There is much talk these days of influence. It runs a wide berth and exists on many levels. Were we influenced by the Russians in determining the election outcome? Do commercials and advertising really influencing our buying choices? Something as innocuous as a font on a menu has been shown to influence what we order to eat. And what of friends and family and coworkers and all those we align with, their subtle and persistent impact has its effect.
Indeed this is nothing new, the ancients wondered and worried at influence. They looked up at the stars and pondered the influence of the planet formations and the tides of the oceans on human behavior.
Thomas Aquinas acknowledged the impact of influence but chaffed at its predetermination; after all, we have free will do we not?
Free will. How is it displayed in life? Choice. But choice is more than picking one thing over another from an intellectual or even emotional stance. Choice is the sum total of prior knowledge and experience making itself known in the present moment.
Knowledge and experience, in Sanskrit jñāna-vijñāna. One feeds the other in a mutual feedback loop of growth. Both are necessary, intellectual knowledge and an experience of what that knowledge means.
We like to think we are not that easily influenced, that we have a strong sense of who we are at heart; that our actions reflect our values and beliefs. Yoga asks the big questions, at the pinnacle: how do we define the self?
Knowledge, from the yoga perspective, is overcoming ignorance. Ignorance as to the truth of who we are at source, our whole fullest self.
Experience points to the immersion of that knowing first in states of deep meditative realization and then over time, bit by bit, the bringing of this knowing out into life. We bring the light of this introversive, meditative knowing out, and it shines naturally everywhere and anywhere our awareness rests permitting the light of everyone and everything to show itself. Light seeks light, even as it pervades the darkness.
Unless and until we are stabilized in this knowing of the Self writ large, in the source of our light, we will always be held sway under the influence of whatever bright shinny crazy loud beautiful terrible thing captures our attention. Attention will be grasped and held, even when we wish it to release.
Yes we take on many roles sister, wife, daughter, friend, teacher. As beautiful and satisfying as these may be they do not tell the full story. Fortunately so, for they are all transitory, impermanent; children grow up, jobs end, the body ages and people depart in all manner of leaving. What are we left with if this is the sole understanding of who we are?
Know and experience your truest Self says yoga, then all the roles we enact will be served.
We have more significance and weight than we know.
Influence the trajectory of the growth of your life and leverage your influence in service of life. Meditate.
When we fall in love truly, madly, deeply, it feels as though we have discovered some sacred, secret place never before found. We pulse with an inner light so full, so bright, so new.
Certainly no human before has ever felt this power so keenly, so wildly, so completely?
We discover the poets, the writers, the elegant wise gifted ones who have touched this place and been compelled to articulate its beauty, its power, its pain, its joy.
It is the pulse of the wave of love moving through the ages, through us all.
Once tapped, this source never runs dry.
We never tire, we never stop attempting to articulate, to speak of the gift of love in all its incarnations. Ancient and always new we are the very avatars of love.
The goddess surges, she compels. When we touch her, permit her entrance, we dance.
So entranced poets all
We express full, soft, malleable
In and out of form.
Certainly no one has ever felt this before.
We recognize her
The secret abode of the heart
Possessed by all, known by too few
She sings still and always.
Through you I have known love
And gratitude ignites sweet memory.
Giving Thanks Anew.
In Tantric yoga, murtis or statues, are symbols that represent various characteristics or values of the absolute. The absolute which contains all values and yet retains its essential wholeness. Particularly there is a focus on Nātaraja, as he dances the five acts of creation, manifestation, dissolution, concealment and revelation, both on the cosmic and individual level.
Another such one is the Goddess Sarāswati.
The goddess of knowledge and wisdom. She is also the goddess of art, literature and intellectual esthetic connection. The one who connects what we know, with our appreciation of what is pleasurable and beautiful to the senses.
Sarāswati is also the name of a river in India. Rivers are the lifeblood, the vein as it were of a place, bringing nourishment to those not living as close to source, always moving. We have this image of the flow of knowledge moving to the individual from all sources: nature, art, books, the voice of teachers, making potent that which enlivens it all, consciousness.
And this knowledge imparting wisdom in the form of that knowledge being not only understood and deepened, but because individual awareness is moved to source, closer to the root of all knowledge, it is more potently experienced, digested, owned and finally articulated via the mouth of the speaker. In doing so, it becomes a source of personal wisdom. These are the values, the characteristics Sarāswati represents. When one speaks eloquently and potently it is said that “Sarāswati dances on the tongue.”
She is the goddess of knowledge and the arts, embodies the wisdom of the devīs. She is the river of consciousness that enlivens creation; she is the dawn-goddess whose rays dispel the darkness of ignorance. To realize her one must go beyond the pleasures of the senses and repose in the serenity of the spirit. Even, as it is the very senses she enlivens so that we may engage more fully with what is beautiful and high.
The four Vedas, books of universal knowledge, are her offspring. Her mount, the swan, personifies pure knowledge and her herald, the peacock, is a symbol of the arts.
Schools and libraries are her temples; books, pens, musical instruments and all tools of the artist, are the items used in honoring the enlightened goddess of wisdom.
What is the highest knowledge that humans may attain about anything and everything yes, and at the pinnacle, about the nature of consciousness itself, the subject of Self. The subject and source of our very Self.
How do we go about hearing the word of consciousness that is paradoxically silent? We come to understand that to hear, we must learn to listen, we must refine and permit complexity to settle because these teachings, the commentary of the masters, and our own inner voice of wisdom, are at the level of the paśyanti, the ultra subtle visioning word prior to coalescing thought. We approach as we can, with innocence and a kind of humility, as well as the understanding that whatever we think we know, will open more and more.
Knowledge flows through the senses, the mind organizes, and this knowledge is deepened and refined via practice, study and life lived fully. The path is forged and cleared as we trace back from the gross level across ever more subtle bands of awareness, resting in source. Coming back out into the world, what we see and know is more vivid; its intrinsic beauty revealed because the light, always free is now naturally expanding into the clearing we have made. There are many levels of sequential unfolding in the tradition as there is in life. Go deep.
Sarāswati is the river of knowledge, the arts and aesthetic sensibility. She flows from, and as the source of the most potent form of knowledge, wisdom. The source of everything, she flows through our bodies as śakti, energy moving, pulsing to nourish every cell, to illuminate and expand the mind and heighten the senses. I yearn, deeply to flow ease-fully with her.
When she is blocked strong emotion in the form of frustration, anger, sadness arise. I realize when I feel as though I do not belong, or that I am unheard, unwanted or superfluous in some capacity, sadness is deep and strong. My life force arrested, I am in a sense, imprisoned. In moving the body and breath we assist the release of these blockages. Just as the removal of rock, debris and sludge permits the flow of water unencumbered, so too does movement of our energy in yoga open and free the stoppage of her natural flow. Rooted, always rooted, in source the flow of śakti moves naturally and freely to nourish the body-mind and life in full.
Recognize the emotion that arises from blockage and settle, surrender, risk vulnerability and permit the flow of tears that arises when separation from source is felt. This too is the flow of her power. To be more fully human is to embrace the understanding that we carry all within us. In the daily practice of yoga, we steep in source, and naturally flow powerfully and freely through all life brings. We may stop for a while, temporarily caught, but we come to know more and more that we possess the tools to free what is blocked and nourish life.
Some stay shallow. Yogis go deep