Happy World Health Day Everyone! お元気ですか? (Ogenkidesuka)
Today is April 7th, World Health Day. I would like to explore the translation of the above Japanese greeting regarding your health.
When someone asks you “お元気ですか”, they are asking, “how are you?” Well, loosely speaking. The English translation is usually “how are you” or “how are you doing” or “how is your health?” The Japanese word 元気 (genki) stands for health. But it has a deeper meaning. 元 is pronounced (ge-n), it stands for the source of origin, the source of prana, or the place of wholeness. 気 is pronounced ki, as in 合気道 (aikido). 気 stands for energy – which includes your body, your emotions, and your spirit. The literal translation of 元気 (genki) is original energy. This is actually the most foundational, and most precise description of health.
In the western world, when we speak of health, most people would assume that of the body. Major hospitals are dedicated to the health of individuals by treating various bodily ailments. Then there is the emotional side of health, where psychotherapy is used for the healthy mind of individuals. Nowadays holistic medicine recognizes that health is psychosomatic – bridging the gap between the mind and the body is becoming a standard practice. In the eastern world, stemming from the yogic tradition and Buddhism, the energetic aspect is greatly emphasized. And nowadays, holistic healers can use energy to heal the body as well as to bring peace of mind.
During my lifelong research of health – starting with preparation for medical school, then deviating into bioengineering, then adding psychology and NLP, and ending up in the origin of spirituality – and from my personal experience, I know that the body, mind, and energy all play a part of my overall health.
I would like to share a short Sadhguru talk which reminds me of the core of my aikido practice – 元気, health comes from within.
Sadhguru: The word health comes from the word whole. When your body, your mind, your emotion, your energies are in tune with each other and you feel wholesome within yourself, that is when you feel healthy. A large number of people in the world, including many who are considered medically healthy, are unhealthy. They may not need any medication but their system does not know any wholesomeness. There is no sense of peace or joy in them. You think you are unhealthy only when you get depressed beyond a certain point, but you are unhealthy if you are not bubbling with joy. There is no wholesomeness in terms of the internal composition of who you are.
This has happened because you never paid any attention to it. This whole attitude of trying to fix everything from the outside has to go. No doctor or medicine can ever give you health. They can assist you when you have fallen into ill health and help you out of it a little bit, but health has to happen within yourself.If health has to come from within, we definitely have to do some inner engineering.
Health is not just a physical aspect. Today modern medicine says that man is psychosomatic. What happens in the mind naturally happens in the body. What happens in the body in turn happens in the mind. So the way we are living here, our attitude, our emotion, the basic mental state, the level of activity we are going through, how streamlined our minds are, all these are very much a part of your health.
Health is a side effect of spirituality. If you are complete within yourself, being healthy is natural.
Today, on this World Health Day, I would like to invite you to discover when you feel the most healthy. How does your body feel overall? How do you feel emotionally? How smooth and full is your breath? How relaxed or joyful do you feel? How grounded and loving do you feel? And for the extra sensitive individuals, how is the expression and expansion of your ki?
Thank you friends for walking with me on this journey of life. May your find the natural health, beauty, and joy is already part of you. The next time I ask you “お元気ですか?” you can smile, and say “my original energy is with me – 元気です.”
I read this tonight and thought I would share the wisdom of Sadhguru from the book “Mystic’s Musings”. On one level, it echos the teachings of aikido, on another level, it is exactly what I needed to hear. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do.
Of all emotions, compassion is the highest that man can experience. When someone lives in compassion, not just love, only then he is a real seeker, because very easily love becomes attachment and a bias. Love can become a great prejudice against you, somebody else, or anything.
In the Indian culture you never told your parents, your wife, your husband or your children, “I love you.” This was not a part of this culture because the moment you say it, it’s almost like it’s not there. You’re only trying to assert it. Love is not an assertion. Love is supplication. An asserting mind can never be a loving mind. ON the day of the big men’s only booze party, a gentle, quiet, and unassuming fellow who had missed a few of these kinds of parties was goaded by his chauvinistic friends to be more assertive with his wife. “You don’t have to always do the things your wife asks you to do. Go home tonight and show her you’re the boss.” The man, after hearing these same words many times over, was finally set on fire with enthusiasm and couldn’t wait to try the friends’ advice. He rushed home, slammed the door, shook his fist in his wife’s face, and growled, “From now on you’re taking orders from me. I want my supper right now and after you put it on the table, go upstairs and lay out my best clothes. Tonight I’m going out with the boys and you’re going to stay home where you belong. And another thing, do you know who is going to comb my hair, iron my pants, polish my shoes, and tie my tie?” “I certainly do,” said the wife very calmly, “the undertaker.”
Patanjali (who is considered the father of yogic sciences), to differentiate between asserting and loving, called this ‘the original mind’. What is this original mind? The mind that you carry right now is a collection, an accumulation. It is garbage that you have piled over a period of time. If you can leave it behind and walk away, then you are in your original mind. Others may call this no mind, this original mind. This is something that ‘was’, something that when you tasted our original mind – true love or compassion just well up within you. Only if you can leave your garbage and walk away this moment, only then is this possible. Only then the seeker who carries my message becomes a Master, otherwise he just stagnates. Just carrying my message is itself an accumulation, some nonsense that you gathered somewhere. Maybe it is useful for a few people, but many never lead to any great transformation.
The few who carry my message to the outside world are teachers. A teacher is an eternal student. The moment he stops being a student, he is not a teacher anymore. This is the way it is. The day he thinks, “I am a teacher,” he is finished. It is over. This is a constant process of learning. Once you are in this moment of original mind, there is no past. Everything is new, everything is fresh. If at any moment you think you know, and you teach, that means you’re carrying the past burden. Maybe right now this is convenient, but the same convenience will become a tremendous torture after some time. It will. I have seen people systematically destroy themselves, step by step. Not carrying the past burden can be very easily done for the person who can simply be here.
The process of training people to carry my message is not to go out and do some nonsense to somebody else. This is not the point. This whole process is a way of growth. It is an effective tool for your growth. Teaching is for you to grow and during the process somebody else might be benefited. In the African lore there is a saying “When the lion feeds, many animals eat.” That’s all it is. It’s not a service that you’re doing. It is just that you chose that kind of a path, that when you walk, many others benefit. When something is left unfulfilled within you, when a complete illumination has not happened with your own being, there is nothing one can really teach. There is nothing that can be transmitted. It is just that you’re a driver, and you take the passengers along with you. maybe you have the opportunity of handling the wheel for a while. That does not make you better in anyway. It is just that you’re also a passenger, but happen to be the one who is holding the wheel.
If a person has to develop, he has to grow into humility and love. He has to evolve into a certain gracefulness; a gracefulness not of the body, not of the clothes, not of the exterior, but a certain gracefulness which can’t be expressed in words. If a person has to grow into this, it can only come when moment-to-moment life becomes caring, the kind of caring which hurts. This can happen only out of deep love and compassion.
Chances are, if you are a spiritual seeker, then you have heard of enlightenment. We were told Buddha was an enlightened master, so was Jesus and a few selected individuals throughout history. There are others such as Muhammad Rumi, Albert Einstein, Joseph Campbell all exhibited such inherent passion for life and ease of living that they too might possess something mystical. Even various cultures throughout history have shifted into a space that completely transformed human reason to redefine the quality of our very existence.
What is the commonality between various categories of enlightenment?
Look up the term in google, the definition comes to be 1) the action of enlightening or the state of being enlightened; 2) the attainment of spiritual knowledge or insight that which frees a person from the cycle of [karma]. The Buddhism root of the term translates into “awakening” and “understanding”, which then allows us to break the bondage of suffering. Spiritual enlightenment promoting individual well-being in the Western civilization leading into the twenty-first century are often called a new age idea drawing on Eastern cultures and philosophies. Hence spiritual enlightenment is thought to be an “achievement” all individuals seek to obtain.
A more well-known use of the term is the “period of enlightenment” roughly span the early seventeenth century through the eighteenth century where traditional hierarchical political-social structures such as the French monarchy were violently overturned. The “period of enlightenment” occurred with a shift in thinking. Unvoiced in the past, individuals were encouraged to criticize the corruption of the monarchy and the aristocracy. At an earlier time in the late fifteenth century a parallel force of the scientific revolution triggered a yearning for new science, new experiments, and individual searches of intellectual freedom.
This wave of scientific revolution also helped to shape “enlightenment thoughts” in philosophical discussions. Against popular beliefs promoted by religion, Before the mid-sixteenth century, Descartes joined Galileo in advocating a heliocentric solar system. To avoid the Inquisition, his books in science were mostly published anonymously. Yet this undercover passion shaped his philosophical inquiries of doubt and knowledge, which allowed his skeptical arguments to penetrate the court of Queen Christina. In the mid-seventh century, Voltaire stood out to question popular believes by his words against myth and superstition taught by religious authorities. At the same time, Hume’s inquires into the sometimes false perceptions of the mind, Kant’s aim to unite new empirical experiences with established rational reasoning all propelled a shift in thinking – this shift is known as the Enlightenment.
In a sense, no matter how unrelated each categories might seem, various forms of enlightenment somehow point to the same direction – a question, a reassessment, a revolution, an awakening, a transformation leading to the freedom of true knowledge. In essence, enlightenment is a shift in perception, a shift in being that sheds light on something, illuminating what was in the dark to making it stand out and absolutely clear.
What does enlightenment have anything to do with you? And why would you want a piece of it?
Have you ever thought there might be more to life? One time or another in our lives we all strived to be happier, live deeper and experience more. What we’ve been taught by society is to achieve more in life and possess more materialistic things. We would purchase a bigger house, a more expensive car, exotic vacations, marry a handsome husband, earn a good living, yet somehow all these achievements quickly lose their attraction and we still feel unfulfilled. Some of us might turn to addictions such as food, drugs, sex, TV shows, video games to fill the hole yet still not able to find the happiness we yearn for. We don’t see a way out of this darkness, we yearn for more…
Second, like most human beings you have probably experienced suffering. If you are lucky, a tragedy in life might have brought pain to your awareness – physically or emotionally. From an early age we often cry in response to unpleasant events. Later in life, we tend to spin our wheels and try to solve various life’s dramas only finding ourselves unable to break free. For some, this suffering is always screaming and leaks into every part of our existence. Such as a solider who lost his legs in battle later found himself unwilling to take part in the simplest daily activities due to his overwhelming sadness, anger and shame. For others, this suffering is unconscious yet dictates all the choices we make in life. Like a young woman who believed she is not pretty enough so she spent hours each day to prepare herself, endless hours in the gym, purchased new breasts to feel better, dated hot guys to validate her own self-worth. For her, all of her energy is spent in this endless loop of the believe that she is not pretty enough, nevertheless she is trapped in a subconscious suffering.
Third, no matter if you are a scientist, a historian or a psychotherapist, you care about truth. As the Enlightenment philosophers once explored, truth can be very difficult to come by. As a scientist, I would form a theory of the world and then design experiments to examine the validity of my theory in an attempt to find truth. As a historian, you might research paintings, literatures, personal documentation in attempt to find what were the true forces responsible for a radical global shift. As a psychotherapist, it is your job to help individuals to discover which mental perceptions are faulty and how to form reality-based knowledge without the effect of delusions. Or if you are anything like me – a skeptic of everything you read or hear, you are tired of being living in other people’s structures of life and you want to use your own experience to feel life as it truly is.
No matter if you are yearning for fulfillment, seeking the end of suffering, or needing the clarity of truth, enlightenment holds the promise to set you free. It literally unmasks an old belief like the painting “Time unveiling Truth” – resulting in a break-away from the endless loops our old conditioning. It is difficult to describe what enlightenment is if the actual experience has not yet taken place. Everything you read here and elsewhere is only a finger-pointing to enlightenment, it is just a map hoping to get you closer. That is when Kant’s argument of external knowledge and reasoning might be helpful leading one to an actual internal experience. Upon the union of both – external knowledge and internal experience – Truth can then be attained – cycles of suffering or karmic ties can then be broken.
But, what the heck is enlightenment?
It is often referred to as “awakening”, “self-realization”, “freedom” and more. Like the word “enlighten”, it literally has the quality of shedding light onto an area of darkness. The contrast of this event is so great, it is like day and night. Once enlightenment happens, you cannot deny it. Just like dawn might still be very cold and dark, and upon the arrival of the day, the sun shines brightly you know you are no longer in darkness. It also has the quality of waking up from a dream. As we were once asleep, life’s problems were hunting us and we drive ourselves mad trying to come to a resolution. As we wake up, we realize all that suffering was just a dream. In fact, after awakening we realize all is well. Like the word self-realization, it is a realization of who you are, and that dream was all the untruth, that dream was everything you were not yet you just didn’t know it. Upon awakening you will know you are not your thoughts, you are not your body, you are not emotions, you are not your intellect, you are not your personality, and all that’s left over is you are space, you are pure awareness.
You are free to go beyond your past conditioning so each moment greets you anew. You are no longer dictated by the monarchy of your karma. You get to experience life fresh, without trying to focus on the moment, the moment simply just is. You are no longer controlled by your mind or by an external standard of right or wrong. You realize all the knowledge you accumulated before was somehow not of your own, it was passed down to you from other authorities, and you have somehow believed to be Truth.
After awakening you profoundly understand Truth spoken by Jesus when he said “the kingdom of God is within you.” You realize that the God you once prayed to as an old bearded man in the sky was just a mental imagine of what God might be because you didn’t know better. Upon enlightenment, you know with empirical experience that the essence of God is within you, God is omnipresent, and God is all there is. You know who you are, you know who everyone else is as well, and magically you are no longer separate, you are no longer sad or lonely, somehow, you are naturally happy. Then the you that was once the center of your universe disappears into a heliocentric solar system where God is the sun. You no longer aim for achievement to make yourself look better, instead, you naturally care about the well-being of the whole. After enlightenment you will know that God lives within you, and you are joy, you are Love. And you are glad that there’s no more you, there is only Flow. life literally becomes magical and everything happens between time, space, and in the perfectly harmonious order.
How does it happen?
Like the “period of enlightenment”, a personal enlightenment is also a revolution. It starts with a profound discomfort that you are not living your full potential and something must be done. You might feel that something different is taking place but you can’t pin-point exactly what is going on. Often times deep suffering can be the birthing place that promotes such revolution. Like a society, when old structures no longer work in the current context, something must change. Many individuals feel an unrecognizable fear as if life is no longer mapped out. Each and everyday becomes a struggle as our old way of operations is shedding away and we no longer how what to “DO”. Some people might feel as if suddenly their whole life is falling apart in the traditional sense. Some might feel their own masks of individual identity has being ripped off by external events. Others might feel chucks of their memories are missing or being re-invented. All these are indications of an under current of a powerful internal transformation.
Enlightenment can happen by a traumatic trigger such as a near-death experience or diligent hard labor such as a monk’s daily devotion. For most, it happens somewhere in between. It requires a personal willingness to let go everything we once were taught to be true and search for our new inner science (hence Sadhguru’s Isha Yoga is an inner science towards self-realization and his beginner’s program is called Inner Engineering). It also requires a softness to perceive beyond the logical mind and receive whatever God has in store for you – however, whenever. Sounds simple yet it may not be easy. Most people are stuck yearning for the grace of God to unveil Truth yet they are not willing to let go their self-centered personal identities. It is often called letting go of the ego – meaning letting go false identifications of who we believe yourself to be (as in the painting by the old woman with the mask, she is old outdated and her mask must be lifted off by Truth).
Similar to the “period of enlightenment”, once enough momentum is gathered to start the movement of a revolution, it can no longer be stopped. It becomes a rolling snowball, so anything that is untrue will be violently overturned and destroyed in the process to pave way for Truth. Yet at the time of war, your days can become extremely unpleasant, yet this must take place to bring-forth a transformation. One day you might realize that you are dying and there’s nothing you can do about it. What’s dying is your old perception of who you are, this death of the ego in painful but it will not kill the real you. It destroys the impostor who posed as you only to give space to the who you really are.
Like a caterpillar “dying” in the cocoon, it does not know what’s on the other side of the death only that he can no longer be a caterpillar. When this happens, the revolution has been well underway and it can no longer be reversed. An incubation time will begin in the darkness of deep self-reflection and fierce inquiries of truth. You might wonder how long you must watch yourself melt away… Then another day might arrive on this continuous stream of journey that suddenly you are no longer dying but rebuilding as a new part of nature. Your vision somehow seems brighter, you no longer get bothered by other people’s comments or your own internal dialog, you notice the way you view things is completely different from everyone else around you, and you KNOW who you are. You might laugh, cry, or both at the same time. But suddenly you will KNOW – you will KNOW who you are, you will KNOW who everyone else is, you will KNOW what the Truth is and what are merely masks. Slowly like a newborn butterfly, you will find yourself navigating in a brand new world, testing our your new wings.
Like aikido master Nev Sagiba said, “Enlightenment is like getting a shodan – AFTER ENLIGHTENMENT THE WORK BEGINS! After enlightenment, life truly begins.
Common misunderstandings of enlightenment…
“Enlightened people never cry again.” – NOT TRUE! After enlightenment we are more open to the vast collection of emotions, we no longer shy away or judge our organic emotions. We might laugh, feel frustrated when the computer didn’t auto-save, we might cry – yet somehow even the tears become sweet.
“Enlightened people experience perfect health and never feel pain.” – NOT TRUE! Some pain and illness are just another natural aspect of life. However, pain does not equate to suffering. One might feel pain and become intimate with that pain yet never suffer a minute through it.
“My life should work out exactly the way I plan to when I’m enlightened.” – NOT!!! After enlightenment there’s no more I, nor planning. “I” melts into nature and planning no longer applies when you are a part of God. Therefore you do whatever is needed whenever it is needed – as a part of harmony, a part of nature, a part of God.
“I was doing great with amazing mystical experiences then suddenly I’m lost in a black hole with no more amazing experiences. What’s wrong?” – NOTHING IS WRONG. Many people chase after experiences they label as “good” believing these experiences will get them closer to enlightenment. In actuality, everything life hands to you is exactly what you need and when you need it – designed for your growth, with sufficient awareness, you can awaken.
“I must be a nice and happy person in order to enter the kingdom of heaven.” NOT TRUE! You must be a truthful person in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. We were often taught what is nice and not nice. We often suppress our “negative” emotions to be nice. Not facing whatever arises within us, we lose the opportunity to be truth. By stuffing away what we judge to be “bad” or “not nice” can only delay our progress. Pretending you are not sad or angry when indeed you are will only lead you further away from the truth. The key is to meditate on such feelings before we act out unconsciously.
“The ultimate goal of life is enlightenment. After that, I can rest and never have to work a day in my life ever again.” – NOT TRUE! Enlightenment is a rebirth, before enlightenment our vessel is too dirty to be an instrument of God, after enlightenment true work can finally begin because we have finally become emptied of our own desires and are now instruments of God. After enlightenment we still need to continuously polish our vessels to remain pure and free of optical illusions.
How do I become enlightened?
It all starts with a desire. Dedication. Devotion. Shugyo. Consistently devote to truth and commit to the demolishment of untruth.
How does individual enlightenment translates into collective enlightenment?
History is a beautiful illustration of a collective transformation, like the “period of enlightenment”, through individual efforts, seemingly unrelated events at the time can result in a whole movement to bring forth a whole new world. Like a fractal, the macroscopic social enlightenment can manifest from the microscopic bursts of individual enlightenments. In a sense, from the smallest metamorphosis of consciousness can result in an boundless global transformation. As Mahatma Gandhi once said – “be the change you wish to see in the world!”
People walking around wearing masks hiding their soul. Believing the masks are their true face. Thirsty for a deep well that can satisfy their yearning. Secretly hoping to fly free…
Each day she wakes up in the morning thought she had woken up from a dream yet not knowing that she still lives within another. She walks up to the mirror to put makeup on her mask. Finds the right shade of rose to paint the lips. Picks up the outfit that presents the day. Floating with thoughts and emotions, she questions if she were her mind alone. Looking out the window, she wonders if everyone else was pretending to be somebody too. “Someday I feel like I’m acting in a dream,” she says, “knowing my superficial layers must appear surreal.”
One day as she drives in her car and feels a complete sense of Oneness. She is the One. She is everything and nothing at that same instant. There is no different between her, the car, the road, the trees, the birds and the sun. She is completely a part of all that is. Amazed, she looks down at her own hands and smiles like she never seen these hands before. She inhales and finds fullness in all that vast space. “Oh there, a thought!” Yet how insignificantly it passes like a snail on the path of a garden. “I am not the body, nor the mind!” The experience is unmistakably true – PURE essence – without the contamination of believing every passing thought. Just light, just being, just spirit. “That is what I am.”
“What a dream it has been! Nearly 100% of life was just an illusion – lived in an endless loop of thoughts, beliefs and derived emotions – repeating itself in a wheel of karma. False beliefs tying us down. Wake up a little friends! WAKE UP! Come and dance to a new song as Gods! We’ve been asleep for too long!”
She exhales. And sees the masks floating away. She smiles. And notices the smile of a Buddha. She looks within. And sees the whole universe throbbing within her. “This is it! This is the moment of awakening.”
~ ♥ ~
“I suddenly realized I was as much the sound as the bird as the one hearing the bird, that the hearing and sound and the bird were all manifestations of one thing. I cannot say what that one thing is… I opened my eyes, and I found the same thing was happening in the room – the wall and the one seeing the wall were the same thing… At that moment, consciousness–spirit–realized it had been so identified with all these forms that it really thought it was a form right up to this lifetime.” – Adyashanti, from the book Emptiness Dancing
~ ♥ ~
Cast off the tattered robes that stain your soul! Open yourself to Heaven’s dictates and shine brightly! – Morihei Ueshiba, from the book The Essence of Aikido
~ ♥ ~
If you hear the word “Buddha,” you may think in terms of Gautama the Buddha. But Gautama is not the only Buddha; that was not his second name. His name was Gautama Siddhartha, and he became a Buddha. Buddhi means “intellect,” or the logical dimension of your mind. Dha means “one who is above.” So, one who is above his mind is a “Buddha.” – Sadhguru, from The Huffington Post
By Sadhguru, Founder of Isha Yoga
Love is a human emotion. It is one of the most beautiful things a human being is capable of. Many cultures or so-called civilizations have suppressed love. Many people have made an enormous effort to export love to heaven. But love is of the earth, of the heart.
Human beings are capable of immense love. You do not need to go to heaven to know it. It is the tenderness of the heart that you call love. Even your dog is love. By teaching people that love comes from above, we have made them more and more incapable of love. Love comes from within, not from above. If you free your mind of complex prejudices that you have developed, by identifying yourself with one thing or the other, you will see that it is very natural and spontaneous for a human to love.
The moment you divide the world into right and wrong, into what is yours and not yours, into God and devil, your love becomes very conditional. It gets enslaved to the external situations and it will no more be your quality, but something that will only happen because someone else or something else is wonderful.
To put it simply, as a human being experientially, you are just these four things: body, mind, emotion, and energy. Right now, the combination of these four is what you call “myself.” The best the body can reach is health and pleasure. The best your mind can achieve is joyfulness and peace. The peak of your emotion is love, devotion and compassion. Your energies can reverberate either with a mundane feebleness or with a great intensity of ecstasy. In your current experience of life, these are the only realms of experience that are available to you.
Generally, people do not know much intensity of body, mind, and energy, but they are capable of intense emotions, whatever those may be — anger, hatred, jealousy, love or compassion. For most people, emotion is the most intense part of them, and it dominates and decides the general quality of their lives. And love is the sweetest of all emotions.
If you ask someone whether they would like to be healthy or unhealthy in the body, you know what the obvious choice would be. Similarly, on the plane of your emotions, would you want to be loving or hateful? If you are using your sense, you would naturally choose love.
When I use the word “love,” you probably think of it in terms of loving somebody, but love is not about someone else; it is your quality. Just as health is of the body and happiness is of the mind, love is your emotion. If the ones whom you love very much are not in your physical presence, you are still capable of loving them, aren’t you? If the people you love cease to exist, you can still continue to love them. Many people find the expression of their love only when someone is dead or about to die. We always love the dead, don’t we?
Every human being is capable of being absolutely loving, but each one has issues with almost everything and everybody around them. People have gotten into a mental state where no one in the world is okay except himself or herself. The discriminatory dimension of the mind has gone berserk. Sincerely look at yourself and see. Look at the dearest person in your life and see how many layers of resistance you have to them. The moment your mind says that someone or something is not okay, you cannot love.
Love is your quality. You are just using things and people around you as stimuli to find expression for this quality. If you bring sufficient awareness to the discriminatory intellect, loving is the only way you can be. Love is not what you do. Love is what you are.
This article was published in the Huffington Post.
(BTW, I completely concur and I LOVE YOU! – Flo Li)
Sitting across from the dinner table, Liz looks up at me casually and says, “I don’t know if it is my path to be married but if I’m getting married I want Sadhguru to pick my husband.”
She takes another bite of her sweet and sour mock chicken and starts to explain that her guru would pick the perfect partner for her spiritual growth and she doesn’t necessarily know who that would be. “Sadhguru won’t pick someone easy for me but someone who is challenging,” she smiles effortlessly and goes on to pick up another piece of passion red mock chicken with her white chopsticks, “when he marries two people they are bound for life no matter what happens, neither one of them can escape!”
I cannot help myself and let out a burst of laughter while trying so hard to keep my mango milk tapioca not turning into an out of control sprinkler in my mouth.
Ack! Marriage. What a dinner table conversation killer! Next to the list of things NOT TO TALK ABOUT such as religion and politics. Nevertheless I feel fearful yet intrigued. Underneath all that naive pureness of a sweet young lady is an intelligent thoughtful woman. How refreshing it is to hear a 23-year-old young lady speaking her truth so clearly! Liz understands that most people get married for the wrong reasons. Reasons such as societal structure, economic and social convenience, family pressure in the Eastern culture. Whereas lust, power, romantic addiction occur in the Western culture. The Americans for Divorce Reform estimates that “probably, 40 or possibly even 50 percent of marriages will end in divorce if current trends continue.” So what is the point?
Not often people use this partnership as a tool for self-transformation. According to Liz, her guru speaks of difference types of people. He preached that marriage is not for everyone. For example, some people, their spiritual path might lie within their creation such as Albert Einstein. Some might find their spiritual path by serving others such as Benjamin Franklin. Others might find their path by sitting underneath a bodhi tree to meditate like the Buddha. While there are distinctive individuals feel an inner pull for marriage at an early age for their spiritual growth. Liz tells me that she is not sure what type of person she is yet. It is difficult to form a partnership with anything or anyone when one does not know oneself fully. Once she can discover herself more deeply then she will know which path to take.
“Don’t pretend you don’t need marriage when your spirit tells you that you do,” sipping on her mango milk tapioca, she looks up at me from the corner of her eyes, “you must follow your inner guidance toward that you fear.”
Fear. That is the big cha-ching! I’m the someone who pretends that I don’t need marriage because I fear it. I fear it more than death itself. I fear that I will fail miserably. I fear that I am not good enough. I fear that I will loss myself. I fear my husband will see my faults. I fear… I want a blueprint for the perfect relationship before I will even consider walking into the marriage dojo. I want to know that I can do it perfectly before I will even allow myself to begin…
Liz somehow is bringing up these fears within me I must face just by her authentic conversation. Listening to her reminds me of interviews of Joseph Campbell. Professor Campbell spoke of A Hero’s Journey as an individual’s growth to self-realization and self-actualization. It is a difficult journey yet it brings such triumph once we take on the challenge and take one step after another. “When people get married because they think it’s a long-time love affair, they’ll be divorced very soon, because all love affairs end in disappointment. But marriage is a recognition of a spiritual identity,” said Joseph Campbell. Professor Campbell believed that marriage in an ordeal, an ordeal so intense that it possesses the power to transform both individuals at a profound level. It is a tool for individual transformation.
To me, marriage is shugyo. It is a process of purification of the self toward true expression of the spirit. It takes tremendous courage to walk this path. Author and poet Antoine de Saint-Exupéry fondly put it, “love is the process of my leading you gently back to yourself.”
“You are right Liz, it doesn’t help to pretend. Lao Tzu said ‘marriage is three parts love and seven parts forgiveness,'” as I gaze down into the last grain of rice on my plate, I let out a burst of laughter, “and I’m going to need a lot of forgiveness upfront!”
“A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. The true value of a human being is determined by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive.” – Albert Einstein, 1954
Albert Einstein was a yogi, like the Buddha.
What then is really yoga?
In the recent years yoga has commercialized into a non-stopable exercise fever across the world. When you ask the average person walking down the street what yoga is, he will probably tell you it is an exercise routine he himself practices twice a week in his work gym. Ask another, she will probably show you on the spot how well she can do the downward dog. I too teach various yoga poses in my morning aikido class as a part of an exercise routine. So is this it? Yoga helps us to slim down?
According to wikipedia – “Yoga refers to traditional physical, mental and spiritual disciplines, originating in ancient India, whose goal is the attainment of a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility.” Yoga Journal covers yoga poses, yoga lifestyle, health through yoga, yoga wisdom, yoga community, yoga conferences and yoga videos. I have personally practiced power yoga, ashtanga yoga, hatha yoga,bikram yoga before stepping into Isha Yoga.
Yoga means yoke, to join, or to become a union. In the physical forms of yoga practice, we learn to integrate our mind into the physical posture. Later we learn to draw our breath to become one with the mind and the posture. The goal in yoga is to become one. Beginners can learn to have one mind instead of a conflicting mind. Then move onto using the mind with the body and the breath to become one complete harmonious being. Advanced yogis can take one step further, once we are in harmony within ourselves, we can then experience the oneness with other individuals and nature around us. Lots of different yoga studios around town will offer you the beginning courses into yoga – learning from poses to breathe to calming the mind. However some of us still desire to experience a deepened practice beyond the superficial. We long to experience the oneness spiritual teachers throughout the ages have spoken of, we long to experience being in union with All That Is. This is where Isha Yoga comes in.
Isha Yoga means yoga of the divine – being in union with the divine. My personal experience has just been such. After practicing various physical yoga forms for more than 10 years, poses no longer fulfilled me. I was able to experience a few hours of mental calmness through the physical exercises but I did not have any spiritual gain. The optical delusion of separateness mentioned in Einstein’s quote was constantly a part of my reality. I felt alone even when I was with friends. I felt unhappy even when I visited the most beautiful places. I wanted more out of life and my personal and professional achievements no longer sustained my desires. Three years ago a friend introduced me to Isha Yoga. I was skeptical. I didn’t like the idea of having a guru or worship a white bearded man who seemed so distant. January 2009, I was feelings so despondent from life I decided to take a leap of faith and see what this Isha Yoga is all about. After my Inner Engineering classes ended, I felt a new sense of acceptance of myself and everything around me. I felt lighter day after day. As I continued my practice day after day, my female emotional storms would normally take me into deep depression are no longer bothering me on such profound levels. As if I could watch my own drama from the audience, I was able to gain much perspective and regain my calmness quickly. No doubt I still experience ups and downs but the dramas in life no longer controlled my life. I felt lighter and lighter day after day…
After my second class BSP, I was finally able to feel complete oneness with everyone and everything. I no longer judged gurus and I felt a sense of affection toward myself, nature and individuals I called strangers. I opened up. All That Is was me, and I am a part of the experience within the universe. I was a fractal microcosm within the macrocosm. I was high in bliss. And that was the first time I completely understood Albert Einstein’s quote “A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space… Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” And I felt the Truth in his words as tears of appreciation streamed down my face when I gazed upon Sadhguru.
Remember – “if your happiness and your wellbeing is not subject to anybody or anything, only then are you free. Otherwise whether you are in a prison or walking outside on the street, you still are a prisoner within yourself.”
Today as I share my Isha Yoga experience with you, I hope you will find within yourself the curiosity to explore – to explore a deepened yoga experience, to explore a beautiful life, and to explore your peak potential.