Monday, January 18, 2010

Latin Roots of the Yoga-Sutra--Chapter 1--Aphorism 6

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 beyond the asanas. 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 5. This week I move on to:

Aphorism 6: They are right perception, misperception, conceptualization, deep sleep, and remembering.

You will recall that aphorism 6 is a direct answer of aphorism 5: There are five types of patterns, including both hurtful and benign.

Let's first discuss the Greek and Latin roots of four of the following words in aphorism 6:

n.b. The words "perception," "misperception," and "conceptualization" have the same stem cept, which is derived from the Latin verb capio, capere, cepi, captum.

Perception: from the Latin verb capio, capere, cepi, captum: "take, capture, seize" "Perception," etymologically, is the "thorough seizing or capturing" by the mind of experience, or of the world that the mind "perceives." Note that the prefix "per" in this case acts as an intensive prefix, adding emphasis to the main stem "cept." ("pre" in the word "prefix," on the other hand, means "before, in front of," as "prefixes" are those words that are "fastened in front of a word"). The suffix "-ion" means "act, state, or result of doing something." Hence, etymologically, "perception" is the "act of thoroughly capturing or seizing" the world around one, through the mind.

Misperception: "misperception" contains all the same roots as the word "perception," but adds yet another prefix (a prefix can precede or antecede another prefix), which radically changes the meaning. In this case, the Germanic prefix "mis" means "wrong, wrongly, bad, badly." Hence, etymologically, "misperception" is the "act of thoroughly but wrongly or badly capturing or seizing" the world of experience which surrounds the mind.

Conceptualization: the main root word of "conceptualization" remains capio, capere, cepi, captum: take, capture, seize; the prefix "con," which comes from the Latin preposition cum: "with, together," also here acts as another intensive, whereas the two Latin suffixes "-al" (of or pertaining to) and "-ation" (act, state, or result of doing something) (note that suffixes, as prefixes, can also be serried in formation: consider antidisestablishmentarianism which has fully two prefixes and 5 suffixes): hence, etymologically, "conceptualization" is the "act or state pertaining to thoroughly capturing or seizing" something, that is, forming a "concept" or "conceiving" of something within the mind.

N.b. the Latin root word capio, capere, cepi, captum has many, many SAT and GRE derivatives, including such words as: captious, captivating, inception, encapsulate, incapacitate, conceit, etc. etc. For a full list of these SAT and GRE vocabulary words, check out Word Empire, the most exhaustive source on the web for SAT and GRE vocabulary based on Greek and Latin roots.

Remembering: this word comes to us through the Latin prefix "re-" (back, again) and the Latin root word memor, memoris: "remembering, mindful" and "memoro, memorare, memoravi, memoratum": to remind, call to mind. When one "remembers" something, it is "called to mind again" since it has already been learned. Numerous SAT and GRE vocabulary words come from this root as well, consider: memorial, commemorate, memoir, memorandum, immemorial, etc.

Now, let's take a look at Aphorism 6:

Aphorism 6: They are right perception, misperception, conceptualization, deep sleep, and remembering.

A direct answer of aphorism 5:
There are five types of patterns, including both hurtful and benign

As we learned in my post concerning aphorism 4 of Patanjali's Yoga-Sutra, patterns of thought that are formed at birth and early on in life limit one's view of reality, coloring one's awareness of what the world truly is and restricting it to the view of the pattern, which is not necessarily where reality lies, but only the reality of the pattern itself, which is not actual truth or clear perception. Hence, to understand how to supersede such patterning, one must learn the "types" or forms of these patterns; all of them, according to Patanjali, are not necessarily hurtful, although some are. Being able to harness those that are benign to further the process towards enlightenment and obviating those that are hurtful will take us a long way towards fulfilling our goal, that is, to allow one's awareness of true reality to be unhindered and unfettered by those patterns. In aphorism 6, we are given the names of these patterns, both hurtful and benign:

Right perception: clearly benign. If the mind were to "thoroughly capture" experience and the world as it actually is, one would see clear to the truth.

Misperception: clearly harmful. If the mind "badly" or "wrongly" perceives reality (which unfortunately is where most of us are), it becomes afflicted with the kleshas, those "causes of suffering" or "poisons," in Sanskrit named the ff.: avidya, asmita, raga, dvesha, and abhinivesha.

Conceptualization: unsure whether harmful or benign. The formation of images or concepts or ideas in our minds could, I gather, go either way: future aphorisms of Patanjali will clear up the obfuscation.

Deep sleep: hopefully benign. Who doesn't like a deep and restful sleep?

Remembering: hopefully benign. Remembering, I think, in this sense is like Wordworth's Intimations of Immortality, a "remembering" of where we came from, "trailing clouds of glory." What is the etiology of the mind? The body? Our soul? Whither the origin? The origin itself, the Transcendent, the Numinous, the Ineffable Nondual, the Unmoved Mover, Ptah, or whatever other referent or inadequate word you wish to give that which comprises the very nature of the in its purest, most pristine, most powerful, and most wonderful form.

My next post will focus on aphorism 7: Right perception arises from direct observation, inference, or the words of others.

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 capio, capere and memor, memoris? 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 the Greek and Latin roots site called Word Empire, 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.