From this spacious perspective, you can become more sensitive to cycles of cause and effect (described by the Ancients as Samskara, Karma, and Samsara) not as theoretical or philosophical concepts but rather as a very practical science of skilful living. And that very act of living takes on a meaning and a relevance that can be truly profound, to the point where concepts like "enlightenment" are not things to strive for, but rather to wake up to. We are enlightened just by being alive. Only our consciousness makes us forget. And so the purpose of Yoga, whether it's Asana, Bhakti, Raj, Karma, or Jnana, is to simply allow us to remember. Asana reminds us that we don't have a body, we are a body. Bhakti reminds us that we are the ones we are looking for. Raj reminds us that there is a singular timeless awareness that is behind the consciousness. Karma reminds us that to help others is to help ourselves. And Jnana reminds us that mindful study of what has come before can inform where we direct ourselves for the present and future.
I hope to be able to share my thoughts with you on all this and more, with renewed passion and resolve, and more regularly.
One of the many great experiences I've had in the past few months has been the opportunity to delve into the History of Yoga more deeply in preparation for a lecture to aspiring Yoga Therapists. Learning about the tireless dedication of the likes of Sri T. Krishnamacharya and BKS Iyengar was inspiring to say the least. Krishnamacharya, who more than anyone else can be credited for creating the conditions for Yoga to be shared with the world, lived in poverty for much of his life, and suffered many setbacks and challenges, having to start over from scratch a few times and taking jobs in coffee plantations to make ends meet. Even at the age of 60 in 1948, he found himself out of a job and having to start over, which he did by reinventing himself and his practice, introducing therapeutics as a fundamental part of Yoga Asana. And Iyengar, one of Krishnamacharya's students, spent most of his formative years isolated from his teacher, having to turn inwards for deep self-study in order to understand the alignment principles he perfected. This meant many sacrifices, and there are stories of him surviving on one bowl of rice every three days at times. Many people thought he was mad, weighing his knees down with heavy cobblestones to open up his hips in baddhakonasana, or improving his back extension by draping himself over a steamroller that he came across on the street one day.
Ultimately, to be considered a Yogi, one must embody the practice. This preoccupation with the body we have here in the West, and this obsession with living forever, has to be transmuted into discovering the Timeless Body of Light that lies within, and allowing it to shine for everyone. It's the difference between being full of yourself and being full in yourself. When you become full in yourself, others have no choice but to notice, and you then become a mirror for them to be able to see it in themselves. That's where transformation happens. That's where teaching happens.
I'm not there yet, but I'm still on the path, and it's a little less overgrown and getting easier to see...
Here's a little inspiration for today, showing that even when one comes at it from the viewpoint of cold hard science, we truly are just manifestations of One:
YouTube link for Neil Degrasse Tyson