Friday, January 25, 2013

In Death Shyamdas Reinforces the Purpose of Life

On January 20, 2013, a beloved person in the world of bhakti yoga, kirtan and scholarship in the ancient texts of yogic life, vanished in a motorcycle accident. There were events on his calendar stretching well into the future, and memories in the minds of uncountable thousands from his presence in the past.

His was a practice of devotion. In this he was precise -- translating seminal texts from ancient languages in order to deeply understand them and as a byproduct share them with the rest of the English speaking world. In this he was spiritual -- chanting the 108 names of his beloved with no boundaries between his sense of self and the beloved.  In this he was an ordinary traveler -- juggling his busy life, his devotional practices and his own practical requirements like the rest of us.

Each moment of life is life itself. When the vacant body is all that remains and the spirit has departed, it is shocking to the rest of us. How vivid the lesson that it is only in this moment, THIS MOMENT, that our life unfolds. Chanting, studying, smiling at each other, tasting the food, seeing the mist, feeling the sorrow, opening the heart.

Shyamdas continues his voyage, and his teachings. A friend was hoping that he had the name of the beloved on his lips as he departed. We can't know about that until it happens to us, but I carry this strange sense that he spilled open beyond all borders in that moment, when defining a name or a beloved ceases to have meaning.

Let's live, shall we? Deeply, fully, and right now. Dig in! Open up! When our moment comes - young, old, well, sick, anticipated or unforeseen - let it be a joyous celebration for those who remain in the body, present.

For books of his translations:

Friday, January 11, 2013

Present Moment: abiding with uncertainty

Each moment crosses all the boundaries of time and space. It's a little bit like stage fright, this feeling of not knowing what will happen and caring very much about doing my best. Living with that can heighten anxiety, complacency, hyperactivity; creating a spiral of uselessness and unworthiness. In any moment, what have you done? what have you done? (How will you be measured? valued? seen?)

Acknowledging this anxiety allows me to unravel how much I worry about what others think of me, trace my need for usefulness, and at the same time see how constantly I judge myself. It is not that hard, once opening that up, to begin simplifying. Literally,  I return my energy to the universe like a borrowed library book. This reinforces my responsibility to fully engage and use that energy, knowing it is endless and recycled.

My deepest happiness comes from drawing on the authentic in myself, and when that is my source of action, I feel that I do less harm. Not waiting for anything, just being in it thoroughly, whatever it is, in this moment -  a definition of effortless being, even with physical or mental effort in the action itself. (There is a moment at waking from sleep as the mind and body reintroduce themselves, yet all the while "being" is ceaseless, and seamless. This is not a mechanical arrangement of breath and heart beat, but a deeper cultivation of awareness.)

This authenticity comes from a well of basic goodness in me, and serves as a protection even with my pockets of ignorance. (Ignorance is like a blind spot where I have yet to learn to see, from which I operate on assumptions and projections, creating illusion and taking it as truth. It seems a certain amount of this is inevitable, yet I keep working on finding the edge of it.)

Uncertainty is possibility. Uncertainty is acknowledging fear of the unknown. Uncertainty is curiosity writ large. Uncertainty is not ignorance. Uncertainty is balancing in the moment, abiding.

Satisfaction seems to imply judgment, as in being enough, measured against something else and easily deflated.  It is contentment (Santosha) that implies acceptance with gratitude of whatever we have or do not have. This is not mere semantics, it is the practice of abiding with uncertainty.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Diet Change, The Moment is Now

So after months of hearing about the film Forks Over Knives, my husband and I watched it. The next morning, as I was making our oatmeal, he told me that he was going to give up meat, dairy, oils, empty grain and sweetened products.  He didn't want to wait until his cholesterol was too high and his arthritis more painful. He just wanted to treat himself by eliminating potential causes of his health problems.

Honestly, we've eaten a vegetable centric diet for the last 10 years. We grill a lot in the summer; love yogurt, good olive oil, and cheeses of all nations.  And we cook every day.

Even so, this shift feels true and transformative. It is simply what it is. We eat our home made vegetable sushi rolls, fava bean parsley salad with lemon and olive bits, rye crisp sesame crackers with humus and a piece of red pepper, and don't miss a thing. I roasted our oyster mushrooms in the oven, and cooked the herbed shallots and zucchini in a smidgen of water. 

Did we go over and over this decision? No. Had we quietly been preparing for this over the last several years? Probably. Are we vegan? Not really.  I think we are living truthfully. Making our own inquiry, seeing where it leads.  I wonder if I will use up the turkey soup stock in my freezer? 

This feels very much like my yoga practice. Many familiar elements, always under analytical scrutiny but also flowing with the wind.  Evolution is not a plan, it is a way of being alive. So we lighten our footprints, honor the vast array of amazing nutrients out there, and feel delighted to be able to share the adventure.  Who knows what the next moment brings? (My husband offers me a handful of peanuts!)

I've never done a "cleanse" but I have a feeling I just signed up for the longer term clean up.