Part I: The 5 Selves of Yoga

Excursus on writing a paper

In yogic terms the creation of these papers is the meditation that we set ourselves on. With this meditation we seek to energize our beings to create a particle, a seed, a bija – the sole remnant of the intensity of our generated energy – left to stand through the passage of time.

To create this particle we correlate strands and limbs of various article-strewn books to seek for the bija-seed of their message – then to translate these thoughts into words - to translate subjective experience into objective reality. Even the objectivity of this reality is only a subjective evaluation of permanence – based on the illusory concept of time – that in the grand eternity results for nothing.

First, we rid ourselves of the daily distractions that interrupt our thought. Second, we assume the proper body posture, asana, which includes lighting and comfort. Third, we direct our energy in one direction, ekagra, – hoping to pass into the higher levels of dhyana or samadhi – where we are divinely inspired - becoming the objectless oneness.

In this way we seek to generate enough creative energy, tapas, that our gross selves will be burned off to reveal our true Self.

We, thus, begin our meditation on this paper, our bija.

The 5 selves of this Meditation

But first who is it that writes this paper? Each of us consists of multiple levels of being. Let us begin by discriminating the different selves that make up the Self whose meditation, sadhana [i] , is this paper. [ii]

Purusha: Permanent Universal Awareness

Purusha: “First, I am divine Purusha, awareness. I am the only absolute. I am above all secondary matters, such as time and space. I am the eternal, immovable, and permanent, without beginning or end. The One and All. Nothing really exists but me.”

Prakrti, Transient Field of Becoming

Prakrti: “Second, I am Prakrti, mother of matter and the temporal world of becoming. As Prakrti, I attempt to realize myself, by fulfilling my potentiality. With completion I cease to be, merging with the Absolute, Purusha. I am in continual flux and change. Nothing is absolute in me; all is in transition. I am motion, energy, striving. I am the phenomenal world of the senses. I am desire, for I always desire to be completed. Purusha upset the equilibrium of my gunas. Each guna manifests itself as a particular aspect of my being.

Purusha: “I am untouched by Prakrti but influence her by my presence [iii] I energize her to Being by setting her three gunas in motion: satva, rajas, and tamas, varying the quantity of each in her. In Tantric philosophy Prakrti is my manifestation. In Samkhya we are forever separate.”

Buddhi: The Real reflected in the world of illusion

Buddhi: “Third, I am Buddhi, child of Prakrti and Purusha. I am the first nub and particle of personality. While Purusha & Prakrti belong to no space or time, I am the first manifestation of temporality. I exist as a mere point on the cosmic unconsciousness. I am individuality.

I am the reflection of the universal awareness, Purusha, in the personal, yet ever-changing world of Prakrti. Paradoxically Purusha is independent of Prakrti in an absolute sense and yet he depends on me, Buddhi, first particle of Prakrti to reflect his presence.

As a reflection of Purusha, I yearn to fulfill myself as Prakrti so that I can realize my permanent nature as Purusha. Because of my unconscious strivings and karmic residue Purusha manifested me in Prakrti. It is I who drives Being to fulfill the flow of the cosmic unconscious, Prakrti, on an individual level over many lifetimes.

Ahamkara: Personal Ego

Ahamkara: “Fourth, I am Ahamkara, Personal Consciousness. Born of Buddhi and Prakrti, I am personal identity and ego. I think I have choice and will. I am the Person. While Buddhi reflects Purusha in Prakrti, I reflect Buddhi. Although I am born of Buddhi, I don’t know him for my ability to perceive is limited as I am only consciousness [iv] , with a limited ability to see the whole picture. In my ignorance I think I am all there is. As consciousness, I exist in one moment and one space and can see no other.

I am a limited being, plagued by the imbalance of gunas and the propensities of my karma, Buddhi. Each of the three gunas serves a different function. My satva nature, balance and harmony, causes me to strive for the absolute and unchanging, Purusha. My rajas nature, activity, causes me to strive for the transient, Prakrti. My tamas nature, laziness, causes me not to strive.

I am personal and impermanent. My ego and personality are temporal and linked with a body. With a body’s death I die too. While I am consciousness, this does not include awareness. It is I who strives for an A on a paper, for I desire success in this temporal world. It is I who attaches importance to personal history. It is I that desires wealth and fame. Because of my nature as Prakrti I cling to Prakrti. It is I who fears death. It is I who dies. I cling, I hold on, for my time is brief, transient. I think the thoughts. It is me who causes pain for I differentiate and believe strongly in subject and object, self and other. It is me who is confused and thinks that I am Purusha, permanent self and personality, when I am the most transient of selves. Confused by the moment I think I am forever.”

Buddhi: “I continually strive for realization of my cosmic oneness. My karmic residues drive Ahamkara to fulfill his Prakrti nature in order to achieve oneness with Purusha. While Ahamkara only exists for one lifetime I aim to fulfill Prakrti’s destiny throughout these many lifetimes. With Ahamkara’s growing awareness of the transience of Prakrti, he begins to align himself more with me, Buddhi, as Purusha’s divine reflection.  Knowing that my true nature and identity is Purusha, I wish to be beyond myself, Buddhi, for I strive for the permanent, while I am by definition, as particle of Prakrti, transient and unstable. It is me, who propels the body into a school to write a paper in line with my karmic propensities.  I must fulfill myself as transient prakrti. I contain mystery too (tantrism especially) therefore my ways are strange to Ahamkara. Therefore I work through devious and unknown means.”

Manas: Consciousness of Matter

Manas: “Fifth, it is I, Manas, possessor of action and motion, the mechanical body. Along with me come the karmendriyas (action capacities), the 5 buddhindriyas (sense capacities), 5 tanmatras (subtle elements), and 5 mahabhutas (gross elements). It is I who writes this paper; it is I who breathes and lives. It is I who reacts to the world of cause and effect [v] . I think not. Ahamkara thinks that he motivates me. Buddhi, however, is my main motivator. Ahamkara, thinking that he is helping, mainly gets in the way. Through my nature as Prakrti I continue to move. I write the words, do the actions. [vi]

Ahamkara: “I, Don Lehman, am the Ahamkara of this Manas. I think I have personal identity, when, in fact, I am Purusha, permanent and unmoving soul. Because of the veil of creation and the nature of Prakrti, I, Ahamkara, feel that Prakrti and Purusha are connected. I react correspondingly and attach value to things, such as a grade or degree. Because I, in confusion, identify selfhood with Ahamkara, fame and honor seem of importance. In reality I am Purusha and nothing really has importance. But I, Ahamkara, am confused. My goal or limit that I set is to understand the separation between Purusha and Prakrti and to understand that I am truly Purusha. I must first return to my origin in Buddhi where Purusha is at least reflected.

So I hope as Ahamkara to create a subtle enough distinction or a real enough point so that Buddhi is energized and felt. I wish to flow on the subconscious level of Buddhi [vii] . At this level choice no longer exists, for the karmic residues of other lives determine my motion. I become one with my object (the object here being writing).

Writing is a one pointed atemporal phenomenon. It exists through time but is not of time, for motion does not really exist. I become my writing to be more fully in touch with Buddhi. Through the flow of Buddhi I realize that it is not I who write the paper. I realize that the flow of Prakrti goes on but that I am not really a part of it. I realize that its motion is automatic and permanent, affected only by my presence. I do not write the paper and hence am unconcerned with the result of the paper, the grade. As pure permanent Purusha, I am above the transient flow of Buddhi. Hence I am detached from the result of my work. It is I, who is unaware of selfhood or being. It is I who is Purusha, pure conscious awareness.

Having understood what it is for my Self to write, I begin now my meditation on the object of the paper.”

[i] Sadhana: successful spiritual practices which lead to enlightenment, samadhi. We use meditation in the broad sense of anything that we concentrate one-pointedly upon.

[ii] The Author takes his ‘5 selves’ from Samkhyan metaphysics, which is at the root of Yoga’s philosophy, her Mind.

[iii] Radhakrishnan, p. 242

[iv] It seems that the consciousness of Ahamkara is related to the left-brain, the verbal, deductive Mind, which is always breaking things into parts.

[v] Manas is the material world of atoms and molecules. Some scientists think that this is all that really exists, denying the Divine Order.

[vi] In the book, The Love Affair of Mind and Being, written over a quarter of century later -

         Manas would correspond to Body -

         Ahamkara would correspond to Mind -

         While Buddhi would correspond to Being -

         Prakrti would relate to the greater flow, the Tao -

While Purusha would relate to the Awareness that set it all in motion.

[vii] In many ways Buddhi would represent the intuitive insights of the Right Brain, while Ahamkara would represent the analytical capabilities of the Left Brain. Buddhi in his ability to perceive the whole picture also partakes of the Divine. Ahamkara, in his verbal world, can only perceive parts of the picture and thinks that this is all there is. Ahamkara the center of one pointed consciousness can’t see beyond himself. Buddhi while seeing the larger picture needs Ahamkara to fulfill his destiny. Buddhi attempts to wake Ahamkara up to his larger role. While the gunas of tamas and rajas tempt Ahamkara to pursue the temporary or nothing at all, they also continually lead to pain and suffering. If Ahamkara is kept clear by keeping Manas clean, internally at least, he inevitably wakes up to see that he needs to align himself with the guna of satva in order to tread the narrow Path, the Tao, which allows Buddhi to fulfill his nature as Prakrti to be aligned with Purusha. In such a way Ahamkara attempts to align himself with his Buddhi nature by tuning to the satva guna becoming a Buddhi-satva = Bodhisattva = one who has aligned themselves with their Buddhi nature thru the satva guna.

Let it be stressed that time is an illusion. Hence the idea that this ‘enlightenment’ occurs over time is an exaggeration. The moment that one relaxes into the Flow rather than attempting to lead or drag it, one has entered the Path and becomes Purusha. Relax and Let it Be is a very active command, for it means to let the river flow rather than blocking it.


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