Mind, Body, Spirit Balance
Yoga for a World Out of Balance
violence begets violence
Gandhi made solutions possible through the act of listening; condemning acts as evil does not entail condemning the people who committed them as evil, one has to try to understand the origins of their suffering and the reasons that led them to commit appalling acts of violence; the challenge is to respond to that confusion without lapsing into the oppositional rhetoric of “us” versus “them” or retreating to a mystical equanimity that trusts that everything is part of a divine plan or the working out of karmic consequences beyond our individual comprehension; our challenge is to clarify the difference between reactions and responses, and to act from a place of commitment to a longer-term vision of nonviolence; equanimity grows out of a compassion for everyone involved when one person hurts another
yoga is a release from preoccupation with ourselves and that release is sometimes joyous and other times painful. we cling to our history even when our history is painful. we cling to bad habits even when we know otherwise. we always desire what is known and comfortable even when it’s bad for us if only b/c it’s a repeatable experience – predictable, comfortable, conservative. this is what yam as and all yogic practices focus on interrupting.
satya is the honest examination of the fabric of our relational lives and the uncontrived expression of our realization of that particular fabric; in revealing life with clarity and authenticity, the tools of satya, like the other yam as, open the doorway of compassion.
inner and outer peace must be seen in terms of their interrelations in the same way that the tightening reciprocal relationship between human health and the natural world drives home the importance of interdependence; peace is a state of well-being that is characterized by trust, compassion, and justice; in this state, we can be encouraged to explore as well as celebrate our diversity, and search for the good in each other without the concern for personal pain and sacrifice; if provides us a chance to look at ourselves and others as part of the human family, part of one world.
Patanjali – yoga-sutra: as on concentrates on the sun, one gains knowledge of the natural world; one the moon, knowledge of the ordering of the stars; on the polestar, knowledge of their movement; on the central energies of the body, ordering of the body in its natural state
one of the goals of yoga is to cultivate clearer sense perception, we can see how this moves the practitioner into deeper intimacy with the natural world; the combination of this kind of worldly-responsiveness (without clinging) and increased awareness helps one overcome greed and the consumptive material addictions that are harmful to the ecosphere; karma reminds us that moral responsibility rests squarely on our shoulders
the wise use of sexual energy
many times the pursuit of sexual gratification is based on feelings of loneliness or isolation; we want to connect with another – physically, sexually, intimately – as a means of satisfying what we feel is missing or, more positive, expressing ourselves
brahmacarya, at bottom, has to do with emancipation from self-concern; think through how it might work in relation to our own cultural assumption and ideas about sexuality, sexually energy, and sexual identity.
treat sexual energy and sexual life as sacred and to treat compulsiveness as the problem; self-cherishing needs to be neutralized and then transformed into genuine care of others, but when we are caught in self-judgement, doubt, or repressive notions of ourselves, we fix our ways of knowing into impossible corners
yoga teaches us about our current personal, collective, and ecological ills is that the problem begins with perception
if we could replace our idea of the ‘autonomous individual’ serving his or her ‘self interferes,’ we could alter significantly our ideas about progress’ progress in terms of relationship means that we have to monitor our actions so that they become dialectic always moving back and forth among the web relations that sustain, support, and ultimately ware who awe are.
since we always have only our own eyes and our own point of view, we carry a responsibility to clarify our means of seeing; there is no truth apart from the world; whether you believe in life after death or an immortal soul is useless when measured against the possibility of tending to what is here right now; and the more we tend to what we are made of, the clearer our responsibility to take cre of it becomes; nature does not have to be something written by god but rather something we are in every sense; there is a wonderful Quaker pamphlet whose title sums it up quite clearly: There is another world but it is this one.
nothing is hidden
Patanjali – eight-limbed path known as astanga yoga
eight limbs are necessary, according to Patanjali’s logic, so that our practice leaves no aspect of our life untouched; evolving into deep, spontaneous meditation and complete liberation; the variety of limbs guarantees that the awareness operates in all spheres of one’s life, so that no distortion, perversion or fantasy will attempt to usurp the real yogic insight; the ethical, interpersonal, physiological, esoteric, and meditative aspects of practice; astanga implies both a simultaneous realization of all these interrelated aspects of practice and a logical step-by-step progression where one lib prepares one to truly practice the next
When we see that self-image is empty of basic substantiality, we are sent back into pure awareness, the sense of observing without identifying with ourselves as observers; that everything perceivable exists in front of pure awareness and that awareness itself has no distinct shape or form points to the inherent union of the human reality.
mental patterns are created out of sensations in the body, and then our mental attitudes in turn affect those same sensations and give rise to new patterns as well.
Patanjali says nothing about focusing one’s attention on past or future lives; instead he asks us to look right here at what’s occurring
when one perseveres in nonviolence, hostility vanishes in its presence; when one abides in truthfulness, activity and its fruition are grounded in truth; when one abjures stealing, jewels shower down; when one observes celibacy, heroic energy accrues; when one is without greed, the riddle of rebirth is revealed
habitual modes of perception create radical and sometimes unbridgeable gulfs between ourselves and others; when our mind changes, and when we open up to the complexity of another person, for example, we can open up our hearts and then suddenly our enemies, like the farthest planets, are closer than they have been for thousands of years.
samadhi in community
everything has this quality of flow; letters and words flow to form one another
one of the great delusions of human consciousness lies in the division of things into opposites, categories like “alive” and “dead,” for example; “one can see that flow,” Patanjali says in the yoga-sutra, “is actually a series of discrete events, each corresponding to the merest instant of time in which one form becomes another.” Everything is alive, no matter its sophistication: discrete events seamlessly morphing into new forms.
a society only gels when it is diverse, and diversity is only possible when we are flexible.
deep ecology recognizes human beings as a single species in the integrity of the ecosystem or universe, along with all the other numerous species of plants and animals and their interrelationships; this is spiritual in nature and recognizes that other forms of life have intrinsic value and inherent worth, regardless of their usefulness to people – anthropocentric refers to the way humans regard humanity as center of universe, and ecocentric points to the interconnected web we all find ourselves in.
what awareness regards, namely the phenomenal world, embodies the quality of luminosity, activity and inertia; it includes oneself, composed of both elements and the senses; and it is the ground for both sensual experience and liberation
we use sensual experience to cultivate awareness of intimacy, to wake up, to gain insight, to refine wisdom, to act, to be engaged
i listen to all sounds with equanimity, allowing them to show up in the wide open field of awareness and also allowing them to pass away
if your attention span is agitated, the breath with be agitated; if the mind is agitated, the body is agitated; if your eyes are shifting here an there, the universe will be out of balance
once we have the tools to work with habits of mind, body, and culture, we can more skillfully attune to what is happening in the world
yet it can be burdensome and difficult at first; it’s much easier to coast through our lives in the seeming bliss of ignorance, but the decaying forest ecology and the economically oppressed don’t have time to wait for us to change our minds, even when we are beset by apathy or discouragement
yoga challenge us to study these relationships through reflection on ourselves (svadyaya) until the reflections release our preoccupations and reveal the infinite continuity of the natural world in us, as us
our materialistic culture alienates us from our existential basis and as such promotes distraction rather than integration; let’s not succumb to idealization or metaphysics, and instead focus on the imbalances internally and externally that need our attention and creative energy; otherwise we blindly follow an objectified path
psychology and spirituality as well as social and ecological action are all intertwined; our yogic goals may be inner quietude and stillness, but they need to be put to work on contemporary forms of suffering both ecologically and socially
the organism that is yoga is being re-stimulated by its move westward, and as it grows roots in this new soil, we must help create the conditions for its emergence by offering to it the reality of our personal, cultural, sexual, ecological, and economic lives; only then will yoga have something real to offer us
the term sukha, the opposite of duhkha, refers to the sweetness of steady being; no longer caught up in fixation and aversion, we find ourselves awakened (bode) to the reality of being free in each and every moment of experience
Patanjali is holding a conch shell, a wheel, and a sword – these three objects symbolize the nature of enlightenment – the reality of a person free from lack
the conch shell represents pure listening and the nature of pure sound – the ability to listen without preference, or what we call “free listening”
the wheel, as a mandala or chakra, represents infinite time; like listening, time refers to patience; when we are impatient, we are not aware of the time, and when we are patient, time dissolves into itself; when we are out of step with time, there is suffering; duhkha is the gap between time and the mind; when we are one with our actions, we are unaware of the time, and suddenly the stream of time and the source of time become one; when we are fully present in every moment, we become time; time is not something happening to you – you are nothing other than time flowing.
“Asi” is the sword that in some images Patanjali is holding with two hands; it is a sword sharp on two sides and represents a mind so sharp and agile that it cuts through what is real and what is not, what is changing what causes suffering, and what creates wisdom and compassion; when the mind becomes sharp and flexible, it is clearly present; the practice of yoga clarifies our thinking processes, b/c when we are no longer fixated and averse to what arises in awareness, we free up space and mental energy to take swift and appropriate action