Friday, June 4, 2010

No separation, the energy of the path

The small individual self can so easily feel overwhelmed. In an instant, the moment itself can be consumed with a feeling or thought, a judgment, and be lost there. Plenty of times in my life I have thought, "does what I do make any difference?," or "how can I change this for the better?" Both of these questions lead to ego and come from ego, require judgment and force a dualistic structure of good-bad, now-then, me-you, etc. It seems to me now that separation cut me off from the life I was actually living, created a false sense of self that left me separated from the energy within me. My yoga practice as united me in such a profound way, that I can operate from that source more and more directly and trust my self, my actions and my non actions. Of course I am still studying this -- learning how to shape my mind within this energy space.

Revisiting Stephen Mitchell's translation of the Bhagavad Gita, one of the most sacred poems of the divine from perhaps the 5th Century BCE and the underlying breath of yogic philosophy, I am thoroughly stunned by how the inconsequential and momentous are one, how the "self" is a saturation of divine energy that cannot be divided into parts at all. I have not sought to erase ego, or to be somehow "egoless." I don't know what that would be in the here and now. I do not see myself as a guru or ascetic type who will forgo the world for the life of pure energy. Yet I know that in any moment I am already that. It is present in every one of us to love unconditionally, to give up the definitions of self and other, to be the object and the observer, to release into effort, to breathe without the baggage carried by mind.

Each part of life I have felt the embedded measuring and separating of the dualistic mind. I have chafed yet accepted ideas like "childhood" or "woman" or "mother" or "fat" or "writer" or "young" or "sexy" or "middle aged" or any of the this-and-that ways of defining a momentary entity by my self, or by others. Yoga practice erases this in a way that is not erasing ego, or self, but expanding it beyond all limitations in a way. Imagine letting oneself understand that everything is in fact one, and that is beyond "being" and "non being." That no defining element need be imagined to separate us from the food we eat, from the air we breathe, from the feelings or the cravings, from the judgments and the joys. We exist, coming and going in this and that format, energy from a source that does not require a particular form of devotion or set of robes.

So it is with wonder that I approach the open space I find is already present as my "self." This can be confusing if I try to hold on to it like an instruction manual, but is not at all if I can let that go. I can follow the patterns of this individual life, the way I cut my vegetables, wear my hair, or take on responsibilities. These, too, do not require categories and judgments. I have wondered, and see my students wonder, what does it all mean, this idea of freedom from suffering... when there is so much obvious suffering? Living as authentic a life as one can -- honing awareness into a way of being -- is exactly how we solve the problems we have with craving, desire, fear, anger, death, appetites and grasping, attachments and sorrows. The eight limbs of yoga, the yamas and niyamas, are guides as offered from one point of light. Light is a constant stream from many points - and whether it is the Tao or physics or stories of Christ, Mohammed or Buddha, these guides offer the path we make as we walk.

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