Refining how and to what we say “yes” and “no” in the world is one of the purposes of the yoga practices. The dedicated yogin seeks ever-growing discernment (viveka) of his or her own limits for the purpose of living ever more expansively and in fact more freely than is possible for those who fight against or ignore limits.
If we stick up or hold onto fences and defenses where they are not needed, we miss the opportunity to connect. Conversely, if we fail to honor the extraordinary combination of limits that makes us our exquisitely individual self and shapes our embodied connection to the world around us, we will be less free in ourselves and in the world and with each other, which leads to suffering.
I just received a yoga email advertising classes and workshops that quoted a well-respected teacher as saying not to listen to your mind and to listen only to your heart. I respectfully disagree.
I do believe that if we listen (listening in the deepest and broadest sense) only to our mind, we lose connection with body and emotion, which can lead to ill health and unhappiness. I also believe that individual consciousness is more than mind and includes bodily and emotional awareness as well as brain function and that one of the salutary aspects of yoga practices is to expand our capacity to be aware beyond thought and mere processing of sense perception.
But to listen only to our heart is to be empty-headed, to be without discrimination (viveka), and also presumes that we can process and act on what is in our heart of hearts without using our minds. To dismiss our mind as somehow not being a source for deep listening also defies the tantric yoga notion that all is an essential part of being, of consciousness, of the source of inner bliss (Satcitananda–being, consciousness, bliss). Why would we have minds if we weren’t meant to use them?
Want to be a fully engaged yogi who lives in the world? Go ahead: cultivate, educate, enlighten, and use your mind. Just do it with an open heart and ever expanding sensitivity and awareness of all your being and all that is around you!
I’d seen a photo on-line, and discussion before and after a friend took to the street and the park to write exhortations, prayers, pleas.
I might not have seen it live had it not been directly on my way home later in the day. Though I had not gone looking for it, I recognized it when I saw it–the exhortation triggered by a planned display of bigotry, rage, ignorance and hate.
The exhortation to embrace diversity is a fundamental precept of the tantric yoga philosophy (my friend was making the exhortation based on different practices, but it hardly matters from what source one gets a true teaching). I always benefit from contemplating ever more deeply that the only way to experience unity/union is to ever more fully embrace diversity (while still, of course, practicingviveka–discrimination).
Peace and light, E — Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.
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.
Last night, Paul Muller-Ortega, as part of the introductory talk for the meditation intensive, spoke at some length about the principles of ardha, kama, dharma, moksha.
As I have written about before, in the classical yoga view, it is the renunciation of the first three–material well-being, love and relationship, and right work or path, that leads us to the fourth–liberation. From a tantric yoga perspective, it is living and having the first three from the perspective of illuminated wisdom and discerning (viveka) insight (pratibha) that makes us free (jivanmukti) in this life.
One of the most exquisite things about a steady practice and study, is that each time we revisit a core concept, we hear and understand new aspects to bring into our lives.
When speaking of approaching these elemental aspects of human being, Paul noted that ardha includes not only material well-being, even wealth, but also the power that wealth brings and how we use it. Although he only mentioned that briefly amidst several other concepts, it really resonated with the current state of my being in relationship to the world and our country.
I have been contemplating deeply about wealth and power in this time of budget debate, and how they can and should be used to bring nurture, peace, and health to the maximum degree possible. (You might guess that I don’t think increasing spending for war and decreasing spending for education and health is going to bring us freedom).
Thinking about the power of money as part of our contemplation of our material well-being is something of critical importance at this time. If we shun or disdain in our minds wealth and power while still yearning for our own comforts, than we have lost an opportunity to bring the yoga principles into our lives as optimally as possible. (Of course, grasping and coveting money and power is completely destructive of the possibility of happiness, but most of us think about that, and it is why some say they are bad — money being the root of all evil, etc.).
If we are really in the world and want to be happy and to share and spread happiness, while living in accordance with the principles of the yamas and niyamas, especially the yamas: ahimsa, satya, aparigraha, brahmacharya, asteya (non-harming, truthfulness, non-greediness, aligning with spirit, and non-stealing), that is when we will start opening up the possibility of true living liberation.
Imagine, instead of thinking about material well-being as a “guilty pleasure” thinking of ways in which you can use your own well-being (and work through your practice to discover greater health and strength) to be a voice and power for good in your own individual way.
Peace and light, E — Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.