Saturday, July 24, 2010

Sutra 1.21

sutra 1.21

For those impelled by intense ardor, the goal is near.

trivra samveganam asanah

Intense ardor? Pretty strong words. And goals? Sometimes I'll say in asana class that ambition to achieve will get you nowhere in yoga. Well I'm not telling the whole truth. Ambition will get you somewhere in yoga, though according to yoga there is only ONE ambition to have: to realize the Self/God/Unitive Consciousness. The alignment of the body is good, but alignment of the mind/heart/breath towards the Divine is better. According to yoga all other ambitions are subservient to that ONE goal. 

Desikachar doesn't even offer commentary in his sutra study in The Heart of Yoga. It's as if he's saying: What's not to understand? You gotta want it and you gotta want it bad. The very point is that you must be clear about what it is that you want. And in yoga the way to yoga is through yoga. With the addendum: No shortcuts offered.

The mad wonderful beloved saint Ramakrishna Paramahamsa expresses it beautifully in the Gospel of Ramakrishna.
"People shed a whole jug of tears for wife and children. They swim in tears for money. But who weeps for God? Cry to Him with a real cry."

Now if you're on the "right path" walking in your dharma, it doesn't mean it's always going to be a smooth fun-filled ride. In fact your dharma might, at times, go against all cultural, familial and social norms. But if you are driven with the force of love and passion the obstacles are meaningful. They give purpose. For example my purpose is viewed through the lens of yoga and acted out in the karma of a householder. The purposeful qualities of my life are not hidden in some meditative state, or elaborate ritual, but rather the purpose of my dharma leads me to clean up barf all night even though barf makes me want to barf. My dharma has lead me to hold Rosie the Tarantula because Lucy loves her and wants me to share in the love. Purposeful dharma requests that David and I rise 83 times in one night for the various reasons logical only to a 4 year old. The nature of the walk is informed solely by your attitude to the success's as well as the obstacles. 

Below is one of my favorite Narada parables. Please note that I am translating it EXACTLY as it appeared in the ancient Sanskrit.

Narada, a saintly guy is on his way travelling between heaven and earth.  On his travels he comes across a very very skinny and bedraggled ascetic exhausted by his diet of dirt and mud. The ascetic says:"Hey you Are you off to see Lord Krishna?"
"Why, yes. Yes I am," Narada replied pleasantly, even though the man really stank.
"Ask him how long I must wait in this horrible body for my liberation."
"I promise to ask Krishna when I see him," said Narada.
"I hope it's soon, cause I'm starving. Being an ascetic sucks. But it's just what I guess you gotta do to find liberation." And then the Crabby Ascetic went back to eating his dirt and praying monotonously as he sat next to his bed of nails. Narada turned to a much younger saddhu who sat nearby. He was rocking out on his ektar singing the names of God not even paying attention to this exchange.
Narada walked over to him and said, "What about you? Do you want to know how much longer?"
"Hi!" said the Happy Saddhu, snapping out of his chanting. "What's up? I don't have any food to offer you, but you can have some of my dirt if you'd like!"
" I'm on my way to see Krishna! And no thanks on the dirt. I'm good." 
"Awesome!' says the  Happy Saddhu. "Tell Lord Krishna I said "Hey!" 
"Would you like to know how much longer till you're liberated?"
But the Happy Saddhu was already chanting the names of God again and didn't hear him.
So Narada went on up to heaven and had nice coffee with Krishna and conducted his spiritual type business. On his way back down he found the Crabby Ascetic.
"How long did he say, Master?" asked the grumpy old guy.
"You are close. Only three more lives to go."
"OH CRAP!" said the Crabby Ascetic. He threw down his prayer beads. "I've been doing everything right. Three more lives. That really blows!!!!"
Narada shrugged and said, "That's the way it goes. Keep up the good work!"
Then Narada turned to the Happy Saddhu who was hanging out still singing the names of God. He tapped the young guy politely on the shoulder.
"Hey, man," said the Happy Saddhu. "How was your trip?"
"Good thanks. Listen, I asked Krishna how long it was going to be before you reached liberation."
"Cool! What did he say?"
"See that tree over there?" Narada pointed at a HUGE banyan tree. "Count the leaves on that tree. Multiply it by 1,000."
"Dude, I'm not that good at math but I'll try."
"OK, good. When you've counted and multiplied you'll know how many more lives you must live before reaching liberation."
The Happy Saddhu jumped up and danced around with joy and singing.
"Praise Krishna! Hare Krishna, Krishna Hare!! OM OM OM" He yelled over and over.
"I just told you it's going to take a long, long time!" Narada shouted over the loud singing, "Why are you dancing around like that?"
"I'm just so psyched it's going to happen AT ALL!!!!"
And KABLOOOOOOIE —The Happy Saddhu attained total liberation on the spot. 
"Double crap!" said the Crabby Ascetic.

Think back on one real difficulty in your life that you've already overcome. How has it informed your life positively? Negatively? 

What is the difference between meaningful struggle and struggle?

Do you feel that you are walking purposefully in your life/work/relationships? What is helping cultivate that? What his hindering this?

Which  Saddhu are you? (Be honest, now).

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