meditation

“We hardly ever listen to the sound of a dog’s bark, or to the cry of a child or the laughter of a man as he passes by. We separate ourselves from everything, and then from this isolation look and listen to all things. It is this separation that is so destructive, for in that lies all conflict and confusion. If you listened to the sound of those bells with complete silence, you would be riding on it–or, rather, the sound would carry you across the valley and over the hill. The beauty of it is felt only when you and the sound are not separate, when you are part of it. Meditation is the ending of the separation not by any action of will or desire.

Meditation is not a separate thing from life; it is the very essence of life, the very essence of daily living. To listen to those bells, to hear [that] laughter…to listen to the sound of the bell on the bicycle of the little girl as she passes by: it is the whole of life, and not just fragment of it, that meditation opens.”

(pp. 20-1, Meditations, Chennai, Krishnamurti Foundation India, 2000)

My recent experiences with yoga studios have caused me to draw inward and reflect on human nature. as my teacher told me, I should accept that sometimes there are no answers.

The lines “We separate ourselves from everything, and then from this isolation look and listen to all things. It is this separation that is so destructive, for in that lies all conflict and confusion…” are the operative words for me in this quote. even in the so-called yoga community we separate ourselves from each other and become dogmatic. that is NOT what yoga practice is about in my humble opinion, yoga is about opening up to greater things. and what are those greater things? more students? money? I have a website but I’ve never been good at marketing myself, it’s just not my thing. frankly, the chase for more money and more students gives me pause and leaves me cold. is that what yoga in America has become, the constant chase for “more”? more classes, more students, more yoga jewelery, more $80 yoga pants? and when you get more classes and more students, are you then happy? or does the chase begin all over again for more? even meditators chase after more meditation experiences. Chogyam Trungpa called it spiritual materialism.

A friend told me “I think you belong in India where it’s real. There’s too much of nothing around these parts.” I’ve been to India three times and I can tell you it’s really real, life and death on the streets, in your face 24/7. I’ve been invited to live there. but India has it’s own set of problems just like anywhere else and people certainly claw and scratch for “more” just like we do here. but somehow it’s bit different, at least to me it is.

So these experiences with the studios have caused me to step back and evaluate my life. I know it’s my dharma to teach, I’m just not sure if it’s here because I do long for something more “real” and for something “deeper.” I think it is also my karma to walk this path alone. another friend told me that Kali is testing me, that I must hang in there because the ride has just begun. she said that now my karmic playing field has been emptied from the trash and that I’ll see what comes to fill the void.

I have two trips to India planned. one is a year from now, two months at a south Indian ashram studying yoga therapy with a swami. the second is 2010, the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar, the largest spiritual gathering in the world. I really don’t like to plan that far in advance, but I just offer those plans to the Universe and see what comes up, if it happens, it happens. I know in my bones that something will happen to me at the Kumbh.

Maybe my void will be filled. and if I die there, at least I will be next to the Ganges, my body can be burned and returned to Mother Ganga.

But for right now, I will rest and meditate and not look outward for more. my answers are within.

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be here now


Mike always has the best posts in his blog Silent Musings — short, pithy, and exceedingly on point about spirituality. I found myself laughing in agreement at his description of riding the Los Angeles commuter train — in my previous life as a legal assistant I rode the train to downtown Chicago everyday and also learned to laugh at the floor. because there’s no where else to be but here.

just this, just here, just now.

every time I return from India people stare at me in disbelief at some of my stories about, shall we say, the less touristy aspects of India that I deal with on a daily basis when I’m there — the legless beggars, the starving dogs, begging children pulling on my clothes. “how can you stand it?,” they ask.

easy. I laugh at the floor. as Mike wrote, I find the profound beauty in the Indian floor beneath my feet and know how foolish I would be to think that it should be anything other than what it is.

I received an email today from a friend who is in Varanasi and she said that she watched a man standing in the Ganges, washing up for the day and brushing his teeth….about 5 feet away from him was a corpse and a dead cow.

just this, just here, just now.

Mike says:

“Surrender means giving up the pursuit and accepting, done to the bone, that you’ll never get anything from meditation or any other spiritual practice, other than being right here exactly where you already are. Mundane, of the world, form is emptiness, and emptiness is form. If you actually give up, and aren’t just fantasizing about surrender, you may find a profound beauty in the simplicity of the floor beneath your feet. And perhaps you will find yourself laughing/crying, as the floor laughs back at you for the foolishness of all those years of seeking.”

As yoga practitioners and meditators we run from one form or style to another, always seeking, never stopping. there’s nothing inherently “wrong” with searching and seeking, I’ve done plenty of it myself. but there comes a time when you need to know when to stop and to just be with what you already are. perfect. we are already in the place where we need to be and all our healing comes from within. if you don’t have your answers, maybe you’re not asking the right questions, because we already have all the answers we need. search deeper — we only need to listen to them when they arise within us but that’s the problem — we don’t listen to and believe our true voices and we continue our search for the next best thing until we fall down, exhausted, and surrender everything to the Universe.

only then do we realize we are perfect, just the way we are.

“It is important to see that the main point of any spiritual practice is to step out of the bureaucracy of ego. This means stepping out of ego’s constant desire for a higher, more spiritual, more transcendental version of knowledge, religion, virtue, judgment, comfort, or whatever it is that the particular ego is seeking. One must step out of spiritual materialism. If we do not step out of spiritual materialism, if we in fact practice it, then we may eventually find ourselves possessed of a huge collection of spiritual paths. We may feel these spiritual collections to be very precious. We have studied so much. We may have studied Western philosophy or Oriental philosophy, practiced yoga, or perhaps have studied under dozens of great masters. We have achieved and we have learned. We believe that we have accumulated a hoard of knowledge. And yet, having gone through all this, there is still something to give up. It is extremely mysterious! How could this happen? Impossible! But unfortunately it is so. Our vast collections of knowledge and experience are just part of ego’s display, part of the grandiose quality of ego. We display them to the world and, in doing so, reassure ourselves that we exist, safe and secure, as “spiritual” people.”
–Chögyam Trungpa, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism

jai bhagwan

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