This is a message to anyone who might feel called upon to step forward as a teacher of yoga. Looking back at my various wonderful teachers over the years, whether Sri S. Rajagopalan in yoga, or Chungliang Al Huang in tai ji and also teachers from my school and college days there is one thing that stays with me till today: who they are. In other words, those who brought themselves into the learning situation with their whole perfect/imperfect living being are the ones who imparted something of value to me for my life. Others merely imparted some more or less good ideas or techniques that served to entertain me for a while during which I continued my never-ending search for the Essential Point.
I was recently reminded by a new-found dear friend of some of the questions that I want to continue asking myself: can I face life squarely without rose-tinted lens? Can I stay in touch with my deeper emotions so that I don’t forget that suffering really IS suffering and no glib phrases will provide more than a placebo, and actually are an insult to the one in suffering as well as to myself? Can I integrate the deepest insights of enlightenment, impermanence, infinity and eternity with caring and loving for my wife, my friend, my neighbor down the street, and taking out the garbage as well as humanity in every location on this amazing planet?
At present I am once again looking at the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and here, too, I find myself asking: can I not only impart to my students a mental understanding of, for example, the yamas (“existential imperatives”) and the niyamas (essential observances) [Yoga Sutras II, 30 and 31] but do I submit MYSELF to a ruthless examination on a daily basis of how I am living this wisdom?
And do I, in that examination, accept that who I am is also where I have come from, the totality of my life’s trials, tribulations and celebrations, of course. Am I asking not only “who am I?” but who or what is the human race seen in the cosmic context of evolution as well as the metaphysical context (is there a difference?)? In an ever-deeper acceptance of all facets of who I am, am I able to accept and embrace every facet of the other, as a mysterious reflection of my own life and not something separate from me?
In a nutshell, do I stand in front of my students as the one who knows, subscribed to a default “happy end” to humanity’s present horrific crisis? Or as one who offers him/herself as a spiritual companion on the mind-boggling journey of self-discovery we are all on, unsure of the final outcome of any action, much less of evolution, but nonetheless deeply committed to love of Life and service to Life in all forms?
The core of this message is: when we live our love more and more openly we become an expression of the impulse of evolution towards greater order and conscious interconnectedness with all things. Then we show up as truly responsible mature human beings in all situations. Then we begin to transmit the truth of existence, which is love, in whatever we do, including our yoga classes.
May all beings find Inner Peace!
“Again it was an imminent and urgent peace, not the peace of politicians or of the priests nor of the contented; it was too vast to be contained in space and time, to be formulated by thought or feeling.” ~ J. Krishnamurti