Knowledge and Ritual


"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. 

Spirit is in a state of grace forever. 
Your reality is only spirit. 
Therefore you are in a state of grace forever. 
(A Course in Miracles)

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