Thursday, October 2, 2008

Notes from class on Swadhyaya

Niyama #4Swadhyaya / self-study through reading scripture and self-inquiry


According to Swami Kripalu, the highest form of self-study is “self-observation without judgement”. This type of awareness is often called The Witness.


From The Quest for the True Self by Stephen Cope:

  1. The witness does not choose for or against any aspect of reality.

  2. The witness does not censor life.

  3. Witnessing is a whole body experience.

  4. Witness Consciousness is always present at least in its potential form in every human being at every moment.

  5. The witness is capable of standing completely still, even in the center of the whirlwind of sensations, thoughts, feeling, fantasies – even in serious mental and physical illness.

  6. The witness goes everywhere.


The Self dwells in me as pure witness consciousness, in equilibrium, without form, and without the divisions of time and space.

Yoga Vashista


To study the Buddha Way is to study the self, to study the self is to forget the self, and to forget the self is to be enlightened by the ten thousand things.

Zen Master Dogen


There are many models to describe “who we are”. This illustration from The Kripalu Yoga Experience by Richard Faulds summarizes one view from the yoga tradition. There are many more, each reflecting the truth of things in a different way.


Some other book recommendations to get you started:


A Gradual Awakening by Stephan Levine

An elegant, straight-forward introduction to Buddhist philosophy and practice.


Romancing the Shadow by Connie Zweig and Steve Wolf:

A valuable guide to discovering who we are in our completeness. It explores the concept of the Shadow, the parts of ourself that we've rejected or hidden away from our conscious awareness. These parts can cause great suffering by clouding our perceptions or acting out impulsively. By bringing these parts into awareness, we can live with greater integrity.


Meditations from the Mat by Rolf Gates:

The source of many of the quotes I read in class. A very accessible introduction to yoga philosophy and Patanjali's Eight Limbed Path of Yoga.

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