Avilokitesvara– god(dess) of compassion had one head and two arms. Zhe didn’t have enough ears to listen to all the stories of suffering, so one of the buddhas busted one head into eleven. Avilokitesvara’s two arms broke from the weight of helping, but instead of two arms broken and worn out, two arms broke into a thousand arms.
This was the first weekend in some time where I did not have any commitments. I knew I’d have to get some errands and correspondence done, but I’d thought it might be nice to find an asana class on Saturday morning. I ultimately decided to go to the opening class at the new Yoga Shala studio in Shaw . I really enjoyed the class, the studio itself has a good vibe, and they are looking to integrate into the neighborhood, sharing the block with Bread for the City. I expect to return. After class, I took a long walk and a good nap and then made a nourishing meal and went to bed early.
On Sunday, I noticed in my “promotion” emails, that Dharma Mittra was leading a day of classes at the convention center; Yoga District had arranged for him to come. I’ve never felt a calling to study with him, but I like Yoga District’s community focus, Dharma Mittra is an iconic figure in Western Yoga, and there he was and there I was and I’ve recently had a few different students ask me about the Dharma yoga classes in town, so I took the master class and stayed for yoga nidra. It was a deep three hours with an enthusiastic group of practitioners. I found some of the darshan of interest, though Dharma Mittra speaks too much of God and is [insert politically correct way to say sexist; he’s 78 and originally from a macho culture]] to resonate with my beliefs, and I prefer more focus on alignment with the physical postures. I liked very much that he says the first principle of yoga is compassion and that one must maintain the state/practice of compassion throughout all the other practices or they do not have any import.
It was good to reinvigorate my practices and my intentions for all that I can offer.
And it was really a treat top watch Dharma Mittra demonstrate poses.
A friend gave me this sticker of Durga, which I put on my current journal. She’s looking kind of sweet here, and her lion somewhat Aslan-like. Some images show her looking much scarier.
She carries an array of weapons, knows how and when to use them, and undeniably and fully embodies her own power. She is also described as being infinitely compassionate.
Last Sunday, when I was at Eastern Market to get apples and pears, I saw a small, painted wood statue of Kuan Yin. I have been attracted to this one of the 330 million gods and goddesses for some time. Her primary attribute is compassion. She is said to be a female Chinese metamorphosis of the Buddhist bodhisattva Avalotikeshvara, who, according to some, is an emanation of the Hindu deity Shiva.
She had a price tag of $70 around her neck. It was too much, especially since her hand and foot looked like they had just broken off in transit.
Still, I was attracted to her. The vendor, who is from Pakistan, came over to talk to me, asking me if I was interested.
“Too high,” I said.
“What would you pay?”
Knowing it is holiday season, and the vendors really need to do well to survive the winter, I suggested $45, thinking it was really too much, but I very much liked the impeccably serene expression on her face.
“You have bought things from me before,” he said. I’d bought a couple of older rugs from him last Spring, at which time he had chatted with me for a while and showed me a picture of his chosen guru. “You are a divine being; I will give her to you for free.”
“I bet you say that to all your customers,” I replied.
“Everyone is divine, yes,” he said, ” but you are different. You know it.”
Somewhat overwhelmed by this, I thanked him for the honor and took out my wallet. I had $42 and change. “I will pay $40.”
I paid him and walked her home unwrapped in my arms, thinking it will be hard to live up to his expectations. Who better, though, to remind me to relate to others, always recognizing their inherent divinity (whatever that might mean to me or anyone else), than the goddess of compassion?
Where the wood was raw from having been broken, I rubbed the edges with ash from Chidambaram temple (that I happened to have in the studio), so that the breaks would not visually distract, and one would only notice the sweet face.