Inside and Outside the Threefold Life

The framework central to Yoga is the threefold life: the progression from Body to Mind to Spirt. The ‘Divine Purpose’ to rise from ignorance into one who can realize their true nature.

We’re born into the world as simple flesh, nothing but wailing instinct and impulse. As we grow into the body, our mind becomes capable of complex thought and with it the potential to overcome the ignorance of our bodily form. But the minds potential is far in excess of the body.

Many a modern yogin focuses on the threefold progression from within. While introspection is a potent tool, forgetting to explore the external manifestations of the Divine Purpose will make understanding it like trying to finish a puzzle without all the pieces.

The Mind can even escape its own erroneous tendency to conceptualize the world around it. Even as it distorts reality, even as it “dismembers Krishna” into part and parcel, it still holds the potential to realize its own error.

“While introspection is a potent tool, forgetting to explore the external manifestations of ‘Divine Purpose’ will make understanding it like trying to finish a puzzle without all the pieces.”

The progression of body, mind and spirt is quite easily found far in excess of ones individual growth. It is found in the origins of our bodies, the evolution of the systems we must now come to terms with through introspection.

Body

This divine progression is visible in the form of our ancestors: the reptilian brain stem as it creates the basic impulses and wants, those drives to survive and reproduce, for food and safety.  Those instincts found in all animals. They are in us as they are in lifes more primitive forms and by watching and learning from them we can understand what in our selves is rooted in antiquity.

As life continued toward its Divine Purpose into the world arose another level of body. The mammalian limbic system and the world of social animals, the world of emotional ties and needs. One of the most painful and pleasurable manifestations of the body and the most deceptive.

1536536_10152179299787518_924108808_nConsider those animals around you. I know dogs are a touchy subject for many, but considering them is such a valuable opportunity. The incessable dog, endlessly hungry, who will literally eat until they vomit and remain hungry. Wanting and never satisfied. What is their unconditional love really? Is it something worthy of praise or simply an addiction to the constant stream of endorphins you, the leader of their pack, inspire in them.

The limbic system inspires so many seemingly beneficial responses in us, but this makes it all the harder to see through them.

Consider the empathy response. It’s a good thing right? A sudden rush of compassion and a desire to help another suffering being. We find it in rats as in humans, and just as fleeting.

These ‘good’ limbic responses, these emotions, are so deceptive because they are just that, good, but they come and pass with the whims of body. They inspire us to help but they are not really ours to command. While the empathy-impulse is a phenomenon of the body, true compassion, what Buddhism calls Bodhchitta, is that response fostered in the habitual nature of the mind and independent of the fleeting whims of the body.

Viewed in terms of the divine purpose these phenomenon of the limbic system a necessary evolution of life, of the bodily form. Necessary to eventually manifest a form capable of Mind.

“These ‘good’ limbic responses, these emotions, are so deceptive because they are just that, good, but they come and pass with the whims of body. They inspire us to help but they are not really ours to command.”

Mind

A good way to start considering the minds nature as a conceptualizer is in terms of its control of the body. Commonly called muscle memory, it’s the reason I don’t have to consider the dozens of muscles all interacting fluidly and seamlessly while I type on the computer. I don’t have to tell each muscle to move and coordinate, if I had too, moving as I do would be nearly impossible. I would have to devote pretty much all my concentration to performing the simplest of actions, and discussion of complicated idea would be impossible.

Think of a baby learning to move for the first time, they must learn to use their body and over years of use they create a muscle memory of the hand, a hand-symbol, a hand concept.

It’s a way to move without having to think too much about it. But here in lies the dilemma, even if I wanted to move one of my hands individual muscles I couldn’t, for the most part I’m not even aware of what or how many their are. You might even say I’ve lost touch with the reality of my hand. It’s now a concept, a symbol, a mental shortcut.

The mind works in the same manner as it creates the world of things around itself, even as it creates itself, the ego, the self-symbol. They are the necessary shortcuts to understand the relationships between phenomenon and ourselves. It is why humanity has become so successful, we create concepts and their relationships so that we can then put to future use.

As we begin to understand the threefold progression through Yoga, though the introspection of our bodies we can without as well. By observing others as they develop, by studying the evolution of the mind as it comes to create the reality around us, and the body before that.  Psychologists and biologists have come a long way understanding our evolution and by learning from them it will be that much easier to reach our involution.

Science News is great.

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