I kinda like to title a blog post with the word "Six" and have a picture of Guruji - Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati, Ramamurti S. Mishra holding up his hand - as if to denote "Five". This first Weekend of Yoga Illumined, we went over the Six Schools of Indian Philosophy. I've added a picture of Guruji - because on so many levels, his books, CDs, writings, teachings come from all six schools of Philosophy --- a large amount of his teachings come from two of the schools - Yoga and Vedanta, and he also refers to Sankhya a lot --- and the other schools of philosophy are also all incredibly helpful. The School of Doubt - Nyaya - for instance is important, you can't believe everything you hear - you must test it and see if it's true. Scratch the surface, see what's underneath type thing.
So I met Swami J at Ananda Ashram a few years ago. And I love how he breaks down the Six Schools of Indian Philosophy on his Web site: http://swamij.com/six-schools-indian-philosophy.htm
1) Yoga - as described in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
2) Sankhya - describes how Consciousness and Energy brought everything into being
3) Vedanta - with the Mahavakyas and the Upanishads
4) Vaisheshika - physical sciences
5) Nyaya - reasoning and doubt
6) Mimasa - foundation for the laws of Karma
It's intriguing to look at these schools from a purely philosophical standpoint - and quite another to put them all to the test. And on so many levels when you've got a teacher like Guruji, he's constantly asking you (me) the aspirant to put all these schools to the test and see how Yoga (Union) manifests in you at every given moment.
On so many levels, I realize that having been raised in Western academic institutions, one of my favorite ways to figure out whether or not something is good or real is through Doubt - skepticism. It's been so important for me to have this - then I don't believe anything at face-value. I test stuff. Which is a whole heck of a lot of fun.
I love this as an approach to all of the above philosophies - this Test and Learn type of thing. We learn Yoga first through mimicking our teachers - strike a pose. See what happens. Simon - the yoga teacher - says breathe - and you breathe. Simon - the yoga teacher says - relax and you relax. And eventually, you strike poses, breathe and relax without Simon, the yoga teacher.
And then suddenly you become Simon, the yoga teacher. But it's not that simple, yes? A teacher's role is to transmit energy into a student so that eventually each student can be his or her own greatest teacher. To me, this is the essence of teaching folks how to be Yoga teachers. The essence of teaching Yoga is to help people wash away any debris that keeps them from knowing and loving themselves. The Yoga teacher tests his or her own ability to teach by how much one knows and has tested the material on him or herself. I can say that yeah - some lovely magic happens every single time I consciously put myself on the yoga mat or sit in meditation. And at other times (yes - aside from every single time), it all seems totally pointless. And then the magic seeps in and voila! Yoga Yoga Yoga everywhere. Chidananda Rupam Shivo'Ham Shivo'Ham. Bliss-consciousness-embodied. I-AM Shiva. I-AM Shiva. (Okay, the English translation holds not a candle to what the Sanskrit is actually embodying, but we try, try, try with the English language. Everyone, learn Sanskrit NOW).
As Zoe Mantarakis explained this past weekend in class, the need is there for the Teacher, for the reminders of who we are because we are in the Leela (leeeeela, the play of consciousness) and in this play we remember and we forget. We remember that we are Complete and Ananda Itself and then we forget. So we have these reminders through our teachers of Yoga, through our practices of Yoga, through our studies of the Six schools of Indian philosophy. And we Inhale and Exhale.