Adding a dimension to the Teacher Student Prayer

This piece is fruit of inspiration by three wonderful teachers that light the path underneath my feet: Dharmanidhi Sarasvati, Rami Shivan and Hart deFouw. May they continue to benefit all beings in all times and spaces.

One of the most precious prayers we enjoy on the yogic path is the teacher student prayer. This is a very ancient invocation that comes to us from the Vedas. Hardly a yoga class transpires in a yoga studio where this chant is not invoked to harmonize energies between student and teacher. As westerners, we enjoy it invokes, but this chant is more than that: it is a prayer, and if we do not know the meaning of it, its potency is somewhat diminished. The more multi-dimensionally we relate to it, the greater fruit it bears for our growth.

Why do we chant this prayer? Because in every learning session there is great potential for insult, hurt, and anger. Because a lot of ego comes into the student-teacher dynamic. Students may become irritated with each other. The student may become irritated with the teacher, the teacher with the student. The teacher student prayer conveys: let us never hurt each other.

We make a commitment to study together, to put up with each other. When we get on each other's nerves we let it go because we say that the dharma is the most important, to realize our nature is the most important. It is a contract that we make in a call and response form, back and forth to each other. May we shine brightly together in this study for the benefit of all beings.

One way to experience this prayer is as an ordering of the five elements in our microcosm. Indeed, this prayer evokes the five elements. Lets go through it.

Earth element in the form of protection.
May that Truth that we are pursuing protect us both. Artha, security, is the prime mandate human beings pursue, and fulfillment of that allows us to yield to higher goals.

Water element in the form of nourishment.
May that Truth nourish us together. And may we not get emotionally attached to the results of our study.

Fire element enables understanding to illuminate what we study.
May we work with energy to pursue that objective Truth together. May we gain ability to understand what we study. May we receive the illumination of knowledge.

Wind element enables communication of Essence (that which we have understood via the fire element).
May we have great energy in our mutual study. May our study be brilliant. May we overcome the inertia of our density. May our knowledge expand like the wind and be brilliant for the benefit of others.

Space element as harmonious hosting capacity of all.
May there be no enmity or hostility between us. May we agree with one another. Disagreement is symptomatic of space violation. When space is out of sync, relative positions are out of sync and people disagree.

Peace, peace, peace.
Only when the five elements are aligned can there be peace. And this luminosity pours out and helps everybody.

This prayer repeated at the onset of study/practice placates the five elements and all that emanates from them. At a fundamental level it realigns us with the building blocks of manifestation. If we experience the depth of this one chant and practice, we are able to organize the five elements and senses successfully. From that alignment arises a more coherent and sane experience of that which is both within ourselves and beyond.