Lots of my friends are Astrologers, some real ones and others are just sh!t scared of Mercury in retrograde, and every time their technical incompetence gets in the way, they blame the planets. I am not big on astrology but I love the stars and solar orbs, I don’t think they are overly interested in any of us, our self importance is usually the big problemo. By nature, as human beings it is difficult not to feel important or suffer from its inverse, a lack of importance, we are educated into a self of ‘I’ from birth.
Discipline Without the Big Stick
Many of my buddies are yogis, and yoginis, I admire their commitment to task, getting up at silly hours of the morning and tying their bodies in a knot, spreading their ‘feel-goodness’ and creating harmonious spaces where others feel ‘washed’ when they pass through, the world needs playful people; I love and need these people, the woman I love is one of these. I am very self -disciplined, this ‘disc’ word is at times my friend and has also bitten me on the bum quite a bit. Some of my buddies are extraordinary musicians; their skills came from a lot of clever work, and this requires going without certain things and immense attention to detail, they are all ‘d’ word people. Not to be confused with the other discipline, the big stick type of ‘d’ word, that only creates frustration. The trick to life is to ‘find something that is good for us, and get addicted’. Knowing it, the addiction is a ‘path that leads nowhere’ is critical; all paths lead away from ourselves. This view is contrary to most of the schools of yoga, but that’s not my problem; when you understand this, the real ‘work’ starts, the ‘work of undoing’. Addictions are good, however it is important to see them for what they are, temporary safe landing places in space, caravanserais to let our camels rest until we can let go. If we treat them incorrectly (no not the camels, the addictions), they will get in our way and block the view of the lens we use to perceive the world.
The New Yoga of Future Yogis
Apart from being addicted to playing music, I am from a number of streams of yoga, slightly off the mainstream, although much of the work by the great teachers of these yogic schools that have nurtured me, are regularly referenced by the more common yogic pathways and schools of thought, often those people from other streams don’t really have an understanding of them…. however, there is another school of yoga that we all know well, one that we are initiated into at birth. As it has never been defined properly, I hereby dub it as the “Yoga of Ouch”.
The Mindful Swordsman
I remember reading a Zen story years back, I will tell it a bit differently than how I first heard it:
There was a young guy, wanting to be taught the fine art of swordsmanship by a great master. He felt quite broken for a period of time. He made a commitment to his path and decided to leave home to live near the dojo; instead of going straight into the group of young wanna-be sword masters as would be expected, the great teacher gave him the job of working in the kitchen. He was distressed and his disappointment knew no limits; what was helpful was he had the virtue of forbearance, and accepted his lot of chopping carrots, carrying water, testing the soup when no one was looking and saying quiet prayers over the meals so that anyone who ate the food would be blessed. One day when he was dreaming and looking out of the window and automatically going about his kitchen-ness, the great teacher sneaked up behind him and jabbed him just under the rib cage with a wooden spoon, although it was soft, it was just enough to startle him back into (supposed) reality. As he turned he saw a fleeting shadow and the slight flicker of a robe pass through the kitchen door and disappear into emptiness; his apprenticeship as a swordsman had begun. From then on, every moment he had to be alert, knowing the teacher may arrive with an almost fatal blow when he least expected. Like a true Master, his every day life became his swordsman apprenticeship. He eventually emerged as the greatest swordsman in the land. “Yay!”
We can wander through life in a semi-conscious state like somebody who feels they are a slave to their lot, wanting air-conditioning to permeate everything we do and feel. Lukewarm, not overly hot or cold, “not too much hurt please”, the rhythm of life must suit ours; and people better behave how we want them to, if they don’t, then one of our many ways of resolving the blow to our rib cage will come into play…this can be disastrous.
Here Comes Ouch Again
The world goes ‘ouch’ on a regular basis. When I dig into the catalog of spiritual tales embedded in my subconscious, I think of Shakyamuni the Buddha. His father a king, spent years of his life protecting the young prince Shakyamuni from the world. His papa had an agenda, the Royal Astrologer had foretold his future as a renunciate, this led the king to create a wall around the young prince’s life both physically and emotionally so he would always feel happy and content, lost in bliss and never explore the normal set of experiences we all traverse. As many would know, at night the future Buddha sneaked out and saw the world of suffering, this became a puzzle/challenge for him to look at and ultimately resolve.
Slaves of the False King
The false-king with the crooked crown lives within all humanity, in each of us. There is a part of us that wants to look away, something that is scared of entering the world in its rawness. Some of us were over or under parented, and many of us are guilty of doing the same as we try and help our children prepare for their future life. Ultimately, we and others are faced with the normal gamut of emotions and experiences, they are not going to disappear, they are going to be there whether we push them down with drugs, alcohol, sex, too many belongings or other diversions, addictions to digital trivia, sports or keep ourselves busy with things, even valuable obsessions. Life slaps us.
Run Run Run
We are all ‘runners’, avoiders of feelings; unless we are one of those New Age touchy-feely people who dramatise the ingestion of every grain of sugar, accidental/intentional addition of a pinch of MSG to an Eastern meal, or get stuck on the fact that someone didn’t say ‘thank you’ for something trivial; some people have done far too many workshops with self-centered people in leotards or have been schooled by ridiculously over-emotional people. By understanding ‘running’, we can resolve a lot of issues in our lives, in fact at the other side of it, is what we are probably looking for. We place everything in the way, and then we define the ‘us’, the ‘me’ as the ‘relationship between the experiencer and the experienced’; we believe ourselves to be the combination of everything we have gone through in our lives; we have unconsciously cultivated an imaginary personality. If we look closely, we see we can go from Sage to ignoramus within a split second; if we are astute this leap in character change will catch our eye; a dullard will miss it, but it ought to be of great interest to anyone who is alive and thinking. By seeing the extremities in this lightening change in the personality, the questioning mind would automatically start to ponder, ‘Who am I?’, the dull mind misses it and lives out its days in confusion, goes about its business with distractions and petty addictions.
The Beauty in Dissonance
‘Ouch’ is OK, ‘ouch’ is not our enemy. I think this is where most of us go wrong, we misunderstand experience and want to pad ourselves from what doesn’t feel OK; we attempt to put something we perceive as ‘good’ in its place. As soon as the world ‘hurts’ or anything from left-field arrives through the left stage door, we bolt towards the right door. In music we have harmony, consonance and dissonance, if there are only ‘pretty’ notes, the music becomes very bland; like a shopping centre where everything is ‘nice’, or one of those religious groups where everybody is sort of smiling to make new-comers feel welcome; we need diversity in life to be able to extract wisdom. Wisdom comes from emotions, emotions come from DIVERSE experiences; those experiences may not be safe ones. We have a tendency to chase away what is ‘not nice’, feels not so good’, ‘big hurts’, all the things that we decide are not OK, we want to get away ASAP, as quick as possible.
At Peace With Ourselves
By understanding the Yoga of Ouch, we can begin to live, not to run, we can re-enter life. By knowing everything is in constant flux, in motion, we can learn to be at peace with change and allow ‘what is going on’ to have its time on the stage of life, we do not need to cling to those experiences either, they will pass. Until then, if we are not present, we are chasing apparitions about what we believe ‘ought to be’, we will be ignoring the gifts of the varied emotions that lead us to our wisdom; from wisdom comes a deeper experience of life.