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Methodology of Buddhism: Considerations of the Shiva Purana 27

The first time that the Avatara of Buddha was manifested (by Arihat/Mayamoha), Vishnu instructed in Adharma and Atheism.  Understanding that these are sometimes (and as frequently) necessary and beneficial practices as Dharma and Theism introduces an important prerequisite understanding: nontheism, the sacrificing of sacrifices.

There is a difference between no longer sacrificing, and sacrificing sacrifices, between no longer sacrificing living beings and no longer sacrificing at all.  One who attempts ahimsa quickly learns the lesson that it is not possible: all beings must harm another to sustain their own life, if only to eat.  It is a practice to gain understanding how to make our lives worthy of sustenance, how to honor the sacrifice of those beings that sustain us: it inspires a correct purpose of practice (Dharma).

Similarly, understanding the difference between methodology and goal requires sufficient understanding of the purpose of the practice and cannot be learned except by setting an impossible goal of Vedism.  Vedism is the means of understanding Dharma: ultimately, it is learned that with Kama as the goal, Artha as the means, Dharma is a method.  As someone might navigate using a distant landmark, compass or star to maintain a correct path, so does Kama, when achieved by Artha, provide sufficient guidance to naturally achieve Dharma. 

One further example: one might attempt to live.  And one would succeed every day - for a while.  But though this is an impossible goal, sustaining life teaches the Dharmic method of life: healthy food, exercise, sobriety, hygiene, etc.

If we attach to our goals, we lose sight of the purpose and develop fundamentalism, extremism, and worse.

There are fewer dangers than extreme views: whether atheist or theist, as both result in dogma.  Wonder, amazement, infatuation, intoxication (moha) - these result in such practices of fundamentalism, and extremism, the attachment to belief, to materialism (moha), and especially the materialization of beliefs (moha).  This is why beauty is able to be weaponized (moha).  The wound of moha is moha itself: stupifaction, bewilderment, distraction, folly, error, loss of consciousness, loss of awareness, loss of self (different from sacrifice of self), shame. 

Together with chakras, moha is one of the principle weapons of Vishnu.  Like a chakra, moha is typically not a weapon held in combat, but is projected at a distant target, or used in conjunction with other weapons.  A mohanastra (a type of weapon of moha, which is projected at a target rather than held) is often used to hide the more deadly attack.  Yet though Vishnu wounds with moha, Vishnu's attack is not deadly.  Mohapasas (snares or traps of illusion) are used to hold a victim defenseless during an attack (like a mouse is killed by the cheese of a mousetrap), or even to capture and enslave a victim.  Yet this does not happen, either: Vishnu permits the victims to escape unharmed. 

Clearly, the attack by Vishnu's moha is not malevolent.  It is intended as an instruction to permit the achievement of amoha - and to prepare the victim for defense against a more malevolent enemy.

Who is this malevolent enemy?  None other than the victim's self. 

We often will enslave ourselves with moha, attaching to beliefs, to dogma, to theism or atheism.  Under the theory that ignorance is bliss, we will ignore the deadly dangers we face daily.  We infatuate ourselves rather than permit ourselves to love.  We make our own hell (vimoha), and convince ourselves it is heaven.  We are afraid of our errors, and seek to avoid (or place) blame, rather than learn from them.

What is taken up is either laid down again or dropped from lack of strength - sooner, or even much later.  No Asana can be held forever, no abhishekam can borne forever, no yagna can be performed forever.  All things seek rest: when we stand, we must soon sit; when we sit, we must soon stand.  While we live, we must grow weary, injured, ill, old and eventually die.  Hunger and satiety follow each other.

The Vedas, like all moha, can be held to too tightly, or not tightly enough.  They are a powerful means for self-defense - or for self-injury.  When it is forgotten that they may be taken up or laid down as necessary, one becomes attached to either theism or atheism. 

The purpose of the Vedas is sacrifice: the Vedas themselves must be sacrificed.  When we attach through moha to the Vedas, when we become extreme in our theology, failure (moha) will result: just as readily as failure results from atheism. 

Ultimately, the cycle of practice, from theology to atheology to nontheology and back again, like any cycle of Asanas, requires great flexibility - and discerning the means from their purpose by understanding both impermanence and the necessity of letting go of beliefs: it is the sacrifice of sacrificing that is ultimately demanded of our practice, that we might again take it up.