Sunday, November 22, 2009

Latin Roots of the Yoga-Sutra--Chapter 1--Aphorism 3

Welcome back fans of Latin roots as they relate to English vocabulary words! Recently I have been focusing this SAT English vocabulary blog on analyzing the Latin root words of titles of great English and world literature, and then discussing why those great works are nonpareil. I have recently perused Patanjali's great work concerning yoga, the Yoga-Sutra, translated by Chip Hartranft. I have found the aphoristic style of the Yoga-Sutra to be not only engaging, but also deeply profound; in it, Patanjali discusses the considerable spiritual, mental, and physical rewards that one can derive from the practice of yoga, which is much, much more than the usually held western conception of yoga as just the asanas, or physical postures/poses. During the next two years or so, I will devote myself to writing about each of Patanjali's aphorisms, sequentially, contained in his remarkable 2nd-century BCE text, with a focus on analyzing the text in terms of its classical Greek and Latin roots of the fine English translation, and then providing an individual's exegesis of the text itself, based upon my own wonderful experience with yoga thus far. It has been said that memorizing the Sanskrit text of the Yoga-Sutra in and of itself can re-pattern the mind; I am most curious to see if this phenomenon is also metalinguistic, that is, can English and its root words effect the same transformation? Last week I focused on the Latin roots of the Yoga-Sutra: Chapter 1: Aphorism 2. This week I move on to:

Chapter 1: Integration
Aphorism 3: Then pure awareness can abide in its very nature.

The name of this chapter (itself derived from the Latin root caput, capitis: "head") comes from the Latin root integer: "whole, entire, untouched." Thus, this first chapter, the first of but four in the Yoga-Sutra, from an etymological point of view, will focus upon "the act of becoming whole, entire, or untouched."

The third aphorism includes three key English derivatives, all three from Latin root words:

pure: from the Latin root word purus: "clean, pure, spotless," source of the following English SAT vocabulary words: purgation, expurgate, impurity, purge, puritanical, et al.

very: from the Latin root word verus: "true," source of numerous and sundry English SAT words, including but not limited to: verify, verdict, verity, verisimilitude, veracious, and aver. Hence, "very," at core, is "truly."

nature: from the Latin root word nasci, nasci, natus sum: "to be born," and, more directly, natura: "character, power which gives birth to the world," source of a huge number of SAT and GRE English vocabulary words, including but certainly not limited to: innate, nascent, nativity, naive, puny, renaissance, cognate, preternatural, etc. The key here is the power of giving birth, or of creating the world.

Aphorism 3: Then pure awareness can abide in its very nature.

"Awareness" is defined as "knowing, realizing, or perceiving." Consciousness brings about awareness, that ability we humans have of being cognizant of not only our own existence, but also of that which surrounds us. Once aphorism 2 has been attained, that is, the "patterns of consciousness have been stilled," "pure," or "spotless, clean" knowing can transpire--which intimates that patterns of consiousness control our thought processes and give us an "impure" view of the world around us, somehow tainting our awareness (in much the same way that Kant described the mind as a a-priori filter that sees "reality" only in terms of itself, not as it really is). So, once the knowing becomes spotless, it can "reside" or "abide" or "be" in its "very" (or "true") nature..the question is, what is the "true nature?" A linguistic or etymological clue here, I believe, resides in the root of the word "nature" discussed above, that is, natura: "character, power which gives birth to the world." If the "nature" of this "pure awareness" is a "power which gives birth to the world," and the inherent "patterns of consciousnss" that is that "awareness" are not "spotless" or "pure," we cannot know the true essence of the world as it really is, what its "truth" is, because the "power which gives birth to the world" is blocked by patterning. But...this awareness, this "very nature," if it indeed does have the "power to give birth to the world," must contain the seeds of enlightenment, indeed must be an immanent, divine force which can allow us to see the world as it is, to view truth (the Platonic Ideals, discussed in the Allegory of the Cave in Plato's Republic), indeed, allow us (since we possess awareness) to "abide in true nature." With the intimation that this "true nature" in an inherent part of every human being, and that every human being can become and has the innate ability to become enlightened.
I guess that blows the "divine elect" out of the water. And supports the conviction that all people are indeed equal. And that all people are sacred and divine and ONE. Sorry, hierarchy of priests and all you infallible ones, we are all infallible.
But...a big but to cleanse the patterning of consciousness so that we can reside in our "true nature," so that we can take the blinders off "awareness" so that we can apprehend the transcendent, the divine, the ineffable nondual that surrounds us? Yoga, in all its phases. How huge is that?
Next: Aphorism 4: “Otherwise awareness takes itself to be the patterns of consciousness.”

Fascinated with English vocabulary words? Want to pick them apart into their constituent Greek and Latin roots? Want to know even more SAT and GRE words that come from the Latin root words purus, natura, and verus (there are a great number!)? Studying hard for the SAT or GRE verbal section, and just can't get a handle on all of those vocabulary words, which are truly legion? Check out, where you will find the most comprehensive Greek and Latin roots dictionary available today, and also the most's in full color, and artistically designed. There's even a Greek and Latin roots poster available, which nicely illustrates the full power of what Greek and Latin root words can do for you.