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Season 1 - Episode 5

Yoga and Connection

60 min - Talk
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With practice, we will feel more peaceful with ourselves, navigating the challenges of life a little more steadily, more skillfully.  James discusses how the yogic path helps us unify our selves, cohering our thoughts, expressions, and actions so that we may experience a blissful sense of oneness. James opens with a song to Ganesha, then discusses that we have trouble understanding who we are and our place in the world, and how the practical approach of yoga helps us unify the tattvas and the ganas as a roadmap that can help lead us to saccidananda.

Please see the attached pdf for a helpful list of the tattvas and ganas.

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Mar 22, 2021
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Satsang with Mooji Vaheva Kritundaya Dimahi Thanaranda Fprachurayati Om Gammi Karanthaya Vitmaheva Kritundaya Dimahi Thanaranda Fprachurayati Om Gammi Kritundaya Vitmaheva Kritundaya Dimahi Vaheva Kritundaya Vitmaheva Kritundaya Dimahi Thanaranda Fprachurayati Om Shree Guru Pyaa Namah Ganesha means the Lord of the Gunners, the one that can bring together all of the gang members of this collective of our human being. And so Ganesha is a great symbol of yoga and a symbol of that state of being fully connected, integrated, unified. Now, as well as connection and joining and unifying, another word that we sometimes hear as being used to describe yoga is the word yoke. Maybe you've heard this word before. Now, the first time I heard that yoga was not just connecting, but yoking. Y-O-K-E, yoke, was not really part of my day-to-day vocabulary. I grew up in northern England and it's a pretty rural area, but the farmers, when I was growing up, they would use tractors to carry things around.

So when I first heard that yoga was yoking, and I heard it rather than saw it written down, I thought they were talking about the yoke of an egg. And because it has those miraculous binding, joining properties in the kitchen, yeah? And also the yoke is the center of the egg, where the power of the generative forces, I thought, oh yeah, yoga's about centering and connecting to that recreational capacity. So, yoga as yoke, y-o-l-k, those ideas all made sense and they're not without validity, but only after a little while, as the teacher carried on speaking, did I realize they're talking about y-o-k-e. And then years later, when I went to live in India, I would see oxen yoked to carts quite a lot, and I realized, ah yes, that's the difference between connection or joining and the specific word yoke.

Now interestingly, the English word yoke, as well as the English word joint, join, junction, they are all related etymologically to the Sanskrit root yuj, which is the word that has given us yoga in Sanskrit. But it's given us these cognate words, join and yoke, join two things together. But the thing that's special about y-o-k-e yoke, this yoke, this device that links the oxen and the cart, basically when the farmer connects his oxen, let's say there's two of them, to his cart, he's going to be able to move himself, his oxen, his cart, and all of the heavy stuff he wants to move or transport as a unit. All those different things which were previously separate, the yoke allows them to now move as one, to move as a unit. And really this is what yoga is inviting us to do in our life, to move as a joined up, coherent, cohesive, unified entity, to become a true individual in the sense of a person that is no longer subject to division, a person who has become unified, who is able to live in a state of at-won-ment.

Okay, great. So this is yoga, bringing ourselves into this state of oneness, getting ourselves connected. We might say that this unified state is when we kind of climb out of the pit of the miasma of the divide and rule ismskism game that we are subjected to, which is propagated upon us in the society that we are part of. I don't know about you, but when I look at the way that the news foists information upon us, I'm often, I studied languages, so I was trained in linguistic analysis, but I find it so irresponsible. It seems to be, they just seem to be fostering division, but the divide and rule game has been played for a long, long time. And in the words of Bob Marley, whose lyrics are so full of deep, deep wisdom, he says, Divide and rule will only tear us apart. So true. When we are divided, when part of us is pulling us in one direction, another part is pushing us in another direction, can we feel peacefulness? No.

And when we feel pulled hither and thither in different directions, it's a bit like we are at war. There is a battle going on inside of us, and yoga seeks to transform this conflict into a lasting peace. And we can do this by bringing all of the different parts into togetherness. So how are we going to do this? Yoga is always practical, and that's where we're going to get to. But before we get into joining everything up, becoming an integrated whole, one thing I'd like to mention right at the beginning, let's say, for example, you've heard this idea that yoga means joining, and you start to do some research or you're reading about yoga. When we start to get into yoga, it's often not so long before we encounter the idea that this joining, this connecting, this yoking, as well as joining ourselves up, it also refers to joining the individual soul, to the supreme soul, or connecting the individual self to the ultimate reality, or in other words, connecting me, this little me here, to everything. Now, joining the individual soul to the ultimate reality, becoming connected, becoming at one with everything.

Now, I don't know how those ideas land with you, but they do land differently with different people. Sometimes a person might hear the idea of joining the individual soul to the ultimate reality, they might think, wow, bring it on, that sounds fantastic. Somebody else might think, individual soul, supreme soul, I'm not sure what that means, and they think, oh, this is too much for me. Somebody else might think, that sounds a little bit beyond my current capacities. But regardless of how that idea lands, it doesn't really matter, because yoga is always very practical.

So, we start right where we are, but nonetheless, when I hear that idea, I could still think, well, I've got a problem, because if I'm going to join my individual self to ultimate reality, well, when I think about it in my own life, how am I going to join two things that I don't really know? Because when I think about my individual self, okay, well, sometimes I do things that are not in my own highest interest. What's going on with that? And sometimes I do things that I know, really, I don't want to do, but I do them anyway, so what's going on there? Now, I don't know if you've been in that type of situation, or if you've been in one of those situations where you feel, you know, part of you is being pulled in this direction, part is being pushed in that direction. What does that tell me? Well, that tells me several things.

First of all, if I'm honest about it, it shows me, beyond any doubt, that I'm not in a complete state of yoga. The state of being fully joined up is not my ordinary go-to experience. I am subject to a bit of being torn, split, fragmented. And if the idea that I'm torn, split, or fragmented seems a little bit extreme, perhaps I can say, well, I'm susceptible to becoming torn, split, or fragmented. Another thing this tells us that I do things that I know I don't want to do, there is this battle going on, yeah? There are these different tendencies within me.

There is a kind of conflict between different proclivities, different habits, some people might think of them as different sub-personalities, and they don't always function as a unit. They don't always seem to cooperate. Sometimes they seem to be headed in different directions, they seem to be at loggerheads, or even kind of pushing us in different directions. So, this tells me I do not know myself that well. At least, I don't know myself as well as I could. What a situation. I've been with myself all my life, but I'm still a mystery to myself. And not only have I been with myself all my life, but I have been here in existence, in consciousness, in life, in reality.

But here again, if I'm honest about it, life, existence, consciousness, this is also a great mystery to me. So, I don't know myself that well, and I certainly don't know what the supreme being or the ultimate reality or everything really means. I mean, modern science tells me that I can only see a tiny kind of millionth of a percentage of the reality that's out there, because that's all that my sense powers have evolved to be able to see. So, how am I going to join two things I don't know? Don't know. So, do I just throw the whole yoga project out the window and think, oh, it's beyond me? No. No, no, no. Wait a minute. No.

Remember the first week, I don't know if you watched the first episode, but we talked about yoga happens now. Now I know that I do not know. This is actually a cause for celebration, because now I've owned the reality that I do not really know. Now I'm empowered to take a practical step to discover something new, to discover something more. So, now I know I don't know. I open up space to find out something else, something new. Also, now, well, this yoga business, this yoga pursuit of bringing myself into a state of greater oneness, it may be something beyond what I've experienced up to now.

But when I'm honest about it, what I've experienced up to now, well, I've also learned that that doesn't quite cut it when it comes to bringing lasting peace and lasting satisfaction. So, now I've owned up to that. Again, I'm empowered to take a step in a new direction beyond the known realm of what I've experienced up to now. So, let me do that. And now that I know that the myth of future happiness is a lie, it's not the next gadget, the next meeting, the next promotion, the next dwelling that will bring me that lasting deep fulfillment and satisfaction. Now I know all that, yes, let me take the step of inviting yoga right here. Maybe I don't know what the ultimate reality means. And the whole idea of joining myself to everything seems way, way off.

No problem. Yoga's always practical. So, let me start right here. Right here. Right now. So, this brings the question here. Well, where are we? Who am I? And where am I? Now, yoga answers this question in several helpful ways, some of which we'll come to today. One is that, well, here I am in this amazing bodily vehicle. And we'll come to this shortly. But before we do, there is one description of the reality that we are experiencing in that is given in the Upanishads.

So, the Upanishads, this refers to the latest portion, the most recent portion of the Vedic literature. Veda, meaning revelation, these teachings that were recognized by seers, people who were looking with curiosity at existence, at reality, and then recognizing truths of existence and setting them down in linguistic forms that have since been helpful for other human beings. And the Upanishads is that section of the Vedic literature that is most concerned with yoga, with ultimate reality, and how to recognize it here in the context of a human life, in the context of being embodied in this miraculous bodily human vehicle. But in the Upanishads, there are also some very helpful definitions of the field in which we are experiencing. And one of these definitions is that where are we? Well, we are in a field of consciousness that is defined, maybe that's not the best way to say it, because really it's beyond the definition, but that is described, let's say, in a three-fold way.

And in the Upanishads, it's said that this realm in which we are experiencing, it has three constituent elements, sat, chit, ananda. When these are mentioned together, it's sat chit ananda. So sat means existing, real, being. Sat is from the Sanskrit verb root us, which is the root to be. If any of you are familiar with the Latinate language is Italian or Spanish, so the verb in Italian to be, essere. And in Spanish, ser, so you can hear the difference, become et in French, but you can hear the connection back to us.

So us in Sanskrit, essere in Italian, ser in Spanish. So sat means being, existing. Sometimes people talk about sat as true, true in the sense that it's real, it exists. So this is a definition of reality. So am I real? Do I exist? Well, this is certainly my experience. Yes, here I am. I am here. I move my hand. I hit myself. Here I am. And here I am on the floor. It seems to be real. OK, second part of this definition, chit. Chit means conscious.

OK, this also checks out. Yeah. How is the Upanishadic definition doing so far? Sat? Well, yes, I do experience that I'm existing. So that makes sense. And chit, how am I experiencing that something is existing? Only because I am endowed with consciousness. If I wasn't conscious, how would I be able to experience that exist at all? So yes, sat, check. Chit, check. It makes sense so far. Sometimes I might feel for a moment that I don't exist. But then as soon as I catch myself, I have to recognize and own up to the reality that, well, if I'm having the thought that I do not exist, how could I be having that thought if I didn't actually exist? So yeah, sat and chit, it all makes sense.

The third part of the definition of where we are, existence, consciousness, and this conscious existence, sat chit, is ananda. Now, ananda, such a beautiful Sanskrit word. Nanda means child. It also means joy. Ananda means different from joy, different from child, other than child. So childless without a child. Joyless, different from joy. But when we have the long aa, ananda, ananda means a joy that is always and only ever full. So sometimes people translate ananda as bliss or blissfulness. So here we have our Upanishadic definition of reality.

Sat, it's real, it's true, it exists. Chit, it's conscious. And ananda, it is always and only ever blissful. Ah, hmm. Well, the definition was going so well. Yes, sat, that makes sense. Chit, that makes sense. But ananda. I don't know about you, but for myself at least, and all the other human beings I've ever met, I do not wake up every morning and experience reality as a unified field of shimmering bliss. How is it for you? I guess it's similarly, we experience different things. So sat, it's real, yes. Chit, it's conscious, yes. Ananda, bliss. What do I think about this description? Can I keep working with this or do I have to throw it out the window?

Again, I would say, no, no, no, no. Let's not throw out the window because even though I do not experience every moment as a field of unified shimmering beauty and oneness, now I come to think about it. There's something about this description that really resonates as being very real. Because maybe you remember that quote of manasikam. So a couple of weeks we spoke about this Sanskrit quote that says manasikam vachasikam karmanikam mahatmana. So think about to see it on the screen again in a moment. And this quote says that when my thoughts, my words and my actions are all one, mahatmana, then it feels great. It's like my soul is expansive. But manasikam vachasikam karmanikam mahatmana.

When my thought words indeed are all in going in different places, that feels unpleasant, feels disharmonious. But when I get myself together, when I get myself connected, when I bring myself into a state of joined-upness, how does that feel? When I invite yoga and invite all the different parts of myself to cohere, all the different members of the gang of my being to come together in oneness. And my thoughts, my expression and my actions are all unified. How does that feel? There's lots of choice adjectives we could use here. It feels good. It feels really good. It feels fantastic. Would you agree?

So when we bring ourselves into that state of yoga, ananda, there's something familiar about it. When I bring myself into that joined-up state, it's not that when I bring myself into this state of togetherness, joined-upness, connection, integration and balance, and it feels so wonderful. This wonderful feeling is not accompanied by a thought. What is this strange feeling of well-being? What is going on? It's not like that. Instead, it's like, it feels like home. It feels very familiar. So, sat, chit, ananda, yes, it checks out. Sat and chit, I can corroborate these all the time. Yes, here I am, and I'm having a conscious experience. But any time I do bring myself into cohesion, there is a kind of settling down.

It feels like home. And it feels lovely. It feels wonderful. So this is the idea where we are. We're in this realm of existence, consciousness and blissfulness, or fulfillment, we might say. And so when we practice yoga, there's the idea, if we are practicing, what's going to happen to our experience of sat and chit and ananda? We're going to feel more sat. We're going to feel more present. We're going to feel more chit. We're going to feel more conscious. And we're going to feel more ananda.

We're going to feel a little bit more fulfilled, a little bit more peace deep inside. It's not that we're going to be necessarily feeling unmitigated joy all the time. We're human beings. We're going to be experiencing ups and downs all the time. But year on year, decade on decade, week on week, as we keep practicing, globally, we will notice we're feeling a little bit more peaceful in our own skin. We're able to navigate the challenges of life that little bit more steadily. So when I'm practicing sat, chit, ananda, we're probably going to experience them increasing.

So the here that I'm experiencing is going to start to feel a little bit more familiar. Now, how do I know that consciousness or chit is increasing? Sometimes people might say, well, how do you know if you're becoming more conscious? What does that mean? Well, one way is that I catch myself lapsing into ways of behaving that are not serving me sooner than I used to. I notice myself coming off center more quickly than I used to.

So I'm able to respond, invite myself back into balance a little bit more easily in the past. This is one way that we can see consciousness increasing and supporting more peace, more fulfillment in our life. So when I get myself together, it's its own reward. OK, very good. But next question, if I want to bring more peace, harmony, integration here into this experience of existence and consciousness and potential blissfulness and satisfaction, how am I going to start?

Yoga is always very practical. So let's start right here, right here in this embodied reality that I experience. Yoga is the practical school of Indian philosophy, and it's a classical school of Indian philosophy. And as such, yoga works with what I'll call the Sankhya model of reality. Now, Sankhya is another major school of Indian philosophy, sometimes referred to as a sister school to yoga. And in Sankhya, we get a model, a description of the evolution of this reality that we are experiencing in, from the original oneness into the meniness that we experience in. Now, coming soon on yoga anytime, there will be a course on the second chapter of Patanjali's Yoga Sutra, and this will include a much more in-depth look at the Sankhya model of reality.

But for our purposes today, we can say that Sankhya gives us a model of reality that works from subtle, the original essence or source of consciousness, to the gross realm of manifest existence in which we experience. And then what yoga does, the yoga practitioner is always encouraged to work from gross to subtle. So we always start where we can. We start right here in the realm of embodiment. Now, the Sankhya model of reality gives us this very helpful practical map or frame or structure for the field in which we experience. The field of existence that is also microcosmically represented by the field of our bodily experience.

And this is sometimes referred to as the map of the tattva's or the gunna's. So tatt means that. Tattva as a suffix means having the quality of, so that-ness. So tattva's are aspects of that which exists, and gunna means a member. So now on the screen you can see the yellow PDF, which you'll also be able to download. So I made this sometime in the past.

And this is a basic representation of the Sankhya map pertinent to what we're speaking about today. So in yoga, we always work from gross to subtle. But what this map gives us is a map of the different constituent members of the collective gang of our being. So because we're in the yogic path, we're going to work from gross to subtle. So we'll start at the bottom of the sheet.

And the bottom five members of this collective group of our being, these five gunna's, these five tattva's, are known in Sanskrit as the Panchamahabhutahab. Pancha, punch, punch, five fingers, or four fingers and a thumb. Pancha means five. Maha, great. Bhutah, things that have become. So when that evolutionary path happened from the original conscious essence, as things evolved, the Panchamahabhutah, these five great things that have become. They are referred to here as earth, water, fire, air, and the space in which the elements exist.

So earth means everything to do with solidity, water, everything to do with fluidity, fire, everything to do with heat, warmth, light transformation, air to do with touch and movement and communication, and then the space which holds all those things. So is it true that I have an earthy element? Yes. There is a certain solidity to my everyday experience. Is it true that I have a watery, fluid part to my soul? Well, yes. The blood, sweat, tears of life are testament to this.

Also, my blood that's circulating at school, they told me I was about 70% water, which is one of the reasons why when we're a human being, it's so important to keep moving. And do I have fire? Well, yes. It's not that I've got naked flames burning inside my body, but I don't know. For example, maybe you've had some food today or you will have some food and what will the body do? It will take this food and it will transform it in its own digestive fire. And we have this internal combustion engine that keeps us warm.

So earth, water, fire. Yeah, they are part of us. Air. Well, yes, we're breathing creatures. So yeah, the air element is also in us, moving through us and helping energy circulate through our being. Ah, circulate through our being. Notice how air helps warm up the body. It helps energy circulate. It can also make me feel more or less stable and grounded. So these elements are always working in concert and they can be more or less in balance.

And earth, water, fire and air, they all exist in space. So just with these first five, these are tremendously helpful orientation points for practice. Is the element of earth in balance within me? Do I feel stable? If I feel very sluggish or I feel very ungrounded, maybe the earth isn't in balance and I could do something to foster greater balance. Water, is everything flowing or do I feel stuck, blocked or sputtering?

What can I do to help things flow more easily? Fire, am I feeling inflammation? Am I feeling very cold or is everything feeling nice and warm? That thing's moving easily. Am I communicating between the different parts of myself easily, element of air? And how is the whole space of my being? Does it feel spacious? Does it feel too airy? So just these elements, they're tremendously helpful guides for yoga practice.

And then we come up to the tanmatraha. Now tan, this is from tat, that and matraha, basically which means can be measured or apportioned or perceived. So tanmatraha, these refer to the qualities of the manifest realm that we have evolved to be able to perceive. So there's so much in reality that we're not able to perceive, but we've evolved to be able to see something. The things that are most conducive to being able to stay alive and then to thrive.

And so we have the five tanmatraha which also correspond to the elements of fragrance, taste, form, things we can see, things we can feel and things we can hear. And again, this is very practical, fragrance, taste, sight, touch and sound. These are intrinsic things to our experience as human beings. So we can kind of check in with how is my relationship to these realms of my senses? Is it in balance? Is it healthy? Do I need to give a bit more attention here?

And then we come, moving up the sheet, to the indriyaha. Now Indra is the king of heaven in the Vedic pantheon of gods. Heaven or svarga in Sanskrit is a place that is known for the fact that when one is there, all one's desires or let's say more specifically, all one's expectations are met. Now sometimes Indra is also related to something you'll see higher up the page, the ahankara, the sense of I, me, mine. What happens to a human being when our expectations are not met?

Sometimes we don't take that so well, we don't respond so skillfully. Now the indriyaha, these are said to be then the divine powers of our individual self. These are the powers that help us have sense experience and help us act in the world. So we have the jnanindriyaha, the five powers of our senses, and we have the five action powers of vak, which means speech, language, expression, communication, paani, which means picking up and putting down, grasping all manipulative capacities. We have pada, which relates to all our movement and locomotive capacities.

Then we have paayu, our capacity to let go of things we no longer need, our digestive, assimilative, excretory and eliminative capacity. And we have upasta, which relates to our creative capacities, not just procreation, but also our recreational capacities. This is very important. Think of recreation, play. I don't know which country you're watching from. In France, for example, the most important period of the school day is called la recreation, el recreo in Spain, la recreation in Italy.

In the United States, sometimes they call it rather dryly recess. But the real name for this in English is playtime. Playtime, the most important moment of the school day, because what happens when we play? When we play, we move in unexpected ways. We do things perhaps we've never known we could do before. And when that happens, it is tremendously stimulating for our neurology. So when we're a human being, play. I mean, some people say this is one of the distinguishing characteristics of the human species.

But when we play, it's so good for our neurological development and regeneration. And it's really important for yoga because yoga asks us to basically recreate our understanding of ourselves. Now I own the reality that I do not know myself as well as I might, and I'm not as joined up or integrated as I could be. And I'd like to do something about it. Well, one way I can practically do something about it is by playing and inviting myself to make new neurological connections, new synaptic connections, so I can actually experience myself as being more capable than I used to think I was.

So just like when a child plays and they're exploring the game and they're able to do things that they really like. And even if you think of it, if you're playing sport, let's say, for example, we're playing tennis. In tennis, you have to hit the ball within a certain space. And that confinement invites creativity, which can bring great beauty to the game, for example. So when we play, we are inviting ourselves into new understandings of what is our real capacity.

But when we look at this map of the tatfas or the ghanas, we can think, what does yoga mean? What is the basic yoga method? The basic yoga method is let's be clear, let's be honest, let's be realistic about all these members of the gang of our being. So going back to the tanma-traha and the panjana-habu-taha, this is where we also find our emotional reality. So, for example, sometimes the emotions are associated with water, but also, for example, the grief or the joy, the ecstatic joy of tears or the fire of tremendous drive and passion, commitment or frustration or anger, all these things.

So the model of the tatfas and the ghanas, it includes our mental and intellectual capacity. So up the top, we've got the buddhi, the ahankara and the manas. Manas refers to that part of our internal awareness that connects the input of the indriyaha, the sense and action powers, with our internal awareness. Ahankara is that part of our awareness that gives us the sense of I-me-mine. And buddhi is that part of ourselves that makes decisions and decides and determines and all of that.

So this model includes our intellect, includes our mind, includes our emotions, includes our sense powers, includes our action powers, our physicality, our kinesthetic intelligence, all of these things are included. And so the basic yogic method is, let us invite all of these members, all of these constituents of the collective gang of our being to come together and work as a team, to function as a unit, or we might say, to play as an orchestra. So, yogic method is, let me get to know all these different parts of myself. Let me include them. Let me invite them all to the party of life.

So I mentioned before, sometimes we could say that yoga can be seen as a bit like a battle between those tendencies within us that are moving us towards unity and harmony and those other tendencies or those old habits that are no longer really helping us. But just as easily we could say yoga is a dance. So how can we go from the dance, excuse me, how can we go from the battle to the dance? How can we go from the struggle to the party? So I would say that yoga, one way we can describe it, yoga means teaching ourselves to have what I would say is really when it comes down to it.

If this was the last day of our lives as it could be, what type of party do we want to have? I've already mentioned Bob Marley once today. We want to have a soul shakedown party tonight. You're going to have a soul shakedown party. What do I mean?

A soul shakedown party means a party that can actually move us down to the depths of our being, down to our soul. So if we're going to have a soul shakedown party, we can't leave any part of ourselves out. And if you want to be having a party, like one thing that's nice, a party, let's dance. Yeah. So we can't leave our bodily intelligence on the sideline like we so often do in the modern world. Like it's sometimes so horrifying.

You know, like I think back to my own schooling. What did I learn at school? Some very useful things. But I also learned to sit in an instrument of torture that closed the energy gateways of my body and disabled me significantly. I'm talking about spending hours and hours in one position in a chair.

Nearly everybody in the Western world graduates from school expert at sitting in a very unhealthy position. That wreaks havoc on our neurology and our musculoskeletal balance. It also means that we are tremendously, extraordinarily weak compared to our ancestors and compared to people who grew up in a chair-free society. Or a society in which the chair had only a minor role to play. And this I all recognize when I went to live in Asia.

And I went, for example, in India, I go to the river and I see 80-year-old women bending down in the deep resting squat, which I think I can do this and still stay on camera. So they come down to the deep squat and they bend down to the river. And then from this squat, and I can't do it because I need to stay on frame, but then they put the pitcher of water on their head and they stand up and then they gracefully walk away carrying 30 kilograms on their head. And they picked it up from the deep squat. Now, I know people who can bench press twice their body weight and they cannot get down into the resting squat position and stand up from it.

All this is to say that we have become somewhat estranged from some of these amazing powers that are resident within us, these amazing indriyaha. So yoga is a rehabilitation project. It's about recovering these capacities, remembering, bringing all these members of the gang of our being back into togetherness. So we can function as a joined up unit and energy can circulate and flow through the whole of our being so we can meet the challenges of life much more steadily, much more serenely from a much more robust adaptable center. So can we live as a soul-shaped down party?

If we're going to live as a soul-shaped down party, we can't leave any part of ourselves out. So we have to invite our mental, intellectual, emotional, bodily sensory powers to actually function as a unit. And when we do that, some wonderful things happen. Often we rely on certain parts of ourselves, certain skills, certain qualities. For some people, it might be that we use our minds a lot and we trust our analysis.

We trust our reason. One thing I was taught at school, for example, was that sometimes if one is in a quandary, if one is having to make a difficult decision, that one should execute or perform a cost-benefit analysis. I have a decision to make. Okay, if I do this, what are the costs? What are the benefits?

Now, in certain situations in life, undoubtedly, this can be a very valid approach. However, there are considerations of the soul that cannot be weighed on the cost-benefit scale. So Yoga says, get with the program, human being. You are not a cost-benefit transaction. Your soul has much, much vaster concerns than can be squeezed into the Harvard Business School model of reality.

Not to be a down on the Harvard Business School, but, you know, it troubles me somewhat. That we live in a world where we have schools of economics that have no department of ecology. We have economy, management of the home without ecologia, understanding of the home. So Yoga's all about understand the home and bring it into togetherness. So all its different parts can function as a unit.

And human being, you are a unique incarnation of this cosmic potential or you are a unique child of God if that language resonates with you. You are unique. And so when you work with the Yoga teachings, it's your path. In Yoga, there is only one way, your unique way. The one way of Yoga is very, very vast, very, very inclusive, but we have to do the work ourselves.

We have to walk our own path. So the Yoga teachings, when they were distilled into the Yoga sutra, this foundational teaching of the classical teachings of Yoga, sutras are stitches. The Italian word for sutras, or one of the Italian words is punto, or punti in the plural, points. So the idea is, every sutra is like a little dot. We have to join the dots by practicing the sutras, by inquiring into them and so making them our own.

We have to join the dots up through our own honest, heartfelt, sincere inquiry in the reality of our own body, our own experience, our own lives. That's how we join the dots. The structure gives us a very reliable and robust frame. We've got to join the dots ourselves because they're going to teach us in a unique way. Yoga, very practical.

Anything in existence can be poison. Anything in existence can be medicine. It all depends on the situation, the constitution and the dose. So what is a very healthy dose of something for one person, what can be very conducive to healing, wholeness, harmony, for one person could be terribly ruinous poison for somebody else. We're all different.

So we have to work with the teachings in our own way. We have to... My teacher's teacher described the yoga sutras as the stitches that weave together the fabric of unity. The stitches that weave together the fabric of unity. How beautiful a description.

But if we want to work with them to weave greater harmony into the fabric of our own lives, then we have to claim responsibility for how we work with them, recognizing that my friend, he may be much more attuned to his emotional intelligence than I am. And the physical practices that, let's say, are very conducive to well-being in my body, wouldn't really work for him with his different capacities. So we have to work judiciously, skillfully, sensibly with the teachings. But the basic principle, these stand. Let me cultivate togetherness.

Let me practice linking everything together. Let me practice joining the dots up in my own unique way, but a way that does make me feel more sut, more present, more chit, more conscious, more ananda, more whole, more at ease in my own skin. So, a couple more things I'd like to mention about this. Having a soul-shakedown party means we've got to be invitational and inclusive. There's no exclusivity in yoga.

If we want genuine unity here, in the realm of our own bodily experience, then we can't leave part of ourself out. Sooner or later, we'll have to include it, reconcile it, rehabilitate it. And this is the idea. Right here, right now, let me start walking this path of remembering, of gathering all the parts of myself, and inviting them into this transformative, recreational experience of what it actually feels like to bring all my parts into togetherness. Let me practice coming together.

What does this mean? Now, I've mentioned a couple of examples today of things I learned at school. One very, very good thing I learned at school was what is known in England as the Green Cross Code. And the Green Cross Code is basically the method for crossing the road safely. And the Green Cross Code is basically stop, look, or listen.

So stop, check what's going on, and then look. And they say, look both ways. Look all around. Look in ways that reach beyond our habitual way of looking. And listen.

And listen in Sanskrit basically means, listen with all of yourself. Recruit all of your sense powers to really be alert and attentive. Now stop. What else does this mean? Stop.

You've got to cross the road. You have got to cross the road. You've got to take responsibility. So stop outsourcing your intelligence. I heard some tech person say, oh, you're so much smarter with your cell phone.

Like, what? No, I do not think so. Have you not heard the story, more than one story, of the person who followed their satellite navigation system off the cliff or off the bridge to their death? But extreme examples aside, the smartphone does not make me smarter. It gives me more access to information.

It does not make me more intelligent. And I would suggest that actually it can interfere with the regular necessary exercise of our intelligence when we rely on these external supports too much. Are we using it or are we allowing it to use us? So stop and check how am I allowing my intelligence and the powers of my being to be influenced by these external forces? Stop enough for me to check and look all around and determine, am I using those things skillfully?

Stop accepting the narrative of the old habits. If I'm going to make a change, I have to own the reality. Okay, if I am not experiencing this deeper level of harmony that I know deep down is my greater potential, what can I do about it? How has that happened? What patterns of thinking, what reflexive habits of how I allow myself to lapse into that sometimes deflect the real powers and deflect and diminish or dilute the real powers of my intelligence?

What could I do to actually bring myself more into togetherness? So stop, look, listen. Now, when I was a boy, there was a pop song called Stop. You better stop before you go and break my heart. It was called Sam Brown was the singer.

She has a great voice, an English singer. But stop before you go and break my heart. Now, having a heart broken is called corruption. Cor, the heart, rupture. Am I functioning?

Am I living in ways where there is a rupture between the intelligence of my God, my deep intuition, the wisdom of my heart, and the dictates of my mind and these long-established patterns? Stop, look, listen. Listen to your intuition. Listen to your heart. And look, am I operating in the arena of life as I really want to or am I being carried along by obsolete patterns?

If so, how about changing the record that I am playing? So I mentioned Sam Brown. Like when I bought records in my childhood, it was a vinyl record. If I put Sam Brown on the turntable and the needle hits the groove, we're going to hear her glorious vocal performance. But if I want to lively up myself and hear some Bob Marley, I have to take Sam Brown off the turntable and replace the disc with another.

Now, what I've noticed in my own life, when I look at my patterns, it's like there are these different circuits of habitual behaviour. Oh, it's a Monday morning. Play that record. Oh, I'm talking to my boss. Play that record.

I'm talking to my granddaughter. That's the record I play. So we have these different patterns that we just kind of drop into. And it's a little bit like we are a jukebox. We've got all these different records inside us that we have the habit of playing in certain scenarios, certain situations.

And yoga says, human being, you are not a machine. Enough of being a jukebox. Get rid of the jukebox and become the orchestra. Now, to become the orchestra, what does that take? It takes practice.

We've got to get to know all of those amazing instrumental powers of our minds, our intellects, our senses, our movement capacities, our kinesthetic intelligence, our emotional intelligence, all of it, include it all, invite it all to the party, and let all those instrumental powers get together. Let them start playing together and invite them into the experience, the transformative experience of what it actually means to include all the parts so we get the lived visceral embodied experience of at-one-ment or attunement, of wholeness. So maybe I will realize, yes, I have been playing some old tunes and they're a bit outdated now. They don't suit me as well as I would really like. Learning the violin is much harder than learning to play a record on a turntable.

But imagine that you become a virtuoso violinist. I met a man who was a virtuoso violinist and he played in an orchestra in Prague in the Czech Republic where they have quite a lot of opportunities. There's more orchestras in Prague than sometimes in the whole of the countries. But this man told me, he said, do you know, James, the best thing about my job? And this was a man, despite being a virtuoso, there's lots of fantastic musicians in the Czech Republic.

He wasn't always in the first violins. Sometimes he was in the second violins and sometimes he wouldn't even get to perform because there's lots of great violinists. He said, James, do you know the best thing about my job? I said, no. And he says, no, no, think about it.

And he said, listening. When we go to the rehearsal or we're given the performance, a lot of the time, all I do is listen. But it's so beautiful. And so this is the idea of what we need to train, all these instrumental powers, all these members of the gang of our being to do. Sometimes they'll have to play a solo.

Sometimes they'll be playing as part of a collective, but sometimes they'll just be there, present, supportive, listening, attentive, ready to lend whatever is the appropriate support. So yoga says, all these different constituent powers, all these different elements of our being, recognize them as divine gifts, divine in the sense that they help us see, they help us experience, recognize them, work with them, practice letting them all function as a whole. And when we do that, the promise of yoga, this is its own reward. When all these great instrumental players come together, then we can experience symphony. So sometimes in yoga, sometimes in life rather, we experience disconnection, fragmentation.

Yoga says that's normal. Let's come together. Let's make an effort to join ourselves up. When we notice that we're playing the same old tune and the needle's in the groove, this groove that's like a valley, it's like we're down in the valley, we're trapped, we can't see much there, it's very familiar though. So we look all around and it's all familiar.

How about climbing out of that valley? How about doing the work of learning to play all of these amazing instrumental powers we are gifted and blessed with as human beings and bringing ourselves in that joined up state so we can inhabit this moment now with greater presence and cultivate that deepening harmony. So step by step, patiently, we can learn to move in greater cohesion, greater harmony and eventually perhaps live our life as that beautiful symphonic yoga experience. Thank you very much. I look forward to next time.

Next time we have some more. Well, I'm going to be speaking about yoga and the battle. So thank you very much. I look forward to continuing next time.

Comments

Jenny S
3 people like this.
This was brilliant! From the Bob Marley shout-outs to the the way you parse out the roots of everyday words to bring an enlightened new meaning to them, to the myriad of quotable one-liners ( my favorite: “sutras are stitches”); this had it all. Very engaging and highly recommended!
Kate M
2 people like this.
Really enjoyed this, James! So happy to hear that you'll be presenting another series , this time on Sankhya philosophy! I come back to your classes again and again. We're very lucky to have you on this platform!
James Boag
1 person likes this.
Thank you for your encouragement Kate, I find that the teachings just keep revealing more and more and always provide rich support through the seasons and trials of life. And I'm grateful to be sharing more here again!

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