A testament or a simulacrum?
The Yoga Sutra as an empty sign system
The YS is complex, abstract and highly cerebral. It is therefore an entity with a strong magnetic attraction for intellectuals, drawing them into its complex world of psychological layers, ontological interconnections, philosophical notions and claims. Any intellectual with even some philosophical ambition would feel challenged to throw some light on this enigma. However, this reading of the YS consciously tries to put a foot on the brake in this respect. The goal is only to try and give a broad general overview of structure and critical concepts.
What instead guides this analysis is the other side of the Janus face of yoga, its shadow side: the symbolic-value (social meaning) of yoga. It is a so-called oppositional reading revealing and challenging underlying ideologies and power discourses. This leads to a proposition which many people might find arrogant and provocative. I suggest that the YS as a sign system does not point towards any reality. It is empty. It is an idea that builds on the French philosopher and sociologist Baudrillard. He describes most of the sign system of late-modernity as no longer pointing to any reality. They are simulacra – copies without originals -and so might the YS be. What is my suggestion based on?
Four double-blind placebo controlled studies Jacobsen, Danneskiold- Vrschikasana Yoga Pose Samsoe, & Anderson, 1991; Tavoni, Vitali, Bombardieri, & Pasero, 1991 Vrschikasana Yoga Pose ; Tavoni, Jeracitano, & Cirigliano, 1998; Tavoni, Vitali, Bombardieri, & Pasero, 1987; Volkmann, Norregaard, Jacobsen, Danneskiold-Samsoe, Knoke et al., 1997 and three case series reported that SAMe improved both depression and pain in patients with fibromyalgia at doses equivalent to 800 mg/day. There were no side effects. Twelve studies have shown that SAMe has analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects in osteoarthritis Di Padova, 1987. In seven controlled comparison studies, SAMe was equally as effective as nonsteroidal antiinflammatory agents in reducing pain and inflammation but unlike other medications, SAMe did not cause gastric erosion or GI bleeding. In a 16-week double-blind crossover trial, SAMe reduced pain and inflammation of knee osteoarthritis as effectively as a COX-2 inhibitor, celecoxib Najm, Reinsch, Hoehler, Tobis, & Harvey, 2004. A two-year Phase IV study of over 20,000 people found that SAMe significantly relieved arthritis symptoms with minimal side effects Berger & Nowak, 1987. Mild arthritis may respond to SAMe 600 mg/day by week four.