I’ve just come off a weeklong advanced studies intensive with my Hathavidya family in the stunning and breath-enhancing 😉 countryside of Central California’s coast. I call them my family because they are more than just people I meet to practice and study with. We are potent space holders for each others involution and evolution as students, teachers, human beings and spiritual energies. In a culture that is constantly shifting more and more to the trendy, the flashy, the physical…we take the classical route. Devotion, Faith, and Lineage. It’s a frickin’ privilege to be in the presence and embrace of such fine souls. I (only slightly) digress….
The message of this particular journey was clear for me. Every morning from the rolling mountaintop of Sagrada drinking up the warm glow of sunshine and wheat fields, surrounded by the embrace of oak trees and vast open blue sky the message kept showing up “Be Simple, Be Kind”… Every projection, every intention, every observation centered around this message. Why are you doing so much? What is the intention behind more work, more practices, more tools…when the ones you are exploring are still in the process of integration? Why not get excited and show up in the beauty of these practices by which you’ve devoted yourself to the path of yoga? Allow yourself to investigate what’s already there. You did that, don’t neglect yourself the joy. My teacher, Will, later affirmed this observation. Yup, obviously I wasn’t fooling anyone.
At first, this was hard. I’ve been on a mission to simplify my life for a few years now. Let go of unneccesary responsibilities, streamlining my living to fuel the cultivation of space for my practice, working with intention more and judgement less…but there it was again. The reflection I was all too familiar with, only on a different and more subtle angle..SAME – SAME… My intuitive draw was to sit with this, enjoy it, but the student in me, the type A, product driven Westerner kept drawing me to make even the message of simplicity more complex, the message of kindness as a way to judge my LACK of being kind! However, each time the awareness of the message occurred I stopped and drank from the fount drop by drop. By Friday morning the quality resonated without words as I sat and gulped…and I knew I had to get out of my own damn way.
“[Yoga] becomes firmly grounded by long constant efforts with great love” 1.14 Yoga Sutras
In the Sutras there is no reference to the length, number of the techniques…only that they are exercised with devotion, with diligence and with compassion and love. I love to make this harder than it is. The seeking of tools, to become the “good student” or to fast track the process. I get in my own way. The mind is a trickster. Something starts to work, and the chitta vrtti (fluctuation of the mind state) can twist it to work against.
“[Ishvara’s] manifesting word is Om.
“The repetition of this (Om) and meditating on its meaning (is the way)
“From that is gained (the knowledge of) introspection, and the destruction of obstacles.” Yoga Sutras 1.27-1.29
It’s amazing really…all the complexity I try to impose on myself, that we all do, can be shifted at once with devotion… with observation of the mind and it’s fluctuations, showing up with compassion and dedication. The invocation of Om is all it takes to bring one to the divine. Sure other practices, asana, pranayama, bandha, mudra, mantra are all beautiful and powerful as a system to cleanse, prepare, and hone the physical, emotional and psychic body towards clarity but eventually even those aren’t necessary. I’m not downing those practices because they are important to me as well. BUT, I come back to the question i’m always asking of myself…why not now? Instead of piling on practices to know it all, experience the steadiness of the right now.
“You’re relationship to everything should be pure consciousness so figure that shit out” -Will Duprey
My teacher’s words are often elegant, always poignant, sometimes strikingly simple, usually complex to the point of poetry…but they are always one thing. SPOT ON. He will call you out on your BS, and you are always grateful for it. This is what happens when someone practice with no agenda. When one shows up every damn moment and devotes his life to God. When there is space to let go of the “fluffy” and stand firm in the battered, tattered, edgy, beautiful, privilege of being simultaneously divinely and imperfectly human. The dividing line fades and the manifestation of Ishvara, God, Om fuels the exploration and discovery of every sharp angle and smooth curve to the point of grace. That which the mind has made complex become glaringly simple…More and more it becomes less of something noticed occasionally by the mind and more of the sum total of experience. The point where everything one encounters, no matter the place, plane, time, or circumstance is understood from the fabric of Pure Awareness. There is not backpedaling because even the shitty moments when we are unkind, hurt, angry, mad… don’t stick, they simply become a sounding board for our evolution a product of our individual karmic debt. Karma isn’t a dirty word, my friends, it’s the pavement on the path…it’s our duty to chizzle at the concrete, to crumble it away, ride the rocky terrain until the ground gives way and all that exists is nothing, everything, GOD.
But the drive to be complex, to do better, be more is sometimes the sounding board one needs to come back OVER and Over and over to the piece that shines simply. So i’m exercising compassion. I had to slip to stand up again, I had to see to SEE. I’ll be here again, but it’s not a digression, it’s all a journey #fluffytogod.
It comes to this for me…Do Your Practice. Not Do a million practices. See rather than seek. Invite rather than force. In the sweet moments we realize the practice isn’t the goal, it is the vehicle. I’m simplifyng the investigation, laying down my super spy gear and sitting with the evidence i’ve gathered.
Wrapping up what was meant to be a simple post (hey i’m working on it) with what could be the entire article: Yoga isn’t the action, it is the state.
“An indescribable state is attained by the wise one whose mind has melted away, its functions having ceased to operate, and who is free from delusion, dreaming and dullness” Astavakra Samhita 17-20