The true tantric practitioner is fully engaged in the life of a householder. In my book, that means being educated about the issues, participating in social change, and fulfilling the citizen’s responsibility to speak by voting.
I hope all of you will not only be voting, but also will be encouraging others to vote–especially those who actually can elect representatives to Congress and the Senate (unlike those of us in DC who continue to be disenfranchised).
Yesterday I found myself contemplating prachurya–abundance.
In this atmosphere of incessantly being told how much more we should want, it can be hard to recognize sufficiency, much less abundance.
As a spiritual practice, I think being able to experience abundance with what we already have can both provide joy and empower generosity.
In the yoga theory of the rasas, very roughly, the same categories of emotions can either weigh us down or move us toward spirit, depending on intensity and the way we experience them. For example, grief and compassion are on the same continuum.
With that in mind, I ask what is the exhortation to “beware,” if we are mindful and not trapped by unnecessary fears, but a reminder that we will navigate life with less trouble if we consistently are aware.
This ad, which I saw while I was riding the train to NYC last week, reminded me of a primary reason I practice yoga. The sincere yogin doesn’t negate the spaces between opportunities to vacation, but seeks to live fully each day.
It might be more enjoyable to play or adventure than to have a stressful day at the office on any given day, but I’d hate to think I am a better person only when I have vacated work and home.
Classical yoga philosophies (as opposed to tantra) teach us that our mind/body are not real; what is real is “God,” and when we truly know this, we will experience freedom. I personally don’t ascribe to teachings that hold a concept real, but ourselves unreal.
I do think, though, that the practice that comes from this theory that advises us to pause, to step back, and to notice when our reactions to things are so bound in previous limited experience or expectation or dogmatic teaching that we’ve created unnecessary constrictions and suffering.
What appears to be caught or bound or stuck might not necessarily be so.
Sometimes we call out the names; sometimes they call out to us. I’ve been too tired and stressed to yearn for more adventures in the near term, but this week, I have found myself wanting to be in India, to be surrounded by the colors and the sights and the outrageous display of creative imagery.
The photo is of a roadside temple, with Siva in the aspect of Dakshinamurti–guru of all knowledges (jnana). I have been told that is good to chant to Dakshinamurti when one is looking for support and guidance in teaching.
In my work as a civil servant, I spend much time informally teaching colleagues and the regulated community the details of the complex area that is my specialty. I set my intention to be able not only to be clear, but to convey a bigger purpose even in that which does not readily come to mind as being something of spirit.
Krishna Das reminding his listeners the reasons he practices and offers kirtan scrolled across my Facebook feed last week with this quote:
“My path is to be in the living Presence; We have to find a way inside us, we have to find a way to open our hearts, to quiet our minds, to let go our fears and our selfishness, our guilt and our anger and jealousy; Everything is already present in our own hearts; By repeating these Names over and over, we are moving ourselves into that place in us; the Heart in us is deeper than any emotion or psychological issues; I don’t know if there is God, I know there is Love – Unconditional Love and I know I like to be in that love, and that maybe God; all you have to do is look, and chanting remembers us to look.”
I am in a space right now where chanting is serving me to help remember the good, despite all that is going on that doesn’t feel particularly good or hopeful. I don’t believe in “God” as an actual being (though I can no more disprove the actuality than anyone has been able to prove it), and history certainly proves the power of the idea of such a mystical being.
Regardless of whether the very real ideas of God(s) represents an actual being, it has been my beautiful experience–studying with Krishna Das and others over the years–that engaging in practices that turn our hearts towards love and universality helps us be sweet living in relationship to ourselves, to others, and to the ecological fabric of the whole of embodied existence. I chant because calling out the names in their universal multiplicity is a recognition, not dissimilar to what I have found offered in the silent collective worship of Quakers, that everyone has their own individual access to and ideas of the sublime, of the divine, of what brings them to feel a fullness of love.