Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha-to-be, became a yogi when he left his father’s palace to “go forth” in pursuit of liberation….He sought out and studied with the greatest yogis of his day–including approximately five years of study with the well-known yogis Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta. Under their tutelage, the young aspirant studied the most sophisticated yogic meditation techniques then known…stages of Dharana and dhyana, and which Buddhist teaching describes as the jhanas (concentrations).” (Stephen Cope: The Wisdom of Yoga.) As a deep yoga practitioner, he became part of a movement known in India as the great “shamanic stream”, a culture of dedicated yogis actively engaged in experimentation with the goal of complete liberation. Following his enlightenment, the Buddha’s teachings were then adopted by some yogic adepts. For almost a thousand years following his death, yogic and Buddhist teachings developed side-by-side, practitioners exchanged philosophies and practices, debated their differences, and shared many common threads.
This past Sunday Lorilee presented an overview of the historic cross-pollination between yoga and Buddhism, and lead our sangha in experiences to taste the effects of yogic concentration and meditation techniques (as described by Patanjali) both similar to, and different from classic Buddhist practices.
Below is attached a PDF that she made for the meeting.