The Yoga Sutra 1.1

I.K. Taimni's Yoga Sutras 1.1

I am reading through I.K.Taimni‘s “the science of yoga” (pdf here).  It may seem odd for an AI guy (do you really know what I’m aftter?) to be interested in Yoga (what westerners seem to consider to be either a great body workout or some kind of spiritual widget [not that there’s anything wrong with either of those two things]), but I’m sure it will manifest in time.  Yoga has its root in Sanskrit ‘to join’.  Often I read it described as a yoking (of the mind to the body?).  Considered in this way I would wonder what AI guy wouldn’t be interested in “yoga”.  Besides, it does wonders for RSI (Repetitive Stress Injuries [I’ll refrain from a diatribe against the sad state of affairs of human input devices compared to the volume of information we need to input {apophasis <I’m concentrating my focus, a central aspect of yogic practices |also central to AI |>}]).

The Yoga Sutras were written by Patañjali.  For years I pronounced this ‘pat-anne-jaw-lee’.  Now I know to say: ‘peh-tawn-ja-lee’.  Say them, or just say the second version.  The difference is in cadence (group the t with the second set of syllables and draw out the ‘tawn’ shorten the ‘jaw’ and shorten the ‘lee’).  It’s a satisfying word to speak.  ‘Peh-tawn-ja-lee’.  Or perhaps just for me, since I mispronounced it for so many years, now it’s like a release of truth, just like an asana for a muscle. Other than pronunciation, I’ll leave the rest of his bio to Wikipedia.  Click the link.

Now, mind you, the things I write on the Yoga Sutras here are not always or even often going to be original, necessarily.  I’m reading through Taimni’s commentaries on Patañjali’s Yoga Sutras.  Taimni catered them towards Western people.  He writes:

In the olden days those who studied these Sutras had easy access to the teachers of the Science who elaborated the knowledge embodied in a condensed form, filled up the gaps and gave practical guidance.  And these students had leisure in which to think, meditate and dig out the meanings for themselves.  The modern student who is interested merely in the theoretical study of the Yogic philosophy and is not practicing it under an expert teacher has none of these faculties and needs an elaborate and clear exposition for an adequate understanding of the subject.  He needs a commentary which not only aims at explaining the obvious meaning but also the hidden significance of the words and phrases used in terms of the concepts with which he is familiar and can easily understand.  He wants his food not in ‘tabloid’ form but in bulk, and if possible, in a palatable form. (pgs 5-6)

But I’m also going to go with it (consider Taimni’s claim against this emerging western standard of creative brevity [are we changing, and what does it say about my style? {ahh well, I write for the enjoyment of it, just like I read.  I’m not so interested in readers who can’t stick around for 15-20 paragraphs and a couple of pictures — with all that there is to say, that just means more posts, which leads to difficulties tying it all together}]).  Sutra 1 of Patañjali’s Yoga Sutras declares that his collection of sutras expound yoga.  It is a declaration of purpose.  My purpose is to expound yoga to whoever happens to read this by commenting on Taimni’s commentaries on Patañjali’s Yoga Sutras.  But by no means am I a yogi or should my linguistic tap-dancing be construed as anything but an AI guy reflecting yoga into his weltanschauung (while doing asanas [and pranayama {and some dream yoga <and obviously samakhya}]).

Pantanjali's 8 limbs of yoga

About.com tells us:

Ashtanga Yoga
These eight limbs together constitute the complete system known as classical Ashtanga Yoga. When yoga is diligently practiced under the guidance of a well-trained spiritual teacher (guru), it can lead to liberation from all illusion and suffering.

The Four Types of Yoga
Theologically speaking, there are four divisions of Yoga, that form one of the cornerstones of Hinduism. In Sanskrit, they are called Raja-Yoga, Karma-Yoga, Bhakti-Yoga and Jnana-Yoga. And the person who seeks this kind of a union is called a ‘Yogi’:

1. Karma-Yoga: The worker is called the Karma-Yogi.

2. Raja-Yoga: One who seeks this union through mysticism is called a Raja-Yogi. [Jerome edit: the uniter of the other 3 approaches {unio mystica}]

3. Bhakti-Yoga: One who searches this union in love is a Bhakti-Yogi.

4. Jnana-Yoga: One who seeks this Yoga through philosophy is called the Jnana-Yogi.

It’s like an entire bootstrapping system.  I was thinking about data today.  How Google is prescient with their operating system as a browser.  Of course, that is one way mainstream technology is going.  It’s basically the way network computing started with time-sharing.  Except our monitor isn’t connected to a single machine in the traditional sense, but a single machine in the modern sense: a network (just like our bodies).  Anyway, I was thinking about how I wouldn’t be keen to be dependent on some cloud provider to secure my data.  How, like a shadow Library of Alexandria, I would want a special store of data, too, in case the distributed data store I was depending on failed or became inaccessible.  Then I reflected that data in the modern sense is highly dependent on very unlikely hardware combinations (try moving web services between servers; it’s usually a hassle unless you’ve got some streamlining mechanism [like an ordered list of nested tool-todos]).  What good would my data do if I didn’t have the appropriately versioned operating system and hardware and electricity?

We are dependent creatures.  No man is an island.  Yet, coincident with this thought was a desire to get passed the limitation (cuz that’s the way I operate).  And I thought of a widget that not only contained my personal data (whatever’s so important to me that I have to go through such lengths to ensure its survival [my personal Library of Alexandria {I wonder if we could have effectively saved the Library of Alexandria by creating a distributed copy {everyone hangs onto what’s precious to them <and some hang onto what’s precious to none |an inversion of metaphors|>}]) but also programs capable of displaying my data to me.  But all that is null without programs to interface and LEARN different “hardware” systems in order to make my data available to me (I imagine good old Dr. Malcolm [yes, David Levinson, I presume] must have done something similar when he programmed a virus to lower the alien shields in Independence Day [what an unsung genius of IT {I know, I know, it’s Hollywood rubbish, but if that is how he hypothetically solved the problem, then truly it’s the greatest feat of programming ever depicted by Hollywood <brings tears to my eyes |raw human heroism|>}]).  In other words, a seed.  Something that could use the raw energetic fabric of the universe to construct a system that could convey my data to me (visually, auditorily, sensually, etc).  Find yourself on the moon without your laptop?  Just use your data widget.  Let it form an appropriate sensorium for interacting with your data out of moon dust.

The point of all that ten-ways-at-once jabberwocky, is that it’s all a metaphor for Patañjali’s Yoga Sutras.  His Yoga Sutras do for Yoga what my data widget does for digital data.  Patañjali’s Yoga Sutras are a spell of great power.  A seed.  See?  Tightly packaged intelligence.  Sutra.  Aphorism.  Semantic Protein.  The Yoga Sutras are some thing made by so many intertwining threads of meaning.  Probably a great thick bootstrapp.  Taimni writes of the Sutram (pg 4):

The most important characteristics of this method are utmost condensation consistent with clear exposition of all essential aspects and continuity of the underlying theme in spite of the apparent discontinuity of the ideas presented.

The Sutra method of exposition may appear to the modern student needlessly obscure and difficult but if he goes through the labor required for mastery of the subject he will realize its superiority to the all too easy modern methods of presentation.  The necessity of struggling with the words and ideas and digging out their hidden meanings ensures a very thorough assimilation of knowledge and develops simultaneously the powers and faculties of the mind, especially that important and indispensable capacity of digging out of one’s mind the knowledge which lies buried in its deeper recesses.

I have a personal affinity with the idea of buried meanings.  I believe my first attempt at “writing” a book was copying information out of The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Rocks and Minerals (much like I’m doing now, but with a child’s eye [much like now…]).  In fact, I believe that was my first non childrens book (I was maybe 8-10 yrs) and the book in my library that I have owned the longest.  I’ve always had a physical reaction to the thought of mining for gems in the deep earth.  The physical sensation is redolent of vertigo, and it is pleasant.  I have the same feeling when I reach deep and high meaning.  It’s a thrill of discovery.  A biological thrill at pushing back the fog of war in the battle for survival combined with finding a secret treasure that will ensure the survival of your interests (body, family)?  Regardless, it is another resource in my being driven to chisel away:

But I am always driven anew to human beings by my ardent will to create; thus the hammer is driven toward the stone.

Oh you human beings, in the stone sleeps an image, the image of my images!  A shame it must sleep in the hardest, ugliest stone!

Now my hammer rages cruelly against its prison.  Shards shower from the stone: what do I care?

I want to perfect it, for a shadow came to me — the stillest and lightest of all things once came to me!

The overman’s beauty came to me as a shadow.  Oh, my brothers!  Of what concern to me anymore — are gods! —

-Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, On the Blessed Isles, Adrian Del Caro translation (my favorite, by far)

Taimni goes on (I’m skipping forward continuously):

We have to remember that in a treatise like the Yoga-Sutras, behind many a word there is a whole pattern of thought of which the word is a mere symbol.

But in the course of time fundamental changes can sometimes be brought about in the meaning of words and the thought patterns of those who study these treatises.

It is only when a science becomes completely divorced from its practical application that it tends to lose itself in a morass of words which have lost their meaning and relation with the actual facts. (pg 5)

Patañjali was a linguist as well.  There is a deep intelligence that flows through Patañjali and his works.  By reaching toward and touching the meanings within and around the Yoga Sutras we come into contact with the bright energy-pulsing spine of the time-lapsed phylogenetic Human, extending up from the past through to the future.  How does it feel to touch the divine?

Important Sanskrit Words:

Sutra — Optimally condensed exposition of meaning often in a collection of same with an emergent communication goal.

Samskrta — The Sanskrit word for Sanskrit.

6 thoughts on “The Yoga Sutra 1.1

  1. Pedro Estela says:

    Muy bueno el cuadro! Gracias!

  2. […] navigation ← Previous Next […]

  3. […] essential nature atop all the shed modifications.  Nietzsche’s hammer freed from the stone (find quote here) into organic form, living gold, […]

  4. […] in Yoga.  I mentioned something about Yoga offering something to the “AI guy” in me in Yoga Sutras 1.1 and I’ve certainly brought the subject up since whilst holding forth a pretty modern view of […]

  5. jeromeyers says:

    Jeromeyers, this is practically unreadable.

  6. dondeg says:

    This is nice. I have a whole series going on my blog right now, and Taimni features prominently in it. He is a real hero.

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