Of Elephants and Cell Phones – A message from Manoj to the Manasa FB Group (Aug 23, 2009)

Namaste all

First of all, I see a few non students in our face book group. I take this opportunity to welcome you all into this mail group.
Also just to warn you that sometimes, this kind of long mails might come, where I try to communicate certain incidents and happenings with students, trying to bring out the yogic viewpoint in it.
Now, about today.
Today is a day dedicated to Ganesha in India, also called Ganapati. So, in the morning, I deliberately chewed on a few verses of Ganapati Upanishad, an Upanishad which appears in the Atharva veda.
The first verse of the Upanishad is a simple ‘Om namaste Ganapataye’.
Now, you might know that I am not at all into theology as such. However I like to look into etymological meaning of verses and words in the Indian scriptures and try to understand its tattva ( spiritual principle) rather than its pratika (symbolic form and meaning).
Looking at the verse that way, I once again established in my mind the meaning of my favourite word ‘namaste’.
Coming from ‘namah’, it usually signifies a folding of palms and a greeting gesture of respect. However na mah comes from na me (pronounced ‘may’), which means ‘not mine’. So remember, in the yoga model, our individual awareness starts with ‘asmita’ the pure ‘I’, which later starts to associate and identify itself with various objects, through which it mutates into the state of ahamkara which then cultivates a sense of ownership and possessiveness over many objects, even people.

So we say, you are ‘my’ girlfriend or boyfriend, son or daughter, employee.. etc.
This mineness is not inherent in any person or object.
That feeling of ‘mineness’ which rises in us with regards to other people and objects is purely akin to seeing a snake in the rope. The snake is or never was in the rope.. likewise nothing was mine, nor is, nor will ever be.. including this body. Everything belongs to, or is part of a consciousness, which expresses as the intelligence which is currently organizing, maintaining and dissolving the millions of molecules and atoms of each part of our bodies..
The upanishidic teaching especially teaches to see everything as permeated with the grace of isha as the verse in ishavasya upanishad says, ‘ishavasyam idam sarvam’ meaning everything that we see or do not see, everything is permeated with isha, which if you believe in god, means everything belongs to god.
And the particular para ends with the line ma grdhah kasya svidhanam’, which means do not covet, do not try to entertain the possession idea etc, and instead abide in the knowledge that everything belongs to that which we dont know.
See everything as a system, as a conglomerate of smaller constituents.. everything is a collection.. such as this computer, or anything.. if you follow the yoga model, we say everything is a collection of five elements, five subtle elements etc.. everything is a collection of sub systems, whether animate of inanimate.. even music can be broken down to seven notes, our solar system into sun and the planets, galaxy into its constituent stars and planets, body into constituent 11 organ systems, each can be again divided again and again into smaller groups.
And each group seems to be also following a certain pattern, by which it can organize into a more complex system.
Now, group is referred by the word ‘gana’ in sanskrit. And ‘pati’ refers to ‘that which controls’. Thus gana pati refers to that which controlls or organizes the groups.
Once we can connect to that meaning, the verse then breaks any limitations based on beliefs, and we can see it in everything.
I look around, and i know i am seeing things through the reflected light, and light itself can be seen as only the visible part to us in the electromagnetic spectrum, which can be again subdivided into waves, photons, seven colours etc.
Everything is a group or gana and then the underlying organizing intelligence (termed ganapati) behind it can be appreciated.
So, after that morning contemplation, I started today with the firm notion ‘namaste ganapataye’, meaning ‘nothing is mine (na mah) and everything belongs to the organizing intelligence (gana meaning group and pati means controller).
In the studio, I saw an especially calm Lay Peng. On enquiry whether it is because she got any insight in her meditation, she said she did not ‘get’ anything but infact ‘lost’ quite a bit. At 2 am her clinic has been broken in and money in excess of 10 K has been taken away. But she was as usual, prompt and early to the class. We spoke about upekshanam, and I ended the conversation in an appreciative tone, and almost in a ‘no surpirse, of course this is what i expect from manasa students’ kind of style. But i was happy.
Then i was teaching the class, and towards the end of class suddenly I realized I left my cell phone on a chair in ganga restaurant. As soon as that thought came up, a feeling of ‘Oh No’ came, which I think weighed around 10 tonnes. After class, I went back still a bit reeling over the loss of ‘my’ phone. Also was disappointed at ‘my’ disappointment. Also ‘my’ forgetfulness. Reached home, and was dismayed that Sandhya could easily detect in ‘my’ face a disappointment.
After a while, somehow the ‘namaste ganapataye’ mantra resurfaced. Soon, the possessiveness dissolved. The loudness of all the ‘my’ thoughts went down. Now can smile at how, along with using our gadgets and living in association with others, the possession thought traps us.
Yesterday was discussing with Sandhya the meaning of the verse ‘tyaktena bhunjitah’, meaning ‘non attaching, non possessing, enjoy life’, tyaktena referring to vairagya and bhunjitah referring to enjoy. Today I am trying to convey the same meaning from my buddhi to mind, because it is the mind that is reacting.
Now, the gana (group) of words is getting too much.
So, Namaste to the gana (group) of Manasa
and, Namaste to ganapati, which doesnt in its tattvic interest point to any particular form or being, but purely to that underlying universal intelligence behind all groups, which perhaps has brought us all together too, in our path towards wisdom ..