Ubuntu, Yoga, and the Illusion of Separation

Ubuntu is an ancient South African term meaning “connectedness to others”.  It points to the human virtues of humanity and compassion.

Yoga is a Sanskrit word meaning “union”, “connection”, or “to join”.

Between all the reading I’ve been doing and my recent journey into yoga teacher training, I have noticed an idea that comes up again and again.  It’s the concept that our ego constantly tries to convince us that we are all separate (the ego’s effort to build and maintain any self-identification that supports the illusion of control), when actually we are all interconnected in ways that are beyond our conception.

For instance, having your body tattooed with an image that is meaningful or beautiful to you.  I have several tattoos.  I like my tattoos, but I also see them for what they are: my ego’s effort to qualify the identity it thinks it is.  It’s my ego working hard to define itself, to project a self-image it finds favorable.

The identity our ego insists is real, is of course not real.  It is an illusion brought about by the fact that we exist in a world of forms and so our thinking is limited to forms.  Who we truly are is beyond forms, and is concerned with awareness, not thinking.  When one recognizes the illusion as an illusion, it begins to die.  It dies because its survival depends upon it being thought of as reality.

The power of a yoga practice is that it teaches you to be vulnerable and humble.  From there, you begin to open up.  Stuck places inside you slowly, slowly start to move, like a dam being deconstructed one stone at a time.  Maybe life has hardened you in certain ways, and these hard edges start to soften, as you devote yourself to returning to the practice again and again.  Your awareness increases, and you begin to notice the difference between awareness and thinking.

“One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu – the essence of being human.  Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation.  It speaks about our interconnectedness.  You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity.”  –Archbishop Desmond Tutu

“Don’t seek the truth, just cease to cherish opinions.”  -Zen saying

“Our separation from each other is an optical illusion of consciousness.”  –Albert Einstein

“Give up defining yourself, to yourself or to others.  You won’t die.  You’ll come to life.” Eckhart Tolle

“Don’t become too narrow.  Live fully.  Meet all kinds of people.  You’ll learn something from everyone.  Follow what you feel in your heart.”  -Yuri Kochiyama

Luggage

Identify the contents.  How do they serve you?  Decide what to set down, what to carry.  Letting go is difficult.  Holding on is difficult.  Maybe you learn how to shift the weight, carry it differently.

Tree

The next time a storm comes, set your eyes upon a tree.  The branches toss and turn, flail and bend – and wisely so, for what happens to things that don’t bend?

But then, beneath the boughs and limbs, the trunk.  And beneath that pillar of power and stability, the roots – firmly fixed to the earth.

 

Darren Main on the Source

“If you’re able to keep returning to your focus point (in meditation), you can move still deeper into the mind and experience the true Self, because underneath these three basic levels of consciousness (conscious mind, semi-conscious mind, unconscious mind) there is a fourth.  For simplicity, I’ll refer to it as the source.  It’s important to note that all minds originate from the same source point.  This point has many names originating in many cultures.  A simple Western name would be God.  Eastern names would include the Tao and Brahman.  Albert Einstein referred to this source as the Unified Field.  Whatever you call this Source, it’s important to remember that it exists within every mind.

This source point is the origin of all thought……it’s a formless thought of pure joy, bliss and love.  This thought is present within you at this very moment and at every moment, though it’s likely to be buried under layers of physical, emotional and psychological baggage.

It is this source point that we’re trying to realize when we practice yoga.”

-Darren Main, Yoga and the Path of the Urban Mystic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Working With Coyote

C.M. Rivers

In working with Coyote – the trickster who tricks even himself – there can be no rigid thinking, no frame around the picture.  Perceptions are dissolved, expectations are deconstructed.  One must take oneself less seriously, welcome laughter, crack open the shell of one’s own ego.

An open heart is required, and it is like the open road: lending itself to endless possibilities, allowing whatever wants to come next to happen, inviting the mind to loosen its grip on everything it has convinced itself of, softening into fearlessness and deep listening.

The processes of nature, miracles all.  How full of folly we are, how powerful, how small.

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Say Yes

C.M. Rivers

Say yes to storms, stillness, success, failure, silence, noise. Yes to high winds, bitter cold, sweltering heat, crushing loneliness, joyful connection, isolation, liberation.

Yes to the broken and the unbreakable.  Yes to the shaken and the unshakeable.

Say yes to danger, safety, pain, pleasure, exhaustion, energy.  Yes to the suffering you’ve known and the gifts you’ve been given.  Yes to a small and closed-in place, yes to the mystery of limitless space.

Say yes to old hurts, fresh wounds.  Yes to your rise and yes to your fall, to effort and ease.  Yes to the fields of time and timelessness.

Say yes to all the things you think you could never do or be, yes to anything you’re afraid of.  Yes to duality and oneness.  In saying yes, you become unstuck.  When you say yes, nothing can hold you hostage.

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Light My Way

C.M. Rivers

May my heart light my way.  May it come into a place not unlike the narrow line that exists between water and fire, a pocket of stillness where both forces are within reach.  Then I could learn their ways, how to call on them, how to let them enter me, how to recognize which one is called for.  Then I might discover how to refuse nothing, yet also how to hold on to nothing.

May my heart find peace.  May it find a way to be supported by the great net of life – the embroidery of things – and not lose itself in the intricate mesh.  Then it might remember to bow more readily, honoring what support it has already found.

Having lost my way many times before, may I more easily recognize those paths and not start down them again.  May I light my way instead of losing…

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