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ईश्वर प्रणिधान Ishvara Pranidhana

Posted by Julie Andres on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 Under: niyamas

A letter of condolence was written to Robert S. Marcus, the Political Director of the World Jewish Congress, in February 1950, not long after his son succumbed to polio. This is it in its entirety:
"A human being is part of the whole, called by us "Universe", a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. The striving to free oneself from this delusion is the one issue of true religion. Not to nourish the delusion but to try to overcome it is the way to reach the attainable measure of peace of mind."
It was signed, "sincerely yours, Albert Einstein."
To a yogini, this is a familiar theme. It is the message that Krishna imparts to Arjuna in the Bhavagad Gita, the ancient, sacred love song to the divine. When we are free of likes and dislikes, judgements and fears, delusion ceases and the state of samadhi, absorption, the eighth and final limb of Patanjali's system of yoga, emerges.
My now routine practice of yoga has made me keenly aware of the many times when my attention to the yamas and niyamas lapses. Of course, these setbacks are directly attributable to inner struggles with my well-formed ego. I remind myself, whenever it occurs to me, that the habits of rampant, uncontrolled thought lead me in a direction diametrically opposed to where I want to go.
The final niyama is ishvara pranidhana. This is commonly translated as surrender to the divine. For me, at this stage, this means recognizing the kleshas (obstructions to the truth – ignorance, egoism, attachment, aversion, and fear of death) as they arise. These things feed the delusion that Einstein wrote about.
One of the many things that my attention to the yamas and niyamas has made evident is that progress is non-linear. Each tiny step is part of a greater whole, like the petals of an unfurling thousand-petaled flower (there's that analogy again).
It is reassuring to me that the great Swiss scientist used the word "attainable".

Om Shanti.

PS: It has been many months since my last entry. In part this is because in October of last year my beloved mother passed away. Anita Andrés Sleeman (her life and work are truncated on Wikipedia) was a true musical genius. Because of her I had an incredible education in jazz, classical, and contemporary music. (She even got me tickets for a Ravi Shankar concert when I was a teenager.) I am forever grateful for this and the many other gifts she brought to this world.

In : niyamas 


Tags: ishvara pranidhana  kleshas  yamas  niyamas  samadhi  bhagavad gita 



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