, which includes virtuous habits, behaviors, and observances (the "dos"). Sadhana Pada Verse 32 lists the niyamas as:
  1. Śauca: purity, clearness of mind, speech, and body.
  2. Santoṣa: contentment, acceptance of others, acceptance of one's circumstances as they are in order to get past or change them, optimism for self.
  3. Tapas: persistence, perseverance, austerity.
  4. Svādhyāya: study of the Vedas, study of self, self-reflection, introspection of self's thoughts, speeches, and actions.
  5. Īśvarapraṇidhāna: contemplation of the Ishvara (GOD/Supreme Being, Brahman, True Self, Unchanging Reality).
As with the yamas, Patanjali explains how and why each of the above niyamas help in the personal growth of the individual. For example, in Verse II.42, Patanjali states that the virtue of contentment and acceptance of others as they are (santoṣa) leads to the state where inner sources of joy matter most, and the craving for external sources of pleasure ceases.

3. Āsana (postures)
Patanjali begins discussion of asana (आसन, posture) by defining it in Verse 46 of Book 2 as follows स्थिरसुखमासनम् ॥४६॥:
  • Translation 1: an asana is what is steady and pleasant.
  • Translation 2: motionless and agreeable form (of staying) is asana (yoga posture).
    Yoga Sutras II.46
Asana is thus a posture that one can hold for a period of time, staying relaxed, steady, comfortable, and motionless. Patanjali does not list any specific asana, except the terse suggestion, a "posture one can hold with comfort and motionlessness."

Āraṇya translates Verse II.47 of The Yoga Sutras as, "asanas are perfected over time by relaxation of effort with meditation on the infinite"; this combination and practice stops the quivering of body. The posture that causes pain or restlessness is not a yogic posture. Other secondary texts studying Patanjali's sutra state that one requirement of correct posture is to keep breast, neck, and head erect (proper spinal posture).

Later yoga school scholars developed, described, and commented on numerous postures. Vyasa, for example, in his bhasya (commentary) on Patanjali's treatise suggests 12:
  1. Padmasana (lotus pose)
  2. Veerasana (heroic)
  3. Bhadrasana (decent)
  4. Swastikasana (the mystical sign)
  5. Dandasana (staff)
  6. Sopasrayasana (supported)
  7. Paryankasana (bedstead),
  8. Krauncha-nishadasana (seated heron)
  9. Hastanishadasana (seated elephant)
  10. Ushtranishadasana (seated camel)
  11. Samasansthanasana (evenly balanced)
  12. Sthirasukhasana (any motionless posture that is in accordance with one's pleasure).
The Hatha Yoga Pradipika describes the technique of 84 asanas, stating that four of these are most important:
  1. Padmasana (lotus)
  2. Bhadrasana (decent)
  3. Sinhasana (lion), and
  4. Siddhasana (accomplished).
The Gheranda Samhita discussed 32 asanas, while Svatmarama describes 15 asanas.
 
4. Prāṇāyāma (breath control)
Two Sanskrit words, prāṇa (प्राण breath) and āyāma (आयाम restraining, extending, stretching).

After a desired posture has been achieved, Verses II.49 through II.51 recommend the next limb of yoga, prāṇāyāma, which is the practice of consciously regulating breath (inhalation and exhalation).

This is done in several ways, inhaling and then suspending exhalation for a period, exhaling and then suspending inhalation for a period, slowing the inhalation and exhalation, consciously changing the time/length of breath (deep, short breathing).

5. Pratyāhāra (collectedness)
This is a combination of two Sanskrit words prati- (the prefix प्रति- "towards") and āhāra (आहार "bring near, fetch").

Pratyahara is fetching and bringing near one's awareness and one's thoughts to within. It is a process of withdrawing one's thoughts from external objects, things, person, situation. It is turning one's attention to one's true Self, one's inner world, experiencing and examining self.

It is a step of self extraction and abstraction. Pratyahara is not consciously closing one's eyes to the sensory world; it is consciously closing one's mind processes to the sensory world. Pratyahara empowers one to stop being controlled by the external world, fetch one's attention to seek self-knowledge, and experience the freedom innate in one's inner world.

Pratyahara marks the transition of yoga experience from first four limbs that perfect external forms to last three limbs that perfect inner state, from outside to inside, from outer sphere of body to inner sphere of spirit.

6. Dhāraṇā (concentration)
In Sanskrit (धारणा) this means concentration, introspective focus, and one-pointedness of mind. The root of word is dhṛ (धृ), which has a meaning of "to hold, maintain, keep."

Dharana as the sixth limb of yoga is holding one's mind onto a particular inner state, subject, or topic of one's mind. The mind (not sensory organ) is fixed on a mantra ["thought instrument"], or one's breath/navel/tip of tongue/any place, or an object one wants to observe, or a concept/idea in one's mind. Fixing the mind means one-pointed focus, without drifting of mind, and without discursively jumping from one topic to another.

7. Dhyāna (contemplation)
In Sanskrit (ध्यान) this literally means "contemplation, reflection" and "profound, abstract meditation."

Dhyana is contemplating, reflecting on whatever dharana has focused on. If in the sixth limb of yoga one focused on a personal deity, dhyana is its contemplation.

If the concentration was on one object, dhyana is non-judgmental, non-presumptuous observation of that object. If the focus were on a concept/idea, dhyana is contemplating that concept/idea in all its aspects, forms, and consequences. Dhyana is uninterrupted flow of awareness, train of thought, current of cognition.
 
Shiva dances with Shakti in the Himalayas (SS)
Dhyana is integrally related to dharana, one leads to other. Dharana is a state of mind, dhyana the process of mind. Dhyana is distinct from dharana in that the meditator becomes actively engaged with its focus.

Patanjali defines contemplation (dhyana) as the mind process, where the mind is fixed on something, and then there is "a course of uniform modification of knowledge."
 
Adi Shankara, in his commentary on The Yoga Sutras, distinguishes dhyana from dharana, by explaining dhyana as the yoga state when there is only the "stream of continuous thought about the object, uninterrupted by other thoughts of different kind for the same object."

Dharana, states Shankara, is focused on one object, but aware of its many aspects and ideas about the same object. Shankara gives the example of a yogin in a state of dharana on morning sun may be aware of its brilliance, color, and orbit; the yogin in a dhyana state contemplates the sun's orbit alone, for example, without being interrupted [distracted] by its color, brilliance, or other related ideas.

8. Samādhi (absorption)
In Sanskrit (समाधि) this literally means "putting together, joining, combining with, union, harmonious whole, [absorption]."

Samadhi is oneness with the subject of meditation. There is no distinction, during the eighth limb of yoga, between the actor of meditation, the act of meditation, and the subject of meditation.

Samadhi is that spiritual state when one's mind is so absorbed in whatever it is contemplating that the mind loses the sense of its own identity. The thinker, the thought process, and the thought fuse with the subject of thought. There is only oneness, samadhi. More

"Nineteen Eighty-Four" (Pacifica Radio audio)

George Orwell (Nineteen Eighty-Four), KPFK.org (Pacifica Radio, 1975), Wisdom Quarterly

Huh? What? I don't read books. I'm, I'm illiterate. But I have the best words and tweets.
Pacifica's five stations (KPFA Berkeley, KPFK Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Diego, WBAI New York, Washington DC, KPFT Houston) and streaming worldwide on the Internet on June 27, 2017 the day is being spent on a dramatic reading of the entire dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell. Pres. Trump can't read due to illiteracy, but he can listen to the radio in DC. "In a time of universal deceit," Mr. Trump, "telling the truth is a revolutionary act."