Saturday, February 11, 2006

Eighth Class

Week 3: Day 2
Sanskrit Workshop – Manorama D’alvia

guru: gu (heaviness) – ru (remover)

Manorama began with an introduction of her guru, outlining his accomplishments, his background, and his emphasis on Sanskrit. She then described her experience with him. She described him as intellectual and accomplished in the sciences, including medicine. She recounted his humor and “juiciness.”

Yoga= union. Her guru defined it as “the state where you are missing nothing”

Manorama studied at Columbia, and now teaches Sanskrit. In her teaching, she emphasizes sound as an awareness, light, relative to yoga.

Kirtan= to call out
=repetition – practice
-each time we come to a repeated phrase in a mantra, we perceive it both in the present and as a part of the past.

Sanskrit – said to be the language where sound and meaning are united. In such a language, by creating the sound, you invoke the presence of the subject of the word.

What is the difference between prayer, visualization, and meditation?

Prayer is a kind of reverent talking to God. God must be silent to hear the prayer.
Visualization – whether a flame, the sky, or a mantra – is imagining something to the exclusion of other things.
Meditation – when God (or the divine or the universe, as it may be called) talks to us. And as silent as we are, so much the meaning and interpretations are correct.

Silence – not merely the absence of speaking – it includes the absence of thinking. It is then that we hear that which is meant for us.

Patanjali: we are all the time with the spinning of the mind.

So we practice.

In yoga, as you extend out, you are also pulling in. Prana is not something of which we have certain amounts to allocate to others.

Exercise: Chant and meditation

Sanskrit (flip your “r”) is the language of yoga – recall that yoga is the state where you are missing nothing. It is a language of vibration.

Root: kr = “to do” or “to make”

Where does language come from?

Different languages arose out of different needs:

Cuneiform – language of accounting of mine and yours
Chinese – language derived from divination
Sanskrit – the original language of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism – also of yoga philosophy
Side note: Buddhism began using Sanskrit, but the Buddha eliminated the caste system from his circle. As Sanskrit was the language of the higher caste, Buddhist writings are now traditionally recounted in Pali or one of various vernaculars.

Sanskrit = “Sam” (absolutely or fully) + “kr” (done or made)

Letters are like people. When two come into contact, sometimes they become one. Sometimes they come together and fight. Sometimes they require harmony between them to come together. As it is difficult to stop and start the prana of sound constantly, the breath fluidly connects sounds. Adding an “s” between Sam and kr eases the pronunciation.

Devanagari = deva (god) + nagari (script)
Devavani= deva (god) + vani (language).

English is the native language of rock and roll. Wherever you go in the world, the rock and roll music is in English. The language easily conveys the notion of freedom, personal energy, and independence. English has a start/stop characteristic to it that lends itself to the ideal of rock and roll.

Language = vibration

Behind every word is an intention.
- It is silence you hear first
- It is the foundation of sound
- It is the medium of sound

As much silence as you have, so much you can share with another.

[Manorama then sketched out a large circle with a single point at its center.]

Siva is the point at the center. Sakti is the energy that emanates from the point.
Chant: Ram citta, citta ram.
Sakti is often represented in statue as a woman with many arms. The arms do not represent a physical being – rather they symbolize her many abilities. When siva unites with sakti… You understand, right, that siva and sakti are metaphors for what goes on inside of us, right? They are inside us, not outside. The represent cosmic energies manifest in us. Siva and sakti together are the conscious engagement of prana. Yoga asanas embody the same thing. Because I (Manorama) don’t practice asana much, I have to be reminded to align the pose and to breathe. But once I do align the pose with the breath, life becomes like a prayer.

Sanskrit chant energizes the room and the spaces outside as well as inside our bodies. Whenever we can in a phrase, we try to avoid breaking the energy flow. We try to link words to a single breath.

Prana = life force, energy, breath, spirit

Both speech and sound rest on the out-breath.

Where we stand with respect to an object gives us a particular, and limited, perspective of it. When we can move inside it, we can perceive it from all sides.

Sanskrit is a language that doesn’t rely on faith or belief.

Vowels are prana coming to a point in the mouth and resonating at a particular place.

[Manorama sketched a side view of the palate and mouth, placing certain Sanskrit vowels at certain focal points inside the mouth. ]

In pronouncing these vowels, energy/breath is projected to a particular point, but the resonance expands from that point.

Deep sleep – meditation is similar, but with consciousness.

You are something more than the thoughts of your mind.

Meditation can be very scary because you are alone with a stranger.

Get to know yourself. You’re the only one going all the way with you.

Life is an unknown journey that involves aloneness – not necessarily loneliness. Aloneness can enable us to perceive the interconnections between all things. If we never allow ourselves to be alone, we may never discover what it is like to come into contact with ourselves.

Whether or not guru-ji was enlightened? Swaha. But he was happy, a happiness not mitigated by the difficulties he experienced.

Fall in love with the details of your subject.

OM is a composite of three sounds: Ah – Uu – M In yoga traditions, the three sounds represent Brahma (the creator) – Vishnu (the sustainer) and Siva (the destroyer). Also, as the positioning of pronunciation of Ah is at the focal point at the back of the mouth and Uu is formed at the focal point at the very front of the mouth, OM represents all sounds, as making the OM sound, you shift your mouth through each other focal point where the other sounds are made.

Sanskrit is described as the mother of all languages. Why?
Proto-Indo-European is the source language from which Indo-European language was created, and Indo-European is the language that has given rise to the largest number of languages in the world.

The basic outgrowths of PIE – Greek, Latin, Sanskrit, Gaelic.

Sanskrit has more ways to refer to the divine than the other languages. This may explain in part how Hinduism has 33,000,000 gods, to say nothing of their consorts, offspring, and the like.

Samadhi = Sam (sameness, balance) + a (completeness) + dhi (consciousness)

When you pick up one end of a stick, you also pick up the other.

How does form give rise to meaning? Structure. Meaning gives rise to form equally. This works in asana structures as well as in breath structures.

Godfather cinematic elements: chiaroscuro, presentation in shadows and colors of red and black, delayed presentation of the Don. Then presented him talking quietly and stroking a cat. The form of the movie gives rise to meaning. The meaning gives rise to the form.

Mantra = man (to think) + tra (protect) – invoking sound to protect the mind. Anything can be a mantra if it brings quiet to your mind, though English is not the best choice for mantras because of its construction.
Exercise chanting
As soon as prana stops, sound stops. Sound is entirely dependent upon the breath.

Sound is associated with “ether” – the first element. Ether is space and energy. Sound penetrates the environment and the body.
One day Manorama told guru-ji she was feeling miserable. He responded, “Good – feel more miserable. See how long it lasts. What has a beginning, also has a middle and an end.”

I Love Lucy episode in the chocolate factory with the conveyor belt. If we live life only to fix the next problem, life will be filled with problems. There is always a new one on the horizon.

Perceive the cycle. Awareness changes everything – body, speech, and interactions.

Fourth element: sound of silence. Silence, itself, has a resonance.

Nadam = vibration of energy.

In theory, we chant the mantra. But initation comes with the realization that it is the universe that is chanting the sound of silence – of the void.

Nada Yoga article reading.

If you feel a slight scratching, follow it.

OM – adult lullaby. But it captures attention.

Guruji saw the highest in everyone he came into contact with. He saw their potential.

A teacher can only till the soil and plant a seed. There is nothing that hasn’t been said before. But you can embody it. Be open to the moment.

You are awareness.

Patanjali: you are not just the mind.

An entry point is always available to you. Be as fluid as the wind. Don’t hold anything too tightly.

Embody experience, and then speak from experience.

Namaste = Namah (reverence/salutation) + te (thee)

All other definitions are the expression of intentions and commentary.

“rama” = to sport – god’s view of existence.

When adopting the styles and habits of a culture, we do so not for the purposes of acculturation. Rather, it’s about learning who you are. Take and adopt what appeals to you. Discard what doesn’t.

Guru-ji sought to eliminate the true cause of suffering in life, which is to believe that you are something you are not.

Before you engage with another – or even with yourself – connect with the cosmos, and then with the other person’s energy, and then with the other person.

Exercise: chanting mantra with hand placed on the heart of another person who is also chanting with her/his hand placed on your heart.

Homework: listen to a recorded mantra chant, and write up why it is in the language of yoga.