the basic spiritual philosophy of yoga
Yogic Philosophy for Beginner & Advanced Yogis
Spiritual Yoga Philosophy: Teachings & Practices for the Yogi
Darśana means “view”. To view something is always to view it from somewhere. We cannot ever take up a view from everywhere, or a view from nowhere. The systems of Indian philosophy take up different stances on (and thus represent different views of) the experience that you are always having. Yoga is the study of experience itself. Yoga is not the study of some other world/time/place that is outside of the experience you are always already having. Yoga is the study of the experience that you are having right now, which is the basis for (and horizon of) all of your thinking, feeling, acting, perceiving—and your identity, your knowledge, your will. This one single experience is the horizon of your experience, and any changes you experience will be changes within this singular experience—the one thing that is going on. Experience is the thing in which (or as which) you exist. This is the basis for yoga philosophy.
Our basic existential situation is one that tends towards suffering of various forms, the most foundational of which is produced by a sense of being incomplete, never “enough” on our own. Instead of investigating this sense of inner lack, we run from it, seeking to secure our identities in the world via attention/security—more money, more fame, more status, more love, etc.. We are trapped, running from (or trying to destroy) a sense of inner lack, trying to secure our independent existence in the world. Yogic philosophy is the result of trying to understand this inescapable dimension of our experience, the most foundational of our suffering.
Based on each philosophical system’s stance they adopt while exploring and describing experience, they each make different recommendations about how to achieve freedom from this suffering. Generally speaking, they all include some form of being able to sit with yourself so you can develop the kind of inner stability required to clearly see the truth/solution. We discuss this more in our section on a “spiritual” approach to yoga practice(s). We also have content about what this means for personal development. Collectively, this content forms our guide to yoga and spirituality, in which we introduce spiritual yoga in a three-part series that begins by exploring the purpose of yoga: what problem does yoga solve?