This little caterpillar exhibits the beauty in just being itself. It doesn’t try to be more beautiful, and maybe it doesn’t even recognize its own beauty. One of the main offenses in Bhakti is Kautilya, or crookedness, defined as not being who you really are, you put on a show on the outside but are not that way on the inside. In a humble state we can realize that all other animals have no problem with this Satya, or Truth, practice, they just are who they are and act honestly.
Begin to recognize the comfort you have around those who practice Satya. Also, recognize ways or times that you might fall into kautilya, or exhibiting a false self to others.
I saw this posted in the storefront of where Srila Prabhupada set up shop in NYC to share prashad and kirtan.
The root of all problems is our ignorance of who we really are. We aren’t solely the body, or the mind, we aren’t our thoughts, jobs, hobbies, liked or dislikes, but we are spirits connected to all sprits. If we can recognize our underlying unity, we would no longer need borders, no longer need to compete with each other for resources, but instead we’d do everything in support of everything.
Avidya, or ignorance, is the root of the ego, attractions, aversions, and clinging to life, these are the obstacles on the path. Once we realize our connection and yoke to it, we attain vidya, or knowledge, and then we will find harmony, fairness, and peace.
The world is an external manifestation of what is inside. What we see is a perception through the lens we created through thoughts, ideas, and values. We can choose to see the divine behind everything or not. The results of that decision is either to feel entirely supported or completely alone.
Why don’t we choose to live simply in the support of the Highest? The horse above, and your pets and all the wildlife, are not bound to the dramatic news everyday, and even if they are feeling the effects of climate chaos, they don’t choose to suffer over it, but rather embrace and respond to each present moment.
I challenge you to stand where your feet are. To exist just in awareness for a few minutes, or many, each day. Allow whatever is there to be there with an acceptance as if the experience, whether pleasant or not, is a gift to pull you closer to your Source. Yoga is this connection to the Source.
This is what I practice while working with horses. Each act is an attempt to pull the horse into a deeper and more trusting relationship with me, whether the act is rewarding good behavior or redirecting something a little less desirable. I aspire to learn from horses the humbleness of collaborating with what horses consider predators and the ability to not take offense at those less-desired behaviors, because horses, like all beings, only do what they think they have to do to survive.
We might not be able to make huge improvements for world everyday, but we can at least do a little improvement each day. Collectively the little acts of service add up. After a year of meeting once a week for yoga practice, the Eco Yoga Community has prevented 20 metric tonnes of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere by preventing deforestation! Will you help us double that number for the second year of Eco Yoga?
Eco Yoga is a heart-felt asana class dedicated to serving our miraculous home, the only planet with life, in this crucial tipping point of climate change. Rainforests are massive carbon sinks, yet continuously they are burnt down to grow palm oil or raise cattle, returning the carbon back into the atmosphere. By stepping onto your mat, you fulfill your dharma to prevent another rainforest from burning; proceeds from each ten-class package are donated to prevent one metric ton from polluting our atmosphere and furthering our commitment to climate chaos. Eco Yoga is about connecting within and to Oneness, and realizing that Earth’s wellbeing translates to the wellbeing of one’s self. Dedicating your yoga to something higher than you empowers you as a channel for that higher energy. Eco Yoga transforms consciousness and karma as we start to see and treat the universe as an expansion of ourselves. The asana is creatively sequenced to challenge, with pranayama and options to play with arm balances and inversions. (Level 2-3)
This class is offered each Sunday at 10AM – 11:15 at the Pink House Studio on the intersection of Booth and Wright in Riverwest, Milwaukee, beginning April 30!
$14 per drop-in, or $100 for a 10-pack. 20% is donated to save the rainforests, save the critters, save the humans!
Humans are conditioned to suffer; suffering seems normal and we just accept it as part of life. We continue destructive behaviors even after we’ve been shown the harm we are inflicting on ourselves and others. Once we see the harm we cause, we feel guilty and the cycle is complete, we’re suffering again.
Often the ego tricks us into believing we are the victim, when we’re perceiving from the center, it seems things are happening to us- watch out for this voice! In an early part of our journeys, victimhood holds some truth. We can fall victim to unconscious thinking and acting. Once we recognize that we are free to choose what we think and do, we free ourselves from suffering. Pain is there and will arise- how do we react? Do we complain, or with awareness realize it as a passing moment. It’s not immediate, but it’s a challenging process of recognizing thoughts and impulses as they arise and choosing – do I go with the impulse? Where does the impulse come from – my True Eternal Blissful Self or the false self? (Hint: the false self usually wants to keep us suffering – stuck in the illusion of self as center; the True Self wants to serve the center.)
There are three ingredients in the recipe for success for relieving suffering, according to Sri Prem Baba: svadhyaya, or self-study and the study of sacred texts, humility, and sadhana, or spiritual practice.
Svadhyaya allows us to discover ourselves – what is ego, or the false self, and what is our True Self? Notice your thoughts, daily patterns and choices this is your starting point. Sacred texts are helpful in describing the true self. Sat chit ananda, your true self is eternal, unchanging, blissful. My suggestions for useful texts: Light on Life by BKS Iyengar, Sri Swami Satchidanda’s commentary on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and Swami Vivekenanda’s Jnana Yoga. As you read these helpful texts, now observe yourself in light of the texts- what would Iyengar, Vivekenanda, or Satchidananda say?
Humility attracts wisdom, and pride or arrogance chases wisdom and divinity away. Humility also keeps us on our toes. When we’ve think we’ve gotten control of our senses and emotions, they can more easily sneak up on us. Pride also makes us feel like we know, so in a way it makes our cup full; humility is like an empty cup in which lessons from the divine can flow in and further fill us up.
Sadhana keeps stripping away the false self and brings us back to the present moment to check in with ourselves. Sadhana is like an internal cleanse, all day long we are collecting impressions, like a house gathering dust. Sadhana is our way of directing the impressions for a set amount of time in order to keep a cleaner house. Sadhana is making a conscious choice about what we’re doing and what we’re focusing on.
If you feel like you’re being used, it’s because you are. You are an instrument of the divine. Your voice, your actions, your deeds are all in service of the highest. What the highest is, or what is divine, that is up to your beliefs, only you know for yourself. All I can say is that you are powerful, especially if you recognize yourself as a channel or pathway of divinity.
In our time of feeling politically disenfranchised, in our time of feeling so small as individuals in face of climate disaster, in our time when we feel pitted against one another, as a yogi, as an instrument of divinity myself, as a teacher, a friend, a lover of you, I must say that you have the power of the universe, of nature, of God, of the divine on your side. We all do, it’s just that many forget. Even I can forget as I wallow in self pity over conflict.
What does the divine want? How can you serve this higher purpose? Well, you are divine. So what do you want? What are your goals? And then, what is your starting point? How can you connect where you are in this moment with where you want to be? What’s your first step? And then the second? Don’t worry about filling them all in, one step at a time.
Empower yourself and others by believing and seeing the highest in yourself and in them too. Finally, let yourself be used. It’s a lesson in humility for sure, so the ego will want to fight it. This is ishvara pranidhana, the last and most difficult of niyamas, or observances in our foundational yoga practices. Ishvara pranidhana is the surrendering of our small self to our highest Self, the Self that is in all other beings.
Dear Yogis Around the World,
I write as a concerned yogi that shares the planet with you. It is up to us, you and me, and our friends, to choose environmentally sound modes of transportation and fuel. We can reduce the miles driven in fossil-fueled cars in order to ensure that all of the organisms that we share Earth with can thrive in the coming decades and centuries. We are at a tipping point that doesn’t require terribly in depth research to understand the consequences of for yourself and all living creatures. At the tipping point, every decision is crucial. Empower yourself with tools of activity that slow down climate chaos! One solution out of many? Ride a bike or walk instead of sitting in the car. Not only does your fuel switch from petroleum to your yummy breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, but you are also pumping your heart, moving your body in an era of sedentary lifestyles, thereby preventing chronic mental, physical and emotional illnesses! Let’s bike our way into the futures of sloths, tigers, and toucans and humanity!
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