Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sutra 1.19

 sutra 1.19

bhava pratyayo videhaprakritilayanam

There will be some who are born into the state of Yoga. They need not practice or discipline themselves. 
OR
This state (asamprajnata) is innate for two kinds of predestined beings:"those without a body" and "those who are reabsorbed into original matter."
 OR
Yogis who have not attained asmprajnata samadhi remain attached to Prakriti at the time of death due to the continued existence of thoughts of becoming.

In 1993 I heard the expression "Breatharian" for the first time. I reasonably thought it was a joke and moved on. Several months later I was house-sitting for one of my yoga teachers and in their bathroom was a book about Breatharianism. As I write I am struck by the profound irony of finding such a book in the potty, but there it was.

I had a look at this intriguing little book, and at the time, the arguments made for living on sun and air were convincing. This may give you some kind of indicator as to my state of mind and to my complicated history with food. I did however wonder about the water issue because I'd heard it's kind of hard to live without it. But my doubt was pre-emptorially dealt with as the author made some kind of correlation between cacti and humans. I asked my (then) boyfriend what he thought about Breatharianism, and he seemed to think that it was entirely possible. He also thought that it was (is) possible to live well into your 140's with verve and style so....

I did some research and found that the author of the book was a guy named Wiley Brooks. It doesn't bode well for Breatharianism that he was caught on camera exiting a 7-11 with a hot dog (yikes— 7-11  meat?) and fries (double yikes) and a Coke. He claimed that it was necessary for him, on occasion, to break his fast and consume crappy food in order to maintain immunity to our crap culture.

Toxicity. This is important to understanding Sutra 19. Because in this sutra a radical kind of mind/body purity is implied. Those "without bodies?" Who are they? And those who have been absorbed back into primordial matter? Diet has long been associated with a means to purification or putrification and I am not a believer in the power of the purifying road. Typically, commitment to purity inadvertantly cultivates sanctimonious behaviors that are a teeny tiny bit narrow (and a little dull too). I tend to think we are all at root already quite pure. We just don't know it, or how to read it in ourselves, or how to quiet down enough to listen. So yeah, perhaps there are those who are around without a body, but in my mind they're dead people. Same goes with those reabsorbed into primordial matter.

Who is Patanjali referring to when those withoiut bodies are evoked? Perhaps he means the devas — holy intermediaries.  In Carrerra's translation he stipulates that even those avatars (realized souls who choose to come back for the well-being and instruction of humankind) are not fully free. They are still attached to the attributes of Nature (prakriti) through their bodies. Either way these states seem really unattainable, and frankly uninteresting to lowly me.

As usual, I bow to Mr. Desikachar who, in his inestimable kindness has made this sutra available to us all. He makes no mention of bodilessness or reabsorbtion. He says, "Hey  there are those who are further down the path. They don't have to work as hard at attaining undestanding. That's the way it goes. There are countless souls. Why wouldn't a few of them be saintly?"

Some would say that my disinterest in working towards some kind of pure state by becoming a Breatharian, Fruitarian or a Nudist a spiritual cop-out. If you're not working towards total liberation than what's the point?  For me the point is to seek liberation in the most immediate of realities. This includes my food choices. I think eating with relish and gratitude and awareness to the nourishment's source is really a lovely practice, and one, by the way, which is very challenging to sustain, especially when Trader Joe's has a special on some kind of weird grain dish. (See Sutra 6).

"You really think you can live on, like,  a sip of water each month?" I ask my boyfriend.
"Oh you can't. But some people can."

It was not long before that relationship was "reaborbed into the primordial matter."

Do you think you must cultivate purity to experience the Divine?

 Is purity related to clarity?

2 comments:

Andrew said...

Fantastic entry. I often find myself reviewing my own relationship with food. For instance, while I am veyr happy to go to the gym and work really, really, really hard, I'm not so likely to go on a diet. My relationship to food is one of enjoyment. There might even historically be a pattern of indulgence which I am weaning out, but I enjoy the experience and taste of food too much to willingly forgo it.
Who can give up a well seasoned marinara sauce, or chocolate chip cookies dipped in freezing cold milk? Not I, nor do I intend to.

Thanks for the great post.

Andrew said...

Oops... I entirely forgot to answer your closing questions.

1. I do not need complete purity to experience the divine. To respond with a koan (or something groovily like it), it is said a fish cannot grow in pure water.
I've been fortunate to find small moments that were divine to me: a wind through trees, random intuitions.

2. Purity of what? Clarity in what? I guess I ask those questions because while there might be a correlation it probably also depends largely on what it is someone wants to be clear on. Once that's established then it might be easier to know what level of purity is required. Although, extrapolating something from your post, a person of the highest purity may have no Life experience with the trials of those around her/him. I find that in order to be really clear about what it is to be alive and human, I've needed to experience it myself. I mean, I'd be pretty bad at telling an astrophysicist which gadget is the most astrophysically correct gadget for the astrophysical task at hand.