JOY: The Journal of Yoga
investigating the philosophy, science, and spirituality of yoga
Doug Phillips, Indian River Community College
Stephen Phillips, The University of Texas at Austin
JOY: The Journal of Yoga is an international and transdisciplinary scholarly journal dedicated to work in asian philosophy, consciousness studies, and yogic spirituality. JOY welcomes contributions from researchers exploring the philosophy of yoga, neuroscience of meditation, schools of eastern thought, historical development of the yoga tradition, ayurvedic medicine, and spiritual phenomenology. The journal seeks to provide a forum for east-west comparative analysis and potential applications of yogic philosophy to contemporary concerns. In particular, JOY aims to investigate the impact of yogic practices upon cognition, physical health, and social interactions.
To help procure dialogue and provide a foundation for discussion, quotes are provided below for informational purposes:
"What then is the essence of yoga? The word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root-verb yuj meaning bind, join, unite, control. It is allied to the English word yoke, the German joch, and the Latin jungo (I join). Yoga thus literally means union and control. It signifies the union of man with God, of the individual with the universal reality, of each with the All of existence. It means union of the mortal with the eternal. It implies union of the mind with the inmost centre of one's own being, the self or atman- union of the conscious mind with the deeper levels of the unconscious- resulting in the integration of personality. That is indeed the chief objective of yoga. But yoga also means control, that is to say, appropriate self-discipline. It is the mobilization of the inner resources of personality with a view to attaining that self-integration which religion calls God-realization, and mysticism calls immediate union with the infinite. In this sense yoga is the method or technique, the programme of psycho-physical, moral and spiritual training, by following which one can fulfill the ultimate destiny of life and the path leading to that goal." -Haridas Chaudhuri from Integral Yoga
"Yoga is not a thing of ideas but of inner spiritual experience. Merely to be attracted to any set of religious or spiritual ideas does not bring with it any realization. Yoga means a change of consciousness; a mere mental activity will not bring a change of consciousness, it can only bring a change of mind." -Sri Aurobindo
"Sanskrit, literally meaning 'yoke.'
In Hinduism this has the sense of harnessing oneself to god, seeking union with
him. Since any path to knowledge of god can be called yoga, there are in Hinduism
many names for the different yogic paths that accommodate the basic makeup of
the individual seekers. Those Hindu paths that are best known in the West and
that have been most thoroughly elaborated are: karma-yoga, selfless action;
bhakti-yoga, devout love of god; raja-yoga, the 'royal roga,'
which is identical with the yoga of Patanjali, one of the six darshanas;
tantric kundalini-yoga; jnana-yoga, the path of abstract knowledge.
In the West the term yoga usually refers to hatha-yoga, which is based on physical exercises (asana) in conjunction with breathing exercises (pranayama). This 'physical' yoga, however, is regarded in India only as a practice prepatory for the spiritual forms of yoga that work with various meditation techniques.
As a way to knowledge of god, yoga in its broadest sense is not confined to India. All seekers for the experience of fundamental unity (the so-called mystical experience), whether they are Indian shamans or Christian mystics, are yogis in this sense. Thus the trantric practices of Tibetan Buddhism are also called yoga, and its great saints (for example, Milarepa) are called yogis." -from The Encyclopedia of Eastern Philosophy and Religion
"The nucleus of Yoga is its practice, and the yogin is primarily a practitioner, not philosopher, theologist, or psychologist in the common sense. In his radical practical approach he is comparable to the scientist who spends most of his time not at his desk, but in the laboratory. The yogin is not satisfied with theorising, guessing, or accepting, facts second hand- he takes his own experience (pratyaksa or 'perception') as the highest criterion. This is all the more necessary as his object of study is not only the most sublime, but also the most difficult a man can choose. The yogin's aim is the realisation of the transcendent reality or, in the words of Kant, the thing-in-itself behind and beyond the world of appearances, which for the yogin is naturally neither fictitious nor alien to experience. Kant, however, would not admit the possibility of the latter, because he discarded what generally and less precisely is referred to as 'mystical experience'. But R. Otto, commenting on Kant's distinction between the empirical knowledge as gained through sense-impressions and as attained by pure reason, says: 'The numinous is of the latter kind... The proof that in the numinous we have to deal with purely a priori cognitive elements is to be reached by introspection and a critical examination of reason such as Kant instituted.' For the yogin actual realisation of the ultimate reality is not mere sensing, but direct experience or saksatkara; he regards it as a possibility open to everyone." -G. Feuerstein from The Essence of Yoga
"The principle of Yoga is the turning of one or of all powers of our human existence into a means of reaching the divine Being. In an ordinary Yoga one main power of being or one group of its power is made the means, vehicle, path. In a synthetic Yoga all powers will be combined and included in the transmuting instrumentation." -Sri Aurobindo from The Synthesis of Yoga
"Yoga, if unlocked by personal practice, could prove to be of a far greater value towards a re-moulding of human personality and thus of our age than any other science, religion or philosophy, for it opens to us a completely new aspect of existence- the realm of the Self beyond personality and phenomenal world." -G.F. and J.M. from The Essence of Yoga
"All Life is Yoga." -Sri Aurobindo
JOY hopes to keep these visions of Yoga in sight as we pursue further research.