My two-year-old, Rakhi, is just starting to get into hide and seek. There are parameters to this new game: he won’t hide alone, he has to have a brother with him while the other one searches. He only wants to be found, he doesn’t want to be the seeker. And he hides in the same place, every time.
Hide and seek mimics a “game” the Absolute “plays” with us. The One, in choosing to become the diverse world of all beings, conceals or disguises Itself in the form of everything in creation – this is called tirodhana. Unity is disguised as multiplicity. We, as embodied beings, have forgotten that the “stuff” that we are created from is the same “stuff” that has pulsed in and out of being since the dawn of creation. And hence our experience on this physical plane is one of separation.
Why does the Absolute need to conceal Itself at all? For the same reason Rakhi hides – for the utter anticipation, joy and connection of being found (or so the resounding shrieks through my house when this game is being played would suggest). Why does he do it again and again? Because it’s fun! This is essentially the nature of life itself. The Divine conceals itself merely for the pleasure of finding Itself again and again through the power of anugraha, meaning revelation or grace. It’s like that old maxim, “absence makes the heart grow fonder”. When we have been separated from our beloved the union is so much sweeter afterwards. This is the innate nature of our entire existence, why we come into being at all - simply for the joy of remembering who we really are.
Yoga is the practice of experiencing the formless through form. It is one of the ways we remember. This is why embodied practices are so important - if we are not remembering, we are unhappy because we continue to feel separate and disconnected. It is through this embodied and therefore limited form that we are able to see beyond limitation and form to our essential nature: unity, pure awareness, and unbroken joy. We use our embodiment as a vehicle for discovering and rediscovering the divine essence that is at the core of our being.
The reason yoga is called a practice is because we do it again and again. The Divine act of tirodhana makes us forget. Yoga brings us to anugraha, to a state of remembering.
Just like Rakhi's game, there really isn't a mystery - grace is hiding in the same place she always is, but we have to actively seek. Each time we find her, we remember a little more clearly how to get there the next time.
In her book Awakening Shakti, Sally Kempton quotes the eco-cosmologist (I’m actually not even sure what that is, but read on!) Brian Swimme: “The universe story is our story, our bodies are made up of split-off particles of star-stuff, the breath we breathe has been breathed by every being that has ever lived.” She goes on to say “A Tantrika takes it even further. Our awareness is not only connected to the power of awareness in other creatures, but it is also a miniature version of the great awareness that is the Source of all that is. The subtle worlds that lie between the transcendent vastness and the physical universe are also inside our own subtle bodies, ready to be experienced by anyone who has the stamina and grace to enter into the inner world of the heart.”
Are you ready to enter the inner world of the heart?? I am listening deeply for those shrieks of delight.
Off the Mat:
This week was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and it is a good reminder of the ways that humanity concealed the unity shining through the diversity, and how far we’ve come as a people in allowing that light to be revealed through all beings. It’s not that way in all the world yet though, so every time you come to your mat, offer the yogic light you create to shine out beyond the studio or room you are practicing in, beyond the towns and cities in our country, to all the places in the world where the light is even more concealed. Whatever moment of grace or wonder or peace you are able to connect with during your practice, let that moment awaken you to the power of anugraha so that you may help shine the light of consciousness wherever it might be needed.
On the Mat:
In my classes this week we worked on finding the balance between waking up to our inner essence through Muscular Energy and engagement, especially the inner thighs which tend to be weak and "asleep". Once we feel that inner connection, we can let the light of awareness shine through the pose in the form of Organic Energy. It is the balance of these two essential energies of the body that creates strength, radiance and beauty in our bodies and our poses.
For the Anusara junkies:
Open to Grace:
Breathe in and let the subtle inner body fill with all the aspects of yourself you cannot see yet you know are there.
(As you step into poses) Place sacred feet on sacred earth - aligning the feet to align with Source within and without, that takes the form of all of creation including you.
(this energy is a co-participating w/divinity – engaging muscles to engage with Source)
Wake up your inner thighs to wake up to your inner essence of unity, pure awareness, and unbroken joy.
Firm your muscles to affirm your own unique embodiment of the Divine Source.
When we engage skin to muscle to bone we engage with what is concealed to our eyes (from what we can see to what we can’t) and remember that we are much more than just skin, muscle and bone.
Shine the light of the Absolute through the vehicle of your body.
Let the pose reveal the Grace that is your highest bliss.
Let Grace reveal itself through you, in the form of the pose you are in.