I have thought many times about different perspectives and interpretation of the Yoga Sutras. Certain passages or sutras are relatively straight forward, others much more subjective and open to different viewpoints. Why even the most basic and inherent foundation of the sutras, 1.2 yogah chittavritti nirodahah, stilling the mind. Iyengar’s interpretation is, “yoga is the cessation of movements in the consciousness.” This cessation or stilling, of course, has the possibility of variable meanings. Is the intention to make a blank canvas or to allow the mind clarity over impulsivity? Maybe both or neither? Enlightenment versus letting go of fears? Freedom from ignorance? Stopping the ripples to see your soul? All of the above? None? Something else entirely? As the sutras are ultimately a code of conduct and a guide for aspiring to see your true Self, the message and intent is of spiritual development and enlightenment.
In classes at the Shala in Mysore, my teacher, Lakshmish, had me write on the white board a string of letters all next next to each other as if one word. The letters were GODISNOWHERE. He had us all then look at it and asked what we each read. I saw, God is now here, but a few saw God is no where. The difference in meaning is profound. Lakshmish explained that Sanskrit had that same subtle ability to vastly alter the meaning based on who saw which specific words in the strings as well as the philosophical intent behind the specific sutra. In studying, he said it was important to keep a positive mindset, with the intention of purity and positive thought.
Truth exists when we believe it to be true. Self fulfilling mindsets can effect not only our belief of capability but of either a positive or negative outcome or perspective. Impossible versus improbable or possible versus certain. So much is in the approach.
A long time ago, I read a book on identical twins separated at birth,
Nature’s Thumbprint: The New Genetics of Personality
Peter B. Neubauer, MD, and Alexander Neubauer. The psychologists were trying to see the differences of nature versus nurture. How alike were the twins raised apart? A quality control flaw was noticed based upon perspective. There was a set of toddlers whose mothers were each asked simply, is your daughter a picky eater?
As the authors state. “When the twins [separated in infancy] were two and a half years old, the adoptive mother of the first girl was asked a variety of questions. Everything was fine with Shauna, she indicated, except for her eating habits. ‘The girl is impossible. Won’t touch anything I give her. No mashed potatoes, no bananas. Nothing without cinnamon. Everything has to have cinnamon on it. I’m really at my wit’s end with her about this. We fight at every meal. She wants cinnamon on everything!’
“In the house of the second twin, far away from the first, no eating problem was mentioned at all by the other mother. ‘Ellen eats well,’ she said, adding after a moment: ‘As a matter of fact, as long as I put cinnamon on her food she’ll eat anything.'”
I’m curious to know, as these girls are now women, how they each feel about cinnamon as adults. Does it still entice and smell yummy? Does Shauna feel guilt over her infatuation and obsession with it, based on how she was raised? Does she have an eating disorder? Conversely, does Ellen laugh over lattes with friends and her heavy hand of sprinkled cinnamon on top, saying, when I was a baby I teethed on cinnamon sticks? I have no idea, but I hope they are both enjoying it now. Ultimately, we cannot change anyone, just our perspectives. Having a positive outlook influences how we interpret all that we come in contact with, ultimately in how we live our lives…I’m really craving cinnamon buns now!