Tag Archive: jnanam bandaha

Untitled (and Jnanam Bandaha)

For me “untitled” as the “title” of a work of art means that the image speaks for itself and that to name it would be to bind the viewer from access to a “pure” and open response of his/her own.

In the yoga philosophy much is made of the fact that any attempt to describe mystical (for want of a better word) experience already veils or distorts the experience and that which has been experienced.

Sometimes, then, I show what I cannot say in words, recognizing that the camera, too, alters and separates the viewed and the viewer.

Jnanam bandaha, by the way, is the second sutra in the Siva Sutras and means roughly, knowledge is bondage. Later in the text, we are also told that knowledge alone liberates. It is a delicious paradox for contemplation.

Peace and light, E — Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.


Yoga Slow Dance (Making It All Improv)

The dance of yoga is about motion in stillness and stillness in motion, and in not letting oneself be frozen.  Stillness is the space between vibrations, instead of the shutting down or closing off vibration.  To experience the space between the vibrations (spanda) when changing shapes (poses; going from one thing to the next), one must emerge into the shape and disssolve out of it, with the expanding delight of the coming and going more important than achieving some precise, required shape to demonstrate self-control and mastery (not unlike the teaching in the Siva Sutra that knowledge both binds and liberates).


Devil in the Details (and jnanam bandaha)

The second sutra of the Siva Sutras is “jnanam bandhaha” (knowledge is bondage).  In the context of the Siva Sutras, this tells us that getting caught in trying to acquire knowledge of the manifest world and all of its infinite minutiae can lead us away from a sense of connection to a universal spirit.

We have the phrase in the work place that the “devil is in the details” both because getting caught up in the details can take us away of accomplishing a desired result and because the details need to be worked out to realize the result, and the details (not the theory) are the hard part.  At the societal level, for example, working out the details of a health care bill and how it will actually function seems to be preventing us, as a society, from offering health care to all.  On our yoga mats, we need to understand the details of physical alignment so that the practice strengthens and optimizes our health, rather than taking us physically and energetically out of alignment, but we do not want concentration on the details to take us away from heart and spirit.

The “devil may be in the details” but we cannot stop the details from being part of our existence.  As much as we need not to get so bogged down in the details that we have discord, distrust, unhappiness, and ineffectiveness, we also need to cultivate knowledge of the details.  As beings embodied in space and time in the manifest world, we need to cultivate knowledge so that we can recognize when the details are not in optimal alignment, so that we have sufficient knowledge, strength, intuition, and subtlety to be able to shift the details so that they lead towards good for ourselves individually and collectively.

What a devilish conundrum.