This year the Smithsonian and the Asian Art Museum in San Fransisco were the hosts to an exhibition called:
Yoga: The Art of Transformation.
Manouso Manos gave a lecture at the Asian Art Museum as part of this exhibition. He describes yoga, past and present, and the life of BKS Iyengar, his teacher. Check it out.
NPR story about BKS Iyengar:
We will work on The Yoga Sutras by Patanjali
This text is a concise, compact exploration of the various facets of life and how they affect us physically, emotionally and spiritually. The text offers concrete suggestions of how to adopt the principles of yoga to overcome and manage life’s stresses and strains. We offer a few sutras at a time to learn, think about, and perhaps use in one’s daily life.
The commentary used is mainly that of BKS Iyengar as his understanding of the yoga sutras is through his own experience of practice of asana and how it pertains to understanding this text more deeply. Occassionally other translations and commentaries will be used and will be noted appropriately.
Brantidarshana – to live in delusion.
One of the obstacles to the practice of yoga is the concept of Brantidarshana – it means to convince ourselves that what we are doing is absolutely correct and right for us. It means also to be disconnected. For example – you may always be tired but you are convinced that you are getting enough sleep. Are you really getting enough sleep? Sometimes it is hard to “see the wood for the trees” to know the answer to this question. Yoga is about leading an examined life – through practice we can begin to notice that we have “absolutes” that we apply to our daily lives that involve anything from sleep, to diet, to pain, to our workplace. By noticing our “absolutes” we can begin to look at a bigger picture and work out whether they are helpful for us at all.
“Penetrating perception and sustained meditation are elusive and difficult for minds that have overdeveloped the analytic tendency to dissect and classify. This habitual inclination is bound up with brantidarshana, false apprehension in the realm of changing phenomena. A helpful start in the use of analogy and correspondence, vividly illustrated by George William Russell (A.E.), is to consider the hour of twilight. Sit down calmly at twilight and starting from some understanding of the apparent passage of day into night, think of the significant transitions in states of consciousness that can be analogically applied to greater and greater scales of being.
This degree of universality is largely incomprehensible to human minds conditioned by the dominant plane of consciousness. The practical teaching given from the most ancient times to the person who truly wants to make a beginning, is to devote some period in the day to reflect calmly upon great cycles in reference to the universe, the process of incarnation and the whole of humanity. Those who do this will begin to develop an intuitive sense of the archetypal nature of what is essential in human evolution, and gradually come to discern fundamental internal relations which were previously obscured by surface appearances and unconnected events.
To dislodge the host of habits which have become ingrained in one’s modes of thought and life, it is necessary to burst the boundaries of personal identity. One must intensely question the conventional conception of existence, as an immortal soul and self-conscious individual, seeking the deeper meanings of birth and death, action and inaction, day and night, not only for oneself, but also in relation to mankind and the universe. Exercising one’s divine prerogative as a thinking being, one can choose seminal seed-ideas as the preliminary basis for impersonal meditation. Such daily reflection must ponder ideas and themes that are universal but at the same time they must be brought to bear upon the uniqueness of one’s own condition, understanding and experience. By dynamizing ideas through contemplation, one comes to view the simplest acts of life in terms of the potency of ideation. Once this point is reached, although it brings the recognition that there is very much one does not know, it also awakens a longing to learn which is sufficiently strong to overcome the inertia and defeatism of ignorance. This mental posture prepares one for persistent efforts to meditate upon primal abstract ideas, which are cosmic in scope and without reference to the phenomenal world of manifestation and change.