Thursday, April 8, 2010

Latin Roots of the Yoga-Sutra--Chapter 1--Aphorism 10

Welcome back fans of Latin roots as they relate to English vocabulary words! Recently I have been focusing this SAT and GRE 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 via Greek and Latin effect the same transformation? Last week I focused on the Latin roots of the Yoga-Sutra: Chapter 1: Aphorism 9. This week I move on to:

Aphorism 10: Deep sleep is a pattern grounded in the perception that nothing exists.

You will recall that aphorism 10 is a direct answer of aphorism 5: There are five types of patterns, including both hurtful and benign and aphorism 6: They are right perception, misperception, conceptualization, deep sleep, and remembering.

Let's first discuss the Greek and Latin roots of three of the following words in aphorism 10:

Perception: from the Latin verb capio, capere, cepi, captum: "take, capture, seize" and the Latin preposition "per," which in this case means "thoroughly." "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. SAT and GRE words are legion through this root, e.g.: captious, conceit, precept, encapsulate, incipient, principle, capacious, recuperate.

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.

Exist: The word "exist" exists because of the following Latin root word:

Exsisto, exsistere, exstiti, exstitum—to come forth, be, come into being {exist}

When something "exists," it "comes into being" or "comes forth." Other SAT and GRE vocabulary words that come from this root or are related to it include: consistent, existentialism, subsistence, persist, desist, coexist, interstitial, interstices, solstice. Interested in more SAT and GRE level derivatives? Take a gander at, the ultimate source for Greek and Latin roots of the English language.

Now, let's take a look at Aphorism 10: Deep sleep is a pattern grounded in the perception that nothing exists. One of the five types of patterns from aphorism 5:
There are five types of patterns, including both hurtful and benign

I think, which this aphorism clearly says to not do, intimates that, while in the waking state (that of experience) we are becoming, that is, doing, acting, breathing, etc., but in the state of deep sleep, there is an intention to just be, and not become. How could there be an intention while unconscious in the throes of deep sleep? A fair question, but one which is rooted in the very nature of consciousness itself, I believe, and in the roots of yogic mystery itself: the soul is constantly striving to return to its home sans patterning, sans fluctuation of the sem, to return to that stillness, which is manifested in deep sleep (except REM, I should think, when the mind is active). Imagine the vacuity, the non-becoming, the beingness of deep sleep, and one can fathom the ultimate teleology or goal of the yogini. Indeed, if nothing exists, if all of illusory waking is foisted upon us by our conscious, patterned sem, what joy there would be, what kleshas would be annihilated, if that state of perception entitled deep sleep could be attained in the conscious or awakened state. Consciousness of the void, of the ding an sich, that that which is, sans our labeling, thought patterns, and noetic grapplings. And so, deep sleep is that metaphor and real state that reminds consciousness each and every night (hopefully!!) that transcendence is ultimately doable, that enlightenment is perceivable: we just must switch from the unconscious depths of sleep into the conscious depths thereof. How that word just is risible and most irritating!

This gentle but perhaps, ironically, imperceptible memory jog, is a benign pattern to help us on our way towards the transcendent. Perhaps when we meditate we can think of the perception of deep sleep, what that means and what that is, and that will still our conscious rambling thoughts, will deepen the drafts of prana deep within our bodies, and send us into an aware sleep, as it were, watching but not reacting to the thoughts that arise within us, until at long last, like the dreamer watching her dream, will at long last be aloof from it until thoughts themselves evanish into their unreality so that we can at long last come home to the samadhi or joy of nonexistence.

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; pater, patris; and existo, existere? 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 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.