Yoga Sutras II.33
I first met the word bhavana in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, way before I could have imagined becoming a yoga teacher. A client gave me Satchidananda’s translation when she moved away. I was surprised when I got to Book II, verse 33, and Patanjali says “When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite [positive] ones should be thought of. This is pratipaksha bhavana.” Here, in a collection of teachings from 2000 years ago, is what amounts to ‘cognitive behavior therapy’. Where have we been all these years? So I went to find out where we got lost.
Glenn Wallis, author of a translation and compilation of sutras called Basic Teachings of the Buddha, emphasizes the word’s agrarian heritage. "One of the Buddha’s favorite metaphors for the practice that we refer to as “meditation” is bhavana, “cultivation.” He certainly had in mind the ubiquitous farms and fields of his native India when employing this image. Thus, unlike “meditation” or “contemplation,” the Buddha’s term is musty, rich, verdant. It smells of the earth. The commonness of his chosen term – it would have resonated with a farmer – suggested naturalness, everydayness, ordinariness. The term also suggested hope: no matter how fallow it has become or damaged it may be, a field can always be cultivated – endlessly enhanced, enriched, developed – to produce a favorable and nourishing harvest." Wallis (2007) (Pg. 15
Learn about the power of mindful awareness practices with video teachings from Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach on Thursday evenings from 6:30 to 8:00 at the Bhavana Community Center (120 Marshall Court, Unit 106). Feel free to attend when you can. Check the calendar for program details.
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