'‘To win a battle, a general surveys the terrain and the enemy and plans counter-measures. In a similar way the yogi plans the conquest of the Self. “ Light on Yoga.
What an epic weekend of action. Direct action. In London. Myself, my children and many others protested, roadblocking 5 of London’s main bridges. In what is recognised as being one of the biggest peace protests in decades, as part of Extinction Rebellion, we rebelled.
This quote above made me cry when I read it, having been sent this the following day by my friend whom was also at the protest with me, it moved me. It moved me because it is such a powerful summary of hope of how I personally wish to live on this planet.
To remember to give to the earth, as well as defending it. To demonstrate the other way, rather than just be demonstrating. There is duality at play!
I find the days that follow action, are a time to digest and observe what drives our actions and what remains. Especially, as a Yogi, I have been considering action and my principles, values and personal attachments around it.
Music always helps me in processing my thoughts and I’ve been playing this song on repeat. Pop and a ballad, well yes, neither may be your thing, but listen up! The chorus seems to praise letting go of worries and insecurities in favor of chasing a dream. Another example of ‘hope’.
“I’m off the deep end, watch as I dive in / I’ll never meet the ground / Crash through the surface, where they can’t hurt us / We’re far from the shallow now.” - Lady Gaga
So as we chase the dream and live in hope, be that to live in this world as a sacred garden, I know that’s mine…
I ask, Q. ‘What does the word ‘shallow’ mean?’ … A. ‘of little depth’ or not exhibiting, requiring, or capable of serious thought.’
Well indeed, we are far from the shallow now, in this modern world, as we wake up to what is occurring… But what next?
This brings me to thinking about ‘renunciation’ and I share with you some words from a Light on Yoga.
“The Yogi does not renounce the world, as that would be renouncing the Creator. The yogi renounces all that takes him/ her/ they away from the lord. He renounces his own desires, knowing that all inspiration and right action come from the lord. The yogi doesn't not renounce action. He cuts the bonds that tie himself to the actions by dedicating their fruits either to the lord or to humanity. He, she, they believe that it is a privilege to do his, her, their duty and that he, she, they have no rights to the fruits of his, her, their actions. While others are asleep when duty calls and wake up only to claim their rights, the yogi is fully awake to his, her, their duty, but asleep over his, her, their, rights. Hence it is said that in the light of all beings the disciplined and tranquil man, woman, wakes to the light… A yogi believes that every creature has as much right to live as he, she, they has. He believes that he, she, they are born to help others and he looks upon the eyes of creation with eyes of love. He, she, they knows that his, her, their life is linked inextricably with that of others and he, she, they rejoices if he, she, they can help them be happy. He, she, they puts the happiness of others before his own and becomes a source of joy to all who meet him, her, them.”
After reading this (i added she and they as it was said as he a lot- times are changing:) I had further thoughts ongoing in my mind and it was helpful to consider, once again, the power of the quotes above, the song and its lyrics and to think about sound itself as a way of connection and aid in helping to make sense of all this. when we hope, we also pray.
The obvious observation is that the mind itself is an instrument, which classifies, judges and co-ordinates the impressions from the outside world and those that arise within oneself.
It is said, to get the best out of an instrument, one must know how it works. So we could reflect on the sound of AUM here, that holds potency in all these things.
AUM conveys the concepts of omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence and is from the root that means to praise and superiority, denoting the meaning of ‘the best prayer’.
It is praying that is needed in a way, alongside taking action. So as we chant, we pray.
‘A’, ‘U’, ‘M’ are syllables.
‘A’ symbolises the conscious or waking state, ‘U’ is dream state and ‘M’ is the dreamless sleep state of the mind and the spirit. When combined, the 3 syllables combines all three states and transcends them, this is the state of Samadhi.
They all also symbolise many more things…
Speech (vak), the mind (manas) and the breath of life (prana).
The dimensions of length, breadth and depth. Together this forms divinity beyond the limitations of shape and form.
The absence of desire, fear and anger. Together representing the perfect man/woman, ones whose wisdom is firmly established in the divine.
The three genders, masculine, feminine and neuter. Combined this represents all Creation together with the Creator.
The 3 gunas - Sattva, rajas and tamas - together this forms the one who has gone beyond the pull of the gunas.
Past, present and future tense. Together transcending the limitations of time!
The teaching imparted by the mother, the father, the guru. The knowledge of the self.
The 3 stages of yogic discipline, asana, pranayama and pratyahara. The ultimate samadhi.
The triad of divinity - Brahma - the Creator, Visnu - the Maintainer, and Siva - the Destroyer of the universe. Combined it is Brahman, from which the whole universe emanates, has its growth and fruition and merges in the end. It does not grow or change. Many change and pass, but Brahman is the One that ever remains unchanged.
The mantra ‘Tat Twas Asi’ (That thou art), is the yogis divinity within himself which liberates the human spirit from the confines of the body, mind, intellect and ego.
To experience the mantra AUM, the Yogi focuses his attention on his beloved Deity, adding AUM to the name of the Lord. The yogi unifies his senses, will, intellect, mind and reason, by focusing on the name of the Lord and adding AUM with one pointed devotion, to experience its resonance, says Iyenger.
‘Taking as a bow the great weapon of the upanishad, one should put upon it an arrow sharpened by meditation. stretching it with a thought directed to the essence of That, penetrate the Imperishable as the mark, my friend. The mystic syllable AUM is the bow. The arrow is the Self (Atma). Brahman is the target. By the undistracted man is It penetrated. One should come to be in It, as the arrow in the mark.” - Mundakopanisad.
So we could say that as we take action, we too are digesting the Self and continuing to attempt to be in the world, whilst departing from the material and merge in the Eternal. There is then no duality between the knower and the known for they are merged, from the heart.
Take heart in action.
Finally, I share with you The Song of the Soul. Lets pray…
THE SONG OF THE SOUL
I am neither ego nor reason, I am neither mind nor thought,
I cannot be hard nor cast into words, nor by smell nor sight ever caught:
In light and wind I am not found, nor yet in earth and sky -
Consciousness and joy incarnate, Bliss of the Blissful am I.
I have no name, I have no life, I breathe no vital air,
No elements have moulded me, no bodily sheath is my lair:
I have no speech, no hands and feet, nor means of evolution -
Consciousness and joy am I, and Bliss in dissolution.
I cast aside hatred and passion, I conquered delusion and greed;
No touch of pride caressed me, so envy never did breed:
Beyond all faiths, past reach of wealth, past freedom, past desire,
Consciousness and joy am I, and Bliss is my attire.
Virtue and vice, or pleasure and pain are not my heritage,
Nor sacred texts, nor offerings, nor prayer, nor pilgrimage:
I am neither food, nor eating, nor yet the eater am I -
Consciousness and joy incarnate, Bliss of the Blissful am I.
I have no misgiving of death, no chasms of race divide me,
No parent ever called me child, no bond of birth ever tied me:
I am neither disciple nor master, I have no kin, no friend -
Consciousness and joy am I, and merging in Bliss is my end.
Neither knowable, knowledge, nor knower am I, formless is my form,
I dwell within the senses but they are not my home:
Ever serenely balanced, I am neither free nor bound -
Consciousness and joy am I, and Bliss is where I am found.
Sung by Sankaracharya in his Atma Satkam.
Our practice this week will be moving as man instrument, with a focus on discipline, renunciation and exploring our depth of practice in body and in mind.