October 2, 2012

Enlightenment: Patanjali’s Last Two Limbs and The Matrix. ~ Chantelle Jahara Pinto

Photo credit: Hendrik Kueck

What is real? How do you define it?

“If you’re talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then real is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.” ~ Morpheus, The Matrix

Remember Morpheus from The Matrix? He was the large, statuesque captain of the Nebuchadnezzar. He asked Neo to choose either the red pill or the blue pill.

A lot of context in this film was skewered by viewers and directors alike. Concerned parents thought Morpheus offered Neo psycho party drugs for the rave down by the number stream.

And when Morpheus talked to Neo about what was real, he was, he thought, having an off-camera conversation about the seventh limb of the eight-limb path of yoga. The director perceived the conversation as brilliant and put it in the script. In The Matrix, the context became a conversation about how the world is actually a computer program. Crazy.

Photo credit: Jamie Zawinski

The seventh and eighth limbs of the eight-limb path of yoga are consequences—or fruits—of the first six.

Physical stillness comes with Asana. Mental stillness comes with Pranayama. Sense stillness comes from Pratyahara. One learns to concentrate effectively in the sixth stage. What happens next? It’s gripping!

(Links for my first three articles about the eight-limb path of yoga are here, here and here.)

7. Dhyana

Dhyana means perfect contemplation. When you concentrate completely on an object, the mind is transformed into the shape of the object. With the eight-limb path of yoga, the goal is to unify with the divine intelligence, so concentration will be on the shape of this, whatever form that is for you.

Real, like Morpheus suggested, kind of falls apart; or better, it becomes apparent.

A friend of mine, who has reached this stage, told me that Dhyana felt like the world around him was more unreal than what he experienced in meditation. Like he had unknowingly grown up on a movie set and walked off it for the first time ever, to see himself and the universe as it really is. As the mind becomes clearer in Dhyana, a state of freedom ensues.

Spoon Boy: Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead… only try to realize the truth.

Neo: What truth?

Spoon boy: There is no spoon.

Neo: There is no spoon?

Spoon boy: Then you’ll see. It is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself. ~ The Matrix

8. Samadhi

Samadhi means to merge. In this limb, the separation created by the idea of “I” and “mine” falls away. There is no longer a distinction between the self and the non-self or the object contemplated and the process of contemplation.

With a lot of eastern spiritual paths there is the idea that a spiritual path or a guru is synonymous with a canoe. It is an essential tool that supports and guides us to the destination. Once you have arrived, you no longer require it. The canoe in this case is the eight-limb path and once we arrive at Samadhi, it will have done its job.

The only experience to be had in Samadhi is consciousness, truth and unutterable joy.

My canoe had a penchant for finding level-five rapids at one stage. Often there appeared to be leak, and a phantom crazy paddler who sadistically enjoyed paddling in circles. But, I think he was just my shadow. Still, I can take a lesson from this seemingly impossible-to-achieve limb.

If enlightenment was a light filled with joy and turning away from this would look like separation and the opposite of joy, then I can navigate life’s challenges using these references.

Yoga, meditation, healthy eating and responsible behavior bring me towards union and joy—and opposing these universal laws of health and nature brings separation and darkness.

Neo: What are you trying to tell me? That I can dodge bullets?

Morpheus: No, Neo. I’m trying to tell you that when you’re ready, you won’t have to. ~ The Matrix


Adapted from www.yogaleaks.com.

Chantelle is an Australian living in Rio de Janeiro. She writes for her blog, Yoga Leaks. For the past two and a half decades, Chantelle has studied meditation, yoga, martial arts, dozens of healing modalities, Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, as well as Tao, Buddhist and Hindu philosophy. She is a practicing Kriyaban, which is a yogi who practices Kriya yoga. Chantelle has worked with health retreats and spa destinations in their management, design and realization. She loves to create other-world or better-world experiences. Hence the concept of her blog, which explores a “better” nation in which we can all live for a few minutes each week. Chantelle has traveled extensively and worked in many idyllic locations around the world. Her passion is in the written word, vibrantly sharing her knowledge about endless facets of health and living.

Editor: Jamie Morgan

Like elephant yoga on Facebook. 

Read 2 Comments and Reply

Read 2 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Elephant journal  |  Contribution: 1,375,490