Joseph Campbell quoting Heinrich Zimmer

“My friend Heinrich Zimmer used to say the best things can’t be told, because they transcend thought.  The second best are misunderstood, because those are the thoughts that are supposed to refer to that which can’t be thought about, and one gets stuck in the thoughts.  The third best are what we talk about.”  – Joseph Campbell

 

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

Siddhartha Considers Emotion

“He pondered this feeling which completely filled him as he slowly made his way.  He pondered deeply, sinking down into the depths of this feeling, as through deep water, until he reached the point where the causes lie.  For to know the causes – so it seemed to him – that is what thinking is.  And only in this way do feelings become knowledge instead of being wasted.  In this way they become meaningful and begin to radiate what is within them.”

-Herman Hesse, Siddhartha

 

Humble Warrior

For many long years, sleep did not come.  Now it is here, a sanctuary, an unremembered temple of well-fed lions. 

Summer comes, undeniable as the needs of body and soul.  We peel away her nightdress, and when she goes we go with her. 

There will still be times we do not feel supported by the earth, and contact with it will need to be reestablished.  There will still be times when pain holds us in its mouth like a whale, and we struggle to light our way so we might see better in the darkness of its belly.

The sun is rising, now, again.  The earth tilts on its axis, and that star is still there, incomprehensible fire of all fires at its center, and the fire moves ever outward, cooling equally, creating a roundness.

We owe our lives to the circumstances of the earth and the sun, to the distance between them.

It is morning and you are held in sleep.  I am held in my usual early wakefulness.  Calm water has eased my burning.  There is soreness in my body, and insect bites on my skin.

I eat up the world, and am eaten by the world.  A humble warrior does not forget to bow to all of it.

How Fortunate, How Small

How small are we, how fortunate to see with eyes the dolphin, the stallion, the bee, being what they are and doing what they do.

To hear with ears the wind across the palisades of mountains and the song of the ocean.

To know with flesh the pleasure and pain of the body, lust and hunger, bleeding and burning.

To thirst with spirit for the very earth we walk on, for an open dome of sky or dense canopy of rainforest.

To sacrifice with courage all that we are, and send an invitation to what we might become.

How small are we, how fortunate.

 

Working With Coyote

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.

 

 

First Light Splatters The World-Canvas

First, I dreamed that I wandered from room to room in a glass house at the edge of the sea, working with my fears and my desires the way a sculptor works with clay, the way a fly-fisherman works his line.

Then I dreamed of women, of all the sisters I have known.  They made a great circle around me and chanted Om three times.  My heart became a bird of many colors.  My rib cage opened and the bird flew up into the sky.  My tear-ducts ran themselves dry and the muscles of my eyes ached.  I knew I was alive.

Finally, I dreamed of bloodlines and of men, the many brothers I have known.  I dreamed that my father, my grandfather and my son all sat with me at a round table of thick dark wood.  At the center of the table was an elk heart with stones and feathers and seashells on it.  We each ate some of the heart.  I saw them all from a place of peace, a place where all my emotions and thoughts had become transparent.  A place where love runs freely without refrain, a river whose dam has been lifted, flowing with its natural movement restored to it.

Love, you are the answer.  Love, you are the way.  Love, you are the force that opens me.

I woke early to a lone bird whose song split across the darkness, as if repeating something I had yet to discover.  I had the feeling he knew it was spring.  Whatever he knew, or didn’t know, he was joined shortly thereafter by his own sisters and brothers to usher in the sun.