Ritual, in the general sense. Denotes rites such as the birth ceremony, tonsure, marriage, cremation, etc.
    In yoga, it stands for the indelible imprints in the subconscious left behind by our daily experiences.

    ▵ Samskara – Memory of Generations Past
    Energy interventions can completely change the influence of genetic and evolutionary memory within us. It is these two dimensions of memory that restrict and influence us in ways you cannot consciously figure. To become free from that or to disconnect from that is a very important aspect of yogic practice.How can you create distance with a memory that you are not even conscious of, something that throbs in every cell in your body?

    People usually misunderstand the word samskara. It is used for two aspects. This word means the genetic memory that is coming to us from previous generations. Let us say there is a prodigy who could sing wonderfully from childhood. It is common for people to say, “Oh, it is his samskara that he is able to sing like this.” That means it has come to him from elsewhere. At the same time, the rituals that are performed after one’s death are also known as samskaras.

    Why is a common word used for both these aspects, which seem to be different? Because they are not actually different. There is no denying that many memories and experiences of the people before us are carried within us. At the same time, whether this memory that we have inherited has become a means of bondage or an advantage in our life depends on how much freedom or distance we are able to create with this memory.

    How can you create distance with a memory that you are not even conscious of, something that throbs in every cell in your body? This is where initiation into yogic practices becomes significant, because initiation is an energetic intervention where you and the genetic memory are separated in a certain way.

    ▵ Leave the Dead to the Dead
    When people die, or even when they are not dead, we perform what is called as samskara, which is a way of distancing yourself from the genetic memory of your grandparents and parents. This is not just done for the generations that you have seen – your parents and grandparents – but for many generations before them.

    For some people who wish to go into certain types of activity, they clean their memory from seven or twelve generations ago. In general, everyone performs this process for the past three generations. This is the tradition in India. 

    These rituals are not in remembrance of our parents and grandparents. These rituals are an effort to distance ourselves from the genetic memory of our parentage because we want to be a fresh life. We do not want to be a recycling of the past lives. We want to carve out our own destiny. The samskaras are done in this effort, so the same terminology is used for both the genetic memory and the rituals that help you to distance yourself from genetic memory.

    I think the closest thing to this that has been uttered, that people are aware of in the Western world, is – it seems Jesus said, “Leave the dead to the dead.” Leaving the dead to the dead is not easy because the dead are living in you. This is what genetic memory means. You will see, if who you are becomes very important, then having children becomes very important too because this is your legacy. You want to leave your genetic material in many people after you, so that in some way you live on. So do not underestimate the dead. They try to live through you.

    Dispelling the Shadow of the Dead (Isha)

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