If there’s one thing that’s certain- no matter how many times you read the lines in The Yoga Sutras- they are the type that reveal themselves to you differently each time. The two below are the first of this classical Yogic Text - a how-to manual for spiritual progress. Patanjali, the revered author of The Yoga Sutras, wrote the manual a few hundred years BC and he summarizes the entirety of the path in these two phrases.
Atha Yoga Anushasanam
I will now review for you how we become whole.
Yogash chitta virtti nirodhah
We become whole by stopping how the mind turns.
The key word in the first sutra is ‘Yoga.’ The term arises from the root yuj, which essentially means to connect, unite, or join. We’ve all heard the colloquial mantra of the 60’s and new age traditions that assert ‘we are all one.’ But notions of one-ness, wholeness, and connection leave a lot to be unpacked. What does it mean to be ‘one’ with something or someone else? Does that mean literally? Mystically? Karmically? Or that we are somehow of the same essence? What does it mean in real-life and real-time to connect, join or find one-ness? In the upcoming Yoga Sutras Course, we’ll explore the deep philosophical ideas of yoga to ground our understanding in logic and intuitive wisdom and extend these learnings into the areas of our lives where it matters most.
The second line teaches that it is our constant, unchecked, tape-recorder like thinking that must stop for us to find wholeness. If you’ve been around the yoga block, you’ve probably heard this line a dozen times… but hang on a second, there’s something incredibly interesting to behold here and it’s very subtle. Maybe you’ve worked to quiet your mind and started to touch something deeper, more peaceful, and integrated within. Interesting. But is that it? We simply touch a feeling of peace during a good meditation every now and again and we move into the world a little more grounded and friendlier? It’s pleasant- but not the entire story. Perhaps what is most interesting of all is what is revealed to us about the nature of our minds and the nature of our reality when we get very very quiet. And how what is revealed (a topic we’ll discuss in great length) leads to a felt sense of wholeness or one-ness actually. For real. And not in a pretend or theoretical kind of way. When what is revealed about the nature of things starts to stick with you and drastically changes the way you think about your day to day interactions… in your career, in your relationships, in your yoga class, etc. something much greater than pleasantries can arise. I’m talking about radical kindness. Extraordinary service. Unstoppable love. Now that, my fellow yogins, is interesting.
Class starts NEXT Thursday 2/27 7-8:30. Space is limited; please pre-register here.