Samkhya and the Classical Yoga of the Yoga Sutras are dualistic philosophies. Very few yoga teachers today
realize this. In the West, dualism has been entrenched in our religions for over three thousand years. This
dualism is easily seen in the metaphor of the clockmaker: God is the great clockmaker and this universe, and
everything in it, is his wondrous invention, the clock. God is outside of the machine. In the Samkhya
tradition there is purusha and there is prakriti, and these two are as separate as the clockmaker and the
clock. Purusha is the soul, the Self, pure consciousness, and the only source of consciousness. The word
literally means "man." Prakriti is that which is created. It is nature in all her aspects. Prakriti literally
means "creatrix," the female creative energy.
Unlike in the Western religions, purusha did not create prakriti; in fact, if given a choice, purusha would
prefer to have never met prakriti at all. But purusha is responsible for prakriti becoming animated, alive.
Samkhya philosophy holds that there are countless individual purushas, each one infinite, eternal, omniscient,
unchanging, and unchangeable. There is no single purusha that sits hierarchically above any others. There is no
creator god, no puppet master pulling any strings. Since purusha is pure consciousness, it follows that prakriti
is unconscious. Prakriti is everything that is changing. Prakriti is not just the physical aspects of the
universe that we can sense; it is our very senses themselves - our thoughts, memories, desires, and even
our intelligence. Prakriti is everything that is that isn't conscious. Consciousness resides only in purusha,
or more properly, as purusha.
Purusha is often likened to the sun, while Prakriti
is a flower attracted to and following the sun's presence.
Purusha, pure and distant, is beyond subject and object. One cannot understand purusha, for that would make
it an object. Purusha cannot know or understand anything either, for that would make purusha a subject.
Purusha simply just is. But, because of the presence of prakriti, purusha gets attracted to nature in the
way a man is attracted when he watches a beautiful woman dancing. He cannot help but try to get closer. And
then the disaster occurs: purusha becomes trapped inside prakriti. Like Brer Rabbit when he touches the Tar
Baby, purusha gets more and more entangled in prakriti. Soon purusha forgets that it was ever separate and
ceases to struggle to regain its freedom.
The union of purusha and prakriti was a horrible mistake. This unfortunate marriage should never have
happened. The only remedy: a fast and thorough divorce! Like Brer Rabbit, the only way to be freed from
the Tar Baby is to be thrown into the briar patch where we can scrape off prakriti and finally free
ourselves. The briar patch is the practice of yoga.
Samkhya and Classical Yoga are not about union. The yoga of the Yoga Sutra is about getting a divorce,
as quickly as possible. If you don't do it now, you will have to come back again and again, suffering
countless new lives, until you finally get that divorce and are free at last. 
Purusha is easy to comprehend; we all seem to have an instinctive or intuitive understanding of the concept
of soul or consciousness, even if we cannot describe it exactly. But prakriti is a bit more foreign. What is
prakriti made of? Let's take a closer look at the underlying strands of prakriti.
1 -- It is curious how in the Eastern philosophies reincarnation is something
to be avoided at all costs. To live again and again in this sorrowful world is unbearable. True joy, bliss,
ananda is obtained only when we are free from the cycles of rebirth. In the West, reincarnation is considered
a blessing. We are comforted with the thought that we won't really die when this body fails us. We are coming
back again, and again, and again, to enjoy the cycles of life. The difference in these two views is the emphasis
on what it is that is reincarnated. In the West we dearly hope it is our ego that survives to the next life.
We are drawn to stories of how someone can remember her past life, hoping this means that something of the
person that we are now will still be around in some future incarnation. In the Eastern view, nothing natural
survives from one life to the next. By natural we mean nothing of nature, of prakriti. What returns is the soul,
stained as it was by the karma of prior lives. Only once these stains are removed, through the discipline of
yoga, can the soul truly be free to stay away from nature's clutches.
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