Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Just doing my homework

Well, skiing isn't looking very promising this weekend. So, I am going to do my P&P homework since it looks like I will be in class after all.

The homework is to read the first chapter of the Yoga Sutras, something I have done many times before, only I have always used Alistair Shearer's translation, which I love.

BUT Sir recommends trying out different translations. This one I found online. When I got to verses 12 through 16, I had to stop and think for a while, and I am still thinking. Assiduous practice AND dispassionate detachment. It's a bit of any oxymoron, isn't it? Still thinking.

(The context is: the first four verses tell us to listen carefully because we are about to hear what yoga really is, and that yoga is the restraint of the mental fluctuations/modifications/internal noise that stand in the way of the true self (the seer/the divine aspect of ourselves/that which is the universal in all of us because it is pure consciousness, untouched by experience) from emerging. The next several verses tell us what mental fluctuations are, both pleasurable and unpleasurable. Then the we come to:)

12. abhyasa-vairagyabhyam tan-nirodhah.

The restraint of these mental modifications comes from assiduous practice (abhyasa) and through dispassionate detachment (vairagya).

13. tatra sthitau yatno 'bhyasah

Practice (abhyasa) is the continuous effort to abide in a steady state.

14. sa tu dirgha-kala-nairantarya-satkarasevito dridha-bhumih

This is indeed firmly grounded when it is persistently exercised for a long time, without interruption, and with earnest, reverential attention and devotion.

15. drishtanushravika-vishaya-vitrishnasya vashikara-sanjna vairagyam

Dispassionate detachment (vairagya) is the consciousness of perfect mastery in one who has ceased to crave for objects, seen or unseen.

16. tat param purusha-khyater guna-vaitrishnayam

That is the supreme dispassion when there is cessation of all craving for the attributes (gunas), owing to discernment of the Self (purusha).

It is challenging to consider how one can dedicate onesself to the persistent exericse of detaching onesself from all of that which is external and now one can cease craving for attributes owing to discernment of the "self". How does one persistently exercise the practice of non-attachment without attaching to the practice? How does one cease craving for attributes owing to discernment of the "self" when one hopes to connect more closely with the "self" that lies buried beneath the layers and layers of vrittis?

Can dispassion and steady commitment exist at once, like day and night exist in the Magritte painting pictured above? I look forward to hearing what Sir has to say about this...



samasthiti said...

I take that to mean, ardently practicing while detaching ones self fromn the outcome of the practice.
So practice hard just for the sake of the process, maybe you will reach Samadhi but don't think about it.

yoga chickie said...

I think that makes perfect sense. I don't love the use of the word "attributes" in the translation I cited. Maybe that is what was causing my confusion (see Verse 16).


samasthiti said...

Check out Desikachars and Iyengars take on the sutras. I really like them both for different reasons. Iyengar really goes through them, Desikachar on the other hand is quite condensed.
Don't get the one by Chip Hartranft(?), too disjunct and rambling....

Karen said...

Zen can make the whole issue of attachment really clear, and there are a couple of excellent centers in NYC, if you're curious.

Chogye International Zen Center of New York
400 East 14th Street, Apt. 2E
New York, NY 10009
(212) 353-0461

Manhattan Chogye Sah Temple
42 West 96th Street
New York, NY 10025
(212) 665-3641

samasthiti said...

I kinda feel like the Nike ad saying "Just Do It" explains it too.....

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