Yoga Sutras Exchanges with Yael

Concentration, meditation, and pure contemplation focused on a single object constitute perfect discipline. 3.4
—Barbara Stoler Miller, translation of Yoga Sutras


Ekāgratā, noun, Sanskrit.  One-pointedness, doing only one thing at a time, concentrating upon a single object or task.
– Diana Morrison, A Glossary of Sanskrit from the Spiritual Tradition of India (Nilgiri Press, 1977).

I suddenly had the everlasting conviction that any human being, even though practically devoid of natural faculties, can penetrate to the kingdom of truth reserved for genius, if only he longs for truth and perpetually concentrates all his attention upon its attainment.  … the same conviction led me to persevere for ten years in an effort of concentrated attention that was practically unsupported by any hope of results.

Even if our efforts of attention seem for years to be producing no result, one day a light that is in exact proportion to them will flood the soul. Every effort adds a little gold to a treasure no power on earth can take away.
—Simone Weil, Waiting for God

Yet he appears, from his early notes of memorandums in my possession, to have at various times attempted, or at least planned, a methodical course of study, according to computation, of which he was all his life fond, as it fixed his attention steadily upon something without, and prevented his mind from preying on itself. 
—James Boswell,  The Life of Samuel Johnson

I know positively …that each of us has the plague within him; no one on earth, is free from it. And I know, too, that we must keep endless watch on ourselves lest in a careless moment we breathe in somebody’s face and fasten the infection on him. What’s natural is the microbe. All the rest—health, integrity, purity (if you like)—is a product of the human will, of a vigilance that must never falter. The good man, the man who infects hardly anyone, is the man who has the fewest lapses of attention. And it needs tremendous willpower, never-ending tension of the mind, to avoid such lapses.
—Albert Camus, The Plague

As a cultural worker one needs to have all the skills one has a bent for. This takes discipline. Sharpen your attention. Get the facts straight, don’t color them. You don’t own them, you are a mere vessel for lion’s roar. Question the billions it takes to reinvent the plutonium trigger warhead wheel at Los Alamos, just one example. Are you too addicted to fossil fuel? Investigate the effects of burning of wastes. Learn how to write a citizen’s complaint. Be accurate, articulate, awake, and always move gracefully with your subtle sense of humor to navigate the dark passage. Seek out the like-minded. You will be a community of eyes. And you will create the world in your heart.  
—Anne Waldman, Vow to Poetry

My Commentary 


No sipping Northeast Coffee latte supreme with whipped cream
No texting someone I’ll see in ten minutes

No zoning out to “All Things Considered”
No penciling out the evening workout on a crumpled scratch pad

No returning that phone call to Grushenka Smith
No smoking the 5th and 6th cigarettes of the day

No daydreaming about Zhenya and Anya
No singing along at 96 decibels with Dylan’s “Positively 4th Street”

No listening to audio lectures on A. B. Yehoshua, z’’l
No reading two short paragraphs of the sequel to Dear Layla on a smart phone

No flipping through three Bengali vocab flash cards
No voicing via digital tape recorder of random “to do’s” lest I forget

No munching on the best Crab Rangoon in the city
Just this–

Drive the car

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