"Yoga, as a way of life and a philosophy, can be practiced by anyone with inclination to undertake it, for yoga belongs to humanity as a whole. It is not the property of any one group or any one individual, but can be followed by any and all, in any corner of the globe, regardless of class, creed or religion."
- Sri K. Pattabhi Jois
R. Sharath Jois
"You should not be practicing to have a 'good' practice, but instead to keep steadiness within yourself. Practice happily regardless of whether it is 'good' or not. Sometimes some postures will not be possible, but when you accept the good and the bad and everything becomes equal for you, that is yoga."
- R. Sharath Jois
Burnt To Ash
"All Inquiry is meant for one purpose; to take you experientially into the unknown as efficiently as possible. Once you get there, simply be still because inquiry has delivered you to its destination. The rest is up to Grace. Do not hold onto any knowledge that comes your way. Even the greatest revelations much not be clung to, or you will end up with a head full of memories and a heart empty of substance. The truth is ever new, existing only in the now. The highest truth is beyond knowledge and experience. It is beyond time and space, and beyond beingness, consciousness, and oneness. Just remember that all direct path techniques are meant simply to undermine, to cut away, the one who is performing them. No matter what spiritual path you've walked or what teachings you've followed, they must lead you back to no path and no teaching. A true teaching is like a blazing fire that consumes the itself. The teaching must not only consume you, but consume itself as well. All must be burned to ash, and then the ash must be burned. The, and only then, is the Ultimate realized. True Enlightenment destroys enlightenment. As long as you can refer back to yourself and say, 'I'm enlightened', you not. Enlightenment is authentic only when there is no one left to be enlightened. Even to say 'I am nobody', is one too many. There's a point when you intuitively realize that to be Free you have to give up your attachment to Freedom. You have to quit asking yourself: Is it still there? Am I okay? You have to decide to never look over your shoulder again to see if you're free or if others know you're free. You just have to let yourself burn there - no matter what. This isn't something I can help you with. I can tell you what you need to do, but you have to do it. In the beginning, teachers can help a lot. But the deeper you go, all they can do is point, and clarify, and tell you what you need to do. Only you can take this step. Nobody can push you in to this place."
Last weekend was one of the few weekends I had off, kind of. I still taught class on Sunday but had Friday and Saturday off so it's ...
"Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won't either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could."
"Knowledge and ritual without compassion is empty." (Jesus)
I read somewhere recently that in our practices resistance will follow us every step of the way. True. I'd have to say this definitely comes with the territory. Some periods are tougher than others and with resistance I have found how important it is to be attentive and watchful in how we connect to the practice in relationship to others. There are many trappings along the path as well as tests and if we are not mindful entering into more layers of delusion are bound to happen. In many ways I feel it humorous to write about such things because in no way am I an expert but it is something I have been contemplating lately and well here I am writing about it. So there!
Seriously though, oh wait, no I don't want to be so serious because sometimes I think that is the issue, taking ourselves way to seriously in relationship to our daily ritual of yoga practice. Yes, I take my practice seriously, for it has been an anchor, giving stability and focus, connecting to what I like to call my divine center. It's an intimate thing we touch between the spaces of our inhale and exhale, in those apexes between thoughts when our heart skips a beat because what is available in these spaces is available to all. With that, we must remember in our relationships with others everyone is in a process and we must be compassionate for whatever process that is. What I have learned is the greater intelligence knows all and no matter how much yoga I practice or books I read on the topic it in no way makes me any more in the know if I don't practice quietly sitting in this space of intelligence and usually that happens being the example more than schooling others when they have failed to understand the meaning of ahimsa (non-violence) or satya (truth) for example.
I remember a while back after a situation that was massively blown out of portion someone then decided to throw the word satya around in a condemning fashion. It caused me to pause and reflect on the importance of the yamas and niyamas which are embedded in the first two limbs of Ashtanga yoga, the Eightfold Path. I reflected on the fact that nowhere does it seem to express, correct me if I am wrong, that we are supposed to judge others on these ethical practices. Yes, I use the word practice because they are what we ourselves practice and in the same light not necessarily to be projected onto others because obviously when we do so it is another form of distraction. They are guiding posts for us to be internally awake and what I have found calm and center my state of mind. I have also learned to accept that yes I will fail at times and I might even see others fail or be misguided and well it isn't always my call to make. Now, I'm not talking about major injustices in the world but more like day to day occurrences and interactions we have with friends, families, colleagues, or other yoga practitioners.
Yes the phrase, "be the change you wish to see in the world," has been thrown around a lot lately but nonetheless puts into perspective that when I touch the light inside and shine it outward it no doubt holds more power than spiritual arrogance and or condemnation that let's be frank, often times is hidden behind a myriad of words and posturing that aren't always honest at their root. I like to use my own father as an example. He is the type of person that is very diligent and what some would call serious in regards to his own spiritual life. What over the years made it remarkable to me is the nonjudgmental attitude he would reflect on others in terms of these spiritual principles. It is something that has always stuck with me and has held importance as I journey forward. At the same time it is important we honor our feelings and be straightforward with those around us and what I am finding is not at the risk of losing all sense of compassion and sensitive awareness. I truly feel compassion is also about the art of listening without the filter of my own experience and knowing. To understand what someone is expressing without having to sound smart, charismatic or knowledgable. Can I find common ground even with those who have absolutely nothing in common with me? Can I take in someone fully without hiding behind all my yoga knowledge? Because in truth, we are all born of the same source no matter the life experience or life choices. At the heart of knowledge and ritual is compassion. No need to hide behind anything for our ritual and knowledge are tools only and not what we ultimately connect to.