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Best of Yoga Philosophy

Best of Yoga Philosophy–Past Two Weeks

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Best of Yoga Philosophy
A Virtual Magazine & Forum

The  very best Yoga philosophy articles from all over the Web.

Follow daily on
Pinterest (best browsing), facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin

Please pass the word to your friends who like Yoga philosophy.
Thank you for your interest and support.

Bob W. Editor

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My Dinner with Vyasa: The Legendary Author of the Bhagavad Gita Comes Out of Hiding to Answer All Our Questions (After 2300 Years) ~ Bob Weisenberg ~ “Ok, let’s get down to brass tacks. What’s the biggest misconception about the Bhagavad Gita you’d like to clear up for our readers?”

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Reconnecting with Real Yoga: Teaching in Cook County Jail ~ Carol Horton ~ “I hope that more yoga practitioners will be inspired to get real, cut through the crap, and practice in ways that really do open your heart and mind…”

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Ramesh Bjonnes

Who Invented Yoga? ~ Ramesh Bjonnes ~ “Unlike what some contemporary yoga writers claim, there is no need to resort to unsubstantiated mythology or hearsay to prove that yoga is a lot older than 100 years…”

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Photo: The Beatles' Guru in an odd but fascinating 1968 film, in which we see the Maharishi strolling the shore of the spectacular Lake Louise, holding a rose in his hand, and invoking the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita. http://theuncarvedblog.com/2013/09/24/watch-the-1968-film-of-maharishi-at-lake-louise/

The Beatles’ Guru in an odd but fascinating 1968 film, in which we see the Maharishi strolling the shore of the spectacular Lake Louise, holding a rose in his hand, and invoking the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita.

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Dharma in the Christian West – Robert A. Jonas – The Interfaith Observer ~ “In fact, there is a non-dual tradition in Christianity, but most Christians, especially Protestants, know nothing about it…”

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Bill-Mahony-41

contemplation & devotion: an interview with bill mahony ~ Roseanne Harvey ~ “While we live in a world that could not have been imagined in earlier eras, in some important ways the sages, philosophers and teachers of yoga in distant times faced the same challenges we do. Like us, for example, they sought to understand what it means to live a life touched by joy and illumined by compassion, understanding, and commitment, even in a world that can bring disappointment and sorrow…”

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Gurus, Seekers, and Being Accountable - Phil Goldberg (Author of

Gurus, Seekers, and Being Accountable – Phil Goldberg (Author of “American Veda”) ~ “We learned a lot about this model of spiritual development in the 1970s, when baby boomers flocked to the gurus who suddenly became prominent on the heels of the Beatles’ sojourn in India…”

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The Touch & Taste of Death ~ David Garrigues ~

The Touch & Taste of Death ~ David Garrigues ~ ” I dropped grudges, animosities, everything petty and irrelevant in my mind; nearly everything that was worrying me, all the fearful thoughts that were occupying my attention just moments before, vanished with the speed of a lightning strike…”

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Bob Profile PhotoBob Weisenberg is Editor of Best of Yoga Philosophy and former Yoga Editor & Assoc. Publisher of elephant journal. He is the author of Yoga Demystified, Bhagavad Gita in a Nutshell, and Leadership Is Like Tennis, Not Egyptology. as well as Co-editor of Yoga in America and a contributor to The Poetry of Yoga. Contact Bob at facebook, Twitter, or e-mail.

 

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Best of Yoga Philosophy

Best of Yoga Philosophy for the Week

Public Domain

Hi, everyone.

As many of you know, I tried my best to retire (again) last year. But then this new project came up that I just couldn’t resist:

a virtual magazine and forum devoted to Yoga philosophy.

Every day I select the best Yoga philosophy articles on the Internet and post the links to Pinterest, facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin. You read the articles that interest you, and join in the discussions, if so moved.

Waylon saw what I was doing and generously invited me to post all my recommendations on elephant, and I’m happy to take him up on his offer. Below are my choices for this week.

Please help spread the word through friends and social media. Thank you for your interest and support.

Warmly,

Bob

Photo: Pixoto

Beginner’s Mind, or Why I Got My Guitar Out Again After All These Years.
Jess Hicks ~ Jul 15, 2013
Love this article. –Bob W.

~

Treating Trauma with Yoga. ~ Nicki Mosley ~ July 12, 2013 ~ " Why not invite a person fragmented by trauma into a system of practice which is defined as ‘union’ to support their process re-integrating their fragments?"

Treating Trauma with Yoga.
Nicki Mosley ~ July 12, 2013
“Why not invite a person fragmented by trauma into a system of practice
which is defined as ‘union’ to support their process re-integrating their fragments?”

~

Yoga Wisdom at Work: Finding Sanity off the Mat & on the Job. ~ Marlena Rich {Book Review} ~ Jul 11, 2013 ~ Good review.  See my comment at the end. --Bob W.

Yoga Wisdom at Work: Finding Sanity off the Mat & on the Job.
Marlena Rich {Book Review} ~ Jul 11, 2013
Good review. See my comment at the end. –Bob W.

~

Discussion of the Week:

In Praise of American Yoga ~Carol Horton ~ July 11, 2013 ~ "Of course, it’s tempting to pit “commercial” versus “authentic” yoga (or whatever) to dramatize a valid critique. Yet setting up such hard-and-fast categories carries a cost..."

In Praise of American Yoga
Carol Horton ~ July 11, 2013
“Of course, it’s tempting to pit “commercial” versus “authentic” yoga
(or whatever) to dramatize a valid critique. Yet setting up such
hard-and-fast categories carries a cost…”

~

Practical Magic ~ Martha Beck ~ July 11, 2013 ~ This is why I have a section called "Related Articles & Sites" on Best of Yoga Philosophy--so I can post great "not-Yoga-per-se" articles like this one! --Bob W.

Practical Magic
Martha Beck ~ July 11, 2013
This is why I have a section called “Related Articles & Sites” on Best of Yoga Philosophy
–so I can post great “not-Yoga-per-se” articles like this one! –Bob W.

~

Love Potion: How Yoga Blew Open My Imperfect Heart. ~ Jeannine Ouelletteon ~ Jul 11, 2013 ~ "The love between us was always there—I knew that—but practicing yoga brought it to the surface in a way that made me cry again and again. I began to understand that wonderful need not be perfect..."

Love Potion: How Yoga Blew Open My Imperfect Heart.
Jeannine Ouelletteon ~ Jul 11, 2013
“The love between us was always there—I knew that—but practicing yoga
brought it to the surface in a way that made me cry again and again.
I began to understand that wonderful need not be perfect…”

~

This moved me this morning --Bob W. "my spine is mostly metal now, but I have never felt so human..." ~ Robert Sturman   ~ July 10, 2013.

“my spine is mostly metal now, but I have never felt so human…”
Robert Sturman ~ July 10, 2013
This moved me this morning –Bob W.

~

Classic Article from the Past:

My Art As My Yoga. ~ Katarina Silva ~ Feb 25, 2011 ~ "And that’s when it happened. I let my heartache become my yoga practice: the very experience that reconnects me with my deepest core, my most confident self, the me that always feels loved, my own divine nature, inner bliss!"

My Art As My Yoga.
Katarina Silva ~ Feb 25, 2011
“And that’s when it happened. I let my heartache become my yoga practice:
the very experience that reconnects me with my deepest core, my most confident self,
the me that always feels loved, my own divine nature, inner bliss!”

~

Are You a Yoga Slacker? ~ Hally Marlino ~ Love it, Hally.  Note from Bob W.--"I think I need to recite this again out loud just to enjoy the ebullient rhythms of your writing. I don't usually post yoga class articles to Best of Yoga Philosophy, but this is an exception! Thanks."

Are You a Yoga Slacker?
Hally Marlino ~ July 9, 2013
I think I need to recite this again out loud just to
enjoy the ebullient rhythms of your writing. I don’t
usually post yoga class articles to Best of Yoga Philosophy,
but this is an exception! Thanks. –Bob W.

~

Can the Truth Come Back With a Capital “T”? ~ Deepak Chopra, M.D., Menas C. Kafatos, Ph.D., P. Murali Doraiswamy, MBBS, and Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D. ~ July 9, 2013 ~ Though not labeled Yoga Philosophy per se, this is so close to the thinking of the ancient yoga sages, that I consider it a "must read".  What do you think?

Can the Truth Come Back With a Capital “T”?
Deepak Chopra, M.D., Menas C. Kafatos, Ph.D.,
P. Murali Doraiswamy, MBBS, and Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D.
July 9, 2013
Though not labeled Yoga Philosophy per se, this is so close to the
thinking of the ancient yoga sages, that I consider it a “must read”.
What do you think? –Bob W.

~

"What do you care about with nearly insane passion? What do you want to give to the world? What do you want to leave behind you when you leave this world?" ~ David Garrigues ~ Jul 8, 2013

Ashtanga as a Path to Shamanism.
David Garrigues ~ Jul 8, 2013
“What do you care about with nearly insane passion?
What do you want to give to the world? What do you want to leave
behind you when you leave this world?”

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Bob Meets Baba: Entrepreneur Meets Sadhu.

The following exchange originally appeared in 2010 in the comment section of Brooks Hall’s provocative blog Slim, Sexy Yogini + Car, and what the heck are we sayin’ here at Elephant? 

In one of those strange juxtapositions that sometimes happens in the Yoga blogging world, I found myself in a passionate debate with Baba Rampuri, who moved to India in his teens and is one of the few Westerners to become a full-fledged Indian Sadhu, or Holy Man.  He wrote a book about his experience called Autobiography of a Sadhu: a Journey into Mystic India 

So now we have a thirty-year veteran software entrepreneur turned Yoga writer debating weighty matters of Yoga history and Western historical methodology with an American who has spent those same thirty years living in India immersed in the most profound and authentic Yoga spirituality.   Does that sound like fun to you?

Next thing I know, Baba posted our entire discussion on his own blog, which I told Baba was “a very great honor”, and I meant it.  This generated thirty-one further fascinating comments on its own (which I have not reproduced here, but which you can read here at Baba’s site: Who Owns Yoga: Elephant Discussion with Bob Weisenberg ).

With that introduction, I hope you enjoy this interchange.  It won’t take you long to decide whether this is irresistibly riveting or a big snore for you.  It is definitely a specialized interest!

~~~

Bob Weisenberg says:

Brooks, This is a brilliant piece.

As you probably know by now, I’m a Yoga Universalist. I embrace and enjoy Yoga in all its forms.

…I Iove the diversity. I think the Yoga pie is infinitely expandable. There is plenty of pie for everyone and I see no need to push one thing over another. I see absolutely no turf or purity to protect. All forms of Yoga help support each other.

Let it all explode in every direction and each individual will gravitate to the type of Yoga that is right for them. We don’t need to lead anybody to the true path. We just need to keep it all out there and visible.

I have faith in the individual. I don’t think people are so malleable and manipulatable that they will end up in the wrong place for them.

People with a more spiritual bent will quickly move from [exercise yoga] to more spiritual kinds of Yoga. Those for whom it is a good fit will quickly find [the right blogs and books] and learn about more traditional Yoga.

Those who aren’t so spiritually inclined, or, more commonly, have their spiritual needs met in other ways because they are already Christian or Jewish or Buddhist or Muslim or whatever, will still be better off for the health and fitness-oriented ….

People will find what’s right for them, given their individual interests and other spiritual involvements they already have.

The only thing to keep people from finding the right Yoga for them is never hearing about it in the first place. So, in my opinion, the more entry points and exposure points of all types there are, the better.

So, I am unconcerned about the Tara Stiles approach to Yoga.

That said, your blog above is one of the most balanced, fair-minded, and eloquent essays I’ve ever read on why I should be.

Fantastic work. Great thinking. Great writing.

Bravissimo!

Bob Weisenberg
YogaDemystified

Baba Rampuri says:

Bob, the attitude that all people in their own ways should find truth, happiness, and knowledge is the mark of a yogi, and I highly commend you for that. And to be a Yoga Universalist, if that Universalism is devoid of ideology, is clearly a mark of the yogi. Bravo.

Yoga, being many different things to different people, has truly broken away from its original context in Indian culture, and established its own rapidly expanding identity. And why shouldn’t people be able to invent new forms of yoga, as we do regularly these days? Put their ideas and theories into practice. And by this, people have the freedom to shop for the brand of yoga that suits their requirements best.

My question is about the yogas not mentioned in Yoga Journal, such as the Yoga of War, Greed Yoga, Me Yoga, and the Yoga of Selfishness. Do these forms of modern yoga not have their place, so that all people have the freedom to choose? There’s a lot of people practicing the above. We can see that as in any marketplace there is also the Yoga of Competition, and sometimes the competition means that one person’s Greed Yoga interferes with someone else’s Eat to Survive Yoga.

Imagine how long it takes nature to make a diamond. And among all the magnificent diamonds She creates, there is the Queen of Diamonds, the Koh-i-Nur. Imagine using that diamond to cut glass. A practical person might say, “Well, at least it has a real use!” But then, using our human genius, we invent a technology with which we cut glass with even more precision, and no longer require the Koh-i-Nur, so we put Her in the attic, in the box of antiquated technology along with our old computers.

We are very gullible. We believe what has been successfully marketed to us by people who are good at marketing. We fell for George Bush and now Obama. We will fall for just about anything, if presented in a well constructed narrative.

Yoga, in its former context was about “connection,” not consumption, about the fantastic, not fantasy.

Bob Weisenberg says:

Hi, Baba. Thanks for writing this fascinating comment.

I know you’re living Yoga at its roots, but “Yoga in its former context was…not…about the fantastic, not fantasy”

Even the spare, bare-bones, austere Yoga Sutra itself finds the time to get all excited about:
–Levitation
–Invisibility
–Acquiring the strength of an elephant
–Seeing previous lives
–Walking on water
–Entering another’s body, and
–Traveling through space

The conservative translator Chip Hartranft goes so far as to imply that Patanjali probably didn’t believe in these paranormal powers himself, but felt compelled to include them to appeal to those who did, i.e. for marketing purposes.

I’m not an expert like you are, but don’t you think you’re vastly understating the tumultuous history of Yoga? It seems that from the beginning it’s been about competing forms of Yoga and the marketing of them.

Here’s a good quote from Hartranft which illustrates all three of my points above:

…in the millennium preceding Patanjali, the possession of superhuman capabilities came to be considered a sine qua non of spiritual leadership, as the brahmnical priestly class competed [emphasis added] with a growing cadre of ascetic spiritual teachers (sramanas) whose appeal derived not so much form ritual or sacrifice as from meditative attainment. Thus, nearly every new teacher and program–including even the budda-dharma–boasted or at least acknowledged a range of magical powers.

Thanks again for writing, Baba, and for forcing me to think these things through.

Baba Rampuri says:

Bob,
 thank you for turning me on to Chip Hartranft. I just read his very insightful interview, “The Yoga-Sūtra as Practice,” which is I believe what you quote. It’s so refreshing to read someone so knowledgeable & dedicated to understanding and teaching yoga.

We have a very curious challenge when we interpret events, texts, recorded things that happened many years ago. One of the great weaknesses in the Human Sciences, and I am pointing at History, is we make these interpretations as if they were happening today, in the midst of our own culture and discourse. We live in a very dominant culture that is especially adept at this kind of agency.

We assign cultural attributes such as consumption, choice, and ideology, as well as the machine of mass media and the marketing of ideas to all time and all place. Curious that the theory the Aryan Invasion of India arose as European powers ruled most of the world as colonies, and they could say, “It’s always been done like this.”

But, no, Patanjali was not into marketing. He didn’t have an office, and there wasn’t much of a market, anyway, for what he taught. He didn’t have any books, there was no such thing as flyers, and no media with which to reach the “public,” if we can even use that word. He did possess texts, however. But they were in his head. Things were not read, they were articulated. He sat at the dhuni, his sacred fire, among his disciples. No one was writing down his words. It’s not that they were illiterate, quite the contrary, they were master grammarians. Patanjali didn’t feel the sudden need to express himself and give future generations the secrets of yoga. He didn’t get ideas and develop an ideology he wanted to sell. To who? For what? The ideas weren’t even his. They belonged to his lineage, passed down from generation to generation. His culture, teachings, and knowledge even though local, had access to information from the entire known world. There was no competition for market share, the market didn’t exist!

How do I know this? I’ve lived inside of this for 40 years. Patanjali is spoken of as if living down the street or as if way back in the 20th century. Yes, we are a couple of thousand years down the road, but inside these traditions, there are many things that have no reason to change very dramatically over the millenia.

There is only so much truth one can glean from Academic research, and what you quote from Chip about the Brahmanical priestly caste competing with sramanas is patently untrue, as both sides were Brahmins. This is a symbiotic relationship that I guess one can only understand by living it.

One must never allow the Academy to hold authority over Esoteric Tradition.

All that being said, I see no problem whatsoever with “yoga business.” Compete by all means! Market yourselves! Think of how many of us would have to go out and get a real job, if it wasn’t there. But why not call it what it is: a wonderful business that makes people healthier, more relaxed, and possibly a bit more aware of themselves and their surroundings. Why confuse this with Yoga Tradition, such as that of Patanjali? That only obscures both sides.

Here’s the issue: there is enormous value that lies in the Knowledge of Patanjali and others, and we are losing access to that value. Not because the Knowledge is going anywhere, but because our Speech, which has been reduced to the Speech of Consumption, the Speech of the Marketplace, is no longer able to connect with it. Our most valuable of all yogic assets has been handed over to Mr. McDonald.

Bob Weisenberg says:

Hi, Baba Rampuri.

No one really knows that level of detail about exactly what Patanjali was like. Historians can’t even pinpoint when he lived beyond a range of a few centuries.

It seems to me the competition of ideas is very clear in the ancient texts themselves, especially the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita.

I don’t know the full extent of what you mean by the Esoteric Tradition, but devout practitioners are notoriously unreliable as truthful chroniclers of accurate history, even though they can provide a lot of important source material and historical hypotheses.

I don’t know what you mean by “handed over to Mr. McDonald”. Any broad-brush statement like this about Yoga in America is wrong on the surface because American Yoga is astoundingly diverse, from Tara Styles to the Himalayan Institute.

I’m guessing that if one had the data, it would show that far more people are being exposed to good solid traditional Yoga Sutra training today than 10 years ago. Just look at the proliferation of ancient text and commentary book sales. (I am personally about to read Edwin Bryant’s 600 page “New Edition, Translation, and Commentary”, which just came out). Same with the number of Americans traveling to India for study in traditional ashrams.

In what way are we “losing access to that value”? It seems to me access is increasing along with access to everything else Yoga.

I wonder if you could address my response to your original point about fantasy.

Baba Rampuri says:

Bob, thank you for getting this going and for the important questions you are bringing up. I think this is an area that merits a lot of discussion these days.

I’m sorry for my long-windedness, I’m just taking advantage of not restricting it to 140 characters.

“No one really knows that level of detail about exactly what Patanjali was like. Historians can’t even pinpoint when he lived beyond a range of a few centuries.”

I think you mean “no one, that you know of, among Western academics know that level of detail…”  But among some traditions in India, there are those that know the minutest details about Patanjali and others.  I have known a number of yogis in my own lineage who have had this knowledge.  Historians may not know, but there are others that can tell you the day of the week he was born, under which star, and anything else you would like to know using the sky as the clock, because that’s how the oral tradition has always measured time.  When Western astronomy finally discovered the precession of the equinox, Indian historians had already been using it for thousands of years.

“It seems to me the competition of ideas is very clear in the ancient texts themselves, especially the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita.”

Certainly as represented by those who consider competition among ideologies the “normal” and it is in our current discourse, and translated and read by those assuming a universal competition among ideologies as always being the normal state of culture everywhere, it is not hard to interpret many things out of an old text, read out of the context for which it was composed and used.  For one thing, it was never READ!  It was heard, it was memorized, and it was articulated.  Sort of like our White House Press correspondents.

What you are referring to are sacred texts.  They were not available in any market – they were not even books.  You had to be an educated Brahmin to understand the recitation, and that’s the only access there was to them.  The texts were not arguments that people would agree or disagree with, there was no debate.  This is before literary criticism, which came thousands of years later, what we had in its place was “commentary.”  The texts, in fact, are so loaded, that their true value and magnificence could only be understood by an elite that had access to the commentary.  And commentary was also memorized and passed down, so these texts never stood alone, they were always accompanied by a very sophisticated context and exegesis.  Without the context, the content may be wonderful, enlightening, and beautiful, but what the text actually is, what value it actually possesses, is lost.

So, to superimpose cultural values of our present Age of Consumption, upon a sacred text of an elite group of highly educated members of a priestly caste living thousands of years ago can’t possibly produce results other than what some people can obtain by reading tea leaves in a cup, which some people can actually do.

We can become inspired by great literature even in translation, it can give us amazing new thoughts and directions, we can realize certain knowledge – but all this doesn’t put us in a position to now represent this text, or this tradition without having the authority to do so.

If we were in the Halls of Academia, playing by their rules, this discussion would be very different, because we would assign authority to the consensus of academic work on Sanskrit texts or Indian History or other departments of the Human Sciences.  But since we are dealing with Yoga, then let’s be clear about who is informing us.

“I don’t know the full extent of what you mean by the Esoteric Tradition, but devout practitioners are notoriously unreliable as truthful chroniclers of accurate history, even though they can provide a lot of important source material and historical hypotheses.”

Esoteric tradition means that whatever might be in a text is not enough, and if someone wants the real stuff, the inside knowledge, how something “really” works, he or she requires inside access and inside instruction.  If you want to make a blockbuster Hollywood film, you had better have inside access and inside instruction.  Reading a book about it just won’t do.

If the people on the inside are unreliable, then how is that people on the outside are reliable when they only have artifacts.  This is the agency a dominant culture assumes, that the locals’ knowledge must be represented by the Colonizer, because the locals are not objective about their own knowledge (history included), i.e., they don’t have the same categories and methodologies as the Imperium.

“I don’t know what you mean by “handed over to Mr. McDonald”. Any broad-brush statement like this about Yoga in America is wrong on the surface because American Yoga is astoundingly diverse, from Tara Styles to the Himalayan Institute.”

I mean by that, exchanging a Speech of Connection for a Speech of Consumption.  That the very way we read the signs in front of us, the way we make the signs by which we are known will determine to a large extent what value will be realized.  When we shop among competing ideas for something to consume, something to add to our life to make it better, or so we believe, there are many things to buy into, but the Sacred isn’t one of them.  In the category of The Sacred, I would include Knowledge of the Self.

American Yoga is diverse from the point of view of American Yoga.  From the outside, from an Indian Tradition of Yoga, one can’t help but notice amazing similarities, and can’t help but come to the conclusion that much of it is basically the same, at least, when compared to the Tradition itself.  I find even the Russian and Eastern European yoga movements to be vastly different from the American one.  Let’s not universalize an American view of things, especially in world that has considerable diversity.  In fact, lets get rid of Perennialism and Universalism altogether, as in the end everyone fights over who’s Perennial philosophy is truly universal.  It’s an imperial exercise.

“I’m guessing that if one had the data, it would show that far more people are being exposed to good solid traditional Yoga Sutra training today than 10 years ago. Just look at the proliferation of ancient text and commentary book sales. (I am personally about to read Edwin Bryant’s 600 page “New Edition, Translation, and Commentary”, which just came out). Same with the number of Americans traveling to India for study in traditional ashrams.”

What would that data have to do with yoga.  It’s information to which a statistician would have to determine what is Yoga Sutra, what is its training, and, what is good and solid and traditional.  Again we hand authority to people who can only represent something on the basis of some somewhat sterile artifacts, numbers, yeses and nos, ones and zeroes.

We are talking about markets, sales of books, people attending yoga classes, statistics compiled for their use in marketing.  Nothing wrong with that.  It’s great.  Much better than almost any other thing for yoga to be sold on markets.  Again, I question why not call a spade a spade.  Truth is our most precious commodity.  There is no need here to sacrifice it.

“In what way are we “losing access to that value”? It seems to me access is increasing along with access to everything else Yoga.”

20-25 years ago, a Japanese student of mine, knowing how much I enjoyed to cook, brought me one of those legendary Japanese knives that probably cost a fortune, and gave me great pleasure when I sliced carrots.  One day in my ashram in Haridwar, I took the knife out of a drawer and discovered to my shock that half of the blade was missing.  I called one of my Indian chelas and asked him if he knew what happened to it.  He admitted to me that the drawer was stuck, and as he tried to pry the drawer open with the knife, the blade broke in half.  I asked him if it had managed to get the drawer open.  He told me it did.  He accomplished his immediate goal, and I lost my knife.

Indian tradition possesses an intellectual capital, an immense treasure of uncalculatable value.  Much of the modern pharmaceutical industry is built on a random sampling of Indian knowledge of medicinal herbs in the 19th century.  The corpus of Ayurveda contains the knowledge to transform health and health care on the planet, and yet we sanitize it for the marketplace to the degree to which it becomes known as a new age massage technique.  The marketplace does not accept magic, but standardized science.  At least for the masses.

“I wonder if you could address my response to your original point about fantasy.”

Fantasy is a construction of thought, the fantastic is a compelling experience yet to be categorized.

Arun says:

It’s an interesting article, and the comments here reveal the range of attitudes and opinions held by many about yoga. It is important to note that the western style of historicism has limited application when dealing with oral cultures such as India, and the products of oral cultures, such as for example yoga.

Bob Weisenthal stated:
”devout practitioners are notoriously unreliable as truthful chroniclers of accurate history”

It is not a matter of piety (piety or devoutness is itself a western superimposition on Indian tradition and doesn’t make sense in this context) or belief (rational or otherwise), but of authority passed down through ancient lineage. Vedic Sanskrit was preserved for thousands of years by being passed down through word of mouth and memorised. It is almost miraculous that Vedic Sanskrit survives to this day as a liturgical language, through being passed on through word of mouth and human memory.

Therefore the authority of authentic lineages when it comes to the interpretation of the yogic tradition cannot be dismissed. Yoga is not a literary tradition but a system that’s passed down through these lineages. A guru teaches disciples, and authorises one or more to pass on the teaching of his forebears to the next generation. That is how it has worked since time immemorial. Baba Rampuriji is one of those who carries the ancient tradition of yoga that has been transmitted to him through his lineage of teachers, and has authority to speak on all matters relating to yoga. As Stephen Hawking has authority to tell us about theoretical physics, so the very few people in positions of authority in the ancient akharas, such as Babaji, have authority to tell us what’s what, in the field of yoga. The problem is that most people who pass themselves off as yoga teachers do not have authority, or license. They are just entrepreneurial opportunists or on some kind of power trip.

What place is there for western historians in all of this? Well, there isn’t really much of a place, as academia tends to rely on documentary sources and completely overlooks oral tradition. It is not valid to suggest that ‘historians’, in the sense of collective secular, western, liberal academic opinion, are the arbiters of truth and authenticity in the field of Indian religions. To ascribe them that right would itself constitute a sort of religious belief in historicism.

Regarding the article itself, I believe it identifies a real problem and that we should be looking in the direction of ancient Nordic religion and custom for the solution, as well as at the Greek and Roman mysteries. The problem here is that the vocabulary being used to express this tendency does not match up to the ideas in the mind of many modern ‘practitioners’ (practitioners of what?)
Therefore the tradition of yoga is being pillaged by consumerist, materialist forces that have, sensing some sort of lacuna in post-Christian western society, jumped straight to 19th century style Orientalist ‘othering’ for some cheap sense of the exotic, instead of looking at their own rich heritage. For example, the Roman cult of Venus (or Lucifer-Venus as the western expression of dualism through sexualised imagery), or Celtic fertility rituals, Babylonian mysteries or so many other things in the western heritage that make so much more sense in the context of the female coming-of-age rite of passage, consumerism, hedonism, etc. All of those things relate to the Primordial Tradition. But borrowing Patanjali’s language of yoga; ‘yoking’, or union with Ultimate Reality, makes absolutely no sense at all in the context in which it’s used in the western world. I am not trying to promote Luciferianism, Crowleyism or related ideas but things should be seen for what they are and ideas should have labels that connect them with their heritage. It would be seen as much more honest (as well as useful for the people themselves) if many more of the western people who describe themselves as ‘yogis’ or ‘yoginis’ or who abuse the Shiva-Shakti dualism rather tiresomely began to identify with more appropriate concepts connecting them with western primordialism rather than completely misinterpret the Indian tradition of yoga.

Bob Weisenberg says:

Hi, Arun. Thank for writing.

I have no comment on your last paragraph simply because I have no knowledge of any of those things.

As for history vs. lineages, let’s just agree that they are two different things.
They can learn from each other and feed each other, but let’s never confuse one for the other.

Let’s never think that history can possibly substitute for authentic lineage.
Likewise, let’s never confuse the sacred traditions of a lineage with historical fact.

These are two different things that offer different things to society,
and one cannot replace the other.

Another commenter here questioned the logic of my previous statement:

“Let’s never think that history can possibly substitute for authentic lineage.
Likewise, let’s never confuse the sacred traditions of a lineage with historical fact.”

I replied as follows:

Bob Weisenberg says:

If you look at the whole stream you’ll see that Baba was arguing that the oral lineages, particularly his own oral history, trumps all Western oriented evidence based history. He explicitly debunks Yoga scholars I know you respect greatly, like Feuerstein and, I assume Edwin Bryant. He pretty much told me I was wasting my time reading Bryant’s recent 600 page Yoga Sutra commentary, which I’m really enjoying, because it’s just some more of those Western historians who aren’t really tuned into the truth as he and his authentic lineage colleagues know it to be through their oral tradition. He claims that he and his associates know all the intimate details about Patanjali’ life, whereas Western scholars do not because they don’t accept oral history without corroborating evidence.

So in this final response to Arun, I was just trying to express my interest in and acceptance of both traditions and to state that they both have their place. It was my perception that Baba was unwilling to even consider the Western evidence based approach to history that set me off and led to my impulsive provocative response to Baba, which I have subsequently apologized for. But the issue of respect for the Western scholarly approach to history still remains. I think both Western history and the authentic lineages are important. But they’re two different animals.

All of the examples you gave above are clearly within the scope of both traditions, simply because your examples are all written down, and therefore accepted by both traditions, although Western historians like Bryant, will be trying to figure out whether any ancient text is literally true or just reflects the common thinking of its time, which, to the Western historical method, might be two different things.

I agree with you completely that there can and should be a lot of interaction between the two, and that’s what I was trying to say with my clarifying sentence: They can learn from each other and feed each other, but let’s never confuse one for the other.

Bob Weisenberg says:

We are in different worlds, Baba.

The only difference between us is that I accept you and your world,
whereas you do not accept my world.

I encourage you to live and enjoy your very special spiritual world.
You seem to have nothing but derision and disdain for my world.

I will continue to read about you and study your world.
You feel you have absolutely nothing to learn from my world.

I embrace you the way you are.
You only want to fix me.

I will continue to enjoy reading about you and your spiritual exploits.

I will continue to love and enjoy my Western world and Western rational values 
without ever having the slightest inclination to tell you you should be more like me.

You have experienced things I will never experience
and that I can learn from.

I can assure the reverse is also true,
but I have no need to push my values on you.

Thanks for writing.

Baba Rampuri says:

Bob,

What kind of response is that?

Don’t be so paranoid. Smile! I guarantee you that i don’t want you to be like me, think like me, or be anyone else but yourself. One of me is quite enough on the planet. I am not selling anything here, I’m pointing out what is obvious to many of us who have committed our lives to Yoga.

There is no need to be my agent, represent my feelings, my thoughts, and interpret them in such an opposite way. What you write are not my statements or intentions, but misrepresentations. I haven’t attacked you. This is not something personal. I thought that we were yogis in discussion, and that we were above pettiness, which is one of Patanjali’s main themes.

We are not in competition, Bob.

Of course we are in different worlds, it’s obvious. Is that a problem? Must the “Same” reject the “Other?” I suggest that unless the “Same” engages the “Other” there cannot be communication, love, or compassion. The fact we live in different worlds is the value. Magic happens where worlds meet.

I don’t reject your world, I haven’t a clue as to what your world looks like, your thoughts, feelings, relationships, and you couldn’t possibly accept mine as it is so obscure and has such difficult access. And I’m certainly not selling my world, there’s nothing to buy into. I don’t have an ideology to sell.

But I do fully accept the American Yoga movement, the marketing and selling of yoga, as I see it as a powerful alternative to a civilization in collapse. That people can finally sit on the ground again, on the earth, experience and tune their bodies, question what they always believed about their health, and for some to question even further – this is great. And that others may earn a living teaching, writing, and speaking about this instead of a boring, useless job is God sent. Selling Yoga mats instead of Coca-Cola is balancing for our society.

I tell traditional Indian Yogis the exact opposite of what I tell you. I tell them, “Look at these people in the West who have nowhere near the immersion in Yoga culture as you do – THEY realize the enormous value in this, be it monetary, spiritual, or health, and they have generated a multi billion dollar industry that is a sign, a mark of its enormous value while you guys take it all for granted, and sit on your asses. I really say it just like that. And its not money I’m talking about, it’s value, which is different. They don’t get offended, they understand I’m offering them some insight that I have because I have become equally a part of two worlds.

A number of years ago, I was having dinner with Bikram at his home in L.A., and in a tone not inconsistent with his public personality he bragged not untruthfully, “If I hadn’t done what I’ve done, there would be one million less people practicing yoga.” “Bravo,” I replied, “But if some ‘naked baba’ hadn’t sat in that cave for all those years, you wouldn’t have the yoga to teach in the first place.” I’ve known Bikram for many years, it’s the only time I remember him remaining silent.

Bob, we’re all in this together.

Bob Weisenberg says:

Hi, Baba.

Thanks for your very calm and measured response to my impulsive and ill-considered response. Thanks to your refusal to let yourself be provoked, I think and hope we’re back on track.

We disagree about many things, stemming from our very different and in some ways opposite life choices. But you can rely on me to stick to those things from now on, rather than question your willingness to listen to me.

I look forward to what I’m sure will be our many enjoyable future discussions.

Bob Weisenberg says:

Baba and I reconciled on another thread within this blog. He responded in a very warm conciliatory way and I apologized for my impulsive and ill-considered response above.

We still disagree on a lot of things, but we are on good terms, and the above response is now irrelevant and looking more and more ill-considered all the time!

Bob W.

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“Effortless Wellbeing”: Meditation as Everyday Life

Of all the meditation approaches I’ve experienced and studied, the one I keep coming back to in the end is a little out-of-the-mainstream book called Effortless Wellbeing by Evan Finer.

Evan set out to discover and distill the essential elements of meditation that can affect our everyday sense of wellbeing. Eventually he boiled it all down to three key skills, which can then be used in a rich variety of ways, tailored to you individual needs.

He has systematically removed anything that he doesn’t think is essential. So this book is not about yoga or zen or vipasanna or any other specific “denomination” of meditation. But it is consistent with them all, since there are several simple common elements that make them all work:

1) Relaxing the body,

2) Learning to breathe smoothly and naturally, and

3) Calming the mind by learning to focus.

It’s this last skill, learning to focus, where the variety of meditation lies, and where meditation becomes a rich source of everyday wellbeing (not that the author treats the other two, relaxing and breathing, lightly). For, as it says in the Yoga Sutra itself , once you learn to focus the mind, it can be focused on anything you choose.

Evan talks about a number of specific kinds of meditation. But there are few things in life which cannot be enhanced by relaxing your body, breathing more naturally, and gently focusing your mind.

In short, anything can be turned into meditation. Meditation can be not only something you go off and do as a separate practice, but something that can permeate your everyday life and create “Effortless Wellbeing”.

Beyond this, each person’s approach will vary. In my case I like to remind myself of the following variations (this is my personal list, not Evan’s), each of which starts with relaxing the body, breathing naturally and smoothly, and focusing on:

1. The simple in and out of the breath itself.

2. A mantra. I happen to prefer A simple Sanskrit mantra, but Evan feels any words will do, since it’s the focus that makes it work, not the words themselves.

3. A single object. This is the traditional method of the Yoga Sutra, whereby one can become as one with any object. A less obvious example–I focus entirely and exclusively on the ball when I play tennis, which turns it into an hour and a half of moving meditation.

4. A scan of the body or other body focus. This is the method used by Buddhist whole-body vipasanna meditation and yoga nidra. Chakra meditation also falls into this category.

5. A concept or idea or feeling. It could be passage or principle from an ancient text, or a koan, or a wish, like loving-kindness or world peace, etc. (This is a broad category that includes many variations.)

6. The details of performing a specific task. This extends meditation to virtually anything–driving a car, cooking a meal, solving a problem, weeding the garden, washing the dishes, conducting a meeting, playing guitar, doing yoga poses. Anything you do can be enhanced by treating it as an opportunity for meditative focus.

7. What I like to call ultra-awareness, whereby you tune in more acutely to specific sounds or sights or sensations or emotions. Maybe it means noticing the shape of the clouds or the color of the trees or the distant sound of cars on the freeway, just paying close attention to some detail of daily experience you are usually oblvious to.

8. Visualization. Picture yourself on a beach in the Caribbean, or looking out from the peak of your favorite mountain. Relive an enjoyable mood or feeling you’ve had in the past simply by closing your eyes and imagining it.

9. Relaxed, non-judgemental focus on the present moment–whatever happens to be going on right now, at this moment, no matter what it is.

As you can see, this is meditation as everyday life, even though meditation as a separate practice is still certainly very important, too. Evan Finer calls this broad-based approach to meditation Effortless Wellbeing.

If this sounds intriguing to you, get the book. You’ll love it.

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What Is It That Brings Us Happiness?

SEEKER

What is it that brings us happiness?
I am deeply troubled by this in my life.
I seek guidance from your superior years
And knowledge of the ancient Yoga texts.

SAGE

All you desire to learn about happiness
Is to be found in the ancient scriptures.

Study the Bhagavad Gita,
the Yoga Sutra,
and the Upanishads
Until they are as close to your heart as your heart itself.
Then you will know how to be truly happy.

SEEKER

I will. But can you not tell me yourself
Right here, right now, what I am to learn?

SAGE

From the Bhagavad Gita
You will learn to live the life you are destined to live
Always full of love in your heart,
To live with great purpose and to act decisively
But with no ego attachment to the results.

From the Yoga Sutra
You will learn that the secret of happiness
Is strong self-discipline of the body and the mind
And the ability to penetrate deeply
Into the true nature of reality.

From the Upanishads
You will learn that you are already supremely happy
Because you are already perfect and divine.
You are already the absolute wonder of the universe.

SEEKER

These are indeed overwhelming truths.
I will study the Gita, the Sutra, and the Upanishads.
But what can I do right now
To begin to experience these truths?

SAGE

Focus gently on the present moment
Without judgment or ego.

Focusing on the present moment
Will allow you to act decisively with love
Without your ego being attached to the results
As prescribed in the Bhagavad Gita.

Concentrating on the present moment
Is the essence of self-discipline and meditation
As prescribed in the Yoga Sutra.

By focusing on the present moment
You will start to see
That every moment is divine and precious
And that you are already the very life force of the universe
As taught in the Upanishads.

SEEKER

My mind spins. I ache for more.
I will approach these profound and ancient texts
With an open heart
And a fervent desire to drink of their wisdom.

~

See also
Yoga Demystified: The Six Big Ideas

and
Bhagavad Gita in a Nutshell

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Whenever Things Get Difficult or Complicated, I Always Return to This.

SEEKER

What is it that brings us happiness?
I am deeply troubled by this in my life.
I seek guidance from your superior years
And knowledge of the ancient Yoga texts.

SAGE

All you desire to learn about happiness
Is to be found in the ancient scriptures.

Study the Bhagavad Gita,
the Yoga Sutra,
and the Upanishads
Until they are as close to your heart as your heart itself.
Then you will know how to be truly happy.

SEEKER

I will.  But can you not tell me yourself
Right here, right now, what I am to learn?

SAGE

From the Bhagavad Gita
You will learn to live the life you are destined to live
Always full of love in your heart,
To live with great purpose and to act decisively
But with no ego attachment to the results.

From the Yoga Sutra
You will learn that the secret of happiness
Is strong self-discipline of the body and the mind
And the ability to travel deeply
Into the true nature of reality.

From the Upanishads
You will learn that you are already supremely happy
Because you are already perfect and divine.
You are already the absolute wonder of the universe.

SEEKER

These are indeed overwhelming truths.
I will study the Gita, the Sutra, and the Upanishads.
But what can I do right now
To begin to experience these truths?

SAGE

Focus gently on the present moment
Without judgment or ego.

Focusing on the present moment
Will allow you to act decisively with love
Without your ego being attached to the results
As prescribed in the Bhagavad Gita.

Concentrating on the present moment
Is the essence of self-discipline and meditation
As prescribed in the Yoga Sutra.

By focusing on the present moment
You will start to see
That every moment is divine and precious
And that you are already the very life force of the universe
As taught in the Upanishads.

SEEKER

My mind spins.  I ache for more.
I will approach these profound and ancient texts
With an open heart
And a fervent desire to drink of their wisdom.

~

 See also
Yoga Demystified: The Six Big Ideas

and
Bhagavad Gita in a Nutshell

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The Mind of a Loving Translator: Graham Schweig ~ Andrew Deitrick

I’m please to welcome Andrew Deitrick to Elephant for this guest article about Graham Schweig, whom many of you will recognize for his own highly successful guest appearances on Elephant as part of Gita Talk:
Graham Schweig’s Rapturous Vision of the Gita, and
Gita Talk #8: Special Guest Graham Schweig, which remains one of the five most commented blogs ever on Elephant Journal.

The Mind of a Loving Translator: Graham Schweig
by Andrew Deitrick

Waking from a lucid dream, Dr. Graham Schweig suddenly springs from his bed in a revelatory state. He quickly heads towards his study and rifles through the same pile of Sanskrit manuscripts that had just appeared in his dream. It was finally all so clear to the Sanskrit translator.

Still hours from sunrise, notably the most powerful time of day for the yogi, Schweig sits down and begins to put his dream into words. It was no time for sleep. Schweig had spent several months up to this point puzzled over the translation of the opening verse to the Dance of Divine Love, an ancient Sanskrit text found in India’s sacred Bhagavata Purana, but Schweig finally had a breakthrough to what he describes as the one of the richest pieces of text in all of history. Feeling quite euphoric, Schweig eventually chiseled out a flowing verse.

Even the beloved Lord,
seeing those nights
in autumn filled with
blooming jasmine flowers,
Turned his mind toward
love’s delight
fully taking refuge in
Yogamaya’s illusive powers.

While Schweig had previously written an acceptable translation of this Sanskrit verse, he wasn’t quite satisfied with the feeling of his English translation. His previous verse wasn’t covering the inherent meanings that he intuitively felt, or at least until he had this revelatory dream. It takes a conditioned expert to truly get to the bottom of these Sanskrit verses.

“The translations of the texts themselves,” Schweig says, “have embedded in them powerful resonances and nuanced meanings that often do not transfer into a simple english rendering.”

While scholars may be able to convey a basic understanding of the Sanskrit, the subtle philosophical and literary power may literally get lost in translation when read in english. While this isn’t always necessarily a drastic thing, it often does limit the emotions that come behind such a profound and powerful subject. After all, when dealing with sacred texts, especially Eastern religions, it is the feeling behind the text that matters, not the rationality of the words.

At age 13, Schweig began his journey with Indic studies.

“I don’t quite know how it all came together.” Schweig says, “all I know is that when I first heard about sacred sanskrit text, something kind of hit me. Why? I don’t know. All I know is that I’ve been developing a relationship ever since.” One of only a handful of fluent sanskrit scholars in America, Schweig takes particular interest in yoga philosophy.

Heading the Indic Studies department at Christopher Newport University, Schweig unlike many of his peers, and even students, doesn’t have a high-school degree. He doesn’t sweat this minor detail as Schweig holds three masters degrees to compliment his Harvard doctorate.

Schweig studied Interdisciplinary Studies at American University, later focusing on Comparative Religion at the University of Chicago and Harvard University. While attending Chicago and Harvard, Schweig further pursued ancient Sanskrit.

After graduating, Schweig spent several years in India. With new experience in Indian culture and tradition, Schweig was drawn to publish translations of ancient Indic texts, the Bhagavad Gita and Dance of Divine Love. He is currently working on a translation of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. All of these works are filled with certain philosophies of Classical Yoga.

Schweig and other scholars have published dozens of individual translations and commentary of these texts into english, causing Western readers a bit of a problem when trying to pick out a translation. These translations are often comparable, but rarely do they really say the same things.

This type of misunderstanding is in part to blame for the wide and often misleading ranges of interpretations of yoga. The sacred subject is often even withered down to appear as if it is just a type of exercise, rather than a deep seeded philosophy. Fortunately, as often happens when things of this sort are watered-down, things eventually take root, grow and bloom.

Schweig travels to yoga conventions across the world, giving lectures on yoga philosophy. He has been witness to a change in consciousness in terms of western yoga, and believes its only a matter of time before more people catch on to the yoga philosophies. Schweig is aware however that this may take time, and notes it is a revelatory process in every sense. His publications are driven at bringing people to his understanding and feeling of the yoga philosophy.

“I don’t expect others to translate the way I do, because I don’t think they have the combination of things I do. Translation is more than just finding a word for that word. It is about recreating the ethos. It is translation of culture and ways of being. Translation is a very big issue, its about understanding.”

This translation of deep understanding, more so than the actual language, is the aim of Schweig’s work.

Schweig describes his contribution as, “Mining the jewels of subtle philosophical and literary power.” In other words, Schweig is looking to reveal the hidden bursts of emotions behind the poetic Sanskrit verses.

Having not finished his version of the Sutras of Patanjali, Schweig opts to use Edwin Bryant’s version of the text while teaching his Yoga Philosophy class at CNU. He respects Bryant’s work, especially his commentary on the subject, but Schweig feels the literal translations could be better.

“The habit of Western translators is to just kinda convey the basic information of these texts, when these text themselves are meditations,” Schweig says. I sat down with Schweig to discuss the differences in translations, and how one comes to a specific meaning. Let us look at the second text of the opening sutra, where the original sanskrit reads, yogas citta-vrtti-nirodha.

Bryant translates this in his version of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali as, “Yoga is the stilling of the changing states of the mind.” A simple understanding of the verse, Bryant then has several hundred words expanding on how he arrived at this translation.

Schweig translates the same text in a much different way and leaves out commentary. It is his intention to let the subject present itself to the reader, rather than the other way around. He describes the following clip as the fundamental text for understanding the concept of yoga. Schweig then walked me  through his interpretation, and how he arrived at such a conclusion.

Yogas citta-vrtti-nirodha is the second text of the first chapter in Patanjali’s Sutras. Schweig’s verse follows:

Yoga is the turning of consciousness
as it is uprooted [from its conditioned state]
and as it is expanding deeply [within its pure state]. [1.2]

From left to right, yogas is a cognate meaning yoga. Next, citta is typically translated as mind (as Bryant’s text shows), but Schweig suggests citta relates more so to consciousness, or a pure state of being. He says the more appropriate word for mind, which is also a cognate, would be manas. So citta, when placed after the word vrtti, which means “to turn,” is translated as “the turning of consciousness.” Nirodha, the last word of the text, essentially means “uprooted.”

As the last word, nirodha acts upon the previous words, yogas citta-vrtti. In other words, yoga, which is the turning consciousness (citta-vrtti), is being uprooted. While a logistical definition would stop here, Schweig continues with another line, because he interprets nirodha with a “double meaning.”

“Yoga is not just an uprooting process,” Scwheig says, “it is about growing.” He translates this in the final line of the text, “as it is expanding deeply [within its pure state].”

“This is where my translation gets radical,” Schweig says. “No one understands that second meaning in that text…but yoga goes beyond the stilling mind.”

If this text were in a sense the definition of yoga, Schweig feels it shouldn’t stop with uprooting or stillness, because yoga is about going beyond the stillness.

“There are nuances of meaning that are just symphonic, and you have to get it all in there,” Schweig says. “A good translator is like someone conducting an orchestra. You have to get all the instruments playing just right.”

Alexander Woods, a student in Schweig’s Yoga Philosophy class, has explored the sutras and a variety of India’s sacred texts. He defines yoga as “the paradoxical practice of union with Divine, Ultimate, and Absolute Reality.” Woods was drawn to yoga after familiarizing himself with “quantum gravity”. For Woods, Yoga is about expanding individual consciousness.

I had a chance to discuss the different sutra translations with Woods. We started by taking the first and second texts in the third sutra, where I had Woods read Bryant’s texts first:

Concentration is the fixing of the mind in one place [3.1].

Meditation is the onepointedness of the mind on one image[3.2].

As someone who has a deep understanding and appreciation for both literature, and yoga, Alex couldn’t help but to smile after reading the verse. “I like it,” he said. “I like it a lot.”

I then handed him a copy of Schweig’s translation for the same texts. It reads:

A specific place or point,
and the binding of thought to it—-
this is [known as] “concentration,” or Dharana. [3.1]

From there, that state in which
the ebb-and-flow [of thought] becomes
a continuous movement toward one object only—-
this is [known as] “meditation,” or Dhyåna. [3.2]

In a much more serene and reflective state this time, Woods said, “I like this too.” He refused to call one better than the other, as he insisted simply that the translations were just “different.”

“Schweig’s translations,” he mentioned, “takes me on a deeper journey than the other, which is good. But it doesn’t make it better than the other, because I think someone may understand it better from Bryant’s work. And after all, its more than what you think about it, its how you feel about it.”

Woods explained how one who was unfamiliar with the extensive depths of the subject would benefit first by reading Bryant’s work, as if a prerequisite for Schweig’s translation.

After looking back over the two verses, Woods laughed, shouting in revelation, “they actually work better when they are together.” I couldn’t help to agree with him, after he read Bryant’s translation and followed it with Schweig’s.

“Concentration is the fixing of mind in one place. A specific place or point, and the binding of thought to it. This is Dharana.” It seemed to make sense. Moving on, Woods read the different 3.2 texts order, “Meditation is the one-pointedness of the mind on one image. From there, that state in which the ebb-and-flow of mind becomes a continuous movement towards one object only. This is Dhyana.”

After reading this, Woods couldn’t help but insist that this type of union and feeling is what yoga is all about.” He turned the page to the next text, the text describing Samadhi, or the ultimate stage of yoga.

He read the two together again. “Samadhi is when that same Dhyana shines forth as the object alone and is devoid of its own nature,” switching to Schweig’s Woods continued. “On only that particular object and its appearance does the Yogi meditate, when the essential nature of the Yogi is utterly empty. This is known as the state of total absorption in the very object of meditation, or Samadhi.”

Still unable to choose one translation over the other, Woods again prefers them as together as one. “The feeling is best to me, when they come together,” Woods said, “and that is what matters.”

So from here, maybe it is best to find our own translations for the yoga philosophies while we wait for Schweig’s next publication to come out. After all, its all supposed to be inherently within each of us to begin with. It just takes time, and with that, special consideration for the subject at hand. So if you’re struggling to find a definition of yoga, or the appropriate translation for your text, look no further than what is inside yourself.

Schweig says, “We do yoga, but actually, yoga is kind of doing something to us. As we become more aware of that, we allow yoga to act on us, and we recognize the greater purpose.”

Andrew Deitrick is new to the blogging world and writes about yoga, philosophy and mindfulness at morethanastretch.com. He is interested in digital media and connecting with other similar-minded people, as well as writing, pilgrimage and breathing deeply. Come spring-time, Andrew will hold bachelor’s degrees in both Journalism and Religious Studies, and will be pursuing graduate work in Advaita Vedanta.