I am still reflecting a lot on the week and how much I enjoyed being with everyone at The Certified Teacher's Gathering. I have spent a lot of time on the phone with folks from all over the country these last few days and it never ceases to amaze me the caliber of the people that John Friend has attracted around him as teachers, students and companions. We really do keep very fine company. And to me, that had to be one of the best parts of the week in North Carolina.
I had a talk with one of my friends just this morning about what it really means to be part of a spiritual school or organization and how there are so many levels of involvement and so many ways to enjoy the Blessings that such company provides. He reminded me that one can stay at the periphery and glean the teachings and benefit from the insight that the school offers and have a very comfortable, life-enhancing time for many years. But we also talked about how, the closer one gets to the center of the mandala, the hotter the fire becomes.
Mandala is from a sanskrit word that means circle but generally refers to a circular design containing concentric geometric forms, images of deities, etc. and symbolizing the universe, totality, or wholeness in Hinduism and Buddhism. Also it can be used to refer to a group of students who form a circle around the teacher- like 12 disciples who formed a mandala around Jesus, etc. So in this case, we might think of Anusara Yoga as as mandala, as image of wholeness or a unified field of sorts. To move to the center of the mandala is to move from the periphery of the school toward the core.
Now, before I go on, let me be very clear that in the case of true spiritual work, "the center of the mandala" is not an external locale. It has nothing to do with who gets face time with the teacher, who is in the front row, or who is regarded as "important, popular, knowledgeable, senior, etc." Being close to the center of the mandala is an inner orientation to one's transformational process. It is a context that one holds that involves giving oneself fully to the opportunity that is right in front of them and engaging that opportunity with 100% commitment and accountability. It means that one does not take refuge in doubt, complaint, criticism, blame or other forms of holding oneself back from the vulnerability required to really go for something. Being at the center of the mandala is the decision to make use of whatever happens in the circumstance to grow, to change and to serve The Highest.
So, my experience is that most of my friends who are certified teachers are not dabblers on the periphery of anything in their lives. Generally, we don't do one kind of yoga on Monday night and something else entirely on Tuesday. Each one of us went for this yoga, we gave our life to these teachings and we live very close to the center of the mandala where the fire is the hottest. And most of my friends like it that way. My long-time friends in the method are not casual people. Generally speaking, most of my friends seek rigor of some kind, which is why we get along in the first place. For many that rigor was and still is with asana. For some, it is with their philosophy studies and contemplative practices. Some dive the deepest into their practices of self-inquiry and self-observation. Some of us write. Some of us dance, paint or even hoola hoop.
And I think that is what John was getting at when he was talking about The Art and Culture of Anusara Yoga this last week. I think he was reminding us that those acts, those sets of practices, those various ways that each of us orient ourselves to the center of the mandala is the yoga he has been teaching us all along. I do not think that this art and culture idea is about limiting or changing Anusara Yoga into something else nor is it about changing any of us into someone other than who we are. I think The Art and Culture of Anusara Yoga is about recognizing that when we are moving toward the center of the mandala- when we are moving with integrity toward what matters most to us, to that place where we have no back doors, to that place where our intention meets our commitment and our actions- that we are in the flow of Grace and that state of mind and heart is Anusara Yoga.
And you can be sure that that state is going to get hot and that you are not going to get there by being casual.
So anyway- enough for now. Must rest.