Yoga, To Yoke And Unity #04 August 28, 2017
Yoga is typically defined as “to yoke” as in to join two things together. In the western understanding of this it generally means joining mind and spirit or body, mind and spirit.
Since the Indian philosophy this is derived from does not consider mind and body to be separate to begin with, the general meaning falls to linking body-mind or prakriti, in Sanskrit with spirit or purursha.
While the word yoga may indeed mean ‘to yoke” this is not really an accurate description of what yoga is about. Yoga is defined in the Yoga Sutras as having two agendas: stabilizing states of samadhi and thinning out the kleshas or cause of afflictions, of suffering, that prohibit the first from occurring. (YS # 2.2) In other words, the practice of yoga is the means by which we may experience states of samadhi, the bringing of attention to rest in states of dynamic stillness, a unity of individual consciousness with Consciousness writ large AND the process that must happen if that is to truly come about not as a wish or fantasy but an actual living, moment by moment experience.
But it is useful to look at the definition of yoking in another way. What is it we yoke our minds to in the pursuit of these states of blissful peace and unity? What are the thoughts that arise as we practice and how do we meet them? How do we face the obstacles that are our very own patterns? Patterns of action yes, but the thoughts that arise prior to those actions, the ones that set the action in motion so quickly we don’t even know they are occurring? How do we effect the place these impulses of thoughts arise from? These are the deeper concerns of yoga and the ones that make the attenuating of the kleshas possible which in turn bring about the ever stabilized states of samadhi. How do we work on this?
Yoga is an umbrella term that means more than asana, more than poses. From the stand point of asana, we make the body strong and flexible and we use the practice to bring awareness to how we meet the obstacles that arise in bringing the pose about. This has many many benefits. Obviously we become stronger and more flexible in body but also in mind as we challenge our patterned thoughts and bring new knowledge to use in the performing of a pose. This not only brings about better balance, strength and flexibility in the body but in the mind as well.
Obstacles and how we meet them as they arise in attempting new or deeper poses then is more than becoming physically fit. In this light, it is not whether we do a pose like the picture we have in our mind but rather how we meet the doing.
Importantly though we remember that to practice yoga is not just about performing poses though they are an integral part of being in a physical body. How do we effect the impulses our thoughts arise from? We cannot merely talk ourselves into this though bringing to awareness how we talk to ourselves is part of the process.
The yoga tradition teaches us that in order to truly change the way we think we must change the thinker! The vessel in which thoughts arise from, and the place the world is taken in to, via the senses. To do this, we must effect at the root those impulses and we must refine and heighten our senses. We must render them more reflective of that space of unity, wholeness and creative potential found in states of samadhi. This is why we wish to stabilize these states so we may more and more naturally reflect the light of Consciousness that is full and whole in character in our individual consciousness as we move through the world. And this IS the result of a consistent yoga practice- asana, for we are beings of consciousness that live in a body, and daily meditation because we are beings of consciousness wishing to recover and experience the fullness of unity that is our birthright.
Bring The Light!
Light and Shadow #03 August 21, 2017
We are drawn naturally to the light. Instinctively we turn our gaze toward the rising sun and search out its setting in the western sky. There are many many levels to this natural desire for light. The mind has an inbuilt evolutionary characteristic to seek the light of more. Outwardly that more is directed toward fulfilling desires and goals: more education, a better job, a nicer home, a Tesla! The practice of meditation utilizes the mind’s inherent capacity for more and directs it inward toward the light of consciousness, the light of our truest self. That light is the source of everything everywhere, of every creative impulse. Given the opportunity, the mind will naturally move toward this light. The practice of meditation is that opportunity.
On August 21 there will be a total eclipse of the sun across the United States displaying the temporary darkness that naturally occurs when the moon passes in front of our star, the sun. We take for granted the sun’s rise each morning and when she sets, we bid her good night in her magnificent display, confident she will rise again. It is at times like this, when the darkness, that our ancestors did not recognize as temporary, crosses the sun and blocks it from our view that we are palpably reminded of its power. And in that, united in our common humanity, for we all rely on its gifts even as we attempt to fathom our individual place in the universe.
We recognize the shadow effect of the moon and understand what is temporarily being taken from us. We are emboldened to look, to examine, because we know it will return. But what if it didn’t? What if the light was blocked in a more permanent way? Not totally blocked, but just enough so we could survive but not enough that we would thrive. What then? Would we grow use to it and make do? I suspect we would put all our resources toward finding a solution and in the mean time, make the best of it. Such is human nature. If the puzzle was not solved and enough time passed, would our children’s children forget that such a light once existed?
This is the story told by the great masters of consciousness. We once had access to the fullness of light within, but we have forgotten. We have an inkling of this light and we catch glimpses here and there, but it's fleeting. The path of return has been lost. What’s even sadder, is that most have forgotten it ever existed. And if a thing, anything, is unknown, it may as well not exist at all, period. How many things are hidden from our view in the shadows? Shadows come in all sizes and shapes. The ones more easily recognized like sorrow, despair, ignorance and those that cause a kind of blindness, mesmerizing awareness with their bright but always temporary display.
Life is precious. We must discover all that is available to us, what has been hidden from view, so that we can live life to the fullest. In order to fulfill the promise made at birth, to add to life, to celebrate it each and every day, we must render ourselves as full, whole and piercing as the light that floods a dark room when turned on. In doing so we uncover, nurture and use the gifts we have, all of them, in service of life.
Light is something to be celebrated in all its many forms, the light of knowledge, of clarity, of expansion and movement. The light is unitary and it shines on everything, including what we would perhaps rather not see, what is harsh and even ugly. But that brings contrast, offering perspective and in that, choice. What are your shadows showing you? How will you celebrate your light?
Bring The Light!
Resilience is often mentioned only in regards to misfortune but the ability to return to shape or in yogic terms, equanimity, is important no matter the circumstance. The ability to recover from or adjust to change is not limited to misfortune.
Consciousness, says the Kashmir-Shivite tradition, is both transcendent and immanent. It is both beyond everything and within the confines of everything. The fact that it is both is what permits us, as finite human beings, the children of consciousness as it were, to have the capacity to know and experience that which is transcendent while still living in a finite body.
This is the journey of deep meditation, the recovery of the experience of our transcendent nature and the bringing out of its creative power and abundance into life so that we may be more skillful, more efficacious in the living of life.
When we are able to be steady in times of sorrow and challenge we mirror this transcendence as we transcend the prison of the circumstance. It’s important to understand that this does not mean it doesn’t matter or that somehow it’s all an illusion. Suffering, sorrow in this world is all too real and while we wish to ameliorate it to the best degree possible, we do not wish to be held hostage. What good does that do anyone? And more, we want our capacity to make better, or more tolerable, any and all suffering to be increased expanded and deepened.
To transcend in this manner does not mean that some things aren’t better than others or more desired. Of course we wish to expand joy wherever and whenever possible. But we know all things will pass on this relative plane and that includes the joy we experience. So the question is not to somehow be above such things, but how to deepen our experience of them, to celebrate them while not clinging to what will certainly end.
Resilience requires strength and flexibility. How can we participate in making ourselves as resilient as possible? What are the ingredients of living the best life possible. A life full of meaning and presence and generosity of spirit no matter what arises.
Generosity what a beautiful word. Generosity requires resilience in abundance.
There is an inner strength that is required to be truly resilient. A strength that is simultaneously full and infinitely flexible in its unbounded creative power.
This week I invite the contemplation of resilience and generosity. Each day, to whatever degree possible I am permitting awareness to steep in these attributes and making the space to see what arises. In order to hold whatever that may be, to examine it and then incorporate it, I need to take the time to pull it out, to write in my journal. I invite you to do the same and I would love to hear any of your comments.
Bring The Light.
Make me an instrument of peace. It begins with knowing the Self and serves not just the individual, but society at large. Just as each cell in the individual body must be whole for optimal health to occur, so too must each individual be whole for the optimal health of the collective body of society.
“Make me an instrument of thy peace.” Make me whole. Render in me the capacity to sew wholeness where there is separation, fractionation, sorrow, division, suffering. This is a prayer of the heart desired and whispered by many good sincere loving beings of every persuasion, culture, orientation, religious or not. It is not owned by any one group. This is a universal desire.
As we look out into the world, we yearn for it to be more than a wish, more than a prayer sent out to to the heavens. There is much to be done outward but first, go in and know your Self. Mediation is the journey of awareness into the depths of being, to the silent yet dynamically alive source of every creative impulse. It is not a foreign destination, it is the journey to your very own self.
Each day go in to that source and emerge refreshed, energized. Know your Self more fully, completely and in that knowing, be supported. We have forgotten there is a Self to know as our minds swirl with the sum total of our experiences and the bright, loud, achingly beautiful and often devastatingly sad events of day to day life. And in that, we are mesmerized into thinking, by our very own mind, that this is the entirety of who we are. We have an inkling this is not true, that we are more. We catch glimpses of light here and there but they are fleeting. There is a promise made at birth, a promise that we may become fully realized human beings achieving our heart's desire. But we have forgotten the pathway to the heart, we have forgotten a pathway even exists!
Make me an instrument of peace is a prayer to our very own Self. We are calling to our very own selves, render me refined, transformed, whole in both body and mind so I may act in accordance with my deepest highest desires. Not as a wish but as the truth of my experience.
Now, right now, make me an instrument of thy peace. There is work to do and not a moment to waste. Meditate for yourself, your loved ones, your community, the world. We are the very fabric that weaves the web of society together. We have a say in the quality of that fabric.
Make me an instrument of thy peace. It begins not outside, but in the interior spaces of our deepest heart- know thy most sublime Self.
What is the state of peace?
When have you experienced true peace?
How can you become an instrument of peace?