Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Guru Purnima

Sunday, July 25th was Guru Purnima. We hope you had a chance to enjoy the splendor of the full moon on this special summer night. If you missed it and have some curiosity about the origin of this celebration here is a brief history.

It is said that thousands of years ago the tradition of Guru Purnima began. A Guru is the one who dispels the darkness, or the one who brings to light that which is hidden from awareness. In Tantra the root words that are in Guru are GU= remover and RU= darkness. In simple language Guru is frequently translated as teacher. Purnima means full and it refers in this case to the Full Moon of the Guru. In yogic symbolism the moon represents the mind and the sun represents the light of God or the Self. The Guru is the one whose mind is full with the light of God.

A great and most revered sage named Vyasa is said to have been responsible for editing the four Vedas, writing the eighteen Puranas, the Mahabharata and the Srimad Bhagavata. In honor of this tremendous gift to humanity a tradition began of honoring Vyasa on the full moon that falls in the mid summer months. This time was the beginning of the rainy season in India and spiritual aspirants would all gather together to spend the next four months in one location where they would intensively practice their discipline. To sanctify their pursuit they would first pay respectful oblations to Vyasa and their own spiritual preceptor, or Guru. [1]

This day is also of deep significance to the farmers, for it heralds the setting in of the much-needed rains, as the advent of cool showers usher in fresh life in the fields. It is a good time to begin your spiritual lessons. Traditionally, spiritual seekers commence to intensify their spiritual 'sadhana' (practice) from this day forward.

Guru Purnima is a wonderful time for all of us to bask in the warmth of the moonlight and give thanks to all of our teachers past, present and future.

[1] Hindu Fasts & Festivals, Swami Sivananda, p. 28-36

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Co-creation: Become an Artist of Life

When I was a teenager I came across "The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz and it changed my life. Ruiz was so clear, so simple, so honest in his articulation of the Truth, it helped me through a very difficult time, and I have carried his teachings with me ever since.

Lately I've been contemplating what Ruiz calls "the victim & the judge". The victim and the judge are like two characters that the ego likes to identify itself with, two archetypes, if you will, that often unconsciously dominate our experience. The "victim" perceives life as happening to her, rather than with her, she feels small, stuck, trapped on the hamster wheel of samsara (the wheel of suffering). The "judge"is exactly what it sounds like: harsh, critical, rigid, perfectionistic, perpetually trying to control the world by judging it; no matter what happens, it's insufficient & unworthy to the judge, no one and nothing are ever good enough. Sound familiar? Clearly, this tendency of the ego to misidentify itself does not serve to enhance our life, rather it increases the feeling of limitation and powerlessness. So how do we get out of this victim/judge cycle?

We do yoga. And we learn how to become artists of life, using every experience as an opportunity to unfold our self and create the life that we want for ourselves, the planet and all of its creatures.

Yoga is the place of the middle, between the victim and the judge, between the helpless and the overbearing. Yoga literally means "to engage yourself", to engage your body, to engage your mind & heart, and as a result, to engage your life as the empowered co-creator of reality. We are neither the victim of our experience, nor so arrogant as to believe that we are in complete control of it. Instead we are actively receptive, empowered to receive whatever life is offering us (even when we don't like it) and empowered to use that experience to create the life that we want. Co-creation inherently means that we don't get to choose everything that happens to us in our life, but we do get to choose how we engage with whatever life is offering, in this way we become artists instead of judges. Furthermore, we do get to choose what it is that we want for our life, for ourselves, for the planet, and future generations. By knowing what we want, we become deeply empowered and deeply responsible, no longer the victim.

A beautiful practice that you can use on or off the mat is asking yourself the 3 questions of Yoga:

What do you want?
Why do you want it?
What are you going to do about it?

As soon as you engage these 3 questions, you are no longer the victim or the judge, but the empowered artist skillfully weaving the desires of your heart into the fabric of the universe.

Written by Amy Reed