Archive | Quotes

What is Suffering? What is Pain?

‎Suffering differs from pain. Suffering is caused by the emotional reaction we lay on top of our pain. By becoming aware of our emotions and thoughts about pain, their hold on us can be released…This awareness is the tada, or ‘state of yoga’ about which Patanjali speaks. From this perspective, spiritual seeking is not what we do outwardly, but what we acknowledge inwardly.

– Judith Lasater, Living Your Yoga

Judith was the first yoga teacher who helped me understand this distinction. When she first posited the concept to me, my first reactive (and arrogant) thought was that she didn’t know pain. I was incredulous that the two – suffering and pain – could be bifurcated.

Indeed, it can be; it can be very hard, indeed. Sometimes impossible.

But yoga provides the space, the breathing space, to separate pain – acute physical pain, overwhelming emotional pain – from the experience of suffering.

In that way yoga has saved my life.

(Judith was also the first teacher who accurately reflected back my experience of yoga and fibromyalgia. She correctly observed that sometimes moving is better, sometimes not. The practice needs to stay nimble and responsive to the body on the mat that day – and it can take 5-10 minutes to feel that out.)

“The Day is To Be Experienced, Not Understood”

I love this:

‎One day in the middle of their morning prayers, the (Hindu) sage suddenly rose and ushered his students away from the monastery. He rushed about them and shooed them back into life like little ducks, proclaiming, ‘The day is to be experienced, not understood!’

– Mark Nepo

It’s the anti-navel gazing mantra. An important counterpoint.

Mad Men’s Jon Hamm Contemplates Yoga

well, well, well – from TV Guide, an interview with Jon Hamm, and HE brings up yoga. I knew I loved him!

TV Guide: How do you get camera-ready for Mad Men’s sex scenes?
Hamm: I try to stay in shape. I am not a gym guy; it bores me to tears. So I play tennis and hike in the hills with the dog. I don’t think I have the temperament for yoga. Is there competitive yoga? Then maybe I’d be into it.

Typical alpha male!

From the Taittirïya Upanishad

In the beginning this universe was not.
There was just pure potential, from which was then born Being.
And from Being was born the Self, which is known as perfect.
Truly, that perfect Self is the essence of existence.
Truly, in tasting the essence one rejoices in bliss.
Indeed, who could breathe, who could live, were there not this all-pervading bliss?
Truly, it is this essence that bestows bliss.
Truly, when a person discovers a foundation of fearlessness in the Self, in that which is invisible,
formless, unlimited, and self-sufficient, then has he found true fearlessness.
If, however, he makes in this unity even the smallest gap, then fear is born.
To all whose self is small, the form of the formless brings fear.

The Taittirïya Upanishad is one of a school of Vedic philosophy that outlines the five sheaths (kosas) of the self in order to know – intimately, intellectually, experientially – the supreme self (paramatma-jnana).