The man of yoga who is able to overcome, here on earth, the turmoil of desire and anger- that man is truly happy.
I’m currently in preparation for a month-long yoga teacher training which will take place in September in Montreal. As pre-work, incoming students have been assigned a comprehensive list of readings to finish prior to the first day of instruction. Yesterday, over a cup of very very strong coffee, I dedicated myself to 2 hours with The Bhagavad Gita.
In the following excerpt, Krishna expounds on a topic I’ve previously explored in the context of habit and consumption– the alienation of the self through material accumulation— and forms an argument for the causal implication of ‘sense objects’ in impeding spiritual transcendence. Piecing together Krishna’s advice, I understand the argument as follows:
When the mind constantly runs after the wandering senses, it drives away wisdom, like the wind blowing a ship off course.
But the man who is self controlled, who meets the objects of the senses with neither craving or aversion, will attain serenity at last.
Abandoning all desires, acting without craving, free from all thoughts of “I” and “mine,” that man finds utter peace.
Nothing in the world can purify as powerfully as wisdom; practiced in yoga you will find this wisdom within yourself. Continue reading
Each morning the day lies like a fresh shirt on our bed; this incomparably fine, incomparably tightly woven fabric of pure prediction fits us perfectly. The happiness of the next twenty-four hours depends on our ability, on waking, to pick it up. -Walter Benjamin, One-Way Street and Other Writings, 1978
I usually attend yoga every morning at 6:00am. There’s a cool stillness in the early morning air. And in this frenetic city of Los Angeles, I relish my silent block-and-a-half walk down the road to Moksha. The streets are completely deserted. Overhead, the many air conditioners perched on window ledges in 3rd and 4th story apartments hum softly. On the corner, Lenin contemplates being balanced upon. I figure myself a lonely sojourner, making my pilgrimage to the temple as a singular offering to the new day.
By the time I emerge from class at 7:30, La Brea is brimming with traffic. Greeted by the honking horns of aggressive early morning commuters, I’m still wrapped in peace from savasana and blissfully unaware of what transpires on the walk back home. Continue reading
Listening to the classic Ellington/Coltrane track ‘In a Sentimental Mood,’ I’m gearing up for a particularly productive day. I woke up this morning incensed by the mess in my house. I’ve found that cleaning is just the thing to take my mind off Alex’s absence (flown to Korea without me). It’s meditative in a way and it frees up my headspace for those kinds of transcendental journeys that one only achieves while elbow deep in a sink full of dishes.
Thoughts of space and intergalactic travel drift through my consciousness. I’m reminded of two artists whose work I viewed earlier in the week. Their strange, other-worldly images have commandeered my imagination and we are communicating now on a subatomic level.
“Hot yoga?” I mumble to the man who, even now, is becoming one with a block of water. “I am Sisyphus,” he replies. His is a terrific suspension, it makes me uncomfortable to think of it.
Drifting on, through the cosmos I am Zeitguised. It’s all neons in plaids and navajo and I want so badly for it to be real. How satisfying it would be to run my fingers over those microscopic grooves; or, perhaps if writ large as a landscape, to lose myself amongst the ridges. It looks tangible enough but alas, I am merely lost in the figment of another artist’s imagination.
My fingers find the familiar grooves of the handle of a spoon but my mind is still orbiting somewhere in a galaxy far, far away.