Trying to meditate is no substitute for actual spiritual practice, intimacy with all ordinary conditions, revealed by appropriate asana. Then actual meditation arises naturally as siddhi (by grace). It is given. Do understand this elevates asana to the senior spiritual responsibility it always has been.
My observation is that in regular social life there is really only one thing going on. People want to get paired up, have access to sex and the comfort of sex and friendship. Once that is in place, all other relationships are of less or even worse, have no importance to them at all. I think it is probably biological, that is the arrangement is based on the need to actually procreate in suitable circumstance.. and nothing wrong with that! But also I think it is the need for companionship in a socially limited and dysfunctional world. I think this is what is going on and it is hard to deny it or say it is wrong. But the social behaviors and conventions are certainly a limit on energy and potential. I think that a “spiritual” life requires that we understand this limit on life and intimacy and go beyond “the cult of pairs,” so that our intimacy is not confined to a certain direction but extends to everyOne and everything everywhere in the One absolute condition of Reality in which all others and every “thing” is happening. Not that we should abandon exclusive sex relationship, because any other form other than monogamy is generally socially dysfunctional, but to understand with your partner what the problem of the cult of pairs is, and allow each other to be turned outward into all relationship with all and every body else. How wonderful to have each other AND have everyOne else as well. You will allow each other autonomy and develop personal interest and close friendships with a range of people, each in your chosen directions. Partnership is a matter of choosing each other freely and enjoying wonderful time together, shared interests of every kind and body intimacy. But it is not a substitute for the total connection to Reality (that which beats the heart and moves the breath and sex) or an attempt to find it with each other exclusive of all other connections. It is a opportunity to feel and express that Reality connection together and to extend the enjoyment felt in your “principle” relationship to all other relationships. Enjoy your principle relationship with a frequency you both agree upon while extending your love regard to the whole world. The power of your partnership will “fuel” your commitment to all others. The autonomy of your daily yoga practice goes a long way to ensure that you feel intimacy with life itself that is then felt in and as all relationship, no longer trying to grasp it in your partner or in “things” in limiting co dependence.
Despite the media love blitz surrounding Valentine’s Day, it can be difficult to unearth the reality of love with our partners. Union was the foundation for the ceremonial marriages performed by St. Valentinus, for whom Valentine’s Day was named. Valentinus was a martyr who was beheaded for wedding Christians who were forbidden to marry. He courageously acted to build the bonds of union and love through marriage. The marriage ceremony following the initial romance is merely the first gesture of a lifelong intention to love. In our beginning steps of love and romance, we find the laws of attraction powerful yet often fleeting. How do we sustain that initial spark that Mother Nature gives us, to transform the power of attraction and union into lasting love, romance, and intimacy?
For decades, I’ve been teaching yoga around the world. People tell me of the joys and struggles in their love relationships, and I find that emotional suffering in relationships is the same all over the world. In partnership, when we discover love we usually also find all the things in our lives that are obstructing true intimacy, so finding love can be a double-edged sword. It is often not an easy ride when the very force of love brings up all the limiting patterns and dysfunction that we have absorbed since childhood. In the modern world, we have few good models of healthy adult intimacy that we need in order to understand the emotional and physical continuity required for developing and sustaining it. Nonetheless, the fire of nature must have its way. Driven by natural instinct, often stumbling in the dark, we try our best to relate to one another even through the pain.
To balance our inherent needs and desires amid contemporary stresses requires a deep wisdom and practical solution to heal, and experience everlasting love. In countries such as India, China, and Japan, where spiritual traditions have been passed on orally and as text in an unbroken chain for thousands of years, there is a cross-cultural similarity of beliefs. In these cultures, the one life force that creates the sun and moon, trees and bees and humans is fundamentally described as love or unity. Sounds like something worth exploring and sharing, right? And yet this may be a difficult concept to understand, let alone feel, considering that we all experience shades of sadness, longing, and separation. We need a practical means to move from our perceived duality into love and unity. While a bouquet of flowers for Valentine’s Day will help, there’s so much more we can do.
Treat yourself this Valentine’s Day to something new, and connect to this everlasting unified love with four simple steps:
- Do Your Yoga. Yoga is the practice of unifying opposites internally and externally. The inhalation develops a feminine receptive quality, and the exhalation develops a masculine strength. I call this strength-receiving. Participating in these opposites of male and female in the internal landscape informs our body and mind to embrace them in the external landscape to an absolute degree and continuously. This polarity exists in both same-sex and opposite-sex partnerships. Yoga is making love to life. The body loves its breath, and the exhalation loves the inhalation, and feeling this love tangibly helps us learn how to love one another. When we feel loved, we inevitably give love to those around us. When we become intimately connected to each other from this place of mutual strength and receptivity, we are strong and present to each other as we receive each other. The spark of love combusts! It is a perfect love arrangement, and this is the true romance we crave on Valentine’s Day.
- Love Yourself. Personal autonomy and partnership go hand in hand. Before you can feel love and intimacy toward someone else, you first need to feel it in and as yourself. Sensitivity to your own embodiment allows you to feel sensitive to another in an extraordinary and continuous way. Doing the promise yoga practice (www.thepromise.com; you can see brief video demos here) clears the body of mental, emotional, and physical obstruction. This enables us to have an intimate experience with life as the body and breath. Yoga is the movement of the life current within us. It is our inherent intimacy with life as the body, breath and then relationship in that order.
- Picnic in Nature today and make it a habit. In the winter season, find a place to share a meal overlooking nature. Everything that exists within the natural world is involved in a relationship of interdependency. Our survival depends on our unending embrace of nature and connection to each other! Allow your senses to open and receive the natural world, awakening to the fact that you are nature itself, interconnected with all life and your Valentine.
- Power Up. If we can admit to our lover that we are more powerful with him or her than we are on our own, and these confessions are mutually felt and expressed, something extraordinary happens. This something extraordinary is actually very ordinary. It’s the natural state, the power of reality moving through us that ensures Mother Nature’s purpose and nurturing hand. We know this is a vulnerable place to be. Although you may feel safer on your own, not risking rejection, this vulnerability is power, because you have now expressed the mutual enjoyment and equality in your partnership, jumping off the cliff of personal fear and separation into an ocean of union. It is a liberating event!
Nothing can touch the extraordinary intelligence of our own living system. Connecting with that state is deeply pleasurable. Living in a society fueled by consumerism, instant gratification, and too many cups of coffee, our natural state has effectively been hijacked. In all the fuss, we still feel that universal need to couple up, love, and be loved. To walk through life, in love with your chosen partner, requires a deeper look and daily practice of self-love. Yoga is the practical means to experience that love that lives eternally. Love life and love yourself this Valentine’s Day. Breathe the opposites within, and that love will naturally be given to the one you love so dearly.
I just returned to a U.S base after being out with my team on a four-day mission that most definitely had us on our toes, heightened vigilance for the majority of the time. However, there was a beautiful moment of reprieve this morning as I awoke in the dirt, behind a rock wall… — Sergeant David Thomas Welker, assistant team leader in Scout platoon, 2/12 Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division
As a country, we’re in an internal battle amidst a nine-year war in Iraq and continuing occupation in the Middle East. Stay or go? While our country and political factions remain in a tug of war, the impact on our soldiers’ health reverberates throughout America. The emotional and physical embedding of stress is undisputed fact. The shame, suicides, and stress-triggered homicides are giving rise to a national outcry regarding post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). With PTSD affecting an estimated one in five of the 2.6 million service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, there are heightening efforts to dissolve the social stigma around PTSD.
It led me to ask, “How can we support the strength and healing of our service members?” This question draws me back to an emphatic statement from my yoga teacher Krishnamacharya: “There is only one illness, stress that manifests as all symptoms.” Beginning at the age of 20, I had the privilege of studying with Professor T. Krishnamacharya, the grandfather of modern yoga. Krishnamacharya’s insight on stress is now confirmed by modern science. Harvard reports that stress may “contribute to or exacerbate various health problems.”
Stress is undeniably linked to mind and body, and there must be a mind and body practice to respond to this illness. We can be grateful for pain, which he called, “the unavoidable motive of practice.” It is the first sign of a healing process at work. From here we begin yoga and move from pain to pleasure, passion and peace.
I was touched to receive a personal account from Sgt. David Welker, who began practicing breath-based yoga as given in my book The Promise. David reported after practicing The Promise yoga for eight months:
I awoke in the dirt, behind a rock wall, and I just laid there for a few minutes, observing and allowing my breath to continue moving just as it had while I was asleep (I presume). I was somewhat amazed at the relaxed state of my body, and I so thoroughly enjoyed the conscious moment of ease, especially throughout my chest and torso, as my ribs expanded as effortlessly as I’ve ever known. Didn’t forget where I was either. So, a nice little moment amidst the madness. How does one make sense of someone that blows themselves up in attempt to kill other? Its senseless and absolutely tragic.
I believe David experienced the true power and nurturing force of nature in the midst of war and anxiety. He felt his breath moving in his body with the tangible pleasure of embodiment. This act of breathing helps reduces stress in the nervous system, mental tension drops and peace permeates, creating an awareness that returned David to this most basic state of being. Yogis would call this experience of sensitivity “being at one with” the natural state, and there is biological explanation for how this occurs. Boston Universitypublished a study on the effects of yoga on the autonomic nervous system and PTSD. Through study of the vagus nerve, which is responsible for communicating the state of most organs to the central nervous system, they discovered yoga increases vagal tone. Increased vagal tone directly corresponds to the body’s capacity to process stress effectively, lowering heart rate, aiding digestion, and connecting to theparasympathetic nervous response (feed and breed response). Vagal tone is now known to increase through intentional breathing practices. As you connect with your breath, you experience the parasympathetic nervous system kick in, maximizing the function of your internal organs. From here, we relax into what ancient yogis called the natural state that is stress-free. Through this process, David embodies the human potential, experiencing peace within his body in the midst of war.
I wanted to know more about David’s yogic experience. I asked him about the impact of his practices, and he described:
My yoga practice has grown even more dear to me throughout. Several months ago, I remember describing to Jessica [Jessica gifted David The Promise] the experiences of graciousness with myself and safety within my practice — safety to allow whatever thought or feeling to comfortably arise that I would otherwise resist. She replied with a word that suitably encompasses these experiences: sanctuary.
As you can imagine, finding real sanctuary while operating in a 360-degree, 24/7 hostile zone is beyond rare. My buddies in my eight-man recon team are well aware that I derive something meaningful from my yoga. They ask me about it, and I enjoy their interest. After all, there is really no such thing as privacy, as we have spent the last seven months rarely outside of a stone’s throw of each other. Not much is capable of being kept privately. This group of guys are increasingly comfortable with the idea of yoga as something that men do too… I am happy with the thought that they now know the tools exist and are available whenever they realize a need for it.
We equip our troops with sophisticated weapons; we need to add this stress-relieving practice to their arsenal of tools. With the contemporary American adaptations of yoga into goal-oriented physical gymnastics, it’s challenging to cognize yoga’s true healing power. Without using breathing principles of the wisdom traditions, we are losing vital healing components of the practice. The Promise practice is based on the work of Krishnamacharya’s scholarship. There is now science behind these ancient rules that explain the importance of breath-based yoga. Yoga must be adapted to individual needs according to body type age, health and cultural background. There is an easy practice for everyone that is their direct intimacy with the nurturing force of life. Let’s make a promise to practice building “the sanctuary” within. Let’s use these ancient secrets that are now upheld by leading Western science!
Ask anyone what they really want. If they’re honest, they’ll tell you “connection.” Real connection, intimacy with life in every way, whether that is communing with nature or conversing with a close friend. And, if they’re really honest, they’ll admit that sexual intimacy is the most visceral way we all feel connected to life. Intimacy is the nurturing balm that allows the healing function of life to flow through us. That begins by being intimate with your own life. Soon you are capable of being naturally intimate with others and your “special other.” Intimacy moves us from pain to pleasure, passion and peace.
For so many people today, that intimacy — personal and sexual — seems elusive. The brave new movieHope Springs (just out on DVD) gives us a look at a marriage in which intimacy is absent. Tommy Lee Jones plays a straight-laced, upper-middle-class husband who’s spent a lifetime providing for his family in all the right ways, including an upscale suburban home with all creature comforts. He shares that home with Meryl Streep, his counterpart as the classic middle American housewife. After some 30 years of marriage and raising two kids, you’d think it’s now time for enjoying life, yet the spark of friendship and warm love has been drained from the relationship. They sleep in separate bedrooms and have become adept at avoiding the level of intimacy that sex requires. The juice of life has been replaced by socially prescibed roles and polite respect. I applaud its courage in facing these issues, especially in a Hollywood movie with two huge stars.
As we enter this scenario, Streep’s character, Kay, is suddenly determined to find love in their relationship. But there is no indication that she has an intimate relationship with herself, let alone with her husband. As the story goes on and Kay arranges for them to visit a famous self-help author and therapist, she is revealed to be afraid of intimacy, too. For intimacy includes vulnerability, the fear of growing old, the shame of sexual failure, and the illusion of champagne and love songs. Tommy Lee Jones’ Arnold tells the therapist that he has worked hard, provided a home, raised their children, and resisted cheating: He has done everything “right.” Yet he has no internal relationship with himself, and no intimate connection with his wife. The squirming he does on that therapy couch is hard to watch, and you can’t help but see the human condition right there in its wretched beauty. The respect they’ve achieved for each other is no substitute for the intimacy that Kay yearns for — and Arnold too, in due course.
Hope Springs has utterly flopped at the box office, receiving mixed reviews (a few raves) and is swept under the rug for 2012. Yet no two treasured actors have put more of their exposed selves on screen to show us what a near-dead relationship looks like.
This film is subversive. It doesn’t sugarcoat bleak therapy sessions or painful bedroom scenes one bit, because I believe the filmmakers are asking us to look at our own discomfort instead of running away from it. Here is a marriage that has no love, no sex, no intimacy, and is being sustained only by habituated behavior. Is our society ready for such a raw and real story?
Yet there is hope! Toward the last part of the movie, Arnold begins to feel overwhelming love for Kay. He fights for a table at a nice restaurant and books the fancy room upstairs. He may be trying for sexual intimacy, but he also appreciates his wife as a person in those scenes: I think he loves her for fighting for their marriage.
The movie speaks for the life force and the embodied self. Instead of running to the world of action heroes or liaisons with the beyond, it calls for actual intimacy at home. Here is every couple we’ve seen so many times sitting across from each other in a restaurant, saying nothing and looking finished. The movie zooms in on their famished spirits and their untouched flesh and breathes life into them.
I’m sorry to say Hope Springs has a Hollywood ending, all peace and light. The problem solved. But is it really? I don’t believe such couples could move to romance so rapidly. The obstructions to life have been programmed into us for generations. A visceral change is needed beyond clever therapy sessions.
Intimacy with the embodied self is the centerpiece of yoga. This may not seem as thrilling as embracing another human body, but without it you can’t really embrace life or another completely. As sharply reflected in this movie, I sense society’s desire to acquire what I have written about in my book– love, sex, and intimacy. But there is an impatience to skip the first requirement, personal intimacy, without which there is zero love, sex, or intimacy.
The daily practice of seven minutes of moving and breathing distilled from ancient yoga serves to reunite the male female polarities of your own body. Intimacy with self is the indispensable first step if you want real intimacy in your life. Sensitivity to your own embodied life then naturally flows to others. When you aren’t equipped with this self-connection you fall, and your partner can’t always catch you — you’ll wear him or her out.
In the context of yoga, intimacy refers to a heightened sense of perception, both sexual and nonsexual. It is your intimacy with body, breath and relationship (in that order). Enjoying the sound of auburn leaves crunching under your feet, the quiet patch of coolness beneath tree branches, or the warmth of your lover’s body wrapped around you in a jigsaw puzzle of skin. The barriers between you and the beauty all around you dissolve. We need the practical tools to reclaim it on a daily basis. This is what I would like to add to this universal story that Hope Springs puts a bright spotlight on.
I recently saw a YouTube video in which the actor Jim Carrey gets really excited about having discovered Eckhart Tolle. It seems that in reading and listening to Tolle, Carrey also had a sudden “wake-up” moment, as Tolle had. He realized that he is consciousness itself, the one who is aware of every “thing,” even of his worries in all their profound insignificance. And in that blissful moment he felt a deep sense of peace and freedom — what some might call our natural state, or enlightenment, and that others might call knowing God as the source of all creation. But in recounting the story, Carrey grits his teeth, makes a fierce face and says, “I have been trying to get back there ever since.”
Ever the brilliant comic, Carrey cracked me up by expressing the very human dilemma we are in. We have our high moments of clear insight and wonderful inspiration from all kinds of influences. But then life as usual drones on in the troubled mind. And there our attention seems to fixate most. Sometimes inspirations can even make matters worse because we feel how mediocre daily life seems to be compared to our “peak” experience. Years ago in India, my teacher used to say, “It’s best not to be inspired in the first place if you don’t have the practical tools to respond to the inspiration.” He meant that what we needed was not the momentary flash of so-called “enlightenment,” but the ability to take realistic measures that allow you to permanently realize what has inspired you. Besides, he would say, it isn’t enlightenment we need, but intimacy with ourselves and others.
I appreciated Carrey’s humor, not to mention his honesty, but I wanted to tell him not to worry about trying to “get back there.” What he and Tolle both felt was meant to be only a one-time thing anyway. Such experiences are given to us to understand that we are in the natural state — that everything is indeed consciousness, even if we don’t experience it all the time. As my teacher would say, once you understand something, you don’t need to carry it around all the time. You use a raft to cross the river, but you don’t keep lugging it everywhere you go.
But he kept repeating that what we need is a practical response to that insight — a way to enjoy our natural state without setting up this struggle in the mind to re-experience something. And then he was kind enough to teach me that practical means, a simple form of yoga to do naturally, non-obsessively, and daily because it is how we embrace the nurturing power, consciousness itself, the basis of all life. We need action that works, not just wishful thinking or gymnastic heroic efforts in the mind or body.
In the traditions, yoga is described as “knowing your own direction and going to it with continuity, body, breath, and relationship in that order. Then you know your Self.” And there is a yoga that is right for you. It is not found in the sweaty gymnastic styles that have been popularized and merchandized in recent years, but the anciently given yoga designed perfectly for individual differences, for you and your unique life. Easy to learn, it is participation in the union of life’s opposites that reveals the source of all opposites, and brings you to greater intimacy with your own body that translates into intimacy with other people.
By his own admission, Eckhart Tolle was deeply depressed and was faced with a clear choice: suicide or awareness of the One who is depressed. He really had no choice. But most of us are not put into this acute position, so not everyone can have his breakthrough experience. Besides, we cannot duplicate another’s experience; we can only have our own. My teacher put it this way: “Trying to be something you are not is the cause of human suffering.” Things don’t get this bad for most of us in the usual ups and downs of life. We have probably not been brought to that dramatic place, the dark night of the soul that is followed by certainty.
The point is that you cannot make permanent peace happen. Looking for it implies its absence, so the looking is itself the problem. Setting up the social model of enlightenment only creates un-enlightenment. Only unhappiness looks for happiness! If happiness comes, it comes naturally and spontaneously. In the meantime we need something practical that works. That is yoga, the perfect participation in life.
And in yoga it is known that the wonderful spiritual states described in the great tradition arise naturally without even trying. They are called siddhis, special powers that come naturally by grace. Just as sleep comes naturally. You cannot make yourself go to sleep. You can’t grit your teeth like Jim Carrey and try to go to sleep, any more than you can “try” to meditate. Trying to sleep prevents sleep! Sleep surely comes when you make conditions right. Just so, trying to get enlightened without yoga is like trying to go to sleep without lying down and turning off the light!
I teach a simple form of yoga that never directs people to “try” to be peaceful or “get to” consciousness or God. Instead, it shows us how to be intimate with life, with our body, and breath, which is the very means of connecting with God. I want everyone to know what yoga actually is, what it does and how easy it is to do. It is intimacy we want, not positive thinking. It is intimacy we need, not enlightenment. It is intimacy we need, not God-realization. But intimacy gives us all three.
All are victims. I would like to address the difficulties that have arisen around the young teacher Kausthub Desikachar. I’m hoping that this can provide a context and means to understand this phenomena that universally affects men who are in authority, and their victims. I speak here about the life and work of Krishnamacharya. I wish to make clear that the sexual scandal around Kausthub has no implication, at all, on Krishnamacharya’s life work and dedication to Hatha Yoga. Although lineage held in family is a historic way of preserving teachings, the lineage is not dependent on this arrangement. Krishnamacharya himself communicated to me, all who represent their teachers work with a clear heart and honest intention are lineage holders.
Please follow the heading link to view our continuing conversation on Youtube.
Our teacher Krishnamacharya described all the different yoga categories as belonging together as an integrated holistic approach to be adapted to the needs of each individual. He insisted that it was a wrong approach of Western thinking to split them apart as if they could be isolated from each other. For example he would say, “there is no jnana yoga (understanding) without bhakti yoga (love devotion). There was no bhakti yoga without hatha yoga (whole body intimacy with life). From these spring forth the natural yogas such as karma yoga (service), kriya yoga (purification) or siddha yoga (powers). They are practiced in a seamless easeful way according to each individual. It is the teacher’s role to help a student identify what is right for them according to age, health, lifestyle and cultural background. It is important to note that Krishnamacharya taught that hatha yoga was the principle means of bhakti and the practical way that the goals of bhakti, therefore jnana are obtained. Asana, which is hatha yoga, the non dual practice of direct intimacy with life he taught to be the first responsibility of a spiritual life because it is the sadhana (that which CAN be done to realize the ideals of faith.) It is whole body prayer to life from which all siddhis (powers of life) are spontaneously realized. Just like you cannot put your self to sleep willfully through effort (this only prevents sleep) you cannot attain the higher ideals of Yoga without this practical means of hath a yoga. It would be tantamount to trying to go to sleep without turning off the lights and laying down.
Hatha yoga is intimacy with all ordinary conditions, which spontaneously reveals and enables us to feel the source of all conditions. No matter what language of faith and devotion is used to express the beautiful ideals of “source or “God” or “absolute reality” hatha yoga is the universal means of them all. So when a person understands that their asana practice is the action of bhakti, it is meditation in action it gives them a lot of hope courage and fortitude amidst of the difficulties of life because it is tangible, something that can really be accomplished. Daily practice brings rapid tangible results. The person begins to feel the “One Life,” “the source of all.” When one’s heart has been broken through loss of a loved one, however that occurs, the heart restores in this tangible love relationship to Life itself, that which beats the heart and moves the breath and all things. One is no longer dependent on the exclusive representation of love through that one person. Somehow the grief becomes manageable and understandable in the big picture of the comings and goings in life and death.
In the entire great tradition of human wisdom the universal method is the mutual affection between two real people, the teacher student relationship. This is not a relationship of authority over another, it is not a parent child relationship. It is one of utter mutuality. The teacher is no more than a friend and no less than friend. In this friendship real bhakti arises, not manufactured feelings for an authority or public persona, trying to get somewhere, trying to get something that seems absent most of the time. The teacher has no interest but to empower the student, to give the tools that allows the student to stand in his or her own power. When this happens true devotion, very real life long gratitude arises between two people who are obviously standing in the same garden! the same reality.
Even in the sophisticated dharmas of Buddhism and Vedanta this very simple method, the mutual love between two real people is the essential method of their dharma. It is no more or less than the real affection between friends and lovers in real life who are truly there and care for each other in the energy dynamics of giving to and receiving each other. This is what a daily asana practice hatha yoga inhale exhale as strength receiving empowers a person to feel in their every day life. It is the means that gives the siddhis (gifts or powers) of relationship and devotion, whether that be for one’s teacher or the rich depth of love and friendship in everyday life.
When I say “our” teacher when referring to Krishnamacharya I mean that he is essentially the source teacher to everyone who is involved in modern day yoga in that he is the “teacher of the teachers.” He is the teacher to Mr B. K. S. Iyengar and therefore all the Iyengar derivative styles. He is also the teacher to Mr K Patabhi Jois the founder of Ashtanga Vinyasa. So Krishnamacharya’s principles actually belong in all these systems that have been popularized. It makes the Yoga that you know and love entirely your own, efficient powerful and safe.
Finally a quote from Krishnamacharya, “Because everything is Ishvara, surrender to any object is surrender to the Ishvara.” That is…Because everything is God, surrender to anything is surrender to God.. a rock, a river, the ocean, the animal kingdom, plant kingdom, the moon, the sun, mother, father, spouse, teacher, friend, the floor boards or your own breath!
Come if you can to help me launch The Promise July 27 Aug 3 at the intense healing grounds of Esalen where the ancient people went to the hot springs at the edge of the Pacific to heal or die. http://webapp.esalen.org/workshops/11274
There is definitely transmission from others and it cannot be dismissed and it is universal. This faith expressed in different languages and culture that everyOne has whatever the tradition needs to be honored respected and cannot be argued with. Yet these cultural identities only create fear and separation paradoxically and humanity has not even yet matured into seeing we are all the same despite wild and interesting differences. Argument never wins. The only thing to do, I find, is to give the faithful Yoga and then that takes them Somewhere beyond cultism.
But dharma wise this is what I recon! It is a question of, “what is your spiritual priority” to abide as witness consciousness to all arising conditions until you reside only as consciousness itself in which all “things” arise, where these are no subject object relationships only Reality. OR merge / embrace your chosen direction or object with continuity until you are completely merged with that object. In so doing you know the object but also synchronistically you know the knower of the object, consciousness itself, that in which all object / subject relations are arising. This was essentially Krishnamacharya’s teaching and he taught that it was necessary to all religious practice. It is the practical means by which the first mentioned idea, the “residing as consciousness only” would arise as a spontaneous “given” siddhi. It cannot be practiced but is given. Just like in the analogy of sleep. You cannot put your self intentional to sleep. But sleep is surely “given” when you make the conditions right. So i maintain that the senior spiritual priority is an appropriate Yoga, intimacy with all ordinary conditions. Then dissociation from ordinary conditions will never arise in attempt to be “spiritually” accomplished. That is, if one is attempting to “reside as witness only” before a life of Yoga, a life of intimacy has been established it only causes dysfunction and dissociation from life itself, which I see is the entire cause of humanity’s suffering, i.e. the lack of intimacy with life in all its forms. This has been forced on humanity too soon out by doctrine and power structure entirely out of the context of an actual Yoga, which now must be restored for everyOne. If the gift or siddhi arises genuinely, (the awareness that all is consciousness, or simply all IS One) in the life of Yogic intimacy it will never cause dissociation or cultism. And finally the merge with the object of choice is the age old anciently proven method of all the Great Traditions. The mutual love / affection between two real people IS the only method there really is in all the traditions. When it comes down to it, even in sophisticated dharma such as Vedanta or Buddhism they acknowledge that all insights arise in the fundamental relationship, one’s love for another. For example in the Mahamudra cults of Tibetan Buddhism their fundamental meditation inquiry is “no object, no subject no action,” but this meditation is gently given and practiced in the prior practice, which is mutual affection for an actual real life person, one’s Guru and intimacy compassion in all relationships. This is why Krishnamacharya would say “the Buddha was a Yogi. and Yoga is required.” That is, intimacy with all ordinary conditions. To be intimate with your own body and breath allows one to be intimate with another, one’s spouse, one’s Guru. That is body, breath and relationship in that order. And he would say Yoga is what one does as a practical response to the first sign of Grace. It enables us to stay intimate in our chosen direction, our “Ishta” with ease and continuity. Other wise we turn even Grace into an experience that has passed and the mind gets busy trying to grasp it again without the practical means of a search less Yoga.. direct participation in the Given life, which is only a nurturing regenerative continuity.
In the Great Tradition the avatar, Guru and Jivamukti appeared in a culture where Yoga was understood. It was mother’s milk of culture, a given and there was always the acharya in cooperation with the avatar, that could guide each person in there appropriate Yoga, their appropriate response to Grace or Life itself without seeking. Except Yoga has almost disappeared and something else exaggerated is being taught. Those who are spiritually sensitive, when they see modern day yoga reject it as being irrelevant, which it is. Real Yoga for real people must be given now as the fundamental and practical means of a spiritual life or any kind of life that wants to feel all that there is to feel.