Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Latin Roots of the Yoga-Sutra--Chapter 1--Aphorism 12

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 Greek and Latin root words of titles of great English and world literature, and then discussing why those great works are nonpareil. I am currently perusing 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.

The purpose behind yoga, according to Patanjali, is seeing things as they really are, not as our minds construct them to be; to do this, the ultimate goal or teleology of yogic practice is to cease the fluctuations of the mind, to calm the sem, that part of our minds that generates an annoying 60,000 random thoughts per day, and can lead us down paths of irreality. This calming of the mind's thoughts causes suffering to cease, the ultimate goal of what yoga can do for us.

During the next three years, 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 11. This week I move on to:

Aphorism 12: Both practice and nonreaction are required to still the patterning of consciousness.

Let's first discuss the Greek and Latin roots of five words in aphorism 12:

Practice: via the Greek root prassein: to make, do, or achieve (morphemes from various principal parts of this verb include: pract and prax). Hence, practice is "doing," "making," or "achieving." Other SAT and GRE level vocabulary words include: pragmatic (via pragma: deed, act); malpractice; practitioner; praxis; and impractical.

: via the Latin root words non: "not;" the prefix re-: "back, again;" act: from ago, agere, egi, actum: do, drive; and the suffix -ion "act, state, or result of doing something." So, etymologically, "nonreaction" is "the state of not doing (something) back." Of these root words, hundreds of English words are derived from ago, agere, egi, actum; some SAT and GRE words include: exacting, ambiguous, prodigal, mitigate, exigent, and exiguous. Wanting more? Check out the most comprehensive Greek and Latin roots dictionary available today.

Required: via the Latin root word quaero, quaerere, quaesivi, quaesitum: search, seek for, inquire, and Latin preposition re-: "back, again." If something is "required," it is "sought for again," that is, one must have that "requirement" to move forward. Other SAT and GRE vocabulary words that come via this root are: inquisitive, query, inquisition, requisite, perquisite, and disquisition.

Patterning: The word "pattern" comes from the Latin root pater, patris: father. Just as a "father" or pater contributes to children via his genetic pattern, so too are patterns progenitors of forms. Patterning in the conscious mind becomes the "father" of action or thought; early patterns that are formed in the mind lead to children of restricted thought. Many SAT-level English vocabulary words arise from the Latin root word pater, patris, including but not limited to: patriarch, paternity, expatriate, patron, patronize, patronizing, patronage, perpetrate, and patricide.

Consciousness: The word "consciousness" arises via the Latin prefix "con" which comes from the Latin preposition "cum," which in this case acts as an intensive, meaning "thoroughly," and the Latin verb scio, scire, "to know." It is one's "consciousness" that allows one to "thoroughly know" the world around one, making one aware that one is not only alive, but that much, apparently, surrounds one in this world; a whirling vortex of samsara which leads to the kleshas, or afflictions. Other SAT-level derivatives that derive from the Latin verb scio, scire include: conscientious, omniscient, prescient, conscionable, unconscionable, nicety, and plebiscite.

Now, let's take a look at aphorism 12: Both practice and nonreaction are required to still the patterning of consciousness.

When one speaks of stilling the patterning of consciousness, one primarily means to cease the fluctuations of the mind that perceives its own reality, which has very little to do with reality. To do that, one must practice, or do those things which help cease that seemingly never-ending flow of sem, the flea mind, which distracts us all from what is. Patanjali begins to discuss that "practice," or what one can do, to still that mind, which reveals an entire Universe within that is completely veiled or hidden. From what I've seen thus far, it's epiphanic. Truly immanence, the indwelling divinity, is infinite.

Let's discuss "nonreaction." Many of the problems in our lives arise not from our surroundings or other people or the vicissitudes of our lives, but simply in our reaction to them. I can respond very negatively to criticism from a co-worker; I can stew about it all day, into the night, not sleep, ignore that person the next day at work, plot vengeance, complain about him or her to my family (thus embroiling them as well), and generally make myself miserable. The sem is trying to gain dominance at this point, and it loves the free flow of angst it creates; the sem is most alive and powerful at that point. How to stop this self-defeating thought, this fluctuation that so flummoxes?

I must ask: "Where is that criticism now? Does it exist? Show me that criticism. Can I hold it? What color is it? What properties does it possess?" We will see that indeed the criticism is, in fact, nowhere, but is simply being illusorily perpetrated by our minds; it exists nowhere tangibly, and the person who did the criticizing might not even remember doing so, or worse yet, it could be a misinterpretation of what that person said that is causing all the brouhaha, simply a misunderstanding!

One might also try labeling that thought: "I'm having a thought about that criticism again." Labeling it destroys it. After 20, 30, even 40 labelings it will not arise anymore. Try this with a negative thought that arises today. Hmmm ... let's see ... "I thought that person was my friend ... why was she so mean today?" To stop the inevitable further mind analysis of that thought, stop it short by labeling it: "Having a thought that that person was my friend ..." And it shall evanish, like the vaporous thing it is (or, really, is not).

Multisensory perception: One could also realize that the co-worker's criticism isn't about you, buit really is all about her or him. Often words will bubble up from a person which have nothing to do with the person to whom they are being said, but rather are all about the person who is saying them. Rex could be having a horrible day (or a horrible life, for that matter); words, metamorphosed to reflect Rex's reality, lash out, hurting others, when really they are nothing but an oblique conduit for his own hurt. We may still be hurt by those denigrating words, but realizing the provenance of the bilious words should put an end to their effectiveness.

The sem loves drama. It loves to think, think, think, and stress, stress, stress. This flea mind will take every opportunity to do so ... don't let it. The Witness, or supraconsciousness, can watch, and not react. Tough, but yoga provides the key. The golden key to the Door of Infinity.

You may know what is bothering you today, what is stressing you out, but do you remember what was doing so last week? A month ago? Of course not ... all of these so-called afflictions (kleshas) created by the mind are merely inflections of the same thing ... the sem's Will to Power (to use a nice Nietzschean term). Anything will do, any magnification is welcome ... at base, however, it's naught but whimsical, nebulous creations that are neither here nor there. Will 'o wisps wandering about, insubstantial.

*Yoga Book Corner*  A very fine exegesis of Patanjali's Yoga-Sutras is the exhaustive and comprehensive study by Edwin G. Bryant.  This amazing book is a compilation of old and new explicative material concerning these dense, aphoristic sutras.  They are well worth the time and effort to digest, and Bryant does a superb job of just that.

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 ago, agere; scio, scire; and pater, patris? 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 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.

Interested in Greek and Roman mythology? Check out Mr. Brunner's Greek mythology!