Saturday, August 04, 2012

Shadow full of gods.

Yoga is a funny thing. It’s everywhere. Even when I try to push it away I find myself in the midst of it. That’s Yoga not yoga, in case you’re wondering.

I started dancing Tango thinking the sultry sounds, high heels and seductive outfits are about as far away from Yoga as one can get. Instead I discovered that unless one is completely willing and able to transcend ones ego, this dance turns from sexy elegance limited only by a limitless imagination to a clunky clashing of conflicts bound by personal issues.  It is precisely, the union of two as one, in surrender, non-judgment, respect and interdependence that creates this magical experience.  In the moment of such intimacy one is necked despite the garbs and the two are one kosmic unit of bliss in midst of a rounda populated by glittering bling and the smiling faces of fellow dancers. That’s what brings people to the dance….even though, realistically speaking this only happens…like once in a great while… because it take two to tango.

Occasionally, I’d find myself wondering about my garden picking whatever the plants are willing to share with me, hearing a bird in the tree, or admiring my unlikely watermelon plants, which this year have decided to be very likely. I notice that it’s not me that’s walking around the garden. It’s just the walking and I am just there for the ride and the mind is clear enough to hear the mood of the plants and taste the fragrance of the flowers. Who know Yoga happened in the garden while pouring smelly organic slushy on my tomatoes.

Once on an airplane, I decided to practice Metta using the other passengers as subjects for the practice. Those unsuspected accomplices were rather put off at my big smile at the end of the ride when I felt like I was leaving great friends behind, saying good bye to all, and the look on their faces was betraying at least an annoyance and at most a serious concern for my sanity. Oh well, at least I had a great time.

Recently, I decided I need to shift my focus and read something that had nothing to do with anything and definitely nothing to do with Yoga. I picked up a book called American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I am a fan. A clever story teller that only makes sense to folks who know enough about mythology, culture and humans to get his drift, he became a favorite of mine when he published the Sandman series. His spinning of tales usually has the effect of opening circuitry in my brain that usually collect dust.  I generally end up walking around seeing things, I mean, more things than I usually see, which could be a pretty alarming situation. It also, with my re-opened circuits, gets my brain making interesting associations, dreaming things up and finding sense in strange places. It’s like drugs, but legal. It’s like him and I are totally on the same other-worldly brain wave, but we never met each other. It’s like this world is layered with levels of reality that most of us don’t bother to notice, even those of us who make mindfulness a committed practice for life. After all, you can only be mindful of things you notice. What are you going to do about the things you don’t?

So, this time  I noticed a meditation practice in which I got into my missing for a month without a word brother’s head (don’t ask) and wanted him to call, and then I got a phone call 8 hour later from my mother who told me he had called a few hour earlier and that he was fine.

I noticed some strange dreams that had nothing to do with life and a lot to do with death and ducks and flying and somehow I woke up feeling awesome thinking to myself “What’s hot yoga? It’s regular yoga with me in it?” Ha. Really?

I also noticed how much time I spend with my computer. It’s like it’s an extension of me. I don’t think I can write my name in manuscript anymore without spelling it wrong. When my mind sees the computer it bows down and gets productive. It kind of makes me wonder, who owns whom?

I was pretty proud of not having cable and not succumbing to media frenzy and bombardment. But then again, I have a cell phone which pretty much grows out of my hand now as I do things with it I never thought phones would ever do – checking my e-mails, Facebook, the weather, using the alarm clock, the GPS and maps, restaurant reviews, internet, and slew of other activities which used to be designated for when I was “at the office.” The thing I do the least with this phone is what it was originally meant to do – call and talk to people. Actually talk to people. Perhaps, talk to friends for hours. Or talk to relatives I haven’t seen since before they invented wireless.

“People populate the darkness; with ghosts, with gods, with electrons, with tales. People imagine and people believe:  and it is that belief, that rock-solid belief, that makes things happen.” - says Shadow, the main character of the book.  In the context of the book, people created the Gods by believing in them and sacrificing to them, which then gave the gods power to exist….Kind of like “wherever your attention goes, the energy flow,” which is one of the main educational warnings in yoga philosophy.

So, it got me thinking what do I believe in and where does my energy flow, in other words what are my gods? I am pretty sure my computer is one of them. The way I see it, we first decide that we need something, which in most cases is nothing we need but something we really just want. However, if you dress up your “want” with the garb of “need” than you have to go get it. So, we start with something we want, than we go ahead and sacrifice something to get it.  The more we believe we need it , the more we are willing to sacrifice for it. We sacrifice time, energy, resources, dreams, and sometimes other people, to get what we want.

Think of TV – that’s a modern day God for a lot of people. It keeps you company when you are alone. It entertains you. It educates you. It passes the time. You throw money at it every month so that it will continue doing those things for you. You devote time to it. You anticipate. You fall asleep to it. You feature it prominently in your house (like an altar). You sacrifice people to it – the people you don’t pay attention to because you are tuned in to the tube, the relationships you don’t attend to because you are fulfilling your diversion. You are sacrificing yourself to it, because you are sitting on that couch staring at wild flowers, animals and wonderful places to visit on the screen, instead of going out there and experiencing those things for real. It defines your reality by offering you media packaged ways of thinking, so you don’t have to think for yourself.

Relative reality was created out of Ultimate, formless, Consciousness because of a desire arising and then a thought that came along so there you have it – the Universe! The desire to create, to manifest is inherent in the design of this Universe. Thought was the energy that imagination rode and continues to ride to bring about everything that we see and don’t see. At least, that’s the model of reality we see in yoga philosophy. It’s a similar kind of process described in other spiritual traditions, even though Ultimate reality and Relative reality may have different names. I like Andrew Cohen’s “Being and Becoming” because it tells you exactly what the shtick is – on one hand there’s Being as in Ultimate Transcendental Reality, on the other hand there’s Becoming, as in what the Ultimate Transcendental Realty is manifesting out of itself.  Simple enough, until you consider that the Becoming part involves us humans. We are like little nucleuses of Ultimate Reality expressions through which It becomes aware of itself and through which It manifests Itself. Our thoughts are charges of potential that make our individual and collective Relative reality as it is. Not only our experience of it, personally, but our shared experience collectively. A nuclear bomb is not just a personally devastating thing, it’s a human and nature disaster of mega proportions.

Knowing stuff like that, Buddha proclaimed: "All that we are is the result of what we have thought. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him".  

Shadows follow everyone, but the person directly under the Sun….Rumi said it more poetically than my paraphrasing. Only direct sunlight will diminish your shadow, he said. Our gods live in our shadows, feed off our shadows and prosper there, the darker and the deeper our shadows the stronger those gods.

Direct sunlight is the domain of Yoga. Not yoga.  It’s the experience of Yoga. It’s the skill of Yoga, for Yoga is skill in action, we are told in the Yoga Sutras and in the Baghavd Gita.

What would I be empowering with my energy and thoughts if I had no shadow and gods to feed? What would I be Becoming if I didn’t have god’s too sacrifice to?

Sri Aurobindo calls it turia – the state of direct sun overhead, followed by turia tita – the state of I am  Being Becoming itself, the realization of the ultimate God – Me, but unfortunately “I” am not there to realize it. So, “I” wake up from it thinking “What’s hot yoga?” and feeling mighty great about everything and not knowing why.

A few days later, I pick up the computer to write this and realize it’s just a computer and I am grateful for all the imagination and thought that manifested such an efficient tool with which my imagination can transmit itself through the unseen layers of reality we call the Internet, and reach the eyes of beings interconnected by wonder.