Savasana Yoga Pose

The YS in its little yoga appendix envelops this Buddhist liberation model in sign systems from Brahmin Vedanta- and Saivite Siddhanta philosophy. The effect of this is that the liberation model changes signification. In the Upanishads and Vedanta, as we recall, the knowing subject became brahman, as the adept realised this connection. The YV appendix shares this signification of final release. It does not see liberation as nirvana – the blowing out of desires – but as brahman- or Siva realisation. The appendix also shares the Upanishad view that mystic realisation happens in deep absorption. With this, the theoretical appendix outlines an Upanishad model of liberation different from the liberation model in the stories in the main corpus, where people gain sudden insight during normal states of consciousness.

Hence the YV promotes various forms of jnana-yoga: they are all yoga of release through cognition and wisdom – but this can happen as a result of insight taking place in either normal or altered states of consciousness. In the triangle of liberation model which I use to analyse various liberation models, we can see that this tension actually reflects two ideal types of liberation: Gnostic Comprehension and Mystical Realisation. Such merging of conflicting Buddhist and Brahmin discourses of Gnostic liberation creates inconsistencies.

The text is very insistent that release is a case of deep understanding of the conditions of reality. It does not entirely dismiss traditional efforts – sadhanas – like asceticism, pilgrimage, rituals and mantra recitation. They all have their benefits, but they do not liberate in the end. Moksha first happens through a final ground-breaking Gnostic insight. What is further unclear in the YV is whether this liberation is epistemological – the restructuring of the human mind set or if it is ontological – reality is not physical but non-dual (or should we say ideational’). I will return to this.

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