When I started studying yoga in India in 2003, I was taught that yogis should be ‘sattvic’ or pure. Traditionally, that meant no meat, alcohol, coffee, negative thinking, complaining, laziness; any ‘bad habits’ whatsoever. What I did with that teaching, however, was to basically push away my perceived ‘bad tendencies’ (tamas or rajas in yoga language) deep into my subconscious where they festered. Accordingly, I projected these tendencies on to others: the bad corporations who destroyed the rainforests, the warmongering politicians, insensitive family members, and so on. Later, these projections and sublimations quite naturally made me sick in the body/mind which culminated in 2012 as life threatening illness. I’m not saying that all illnesses have that as cause, but for me, unconsciously ignoring, justifying or identifying with what was unmet inside of me definitely contributed. What I understood from the wonderful opportunity illness gave me to stop all the doing and just see, was that sattva or purity means (to me now), is unconditional love. Or awareness or presence. That everything is allowed when it is seen through or lovingly understood with the heart. The ‘negative tendencies’ are the attachments to beliefs or thoughts or actions. Or you could say that any judgement on others or oneself is a believed belief and that beliefs have no truth to them at all. That concepts and words and rules and guidelines .. none of them are real outside of their own self referential, imagined worldview. That truth can’t be found out from thought or study or yoga or practice as it is our very essence. You can’t learn it, deserve it, own it, because it is not an it. You are not an it; truth or reality is unnameable and is one with all the thoughts, beliefs, labels, forms. So all forms are beautiful in their essence. The recognition of beauty, love, acceptance (in other words, ‘sattvic tendencies’) is not accessible by way of thought or mind. And suffering comes from conceiving forms (including your body/mind) as having separate existences when none can possibly exist, therefore creating a unresolvable contradiction or contraction inside. For me now, imagined departure from ‘sattva’ means basically just a simple misunderstanding-the unreal (thought or belief) mistaken for the real (unnameable presence) – and that does not feel good inside either physically or emotionally. We often attach to things, ideas, activities and other people to try to remove those uncomfortable feelings rather than let them be felt and let them guide us home. You can use alcohol, sex, drugs, relationships, yoga, meditation, internet, therapy, study .. it doesn’t matter what, in order to seek what you already are and what every imagined ‘thing’ is. Once you recognize unnameable essence as everything, yoga or anything else, becomes not a practice or an avoidance strategy, but a divine play–a fun, empty echo of silent truth.
Next playful yoga event is Yoga on the Vine, hosted by Open Heart Yoga Center at First Colony Vineyard. Saturday, April 29th 12.30-3.00 at First Colony in Charlottesville. Signup required as we need to organize the food: Yoga on the Vine