When Manorama was here teaching her Luminous Shabda course she gave a teaching that I have really been chewing on. She was talking about how there is no fantasy on the yoga path, only practice. In fact, she had been in the process of de-mythologizing herself and making a very funny but potent teaching lesson from someone's question about how she wakes up in the morning and how she relates to her day. I have seen her do this on more than one occasion when someone asks her about how she begins her day and she launches into a very funny schtick about how she wakes up to a choir of angels, makes her way over to her window where she waives at the world while she blesses the good people of New York City who have assembled under her window for morning darshan and then... and then... and then... After a very entertaining description of herself as some kind of saint she says something like, "I do what anyone else does- I go pee."
Several times throughout the weekend she made a comment along the lines of "If yoga is your fantasy, what in the world can help you? Yoga is here to help us live in Reality, to help remove fantasy from our lives and so if it has become some kind of fantasy for you, you have placed yourself beyond its help." Okay, so this is not an exact quote but it is the teaching that has been coming back to me over and over again in the time since the Spring Intensive here in Texas. Something about that teaching is a bit haunting and sobering.
If someone were to ask me what Lee's primary teaching was I would say it was "Get Real." Maybe I could language in more mystical sounding words like "What is, is." But the entire thrust of his teaching was aimed at helping us see ourselves clearly in the moment so that the clarity of sight would be a doorway into deeper realms of what is. For this is a multi-layered concept, right? There is what is real that is available to our senses- real in the sense that we can touch, taste, hear, see, smell and feel things. There are also realities at the level of emotion, thoughts, insights, and beyond into the transpersonal realms and the metaphysical domains and so forth. So what is, is is not a simplistic formula for awakening but instead an invitation to a multidimensional way to live in accordance with life as it is.
Anyway, I can't help but notice how much of modern American yoga culture seems to be resting on a bit of a fantasy about how we will get happier, sexier, richer, more whatever by pursing the path. We seem to expect super human feats of compassion from each other and use the word "yogic" as come kind of tool of judgment like "that's not very yogic of her to get angry" or "that is not very yogic of him to have a BMW" or "its not very yogic of them to worry about the future", or fill in whatever blank that follows. Give me a break. I suppose I am in a bit of a ranting mode this morning but I am really chewing on this one a lot these days. If yoga is my fantasy, what will help me?
I think yoga was a big fantasy for me for a lot of years. Each class, then each workshop event, each certification milestone, every teaching opportunity, etc I expected - not always consciously- to be some kind of thing that would in some way, complete some process within me and let me off the hook in some way. Like I said, its not like this was some conscious operating system, its more something I can see about myself in retrospect.
And the truth of that matter is that over time, my perspective has changed about the whole endeavor. I think about it a lot like marriage. I have been married almost 15 years and most days I like being married and most days I like my husband and on most days I even like myself. But the whole thing takes a lot of work--a lot of communication, a lot of getting over my old patterns and just getting real with the moment as it is and what it is asking me for in terms of response. And some days go better than others. And anyone who writes some story about me and Kelly being in some idyllic partnership is creating a fantasy out of what, in reality, is nothing of the sort.
So, yoga is like that I think. It takes ongoing work and the primary reward for such ongoing work is that ability to work some more. Like in asana, we get rewarded for a job well done with harder things to do- more refinement, trickier postures, the call to greater awareness in more challenging circumstances. And since its true on the mat it must be true off the mat also. Somewhere along the lines I stopped thinking that I would get done with the yoga and somehow be granted a reprieve where I no longer needed to attend to my inner life or to my thoughts, words and deeds and where I would be somehow carried in some larger flow in such way that my Work was done for me. Sure, there is an element of being carried that underscores my life but it is not what I thought it would be when I first heard that teaching. (Again, the fine print of yoga.)
It seems that what we are into here is an exercise in consciousness. Progress, does not mean being delivered to some state where we get to forget ourselves and "let go" although some kind of letting go is surely part of it. Progress does not mean some easier life, free of pain or heartbreak and free from the need for discipline and sacrifice. I think progress on the path is essentially the refinement of our attention. This refinement is not a hyper-vigilant kind of thing mind you, but an increasing ability to be with ourselves fully, to never abandon ourselves and to be aware of "what is" with greater clarity and sensitivity no matter what is happening.
All right, onward with my day. I am tending to business this morning and then working on the place down in San Marcos. More soon.