Sensible Discrimination: Yoga’s Crown Jewel


This entry was posted on Jun 6, 2023 by Charlotte Bell.

In 1988, I attended my first silent Perception Meditation retreat. I seen one factor proper off—how extremely out-of-control my thoughts is. However as my thoughts started to quiet somewhat, I began to note one thing extra subversive: that my thoughts judged every little thing. If I stayed targeted for a whole breath, I’d label it “good” meditation. If I caught my thoughts spinning out in ideas, I’d label that “unhealthy” meditation. Quickly, I noticed myself judging my judgments. This judging was not what I’d name smart discrimination. It was merely a totally subjective lens by means of which I noticed the world.

This perception despatched me right into a interval of being fully anti-judgment. I assumed that any less-than-glowing analysis of one other particular person’s actions was judging, and due to this fact, unyogic. Every particular person has his/her personal dharma, I assumed. We’re all following our personal reality. Who am I to evaluate?

In a whole lot of methods, this made life simpler. I may “comply with my bliss” and if another person occurred to take it flawed, properly, they have been simply being judgmental. My reality simply occurred to conflict with theirs. If that they had a judgment about it, that was their drawback. One other title for that is “non secular bypassing.”

The Downside with Anti-Judgment

I made some poor decisions throughout that interval. Residing in a “cult of positivity,” averse to what I assumed was unyogic judgment, I triggered appreciable harm to an individual who was very pricey to me. This was simply one in every of a sequence of unwise decisions I made throughout that point. Pursuing what I assumed was non-judgmental “yogic” bliss—every little thing’s yoga, so something goes, proper?—I ended up making a chaotic mess of my life. This culminated in a 12 months of immense struggling as I reckoned with the alternatives I’d made, throughout which I dedicated to rebuilding my life in a way more acutely aware manner.

Sensible Discrimination—Not the Identical as Judging

It was then that I started to grasp that not all evaluations could be categorized as damaging judgments. Sensible discrimination (viveka) is definitely an important a part of the yogic path. If the aim of yoga is “the settling of the thoughts into silence” (from Sutra 1.2), smart discrimination is essential to that finish. Our minds can not settle into silence after we’re frequently making unwise decisions. Tossing all evaluations out the window within the pursuit of being judgment free is antithetical to the settling of the thoughts.

All too typically, I’ve seen yoga tradition confuse smart discrimination with “unyogic” judgment. Each few years it appears, a revered yoga or meditation instructor falls off his/her pedestal. As a rule, it’s due to unacceptable sexual conduct towards college students. A few decade in the past, I used to be within the thick of the yoga running a blog world when one such toppling occurred.

Predictably, many yogis rushed to the protection of their beloved instructor. Anybody who questioned hurtful conduct was labeled as merely being judgmental and due to this fact, unyogic. It felt as if “judging” was thought-about to be a a lot greater crime than the exploitive behaviors that triggered the discussions.

It’s true that judging could be damaging. It’s additionally true that judging, the automated labeling of one thing as “good” or “unhealthy,” is commonly the results of a shallow understanding of a scenario. However there’s a distinction between judgment and discernment. Discernment is the school that asks us to contemplate the yamas, the inspiration of the system of yoga, after we are confronted with a perplexing alternative. Discernment asks us to contemplate the potential penalties of our conduct.

Sensible Discrimination: The Crown Jewel of Yoga Observe

Vivekachudamani—that means “Crest Jewel of Discrimination”—is a 580-verse poem that describes the standard of viveka, smart discrimination or discernment. The textual content describes the event of viveka because the central process on the yogic journey. The poem calls discrimination the “crown jewel” of the qualities we have to develop as a way to attain enlightenment. Definitions abound, however the most typical one says viveka is the power to discriminate between what’s everlasting and what’s impermanent, what’s actual and what’s unreal, the causes of happiness and the causes of struggling.

The Yoga Sutras listing the 5 causes of struggling: ignorance of our actual nature, egoism, attachment, aversion and concern of dying. Sutra 2.4 states that ignorance of our actual nature is the supply of the opposite 4 causes. Sutra 2.5 goes on to outline ignorance as “the failure to discriminate between the everlasting and the impermanent, the pure and the impure, bliss and struggling, the Self and the non-Self.” Additionally, Sutra 2.25 states: “When ignorance is destroyed, the Self is liberated from its identification with the world. This liberation is Enlightenment.”

So in accordance with Patanjali, discrimination is the antidote to ignorance, the foundation reason behind all our struggling. The uprooting of ignorance results in freedom. Our freedom isn’t restricted by our loyalty to acutely aware, moral conduct; it’s depending on it.

Viveka: The Key to Happiness

Discernment permits us to see past the unconscious, relentless pursuit of momentary bliss, which retains us on the hamster wheel of samsara. Viveka depends on mindfulness, our capacity to discern in every second’s expertise whether or not our decisions will result in happiness or to struggling. Viveka permits us to look deeply into every scenario and make decisions in accordance with the reality of the second. Whereas judgment appears to be like at a scenario and labels it good or unhealthy based mostly on our beliefs, viveka evaluates whether or not our or one other particular person’s actions result in lasting happiness or to struggling. Massive distinction.

Viveka isn’t title calling. It’s not snark. Viveka isn’t petty judgment. Viveka is, in actual fact, important to discovering lasting happiness, the happiness that isn’t depending on our exterior circumstances or these issues that can essentially change—which is every little thing in our expertise.

I don’t doubt that the teachings of yoga’s ousted academics have been useful to many, many college students. However I additionally know that their non-public actions triggered a whole lot of chaos and struggling of their communities. To dismiss these academics’ critics as judgmental and “unyogic” is to decrease the struggling their misbehavior could cause. This, after all, extends to the remainder of our world as properly. Calling out dangerous behaviors and actions isn’t merely being judgmental. It’s the start of effecting change for the higher.

Yoga has large energy to heal not solely our private lives, but in addition the world round us. After we start to expertise our interconnectedness with every little thing and everybody round us, we turn into way more acutely aware of the ability of our actions. We usually tend to act in ways in which heal our world, reasonably than in ways in which merely prop us up as people. It’s viveka that teaches us the distinction.

About Charlotte Bell

Charlotte Bell found yoga in 1982 and commenced educating in 1986. Charlotte is the creator of Aware Yoga, Aware Life: A Information for On a regular basis Observe and Yoga for Meditators, each revealed by Rodmell Press. Her third guide is titled Hip-Wholesome Asana: The Yoga Practitioner’s Information to Defending the Hips and Avoiding SI Joint Ache (Shambhala Publications). She writes a month-to-month column for CATALYST Journal and serves as editor for Yoga U On-line. Charlotte is a founding board member for GreenTREE Yoga, a non-profit that brings yoga to underserved populations. A lifelong musician, Charlotte performs oboe and English horn within the Salt Lake Symphony and people sextet Purple Rock Rondo, whose DVD gained two Emmy awards in 2010.


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