Lesson 31: Online Education in Yoga by Sri Prashant S Iyengar recorded 8-1-20
Mind — Instrument of Bondage & Freedom
This session continues the topic of pranayama, which we have been considering for the last couple of sessions. Last time I told you that it is really important to get introduced to the breath aspect for pranayama. The breath aspect within us is such a marvelous entity, particularly in the spiritual realm.
Usually, it has been thought that spirituality is… only a mental, intellectual, emotional, [or] psychic act. The mind needs to be pure…, cultured. There is no doubt about that. The mind is such an important factor…. The scriptures have said,
mana eva manu-shyanam karanam bandha-moksha-yoho
The mind is the cause of bondage or liberation.
As the mind, so the man: bondage or liberation are in the mind.
[Amrta Bindu Upanishad]
The mind is the instrumental agent for both conditions of life — bondage and freedom. But…, in an oriental approach, and in Indian philosophy, the mind has been explored to an extent far beyond… psychology.
As I’ve been telling you…, the psychological mind is just the tip of the iceberg. The common man’s idea of mind means psychological mind, not any mind beyond the psychological mind.
But in philosophy, mind has been explored in complete depth…. In the various subjects of the lore, or various vidyas (schools of knowledge), we don’t have a manasa vidya (mind spiritual knowledge) as such…. You have heard about some 64 vidyas, but there is no manasa vidya in our… Indian thought process. That is because the mind is matter to be investigated, examined, understood, construed, conceived, and comprehended by philosophy and philosophical processes. The mind is the subject matter in each Indian philosophy, whether orthodox or heterodox, vedic or non-vedic….
Mind — Source in Cosmic Matter +3.45
One may question why the mind should become the subject matter of a darshanika (philosophical) system. It is because the source of the mind… is in cosmic matter. The source of the mind is not the subconscious mind. The subconscious, is, again, the mind. There should be some source for that subconscious mind as well.
The mind comes from cosmic matter, metaphysical matter. Therefore, mind was left for philosophy to investigate…, examine…, explain…, and articulate. That is why every [Indian] philosophical system has psychology as its subject.
This word psychology is inappropriate. The mind has ocean depth. The mind has the dimension of [is as large as the] space in the universe. Therefore, the mind should be [part of] a science called mind-ology rather than psychology, because psychology has something to do with the brain function, process, and chemistry. Therefore, psychology is not the right word. Maybe the word should be mind-ology.
Mind — Mahat is Twin Brother of Prana +5.45
When this mind goes towards the cosmic and metaphysical planes, it is related to breath, in the sense that it is precisely related to prana.
In the metaphysics of the Vedanta shastra (texts) — the Upanishads, and even in one of the adhikaranas (sections) of the Brahma Sutras — the prana is described as a companion of the mahat tattva, [also known as] the buddhi tattva, the cosmic intelligence. That’s the first mutation of prakriti. Primordial matter has… the nature of buddhi [in Samkhya], which is mahat [in Yoga], the intelligence principle. Prana is of that [same] generation (order of magnitude).
However, the buddhi / mahat generates progeny. From mahat comes ahamkara (egoism)…. There are three [aspects of] ahamkara — 1) the bhutadi ahamkara [that produces the five elements]; and 2) the ahamkara that turns out the senses, and the mind (manas)…, the intelligence of human beings…. From ahamkara [also] comes 3) the pancha tanmatras (five subtle senses), [as well as] 1) the pancha mahabhutas (five gross elements)…, and 2) the psycho-sensory, psycho-mental, and consciousness system….
Prana doesn’t have any generation (progeny), but from mahat you get the next 22 principles. In Samkhya there are 24 principles. The 24th is the mula-prakriti [in Samkhya which is comparable to the mahat in Yoga], primordial matter. The 23rd is buddhi. The 22nd is ahamkara. The remaining 21 come out of the ahamkara tattva.
Therefore, the prana and the intelligence principle [buddhi / mahat] are of [the same] generation. They are twins; they’re brothers [born of] mahat.
Prana — Breathing Characterizes Life +09.00
This prana is an important principle that creates a classification… of animate, inanimate, living, and non-living. What makes the creation living? The signature condition is that there is prana in all living creation. Howsoever tiny to large, the entire living creation is characterized by prana. That’s why it is called a pranic srshti (creation).
Prana means the breathing process. Another signature condition… is that all living creation breathes. You will not find a living creature not breathing. In that part of creation, which is animate, living…, the invariable concomitant is breathing. They breathe in and they breathe out. They have inhalations, they have exhalations. The in-breath and out-breath are signature conditions of any pranic, or creative, creation, which has prana invested and infused in it — which is living.
Therefore breathing gets equated with prana. We [mistakenly] think that this very breathing itself is prana. The popular notion is that we are taking in prana with every in-breath. However, we must clarify… any confusion between breathing on the one side, and prana on the other side.
Prana Comes & Goes, Breath Begins & Ends +11.30
Consider the most characteristic aspect whereby we can… conclude that… the breath is not prana. What is that condition? With regard to breath and breathing, it is the moment creation takes birth. Breathing starts the first thing…. Any living creation characterized by breathing starts right from the first moment of taking birth.
All living creations ultimately, at some point in time, die. There is no living creation, which is deathless. There is no living creation, which is birthless and deathless. There must be birth in any living creation.
We find this living creation in the vegetable world, botanical world, human beings, creatures, insects, birds, animals…. Throughout life, from birth to death, breathing is going on…. But…, when the living creation dies, there’s no more breathing. Breathing has stopped. That is the expression, the description, the predication — “the breathing has stopped.” So, when breathing has commenced and stopped are the two conditions that relate to all living creation.
But, that is not the case with prana. It is not said that the prana has stopped. The description is “prana is gone.” Prana comes and prana goes…. With regards to the breath, the breathing happens and breathing ends. The end to breathing, is the point of death for [every] living creation.
But that is not the case with regard to prana. The prana doesn’t end, prana goes. Prana is, again, an eternal thing. At the point of death of any living creature, the prana leaves. There is nothing like prana stopping or ending, like in the case of breathing….
Life will always begin with an in-breath and always end with an out-breath. This is a rule, a law without any exception. All life will commence with an in-breath and all life will end with an out-breath.
But with regard to prana, the prana has only one condition — that the prana goes at the point of death. There is definitely a clear difference between prana and breath, as I said, during the last session.
There is such an… inseparable relationship between the breath and prana that we tend to take them as one and the same. But breath is the vehicle of prana… within the embodiment.
Respiratory Breathing Is Done +16.30
With regard to respiratory breathing, when you say the breathing is done…, breathing is happening. These are the descriptions of the breath — the breathing is done, should be done, happens, or is happening.
Understand the entity of the breath, in light of… these expressions. This is what happens when the breath is just a respiratory breath…. Breathing should be done. Breathing will happen.
But, in yoga, it has been identified that the breath is an enormous entity, an enormous agency. It is a fabulous…, multitasking agency. It has an n number of manifestations and functions. It only has [these] functions in yoga and in our philosophy.
Karma, Jnana, & Bhakti Marga Fructify in Yoga +18.00
There is no adhyatmic process without yoga. Whether it is karma marga (path of action), or jnana marga (path of knowledge), bhakti marga (path of devotion), or dhyana marga (path of meditation), it is yoga. Ultimately, those paths culminate when the recourse is taken to yoga.
For jnana marga one should adopt and adhere to jnana yoga for it to fructify and bestow the summum bonum (highest good). Similarly, karma marga… must ultimately become karma yoga for it to fructify. Bhakti marga… has to ultimately fructify in bhakti yoga. So also in the case of dhyana marga, and dhyana yoga. All these seemingly different paths ultimately come to some unified condition by embracing yoga, and yoga comes everywhere there.
Therefore, in the Vedic culture, philosophy, and conduct of life, the breath has the position of an internal agency. In adhyatmic marga (pursuit of atman path) whether it is jnana, dhyana, karma, or bhakti yoga, there is something done internally. Yoga is always an internal act. It is an internal phenomenon. It’s an internal happening…. It must happen inside.
Breath — Assists Mind in Adhyatma +20.15
Therefore, the breath and the breathing are unique principles in all adhyatmic (pursuit of atman) pursuits…. It is inadequate and improper to call adhyatma or paramartha (highest truth) ‘spirituality.’ It is proper to stick to words such as paramartha and adhyatma.
In paramartha and adhyatma the breathing process is important when the mind has to work in the internal realm. The breath is an important agency that must collaborate with the mind. If the mind doesn’t collaborate with the breath and breathing, it cannot work internally… for yoga, be it the karma marga, jnana marga, dhyana marga, or bhakti marga.
When the mind has to work in the internal realm, it has to collaborate with the breath and breathing, and later with prana. When the mind has to work internally, it has to take recourse to, embrace, seek assistance from, and depend on [the breath]. It must subserve or be subserved by the breath and breathing. That is why yoga, which we are considering here, is something to be done internally.
What is the agency that works internally? The breath – mind combinations. The breath – mind combination is the only combination that can work in the internal, adhyatmic, and paramarthic realms. Because both the paramartha and adhyatma take place within, the only instrument that comes in handy is the breath – mind combination.
Vasanas Stimulated by Tanmatras (Subtle Senses) +22.45
Let’s try to understand one psychological dimension here. Usually, the mind works with what? There are underlying tendencies that cause… the mind to function in a particular way. The functions, roles, and schemes of the mind are given by the tendency body. Vasana (tendency) is the force which works behind the mind.
Then the mind works because of… stimulation coming from outside in the form of shabda (sound), sparsha (touch), rupa (form), rasa (taste), and gandha (smell) (the five tanmatras, subtle senses). The moment these five stimulations trigger the mind, the mind is activated. You can’t have a condition where the mind is neither stimulated, nor activated.
One is the extraneous force which externally stimulates the mind by way of the five sensory objects of shabda (sound), sparsha (touch), rupa (form, color, shape, dimension), rasa (taste), and gandha (smell, odor, fragrance). The mind will start functioning because of these five stimulants…. These are extraneous things, external to us. From there the mind is activated.
In the other one, the mind is activated from within, by our subconscious mind, by our vasanas, our tendencies. Usually, in the business activity of life, the mind which is functioning is the vasanic mind. It is a vasana-infested, vasana-driven, vasana-impelled, and vasana-propelled mind. It also has additional extraneous, external forces — such as shabda, sparsha, rupa, rasa and gandha…. The mind… in the business activity of life, in the vyutthana (worldly, non-yogic) state, will work that way.
If the mind has to work internally in adhyatma (pursuit of Self)…, for paramartha (ultimate truth), for yoga…, our vasanas are formidable aliens…. There should be no doubt about it. There is no second opinion about it. It will be unanimously accepted that our vasanas play havoc when we want to work internally in adhyatma…, and paramartha. Those vasanas are alien to the so-called “spiritual pursuit,” which I’ve been calling the adhyatmic pursuit, the paramarthic pursuit, the yogic pursuit, or apavarga (liberation) in the language of Patanjali — apavarga-artham (for the purpose of liberation). If you want to work in the realm of bhoga, then the vasanic mind will work.
Pranic Mind — Offshoot of Mahat +26.40
The mind which works in the internal realm is the pranic mind…. The mind is an off-shoot of the intelligence. The mind comes from the intelligence, the buddhi tattva, the intelligent principle… the mahat tattva. In its earlier generation, the same mind is called the buddhi tattva. The mind originates in the buddhi tattva.
As Vedanta puts it, the mahat tattva, or the buddhi tattva, and prana are of one generation. They are brothers. Prana has no progeny, but buddhi has progeny. Therefore there is a relationship between prana and the pranic manas.
In adhyatma we need that sublime, rather than tainted, dented, mind to work. We want the transparent, pure, virgin mind to work. If the virginity of the mind is compromised, then our internal journey is obstructed, impeded, or pushed into the vyutthana (worldly, non-yogic) state….
Pranic Mind — Touched by Deep Exhalation +28.55
You can also experience this interesting aspect now. I’ve given you the precept, the theorem. The theorem in yoga is that the far end of a very, very deep exhalation touches the pranic mind. The pranic mind is the virgin mind, the pure mind.
[Starting] in whatever position you are, exhale more and more…. To exhale more and more is a process. Then slightly inhale. Again, try to exhale. Nominally inhale, and, again try to exhale. See what condition will come in your mind. That exhalation will touch the pranic mind. It will land on the pranic mind. That is why there is an emphasis on prolonged, deep exhalations in yoga….
Pranayama Breath Driven, Not Done +30.15
If you recall, I said breathing is done. Breathing has to be done. We do the breathing. All animate things do breathing. But in the internal realm the breath is driven. In pranayama the breath is driven. The breath is not done. Once you get the taste of the practicality of pranayama, you will know that in pranayama the breath is driven. In our worldly, mundane, dynamics of life, the breathing is done. That’s why we say, “Take an inhalation, do an inhalation,” or “make an exhalation or do an exhalation.”
This is what you see in quack pranayamas today that are divorced from the classical approach. Invariably instruction in pranayama is that you must do the inhalation, you must do the exhalation…. It has to be customized and done, so you take the inhalation and you do the exhalation. Understand the how words in breathing are used.
Similarly, in quack pranayama, because there is no touch with the classical approach, the words used that are usually used are, “Do a slow inhalation. Do a deep inhalation. Do a deep exhalation. Do a slow exhalation and deep exhalation.” It’s all doing and doing. This doing is all an ahamkarika karma (action stemming from egoism) that is alien to adhyatma (pursuit of atman)….
In pranayama, the breath has to be driven. Now, if the breath has to be driven like a vehicle, you must learn to drive the vehicle…, else you can’t drive….
The best field to learn to drive the breath is asana. Why are asanas in the scheme of yoga? That is the core factor. The core, essential, factor, is that you learn to drive the breath. You are given a field, and a kind of assistance, to learn… how to drive the breath.
A deep inhalation is not done in pranayama. A deep inhalation is driven in pranayama. A deep exhalation is not done in pranayama. A deep exhalation is driven in pranayama… [so] that it seeps into the body, it is moved into the body. The breath moves in the body matter like a vehicle on terrain.
Exhalation Driven from Brain to Pelvis, Regulated by Desha (Region) +33.55
If you decide to exhale a slow, soft exhalation, you will see that the breath is driven from the top part of the brain. It slowly comes down to the face…, to the throat…, to the chest…, to the diaphragm, abdomen, navel, pelvis and pelvic floor. This is driven. You’ll be driving in various locations of the body. In pranayama the breath is driven. Breath is not done.
Similarly, your inhalation can come from the bottom region of the trunk, to the top region of the trunk. The breath is driven in various locations (deshas). That is why Patanjali mentioned in his definition, the aspect of desha paridrshta (regulated by place) — in a particular region (desha) — where the breath is driven…, mobilized…, and moved.
The breath has a movement in the body matter and mind matter. The breath traverses…, moves, and seeps. The breath will seep in your body matter and mind matter. Seepage is also a flow, like water that seeps into the ground… from the surface of the ground to some…, internal planes of the earth.
The precise word to be used in pranayama, is to drive the breath — drive the breath in the location of the abdomen, thorax, back, and head. The breath needs to be driven in pranayama.
You don’t have to drive your breath in your external activity. If you are climbing up… or down a mountain…, or a stairs, you do breathing, you don’t drive the breathing. When you are… coming to the peak of a hill, you know how you are breathing heavily. You take a sharper breath…, make a sharper exhalation. You don’t drive the breath, you do the breath.
In the business activity of life, you are doing the breath, even while I’m talking. This is a business activity of my life now. I am not in adhyatma (pursuit of the atman), I’m not in paramartha (the highest truth). I’m trying to talk to you. When I’m talking to you, I’m doing the breathing. Only by doing the breathing can I be doing this act of talking to you. So, in vyutthana (a worldly, non-yogic state), the breath is done.
In adhyatma, in apavarga (liberation), in the internal act, the breath is driven. The breath is described totally differently when it is working in the internal realm of yoga, the internal dynamics of yoga….
Breath — Driven in Asana for Specific Conditions +38.00
Asanas are a wonderful field for you to learn the various drives. Try to understand how to drive the breath in a very familiar asana…, [but] not when learning a new posture as such. You [must] have learned that position well, and be able to be in that position well…, and able to negotiate the position well.
You are able to stay in that position when the breath is driven. The breath has to be driven. It’s not that the breath has to be done. That’s a raw condition. That’s a rudimentary condition. It is not a condition of an asana. It’s a rudimentary and raw condition, unprepared condition. Once you can do asana with maturity and proficiency, the breath will be driven and you will learn to drive the breath.
We are taught to drive the breath in asana for different conditions… and negotiations. In asana we will be negotiating different conditions. Sometimes we are torpid, dull, inert, and want to overcome negative conditions. So, we drive, we negotiate, an asana to overcome the negative condition to enter the zone of a positive condition. [Although] we commenced with a [tamasic] inertia, dullness, and torpor, we then negotiated a way to enter the zone of an active, or rajasic, condition…. That’s how we enter different zones. That means we are traversing…, from the tamasic zone to the rajasic zone, and then, to the sattvic zone.
These are the schemes of asanas. From a tamasic zone you have to also go to a sattvic zone. The breath is driven, not done, and asanas give you a wonderful field for the breath to be really driven. You have to learn to drive the breath in asana. First learn the posture, become familiar with the posture, then learn to drive the breath in your asana for different… exalted conditions.
Breath — Touches Pranic Manas to Loosen Grip of Vasanic Mind +40.35
In the internal realm the breath works in collaboration with the mind. They become two sides of the same coin. For worldly activity it is not the case. In our worldly condition, we don’t necessarily find that the breath is the other side of our mind. But in adhyatma, in paramartha, in yoga, we will come across the breath and mind as two sides of the same coin. It’s a different breathing in pranayama.
That should be enough for this lesson, where we were trying to distinguish between the breathing of an animate system and the breathing in pranayama of a yogi in adhyatma, or in paramartha. How can the breath touch the pranic manas and come out of the grip of the vasanic mind?
I will just give you a last example: When you are in satsanga (in the company of truth; spiritual lectures) — when your mind is sanctified, purified, sublimated — what happens to your passion? What happens to your subconscious tendencies? They are almost put to sleep… and that’s why you feel sublime, transcendent. The breath works similarly for the entire vasanic body. The vasanic body is put into a latent condition. It is given sleep, or it is sanctified and purified.
The breath is an internal purifier. In a shrine, prasad (blessed food) sanctifies you. If prasad sanctifies you in the internal, adhyatmic, paramarthic realm, the breath sanctifies all the organs of body, organs of mind, and organs of psyche.
 Last time I told you that it is really important to get introduced to the breath aspect for pranayama: See “Pranayama Commences with Shvasayama +4.40,” Lesson 30: Breath Circulation in Asana 7-17-20 .
 the prana is described as a companion of the mahat tattva, [also known as] the buddhi tattva, the cosmic intelligence. That’s the first mutation of prakriti. Primordial matter has… the nature of buddhi [in Samkhya], which is mahat [in Yoga], the intelligence principle: The key word here is companion. Prana is the companion of mahat, the universal intelligence. Prashant will also describe prana as the twin brother of mahat. Both descriptions emphasize that prana shares its universality with mahat, and, hence, its magnitude: Prana remains non-individuated. It lacks the caste and class identity engendered by ahamkara. Thus pranayama accesses our unlimited, universal, nature via the breath. In contrast, Prashant’s next couple of paragraphs describe the evolutes of ahamkara — which includes the individuated manas.
Here Prashant is citing two similar systems of evolution: both Samkhya and Yoga. Samkhya begins with the unmanifested state called mula-prakrti (the root of prakrti). Yoga’s counterpart is prakrti. The first evolute in Samkhya is termed buddhi (intelligence) — which is attributed a higher position than the buddhi that is part of chitta in Yoga. Yoga’s first evolute is mahat (great, or universal intelligence). The second evolute in Samkhya is ahamkara, which is commensurate with chitta in Yoga. In both Yoga and Samkhya, Prashant will go on to state that ahamkara has roughly the same three progeny: 1) mahabhutas (five gross elements); 2) manas (mind), jnanendriyas (sense organs) and karmendriyas (action organs); 3) tanmatras (subtle senses). My enumeration is based solely on the order in which he presented them. Please refer to the Samkhya and Yoga Evolution of Prakrti charts. See “Stages of Evolution of Prakrti” Samkhya-Cosmogeny-in-Asana based on PYS II.19.
 The 22nd is ahamkara. The remaining 21 come out of the ahamkara tattva: Those twenty-one tattvas (principles) include: 1) mahabhutas (five gross elements); 2) jnanendriyas (sense organs) and karmendriyas (action organs); as well as 3) tanmatras (five subtle senses); and 4) manas (mind).
 Prana is, again, an eternal thing: Prana comes and prana goes. Prana does not cease existing.
 vasanas are alien to the so-called spiritual pursuit, which I’ve been calling the adhyatmic pursuit, the paramarthic pursuit, the yogic pursuit, or apavarga (liberation) in the language of Patanjali — apavarga-artham (for the purpose of liberation): PYS II.18 Prakrti… exists eternally to serve the Seer, for bhoga (enjoyment) or apavarga (emancipation).
 The mind comes from the intelligence, the buddhi tattva, the intelligent principle… the mahat tattva: In the Samkhya model of evolution the buddhi tattva is the equivalent of the mahat tattva in Yoga. As stated in a prior footnote, buddhi gives rise to ahamkara, which, in turn generates manas. Thus ahamkara and manas are grosser, individuated offspring of the universal buddhi. If prana were to be considered a sibling of buddhi, that means both have arisen from the same unmanifested, completely stable mula-prakrti. That suggests that prana is also universal, lacking any individuation. This is how it can remain untainted by vasanas. This thesis will be developed by Prashant. Furthermore, because prana bears no offspring, it remains forever untainted by individuation.
 That is why Patanjali mentioned in his definition, the aspect of desha paridrshta (regulated by place) — in a particular region — where the breath is driven, mobilized, and moved: PYS II.50 (Pranayama has three) movements (vrttis): prolonged (dirgha) and fine (sukshma) inhalation (abhyantara), exhalation (bahya) and (stable) retention (stambha vrtti); (all) regulated (paridrshta) with precision (samkhya) (according to) duration (kala) and place (desha; also referring scope and breadth).
 When you are in satsanga (being in the company of truth; spiritual lectures) — when your mind is sanctified, purified, sublimated — what happens to your passion: See “Satsanga Includes Santasanga & Sattvasanga +24.45,” Lesson 29: Pranayama—Prana Shakti 7-10-20 .