“The world is an ocean of bliss, my body is but an island.” Shankara Yesterday my husband, Ed and I took a vacation day . We put our bikes on the car to drive to Aquileia, now a small farming community but once a prominant Roman city at the head of the Adriatic at the edge of lagoons on the Natissa river. From there we took bike path 12 km riding by farmlands, along a straight by a lagoon and across a bridge to Grado, once a port city for the Roman Empire then a fishing village where we locked our bikes, wrapped our jackets round our waists and slung our shoes over shoulders to walk along the sandy shore and in the water of the sea. Grado is also called, L’sola del Sole, the sunny island, and it certainly lived up to that yesterday. I’ve been doing a bit of ruminating of late, not the best companion to serenity and meditation. Here I offered up all my concerns about who I am or more likely am I who I ought to be, to once again come to the glory of the present moment … An island in a sea of bliss, kissed by the sun.
Recently I had a discussion with a fellow yogi regarding the Sutra . We were discussing the value of various translation. I just recently reread The Heart of Yoga by TKV Desikachar. I’d read it many years ago but it took on new meaning as I now see how developing a personal practice has informed my life, supporting all the changes this life has presented and changing me from the inside out. I was particularly struck by how relevant the Sutra now seem rather than some far off philosophy or scripture. My friend said, well it seems that he has interpreted them to apply to everyday life when they are meant to apply to the practice of meditation. This seemed to me a strange thing and I said so. I mean, isn’t the point of yoga that our lives become an expression of it and that meditation is best expressed when savoring the sweetness of its fruits in our life?
I think sometimes the separation between meditation and breathing the joy of the moment is like kumbaka, the silence in the pause between thoughts not separate at all. Then in spite of all that we can see that is wrong in the world and all the places we see how we don’t live up to our highest aspirations , we can experience what Shankara in his wisdom discovered, “The world is an ocean of bliss, my body is but an island.” Un’isola con il sole dentro… an island with the light of the sun within.
We know the sun shines on saint and sinner alike. In my case, I also know that I’m no saint! In practicing yoga in my life I seek to be a worthy seeker of the Self, whose inherent nature is the fullness of bliss: to wash away the delusions or Samskara the mind has built up which cloud my vision. I also seek to shine, to be the ground where new flowers bloom as well and share both the sun, the fruit and the flower with fellow seekers.
Here is the second blooming of roses in our garden. Just as the Autumn leaves are falling, these roses bloom a second time before fading away, a reminder of the eternal spring of life. When I release my attachment to what ‘was’ or even ‘what might have been but never was’ , I begin to be free from the bondage of self. Going once again going to Shankara’s wisdom, “Like the ether, I spread throughout the world; like the sun, I am marked by my shining; like the hills, I am everlasting and unmoved; I am like an ocean without shores.”
I think in this case the “I” could also be “Yoga” … Yoga is like an ocean without shores, that touches all who are present to be touched and that touches us in the unseen core of our being, bliss. Celebrate the moment. Let your sun shine to guide the way for you and others you encounter along the way… Then even on the cloudiest of day you will see the light and be light-hearted. I bow to the light within you, Om Namaste.