Day 1, Dec. 17, 2017, AM session, Pune, India.
Today the actual sessions began. Abhijata waved the diya (candle) around Patanjali and we all joined together for the invocation. There was so much material covered that I want to post, but I think you would all gag and not complete the blog! So I will extend the posts past the six days of inspiration..
Farooza gave an elegant introduction for the orientation. She painted the picture of the sun and moon, bright and cool, a reflection. Guruji was like the sun, sometimes harsh, strong; so bright that you cannot look directly into it. Prashant is like moon, but, as the moon is the reflection of the sun, we can look into it, it is cool. Guruji taught so quickly, by the time we heard it he was on to something else. Geeta and Prashant help us to read between the lines of Guruji’s teaching.
Prashantji then joined us amidst an overwhelming standing welcome. He has a healthy sense of humor: “orientation is a problem for me,” he said, “as I am not oriented to myself.” He explained that this is not an intensive, as that would imply that we would learn a lot in a compressed period of time. That is not what he is about, he insisted. Prashant is also humble. He said that an intensive is not really his make-up. It takes a lot of time for us to learn something in a deep way. He explained that Guruji taught intensives because, at that time, he had to produce teachers, and foreign students could only come for a short period of time.
Prashant then said that in all the time that he has been teaching, he has not produced one single teacher, “that is not in my software” he chided. “I myself am not a teacher. I am just a student,” and “My teachings are an intensive which is extensive.” He takes a little bit, like the breath, and stretches it into volumes. He said “the learning should not be very formal every time. Because yoga is a natural thing,” and “My bad habit is that I observe too much.” He referred to the intensives he watched in the 70’s, when groups of foreigners would attend for a month. What he observed is that students were anxious and excited in these intensive, it was not natural. Prashant wants to be very informal, he is in his house, and hope that his students can be informal with him.
Yoga is about life, can we get oriented to life? Life is Drama, for which there is no script, here we don’t have a script as we do not know what will happen from moment to moment. Just as life is unpredictable, we cannot know. In the business in life, we must be predictable, but yoga. Yoga is not about the business of life. To not know what he is going to teach is his privilege, as the thrust of yoga was already there for Prashant. That was not the case for Guruji, Prashant said. Guruji had a different path, he had all the hardships. We are the next generation.
Guruji learned yoga by Yog, he was not a follower or a student of a teacher. “Self-study teaches you yoga.” The concept of a self-made man is improper, for it comes through study. Prashant tells his students to never say that he is their teacher: “I escort them to yoga,” “Yoga is an out-of-the-world subject, not a worldly subject,” and “If you say that you are a student of mine, it means that you are studying me!”
We should have a suitable language for our study. Language is important. We say that we want a non-stop flight, this really mean that the flight will never stop! A visitor asked for a hot cup of tea, and he was given a hot cup with cold tea, i.e. the language is important, Chitta Vritti = language, can you name a single Vritti that does not include a word? My own impression is that we experience the world through an abstraction from the immediacy of experience and through our conditioning. Ultimately, we experience and come to know through the mind. In classical yoga the mind is considered a sensory organ.
In previous years, Prashant has introduced using sound such as the vowels in the Sanskrit alphabet or the seed mantras for the chakras as means to penetrate more deeply into an embodiment. A sound can have some meaning in it, or not. The state of Chitta depends on the stage of the Tattvas (elements) and Dhatus (tissues) in you, any imbalance in your body chemistry creates an intolerance or some condition. The mind will not be like a lake if there is an imbalance. Dhatu (constitution)- Rasa (biochemistry) – Karana (sheaths)- if there is Samyama in these faculties, then there is tranquility. Sounds with meaning are important for our tranquility.
There are two aspects to learning yoga. One is learning to do, we become indoctrinated. The other aspect is to know, learning to know. We have overlooked this aspect. When we are educated, we can do more with less, less energy. Education in yoga and knowing in yoga is more important, it gives you vision, navigation, skill. Yoga is knowing your own embodiment, you know yourself.
The posture is a mean, not an end. Means to study, your body is the textbook to come to know yourself. In an integrated practice, the mind becomes a book. These yoga postures are optimum potentials for you to learn the subjective matter of yoga, that is why these are archetypal and iconic position, to come to know the embodiment.