Wisdom: Ask Manoj

Ask Manoj: People say yoga is about realizing the “truth”? What is the “truth” they are referring?

People say yoga is about realizing the “truth”? What is the “truth” they are referring?

Manoj’s Answer:

No verbal answer can clearly reveal the truth to the enquirer. In fact words will only act to cover the truth. Like how the great Lao-tzu said, “Those who know, do not say; Those who say, do not know.” Or like how Kant pointed out, words relate to the world of phenomenon and cannot express the noumenon.

But still, I am just throwing a few words around, to stir up some thoughts on the subject.

Now, what can be the ‘truth’? Many answers might swell up. One answer can be that ‘truth is something which lasts, which doesn”t depend on anything else for its continuous existence’.

So, a tea cup is in front of me. The tea cup is “true” as I can see it and feel it. But on closer look, the “form” of the cup is a dependent, transitory truth. A bigger truth is the “substance” of the cup, which can be clay (I realize I don”t know much about cups.. in fact lifted and tilted it to see whether anything is written on its underside, but other than some residual tea spilling, nothing there..). So the form, idea and the word- “cup”- is only relatively true, when one is relating to it in terms of its shape or utility. But as to what the cup really is, it is just clay (or whatever it is). The form can change, but the material cause remains.

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How can we practice Ahimsa without falling victim to opportunists?

This was actually a comment posted by Manasa Yogi Hui Hsien in response to Manoj’s latest blog on Truth & Pleasantness.

This evening I was actively practising Ahimsa awareness whilst braving the nasty after office traffic on the LDP. In desperate situations like that the average Malaysian driver does not give way to other motorists. However, I took several deep breaths and compassionately allowed 1 car into my lane. 1 led to 2 and by the time the 3rd car tried to push herself aggressively in, I realised that that was my threshold and submitted to the reaction of my manas, which was to honk angrily.

QUESTION: How do you practise Ahimsa without falling victim to opportunists?


Namaste Hui Hsien
So heart warming to read how you are trying to apply the teachings into real life.. Now, let me try to answer your valid question through a story..
Long ago there was a deadly snake. She was truly a pure embodiment of terror to the villagers of the neighbourhood. In fact the people of the village stopped using the path which runs via her pit, as she indiscriminately attacked and bit anyone going that way.

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Ask Manoj: I am not able to sleep well. Can yoga help?


Yogic scriptures refer to three fundamental states through which an individual flows through

  1. jagrat or waking state
  2. swapna or dreaming state
  3. sushupti or deep sleep state.

Though we take for granted our daily sojourn through these states, it is really a wonder as to how it all happens; why and how we are awake, or why and how we fall asleep, etc.

So, what exactly is a state?

In a physiological sense, a state can perhaps be described as a set of physiological conditions or processes which lasts for a certain period of time.

So for waking state, a specific set of neurological functions has to keep occurring, and for dream and sleep states too, specific sets of neuro-physio-psycho conditions have to occur. In fact, very similar to the yogic perspective on the three states of consciousness, neurologically too, there is a basic division of states into wakeful state (W), slow-wave sleep state (S) and desynchronized dream sleep state (D).

One of the foremost gurus of yoga, sage Patanjali points out that sleep is not just a passive dropping off from the wakeful state, but a dynamic process of specific waves (nidra vrttis) in consciousness which brings about that state. In yogic language, any avastha or state is one where vrttis of similar function cluster together and last for a time. And for the state to last, it has to rest on a particular process for a particular period of time, the term for supporting factor being alambana, sleep also help with the body function allowing us having a more healthy body and a better skin, unless we have a more serious condition, in that case, we should visit professionals as the Dr. Johnny Franco at the More Beautiful You clinic you can find online.

So, for example, for the wakeful state, the consciousness seems to rest on the high rates of discharge of cells in the appropriate areas of the brain such as the mid brain reticular formation. Read More »

What are the benefits of Kapalabhati and alternate nostril breathing?


Kapala means skull and bhati means “shine”. Kapalabhathi thus implies “that which makes the skull shine”. The skull or head also stands for intelligence, and hence the term is also referring to “that which makes our intellect sharper, brighter”.

Kapalabhati is normally done before other pranayamas. It is very helpful in long meditations, too. During those sessions when one may face dullness, it quickly counters the fuzziness and brings about a certain resplendent quality to consciousness.

In the ancient texts of yoga such as the Gheranda samhita and Hatha yoga pradipika, the kapalabhathi is given as a cleansing, purifying technique.

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Ask Manoj: Can pranayama help with asthma?

My friend suffers from acute asthma. Can you recommend any particular pranayama which might be of help?


In a lay sense, Asthma is basically a condition where the air ways are inflamed and constricted, with a tendency for excessive mucus production.

Yoga, can definitely be of help to people affected with Asthma, along with conventional medical treatment .

However the opinions of different yoga teachers might differ as to the techniques recommended. For e.g., Kapalabhathi is one technique which is often suggested for asthmatics. So is Ujjai breathing.

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