Clarify your doubts: If there are many philosophies of yoga, what are they?

In this section Javier Ruiz Calderón offers answers to our doubts about yoga, its philosophy and its techniques from an updated and critical view of the yophytic tradition. We are all invited to write to Javier info@yogaenred.com raising our doubts or uncertainties.

Question: You always say that there is not one but many philosophies of yoga. What are they?

Answer: Yoga is a set of traditions, each with its own philosophy. Therefore, since one cannot speak of "the tradition of yoga" but of "yoga traditions", it is not correct to refer to "the philosophy of yoga" but to "yoga philosophies". It is true that they all share some common ideas: we suffer more than is necessary because of attachment, which is due to ignorance of our own nature (atman), and yoga is the way that seeks the liberation of ignorance and, consequently, attachment and suffering. But each tradition has a different idea of what our true nature is and the practices that lead to liberation. In the following paragraphs I summarize what they think about these issues some of the main traditions of yoga:

–The yoga of knowledge (jñana yoga), whose best-known form is the advaita vedanta, it is based on the conviction that we are not this individual psychophysical organism but Brahman, Reality-Consciousness-Absolute and Undivided Perfection. Through study, reflection and meditation we come to the direct perception of our identity with the Absolute and, consequently, to the liberation of ignorance and suffering.

–The classic yoga of Yogasutras is based on the Sankhya philosophy: there are two realities: individual (purush) souls, who are pure inactive spiritual subjects, and material (prákriti) nature, active, mobile, which manifests itself as all physical and subtle objects. The goal of the practice of yoga is to come to the realization of the difference between the pub and the prákriti, between the subject and the object. This is facilitated by the gradual quieting of the mind through the eight stages of ashtanga yoga. When the perception of this difference is spontaneous and continuous, emancipation (kaivalya) has been achieved.

–The yogas of devotion (bhakti yoga) they always presuppose a philosophy Theistic: there is a supreme God or Goddess, an infinite personal being who is the foundation of the universe, who governs it and who has the capacity to save from cyclical existence to whom he is confidently and lovingly given. Some believe that the Divinity and the individual soul are completely different; others, that souls are part of the Divinity; for others, the only thing absolutely real is the Divinity. Through prayer, devotional chants, the recitation of mantras, worship rituals (bids), etc., the aspirant cultivates that devotion. When the consciousness of the Divine is continuous and the devotee has fully identified his finite will with the divine will, he attains the state of holiness and, consequently, salvation. Some schools think that then the person loses his individuality and merges with the Divinity; others, which still exist in a state of communion more or less close with the Divine.

–El yoga de la acción (karma yoga) consists of the purification of the mind through the acción desapegada. Ese desapego siempre procede de la práctica de la sabiduría, la concentración o la devoción; es decir, de otro yoga. Por tanto, presupone la filosofía del yoga en que se basa en cada caso.

–Los yogas tántricos añaden a las filosofías básicas (adualismo, dualismo, teísmo…) algunas ideas (complementariedad de opuestos, visión orgánica de la realidad, etc.) y prácticas (utilización del cuerpo, las energías sutiles, la imaginación, el deseo…) que se supone potencian la eficacia del yoga en que se basan. Lo que hacen, pues, es elaborar más esas filosofías fundamentales. Por ejemplo: la filosofía básica del hatha yoga es el adualismo; la de los Hare Krishna (que son absolutamente tántricos), el teísmo; etc.

¿Quiere esto decir que para practicar yoga en serio hay que creer en la existencia del Absoluto, el alma espiritual o Dios? ¿Si no se cree en la ley del karma y la reencarnación no se puede aspirar a la liberación por medio del yoga? No. Basta con comprender que la idea que tenemos de nosotros mismos como entidades separadas del resto de los seres y del conjunto del universo es errónea. La práctica del yoga puede hacernos percibir cada vez con mayor intensidad que en realidad estamos unidos con todos los seres y con el cosmos entero. Esa Unity awareness nos permite irnos desidentificando del ego y de sus apegos, experimentando mayor paz interior y libertad y empatizar con los demás seres, de los que ya no nos vemos como distintos. Esta es una posible filosofía moderna del yoga, plenamente espiritual pero que ya no presupone creencias metafísicas y religiosas tradicionales que muchas personas actuales ya no podemos compartir.

Javier Ruiz Calderón (Shankara) es doctor en filosofía especializado en pensamiento indio y filosofía de la religión. Es profesor en la Universidad Comillas (Madrid) y discípulo de Amma. Lleva cuarenta años estudiando y practicando yoga, vedanta y meditación. Enseña esas disciplinas, así como sánscrito y canto védico, y ha publicado seis libros y docenas de artículos sobre esos temas (www.jruizcalderon.com).
Actividades (solo a distancia de momento): Cursos de verano: Introducción al advaita vedānta; Introducción a las tradiciones y filosofías del yoga. En marcha: clases de Filosofía y meditación; seminario Study of the Bhagavad G.T. (info@jruizcalderon.com).

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By • 3 Jun, 2020 • Sección: Signatures, Javier Ruiz Calderón