Tag Archive: siva sutras

Found Exhortation

The artist who penned this exhortation here was highly unlikely to have intended it to have anything to do with “udyamo bhairava“–roughly, the upsurging of capitol “C” Consciousness. Siva Sutras I.5.

But if one were in the mood, one (not an academic, though), might suggest that the exhortation to rise up to one’s fullest potential, to refuse to be shackled by the oppressiveness of certain socioeconomic circumstances (I leave what those might be to your experience, knowledge, and education), as an example of one of the infinitude of ways Consciousness likes to upsurge itself towards itself.

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


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).


New Spinach (and Udyamo Bhairava)

The fifth sutra in Abhinavagupta’s Siva Sutras, is “udyamo bhairava” — the great upsurge of consciousness.  When we are open and aware, we can witness this upsurge, the very pulsing of life energy in all that is in and around us, from the springing up of thought in our minds to the burgeoning of spring.  The more we practice and live attentively, the more we will see the joy in this upwelling.

When I go out into the garden on the early spring days to see what needs to be cut back, what is volunteering, and what is coming up from fall plantings, I approach with great openness.  When we plant in the fall, we do not know with any certainty what kind of winter we will have.  Although the long-range forecast was for colder than normal with precipitation near normal (which translates into more than average snow), who could have expected three mammoth snow storms?

I plant with hope and some expectation, but am ready for the loss of some perennials, the failure of some seeds to germinate, and the unexpected pleasure of experiments working or welcome volunteers.  This steady planting without specific expectation, with openness to discovery, with joy and attention to the miraculousness of what rises up in the spring, is a very tangible example of what I read in the yoga philosophy.  It is how I, I believe, we most optimally would approach asana and meditation, as well as all aspects of our daily being.

Below:  new spinach coming up in a container from seeds I planted around Thanksgiving from an expiring packet.


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.


Why Study Yoga? (and Pete Seeger’s 90th)

In the session yesterday, in discussing the Siva Sutras, Paul Muller-Ortega said that the whole of the teachings are in the very first sutra, even in the first word (caitanyam — consciousness).  For students who, on hearing the first word from their teacher,  say “got it, I understand fully,” no further teaching is necessary.  For the students who say, “please explain further, what does it mean?” more elaboration is needed.

What does it mean, though, to “get it?”  What do we do with the teachings of yoga?  How do we integrate them into our lives?  I practice and study yoga because it is teaching me how to be stronger, more flexible, more grounded, and better able to serve.  Some people I know already have that.  They are already living the yoga, so they do not need the details and the practices.

As a reminder of one who has been living a rich, full life of service and love, enjoy this video of Pete Seeger in honor of his 90th birthday.  (If you cannot see this link, please just do a search for videos, using your favorite search engine.)