Saturday, September 17, 2005


the nano is amazing, and more yoga

the answer to steve jobs' question is clear: do guys want a year of sound, or a tiny, shiny thing? as steve predicted, the tiny shiny thing. he's a genius, after all.

i shouldn't limit this to guys tho'. the appeal is universal.

after fate tore mr. right's beloved white sonic universe from him, he was heartbroken for a day. then he bought a nano.

to see a nano is to desire it. it simply is the most awesome device ever; everyone who gazes at it, holds it, listens to it is immediately entranced.

it is a tiny gleaming jewel. i have eyeshadow cases that are larger than the nano; the bits of chocolate they leave on your pillow in upscale hotels are thicker than the nano.

no wonder lustful hordes of new yorkers are roaming the city practically taking stores apart brick by brick to get their hands on 'em. the backorders are from 5 to 15 days.

while everyone else was pounding on the doors at tekserve and j&r, mr. right cleverly went to the long-disdained big box store and picked one up -- they still had 30 in stock.

anyway, on the yoga front, long-time readers will recall my recent rant about christians and yoga (and here). the ny times picks up this theme today (use bugmenot).

the article is pretty ok. i'm surprised that the supposed hindu scholar doesn't seem to be more familiar with patanjali's yoga sutras. please note pada 1, sutras 21-22: "success in yoga comes to those who are energetic" and "success varies according to the means adopted -- mild, medium, or intense."

you can achieve success in yoga thru concerted effort, patanjalis says, and you'll get out of it what you put into it. now let's go to pada 1, sutra 23: "perfection is also attained by devotion to the lord (ishvara pranidhanad in sanskrit)."

"also" he says. you can succeed in yoga thru 1- effort or 2- devotion; this is the basis for the common division of yoga into "hatha" (the yoga of effort or force, the asana practice of doing poses) and "bhakti" (the yoga of devotion).

notice patanjali doesn't say "god" or "shiva" or whatever. patanjali was a grammarian, and he chose this phrase with care, ishvara pranidhanad.

the first part of that term, "ish," has basic meaning in sanskrit of "seeking something." it is said by geshe m. roach to come thru the indo-european root "ais," which we see in english as "ask." the second part, "vara," means to choose, select, or being the good; it's indo-european root is "werh," which moves into greek as part of the famous phrase "eureka."

so we can view the term ishvara as having the meaning "seeking or being the good." in this way, you can see how the term comes later to have a feeling of a "master," (someone who is good at something is a master) which then mutates into that english translation of lord, as in "lord and master."

you will note that the buddhist deity "avalokiteshvara" also has this "ishvara" thing going on in his name. ("avaloke" means to have compassion for all, or to look at all with love; thus the common translation of this deity's name as "the noble lord of compassion.")

let's take a look at the next word in the phrase, pranidhanad. the first part of this is "pra," meaning to come forward, and comes to serve, as geshe says, as the basis of the english proud.

the next part is "ni," meaning to go down, as in the english "nether." after that comes the "dha," meaning to set down, to set in place, and which becomes the basis of the english "deed."

geshe notes how this "dha" mutates into the greek to become "the-," the basis of "thesis," which is a formal piece of writing set down. the dha indicates works or actions that have been "set down," or put in place.

so let's put pranidhanad together: first you come forward, go down, and then set in place. thus you can see how it later acquires a sense of "prayer," which is something you come forward and bow down to offer as a definite, set act of words.

so the sense of the whole phrase ishvara pranidhanad is a master to whom you go to offer a prayer or petition, someone from whom you seek guidance, a teacher. obviously, depending on who you are and your culture, this could be any esteemed person, saint, or deity.

i mean, it could be albert einstein, vishnu, or jesus. the teacher you choose is up to you, the object of your effort and meditation is up to you; pada 1, sutra 39 says the yoga student can achieve yoga "by meditating on anything that particularly appeals."

this could be chocolate, you know.

so those who argue that you can't do yoga without a secret devotion to this or that, or that yoga can't be "removed" from a certain culture, are just not reading their patanjali with care. if i may be frank. . .

posted by fortune | 1:51 PM | top | link to this | email this: | links to this post | | 0 comments

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