The pouring rain is an inconvenience on a play day when I am toting baggage, writing materials, and electronic devices. It is hard to remember, when surrounded by concrete, glass, steel, and macadam, how urgently we need the rain. I am hoping for the trees, the farmers, and all of us, that it is also raining back home in DC.
I witnessed this family standing on the train platform while I was listening to a teleseminar from Paul Muller-Ortega on the “four stages of the word.” That a family dressed this way was waiting for the train gave rise to much thought for me about how I seek to integrate yoga practice into my daily life in a modern Western culture. How much is compromise or disservice to the “purity” of the teachings and how much of it is a part of a pulsing, growing, changing intersection of peoples and times?
I dreamed last night that I won 30 million dollars in the lottery. I had no recollection of having bought a ticket (in waking life the only time I ever bought a ticket was 17 or 18 years ago as part of a 15-person group of co-workers who collectively bought two tickets when the prize was 75 million; we were going to quit en masse if we won).
In the dream, an acquaintance also won the same amount. She immediately quit her job and started engaging in activities about which she had previously only imagined doing.
On learning of my windfall, I stopped and paused and found that I didn’t want too much change right away. I deliberated about whether to take a lump sum or an annuity and to whom I would give the money. I wondered whether I could take a couple of months leave and then go back to my job part-time. I thought about whether I would like to move or set up a charitable foundation or teach yoga full-time. I found that after having been given financial freedom, I was still content to work and to live comfortably, but relatively modestly. I wanted to take time to deliberate where I could make the best offering with this outrageous stroke of luck.
The dream reminded me of the Zen proverb that was popularized in the 1970s: “Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water; after enlightenment; chop wood, carry water.” What was beautiful about my dream was a sense of a deep acceptance, a sense that even with my desire to grow and change for the better, that in my middle age, I am essentially comfortable with how I am living. I will keep seeking a deeper and more loving and compassionate way of being, even as I recognize that there is no prize that will transform me from the challenges of being human.
Yesterday I asked about setting an intention to be blissful in every thing we do for a day. Having the intention is a good start (I might not even have thought of such an intention without my yoga practice). What I really want is to be able to manifest that intention. For me, I know that it is important for me to live more consciously and with more subtle discrimination (viveka) if I am to come close to living such intention.
A rare few live in bliss without effort. For the rest of us, that is why we have the practices. So we can practice moving into and resting in bliss.
The camera may not lie, but it certainly, like our own perception of things relative to that of others, have a distorted or unique perspective. One of the essential principles of the yoga world view is that of maya or illusion. In classical yoga, everything in the world is illusion; the only thing that is real is Atman–ultimate consciousness or god. In the tantric world view, the role of maya is more complicated. It essentially boils down to the idea that we are under an illusion when we think of the world and divinity as separate, and that this illusion of separation leads to a suffering of the individual spirit. Whether one hold with either of these world views or not, it is always true that thinking our limited perception is the only truth will likely lead to discord, misunderstanding, and strife.