Alchemy

The peacock struts around eating things that are brightly colored: plants, insects and snakes.  

Much of what it eats is poisonous.   

May we learn to move closer to pain, invite in the Lady of Sorrows to sit it at our table, as if she were our neighbor, as if she were a weary vagabond in need of food and shelter, and we were a Spanish Mission.  

Then we might be something like the peacock, whose tail-feathers are alchemized by poison into something bright and beautiful.

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Quote by Erich Schiffman

“When you let go of everything you think you know about yourself and stay with what’s left, when you willingly abandon the contradictory evaluations of who you are and courageously reach deeply into yourself in order to experience yourself directly, you will come upon a new experience of who you are.”

Erich Schiffman

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

Weather Report

To better understand nature you need to spend some time in it alone, observing.  The more you do this, the more quietly aware you’ll become of what is happening there – the order, science, art, survival.

The same applies to one’s body and mind, habits, tendencies, perpetual states, thoughts that come and go, emotions that change and pass.  The solid and fluid.  The blurry and congruent.  The daily weather report of moods.

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.

 

Quote from Iyengar

“Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured, and endure what cannot be cured.”

B.K.S. Iyengar

Quote by Matt Licata

Enter deeply into your neurosis, your anxiety, your panic, your confusion, your suffering, and your fear – get to know it’s textures, qualities and fragrances, and allow it to take you into the secret chamber buried inside your own body.  For within the mandala of tender ripe aliveness there are jewels beyond the mind.  – Matt Licata