1. Briefly compare and contrast the metaphysical views of the Advaita VedДЃnta school, with those of the SДЃmkhya (or SДЃnkhya) school.
Advaita VedДЃnta school is one of the most influential religious and philosophical sub-schools of Hindu practices. SДЃmkhya school is the school of the classical Hindu philosophy. SДЃmkhya school is one of the original schools of Indian philosophy, while Advaita VedДЃnta school does not refer to these original schools and should be properly considered as one of the sub-schools, rather than the independent philosophical approach.
Advaita VedДЃnta school concentrates on the investigation of pure consciousness of a given individual, as it is considered the main element of development (Fuller, 2004). The sub-school also tries to interpret canonical texts, such as the Bhagavad Gita. SДЃmkhya school does not accept the final cause of God. This school is dualist by its worldview. The universe is presented as the entity that consists of two main areas: matter and consciousness. At the same time, the role of consciousness in human life is much more significant than that of matter.
Advaita VedДЃnta school is not homogeneous. There are several other sub-schools that accept the basic ideas of the school but differ in relation to specific elements. The most widespread sub-schools are the Bhamati and the Vivarana (Flood, 2006). The Bhamati is based on the ontological perspective. It suggests that the Jiva is the source of key changes in all spheres of spiritual life. The Vivarana sub-school concentrates on the epistemological approach. Brahman is considered the source of knowledge. All contradictory elements of human experience may also be attributed to Brahman. For example, the same person may be aware of some things and be ignorant of others.
SДЃmkhya school also deals with pure consciousness; however, it is considered as being transcendental. Consciousness and matter are independent entities and should be analyzed separately. The first cause of material universe is Prakriti. Thus, Advaita VedДЃnta school and SДЃmkhya have different views on the relationships between consciousness and matter.
2. Identify and briefly explicate the 8 limbs of Yoga. (CP pp 28-30, Yoga SЕ«tra, pp 165-168, 182-3, 187-219) Provide original examples, to illustrate (i.e., an example of something which would constitute practicing the ‘limb’ in question).
Yoga Sutra has an eightfold path that is called ashtanga. It provides eight key steps that are supposed to allow leading full and meaningful life. Additional attention is paid to people’s lives. These measures also help to encourage spiritual aspects of one’s existence. The first limb is called yama and it corresponds to one’s moral standards, behavior, and self-perception. Universal practices that are introduced promote the idea that people should behave in such a way that they want to receive from others.
The second limb is called niyama, and it corresponds to self-discipline and organization. Numerous spiritual practices are introduced at this stage. In particular, personal meditation practices are highly encouraged. The person should also attend the temple or church on the regular basis. The third practice is asana; it is focused on the development of one’s body and the way it is viewed as a temple of spirit. Consequently, it is necessary to maintain one’s body in necessary conditions in order to encourage spiritual progress. Through its practices, the person increases his/ her abilities for concentration and discipline. These skills may be applied to his/ her subsequent activities.
The fourth practice is pranayama, and it mostly refers to breath control. Different practices allow establishing the connection between one’s breath, the emotional experience, and the state of mind. Thus, it is possible to regulate one’s breath in order to influence one’s emotions and mental state. Pranayama may be practiced as an isolated technique or it may be integrated into the whole system of yoga practices. The fifth practice is pratyahara, and it refers to sensory transcendence. It allows to objectively analyze the external world. The sixth practice is dharana, and it refers to concentration. The seventh practice is dhyana, and it refers to meditation and uninterrupted system of concentration. The eighth practice is samadhi, referring to the state of ecstasy. The example of practicing the abovementioned practices if walking alone (it primarily relates to the second practice niyama).
3. Identify and briefly explicate the Yama rules of Classical Yoga (CP p 28, Yoga SЕ«tra, pp 165-8). Provide original examples, to illustrate (i.e., an example of some conduct which the Yama rule in question, would prohibit.)
Yamas help to increase one’s perception of integrity and act in accordance with the general ethical standards. There are five main yamas that help to realize the Golden Rule of Ethics in practice. The first rule is nonviolence (ahimsa). Thus, no initiation of force and aggression may be accepted. The specific example of this rule refers to peaceful cooperation with other people. The second rule is truthfulness (satya). It means that people should not lie under any conditions. Truth and ethics are complementary concepts in this philosophy. The example of this rule is sincere communication with friends, relatives, and other people. This way, one’s spiritual state may be improved.
The third rule is non-stealing (asteya). It is a very serious rule, and it is closely related to the first one as stealing may be considered the form of aggression against other people’s property. Stealing is absolutely unacceptable. The examples of this rule are trade or any other voluntary market transactions. In fact, the violation of this rule means the violation of the first two ones, as well. Stealing is an aggression against private property, as well as the form of unfair and insincere behavior.
The fourth rule is continence (brahmacharya). It means that individuals should act rationally and understand their needs. They should be able to determine whether some possible actions are influenced by their needs and objective reality or their subjective preferences. The example of this rule is food that should be consumed. It should satisfy one’s needs in energy and basic useful elements. Everything that is beyond these fundamental needs is unacceptable. The fifth rule is non-covetousness (aparigraha).