Monday, 2 January 2012

First Sury's of the first practice of 2012 plus 'Yoga, knowing the unknown'

OK, so next year I'm going full yogi no more big Christmas dinners or New Year martinis, settling on an acorn or two with Heston's pine flavoured icing sugar. Actually I'm thinking about Mysore next year, M's OK with it, see what the boss says but it's a quiet time so they might be happy with the idea.

My Ashtanga and Vinyasa Krama practice seem to be coexisting well enough at the moment, I keep them separate now, Straight Ashtanga in the evenings and a shorter, Integrated, Vinyasa Krama practice in the mornings with emphasis on pranayama and meditation.

See if I can keep a straight, by the book(ish) Ashtanga practice up for the next six months, if so then I'll think more seriously about Mysore.

First practice of the year.
When the weather got cooler I switched VK and Ashtanga around and started practicing Ashtanga in the evenings. My back had been playing up and was stiff as a board in the mornings, was taking a couple of hours to get it loosened up.

It's getting a little better, practiced 2nd series this morning (plan is five 2nd's with Friday Primary) but you can see from the video that I can only just touch the mat on the first Sury, you can see my back loosening up as has I progress through the Sury's. This is better than usual I tend to have to step back and forward for the first three or four if I practice in the mornings, evening is fine.

My morning ritual tends to be to get up at 5am, make M. lunch while having an espresso then step into the home shala ...which is where the video below picks it up. On the video I chant 3mins in, if your interested it the Ganesha and Patanjali prayer that Ramaswami used to start with, I have a soft spot for it (bit embarrassed about sharing that bit). I'm sure he'd cringe at my pronunciation (though try to hide it). Back creaking Sury's start 5 mins. in.



Wonderful newsletter from Ramaswami arrived this morning to start the month/year. I posted the full newsletter this morning but here are two sections I thought I'd highlight, whet the appetite as it were.

Ramaswami Asks

So what is the goal of all these systems like Yoga, Vedanta, Samkhya and others? Yes one may want to know the ultimate goal and also the intermediate goals before starting such endeavours. I heard the following story from my great aunt when I was young. Even as I read more authentic versions subsequently, I am sticking to my grandma's tale.

The Lord created the Universe and decided to populate the Universe. He created four young “humen” beings and asked them to populate the Universe. He implied that the lives in the Universe would be happy provided one would stick to Dharma. The four mind-children of the Lord (manasa putras) did not move. They could not take their wide eyes off the bewitching form of the Lord  They could not tear themselves away from the immensely satisfying immediate presence of the Lord, the formless Brahman. Their countenance indicated that they were perfectly happy. Looking at the Lord, the ultimate reality, they were brimming with bliss. The Lord realized that neither the normal nocturnal pleasures nor the huge heavenly happiness would anymore interest these beings. They had Kaivalya or Moksha even before they could be in bondage. They came to be known as nitya suris or perennial enlightened
ones.

The Lord still wanted to go ahead with his pet project of creating a Universe with different creatures and experiences. So he created the four-headed Brahma, one of the Indian Trinity, and bade him to create
beings including human beings. But the Lord created Brahma this time with Brahma's back to Him so that Brahma would not see Him and attain instant nirvana like the earlier ones. Brahma duly chanted “OM', the pranava mantra, and created the universe and the creatures . All beings thereafter went about their life cycles feverishly looking for some crumbs of happiness here and there in the midst of widespread unhappiness. There was never a chance to escape this unending cycle of births and deaths. Since everyone from Brahma downwards had never experienced the ultimate reality, people were looking outward for happiness. Thus even though the Lord is said to have entered every being and resided as pure consciousness in everyone, nobody knew what was “behind the back” as it were. Someone had to say “Look Inward”.

The Lord decided that there should be an escape route (nivritti marga) for some of those who were earnestly looking for liberation. He then asked one of the Nitya suris, Sanatkumara to help  the deserving human beings to achieve moksha or liberation. Sanatkumara then was born to Siva, the third of the Trinity, as Kumara or Skanda. Because he had the direct experience of the Lord, the ultimate reality, he was astonished at the complete ignorance of all the beings about the ultimate reality. He even went up to Brahma, the creator aspect of the Trinity, and asked about how he started creation and if he knew the ultimate reality. Brahma said that he did it after chanting “OM” as mentioned in the vedas. Then Kumara promptly asked him for the meaning of  “OM”, the pranava mantra and Brahma fumbled. “No, I do not know that” said Brahma sheepishly. Kumara became angry and said that Brahma was incompetent. Promptly Kumara imprisoned Brahma and took over creation himself. Soon enough all those he created were like him and quickly the original scheme of the Lord of sustainable creation was coming to naught. Siva, the third of the Trinity and father of Kumara, then went up to him and asked him to release Brahma and let him do his work. But Kumara refused and said that the person who does not know the meaning of OM, the name/mantra of the Ultimate Reality, Brahman, is incompetent to do such an important task as creation. Siva said that he himself did not know the meaning of OM and casually asked the enlightened son for the meaning of Pranava. Kumara said that he would teach him, provided his father would study under him following strictly all the rules of a student. Siva agreed and became a disciple of his own son. Skanda taught him the meaning of OM and Siva became enlightened. Skanda  then came to be known as 'tahappan swami” (Tamil) or “lord/preceptor/guru of one's own father”.  Brahma also learnt it and was then released by Kumara to continue his work. Siva then devised a method of understanding the ultimate reality, the Brahman or Purusha. It came to be known as Yoga, a very arduous procedure which only a few were able  or willing to undertake and they came to be called as Yogis. Siva then bade Patanjali to formulate the yogia system which became the source book for all those who would like to take the 'spiritual' path and realize the ultimate reality which according to the Upanishad is Brahman. But the desire for liberation (mumukshatva) does not come about easily. It needs right information and a lot of persuasion and convincing. Even the most cultured intellectual (vidusha) has a thick veil of avidya in so far as 'spiritual' goal is concerned, the old texts aver as in the case of even the four headed Brahma. So the old foundation  texts like the Upanishads, the Bhagavat Gita, the Yoga Sutra, the Samkhya philosophy, several puranas like the Bhagavata Purana, try multiple methods to wean away the disgruntled from the mundane existence to the 'spiritual' path.


-----------------------------------

There's another section I wanted to pick out from Ramaswami's Newsletter

'...But how can we trust the upanishads or philosophies like Samkhya or Yoga? Yes that is the main problem for many. These thought systems are called Agamas or traditional authentic systems indicating that they are given to human beings for the general good and the  prima facie view is that they are valid. The first information is gotten from these works and that knowledge is known as paroksha or indirect,
usually highly academic. Many stop at that and excel in that intellectual indirect experience. Then one contemplates and then possibly gets convinced about the correctness when it is known as anumana or inferential knowledge. And finally by deep meditation, one pointedness (ekeagrata chitta), and Samadhi one is able to directly experience the state that was not there to start with which these works talk about. It is then known as pratyaksha or yougika pratyaksha or direct perception through Yoga. Thus the old texts lead us, slowly but surely, from the known to the superior unknown '.

To read the whole Newsletter see the previous post or Ramaswami's Newsletter page here. The last three years of newsletters have been brought together into three volumes and can be downloaded for free from my Google Docs page .

2 comments:

  1. Loving the video clip! Like seeing the little rituals and comparing to mine. My back's just as stiff in the first surys and I don't have any back problems!! (Touches wood)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Did you notice the little candle sun thing, found it in a charity shop, kind of stupid but I feel it makes the room seem warmer on a cold morning. Back does seem to be improving, 2nd again this morning and it behaved, that's at 8am though see what it's like at 5;30 tomorrow.

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A Reminder

from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi This blog included.

"So, as I said, Kalamas: 'Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering" — then you should abandon them.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

"Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them. Buddha - Kalama Sutta
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