What of Trust? B-#30
Is doubt a form of light which drives us to clarity or a prison of our own making which prevents growth and is designed to hold us in place?
What is it’s opposite? What counter acts doubt? Certainty. How does one possess true certainty? Experience. Where is experience obtained? In the laboratory of body-mind. We must experience for ourselves, authentically. Only then can one truly be certain.
Along the way to certainty, the intellect must be fed in order to recognize experiences had, even as experience must be contextualized via intellectual context.
And what of trust? What is it’s place on the road to certainty? Certainty requires deep trust in our capacity to know. Can I truly ever completely trust my self? Perhaps doubt is a healthy thing, providing the rub of growth as it were.
Shraddha (pronounced shrod-ha). Shraddha is a Sanskrit word meaning something similar to faith, confidence or trust. In Sutra 1.20, of YS sraddha is a quality that comes from a deeply unique and personal understanding of our past as well as steady confidence regarding our future. From that place, we are able to bring energy into the present moment so that we can consciously create our lives knowing that right now is all we really have and if an obstacle arises, we will most likely overcome it, just as we always have. This is recognition born of past experience.
Shradda is commonly defined as faith or trust. For me there is a difference. Faith implies hope, hope that something will occur as imagined. Trust leans into experience. It is through recognition, a noticing that ‘I have seen this before’ that permits me to lean into trust. I have seen this, met this before and here I am. What did I do? What did I learn? How can I bring that past experience to this present circumstance and overcome my doubt? Of course this too smacks of faith, faith in my ability to meet it again but it is born of experience.
Trust also holds a component of action. When trust is revealed the power to move forward is known. Faith less so. I’m not saying that faith is not powerful or beautiful, but one can have faith and rest in that as it is in some way, out of our hands and therefore there is nothing to do.
By remembering those truths from our past and bringing that special knowledge that is unique to us into the present moment, it can help us cultivate shraddha for right now as well as the future. As hard as it may have been, we have made it this far. We have overcome many obstacles to arrive at this place and inevitably, we learned from those experiences. We can move forward.
A yoga practice is a great way to cultivate this quality in our lives. We develop strength and flexibility, with that comes confidence. We are more able to focus and with that comes a keen ability to understand what it is we are focusing on and with that understanding comes faith; more than faith, trust.
Each time we meet our doubt, face it, negotiate it, we invite trust to grow and courage to present itself. We practice to be ready for this meeting every day. In what way do we practice? Asana permits a tangible, tactile meeting of physical and emotional doubt. Can I hold this pose? Can I even make myself into some shape resembling it? And if I do, what is the reason? Experience is indeed the best teacher.
And there is a deeper knowing to be had. An experience born of the meeting of individual consciousness merged with its inception, its source. This is the experience of the transcendent. An experience resulting from the collapse of our normal conceptual trinity: the knower, the object and the means by which it is known. This triad exists in every exchange and holds us in the conceptual world of reality, giving meaning, because we have agreed upon associations. To reach that which is beyond concept, beyond everything, transcendent, this triad must, for a time, be melted. The resulting state of deep silence is beyond our three ordinary states of waking, dreaming and sleeping. It is the fourth state, turya. It is transcendent.
The non-dual Tantric tradition holds that consciousness is one, whole and unitary in nature. Depicted as light. This light is both transcendent, beyond the limits of ordinary experience, beyond material existence and also within the limits of experience or knowledge; it is indwelling. It is not either or but both, transcendent and immanent. This is huge because it permits us, limited and bound by our very existence, to know that which is transcendent because it lives within our very being. Practice moving to this state is what permits the arising of the highest most purified knowing: experience of our transcendent nature. Lean into that experience, born of deep meditation, each day and trust, a sublime self-reliant trust, is born. One that requires not faith or hope, nor some form of conjuring or wishful thinking because it is born of authentic experience. Experience you can trust.
There is always something that rises to help us. A divine spirit that is spontaneously there in our darkest sorrow and most glorious joy. All that is needed is for the path to be clear, attention to be paid, to open and welcome. That takes practice. The natural practice of deep meditation. Trust in your highest self and watch life blossom.
Retreat To Advance.
Lent is upon us. The 40 days before Easter that, for many people, represents a time of contemplation, of purification, resulting, hopefully, in some form of permanent change for the good. In this we retreat for a while to advance.
Many people practice some form of ritualistic withdrawal in their lives: meatless Mondays, a day of fasting or silence, precious time given at the local food kitchen. All designed in some way to assist us in becoming more thoughtful, caring, fully realized humans. All beautiful, offerings for both the practitioner and receiver designed to bring some form of light to bear.
Willingly, something that is enjoyed, that brings pleasure or whose renouncing we feel might in some way allow us, in its absence, to be a better person is put aside for a time. This works in two ways: withdrawing some sense pleasure creates space in its absence, space for us to ponder its place in life, its worth. Then either one of two things might occur, we come back to it with a renewed sense of gratitude or realize that in fact it no longer truly serves and we let it go. For most, whatever the result, it is only fleeting and we soon lapse back to our previous patterns.
Withdrawal also brings the gift of natural inward movement toward silence. In this the nature of the mind, its wants and needs of and for stimulation, comes into focus more sharply. This is somehow enlightening. In withdrawal, there is a sort of stopping or at least slowing down that feels restful, refreshing and rejuvenating.
At the heart of this withdrawal is the desire for metamorphosis. We intuit somehow that there is more to be had than what we sense on the surface. The mind is naturally drawn toward more. On the surface of life that more shows up as desire for a better job, a bigger home, more education, resources to assist; you get the idea. It is natural to want more.
If we turn the light of our mind’s desire inward, awareness is naturally drawn toward the more that is the source of all the mores that exist; the source of every creative possibility pulsing in dynamic stillness waiting to burst forth on the outward stream. That path out is spontaneously, naturally in operation, when we awake in the morning light streams out, we need do nothing, as long as consciousness flows, light moves. However, the path is rarely clear. It is full of debris. The residue, impressions left from every thought, every action, every experience ever had, good, negative and neutral blocks the road and this is what prevents the light that is always full from showing up as such.
When we practice some form of withdrawal, we, in a sense, take something off line for awhile. As beautiful as this is, it does not go far enough. In authentic meditation, we go deep; we rest our social persona in all its glory and pain, we temporarily melt our sense of individual self, and permit its natural merging with the source of its arising, potent and creatively alive with possibility. The limited sense of self melts into the unlimited source of everything.
The boon of precious time spent in deep meditation is invaluable. Not only do we rest and refresh but the daily practice of taking awareness in and then out, acts as a benevolent agitating mechanism that washes and clears the pathway of the light of our consciousness. It is cumulative in its effect permitting the light that is always whole, full and pure to flow unhindered. We are changed. Naturally we bring the light to all we do.
There is always something that rises to help us. A divine spirit that is spontaneously there in our darkest sorrow and most glorious joy. All that is needed is for the path to be clear, attention to be paid, to open and welcome. That takes practice. The beautiful natural practice of meditation. Retreat for just a few minutes and make great advancements in life. The world needs your full light..
All You Need Is Love.
Love is all you need but not everyone knows how to receive or give it. Well actually we do, it is instinctive. It’s just that so much gets in the way, including our hardened senses which holds our vision of what love is and can be in a prison of limitation.
We call things that bring us intense feeling love, but perhaps this is misnaming; confusion because feelings have been desensitized, dulled and we “fall in love” with what has the power to wake us up, to move us. Even if it causes harm. Then we think love hurts. Love on the surface of life, as wonderful and beautiful, profound and deeply moving as it may be, is contingent upon other. And all things in life fluctuate, they ebb and flow, they change and if we are fortunate, we grow and move together in love. But even then, love leaves because the form that holds the object of our love expires even if its memory never does. Perhaps it is truer to say that object, in its many forms, ignites the light of love within.
This is not an indictment of love, far from it. As Rumi said, gamble everything on love if you are human. Love of every sort is our birthright, the promise made when we enter the world. To know it, immerse in it and share it is what life is about.
There are so many expressions of love, so many names and degrees and it all comes from the same source. Where is that source to be found? Love is a smile, the recognition of connection; it is contentment and enacting purpose with clarity; it is a cup of tea with a friend after disagreement; it is the gift of time given and at the highest, it is devotion. What is it we are devoted to?
When I walk out into the world, I take no thoughts with me. That’s not easy, but you can learn to do it. An empty mind is hungry, so you can look at everything longer, and closer. Don’t hum! When you listen with empty ears, you hear more. And this is the core of the secret: Attention is the beginning of devotion. –Mary Oliver
For me, this simple poem speaks of the gift of knowing deep silence; the natural resting of the ever seeking mind for just a while, and the results of heightened senses. How can I receive what I do not know? How can I give what I do not fully posses? The first requires vulnerability, the second strength; both patience and space, to sense, to know, to act. This space is the natural by-product of deep meditation, of time spent in the profound pulsating silence within. Merging individual consciousness in the vast eternal wellspring of light that is the source of love, consciousness writ large, we recognize love so profound it cannot help but be expressed. More and more the light that is always full, always present but obscured by the debris of life shines through. The darkening, dullness of life is sloughed off in the bath of light that is love.
Love the one you're with. When I first heard those words, (when was it, early 70’s?) I smiled at the implication. It was on the heels of the “summer of love” and it said to me love is all around, don’t worry if the one you love has not appeared, simply ‘hook up’ with who ever is near, available, who strikes your fancy. It was a sort of ‘get out of jail card’ stop torturing yourself with looking for the love of your life and go for it, grab what is near, connect with what and whom you can.
Now today, some 40 years later, those words hit my heart in a much more profound manner, I hear them very differently. Love really is all around and the imperative to ‘love the one you’re with’ takes on a deeper meaning.
Love the one you’re with, the one who animates you, beats your heart; love your Self. Love the one you’re with and all others will bask in the overflow. Naturally we show appreciation, gratitude by returning the gift.
Love the one you’re with speaks of all we would do for those we truly love, whose worth we know, we see, on the deepest levels. Imagine if we could look at ourselves with those same eyes!
Love the one you’re with, build home behind your eyes, make your house a mansion dedicated to love.
Truly love the one you’re with, not in some solipsistic selfish manner or surface animation but truly, madly, deeply, love the one you’re with. This is the love the ecstatic poets speak of. This is the great heart. This is the message of yoga, devotion in the highest most powerful sense. This is a mighty love and we are ignited by its promise.
Perhaps it is what Stephan Stills truly meant- who knows? But as I steep more and more in love, the love found in my own heart, absolute and pure, I find all sorts of words, sounds, tastes that I thought I knew, opening up to me revealing depths uncharted. And it is never ending for we do not know or love just once.
This is the gift of deep meditation. To share love we must first know it. Love powerfully calls to us because it is who we truly are. We are transcended in love, by love and we are made of love. As much as we may try, we cannot convince ourselves of this from the surface of life. We must go in, know the love of self then naturally the light of love moves out. The more we root in this love, the more we stabilize our home in the heart, spontaneously what spills out is love. Potently, like the light you see pouring out of the eyes of one who loves you, anywhere you place your gaze love flows.
It’s easy. All you need is love. Now go get it.
Feed Freedom #27
We give lots of attention and much lip service to not succumbing to fear. Usually this is around the big things, fears we hold in both our personal and public lives. But I am thinking about the consequences of feeding the beast at all. Fear grows on fear. This means that saving our power to fight it off for only the big things might not be the wisest course of action.
In facing our small fears, even the ones we name anxiety or concern, we rob the beast of fuel to use at those bigger moments. Perhaps we can begin to take notice of fear in all its guises and see it reframed in the process. There are countless opportunities in any one day, both big and small. For instance, in an asana class, we might be frightened to try a handstand or other inversion and have good reason for it, but if we dissect the visceral feeling we will come up with specific actions that can be concretely met. The anxiety at being upside down might have to do with not believing we have the strength in our arms or upper body to meet the demand of the pose, we doubt our strength. Instead of labeling it fear in our minds then, we can address this particular thing with the teacher, ‘how do I get strength in my arms?’ Work on things that will prove that strength to us, gain confidence and then try some version of the pose. Little by little we find, as we meet each hurdle, that we are capable of over coming our doubt and meeting aversion in all its forms. We naturally embrace life more fully. Whether or not we ever actually do the handstand is not the point, how we name and meet it is.
This is an important distinction. It is not just semantics or somehow tricking your mind or playing some sort of intellectual game. The mind’s job is to categorize, map, place in context, in naming more accurately we cut what is big down to a size we can manage, we take some of the heat out. Meeting this, feeds a kinder, higher version of self, one that permits a more fully realized life to blossom. Doubt and aversion are just other names for fear. Want to blow your mind? Look up synonyms for ‘fear’, and take in the many ways we feed the beast. Perhaps obstacles themselves can be reframed, not as things to be shunned or merely hurtled, but moments where growth can take place, where we can feed and grow a better version of ourselves. This is the teaching principle of planting a seed. The seed needs the right conditions to sprout and time to grow; a seedling does not become a tree overnight. It needs fertile soil made so by the tilling of the very ground of our being,
This takes moment by moment attention. We make associations, label things and appropriate to self so quickly, it does not even register in present awareness but be sure, it does register in our body-mind. This space needed to see and examine is what Paul Muller-Ortega calls the ’ledge of freedom’. Freedom of space is given to act in a manner of our choosing, one that will bring about more freedom. Thus choosing out of our freedom to enact choice as opposed to react, to feed as it were, our 'angel of freedom’.
This space is a natural consequence of time spent deep inside. It is the regularity of meditation that increases a place of freedom within us that we can then use as a stepping off place for expansion in our life. In the dynamically silent space within, we melt, merge our limited sense of individual identity into the source that is whole and pulsing with creative possibility of every conceivable sort. Resting here for just a short time, we come out not only refreshed, but changed. Subtle at first but over time, rather quickly, we begin to notice the change in our thoughts and actions on the surface and this space permits us to feed the beast or angel of our choosing; to grow more and more into the person we wish to be in the world. To be who you truly are feed courage, feed your angel of freedom.