June 21, 2011

I recently found this draft of a post for class on May 9th.  Although adding it now takes us out of chronological order, I think it’s worth including. We had just entered into Book II of the Yoga-Sutra and were beginning to look at Patanjali’s concept of the kleshas, the “primal causes of suffering.” That week’s sutra focused on the first klesha, avidya. If you want a reminder of the five kleshas, scroll down to May 15th.

II, 4
Ignorance (i.e. avidya) is the fertile soil, and as a consequence, all other obstacles persist.
They may exist in any state—dormant, feeble, intermittent, or fully operative.

Click here to listen to my May 9 Dharma Talk.  I’m talking about the kleshas as a way to understand addictive behavior patterns.  That was the night I told the story about the Canadian geese on the towpath and driving to class with my dirty windshield.

Here’s a lovely Zen story that illustrates how life looks when we’re stuck behind the second klesha, asmita (attachment to story) planted in the fertile soil of avidya (ignorance).

A potential student went to see a Zen master and asked: “If I work really hard, how long will it take to become enlightened.”  The Zen master looked at the man and said “Ten years.”

“No, no,” the man said, “I mean to really work at it –“

The Zen master cut him off. “I’m sorry, I misjudged you–twenty years.”

“Wait,” the man blurted out, “I’m very serious, you don’t understand–“

“Thirty years,” said the Zen master.

June 17, 2011

We continue our Patanjali journey, entering into the text more deeply each week. We’re now chanting a group of nine sutras that, in a sense, contain the essence of the entire system. I’ll post those here along with a sound clip from class on Monday 6/13. But first, here’s an excerpt of the first 13 minutes of that night’s dharma talk:

I also want to include the beautiful Goethe poem I read at the end of class. I’ve no idea if Goethe studied Yoga. Most likely he did not. But clearly, he experienced the Wisdom Fire…

The Holy Longing
Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
[tr. Robert Bly]
Tell a wise person or else keep silent,
Because the massman will mock it right away.
I praise what is truly alive,
What longs to be burned to death.

In the calm water of the love-nights,
Where you were begotten, where you have begotten,
A strange feeling comes over you
When you see the silent candle burning.

Now you are no longer caught
In the obsession with darkness,
And a desire for higher love-making
Sweeps you upward.

Distance does not make you falter,
Now, arriving in magic, flying,
And, finally, insane for the light,
You are the butterfly and you are gone.

And so long as you haven’t experienced
This: to die and so to grow,
You are only a troubled guest
On the dark earth.

Finally, here are the nine sutras we’re now chanting. This recording is a bit heavy on harmonium and the chant is still in learning mode. In other words, not the best all around quality. Nevertheless, I’m uploading it here as a learning tool for those who want to chant at home.  Enjoy!

Book I
1.   atha  yogānushāsanam
2.   yogah  chitta  vritti  nirodhah
3.   tadā  drashtuh  svarupe  avasthānam

Book II
1.   tapah svādhyāyā iśvara-pranidhānāni kriyā yogah
2.   samādhi bhāvana arthah kleśa tanu karana-arthah ca
3.   avidyā asmitā rāga dvesha abhiniveśāh pancha kleśā
29. yama niyama asana prānāyāma pratyāhāra dhārāna dhyāna samādhayo astau-angani
30. ahimsa satya asteya brahmacarya aparigraha yamah
32. śauca santosha tapah svādhyāyā iśvara-pranidhānāni niyamāh