Echo From The Cave: 192

Saturday June 4, 2022 NYC

With no gas in the building, a backpacker’s stove to the rescue.

Talk at the End of the Asana & Meditation Class
Sunday, May 22nd 2022

In Learning Yoga, It’s All Up to Each One of Us

At the end of the Asana & Meditation class, I spoke about how I recently caught myself in a situation, where I noticed that my internal reaction to something very simple that was mentioned to me was incongruent with something I had been trying to work on. I had received someone’s words through a lens of pride.

Because of noticing it, I was reflecting on how oftentimes I may have difficulty when something is pointed out to me that I could improve on or do differently or better, something that I could take positively for my own learning and for improving myself, but in the moment of receiving a message, because my mind may take it as a negative criticism…even if only very lightly so, and even if that may be far from the actual intention…a reaction within me, whether I say anything or not, can shift my demeanor, tone, energy, etc., and I think that can make an uneasy air or mood for myself and for those around me, as well as block me from allowing myself to see from another view or to improve. Now this is nothing particularly new, but I was looking at it more straightforwardly in myself. And that brought about the recognition that this is something I would really like to change, not only because I’m seeing it as a necessity for improving myself and learning and deepening Yoga, but also because I would like to add to situations and interactions being at ease and proceeding with ease, rather than bringing difficulty or uneasiness that then makes me struggle and gets imposed on others, no matter the degree of it.

Shri Mahayogi points out to us that in order to learn the Truth it is necessary to also be “teachable,” in other words, willing to learn. Being teachable or willing to learn—I have heard that the word in Japanese that Shri Mahayogi uses to describe this quality really doesn’t have an exact translation into English that accurately captures the meaning—but I think it probably includes much more than what I thought or considered previously, and that’s something I’m trying to learn and understand.

Actually, not long after I spoke about this topic at the end of the class, I had a conversation with Anandamali. And that conversation, which had a lot of content that I am still contemplating, in part got me thinking again about the different ways that the mind can make excuses for itself, and after trying to understand this, then I caught a glimpse of something that I wasn’t realizing. In regards to that situation that I had spoken about after the class, I started to see that as soon as I was able to recognize that lens of pride come up in myself, there was something else that at once came up right along with it—a lens of self-concern. And I started to see that how I perceived the scene that had been in front of me at that time, including the words and action of those around me, was all interpreted through that lens of self-concern…and that is something that I did not catch in the moment it was happening. Therefore, what I was able to perceive in that moment or how far I was able to reflect on what was happening from a wider view, was limited by that lens of interpretation.

After being able to recognize it, I began to see that this initial reflection had not yet developed beyond the point of having myself as the main subject. Of course, I still have what I mentioned above to improve and work on, but in addition to that, it started to become clear that I cannot get caught up and stop only at that, but now need to bring my focus and mind to where I have been lacking in noticing and taking in the opportunities to learn and deepen Yoga through simple daily life tasks and matters that are right in front of me.

Actually, one of the things that Anandamali spoke about when we were having that conversation, had to do with Shri Mahayogi’s way of taking care of all things. And that many of the things or ways of doing that she has observed in Shri Mahayogi over the years come as a result of the way he truly takes care of and cares for all things, even in the simplest moments of daily life. I can’t say too much about this now, as truly I am still trying to see and understand this for myself, beyond just the level of words making sense, and I think this will take time and application. But in the days after hearing it, I continued to contemplate on this along with what it is I may not be seeing yet, and in doing so I reached for Karma Yoga by Swami Vivekananda, thinking that I might find some clue there to help my mind expand to see from a different angle.

There, in the first chapter, “Karma and its Effect on Character,” the following message gave me a strong and needed impact:

“If we stand near the seashore and hear the waves dashing against the shingle, we think it is a great noise. And yet we know that one wave is really composed of millions and millions of minute waves: Each one of these is making a noise, and yet we do not hear it; it is only when they become the big aggregate that we hear them. … Watch a man do his most common actions those are indeed the things which will tell you the real character of a great man.”

—Swami Vivekananda, Karma Yoga.

Reading it, I reflected on the great example that Anandamali and other senior disciples are always showing us in the way that they closely observe Shri Mahayogi’s most common actions, and then follow, readily setting aside their own accustomed ways of doing, and seeking to discover what is behind those actions of Shri Mahayogi, consistently repeating them until they become second nature…molded into their way of being. I started to recognize my own limitation in having eyes and ears open at all times and being ready and willing to swiftly adjust myself and embark on that same path of learning and discovery through consistent and continued actions. Anandamali is always sharing with us through her way of being, as well as through what she speaks, what she has learned from Shri Mahayogi over the years. Other senior disciples are, in a way, doing the same, though our chance to see may not always be in person, but through the writings of the various Testimonies in Pranavadipa.

For being able to notice and catch those common actions that we too can learn from—I think “being humble” must be one of the very important keys for that. In fact, without that key I have the suspicion that our ability to even notice the common actions being exemplified or take them as things that can have real significance, may be greatly hindered.

Actually, going back a while ago, it was brought to my attention the need to work on “being humble.” I took this message to heart because I believe it is true, it is an area where I need to work on myself. Though my understanding of it is still small and needing development, I have been making various attempts to reflect on myself and recognize the tendencies or ways of thinking and doing that are incongruent and working to find ways to shift these. It’s a bit experimental, things don’t go always very smoothly and surely there are many things that I miss, but I feel that by putting energy towards it, it also brings about some conditions that help to allow some things to loosen up, and the mind can gain some strength to face itself, to clarify and to recognize just a little bit further the way to take one little step at a time forward towards Yoga.

Now I am seeing more clearly what Anandamali says about it always being up to each one of us, whether or not we cultivate the eyes to see and ears to hear, see value in what is being shared, regardless of how seemingly small or simple, and put ourselves to learn about it through not just thinking about it, but through putting it into our actions over time and experiencing it for ourselves—and I think that this is really true…it is up to me how much I throw myself into learning Yoga and it is up to each individual as well.

Reflecting on this and reading Swami Vivekananda’s words about the millions and millions of minute waves that when accumulated make a great noise, brings fresh inspiration to bring more attention to the small yet consistent actions that may tend to get overlooked and start incorporating these into my everyday happenings. Already we have the exemplary model of what the common actions of a man of great character can look like in Shri Mahayogi. I would like to come to understand more about the way that Shri Mahayogi takes care, or cares for all things, like how Anandamali mentioned, and I would like to come to understand more about Yoga.

~ Sadhya

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