Tag Archive: svatantriya


In the tantric philosophy, one of the aspects ascribed to the ultimacy of being itself is that it is completely free (svatantriya). Even when elemental being manifests itself as limited in time and space (as humans for example), it is part of the very dance, the play (lila) of existence.

I find it fascinating how much of our advertising uses language that in essence promises that we will realize aspects of our divine nature by owning some material thing or indulging in some activity. What is being sold, by those terms, inevitably fails deliver and must thoroughly disappoint. This thing on offer might be a wonderful technological toy that would be great fun to use, but hardly could bring unlimited freedom. If it did, we wouldn’t want to buy the next version.

Peace and light, E — Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.


Prop or Crutch

“Liberty” is again encased in scaffolding, though it hasn’t been that long since she was taken down for a good cleaning. Seeing her thus supported while simultaneously blocked led me to think about the use of yoga props.

I am a big fan of using props to discover places one thought out of reach, either because an injury is limiting range of movement or because intelligent or inspired use of a prop can teach where the next step could be in practice.

Liberty’s scaffolding might be necessary for structural repairs or cleaning, but it is obscuring the view–her view out and our view in. We wouldn’t want her bound and stuck unless it was truly necessary for her full beauty and integrity to be maintained and revealed.

So, too, with yoga props. As beneficial as they can be, we do not want to rely on them automatically without seeing whether we can open to and discover the full flourishing of ourselves in a pose without them by being open, sensitive, and discriminating about our physical boundaries; applying the alignment principles to the fullness of our knowledge; and using just the right amount of effort.

By all means use props, but use them to find and witness new freedom (ultimately, svatantriya) not to bind or obscure it.

Peace and light, E — Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.


What Difference Does Lobbying Make (and Svatantriya)

The tantric yoga philosophy ascribes the characteristic of svatantriya or ultimate freedom to the energy that infuses all of us.  We all want to be free, but when we get stuck in our embodiment, forgetting that we ourselves are manifestations of spirit, then we lose sight of our true freedom.  To find our own freedom of spirit, we need to be disciplined, to practice, to study, to live in a way that brings us into better alignment with ourselves and world with which we are inextricably interconnected.

In this country, one of our principle ideals and buzz words in dialogue about how we should live is freedom.  What can so often be forgotten in this dialogue, though, is that freedom is a contract.  To be in a society where all have the opportunity to experience freedom, we need to agree, with discrimination (viveka) to certain limitations (for example, we agree to stop for red lights so that we can be free to drive and walk without a constant risk of being hit in crowded city).

Granted, I am grossly oversimplifying here, but part of the great losses of freedom we are currently experiencing is the abdication by individuals of the responsibility to shape the agreement to maximize our collective freedoms.  Like the agreement with ourselves to practice steadily to experience inner freedom, we need to stay engaged, even when it seems impossible or deeply frustrating, in order not to lose sight of the ideal entirely.  Here’s some information from FCNL on why it is important to lobby despite how fruitless an act it may appear to be.


July Greetings–Ultimate Freedom (and Some Free Yoga) (Web Version of E-Newsletter)

Dear Friends,

It is Saturday morning of Independence Day weekend.  I have sat for my morning meditation, watered the garden, pet the cats, and done a few errands around the house.  In an hour or so, I will be heading up to Willow Street to teach my noon class.  As I take the time to care for garden, cats, house, and prepare to teach, I have been contemplating the concept of freedom.

In the tantric shaivite tradition, we are taught that one of the key aspects of spirit is svatantriya — ultimate freedom.  We are also taught that we are ourselves inseparable from spirit, just as a drop of ocean water is no less part of the ocean for being a drop.  Spirit chooses, out of its freedom and play (lila) to embody itself in forms that are limited in space and time.  One of our greatest sources of suffering is feeling bound, thinking that we are stuck with who and what we are in the constraints of this mortal body, with all its quirks, forgetting our own auspiciousness.

I could get grumpy about the need to do errands and to teach on a holiday weekend.  I could feel constrained from my usual activities around town by the combination of single-tracking on the Metro and the influx of tourists for the activities on the Mall, the combination of which will likely add an hour’s communiting time to teach today and to do volunteer work in Georgetown tomorrow at the Lantern Bookshop.  I could choose instead to be grateful that I have a house that needs caring, a garden to water, a class that gives me great joy and abiding satisfaction to share the incredible yoga principles that have so enhanced my own life, and volunteer work that I have enjoyed for over 15 years.

I am not going to be telling anyone that we are without limitation, being as we are in time and space.  We are always and perfectly free, however, to choose to turn towards the auspicious, the light, the good, the uplifting, the highest or we can turn away.  We can act in ways that bring us ever more in alignment with spirit , or we can act in ways that take ourselves and that in our orbit farther from the good.  The more we exercise our freedom to turn towards the auspicious, the happier and healthier we will be, regardless of the fact of life in a mortal body.  That choice is our true freedom and the way to our hearts.

To help you experience svatantriya, to choose freedom of heart, there’s nothing better than some free yoga.  The weekend of July 15-17, Willow Street Yoga will be offering it’s summer free class weekend. I’ll be offering gentle/therapeutics at noon on July 16th in Takoma Park.  Preference is giving to new students and to returning students who have brought new students with them.

For July at William Penn House, I’m offering a two-part freebie:  (1) brand new students get first class free; please invite your friends and neighbors; (2) if you are an existing student who brings a new student with you, you get a free class when the new student comes back for a second class.

Have a wonderful Independence Day, however you choose to celebrate and see you soon.
Peace and light,