Friday, August 01, 2008

Planting a Seed

The Yoga Sutra-s are like Legos. They're connected, one to another, and it's hard to pick just one up at a time. Whichever one that I'm teaching, I always need to go back or forward a bit to establish a context. Yesterday, I taught Sutra I.25: Tatra nirtatishyam sarvatjnabijam. But to get there, I first circled back to Sutra I.23: Isvara Pranidhanadva.


This is a fast-track sutra. Having suggested several tools that we can use to improve clarity, reduce misapprehension, and help the mind to focus on one thing, Patanjali, midway through the first book, gets to this one. Keep in mind that there are 22 sutras before it and 28 or 29 after it. But this is a biggie. It says: if you're looking for a very strong way to find sraddha - hope, faith, belief - try surrendering yourself at to isvara. Isvara is something very major. At the same time, it's a neutral term. It can mean god or God, it can mean teacher, it can mean lord. My teacher says isvara is like the sun: omnipresent, illuminating, nourishing, helping things to grow, keeping us warm.

In I.25, Patanjali defines isvara as the extraordinary (niratishyam) seed of all knowledge (sarvajnabijam). Bija means seed, and bijam is the plural. Sarva means all and jnana is wisdom or knowledge. In other words, isvara is the gardener, who provides the seeds and sun and rain so that life grows and flourishes.

Given that I was posting early this week about the well being dry, it was a bit odd that now I was talking about seeds and growth and nurturing. But it gave us a great jumping off point for a conversation about the things or people we are trying to grow. It was a really comfortable class. There were two students and me, and we spent about 20 minutes talking about the seeds that we were trying to nourish, and how that was going for us. One of my favorite parts of teaching the Yoga Sutra-s is seeing how this ancient document really works for people in the 21st century. Another is learning how much we are all alike. Everyone has something that is growing or not growing, at seedling stage or growing into a nice, tall tree, and everyone has worries that maybe they aren't providing the food and sun and rain that the seed needs to flourish.

Here's some knitting to show off. My Jitterbug sock, heels turned on both socks and now working on the gusset decrease of one sock. The color of the yarn is wonderful: it will meander along in navy blue or a royal purple, and then, suddenly, there will be a tiny blip of celadon green or sky blue.

Next, this is the amount of yarn I have left to complete this sock. Will I make it? Plan B is to use the leftovers of Louet in dark blue to finish the toe.
Today I allowed myself to order another KnitPicks needle, this time a Harmony wood needle in a 40" circular to try to get my stitches tiny enough to use a conventional sock yarn like KnitPicks Essentials Tweed. Still looking for a good, worsted weight or DK yarn that would knit up like ragg socks for hiking, but so far, just still looking. I found a possibility in a Nancy Bush book, but the yarn has been discontinued, and the thread on Knitter's Review offering substitutions didn't take me to anything that was quite right. I'm beginning to think that it does not exist, and I was advised not to use a Cascade superwash because there's no nylon content.

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