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Fingers Pointing to the Moon

August 20, 2015

 

I’m currently reading ‘Polishing the Mirror’ by Ram Das. I’ve also been listening to his talks on podcasts while I walk and drive, so his words have been on my mind a lot.


“How you go about your work in the world determines whether your work is a vehicle for your spiritual awakening or for getting caught in maya, increasing the illusion of separation.” ~ from Polishing the Mirror


I remember studying that word ‘maya’ a long time ago. I was really surprised about what it originally meant and what it has transformed into today.


Maya in Sanskrit literally means “illusion” and “magic”. In later Vedic texts and modern literature dedicated to Indian traditions, Māyā connotes a “magic show, an illusion where things appear to be present but are not what they seem”.


I’m fascinated by the fact that it also happens to be where we get our word ‘material’ and ‘matter’. Real things. Material things. Things we can see, touch, feel, and acquire. Things that matter. It’s kind of a magic trick that the word has taken on the opposite of the original meaning!


Materialism also extends into beliefs, ideology, and philosophies. The need to load up on knowledge or spiritual type experiences is a kind of materialism. It’s just like the bumper sticker “The one who dies with the most stuff wins.” Except in the philosophical or spiritual arena.


There is no limit to what you can study when it comes to yoga philosophy and styles. I remember being very overwhelmed by it initially. There are so many different and interesting practices. The yoga community is not immune to the perils of materialism, however. If our desire to know has an agenda other than enthusiasm, it will promote the illusion of separation rather than take us toward unity. It’s interesting that a practice where the goal is oneness can also be used to divide.


The Tantrics have it all over the Kundalinis; the Iyengars and the Ashtangis are more right than the Bikrams and the Baptistes. This is the right way to do it and that is the wrong way to do it.


If you’re into yoga, study all you want, without agenda. Knowing more about it won’t make you any more spiritually free. You already are free. All the methods and ways are only “fingers pointing to the moon”, in the words of Mr. Das. None of the ways are the way. How and why we go about it is what matters. Pure of heart. Childlike. Curious.


Live and learn and do whatever else you do from enthusiasm….not to hoard anything or elevate yourself. Enjoy and have fun. Nothing is worth losing your sense of humor over. Ever. Not even our precious yoga.


I tell my teacher trainees at our first meeting:


This is only the beginning. And at the end, it will still only be the beginning.

 

Always be a beginner. Let everything flow. Have fun. Smile. Love.

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