Okay, so it’s important to have a teacher. It’s useful to have a guide who’s trudged the road before you to give you direction even though it’s likely that each and every one of us will stray along the way, trip and fall into unseen holes or come up again seeming dead ends. It is there that a teacher can be especially helpful, not by saying “I told you so” but by giving a helping hand and perhaps some reassurance that we are still loved in spite of our failure to live up to our own expectations. But when does it stop being useful? When does it become fawning at the feet of the guru? When do we stop bowing down and stand in the center of our own being whether it’s in our yoga practice or that greater school – life?
I’m beginning to get fed up with the brand naming of yoga with requirements to be part of this or that lineage. Each lineage, each brand in some way centered around a particular teacher who forgive me if I say it seems has created their ‘brand’ as a way of marketing their product. The commercialization of Yoga as a product. Many of the ‘products’ are very good, being offered by sincere people who truly believe in what they are offering. Somehow though it all seems very hierarchical to me with inner and outer circles. Not quite in the spirit of Union that I understand the Living Tradition of Yoga to be, a gift of the divine to realize our true Self.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think we should all be starving students or spend our lives in poverty. Part of the teaching at least in Tantra Yoga is infinite abundance and joy seeing the divine in all aspects of her being. I value my teachers. I have sat at the feet of them to learn and continue to honor that . However, part of what I’ve been taught is that it’s necessary for me to stand on my own two feet and walk away with love, bowing in gratitude for the gifts of insight given to find my own path. There is no one who can show you ‘your way’, the best a teacher can do is direct you towards it, share their experience and pass along what they have learned to give you what you need in order to find your way. That plus a little inspiration, Shakti.
When I began doing yoga it was a joyful path of discovery and sharing. My teachers were my peers. No one was getting rich from yoga , it was a practice to enrich our lives. It was something to be shared. There was present the realization that being in the consciousness of someone who had touched or been touched by the divine is invaluable. My first teacher said that it was like going to be with his mother with nothing in mind , nothing to get , just to experience joy of being in her presence , in love. And the mother, sensing the open heart gave what was needed without requirement even for a thank you but rather because it is her essence and joy to see her children grow and flourish. To thrive.
Yoga promises Moksha, liberation and also for some Samadhi , higher consciousness or Nirvana, enlightenment and living in the kingdom of heaven while still on earth. Is the key to enter the kingdom a pass saying “Joe Sent Me”? Is being part of a lineage where one finds the word or mantra which leads the way to find the door to enter or knowing how to open it? It was my impression that this Yoga was to pass along one consciousness to another, to give that which had been given freely to those able to receive it. It is of course true that in order to receive there must be an individual development of consciousness. The vessel must be fit to hold and cherish the gift. In fact, the warning is given to keep it secret within the depth of our being letting the outward signs attract but sharing essence only with those who can see it. For that a certain amount of study, svadyaya, is necessary. Tapas as wall, burning away the old consciousness to the point where one can recognize the master. At that point, bow down to receive the blessing then go forth and share the seeds. That is seems to me is the school of yoga which may be called lineage.
My first meditation teacher told this story. Students on a retreat said , “Ah, wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a place here to come and meditate?” He replied , “If the students want it they will create it.” He told of being awakened with a jolt in the middle of the night and being told, “You’re the teacher. It’s your consciousness that creates the space.” And so he did. At the same time, he said “I teach those who come to me but have no need of them to support me, it is “I” who must support the seeker.” Now, he didn’t mean that he was there to write checks but rather in saying, create no organization around my name or the teachings as once you do, the organization needs to be supported and you lose sight of the message.
These are very fine lines to tread between the other saying, “That which supports not the wayfarer is no way to fare upon.” We are not sanyasin, begging on street corners but rather filled with the light of consciousness we live in abundance and harmony. Our needs are met because not only ii is “The Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom of heaven.” It is the mother’s good pleasure to give you herself. She is a part of each and every one. We are born from her womb and live in her embrace when we stop trying to be something separate and apart, we are unique individual expressions of the divine.
That’s what I understand the gift of YOGA to be. A personal realization, a practice which each individual can do in order to support and lead them to find their own true passionate aliveness. It is not a renunciation of Life but a letting go of one’s attachment to the form in continual transformation while living in the eternal dance of breath breathing life breathing you. But then, maybe I’m still in school.
Maybe instead of looking up to to someone to see the feet of the guru, I need to look down. Having your head and your feet in the same place is a good ways along in being present. As long as I live there’s learning so what I understand today may evolve. I certainly hope so. I’ll keep studying and meditating , walking the path while tempered by the fires of life to become a fit vessel both to receive and to share , to “Be Yoga Now”.