Thursday, October 22, 2009

Musings on Taoism & Yoga

A little something I found that I wrote a few months ago...Right after I finished training. Please forgive any spelling errors and the fact that I have become too lazy too lazy to type with capital letters, it's one of those things that kind of just poured out all at once : ) Thanks for reading <3

i am endlessly fascinated by eastern spirituality & philosophies - their similarities as well as their different approaches toward attaining that which i believe to be common to all the many teachings - a stilling of the constant chatter of the mind which allows us to connect with the unwavering divine light in our hearts. this stillness in the mind helps us to see clearly and act from a place of intuitive wisdom where outside phenomena cannot disrupt that everlasting stillness within. the philosophy of taoism, especially, has touched me most deeply.

"whether you go up a ladder or down it your position is shaky" as the Tao Te ching says. everything in nature, including human beings are expressions of that divine force that existed before the universe was born, from which the universe and all its wonders were born, and to which we all return. "There was something formless and perfect before the universe was born. It is serene. Empty. Solitary. Unchanging. Infinite. Eternally present. It is the mother of the universe. For lack of a better name,I call it the Tao." "endlessly repeating itself, endlessly renewed" when the mind is calm and the heart is open we connect to that primal part of our being that remembers this. acting in harmony with all of god's creations, spontaneously without force or effort.

the tao te ching states "Man follows the earth. Earth follows the universe. The universe follows the Tao. The Tao follows only itself." the tao te ching also states that this force or essence cannot be named or categorized as other things on earth and in the heavens can. "you can't know it, but you can be it" in order to know it, you must experience it. but how? the tao te ching presents us with a dazzlingly poetic, incredibly simple, humorous but cryptic way of living in harmony with the world. lao tzu tells us that "if you want to know me, look inside your heart". as simple as it seems though, for most of us it is incredibly difficult to put into practice in our everyday lives. sure, you read the beautiful words written in the tao te ching and for a few minutes, hours or days you embody them fully but then life gets the best of you and you are shouting at someone on the subway who won't move out of the doorway. i have read the tao te ching...i don't know.....easily a thousand times since i first pulled it off my bookshelf in the summer of 2001, but over the years i have found it, impossible! to always live, as the tao te ching suggests: with simplicity, patience and compassion. and lao tzu tells us straight out that if we try to practice his teachings, we will fail. he more or less leaves us to find our own way to experience the mystery of the Tao.

enter yoga.

in my opinion yoga exists so that i can experience and share with others what lao tzu describes so eloquently in the Tao Te ching. since i first read it so many years ago that is what it has been trying to tell me. what speaks to me about yoga, specifically, is its practicality and absence of dogma. every practitioner is invited to embark upon their own journey or interpretation of the philosophy. see sutra 1.1, of patanjali's yoga sutras: "atha yoganusasanam" "Now we begin the discussion of yoga". the following sutras go on to say that yoga is the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind and he who attains this will have achieved enlightenment. then patanjali goes on to offer ways to calm the flucuations of the mind, but in no way shape or form dictates that any of these methods is definite or required. it is more an art of self alchemy, or a scientific experiment in self study than a religion with rules and dogma. the one thing that is absolutely necessary is that whatever practice or path you choose it must be done with dedication and for a long time. the sutras themselves have so many different translations it is clear to see these ancient teachings are meant to be open for interpretation. over the years many different paths have developed but ultimately it is up to each individual sadahka (seeker) to discover the best path for herself. this fits completely with the Taoist philosophy which seems, in its own roundabout way to urge each seeker to find their own tributary toward the experience of the divine and elusive Tao. for all it's wisdom and power the tao te ching does not in the end give us a clear pathway to the experience, but it certainly leaves us a few clues! for me, the answer is no questions asked, the practice of yoga. thus, it is my intention through my own practice and through my teaching to cultivate a state of being where one can be experience this brilliant, this luminous, this infinite quality that resides within us all. that we may live with grace, spontaneity, simplicity, patience and compassion; no matter what obstacles life brings us, because as one of my teachers has said: "the obstacles will ALWAYS come" so, no matter what brings you to the practice it is my intention that you will be able to taste, if even just for a moment, knowing the Tao.

stability. alignment. length. grace. to move through the poses in a way where you start to feel as if your body is rooted, firm and then bursting forth. blossoming open spacious luminous quality. like a flower or tree in the springtime. intelligent sequencing, precise alignment. fun! play!

becoming a teacher to me is just a part of deepening my own practice. and if i can someday share what i have learned with others in the way my amazing teachers have done for me......then i will feel as if i have accomplished something incredible in this life.

And so I will leave you with this little prayer I wrote (inspired by something i read in the tao of physics)

"May all my actions arise out of intuitive wisdom, spontaneously and in harmony with my environment. not forcing myself or anyone around me, but adapting my actions to the movement of the tao. may i refrain from activity contrary to nature, and let everything be allowed to do what it does, so that it's own true essence can be satisfied, joyful, peaceful and happy."

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