“And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.”
9.) “He who wears his morality but as his best garment were better naked.”
8.) “And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.”
7.) “What of the ox who loves his yoke and deems the elk and deer of the forest stray and vagrant things?
“What of the old serpent who cannot shed his skin and calls all others naked and shameless?”
6.) “If he is indeed wise he does not bid you enter the house of his wisdom, but rather leads you to the threshold of your own mind.”
5.) “For if you should enter the temple for no other purpose than asking you shall not receive.”
4.) “And if it is a fear you would dispel, the seat of that fear is in your heart and not in the hand of the feared.”
3.) “For what are your possessions but things you keep and guard for fear you may need them tomorrow?”
2.) “Only then shall you know that the erect and the fallen are but one man standing in the twilight between the night of his pygmy self and the day of his god self.”
-on Crime and Punishment
1.) “Or have you only comfort, and the lust for comfort, that stealthy thing that enters the house as guest, and then becomes a host, and then a master.”
Silence the jittery critter.
Ride the dullness down
to where images bubble.
In that blurry dimness
one feels their logic,
but shine the mind’s light
and all sense shatters —
dissolving into shadows
without a trace.
Leaving only the dull ache of betrayal
that, as in a dream,
something so absurd and fragile
could feel so wise.
There’s a molecule I just inhaled
that’s known a bit of nastiness.
Sighed by a dying Jesus.
Swept around the planet
every two weeks since.
It’s swirled in the eddies of a bomb casing —
barreling toward annihilation.
It’s nourished dictators,
and drowned martyrs.
Landing on a blade of grass,
outside a storehouse of inhumanity,
biding it’s time to atrocity.
It knows no regret,
nor the error of its ways.
Riding my hemoglobin will not redeem it,
of that I can be certain.
This book is one-stop shopping for the yogic meditator. The first half of the book explores many of the most common yogic practices of dharana (concentration) and dhyana (meditation) in step-by-step detail. The second half of the book situates yogic meditation in a global context of meditation by introducing various techniques of meditation and mind science seen around the world. This allows the reader to compare and contrast the yogic approach to that of other systems — be they closely related systems such as Buddhism or Jainism or more remote ones such as hypnosis or moving meditations like dance or the martial arts.
I found this book to be incredibly useful. While there are mountains of books on yoga, there are relatively few that shine a light on the practices of the mind, and among those that do only very few are nonsectarian. Many books look at meditation solely as a spiritual practice and a few others present it exclusively as a secular scientifically grounded practice. This book skillfully bridges between, and does its level best to get the accounts of different systems right. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few oversimplifications or minor misunderstandings here and there, but the good overshadows them by far. It should be noted that even within the domain of yoga, many authors warp concepts such as jnana yoga and tantric yoga to fit their worldview or sect instead of reporting on how practitioners of those systems would see them. This book seemed to me to be much fairer than many in this regard.
The book consists of an Introduction and seven chapters. Chapters 1 and 2 discuss tools and aids used in meditation. The primary difference between the two chapters is that the first looks at traditional aids such as mantra, mandalas, and symbology, and the second discusses more modern scientific aids such as biofeedback, drugs, and sensory deprivation tanks.
Chapter 3 is one of the largest (more than a quarter of the book) and it explores the many yogic meditation techniques, including: antar mouna, japa, ajapa japa, chidakasha dharana, yoga nidra, prana vidya, trataka, nada meditation, jnana yogi meditations, kriya yoga techniques, and tantric techniques. While the later discussion of non-yogic approaches generally includes instructions for basic exercises, the descriptions in this section are much more detailed, and some include variations on the primary practice.
Chapter 4 is about the same length as chapter 3, and it investigates many of the other systems of meditation from around the world. These include religious systems such as those in: Hinduism, Jainism, Taoism, various sects of Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, the mystical branches of Christianity and Islam (Sufi,) and Native American animist traditions. It also includes secular systems such as hypnosis and autogenic therapy.
Chapter 5 delves into how movement of the body is used as an anchor point in meditation in yoga, on pilgrimage, in Tibetan Buddhism, in Zen Buddhism, in the martial arts, in dance, and in sports. This is where I saw those few of the aforementioned minor oversimplifications and misunderstandings (e.g. referring to all martial arts under the rubric “karate.”) However, I greatly appreciated that the authors included discussion of this important topic, and so I can’t say that there was anything that detracted from my enjoyment of coverage of the topic.
The penultimate chapter is a catch-all for miscellany not covered earlier in the book. It includes meditations for kids (who require a very special approach, I can attest.) It also has a section on meditation on death, which I believe to be an immensely important topic for helping people shed their fear so they can get the most out of their lives. The other two sections are on nature and sensory meditations, respectively. The last chapter is short and discusses samadhi as the goal of meditative practice.
There are only a few graphics in the book, mostly symbology, but there is a glossary and a bibliography.
I would highly recommend this book for yoga practitioners and those who have a broad interest in meditative and mind science practices.