Ch.3, v. 3c. Haṭhayogapradīpika mind, non-dependence
“Emptiness is the pathway for prāṇa (subtle breath). For that reason it the principal path. Because of it, the mind (cittaṁ) does not depend on anything (nirālambaṃ). Likewise, time is cheated [of its effect].”
Haṭhayogapradīpika 3.3 reads as follows:
प्राणस्य शून्यपदवी तदा राजपथायते ।
तदा चित्तं निरालम्बं तदा कालस्य वञ्चनम् ॥ ३ ॥
prāṇasya śūnyapadavī tadā rājapathāyate |
tadā cittaṁ nirālambaṁ tadā kālasya vañcanam || 3 ||
Rev. Dr John Dupuche, is a Catholic priest, and Yogi Matsyendranath is from the Nath Yoga tradition. Father John and Yogi present teachings from their contrasting traditions, using as their starting point verses from the Haṭha-Yoga-Pradīpika.
These teachings are also made available by YouTube on www.nathas.org/en
The first half line of Haṭhayogapradīpika 3.3 reads “Emptiness is the pathway of prāṇa (subtle breath).” It is followed by three further half lines, each starting with the word tadā, which has a number of meanings: ‘then’, ‘therefore,’ ‘because of it’, ’as a result’. In other words, the rest of the couplet elucidates the significance of the fundamental idea, that ‘Emptiness is the pathway for prāṇa’.
In this session, I would like to emphasise the second consequence: “Because of it, the mind does not depend on anything (nirālambaṃ).”
The word cittaṃ (the mind) has many meanings: thought, intention, reflection, heart, intelligence, the act of thinking and so on. In other words, the word cittaṃ implies all the activities of the mind. The text we are looking at this evening states that the mind does not depend on anything limited but only on the void.
Human knowledge develops on the basis of scientific observation and logical proof, on the authority of the sacred text, on the evidence of witnesses, on tradition and the teaching of the guru. These are all valid forms of knowledge, but another form of knowledge is indicated in our text.
The citta is not opposed to these, and does not belittle them. It is different, however, for it does not depend on limited things. It is the highest form of knowledge It is free from weaknesses of character, from resentment and bitterness, from aggressiveness and egoism, from duplicity and hidden agenda. The mind is open and clear. The heart is welcoming and transparent. It is frank and straightforward. The word nirālambaṃ means therefore, in a negative sense, the rejection of any dependency on limited things.
The word nirālambaṃ can also mean, in a positive sense, ‘based on the void’ nir-ālamba. That is, the prāṇa, which is the fire in the void, produces a mind which has all the qualities of that fire and void. It is the expression of their ineffable essence.
This mind is found in the true disciple who speaks from himself/herself. The fully authentic disciple is ‘self-generated’ (svayaṃbhū), ‘not formed’ (akalpita), and is spontaneously filled with knowledge. He knows from himself the teaching that he gives. He does not need to quote texts in order to substantiate his case. He does not appeal to authority but has his own innate authority.
He speaks from the void and his speech leads to the void, such that all who hear him are wrapped into the freedom and silence and peace of the Void and its powerful fire.
Jesus teaches from the Void
This teaching throws further light on the Christian Tradition.
“The crowds were amazed on hearing Jesus speak because “he taught them with authority and not like their own scribes.” (Gospel of St Matthew 7:29)
The scribes would quote texts and argue their point, but Jesus simply declares what is true. He speaks with authority, for he speaks from himself and about himself. He does not depend. He speaks from himself about himself.
Although he teaches on the hills and in the villages of Galilee or in the Temple and on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, all his words really come from the cross. He speaks from the empty tomb and his ascension to the highest heaven. His words lead into the clarity and welcoming infinity of the One who cannot be named or confined.
The disciples hear in the Void
His words likewise cannot be understood, except from the point of view of the cross. Only if the disciples have already, in some way, assented to the humiliation of the cross and the emptiness of the tomb can they appreciate what their Teacher is saying, .The words spoken from the cross can be understood only on the cross
“[God] spoke one Word … in silence, and in silence must it be heard.” (St John of the Cross, Maxims and Counsels 21) The mind of the disciples must also become nirālambaṃ with mind and heart open to hear whatever is said, obedient in the truest sense of the word. The fire of the Spirit frees them and makes them able to receive the teaching of their Master.
They too know on the basis of the void. They proclaim their faith under the impact of the fire of the Spirit and the Void of the cross. They speak their mind with the authority which comes from inner knowledge and does not depend on proof or demonstration. They speak with complete freedom
Mary the Virgin
This is eminently true of the Virgin Mary, the first disciple, who, uneducated as she was, understood the teaching of all the prophets and the history of her people. This is because nothing stood in the way, no sin, no stain of any sort, no obstacle. She was completely virginal, and therefore she conceived and gave flesh to the Word.
The practice consists in stilling the thoughts, in leaving aside all negative emotions, entering into the silence, in becoming free, in humbly having confidence in one’s own truth, and assenting the truth that arises spontaneously in us. It is the cittaṁ nirālambaṁ.