I was told today that the Turks have a saying: “don’t believe in fortune telling, but don’t live without it.” That is something like my relationship with the yoga sadhana: don’t believe it’s promises, but don’t live without it. The cup, overturned after the coffee is drunk, to allow the grounds to reveal my fortune.
I went today with my younger sister and brother-in-law to see the Terracotta Warriors exhibit at the National Geographic Museum. Even with only a few of the warriors and photographs of the site, it is possible to imagine the sheer magnitude of the vision of thousands of these life-sized images living underground at the tomb of the Emperor. I then thought of how vast must have been the Emperor’s yearning for power and the wildness of his vision of this extraordinary tomb for it to have become manifest. Trying to expand my imagination to understand the reality of such ambition and creativity I thought of the principle of iccha shakti. Iccha shakti is the very will of consciousness to be, to creatively manifest, to become diversified embodiment out the universal. Ego and will are not themselves bad, but our very freedom allows us to choose a path that is out of alignment with the principles of joy and unity.
The Terracotta Warriors show the immense possibilities of exercising will. In their very existence and the manner of their coming into being, they evidence both enormous cruelty and disdain for life and a wondrous manifestation of human creativity, collaboration, and effort. One of the goals of yoga, in teaching us the possibilities of our own freedom and creativity, is to lead us to choose a life that is progressively better aligned with nature and with all of beings. This is the path of one who practices, and I find it ever a challenge.