Tag Archives: Rishi

The path of the Orthodox tradition

We have all been rocked in our childhood by the journey of Ulysses and the twelve labours of Hercules…

The journey of Odysseus symbolizes the quest for self, the twelve steps have an initiatory value as the twelve labours of Hercules represent the quest for the ‘self’ to the ‘self’ through the obstacles encountered on the path toward oneself. It is through these myths that man realizes himself. It is a YOGA.

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 The path of the Orthodox tradition

 Making emptiness, finding absence, in order to find Presence… meeting heaven in Earth. In the Orthodox tradition, it is experience that matters, it is by the sensorial and emotional feeling that meeting occurs and not through a theory or a religious ideology.

“To see oneself in someone else and in the loved”.
Father Georges
 

Tradition, is a “charismatic” experience, it’s meaning is the one of the word communion; it is not just a historical memory of the words.

All Orthodox churches claim according to the tradition of a foundation dating back to the first century of our era.

As the Hindu tradition is faithful to the Veda, the tradition of the Orthodox churches is faithful to the Gospel, to the teaching of the Apostles, to faith, to prayer, to the Tradition. This ‘Tradition’ relies on witnesses, called here Fathers of the Church, Fathers of the desert, and instructors of monastic life because their asceticism and spiritual lives are eminently doctrinal. They are like the Rishi (s) in ancient India with all the strength brought from ascetic experience and from the experience of the divine gained through prayer.

They are the ones who, as the Yogi, embody, make live and flourish from generation to generation, the path, the road, in their own lives and transmit all there strength.

The vocation of the desert passes through Mount Sinai, Mount Athos and the monasteries of the Meteors.

  • Mount Sinai (Moses mountain) houses the Monastery St. Catherine of Sinai, also called Monastery of the Transfiguration, which attracts many pilgrims. To go to the Summit of Mount Sinai, take Siket Sayidna Musa, which enters the ravine behind the monastery “the route the 3750 steps of penance”.
  • Mount Athos (the Holy Mountain) brings together twenty monasteries which support about 2 000 Orthodox monks and other searchers of truth in a mountain landscape also called “Christian Tibet”.

To stay on Mount Athos: it is necessary to obtain a permit (the famous “diamonitirion”). To get it, make a demand addressed to the Office in Thessaloniki pilgrims, “Grafio Proskikiton 109 rue Egnatia – 54622 Thessaloniki Greece”. Give your desired date to visit Mount Athos. You can write, send a fax (00 30 2310 222424), email (pilgrimsbureau@c-lab.gr), or call (00 30 2310 252578). The easiest is to telephone.

The Manager speaks French, English and Greek; he will give you all the useful information for obtaining the “diamonitirion”. Supporting documents can be sent by mail. You can request a renewal for a period of 4 to 8 days at Karyes, the administrative capital of Mount Athos (offices at the top of the stairs, on the right of the church)

  • The monasteries of the Meteors or the monasteries hanging from the sky (Μετέωρα Μοναστήρια). Athanase the Great is the founder of the Monastery of Transfiguration or Monastery of the Great Meteor. Today only six monasteries are still active.

Kyrie Eleison

The prayer of the heart is intended to be repeated continuously, without distraction of the mind, like a mantra. It is the keystone of the spiritual practice of the Church of the East, which leads to mystical union with God

” Man is similar to a tree:”
body work represents the leaves,
while the guard of the inside is the fruit.
Yet the Scriptures say:
Every tree that does not produce good fruit
will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
It is therefore manifest that our efforts must look at the fruit,
i.e. the guard of the mind; we nevertheless
need the cover, and the finery of the leaves: it is the body work. ”
Apophtegmes, Agathon, 8″

This will be the teaching of the masters of hesychasm: they will never cease to recommend first and foremost to be attentive to oneself, to enter one’s heart; or, in the words of Saint Jean Climaque, «to aspire to circumscribe the intangible (spirit) in the body “, instead of letting it (the intangible) disperse outside. This is what we call Pratyahara and Dhāraṇā in the asceticism of yoga.

But to the practice of the invocation, we must add some more external conditions:

The first – the retreat into solitude and silence, far from all worldly fuss.

The second – to life in retirement, hesychast tradition added later the practice of a determined body posture and some control of the respiration. This is what we call Āsana and Prāṇāyāma in Yoga.

”One should not think, Christian brothers, that only priests and monks have a duty to pray continually and not the laity. No, no, All Christians have in common the duty to be always in prayer. »
Gregory Palamas

In the philosophy and basic practice, there is virtually no difference between an ascetic Hindu and the approach to God in the Orthodox way. It is through the asceticism of the body, the respiratory control and control of the mind through the repetition of a mantra that we succeed in the Ultimate.

To go further:

  • Petite philocalie de la prière du cœur, Éditions du Seuil (1 novembre 1979) ISBN-10 : 2020053489
  • Philocalie des Pères Neptiques T.A1, Bellefontaine59 (1 décembre 2004) ISBN-10 : 2855899753

You can read the excellent article by Jacques Vigne, titled “ Non-dualité et Mystique Chrétienne,” Vedanta and hesychasm, published in Question de n° 99 et 100 (1995).. This text is a study on Christianity and Hinduism, especially the hesychasm, i.e. the mystique of the Fathers of the desert, and of the Vedanta.

 

History of Yoga Korunta (Ashtanga Yoga)

Travelling in the North of India to spread the science of Yoga for the treatment of various ailments, Sri T. Krishnamacharya – thanks to the patronage of the Maharajah of Mysore (well known for his philanthropy and spiritual faith) – discovered by chance, in the 1930s, in the university Library of Calcutta, an ancient manuscript written on palm leaves and entitled “Yoga Korunta”. The author, a sage of ancient times, called himself “Vanama”. Composed between 500 and 1500 BC, the document was excellently preserved. Also a specialist in ancient Sanskrit, Sri T. Krishnamacharya understood from the turn of certain phrases that it was part of a much older oral tradition (between 3000 and 4000 years BC).

Sri T. Krishnamacharya

Sri T. Krishnamacharya

Following this discovery, Sri T. Krishnamacharya, who taught a different method of yoga, altered his teaching for the third time. He asked Sri K. Pattabhi Jois to devote himself exclusively to this method of original Yoga, called Yoga Korunta, and to pass it on.

From 1937 onwards, Pattabhi taught Yoga Korunta in Mysore, India.

Only in the late 1960s, André Van Lysebeth, the first teacher of European yoga, spends three months to study Yoga in India with Pattabhi.

André speaks of him and the quality of his training and popularizes him by publishing laudatory articles in the paper « YOGA » which he edits.

La "REVUE YOGA"

La “REVUE YOGA”

Around 1973, Americans participate in the demonstration of yoga by Manju (Pattabhi’s son) in the ashram of Gitānanda (near Pondicherry). Thus Norman Allen became a pupil of Pattabhi or Guruji, as his disciples call him, later Nancy Gilgoff and David Williams came.

Pattabhi chose to use the term “Ashtanga” for his school in reference to one of the six points of view of orthodox Indian philosophy, i.e. Yoga. The other points of view are: Nyāya, Vaisheshika, Sāṃkhya, Mîmâmsâ, Vedānta.

The bible of Yoga, written by Patañjali, is “The Yoga Sūtra” (a kind of synthesis of all the preceding knowledge).

In the second chapter of this book, at verse (YS II-29) the foundations of the practice of yoga are being explained, the definition of which is “aṣṭāṅga yoga”. Thus, all the spiritual techniques referring to this book can be called aṣṭāṅga yoga.

This way the name of “Yoga Korunta” was changed to “Ashtanga Yoga”. Actually, the institute of Pattabhi was called “Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute of Mysore”, which made the American students think that he taught a kind of Yoga called “Ashtanga Yoga”.

In 1975, Nancy Gilgoff and David Williams invited Guruji and his son Manju, who thus set off on their first voyage to America in order to teach yoga. Manju stayed in the United States. This practice of Yoga spread rapidly throughout America from California, extending up to Hawaii, under the name of Ashtanga Yoga.

Les livrets de JB Rishi sur l'Ashtanga Yoga

In Europe, the first teachers to spread this method were called Jean-Pierre Radhu (Belgium), Gabriel Plessis (Paris, Rouen – 1972). With the permission of Guruji, Jean Bernard Rishi in Paris (France 1975) published leaflets on the sun salutations of Mysore and the standing postures (photos of Pattabhi in black and white). Having taught Ashtanga Yoga for several years, they all changed their methods of different reasons. Later, Jean Claude Garnier (France, Belgium – 1978) and Serge Fonteneau (France, Château Renauld) embraced the teachings of Pattabhi and have made it their business to disseminate them.

Today, this traditional form of Yoga, mainly known under the name of Ashtanga Yoga, is one of the most practiced worldwide.

Sharath Rangaswamy, the grandson of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, teaches the Ashtanga Yoga he has learnt from his grandfather.

 

For further reading :

  • Yoga Mala – Sri K. Pattabhi Jois (paperback)
  • Ashtanga Yoga – John Scott (Le courrier du livre).
  • Ashtanga Yoga – Le Guide Pratique: Un Guide Illustré Destiné à une Pratique Personnelle, Première et Deuxième… de David Swenson

YOGA, the origins

Yoga for body, heart and soul…

When the rishi of ancient times developed yoga, the postures had a meaning and an aim apart from curing problems related to the back or to existential anxiety.

“Be young, age wall or old, sick or weak, one reaches the realization by practice, by sustained, relentless attention of all aspects of Yoga»
Haṭhayōgapradīpikā, I, 64

The aim of yoga is not a striving for bodily suppleness, it concerns peace of mind, the modification of the mind.

“The realization comes to one who is constantly engaged in practice. How would she come to the inactive? This isn’t simply by reading the treaties on yoga that perfection can be born”
Haṭhayōgapradīpikā, I, 65

The way of the body (Kaya Sādhanā)

The word “āsana” means position, posture, attitude and foundation. For the Indian sculptor, the position or physical bearing serves as a sign language and an emotional language codified and known by all. Hence, the postures of yoga represent archetypical figures. The practice of these figures in the context of a method permits the practitioner to re-establish links with his profoundest roots.

Shiva, on paper

Shiva, on paper

Finding in oneself the emotions of the body, the heart and the soul, accepting taking a step towards the unknown in order to discover a different balance, a different vision

With his body, man writes his dreams. By transcending himself, he creates a different reality, a new power, a new suppleness, and new sensations. This realisation requires going beyond stiffness and discomfort for many years of effort.

As expressed so well by Satprem in the title of one of his books, “Son of Heaven through the body of the Earth”, it is through this earthly body, this body of flesh, this material body (sthūla-śarīra) that we will, by practicing yoga, awaken the body of light, the body of energy (prāṇāyāma-kośa),

Valmiki, Ramayana

Valmiki, Ramayana

How did the concept of yoga develop?

This concept dominates all the philosophical speculations of India, reincarnation, metempsychosis. Present life shows but one stage in a multitude of successive lives that have as their common goal being painful and of which one absolutely needs to disengage oneself.

Transmigration, pain, deliverance…

For Indian thought, the existence of the soul is a given. This primitive belief was already held in prehistory. Actually, in the most ancient scriptures known, the individual soul presents itself as the pillar of all vital functions of man. The soul, (Ātman) is the “breath”, the “breath of life” (Prāṇa) par excellence, and the foundation of other breaths of life. It resides in the body and penetrates it completely.

The framework of yoga is very well defined in the Yoga Sūtra or Yogasūtra. The practitioner needs to learn to observe, to feel without complacence or remonstrance, to search for the state of transparency of self. Being true to oneself.

 

In the chapter Sādhana pāda of the Yoga Sutra, Patañjali describes Ashtanga Yoga. “Here are the eight limbs (aṅga), stages or branches of Royal Yoga (Rāja-Yoga)”.

  1. The prohibitions, yama ( यम ) or yamarāja ( यमराज )
  2. The injunctions, niyama (नियम ), five in number
  3. The physical posture, the āsana ( आसन ) 8 400 000 in number, the most well known: padmāsana
  4. Respiratory discipline, prāṇāyāma ( प्राणायाम ), which strictly prescribes inspiration and expiration in the postural practice and the holding of the breath in the techniques controlling the breath.
  5. The retraction of the senses, pratyāhāra, which leads the wise to
  6. Concentration, dhāraņā ( धारण ) which is pursued through
  7. Meditation, dhyāna ( ध्यान ) which is accomplished through
  8. The achievement and the contemplation of the Spirit, Samādhi.

“The body is like a flesh, the soul (ātman) is its master, intelligence (buddhi) is its driver, the spirit (manas) plays the part of the reins, as to the horses, these are the senses (indriya): the world is their course.”
Kaṭha Upaniṣad or Kaṭhopaniṣad 3.3

What yoga proposes is hence disciplining the human “vehicle” in its various aspects: perceptions and actions with sensuality and corporality, emotions and thoughts with mind and intelligence. Yoga is thus a discipline and a discipline is a space of freedom, it is a framework of freedom.

Only discipline will develop an ever-greater force of endurance, which will permit – once we encounter a difficulty in life (fatigue, illness, doubt, conflict, fear etc) – to continue our path with Peace, Force and Joy.