July 12, 2010

Class returned to PCYH this week.  A joyous homecoming.  PCYH holds so many great memories. We held the first Devi Yoga unTraining here. And before that, so many incredible workshops and retreats. The incomparable Devi Raves happened here. Along with Bliss Cafe and outdoor fire ceremonies. It is very good to be back.

Here’s this week’s reading:

Express yourself completely,
then keep quiet.
Be like the forces of nature:
when it blows, there is only wind;
when it rains, there is only rain;
when the clouds pass, the sun shines through.

If you open yourself to the Tao,
you are at one with the Tao
and you can embody it completely.
If you open yourself to insight,
you are at one with insight,
and you can use it completely.
If you open yourself to loss,
you are at one with loss
and you can accept it completely.

Open yourself to the Tao,
then trust your natural responses;
and everything will fall into place.

The Tao Te Ching is truly a sublime text. It expresses the most profound with utter simplicity and ease.  What it doesn’t do though is offer step-by-step instructions for how one actually opens to the Tao.  It’s like an impressionistic painting. We can sense the truth pulsing through the lines. We can feel uplifted as we read. And in all of that, there is opening into the vast open space called Tao.   However, if we want a hands-on guide, I suspect Patanjali-Yoga-Sutra is the text to go to. It’s offers more of a paint-by-numbers approach. And I don’t mean that in a flip way. It’s one of the most concise and essential collections of practical and experiential psychology I’ve ever encountered.  Whereas Tao Te Ching inspires us to open into our Tao nature, Patanjali explains exactly how to do this.  Here are few sutras from the first chapter. I read these at class to complement the main reading. At this point, I’m more interested in showing parallels between what Tao Te Ching calls Tao and Yoga calls Self.  We’ll be diving into this text when we complete our journey through the Tao Te Ching.

Yoga is experienced in that mind which has ceased to identify itself with its vacillating waves of perception
[aka thoughts].

When this happens, then the Seer is revealed, resting in its own essential nature, and one realizes the True Self.

1, 48
Therein dwells a luminous wisdom that upholds the essence of truth.

When the mind becomes free from obstruction, all vacillations cease, and the mind becomes absorbed into spirit…. Thus a new mind is born of this wisdom….

I couldn’t leave off these readings without quoting a few lines from Shankaracharya’s  Six Stanzas on Salvation.  The Tao Te Ching suggests, Patanjali-Yoga-Sutra advises, and Shankaracharya is simply there:

Shankaracharya Six Stanzas on Salvation

I am neither the conscious nor the unconscious mind, neither intelligence nor ego, neither the ears nor the tongue not the senses of smell and sight, neither either nor air nor fire nor water nor earth, I am consciousness and bliss. I am Shiva! I am Shiva!

I am without thought, without form. I am all-pervasive, I am everywhere, yet I am beyond all senses. I am neither detachment nor salvation nor anything that could be measured. I am consciousness and bliss. I am Shiva! I am Shiva!

June 28, 2010

Click here to listen to SG chanting the mantra On Namah Shivaya.

(There’s a slight pause before the music begins.)

This week’s chapter from the Tao Te Ching was particularly lovely.  I love these lines from the second section:  “Because he doesn’t display himself, people can see his light. Because he has nothing to prove, people can trust his words.” At this stage in my own life, I have to say, these are the qualities I seek within myself. Everything else seems like dust.


If you want to become whole,
let yourself be partial.
If you want to become straight,
let yourself be crooked.
If you want to become full,
let yourself be empty.
If you want to be reborn,
let yourself die.
If you want to be given everything,
give everything up.

The Master, by residing in the Tao,
sets an example for all beings.
Because he doesn’t display himself,
people can see his light.
Because he has nothing to prove,
people can trust his words.
Because he doesn’t know who he is,
people recognize themselves in him.
Because he has no goal in mind,
everything he does succeeds.

When the ancient Masters said,
“If you want to be given everything,
give everything up,”
they weren’t using empty phrases.
Only in being lived by the Tao
can you be truly yourself.

We also read this passage from Lex Hixon’s book on the world’s wisdom traditions, Coming Home. This is from the introduction. He’s describing his take on enlightenment.  During the 80’s and 90’s, we saw so many “enlightened masters” fall, I gave up on that particular quest. It struck me as dissociated from the psycho/emotional realm and in that way, irrelevant for our time and place.  But I like what Lex has to say here and was happy to share it as part of our riff non-duality…

Enlightenment is the awakening to our primal harmony…to our rootedness in the Divine. From Enlightenment radiate the insight, compassion, and power needed to resolve individual and collective human problems as they continue to arise endlessly. Enlightenment is not a magical transcendence of the human condition but the full flowering of humanity—disclosing unity and equilibrium at the heart of the love and suffering we call life. All existence is revealed to the Enlightened human being as a seamless whole…. Some taste of this Enlightenment…is possible for each of us. It need not be deferred to any future existence in heaven or on earth. Enlightenment is the secret essence of our consciousness, and the gradual revelation of this essence is the process of spiritual growth in which everyone is involved.

As usual, I think Mary Oliver says it best. I thought these two poems were particularly apropos of our discussion at this week’s class. I’ve read them over and over again and each time, another shard of light leaps from the page…



This morning
the dogs
were romping and stomping
on their nailed feet —

they had hemmed in
a little thing —
a field mouse —
so I picked it up

and held it
in the purse of my hands,
where it was safe —
but it turned

on the blank face
of my thumb —
in a burst
of seedy teeth

it sprinkled
my whole body with sudden
nails of pain.
The dogs

were long gone —
so under
an old pine tree,
on the spicy needles,

I put it down,
and dashed away.
for an instant
the whole world

was still.
Then the wind
fluttered its wrists, a
sweet music as usual,

though as usual I could not tell
whether it was about caring or not caring
that it tossed itself around, in the boughs of light,
and sang.


The Dog Has Run Off Again

and I should start shouting his name
and clapping my hands,
but it has been raining all night
and the narrow creek has risen
is a tawny turbulence is rushing along
over the mossy stones
is surging forward
with sweet loopy music
and therefore I don’t want to entangle it
with my own voice
calling summoning
my little dog to hurry back
look the sunlight and the shadows are chasing each other
listen how the wind swirls and leaps and dives up and down
who am I to summon his hard and happy body
his four white feet that love to wheel and pedal
through the dark leaves
to come back to walk by my side, obedient.

Tonight’s class was the last in my Kingston studio. We reconvene on Monday, July 12 at PCYH ( www.princetonyoga.com )