Sunday, June 12, 2011

Caught up in concepts?

There are so many commentaries on The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.  I have recently read the sutras all the way through, without the commentary.  The first book that I had on the sutras, has been in my possession for at least 5 years.  I have never been able to finish it.  It is a difficult and dry read.   Mind you, I have no problem reading things that are philosophical and heady.  Case in point: I've been reading "God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita" (Gita commentary) by Paramahansa Yogananda for years as well as the thin but consciousness shifting book "The Holy Science" By Swami Sri Yukteswar.  I'm trying to figure out what my problem is, or if I even have a problem at all.

In my yoga teacher training program we were encouraged to get the yoga sutras commentary, however we didn't have to all have the same book.  I remember seeing the Satchidananda version recommended for another teacher training program and I'd never read any of his writings before so I decided to get it.  First portion - great.  Loved the anecdotes, explanations and expositions on what Patanjali conveyed and how to apply it to the modern world.  But while reading the second portion as I was preparing for class this week, I was taken aback.  The portion I was reading was on ahimsa.  Ahimsa is commonly translated as non-violence.  In this translation he said that it went even deeper than physically acting out against another, he translated it as non harming.  When you look at ahimsa that way it becomes an all encompassing practice that goes beyond physical acts of violence and vegetarianism. 
    As I read further, the author said that Gandhi had not yet perfected ahimsa, and basically that maybe if he had perfected it,  his assassin would not have had the thought in his mind to kill him.  That was the most jarring and unexpected thing that I've read in a yoga treatise.  I am wondering why this chitta (mind stuff) is affecting me so much?  I've ready several books about Gandhi's life. I've read about his death and how even as he was being shot to death, he put up his hands in a sign of benediction for his killer. So in my mind this is nothing short of perfection of ahimsa.... Who right now would bless their killer even at the moment of death?  For me this made Gandhi a true modern day exemplar of Christ's teachings, even though he was a Hindu by birth.   
   There was this thought in my mind that says that there is this tendency to say that, all things that are bad we attract to ourselves (while that may be the case many times) this statement makes it appear as if people don't have free will to do horrible things (i.e. kill Gandhi, or MLK, or insert name here).  It's so hard not to get bogged down in the idea of karma and the law of attraction but it seems like everyone throws those two things around when they don't have a way to explain things.  It's simple easy and very neat.  There is no need for further investigation because those two laws just take away the need for further exploration.  Am I over thinking it, or are some things just oversimplified too often?  I have no freaking idea.  I just know that those words about Gandhi almost made me put the book down entirely.  Or shall I say that particular commentary.  I know that I can be an all or nothing kind of person and that is something that I'm working on changing, so I gave myself a few minutes.  I put the book down and picked it back up when I was ready to have another go at it. But in all honesty for my own expansion of understanding and desire to delve further into the sutra's I've already ordered a different  commentary (of which I am awaiting delivery at the time of this writing), and I'm almost sure that I will also be purchasing the commentary by B.K.S. Iyengar as well.  (I will also finish the commentary that I started with, by Sri Swami Satchidananda)

Question to the readers:
When reading a concept or idea in a scripture or book of spiritual substance that is difficult to process or believe, what do you do with it?

Thanks for reading my ramblings here.  I'd love some feedback if you've had any experience with the sutras or something along those lines.  I don't claim to have the answers, but I am certainly exploring the depths of yoga.  I owe it to myself and my future students.

This is yoga off the mat!

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