Event — IIAS Lunch Lecture

POSTPONED Fading into Death through Pātañjala Yoga

Postponed until further notice in connection with the Corona measures.

Fading into death through Pātañjalayoga. On the apparent dead-like state of the Yoga practitioner absorbed into contentless samādhi.

This is the title of a new lunch lecture by Roco Cestola (La Sapienza, Rome) on 7 April 2020.

In this lecture, Rocco Cestola takes us on a short literary journey among selected Sanskrit texts, narrating in line with the Yoga of Patañjali, the progressive and relentless fading of mind and body into the otherness of the real Self.

Some texts of Classical Yoga, written in India between the middle of the sixteenth and the middle of the eighteenth century, depict the practitioner deep absorbed in the advanced phase of meditation using the expression 'as if dead'.

In this context, the metaphors on death may have the simple purpose of conveying the idea of the extraordinary immobility or stillness of the advanced states of meditative absorption. 

Immobility or stillness in what sense?

Behind this imaginary of motionless lies the fact that once the practitioner has reached the advanced phase of meditative absorption (asamprajñātasamādhi), their psychophysical functions and activities are so severely reduced that they reach minimal levels, if not completely shut down.

The overall imaginary narrated by the literature considered here conveys the representation of the absolute steadiness of the advanced phase of meditative absorption. Apparently dead, the practitioner is, in reality, fully alive and now in perfect shape to realise her/his own true identity as consciousness without content, a pure vision empty of object - namely, the Self.

Supposed and practised as a means of release since times going back to oblivion, Yoga locates the Self in the ubiquitous space of an otherness of consciousness that can be attained mainly by committing to asceticism, but also, by exemplary individuals, at the moment of death.