Signs with intelligent, thought-provoking, and action-inspiring quotes are proliferating in my neighborhood. I took this photo last night when I was walking home after getting a Friday evening massage in the neighborhood.
This morning, after practicing, I took care of cat, house, and garden, reading the news, signing petitions (not as helpful as visiting/writing to a Senator/Congressperson–but I don’t have those as a DC resident) and doing targeted giving (today to support a free press) in addition to my expanding monthly giving. This afternoon, I am attending “Active Bystander” training. Then off to share dinner and then watch friends I know from Contact Improv perform works in progress at Dance Exchange. I will get time outside by traveling as much as possible on foot.
How are you spending your Saturday? Did it help you feel more engaged, connected, and grateful or less? If less, what small shift could you decide to make that would be easy enough that you would actually do it?
These workers were caulking the fifth floor windows of my building today. It was snowing. (the flakes were too fine to show up in the photograph.) I wish them (and will donate money and sign petitions, write letters, etc to back up my wishes for all workers) health care, child care, retirement benefits, and a safe (as it can be) job free from discrimination, harassment, and wage theft.
Avidya–ignorance or delusion.
Very roughly stated, the yoga philosophies and guides to practice teach that it is ignorance or delusion that is the root cause of evil and suffering. When we act from ignorance of our essential nature–it’s divinity (whatever that might mean to you)–then we act in ways that move away from spirit rather than towards it (one way of describing evil).
As I interpret the teachings, the point of the practices for a householder is to help us act and respond informed by consciousness of this essential “divinity” in everything we do, including how we care for ourselves, our community, and the ecosystem that we inhabit. The closer we come to achieving this state of acting consciousness, though there will still be pain and loss in this human embodiment, the less we will be the cause of suffering for ourselves and others.
Note: You might say or think it, but I will refrain from actually articulating why this is the word that comes to mind for contemplation today.
To be a tantrica does not mean wild and indifferent sensual indulgence. On the contrary, it means fully engaging in all of life. A tantric life is one in which everything one does–work, family, relationship, consumption, citizenship–is steadily and progressively more informed by the teachings of yoga and infused with the fruits of the practices. A key aspect of participating fully in the life of a householder in a democracy is to educate oneself about politics and to participate. Please vote. Here’s a short video from the ACLU that you might want to watch and pass along to your friends and family.
My friend Dan posted a blog entry earlier this week talking about getting distracted by a rainbow. He wrote that he was sure that other “grownups” did not get distracted by the rainbow. As I was observing the way people were commuting this afternoon, grimly looking down, hurrying along, texting and phoning, and apparently completely disconnected to the beauty around them, I thought of Dan’s blog. I thought not seeing the sky or turning away from its beauty is not being fully “grown up.”
Part of my friendship with you, Dan, is sharing the wonder of looking at rainbows. It is the “distraction” perhaps that is the invitation, at least in my own practice, for more skill. In seeking to live the life of a “householder yogin,” I am trying to be the grownup who always sees the rainbow and takes time to see it, but has the skill to illuminate even the most mundane of daily activities with the wonder of seeing the rainbow.
Paul Muller-Ortega, who teaches philosophy and meditation from similar roots to those that inform Anusara yoga, spoke yesterday of the differences between the path of the renunciate and the path of the householder. He strongly stated that neither path was better. What he suggested, though, was that a householder will better flourish practicing yoga designed for the householder rather than attempting to practice renunciate techniques, while still staying in the householder path.
What does this mean? I think it means that we become unhappy and conflicted if we try attempt the practices of the path of complete non-attachment and transcendence of body and mind while we are still very much staying in society and responsible for family, work, and citizenship. The tantric, householder path, including that of the Shaivite tradition of Kashmir and Abhinavagupta, offers practices that enable one to live liberated in society, instead of suggesting that the only way to true liberation is to reject and transcend work, family, and community. In yoga terms, the householder path is one that realizes moksha (liberation), through ardha (physical and material well-being), kama (love/relationship), and dharma (right work/path) rather than by transcending them.
Taking the householder path does not mean just indulging. It still requires sensitivity, dedication, discrimination, and alignment. I think it may be even harder than renunciation. I know it is easier for me to just stay alone and practice, for example, than to bring yoga off my mat to how I work, consume, relate to others, and participate in society. The householder path, though, is the one for me.