About Peter Ferko
Peter Ferko is an author who draws on lifelong pursuits in yoga, art, and music. His novel Wally and Kali is a poignant, funny, sexy tale of love and family all set in the realm of New York City's vibrant yoga scene.
Peter lives and works with fellow yogiraj, Wendy Newton and their ever-amusing dog, Mica. Their son Chris lives in the wilds of Michigan.
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Today’s word is avidya.
Avidya is a negation of the word, vidya, which means knowledge. Avidya, therefore means ‘not knowledge.’ As with most things in yoga, however, the kind of knowledge is pretty all-encompassing, that is, it’s not about knowledge of the A-B-C’s or knowledge of how to bake a pie. Avidya is the opposite of knowing the nature of who we are. It is often translated as “ignorance,” but as I stated in the Intro Post for this series, one-word translations of Sanskrit almost always leave out significant information. To call someone ignorant is a judgement about their intelligence compared to the rest of people — a sort of demographic statement. Avidya is something that everyone suffers from. It’s part of the way things are until through some evolution of our understanding we gain knowledge of who we are.
Yoga is one of the ways to evolve our consciousness. The Yoga Sutras list avidya as one of the five obstacles to experiencing samadhi, or the peak experience of meditation. That is because as long as we hold on to our ideas of the way things are, we will not surrender ourselves to the meditation experience. To say that another way, as long as we keep analyzing and storytelling and identifying our experience and our thoughts with the identity ‘Peter,’ who teaches, who is an artist, who lives in Brooklyn, etc., we won’t be able to experience the part of ourselves that is beside, beyond, encompassing that. We will not be able to have knowledge of the nature of who we are as long as we hold on to a limited view of who we are.
Avidya is then, to sum up, the description of our state of understanding of ourselves and our place in the universe before we have the experience of — the knowledge of — our nature. That knowledge is had not by thinking, but by experience. People have spoken of that experience as revelation, epiphany, profound calm, inspiration, etc. The techniques of yoga (all eight limbs together) are a ‘way’ to that experience.
I should say that some of these words are okay to use in class, because they’re common, but often students don’t speak or pay attention to Sanskrit. It’s important to take a reading of your students and see. It might be more effective to interpret, that is, put the ideas into your own words. Nonetheless, as a teacher or serious student, it will help you to know the Sanskrit words, because Sanskrit is a language created to describe consciousness, subtle forces, and the nature of existence, which is what yoga is all about.
Here’s a list of words to have familiarity with (of course you can add others!):
- dosha: vata (space/air), pitta (fire/water), kapha (earth/water)
Today’s word is asana. It’s a word you probably already use in class, but one that’s rarely understood. Like most Sanskrit words, there’s not a single word translation that captures it. That means when you reduce the translation to a single word, you’re leaving out important information. As a teacher, you can put that information back in as a way to enrich what you pass on to your students.
The common translation of asana is ‘posture’ or sometimes ‘pose,’ as in trikonasana, triangle pose. But asana is in fact a quality of posture, not the posture itself. As part of the eight limbs of yoga reported in Patanjali’s yoga sutras and elsewhere, asana is defined as a posture that is steady and comfortable.
A physical practice that brings strength and flexibility, combined with concentration and a balance of ease and effort brings you asana. When you have the asana in your seated pose, you have the possibility of getting beyond your aches, pains, and mental distractions to experience the part of yourself that is your inspiration.
That’s why asana is part of yoga.
I strive to use nature’s way of preventing real war, making words the dog and cat just read as growls;
And on a good day, I manage to get them both their pet food without incident.
About Wally and Kali:
When Wally looks for the path to love, he finds a naked yogini, a smiling guru, and a ruthless goddess lighting the way.
Wally can't figure out how to transcend his life-long string of not quite right relationships. His latest mismatch introduces him to yoga, and while she's soon gone, Wally is hooked and books a vacation at an ashram. There Molly, naked and 20 years old, befriends him, then confounds his fatherly inclination toward her with a profession of love.
But it’s Molly’s mom, Jane who ends up taking Wally to the altar. Life is bliss for Jane and Wally; for Jane's teenage son Dink; and even for Molly, who is surprised by her attraction to another girl.
Havoc ensues when Dink's girlfriend leaves him, and he falls under the torturous spell of unrequited desire, a torment reflected in an intertwined tale in the language of his job at the comic book store. Walt finds the challenge around this new kind of relationship — that with a son — the darkest he’s ever faced, and the whole family is pulled in.
Enter Kali, goddess of transformation. A joyful guru gets Dink to yoga class, and a tantric yogini-- or is she a goddess?-- takes the entire family on an unexpected journey.
Available at Amazon.com in paperback and for Kindle readers and smartphones.
What’s going on…
On the writing front:
- Wally and Kali is for sale at Amazon.com
- Peter's next novel, Incarnation is underway
On the yoga front:
- Teaching Philosophy Workshop at ISHTA Yoga!
- Peter is teaching in the 200-hr teacher ISHTA Yoga Training in DC this summer! Training is a transformative way to deepen your understanding of yoga, whether or not you want to teach.
Stay in Touch:
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