Briefly about Yoga ...
I have been asked a couple of times to say something very briefly about yoga. I am doing it on this occasion.
To summarize the overall development I would divide it into two parts and three phases.
The first phase includes observing the body, feelings and mental states.
Observing the body serves for calming down the distracted mind, but not for the purpose of quick liquidation of relations to the world, which is done by watching the world’s impermanence. It is rather body awareness, or better to say, being aware of one’s body, which becomes a support for the distracted mind that will calm down due to the lack of [number of] objects. – Observing one’s own feelings and mental states should lead to knowing oneself. It is only the condition of feelings and mental states that indicates the moral quality of a person.
Once one can already observe well one’s own feelings and mental states, he is ready to take up the second phase of inward development. At this stage, all non-beneficial feelings, thoughts and mental states are eliminated and, beneficial feelings, thoughts and mental states shall be cultivated instead.
Thoughts to be numbered among non-beneficial ones are worldly thoughts dealing with transitory affairs in the surroundings and in the society. – Non-beneficial feelings include grudge against anybody. Non-beneficial mental states are in the first place mental lethargy, which is the cause of lack of resistance to the influence of external things on man. Likewise, annoyance and all ill states of mood are non-beneficial.
Thoughts to be numbered among beneficial are those arising from reflections on impermanence of everything that can make anybody "happy", and also thoughts about divine things and supra-mundane qualities. – Beneficial feelings are friendly feelings toward all living beings, from which the wish of happiness for all beings arises. Beneficial mental states are those based on vigilance and attention to what tries to get man under control as states of mind, feelings and moods. Cheerfulness and optimism are to be cultivated.
The third phase and second part is a practice that man may take up only after having completed the two previous phases of the methodical training. Roughly speaking, there is either a more physical exercise or more spiritual one. The former is based on watching the breathing process; the breath is to be controlled to become rhythmical. This breath shall be felt as flowing into one’s whole body. --- The other exercise is based on the simultaneous observation of an object and a subject. The object is [represented by] the body and things in our environment. The subject is an imaginary point symbolizing qualitatively the emptiness. This point shall be located in the body.
The former practice shall invigorate the being with transcendental qualities; the latter shall expand the capacity of perceptions. This is the reason why the seeking man shall not choose these exercises by himself.
In addition to these exercises, one can use concentration on imaginary point in the body with a slight flavour of mind relation to the body for the purpose of the so-called submersion [in the body]. Alternatively one may practice the body-surface awareness. Other exercises are special and are used only occasionally. Nevertheless, all these exercises shall be conferred by a teacher of yoga, who is expert in the individual needs. It is assumed that the accomplishment of tasks of the first two phases of development will bring man into a contact with a qualified mentor for assigning the works for the third phase of development.