Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Latin Roots of the Yoga-Sutra--Chapter 1--Aphorism 4

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 3. This week I move on to:

Aphorism 4: Otherwise awareness takes itself to be the patterns of consciousness.

Let's first take a look at the Latin roots of two key words:

Consciousness: from "scio, scire": to know; the “con” of “consciousness” means “thoroughly” (from the preposition “cum” which here acts as an intensive), so one who exhibits “consciousness” possesses the “state, quality, or condition” of “thoroughly knowing” one’s surroundings. Other SAT and GRE-level derivatives that come from "scio, scire" include: conscience, conscientious, conscionable, conscientiousness, unconscionable, omniscient, omniscience, prescient, nicety, plebiscite, and nice.
Pattern: from the Latin word pater, patris: “father;” a “pattern” is the “father” of something because it generates the limitations within which forms can arise, that is, according to its “pattern,” in much the same way that a father’s genetic information helps form the physical “pattern” of his offspring, and also the child’s mental “patterning” by the way that the father behaves, highly influencing the child. Other SAT and GRE-level derivatives from “pater, patris” include: patriarch, paternal, patron, patronize, repatriate, patriarch, and compatriot.
Aphorism 4: Otherwise awareness takes itself to be the patterns of consciousness.
A human’s “awareness,” if having been proscribed or circumscribed or limited by the early “patterns” that have delimited or delineated her “consciousness,” cannot see reality for what it is, but only reality as it appears to the “patterns” or “filters” that keep true, or unfiltered, reality in check. It is as if she were seeing reality through rose-colored glasses. Imagine, if you will, true reality as clear, unsullied water, and ground coffee as the “patterning” or “filter” through which that “reality” must pass; the grounds stain the water as it passes through the coffee maker, creating an end product that is opaque and indiscernible to that clear water, despite the fact that the clear water is the primary substrate or underpinning of all that darkness or lack of clarity. Transcendent vision is all around one, permeating one’s senses, but the “patterns” of “consciousness” themselves are so impermeable that they act to obscure or obfuscate our vision of the ding-an-sich, the “thing-in-itself.” How does one remove these patterns of the mind, these dark coffee grounds that so influence our vision of the transcendent? How does one clear one’s consciousness for clear viewing? Is it truly as difficult as removing the dark color from that once clear water that created the coffee? Hmmm…maybe, maybe not. Patanjali contends that the patterns of consciousness can be stilled through the discipline of yoga, a new reverse filtration system, as it were, that can make pellucid the opacity of compromised vision, that can return lucidity to the darkness of that cup of coffee, to those clouds swirling in one’s cup of awareness. The substrate of clear water is comfortably there, and yoga is the path to clear the way.

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 scio, scire and pater, patris (there are a good 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 www.wordempire.com , where you will find the most comprehensive Greek and Latin roots dictionary available today, and also the most beautiful...it'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.