“… when confronted with unusual life situations… A warrior acts as if nothing had ever happened, because he doesn’t believe in anything, yet he accepts everything at its face value.”
Carlos Castaneda

Tales of Power

Dryed Tea Leaves


The sun and air did their part in drying the tea-leaves I collected and hung 2 weeks ago. This morning I took them down and collected the leaves into jars. I had a hard time believing it when Andreea told me that it would be this way – but the aroma of the dried leaves is way more intense then the freshly picked leaves. She explained that when they have dried the leaves are made up of almost only their essential elements – those that give them fragrance. The leaves we have are sage, lemon verbena, spearmint, lemon grass & thyme-leaved savory. They are all very “airy” fragrances.


This was a very satisfying project 🙂 I should do more of this quality of work … makes me feel good.

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Vaisesika – Soul & Mind


Soul (Atman)

Soul is a reality postulated from the universal experience of consciousness – the property of awareness attributed to all animate things.

As a general rule, consciousness is thought of in connection with the body – but the body cannot be it’s substance – it has already been shown that it is composed of the four Bhutas. Some thinkers maintain that when that these basic elements of nature combine and form a new thing – this new thing has special properties of its own – this may be true but does not apply to the body.

Think of it like this. Alcohol does not exist in the grain from which it is produced. But, once alcohol is produced intoxication is a property of every drop of alcohol as it is of the entire bottle. With the body this is not the case. Soul does not reside in all parts of the body (you can lose an arm but you won’t lose soul with it).

The body is a created thing and so must be made for a purpose of something other then itself (like an auto is made for the use of man, an automobile cannot drive itself). The mere existence of body, therefor implies the existence of something else – something to use it.

Soul is a permanent quality – without it memory would not be possible and neither could the feeling of self identity that we carry with us through life. From infancy to old age we pass through many physical (physiologists tell us that the cellular structure of the body is completely renewed every few years) and mental transitions yet we maintain a consistent sense of identity.

Consciousness inheres in Soul (Atman) as sound inheres in Ether (Akasa) – it is not essential to it – Soul can exist without the manifestation of consciousness. Consciousness only appears when Atman is in a special relationship with something.

Mind (Manas)

Manas is derived from “man” – to thing, believe, imagine, suppose or conjecture. It translates as Mind and is used in a wide sense – it applied to all mental powers – intellect, understanding, perception, sense, conscience and will.

This reality is postulated from the fact that we observe occasions that the all-pervading Soul does not perceive an object, even though the sense (which are the souls instrument of perception) are in contact with it. This indicates that something else is in play – something is mediating between the soul and the senses. This is Mind.

The existence of mind is evident from the fact that we can perceive only one thing at a time. If indeed the Soul is all-pervading it should be able to receive impressions from all the sense at once.

Soul can only perceive objects by the means of some instrument of perception  – such as the senses which reveal to it objects of the external world. What then accounts for perceptions of the internal world – ideas, thoughts and feelings?  Mind is this instrument.

Forgetting and remembering are also experiences that are beyond Soul. An object that has left the field of senses and perception can pass in and out of the realm of consciousness. This is another quality and evidence of the existence of Mind.

Soul (Atman) is the basis of all experience, while Mind (Manas) is only an instrument for experience.

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Flavors of Yoga


I intend this post to be a first in a series which hopefully deals with the question “How to find a yoga teacher?”. To do this I believe some background is required. I believe a good place to start is with the different flavors of Yoga that are “on the market” – in this case when I say Yoga I am referring to the physical aspects of Yoga (since this is where you are most likely to start).

Yoga was resurrected during the early twentieth century by Krishnamacharya – and some mystery veils how he came to acquire his extensive knowledge. He had 3 prominent students each of which became associated with a “system of yoga”. Pattahbi Jois is the father of Ashtanga Yoga (a popular form in the west), Iyengar is the father of Iyengar Yoga (another popular form) and Desikachar (who is Krishnamacharya’s son) who taught/teaches a less popular “brand” that was known as Viniyoga. Of the three, Desikachar spent the most time studying with Krishnamacharya (Jois & Iyengar spent a relatively limited period of time under the tuition of Krishnamacharya) and is therefore closest to his teachings and considered his successor (being his son helped too!). A key quality of Krishnamacharya’s teaching was adapting a practice to the practitioner. I will expand on this point later, but one implication of this is that each of these three prominent teachers was introduced to Yoga in a way that was relevant to them. Inevitably, that selective process resonates through their own practice and systems of teaching.

My teachers and I are a part of the Viniyoga heritage.



Ashtanga yoga is well known for it’s intense physicality. It is composed of fixed sequences that are graded by difficulty.  The sequences are like a “dance” taught and practiced rather uniformly with an emphasis on the overall flow of the practice. It requires stamina, strength and flexibility. It is a very dynamic practice.

Iyengar is also considered physically intense. It uses a wide range of asana (postures). Much attention is placed on minute details and specifics of the postures. It’s focus is a more static practice – spending time in each posture.

Viniyoga is considered a soft yoga. This is a result of a core Viniyoga approach to physicality – to make the postures accessible to the practitioner. Viniyoga generally utilizes a smaller set of postures but uses many variations and modifications to adapt postures to the capabilities and needs of a practitioner. Viniyoga is therefore very useful in therapeutic situations in which limitations of the practitioner need to be taken into consideration. The intensity of a Viniyoga practice rests heavily on the combination of breath and asana. Viniyoga utilizes (depending on the practitioner) a combination of dynamic and static postures, generally a Viniyoga practice will take you (over months and years!) from a more dynamic practice to a more static practice (static is generally considered more intense then dynamic).


Unless you are a fit and flexible individual (like dancers or athletes) you will be hard-pressed to start with a classic Ashtanga Yoga practice. Inevitably some teachers have created variations on the system to make it more accessible to more practitioners, though strictly speaking it is not Ashtanga.

Iyengar is a system in which one can be a beginner and gradually evolve towards a more intense, full & classic practice. Yet, Iyengar teachers were taught and practice strictly classical variations of postures – paying attention to many minute details. For many people the classic postures are either inaccessible or irrelevant (not very useful). You can practice a variation that is not relevant for your body for many years with little to no progress.

Viniyoga is a starting place for everyone – because each individual is the starting point of the practice. A Viniyoga teacher will be able to guide you through variations of a posture to find one that is accessible and effective for you. In Viniyoga group practices you will see that different people are using different variations of the same postures – this is inherently built into the system.


In Ashtanga breathing is a second priority to movement. The focus on flow and intensity of the movement usually leave little space for breathing. You may get very little or even no guidance on breathing (other then a reminder to do it) – it is usually a natural development of the practice. Because of the intense physicality of the practice – the breath is short and erratic.

In Iyengar Yoga breathing is given more emphasis but it is also secondary to the physicality of the Asana. Ultimately the use of breath depends on the preferences and priorities of the teacher.

In Viniyoga breathing is a dominant aspect of the practice. I was taught and believe that a practice is not Yoga unless there is a systemic use of breath. Breathing generally manifests in two areas of practice:

  1. It is used in ALL the physical practices (exceptions exists, and are usually a result of adapting a practice to an individual who cannot access breath – though this is very rare) – there is a specific and systemic relationship between movement, posture and breath. It takes time, practice and gradual development to master breath and movement.
  2. Pranayama – these are breathing practices that are executed in seated postures, usually applied at the end of a practice . Like postures, breathing practices have many variations and can be adapted to individual needs and capabilities.

The two form a subtle growth and development cycle –  physical practice prepares the body for Pranayama practices which in turn extend the breath and create more space and length for exploring physical postures in more depth.


Yoga can be practiced artfully with attention to detail. To the best of my knowledge all three systems of Yoga preach and practice precision, but they each have a different focus and as a result different effects on a practitioner.

Ashtanga places focus and attention on the precision of the overall flow of a practice. Precision in each and every posture is secondary to the continuous flow. Each posture is visited briefly, though numerous times (the overall sequence is repeated numerous times). If you are fit and able to contain the practice with ease (!) then you may have an opportunity to pay attention to more minute details of each posture. If not then you will be skimming lightly over the postures which are therefore not likely to develop much. You can get an overall improved sense of the flow, but unless you are really in great shape – specific postures will not be explored in depth – there simply isn’t much time, and in what little time there is you will be out of breath and unavailable for further exploration.

Iyengar places very much attention on details and precision of physical postures. There is relatively more time to spend in each posture in exploring subtle aspects. Generally Iyengar teachers will provide loads of information and tips on how to fine-tune your practice.

Viniyoga places much attention on precision in execution of breath, postures and the relationship between them. Precision is highly adapted to each individual. A Viniyoga teacher selectively brings attention to details that are relevant to and support the practitioner. Precision gradually grows as mind, body & breath adapt to the practice.

I think its useful to remember at this point that Yoga is ultimately a science of the mind and that precision needs to be measured in that context. You can obsessively practice many physical aspects of Yoga – with no or even detrimental effects on the mind. This is one of the key qualities and opportunities that Yoga creates in a physical practice – it can be used and abused.


Generally you will find much demonstration by teachers in Ashtanga and Iyengar classes. Ashtanga relies on you following the flow as demonstrated by the teacher – this means that most of the time at least part of your attention and your body will be involved in observing and following the teacher. In Iyengar, the ambition to do postures precisely in their classic form invites demonstration either by the teacher or by physically capable students (under guidance of the teacher).

You are less likely to see a Viniyoga teacher demonstrate postures. In Viniyoga the teacher will be trying to lead you to your limits not to hers. Learning by example is a powerful and effective tool, so in Viniyoga attention is placed on giving you the right example. A teacher may give examples by demonstrating with the assistance of students – not necessarily the most capable ones – but those whose limitations may best exemplify how to use variations to make a posture accessible.

31 Flavors

There are many more flavors and brands of Yoga. Sivananda comes to mind as a system that places emphasis on ritual. Bikram Yoga invites you to practice in steaming sauna conditions. Kundalini will promise to awaken your primordial energy. You can do Yoga naked. You can stand around with a bunch of people and laugh your head – and they call that Yoga too.

It is up to you to make a conscious choice of what you want to bring into your life, your heart, your body & your mind. More on that soon.

You may also want to read about taking your first steps in Yoga

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A while ago I watched a documentary called “Unwinking Gaze” (you can find some youtube clips) which gives an intimate perspective into the Dalai Lama and his close circle of advisors. The movie is offered as a means for every viewer to assess the sincerity of the Dalai Lama’s dealing with China (as a counter to the accusations of insincerity made by the Chinese). My overall impression of the movie was disappointment. I wished it had penetrated deeper. I also, to my great surprise, felt that the Dalai Lama, as presented in this movie was indeed dishonest and insincere. It took me until this morning (a few months) to let that first impression settle and for something else to appear. I have never met or spoken with the Dalai Lama and I have not invested effort in researching Tibet nor in expressing an opinion in the matter, so the following is nothing more then an echo of my own introspection.

At one point in the movie the Dalai Lama says that his cause is not to liberate Tibet from China. He believes that Tibet can benefit greatly from being a part of China (he gives an example – roads and infrastructures – that would develop better and faster it Tibet is a part of China). He even goes so far as saying he is willing to become a Chinese citizen. That is where my heart clenched. I felt that to be a defiant and manipulative claim. How can the Dalai Lama who embodies spiritual development and preachers human rights that are a prerequisite for spiritual practice & growth possibly become a willing member of a regime (communist China) that opposes those very values? It appeared to be an empty, irrelevant and insulting proposal (definitely got my sympathies on the side of the Chinese).

This morning it came to me that the Dalai Lama is simply being only as sincere as he can be. I believe this is also the reason that at some points in the movie he requested that the camera be turned off. I believe he knows that Tibet is not going to be freed, not any time soon, not in his life time for sure. Yet he seems to be working relentlessly for that cause (a sign of a true warrior). He cannot share this with Tibetans (some of which are on the brink of violence), he cannot share this with the West (who completely associate his existence with the Tibetan cause), he cannot share this with the media (who would have a picnic) and he most definitely cannot share this with the Chinese (who already know this, but maybe think he doesn’t). He balances a delicate balance between so many forces – so much so that it is almost impossible to even separate them into internal and external forces. Who is friend and who is enemy?

The Chinese perspective is rightfully that the Dalai Lama is not sincere with them – and I also trust they know why. The Dalai Lama, I believe, is not fighting for the freedom of Tibet, he is fighting for the freedom of the Chinese & Tibet, and the Chinese are not handing out citizenship to freedom fighters.

The Dalai Lama cannot state the truth (aside: truth can be known but not stated), but he can and is acting on it. This is a difficult lesson I have been struggling to learn over the past years – and probably the source of my friction with the movie . Tibet will be free when freeing it is no longer required. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is on an impossible mission – he is relentlessly touring the world to reach each and every one of us. Tibet is just an excuse, it’s a great excuse because it touches so many people and inspires them to move closer and act, act with spirit. The Dalai Lama is using Tibet & the Chinese to teach us, knowing that when we’ve spent enough time deliberating Tibet we will eventually encounter ourselves. It is a remarkable, brave and inspiring sacrifice.

One of the responsibilities of a teacher in an eastern teacher-student relationship is to expose the student to knowledge at a time and in a way that is most beneficial for the student. Sincerity, like many other things, must be delivered in effective and right measures. The Dalai Lama, I believe, is being an exceptional teacher to a huge class (one that stretches way beyond those who practice Buddhism).

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The Best of the Not So Good


This is for Hebrew speakers – context and humor will get lost in translation. It really had me going … Enjoy 🙂


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Vaisesika – Ether, Time, Space


Ether (Akasa)

The fifth eternal reality is Akasa – derived from the root “kas” ~ to be visible, appear, to shine, to be brilliant. It is that in which things appear – Ether. It accounts for the universal phenomenon of sound which is a special quality not associated with the other four elements. Sounds can be produced in any of them, but the absence of sound does not produce any alteration in their essential nature. Therefore we can postulate another reality – one in which sounds can inhere (like touch in air).

Sound is an objective phenomenon because it can be witnesses by several persons as being something apart from themselves. Ether is also demonstrated through the other Paramanus – they are all pure points (anus) and they require some medium in which they unite to produce new forms. An all pervading continuum is an absolute logical necessity for manifestation – Ether is assumed to be that medium.

Ether is of infinite magnitude (and therefor motionless), has no parts, indestrcutible and eternal. Like the Paramanus it cannot be perceived. However is has a special property – sound – which is perceived by a special sense of hearing.

Ether, together with the 4 Paramanus – earth, water, fire & air are called in Sanskrit “Bhutas” – that which has become – the ultimate essence of nature.

Time (Kala)

Kala is said to come from the root “kal” – to calculate or enumerate – it is translated as “time”. It is a reality that arises from the notional ideas of present, past and future – produced by the continual coming and going of all manifest phenomena in the objective world of sensible matter. This is caused by an outside force – otherwise there would be no reason for mutual relations such as seasonal changes and other periodic cycles.

This force cannot be Ether because these changes do not produce sound – if it were, the universe would be in a constant roar. It is a reality because we cannot conceive it to be dependent on anything for its existence.

Space (Dik)

The word Dik is derived from the root “dis” – to point out, show, exhibit. It is a direction, region or cardinal point – it gives rise to the notions of east, west, sough and north. The necessity for this reality arises from the fact that all things are seen to have an orderly relationship in the course of their movement – they hold a relative position.

Time cannot be this force because it operates in the opposite direction to Space. Time creates a unified affect, while Space must hold everything apart in order for things to have positional relationship with one another.

We tend to confuse Space with Ether. We think of Ether as a space in which things manifest. A good example to tell that two apart is to think of a chandelier and the room in which it hangs. The room provides the space – Ether and the chain which hold the chandelier suspended in the room is Space – the positional force. Space holds all things that manifest themselves in Ether.

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Vaisesika – Paramanus


The first four Eternal Realities: Earth, Water, Fire & Air are together considered Paramanus – which are the ultimate elements out of which they are composed:  anu ~ that beyond which there can be no division, parama ~ superlative. Paramanu is the smallest possible division of matter or that whole which has no parts. By definition they are without parts, which means they were not produced, cannot be destroyed (since destruction involves separation of parts), and are therefor eternal. For the same reason they have no magnitude, do not occupy space and have no inside or outside. They can only be conceived by the mind.

We do not doubt the actual existence of sensible matter of the objective world. The fact that it is something apart from ourselves is proved from the fact that it does not yield to our influence as do ideas and thoughts of the mental world which we can call into being and banish at our will. If, then, the sensible world exists, it must be made of Paramanus, which are the logical ultimates of all things.

The emptiness of matter has been proved by scientists employing western methods. They have been able to show that a block of marble contains more space than solid substance. It has been established that all mass is composed of atoms in which the distance between the nucleus and other constituents are proportionately the same as the planets of our solar system. If all sensible matter did not contain empty space, we could not accept the axiom that the Universe is pervaded by some cosmic force or power (whatever you choose to call it).

If science has shown us that matter is merely an extension of the invisible, a question arises, how can something of magnitude be produced from something without magnitude?

From Nothing to Something

Consider a point, defined as that which has neither parts nor extent, but position only. It occupies no space, has no inside or outside, no parts and is not produced and cannot be destroyed. Therefore it is eternal, has no magnitude – no length, breadth or thickness. This positional reality is what is implied by Anu and Paramanu.

If at least two points (anus) associate themselves along a common axis the resultant effect is a line which is defined as a series of related positions – in Sanskrit “Dvyanuka”.

To produce thickness (necessary for creation of all visible phenomena having magnitude), it is necessary for at least 3 lines to associate themselves in such a manner that they will combine to form an integral whole – in Sanskrit “Tryanuka”. To produce this form, 3 lines must remain apart and relate themselves on different plants so as not form a more extended line. They produce an independent unit, operating as a separate system with its own sphere of influence apart from the individual points (anus) from which it is made. Thus we have all visible forms known to us in the objective world, varying only in the degree of intensity of the association (forming anything from vaporous clouds or glittering diamonds).

So in the last analysis, everything is but an appearance of an intangible reality; that appearance is the magnitude called mass, which is only a means of measurement and not an actual reality.

Special Properties

The Paramanus are beyond the range of perception, their existence is known only by the manifestation of their inherent attributes. Some attributes are common to all Paramanus (for example: when they come together to produce forms of the objective world they are all impenetrable) – but these General Qualities do not enable us to isolate and comprehend the ultimate variables out of which all things are produced (the diversity of which assures us that there must be several types of ultimate Paramanus).

There are differentiating attributes which enable us to distinguish between different Paramanus. These attributes are so closely related with their substances – that their removal means absence of substance – if you remove wetness from water, there is no water. These are called Special Properties (Visesas) and it is by them that the Paramanus must be qualified. There are 4 such attributes: Odor, Flavor, Form & Touch. An examination of the objective world will clearly show us that there are certain forms of matter that are closely related to these special properties (removal of fragrance from perfume destroys it). These substances are Earth (Prthivi), Water (Apana), Fire (Tejas) & Air (Vayu). They are an objective manifestation of their underlying Paramanus.

Accordingly the Paramanus can be classified as:

  1. The Paramanus which originate odor.
  2. The Paramanus which originate flavor.
  3. The Paramanus which originate form.
  4. The Paramanus which originate touch.

Matter & Senses

The four substances are described in the sutras from gross to subtle:

  1. Earth has odor, flavor, form & touch.
  2. Water has flavor, form & touch.
  3. Fire has form & touch.
  4. Air has touch.

These four categories of matter make themselves know to us by means of special senses which must be made from the same essential ingredients (artificial pressure on the optic nerve produces light). We know that each sense is capable of perceiving only one of the Special Properties, for example the eye can see only forms, ever smell odors or taste flavors. Since nothing can be found that is composed by anything besides these four basic realities they are considered the foundation and the ultimate constituents of all things in the objective world of sensible matter.

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-08-02


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Vaisesika – Introduction


The term Vaisesika is derived from the Sanskrit word “visesa” – which means the characteristics that distinguish a particular thing from all other things.  As a system of philosophy it teaches that knowledge of nature is obtained by knowing the distinguishing properties that distinguish 9 eternal realities: earth, water, fire, air, ether, time, space, soul and mind.

When we have knowledge of the distinguishing characteristics of reality, objects of perception will no longer awaken within us the feeling of attraction or aversion which is the source of all misery. This liberation from suffering cannot be attained by only the cessation of pain because the memory (Samskara) of past pains and the ever-present potential of future pains. This potentiality  is an echo of consequences of past actions in the soul. It can be neutralized by practicing Yoga. But the prime requisite is claimed to be an intellectual insight into the true nature of reality.

The founder of Vaisesika was known, amongst other names, as Kanada: kana ~ atom, ad ~ eat = atom-eater. He was given this name because he resolved reality to it’s smallest possible division – “anu” in Sanskrit, commonly translated as “atom”.

Vaisesika accepts the universe as it is found in space, changing in time, displaying a medley of sounds, colors and forms of the phenomenal world. By the process of reason it organized this chaotic mass into a coherent and intelligible whole, and exhibits a system that sets forth the cosmic plan which shows the interrelation of all its parts into a synthetic whole, operating with such perfection that its very conception is spiritually exhilirating.

The principal question of the Vaisesika is “What are the basic realities of nature?”. There is no desire to indulge in intellectual speculation about the origin of things, but only to seek out the means of philosophical insight.

Vaisesika contains references to the laws which have served as the means of all ancient knowledge of the composition and transformation of substances, the action of forces on moving bodies, sciences dealing with heat, light, sound, electricity and magnetism. Even ethics, sociology and psychology are intimated.

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Nyaya – Preventing Error



Discussion is the adoption of one of two opposing sides. What is adopted is analyzed in the form of the five members and defended by the aid of any of the means of right knowledge, while its opposite is assailed by confutation, without deviation from the established tenets.

Controversy (Polemics)

Controversy is aimed at victory, it is the defense or attack of a proposition.

A polemist is on who engages in an argument for the sole purpose of victory. He has no desire to gain further knowledge of Truth, and therefore, will employ any device (usually of negative character) of debate in order to win.

Frequently the students will encounter objectionable personalities who have not attained true knowledge but who are overcome with their intellectual attainments in the field of philosophical thoughts. These people violate all rules of propriety, having no consideration for the beliefs of another. Under such circumstances the student is urged to make use of these devices in order to protect his growing mind in the same way that nature uses thorns on some plants to safeguard the growth of its fruits.

Fallacies of Reason

Fallacies of reason are the erratic, the contradictory, the equal to the question, the unproved and the mistimed:

  • The erratic is defined as the reason which leads to more conclusions than one.
  • The contradictory is defined as the reason whicih opposes what is to be esablished.
  • Equal to the question is defined as the reason which provokes the very question for the solution of which it was employed.
  • The unproved is defined as the reason which stands in need of proof, in the same way as the proposition does.
  • The mistimed is defined as the reason which is adduced when the time is passwed in which it might hold good.


Equivocation is the opposition offered to a proposition by the assumption of an alternative meaning. These are (2) playing upon words, (2) generalizations nd (3) metaphors.


Futility consists of offering objections founded on mere similarity or dissimilarity. The reply is said to be futile if it does not take into consideration the universal connection between the middle term and the major term. There are 24 kinds of futility.

Disagreement in Principle

There is no purpose in arguing with one who reveals his utter lack of understanding of the subject of investigation; therefore one is privileged to stop the argument. There are 22 occasions of disagreement.

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Nyaya – Doubt to Confutation



Doubt is a conflicting judgment about the precise character of an object. It must not be confused with error which is false knowledge. Doubt is incomplete knowledge which serves as the incentive for investigation. False knowledge may produce conviction which puts the mind to sleep by removing all desire for further knowledge.


Purpose serves at the motive behind all action which may be to attain something or avoid something. Until there is purpose, there can be no successful action. The text goes on to list 5 kinds of doubt

A Familiar Example

A familiar example is the thing about which an ordinary man and an expert entertain the same opinion. Such an example can be used as an example in the process of reasoning from the known to the unknown.

Established Tenet

Established tenet is a dogma resting on the authority of a certain school, hypothesis or implication.  The text goes on to list 4 kinds of dogma.

The Members

The members are the logical steps used to establish the object of knowledge:

  1. Proposition – enunciation of the object of knowledge:  This hill is fiery
  2. Reason – a vehicle of inference used to prove the proposition: Because it is smokey
  3. Example – an object of perception: Whatever is smoky is fiery, as a kitchen
  4. Application – consists of comparison: So this hill is smoky
  5. Conclusion – convergence of the previous 4 means toward the same object & right knowledge: Therefore, this hill is fiery

The text goes on with a detailed explanation of the inner workings and qualification of these 5 members. I believe they form the rules & foundations for a Indian philosophical art of debate I’ve heard mentioned in my studies.


Confutation is reasoning which reveals the character by showing absurdity of all contrary characters.


Ascertainment is the determination of the object by means of opposite views after a first impression which creates doubt. The sequence of investigation is as follows: first impression, doubt, opposite views, application of the rules of reason, determination of the object, ascertainment, knowledge of reality.

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Remembering to Look


As we stepped out the door to go for a walk in the village, something called me back and I took the camera along. This is what Elkosh looked liked today.

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Eat Real Eat Local


While this is a Canadian production it touches a global truth too… enjoy 🙂

Hellmann’s – It’s Time for Real from CRUSH on Vimeo.

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Nyaya – Introduction & Right Knowledge


Nyaya suggests that we are in an uninterrupted flow of misapprehension, faults, activity, birth and pain. Not very comforting- but we can break out of this flow by “understanding the true nature of things”. How do we achieve this? By realizing that (1) pain should be avoided; (2) it has a cause; (3) it can be avoided; (4) there are ways to do this. Sounds very much like the 4 Noble Truths by Buddhism! An interesting quality of Nyaya teachings is that they are not just about discerning true from false but also protect us when our knowledge is still growing and not yet matured.

Nyaya approaches philosophy by studying it’s method of inquiry. There is an innate capacity for truth seeking in human nature, logic enabled it to accomplish its aims.  Nyaya offers insights into the psychological aspects of obtaining knowledge, how the mind partakes in this process and what pitfalls it may encounter.

Nyaya mentions 16 categories of knowledge. The first 9 deal with logic and the remaining 7 are about preventing and destroying error. For now we will be focusing on the first 9.

The Means of Right Knowledge

Perception is that knowledge that arises from contact of a sense with its object. It mus be real, discreet, specific and not vague. It it also unnameable – the name of a thing has no connection with the knowledge of a thing derived through perception. Perception is in the sphere of the present.

Inference is knowledge that arises after perception. It may lead from cause to effect (clouds = it is going to rain) or from effect to cause (flooded streets = it has rained).  It may also be “commonly seen” – if its raining – there must be clouds. Inference is in the sphere of the past, present or future.

Comparison is knowing a thing from it’s similarity to another, previously well known, thing.

Verbal Testimony is instruction from a reliable person – one who is possessed of true knowledge and is truthful.

The Objects of Right Knowledge

There are countless objects of right knowledge. The 12 listed here are unique because truly knowing them is said to dispel delusion while false knowledge of them holds man in bondage of sorrow and suffering.

Soul is an intangible reality. It cannot be apprehended through the contact of the senses; therefore is must be known from either verbal testimony or the appearance of it’s qualities: desire, aversion, effort, pleasure, pain & knowledge.

Body is the site of motion, senses and objects of pleasure and pain. It is the field of the soul’s experiences as it strives to reach what is desirable and avoid what is undesirable.

Senses (and their objects) are the instruments through which the soul comes in contact with the outer world. This refers to the powers of smell, taste, sight, touch and hearing.

Intelligence is the power of forming and retaining conceptions. The mind’s faculty to discern, judge, comprehend, apprehend and understand the meaning of right knowledge. It is the power to contemplate the eternal.

Intellect is the capacity for reflection, inference, testimony, doubt, ready wit, dream, cognition, conjecture, memory, desire and feeling of pleasure and pain. It is unable to perceive two things at the same time, even though the sense may be in contact with their objects. It is the power to seek worldly factual knowledge.

Activity is that which sets the mind, body and voice in motion. False knowledge leads to desire which leads to actions that hold man in bondage.

Faults are the cause of all action. They are attraction, aversion and delusion. Delusion is the one to watch out for because it breeds attraction and aversion (which make you forget that there is nothing agreeable or disagreeable to the soul; therefore liking or disliking is pointless). Faults appear when we confuse parts and the whole (unreal and real). To deal with faults you should study and reflect on these teachings.

Rebirth – birth consists of the connection of the soul with the body, sense organs and mind. Birth is not the production of anything new, but only re-association. Death is not the destruction of anything, but only separation.

Fruit is the product of all activity. It may be in the form of pleasure or pain, depending on the nature of its cause.  Fruits sometimes appear immediately, at other times there may be a lapse of time.

Pain is an obstacle to the progress of the soul. The body is said to be the abode of pain; the senses are the instruments of pain; the intellect is the agent of pain, birth then is association with pain; therefore, life is a passing experience of sorrow and suffering. Pleasure is an interval.

Release is defined as absolute deliverance from pain. Only the soul which is no longer associated with the body, sense organs and intellect is freed from pain. When the mind is awakened to the true nature of things by right knowledge, pain will fade away.  Then, faults will have disappeared, there will be no incentive to action and the soul will be freed from future rebirths.

The teachings say:

  1. learn that rebirth, fruit and pain are to be known.
  2. learn that actions and faults are to be avoided.
  3. learn that release is to be attained.
  4. learn that is attained by true knowledge.

True knowledge is attained by constantly turning over these teaching in one’s mind.

True Knowledge is developed by first learning to withdraw the senses, then they must be held steady by continuous effort, then the mind will unite with the soul (see definition of Yoga from the Yoga Sutra). There are objects that force themselves on consciousness so intensely that the mind cannot achieve this abstraction (hunger, thirst, heat, cold, disease, the elements, etc.). Yoga practices enable you to overcome these obstacles. This capacity for practicing Yoga comes from accumulation of previous efforts in past lives. Preparation for Yoga is the study of philosophy.

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In Matrix Revolutions (the 3rd and last movie in the series) – there is a chant that is played once when Neo steps onto the tarmac for the final battle and then numerous times as the ending credits begin. You can hear it in this clip. Ever wander what it means?

This is based on a Sanskrit chant that belongs to a category of mantra known as mahavakya – great sayings.

asato ma sadgamaya
tamaso ma jyotirgamaya
mrtyorma amrtam gamaya

I wish to go from what is unreal to what is real
I wish to go from darkness to light
I wish to go from what dies to what is eternal

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Shakuhachi in Play


My Shakuhachi has recently relocated into my yoga practice space. I brought it because I felt it could support me in my practice. It has worked wonders for me. Sometimes I play it before a practice, it helps me to collect myself, detach from everything on my mind and slowly make my way into a practice. Sometimes I play it at the end of a practice and it helps me bring the practice to a close. Sometimes I only play the Shakuhachi.

It’s really amazing for me to re-experience myself through the Shakuhachu. As I previously wrote, playing the Shakuhachi gives me a glimpse into into my inner space, it’s usually very different before and after a practice.


Posted in Coming Through, inside, Shakuhachi, Yoga, Yoga & I | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Yoga – Philosophical Roots


As I was preparing to write about Prana in the “Yoga – Energy” series (which I haven’t yet done – at the time these words were written) I went back to Samkhya philosophy which I was introduced to briefly and where I found a root axiom which inspired me. But I wanted to go further back so I went searching again and found at DharmaDownloads what I was looking for – a book by Theos Bernard titled “Philosophical Foundations of India”.

I am not a fan of academic philosophy, it tires and bores me. This book seems to carry both that and inspiration, so I find myself sifting through it. I am trying to get a bigger picture of Vedic philosophy and make it more accessible & relevant for myself. Much of the text reads to me like “yadda yadda yadda” and so I am trying to whittle it down. This morning it dawned on me to do it in writing and on this blog, so maybe others can benefit from it as well.

The preface of the book hold what is to me the single most useful guide on how to bring any of this wisdom into your life. I quote it as is:

“According to the classic school of Hindu Philosophy, the method by which the individual can evolve himself during his life is through the practice of Yoga. This is the universal technique recommended to enable man to acquire actual insight into the true nature of things. All schools agree that until the faith is fortified with understanding, little progress can be made, for knowledge without application is like medicine that is not taken.”

Indian tradition is a collection of six “insights” – perspectives on one agreed “Ultimate Reality”. These are the six philosophical systems of India. They are attributed to philosophers who eventually put them into writing but they are not a creation of an individual mind – their real founders are unknown. The six system are interrelated and dependent on one another. They are often referred to as “Vedic” because they all grew out of texts called “The Upanishads” which are a part of the Veda – which is the most ancient known Indian texts – pretty much the root of it all.

All six systems share a few core concepts:

  • All accept the eternal (without beginning or end) cycle of Nature which goes through periods of creation, maintenance and dissolution.
  • All accept the principle of regeneration of the soul (life and death are two phases of a single, continuous cycle – which!!! can be stopped).
  • All accept Dharma as the moral law of the universe that accounts for the eternal cycle of Nature and the destiny of the human soul.
  • All agree that knowledge (don’t take for granted that you know what they mean by knowledge!) is the path to freedom.
  • All agree that Yoga is the method to attain final liberation.

The six system can be viewed as pairs.

Scientific – the physics and chemistry of how manifestations come into being:

  • Nyaya – a system of logic about acquiring “right knowledge”
  • Vaisesika – knowledge of the objective world of being.

Cosmic evolution – based on logical principles (this is my practice in this lifetime):

  • Samkhya – a metaphysical perspective showing that everything is made up of spirit and matter.
  • Yoga – the application of Samkhya for an individual.

Refinement – a critical analysis of the basic principles:

  • Mimamsa – correct interpretation of rituals and texts.
  • Vedanta – an inquiry into Brahman (the Ultimate Principle).

The book offers some background information on the known principals behind each system. I found that information mostly redundant at this point, but there is one thing that called out to me and I believe is useful to remember. These were all flesh and blood people (all men!), single individuals, each immersed in his own journey and each carrying his own system of faith that was relevant to and supported his reality. It is inevitable that, despite all attempts at philosophical objectivity, their personal beliefs and orientations tainted whatever knowledge they embodied and aspired to spread. They were as committed to suffering as you and me.

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-07-26

  • all geeks – gather around: http://twurl.nl/sjkfbt #
  • meditating while picking leaves for tea: http://twurl.nl/exw5y4 #
  • RT it never does @ronenk: It never happened #
  • mind is a great place to store stuff, heart is a great reason why #
  • @shanacarp no media (TV, Radio, Newspapers) in our house for many years… so I really wouldn't know. Sorry! in reply to shanacarp #
  • RT @shanacarp: got a way to stream israeli tv? my hebrew has gotten so bad that I can't read my friends fb profiles anymore! #
  • FEM – Fertility Awareness Application http://www.myfem.org is now available in German too 🙂 Wooohooo … stay tuned for more… #
  • Blip.fm says "You are iamronen"… I concur #
  • RT @ronenk: *Applause* This is really happening. ~ RT @iamronen: it never does RT @ronenk: … ♫ http://blip.fm/~aa3g7 #
  • something is leaving my life, something new is coming ♫ http://blip.fm/~abx05 #
  • fatherland raped motherhood ♫ http://blip.fm/~abyai #
  • RT I've called his mom… she crashed too…. grrrrr…. @ronenk: Firefox crashed. I'm calling his mom. #
  • 10:10 #
  • gravedigger, when you dig my grave, could you make it shallow so that I can feel the rain? ♫ http://blip.fm/~ac180 #
  • RT how wonderful 🙂 thank u @geekami: MONORAIL! In the future we will all travel in pedal powered monorail pods… #geek http://bit.ly/DlI4l #
  • sleepless #
  • good fiery morning 🙂 http://www.iamronen.com/?p=1444 #
  • a man with a guitar, a gentle caress to start the day, namaste ♫ http://blip.fm/~ae7ez #
  • @ronenk what did you have in mind when you sent me to the Game Theory course? in reply to ronenk #
  • just learned about BumbleFart… and I am so there…. #
  • RT 3rd Life @SaraJChipps: I made a pretend group on meetup to test something and people are joining and I think they are coming to my house. #
  • there is no us and them, there is you, there is me, and when there is stillness there is also we #
  • firefox crashes are becoming more painful … a shame! #
  • no, I won't #
  • listening to "Yumeji's Theme – In the Mood for Love" ♫ http://blip.fm/~age26 #
  • picked the first of our mature mint leaves…. wonderful aroma! #
  • @SaraJChipps re:Pandora – can't see it outside USA. can you please do a screenshot? in reply to SaraJChipps #
  • @shanacarp shana how do you tweet your disqus comments? is there a comfy way to do this? in reply to shanacarp #
  • @natalie it felt stupid trying 2 get noticed in high school and it still feels stupid? maybe its time 2 switch off the popularity contest? in reply to natalie #
  • @natalie waddaya mean just won't happen? it already has, for some? others will be high-school jocks for life… c'est la vie in reply to natalie #
  • 21:21 it keeps coming #
  • @shanacarp nope doesn't seem to work, found the setting, changed it, now how do i use it? in reply to shanacarp #
  • so sad: @biz says “We want to have a real positive impact on the world, and the only way to do that is to make tons and tons of money.” #
  • after 2 days of programming: http://www.iamronen.com/?p=1449 #
  • RT g'z man, stop bitchin'. walk away! @ronenk: פייסבוק בא לי רע. #
  • "the Macintosh was the first PC good enough to be criticized" Alan Kay #
  • I've been indulging in coffee for the past months, my body is starting to shown signs of rejection again! #
  • RT inspiring @t: brilliant @zeldman intro http://zeldman.com/x/41 to Bert Bos's design essay.. inspired much of @microformats' focus+design. #
  • @ronenk I can only hope the universe answers in kind and that whale meat never eats you 🙂 a good weekend to you 🙂 22:26 in reply to ronenk #
  • @shanacarp I just barely can guess it's a 3D software I heard about once, nothing more… sorry in reply to shanacarp #
  • @shanacarp there is no accurate info, u will have to make ur own mistakes, get lot's of memory and a good (fast & more memory) graphic card in reply to shanacarp #
  • RT @somestranger RT @inkupakor Goodbye Letter Days http://www.inkupakor.com/?p=152 #
  • hahahahaha…. ooops 🙂 #
  • could it be that in trying to solve a problem I am actually creating and perpetuating it? #
  • every assumption you make reshapes the world a little bit #
  • I've read the bill of human rights and some of it was true, but there wasn't any burden left so I'm laying it o… ♫ http://blip.fm/~al85c #
  • 22:22 farewell #

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Flat Sensations


2 day ago I started doing some more programming on new features for FEM. Whenever I start programming my days get longer and I spend more time at the computer then I usually do (which is also more then I would like to admit). I also feel that my energy changes, my patience changes and my body stiffens up.

This morning after only 2 days of programming I sat down for a short meditation and in it I experienced what a profound affect this has on me. One word that really stuck in my mind was flat. I felt flat, my sensations were flat – kind of like listening to a wonderful high fidelity sound system, but from another room with a door closed and some people talking in the background.

A prominent sensation is that my thoughts are traveling fast between many ideas and lingering longer on each idea. This is different from “regular meditation noise” – where my thoughts will wander aimlessly and cling to fears & petty issues. When I am programming I have many ideas in my head, features, ideas, technical challenges, design, etc. My mind is actively engaged in them even when I am away from the computer. Sure I know how to “turn it off”, but as long as I am in the programming “period” there is a different quality to mind.

Then there came to me the sensations of hearing and my own voice. My hearing seems to be … well flat… tones are less rounded, the sound is more mechanic, less embracing. When I did some chanting my voice seemed to have similar qualities – only this time it wasn’t just the sound. I felt as if the sound was coming from a shallow source instead of a deeper sensation I am used to. The resonance of the sounds inside me was also thinner and has much less body.

So I took action. I spent the first few hours of the day in the garden. I collected leaves we use for brewing tea from the plants around the house, collected them into bundles and hung them to dry. Some grounding to complement the abstract programming work that lies ahead.


Posted in Expanding, inside, Meditation, Yoga, Yoga & I | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Playing with Fire


Yesterday, for the first time in a long time, I did an asana (physical) yoga practice at night instead of in the morning. I was reminded, again, of how different my body is in the morning and at the end of a day – it is more supple, more responsive, softer, extended, light. These are qualities I can hope to experience at the end of a morning practice. Yesterday this was the starting point.

This opened the door for a high intensity practice using breath and body. I gladly walked in and relished in a flowing practice. I was able to effectively intensify the practice and bring it to an intended peak posture in which I was also able to travel further then I usually do. I got the fire to burn high and steady. However I did not do enough to let the system settle again (some pranayama breathing practices and meditation would have done the trick) . The result was a sleepless night. I tried going to sleep in bed but that didn’t work. I was eventually to fall into rest watching a movie.

This morning my gums bled intensely when I brushed my teeth, this is another sign in my body I have learned to recognize of an out-of-balance system (maybe it has something to do with blood pressure?). I am very alert, borderline edgy. I couldn’t sit too long on the porch with the morning coffee, I preferred to sit down to work.

Andreea said that this night was also a new moon, that it may have affected us as well, she too had a restless night. Even our cat had a difficult night – she was chased around by some of the neighborhood dogs. Experiencing the world with these perceptions and perspectives brings into it mystical and magical qualities – it’s fun to live this way.

Posted in Breath, Energy, Expanding, inside, Yoga, Yoga & I | You are welcome to add your comment