Interview with Javier Ruiz Calderón: "the key is that yoga brings freedom"

Intellectual and Yogi traditional, Shankara flees of fundamentalism. On the contrary, says: "the aim of yoga is Liberation, and modern yoga, although it poses aimed at liberation absolute, if it considers that the person is freer to some extent, yes would be yoga". His words speak of balance between intelligence and heart. Interview Yoga network.

Javier Ruiz Calderón

Javier Ruiz Calderón (Shankara)disciple of Swami Krsnananda Sarasvatī and Mātā Amrtānandamayī (Amma). CV, which you can read below, is an intellectual specialist in Indian thought, but inside he still smiles an avid for spiritual experiences childhood:

"I went from those children who began to show interest in spirituality from the eleven or twelve years. My father had a yoga book, read it and wanted to continue reading things, but at that time was Ramiro Street and little else. They liked to see the television series Kung Futhose scenes in which the protagonist showed much wisdom and equanimity and his teacher gave him his teachings".

"Then came to Madrid Swami Vishnudevananda and Yogis with" pedigree, a grandmaster from India, Sivananda, disciples and started with them at the age of fourteen. Although to the thirteen had written to Swami Chidananda, disciple of Sivanandanda in Rishikesh: "within eight years, when it is of legal age (then was the twenty-one) I will go to the India and I am your disciple". And I answered: "I will be very happy to guide you, but for now studying...". And I went to write saying: "Do the greeting to the Sun, basic asanas, breath alternating and bhastrika". And he replied: "Do all that but not bhastrika, until later". Then I thought to wait eight years was too much and that I was going to go by bike to the India. "And I still have the atlas where I marked the two hundred stages of fifty kilometers that were going to take me going from Madrid to Rishikesh".

He met his first teacher, Swami Krsnananda Sarasvatī (of the Sivananda Ashram) in the year 88, now with twenty-seven years, the first time he went to India, to Rishikesh "I was six months in the ashram, asked all of his books, he had written thirty, and I did a dissertation on his philosophy". It was his disciple until his death in 2003.

Then you asked for a new master. How do you chose to Amma?
Was in 2003. Amma, in addition to giving hugs is a Yogini and first teacher, and is installed since childhood, I think, in the final State of yoga. It took me a bit to decide because it is as a guru of masses, with thousands of people around, and it seems difficult to deal with her face to face every day. Now I am very satisfied, and all the moments that I've had doubts, questions, I have made it in person and I answered. She is hardworking, not just sleeping but it has a tremendous power.

You specialize in philosophy of religion...
Yes, and I began to teach at the University about Eastern religions. It was a Catholic University, and within a few years the Bishop of Madrid said that the master could be no is there and closed it. Just at that moment gave me a scholarship to go to the India and spent three years there translating texts of Vedanta. Or that my career has been, on the one hand, practice spiritual of yoga with teachers, to the way traditional and, on the other hand, a career academic of Professor, writer, translator.

You develop much of this activity through workshops on yoga centres.
Yoga is pure practice, but there has been much ignorance, and was missing the gram of theory. There were people saying after devoting his life to yoga that yoga existed five thousand years ago and things as well. Now those engaged in yoga are learning from their context. That is an environment in which I find very comfortable and speak of them things that I like to practitioners of yoga.

What do you think of the evolution of yoga?
We must distinguish between the traditional yoga and modern yoga. Traditional yoga is a spiritual path that aims to secure the release. And inside it, there are various kinds of yogas; one is hatha yoga, which tries to get to the final State by control of the body, the mind and the subtle energies.

In the traditional yoga there is "yoga classes", but a teacher in an advanced state, who taught his disciples the way he had come. It is a guide and a single practice, with some things that are done in group. Modern yoga, which began to develop around the twenties of the last century, is yoga classes. Starts in India, before Krishnamacharya even, and is a combination of techniques of hatha yoga traditional with the Western gymnastics, where there are classes where the teacher gives the same instructions to all students, with more or less adaptations.

Within the modern yoga, there are two lines: one that preserves the spiritual purpose and other styles of yoga that aims to be better physically and mentally, grow personally, but forgetting that aspiration so high that it is the release. I don't know how you could call this line of modern, popular yoga. I think that it is legitimate and that it is yoga, Although there are people who say that this is not true yoga. Seems to me that it is because you are using traditional techniques and although not aspire to reach the absolute liberation, in all practice yoga, there is a degree of liberation and inner peace. Any small improvement that has been achieved in that field, going in the direction of yoga.

And how are evolving your own concerns with respect to yoga and your work?
In intellectual work, long since I'm interested in Indic studies: philosophy, spirituality, religions of India, Sanskrit. And another line of my interests is more general: philosophy of religion, spirituality, inter-religious dialogue, comparative religion... For example, I was invited recently to the monastery of Silos to speak for an hour hour and then talk with members of other religions.

In my personal study, what I like most is to translate and make editions of Sanskrit texts. And in class, I like comment texts, take a text-of the Hatha Yoga Padripika, Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads-go reading it slowly and almost go explaining it Word for Word. It has much juice know what root is a Word, how words relate to others... It serves to understand many things that, if not, are not understood.

You have to know a little more about Sanskrit because, for example, almost all the books in Sanskrit have translated them in English, and as in English genres or accents, no don't usually know if a Word is male or female or how is emphasized. So, it's really the asana and not the asana. In short, decimos very bad words in Sanskrit, and is convenient ir learning little by little, especially teachers of yoga.

And to the practitioner mean? Value added to your practice know those cultural references of traditional yoga?
It depends on what one called yoga. If you are doing techniques of origin yogic mere hygienic purposes, no need to know anything like that. But if one wants to grow personally through yoga and is closer to the traditional yoga, comes in handy knowing the context of yoga and the texts where it comes from. Why? Because you understand better what you're doing. Swami Krishnananda, my first teacher, insisted much on that: you have to understand what you are doing because if not, you can not do it well, it is impossible. Amma, my current teacher, who is very devotional and has a reputation that is all love and heart, tells us: you have to understand very well the spiritual principles, because otherwise no devotion or anything it will serve. While you are doing your practice with great passion, if you don't understand what you're doing, you can not serve for nothing.

We live in a time and place, and it is inevitable that the popularization of yoga involves adaptations and variations. In your opinion, what is the essentials of yoga, its essence, what can not miss in the current yoga?
"Yoga" in the India means any spiritual path that leads to liberation. That was so, was your essence until the beginning of the 20th century; but the modern yoga should not necessarily aspire to this, because if most of the yogas we know wouldn't be yoga; that would be go against something that already it has tax and that is called also yoga, although not in sense traditional.

But so there is yoga you must be some kind of practice that makes a person grow in freedom and inner peace; that is the essential, highly. If you have as I look forward to the spiritual, you will surely do yoga on a more traditional context. And other less spiritual people will do yoga in the modern sense, and will notice more inner peace and will therefore be more free. Freedom is the key; What is sought in yoga moksha, liberation, get rid of all the slaveries Interior, that are many, because we are attached to many things, we are not self-employed but depend on situations, objects...

The aim of yoga is the release, and the modern yoga, although it poses aimed at liberation absolute, if you search for the person to be more free to some extent, yes would be yoga.

Even a teacher of traditional as it was Swami Chidananda, said: "normally is thought to release something that is there in the future, something that must be achieved, but no;" We say that to motivate the disciples. "Actually the release is here and now, because in any moment that meditate, that do an asana, in that moment you are becoming more free". Every moment, every day you do yoga, you are a bit more free. That has much to do with the traditional yoga.

Then there may be things contrary to the spirit of yoga...
There are three gunas or mental states: passivity (tamas), agitation (rajas), and balance (sattva). Yoga seeks to reach a sattvic State; any so-called yoga that put rajasic or tamasico has nothing to do with yoga. If a style of modern yoga has any relationship with the traditional yoga and going online more peace, more freedom, is consistent with the tradition of yoga; But although it came from the tradition of yoga, if you have a goal that is the opposite, no longer makes sense to call it yoga.

Sometimes I do not understand that you rigidities, fundamentalisms in yoga, not free, but on the contrary.
In fact yoga is a means, and the goal, the personal inner transformation. What help is good and what harms, bad; and you have to adapt it what is needed. I, as operated meniscus, the best Western that I can be sitting with crossed legs are twenty minutes. When I go to India, I sit in a Chair, just like when I courses of anything, and with a table front and everything. If is can, is best make them positions traditional, because after centuries of practice is known that have effects very positive on the mind; But if one can not or will be hurt, better not do it.

We follow the practices because we understand its meaning, as you said before, or "always been done that way, it will be for something"?
Man, that something comes from a venerable tradition has its weight. If there is no strong reason to change a traditional practice, it is often better to keep it. For example, a traditional mantra, that you have no idea what it means, but you know that it comes from the great masters, you say it and creates a special effect, because it has history, its patina.

The postures of meditation - upright, self-contained, firm body legs and relaxed at the same time - there can be many, and the tradition has shown that they are good. And not just because they come from the Indian custom of sitting on the ground. When you sit in a Chair, the body is not so internalized, there is a feeling of the unconscious that something is going by feet... It fails something, regardless of who you believe or not Prana or energy. It certain is that is meditates worse sitting in a Chair that sitting with the legs crossed.

Course of introduction to Sanskrit in 4 sessions

Very practical, it will be studied: the history of Sanskrit, its pronunciation, writing, essential Yoga vocabulary, thinking and spirituality Indian. Philosophy and the use of the main mantras. The rules of Vedic recitation. Elementary notions of grammar. Some important phrases

Dates: 25 January, 15 February, 15 March, 26 April, always in schedule from 9:30 h am to 13:30 h.

More information:

Javier Ruiz Calderón (Shankara) He holds a PhD in philosophy, specialising in Indian thought and philosophy of religion, topics on which develops an intense work in research, teaching and dissemination. He has been Professor of history of religions at the Comillas Pontifical University (Madrid) and researcher at the Institute of philosophy and Religion Jnana Deepa Vidyapeeth (Pune, India). Among his publications are the books Dhammapada (2004), BReve history of Hinduism (2008) and The Bhagavadgita (2008) and Vedantasara. The essence of Vedanta (2009).

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By • Jan 7, 2014 • section: Interview