Samkhya is Foundation of Ancient Art of Yoga

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Philosophical School Provides Framework for Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Austin Ashram Begins Seminars on the Subject

For students of classical yoga, interested in knowing and understanding the metaphysical aspects of Reality, a thorough understanding of the principles of Samkhya, a philosophical school that predates the Yoga school, is necessary. The Austin Ashram seeks to provide people interested in this topic more information through question and answer seminars starting the first week of February. It is the Samkhya darshan, or "way of seeing", that actually provides the context that gave rise to the Yoga Sutras, a series of aphorisms which lay out the Yoga philosophy in a precise way.

Samkhya thought originated due to the suffering that each person goes through in life, and, in search of a permanent end to such troubles, a system to attain liberation through discriminative knowledge came about. Samkhya breaks each and every aspect of existence and the world we see into parts, and maintains a cause and effect relationship between each of these tattwas, or principles.

Sometimes called a dualist philosophical system, at its core, are two fundamental principles, pure spirit, or purusha, and everything else in the mind/matter realm, or prakriti. Prakriti is broken down into further principles, in a cause-effect framework. The various organs of the "mind" are described – intellect, ego, as well as our sensory apparatus. All matter is likewise broken down into basic "elements", or combinations thereof.

The Samkhya system then elaborates on the reasons beings transmigrate, taking different bodies from birth to birth, and a way out of this samsara, or bondage, through being able to "see" the whole scope of Reality. Furthermore, there are both theistic and atheistic versions of the philosophy, depending on the teacher, and his or her predispositions, and the student's as well.

"All of this is not something you can simply read and understand in an internet article," states Vik Vad, founder of Austin Ashram. "The ancients spent a great deal of time in quiet meditative states, so that the dawning of such knowledge came to them while in deep absorptive contemplation of what was really going on." Though it teaches contemporary western yoga, the Austin Ashram builds upon the Samkhya philosophy in its understanding of this art in its entirety.

The Yoga tradition itself builds upon the principles of Samkhya in many ways. Yoga provides a method by which one may experience and come to understand the high philosophical truths of Samkhya thought. It also further elaborates on preparations one should undergo before attempting meditation, then the various phases one passes through over years of ardent practice. Spelled out by sage Patanjali, the traditional Yoga methods also describe siddhis, or attainments as the concentrative and absorptive faculties become greater, as well as the path toward ultimate liberation, in tune with Samkhya thought.

Samkhya's implications profoundly influenced and incited other related arts as well, such as Jyotish, a system of astrology, as well as Ayurveda, a, system of health and vitality. "This bedrock philosophy certainly deserves more credit than it gets," says Vad. "Hopefully, it can be used wisely to create happy, balanced lives for anyone that wishes to understand it."

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