By Chaya Spencer
Listening to a podcast interview with the author of TheOverstory, Richard Powers, I am filled with a longing to experience an old growth forest. I have a longing to feel part of something so majestic, so ancient, so alive and so….BIG. Powers describes stepping into such a forest in the Smoky Mountains and how it was a transformative experience. He spoke of how it smelled different, sounded different, felt different. Trees there are thousands of years old. He said, “Did I become smaller and more vulnerable, yes, but I also became larger it a Whitman-esque way. I started to contain multitudes, or they started to contain me.” In North America, only 2-5% of old growth forest still exist.
I want to experience that I contain multitudes and that they contain me. I long to feel deeply connected and part of the whole. The first law of thermodynamics, states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed; energy can only be transferred or changed from one form to another. Yoga philosophy teaches that the universe is one energy manifesting as all of creation. That one energy is represented by the vibration - the sound of OM, or AUM. It has agency - the agency to create, sustain and finally dissolve all the matter back into vibration, back into energy, back into AUM.
When I think and feel that I am a simply one manifestation of a ubiquitous vibration, I begin to recognize that myself: my body, mind and spirit and everything else is sacred. I want to step into the ancient forest and feel connection, and feel that energy that I am contained in; that huge oneness.
In the Anusara invocation, which is taken from the Upanishads, the first line is: Om Namah Shivaya Gurave. Nama/namas/namah is the word for salutation or praise. It is the sense of bowing to the sacred in everything. It is the invitation to recognize that we’re all made of the same stuff and that stuff is sacred and special and it is you and it is me. At the rare times when I remember this, I touch my keyboard, the oak in the yard, my body, the food I eat, the dishes, my family as sacred. I Namah, I bow, I salute and honor it all. Maybe I don’t need to step into the old growth forest after all. Maybe that for which I long is right here with me.
“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.”
If you'd like to join us at Shree for our book club, we're currently reading The Overstory for our March 15th meeting at 4:00 pm. You are most welcome to join us.