Friends, if you have a moment, I would like to share what is coming up for me in this strange new time as I sit in lockdown in India. Kamala and I are actually so content here but…we do miss home. And all of you. So, chomp down if you can…perhaps ten minutes. Browse if you wish, I have highlighted bits in each paragraph. It is finally a love letter. Please read it as one!
A LOVE LETTER TO HUMANITY
Or: Dancing With Our Lives
This do I know. We are quite capable of immense suffering.
We are also quite capable of absolute peace.
As to suffering
, as a species we have the uniqueness to suffer consciously.
Which means we can do something about it beyond
the ability to survive it, to find treasured moments of pleasure despite
it, and to lose ourselves in hard work that brings us great satisfaction while we do it. If, in fact, we strive further, we actually have the consciousness necessary to minimize our suffering by serving others,
by seeking universal shared truths, and by clearing our addled, clutter-patterned brains full of small and large traumas, so they stop showing us the whole world as a mirror of ourselves but instead turn their gaze inwards, the only place we do not need a mirror.
And as to Absolute Peace, it is supposed to be easiest for us amongst all Earth’s species, to know this truth. Yet only a handful, a drop in the ocean if you will, can actually achieve it. This should, however, never discourage us from seeking it; if we do, eventually we will become that drop in the ocean of bliss. And for every tiny step we take along the path we do relieve just a little bit of our suffering. And that journey, in itself, is a reward we can allow space for.
We can choose how we dance with our lives. Let us, for a moment, identify four dances available to us.
The first is to dance with nature. She has a powerful gravitational pull. If we align with her rhythms and pay attention to her behavior, and partake of the feasts she prepares for us in the forests and fields, rivers, lakes and oceans, in her towering mountains and her deep valleys, in her coldest regions and in her heated deserts; and treat her as a Goddess, she teaches us how to live in peace as we are now.
Alternatively, we can dance with our spirit. It resists gravity, rising like an electromagnetic field chasing some heavenly goal, constantly tempting us away from our daily lives. This dance results in renunciation of nature and a seeking of rarefied regions where the default is minimal suffering and maximum joy. At least for a while. As all is temporary till we stop ‘being’, of course. Where we, like an onion, shed all our layers till what is left behind is nothing, having in fact, ourselves dispersed into everything!
The third dance is when we dance both with nature and our spirit! Let us call this the middle way. It requires immense skill. It is not as simple as tuning a violin. It is more like walking a tightrope. Or riding a bucking horse. For the two, nature and spirit, tend to move away from each other, having diametrically opposite trajectories. It takes great skill to turn our nature humble enough to let spirit lead it in our worldly dance.
So then we dance with matter, the physical world as it manifests; and at the same time with the spirit world from whence we actually arose. Where this and that are both complete. In a rational world it is not cognate but in the world of intuition, it is easily cognized as this is that so of course each is complete! For they are the same once the illusory walls come tumbling down and matter dissolves back into spirit.
The fourth and last dance is with our Mind. Now, I do not mean the Heart-Mind, our place of stillness, which we will come to, but the Ego-Mind. The self-created mind. The lord of the discordant dance. The one with arrogance towards nature and ignorance of spirit! The one that cannot align with either and dances jerkily out of step with all other beings around it, and in its delusion believes itself thus superior! As the Doors would famously say: ‘I’ve been down so long, it looks like up to me’.
This love letter is first to the Heart-Mind then. It is to say ‘Awaken’. You see, in our human experience, love is pathos. It is an emotional response. We stir up the emotions with tragic love stories like ‘Romeo and Juliet’, ‘Samson and Delilah’ and ‘Laila Majnu’. Love punishes the human experience here. Or as in fairy tales (Disney and Bollywood have mastered this), where tremendous suffering is done for the sake of love and as soon as the love is ‘gained’, we stop the story. Perhaps we all know what comes next but would like to believe in ‘happily ever after’.
It is due to the Ego-Mind, formed of our various life experiences, including ones in the womb and, as per some, brought forth through both genetic disposition and previous lives of our mind-complex, that we identify with most, that we stop from witnessing our Heart-Mind, the place of still awareness. Perhaps this was not always as true as it is now. Our ancient texts tell us of a purer, more innocent time. But an accumulation of centuries of traumas running rampant like invisible microbes in a too-busy-lest-we-remember-it-all society may have hastened a time when we are incapable of loving innocently any more. And yet we yearn for it with every fiber of our being.
This love letter is also to Nature then and our dance with it, a thing of beauty and joy.
To our Spirit, that dwells secretly within us, never entering into fear (as one author puts it: never interfering, which is to say never entering ‘into-fearing’) and it is to our Heart-Mind which is the gift of our larger spirit to our fractured, conditioned, individualized spirit: a guide if you will on how to navigate this life with love.
What is the Heart-Mind then? Some call it our Original Nature. If it is true, then our original nature is innocent, it is creative and it is joyous. It has no space for fear, for anger, for grief. In fact we may say, over time we lose our connection to it so that our innocence curdles into anger, our creativity dries into fear, and our joy congests into grief and all three move like erratic electric currents within us, causing us to jerk around like puppets in the hands of an inebriated master!
Our Heart-Mind then is the one that travels through life after life seeking authenticity and more often than not, finds artifice and pretense: a mass gathering of negative life experiences based on fear, anger and grief.
This love letter must of course also be to our Ego-Mind. It is not correct to want to destroy it, as we cannot without ourselves disappearing prematurely, rather it is correct to teach it how to dance! How to dance the body and the spirit to the music of no fear. To abandon the blockages to our inner muse in the forms of lust, of greed, of thievery, of gluttony, of malice and of many other such demons we carry perversely from life to life. How do we abandon them then? We replace moments of lust with admiration. We replace greed with gratitude. We replace theft with anonymous gifts to the downtrodden. We replace gluttony with mindful-joy for a tasty morsel of simple, home cooked food shared with each other. We replace malice with random acts of kindness as some wise one once advised us to. And most importantly of all, we replace fear with love. A love built of kindness, compassion and wisdom.
What then stops us? Stops us from building this healthier Ego-Mind that can humbly seek guidance from the Heart-Mind, seek peace and awe in Nature, seek freedom in recognizing itself ultimately as Spirit?
What stops it is perhaps nothing more than it does not trust itself. We do not trust ourselves. Trust ourselves to be stronger than the imposed-upon-us patterns we carry around like a ball and chain.
The Buddha said that poverty is the greatest crime. For me, I know clearly in my bones, in my marrow, that this is truth. We are neither animal nor gods. But we can easily sink back into our animal nature. And we can strive to rise to divinity. We have to practice what the yogin call pratipakśa bhāvanam. Replacing negative energy with positive energy. Until we learn how to balance between the two. Right there, where left disappears into right, right into left and both positive and negative charges rest in a soft hum of quietude, where we become engines of love, having left our fears behind. For there is only incomplete love where fear exists.
This is finally, my love letter to you and to me. May we trust each other enough to not be judgmental. And to trust ourselves eventually, as it is ourselves we truly judge the most when we judge the other.
A NOTE: Healing the Heart workshops are by necessity postponed. None of us know for how long. We are working on an online version. Shorter perhaps. A day spent together. Sharing as we would in a classroom or studio. For those who have signed up for consults when we visit your city, please know we can meet online. All prices will, of course, be adjusted to accommodate our new realities.
The next one we are hoping we can do in person is scheduled for the end of May in Encinitas. I am praying together we can manifest an end to this new reality by then and enter a new reality of closeness that can only truly arise from us having come close to losing it.
The heart is alive. In fact, it brings life to us with each pulsation, sending rivers of prāna flowing through our plasma, blood, muscle, fat, skeleton, marrow and finally, our vital reproductive juices. There it transforms into our very essence itself or leaves us to form a new life with another beautiful heartbeat singing its song!
This heart that is the fiery sun of our own universe, is ever producing our minds through its sensory rays and clear light! Mind as it spreads its venous tentacles to every sense organ so that we can fully experience the world around us. Mind that extends instinctively down into our bellies, so we vicariously feel each perceptive truth as a somatic experience. And mind, like a tree, sends its rising branches upwards to form our brain. Where we think, imagine, reason and occasionally perceive the highest truths.
And yet, we imprison this heart behind gates of arrogance, lust, hatred, greed, jealousy and pride. And we subject it cruelly to fears, unjustly to angers and unmercifully to grieving.
Our hearts are the key to our lives. Heal our heart and we heal our mind. In healing the mind we finally discard the undigested toxins of fear, anger and grief. And spontaneously and oh so creatively, the heart sings its joy and its simple innocent declaration- know me and know peace.
Upcoming Healing the Heart Workshops
February 22-23: Yoga Bungalow, San Juan Capistrano, CA
visit website »
This workshop was the only one that did indeed take place. We had a full room and a lot of aha moments of the heart.
April 17-19: Sivananda Ashram Yoga Farm, Grass Valley, No. CA
visit website »
May 8-10: Salt Lake City UT: POSTPONED WITH BATED BREATH. WHO KNOWS!
Hosted by Maria Radloff.
Utah friends, USE THIS LINK TO GET 10% OFF THE EARLY BIRD SPECIAL.
Under Teacher, put your favorite teachers’ name so they get credit for it.
Also be sure to book your consults Early as there will not be that many available this time around.
visit Maria’s website »
May 23/24: Save the date! SOLD OUT PENDING AN END TO THE POX UPON US!
Hosted by Jutta Hech and Myriam Machado Baker. In Encinitas, CA
Email email@example.com to sign up or learn more.
Space is very limited! And 5 spots already pre-booked!
In the Vedic tradition, the heart is the seat of emotions, of prāna and of our intrinsic immunity. It is also the origin of the mind and it is from the heart that the mind as emotions moves towards the brain for intellectual understanding and the gut for instinctive behavior. If we free our emotional seat from the siege of its enemies: fear, anger and grief then the rightful emotions of playfulness, innocence and joy rule supreme once again. It is a journey of remembrance. One we should all take together. Yoga and Āyurveda show us the way to do so.
The Heart as Seat of Mind
The Qualities of the Heart: Creativity, Innocence and Joy
Understanding Heart Disease Through Āyurveda: Treating Through Yoga
The Enemies of the Heart: Fear, Anger and Grief
The Allies of the Heart: Resolve, Patience and Faith
Practicum: Emotional Intelligence Yoga Practice: Healing The Heart/Healing The Mind
More Healing the Heart Workshops to come later this year. If you would like to host one or know of a studio in your community that would, please let me know!
A heart to heart prayer:
May we together be each others protection.
May we together nourish each other.
May we together become each others strength.
May we together become wise.
May we always be friends.
May we support each other in finding peace.
May your breath always be at peace!