I feel so grateful to be part of a lineage. Walker and I taught at Wanderlust a few weekends ago, it was a lovely experience. Despite the lengthy list of offerings we decided to take time to be in nature and find some quiet time after teaching our class. I realized while there, that in today's world it is very easy to forget what yoga is, traditionally, and why we practice it. Patanjali describes the meaning of yoga very concisely in the first four sutras. In simplified form he says that the practice of Yoga begins now; that in that now moment, yoga is learning to observe the fluctuations of the mind and bring them to an end or into stillness; through that absence of mind chatter we are able to make a distinction between the object of observation and the observer or 'the seer and the seen'; and in that absence of though form resides the secret to letting the attention sit still within and abide in the Self. Guruji says that yoga is 'self study'. My understanding is that we practice asana with breathing to learn about the content of our mind and train it to come into a place of attention, over and over again, until eventually it comes into stillness. The bi product of this process is that we are able to experience ourselves from within, from a mindless state, and if we rest in that for a second we can train ourselves to overtime, grow that ability to rest our attention within to minutes, then hours and perhaps even days, months and maybe forever. A Parampara is yoga that comes from a lineage of teachers that carry the teachings through generations, giving the practice a certain validity. Eddie Stern describes it beautifully and very precisely in his blog:
"It is essentially the experience of the practitioner that continually brings the teachings to life, and that is what is passed down in each generation. One of the essential purposes of a practice is to carry techniques that help still the patterns of our minds; patterns that cause us to identify with something other than who we really are. Sri K. Pattabhi Jois said again and again, a Guru, or a living teacher, is absolutely necessary. We can only get so far on our own steam, and at a certain point we need to accept a guide who has gone to the depths of knowledge, and can lead us through paths that we have not yet seen. Someone who can guide us when we struggle, and encourage us when we become disillusioned. This acceptance of a teacher is called surrender, or bhakti, in Sanskrit. While bhakti is also translated as devotion, the idea of devotion basically means to have faith or conviction in something other than the infallibility of your own abilities, that there is something deeper that empowers us, and that sometimes we need help. Surrender does not mean giving everything up including your own sense of agency; it means giving up the idea that you are the only source of agency.
Looking through this lens, parampara has two parts: firstly, the transmission of techniques or viewpoints of self-knowledge, and secondly, bhakti. The last and necessary part is how those two things are carried: through a vessel. That vessel is called ‘guru’. Gu means remover, ru means darkness. The darkness refers to the seeker not knowing who they truly are, or what their purpose is. Darkness covers the inner light of knowledge, and yoga and the like removes that darkness, like turning on a lightbulb removes the darkness from a room. The guru is not the lightbulb, they are the one who can teach you how to turn on the switch.
The Katja Upanishads says:
Nāyamātmā pravacanena labhyo na medhayā na bahunā śrutena | Yamevaisha vrnute tena labhya tasyaisha ātmā vrnute tanūgm svām ||
This Self cannot be known through much study, nor through the intellect, nor through much hearing (of teachings). It can be known by the Self alone that the aspirant prays to; the Self alone reveals it’s own nature to the seeker who seeks to know it.
The Upanishad says:
don’t look to people or books to know God, or to know your true self; look straight to God to know God, and straight towards your inner being to know your Self." you can read more http://ayny.org/category/yoga/
Morocco retreat coming up October 20-26 8 spots still open.