In the course of classes, assisting, library work etc. there is much teaching available. Senior teachers guide, books and videos educate and so on. Often in the classes for the advanced students, there is an exhortation to learn, to catch what is unsaid but available as experience. That is the heuristic process the teachers would like us to embark upon.
In the process of learning, the architect is really the student. The teacher, teachings rain their bounty but it could either soak and seep into one’s being or then run off. There needs to be preparation, there needs to be a strong why behind the desire to learn. Sometimes it is easy to slip into the metric of years of experience to determine readiness, but it is not a hard and fast criterion. The preparation is more a cultivation of the heart and is available to all.
It has been interesting to see how all that I dabbled in over the last few years has now begun to start coming together. Whether memorising, rereading, writing or blogging, they all have served richly. As M and I continue to read, I see that connections to texts I’ve read earlier arise spontaneously. And that in turn makes me look at related sutras. At the heart of yoga is the Yoga sutras of Patanjali. It circles back to the aphorisms every time. As a text, it is ever fresh.
The invocation to Sage Patanjali at the start of every single session is a powerful reminder of everything we need to remember as yoga practitioners. What is expected as preparation, what is to be explored, the pitfalls and the promise. The invocation we chant at the beginning is an act of devotion, a reminder to ourselves about the twin practices of abhyasa and vairagyam. It is a remembering of our teachers, Gurus and their Gurus all the way until the principle of Patanjali. There can be no true grace in learning without surrender.
Secular studies don’t ask this of its students. But, journeys of the spirit call for the courage to surrender to the unknown. Shraddha, Virya, Smriti and Samadhi Prajna form the base of one’s studentship. The second pada begins with the kriya of sadhana. Core of the yoga sutras has an entire chapter devoted to Sadhana Krama which opens the four aspects of this krama- sodhana, sosana, sobhana and samana. The journey of one’s sadhana is from the body to the Self even if it may not culminate there for most of us. It is the direction in which we proceed.
Abhyasa is primarily to remove the antarayas that afflict us. That requires the laser focus of practice devoted to a single principle. At the crux of it, abhyasa is a practice of purification. From sattva shuddhi comes the yogyata or eligibility. It is brilliant, the beautiful way in which the sutras factor in all aspects of human psychology while laying out a system for self realizatiion.
Sometimes I wonder if the initial purpose of this blog is served anymore. It started because I couldn’t find anything that I could relate to as a raw beginner. Asanas, yes but more than that, I sought to understand what I might expect along the way. I’m still a beginner but there has been a shift from that arambhavastha and the reflections here have mirrored that. But, this has also been a space to document my meander. I’ve decided to do something I did a couple of years back, stay with one thought from an old calendar. This month’s thought is, ‘Yoga is awareness’. Hopefully, I may wrap up the contemplation with a post.