Talk: What Patanjali Means by  Power and Freedom – Br. Shankara

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Talk: What Patanjali Means by Power and Freedom

Speaker: Br. Shankara

July 22, 2018

Click for PDF of Notes and Quote from this talk.

July is a month for study of Raja Yoga, a spiritual path often called the yoga of meditation. As a raja yogi, you use ancient, proven spiritual techniques to quiet your mind and gain control of your attention. Regular daily practice of Raja Yoga increases your ability to concentrate, and may lead to meditation. This can unite you with the Divine Presence, the source of your being, and liberate you from the cycle of rebirth and death.

When we read to the end of Chapter 3 of Patajali’s Yoga Sutras, we find some astounding assertions about what a yogi can achieve. These unambiguous declarations let us know how limited our notions of power and freedom truly are.

Films often portray extraordinary feats of personal power. Yoda, a character in the Star Wars series, easily lifts a full-size fighter plane from the depths of a swamp. His only tool is mastery of what Yoda calls The Force.

In Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, a warrior sword-fights with a woman while they leap from branch to branch among the slender, swaying tops of a bamboo forest. How can they do this? As the young woman’s martial arts master taught her, “Listen with your mind.”

“There is no limit to the power of the human mind,” wrote Swami Vivekananda in his introduction to Raja Yoga, the swami’s translation of and commentary on Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. By power the swami meant much more than a filmmaker’s demonstration of mind over matter — no matter how dramatic!

There are many levels of yogic power. Students of hatha yoga learn asanas and other practices that give them control of their bodies and minds. Regular practice of this yoga yields improved health and a longer life, physical and mental flexibility and poise, and grace.

Few yogis go beyond this level. Those who do may study the great sage Patanjali in depth. His teachings can lead to manifestation of far greater power, and total freedom. That’s what we discuss in this talk.

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