Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Power of Humility

Essential Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
by Geshe Michael Roach & Christie McNally

I.1 I will now review for you
how we become whole.
Atha yoga-anushashanam.

Another meaning of yoga is to become whole. Ultimately we only become whole when we are truly capable of helping others with the things that really matter: when we can help them understand how they came into this world, and what life is for, and whether it has to end with losing everything.

This then, says Master Patanjali, is why I write my short book. He wants us to know, from the very beginning, that his book contains something of ultimate importance, something worth the precious hours of our life.

And I will only review, says the Master, what I have heard from my holy teachers. He attacks his own pride: I have nothing new to tell you, and there is nothing here that I have made up myself. I am only a vessel for the wisdom of the ages, and I pass it on to you—tried, tested, and unadulterated.

And he says, “I will” write this book, for once a Master promises to do something, they do it—or die trying. All the great books of India begin with these three noble themes. Their power, their karma, stops all obstacles to the work we now begin.


I.2 We become whole by stopping
how the mind turns.
Yogash chitta virtti nirodhah.

These are perhaps the most important words of the entire Yoga Sutra.Here the Master tells us another meaning of yoga, which is learning to stop The Great Mistake.

And what is The Great Mistake? Our mind turns; meaning it turns things around the wrong way. A mother takes her small child to a movie. On the screen, a man is hurting a puppy.

The child cries out, and reaches to stop the man. Perhaps the child can even get up to the screen, and try to hit the man. But this doesn’t stop the man; it has nothing to do with the man. And the child hurts their own hand in the process.

Our mind makes this same kind of mistake, every day, every moment of every day. We need to stop the mistake, and that is yoga. Pain is real —yes—and it really hurts people. But we can only stop it if we can stop misunderstanding where it comes from. And this is what Yoga Sutra teaches us to do.

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