Because we are about to delve into the amazing world of the Yogi’s vision of Creation.Let me say at the very get-go that Samkhya is the very reason that Yoga”works”.Yoga works because it stands on the philosophical foundation of Samkhya, and there is a scientific basis to this world-view that quantum physicists have confirmed.According to quantum physics, the material universe is nothing but a very dense form of energy. From the subtlest realms to the grossest realms of matter, the process of creation is a systematic condensation or “step-down” of energy from states of higher frequency to lower frequencies.To study Samkhya is to investigate this mechanism of creation, from the subtlest planes all the way down to dense, material manifestation.
Yoga is the process of reversing this process, of freeing ourselves from all the binding forces that limit our identity as pure Consciousness.
So Samkhya is not just a theory, it is meant to be the foundation of true spiritual knowledge that will set us free while living in an embodied state.
So, are we ready to dive in? Let’s start from the very beginning.
In the beginning was the Void. Some call this absolute nothingness Brahman, the Creator, Universal Consciousness.
Now, this formless Being became polarized into two aspects: Purusha, and Prakriti.
Purusha is the unmanifest, passive, attribute-less pure Being, and Prakriti is the animating force of Creation. Purusha is male, while Prakriti is female energy.
As Prakriti creates and manifests, Purusha witnesses. Thus, Prakriti gives form to all things, while Purusha endows them with a living presence.
From this polarization of Formlessness into potential energy (Purusha) and creative will (Prakriti), Creation is set in motion.
Mahat is often translated as”Cosmic Intellect”, but it is not the intellect we normally associate with the word. A better description of Mahat is the self-reflective quality of consciousness, or self-awareness.
Because of Mahat, there is intelligence in plants, in insects, in a single-cell organism. It is the innate intelligence in a plant cell that knows how to perform photosynthesis, and all metabolic activities. It is the organizing principle of the Universe.
From Mahat, Ahamkara is formed. Ahamkara literally means”the I-maker”, and it is next step in the order of manifestation. From self-awareness, the sense of “I” and “mine” come to be – the sense of identification with whatever the”I” attaches itself to.
In Mahat, there is no differentiation, but when Ahamkara is born, it forms a border, the frontier of”the self”, and it creates an enclosure outside of which is the”world”and inside of which is”me”.
Sound familiar? I hope so, because this is how we as individuals come to be!
Once this “I” is formed, the Cosmic Intelligence (Mahat) becomes Buddhi, which has the capacity to reason and discriminate, and has individualized awareness. Mahad is Universal Intelligence, while Buddhi is individual intelligence.
The formation of Ahamkara, the ego causes the universe to be experienced as outside and separate from oneself. And the universe is experienced as pervaded by three main qualities: Sattva, Rajas and Tamas.
Sattva is the quality of clarity, purity, self-illuminating light, and spiritual direction.
Rajas is the animating force of movement, desire and passion.
These three universal qualities, or gunas, pervade our mind, senses and physiology.
For example, in the simple act of seeing a tree, Sattva is the light of perception, the inner knower. Rajas is the movement that processes the image onto the retina and carries the information to the visual and association centers. Tamas is the storehouse of past experiences. With the help of Rajas, the memory of seeing other trees is retrieved, and through the process of re-cognition (Sattva), it causes us to say,”aha! That’s a tree!”.
In the next level of manifestation, the kinetic force of Rajas combines with Sattva to create the subjective universe. What creates our subjective experience? Our senses, right?
So the union of Rajas and Sattva creates the Five Sensory Faculties, known as the Jnanedriyas, literally the “organs of knowledge”. These are the ears, skin, eyes, tongue and nose. It also creates the Five Motor Organs, the Karmendriyas – the mouth, hands, feet, reproductive and excretory organs.
Next, Rajas combines with Tamas, the force of inertia, to create the objective universe. Their union produces the Pancha Tanmatras, or the Five Objects of Sensory Perception, which are shabda (sound), sparsha (touch), rupa (form), rasa (taste), and gandha (smell).
Finally, the Five Tanmatras give rise to the Five Elements – Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth.
In looking at the Elements, it is helpful to understand that each element manifests from the the addition of its previous tanmatra. For example, Space element contains only shabda, or sound. It is the most rarified Element. The next Element, Air contains both shabda and sparsha (sound and touch). Fire Element contains shabda, sparsha and rupa, the sense of sight. Water contains all previous three, plus rasa, the sense of taste. And finally Earth contains all five Tanmatras, including gandha, the sense of smell.
Let this knowledge sink in for a while. Spend some time with each stage of the”step-down” process. This is profound stuff! I know it can feel overwhelmingly technical in the beginning. But trust me, it will begin to make more sense as you work with this framework.
As you contemplate and observe Samkhya in action in your own being, it will begin to answer some of your deepest questions.
When you have an”aha” moment, jot it down, and record the insight.
As I mentioned before in my previous post, this is the basis, and the beginning of spiritual education.
Don’t worry if you don’t get everything at first. There is a process of unfolding that takes its own time. And as it unfolds, your knowledge will turn into Light.
No effort is ever wasted when the intention to learn is sincere.
Let’s keep moving forward on our journey of learning!
In my next post, we’ll delve into the heart of Ayurveda, and begin to see practical application of this philosophy.
See you there!