“Yoga is a system of uniting all the opposites of nature, and they are already in union, so there is not much to it. Realization is completely within everybody’s grasp.”
∞ Mark Whitwell
Yoga is fundamentally lovingness. And lovingness is one of the most eternal of truths. This is why yoga is so outrageously popular in our world today. There has been a mass awakening of consciousness, which has essentially created an immense ‘light’ to grow and radiate from all human beings. This, in turn, has illuminated all aspects of existence that have been in the dark and shrouded in shadow. One of those aspects has been our inability to love, greatly, relentlessly, communally and globally, as an inherent ground of being for all life to flourish upon.
"All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love."
∞ Leo Tolstoy
We don’t know when it happened or why it happened or even that it happened. That being that we as a species fell from some other state of grace where we were once so loving. The kind of love that the first settlers from Europe discovered when encountering Native American tribes who lived by noble precepts, such as never allowing anyone in their community to go hungry, feeding the widows, elderly and sick first after every hunt, giving away any surplus of wealth immediately as a source of celebratory goodness. The kind of love that many indigenous peoples express to the Earth in days of constant and adoring rituals of gratitude and thanksgiving to the great powers of the one deemed mighty as Mother. Indeed, it seems there are threads of tradition in our species who know this love as the natural basis of their life and, on the contrary, there has been examples of its opposite in colonial races that have ravaged and destroyed everything good and true, as if hatred were their essential condition. How did they get removed from loving? How did they (We) forget?
There’s many reasons and that may be of interest to you. It has been for many and it’s a fascinating story of collective trauma and spiritual warfare and yet it’s not really that significant. What is significant is recovering our ability to love NOW; to love in a way that we may not even be able to comprehend at THIS moment if we’re part of a kind of culture that has alienated itself from natural lovingness (and most of everything natural). That’s where yoga comes in.
Yoga is connection. It’s the willfulness to grasp something that is apart and hug it close in embrace. It’s not about doing this only to lovely things, like beautiful friends, cute animals and trees. It’s about doing this to tired muscles and uncomfortable areas in the body, to stressful and helpless situations, to enemies and the disenfranchised, and to ourselves when we’re down and out. Yoga doesn’t light a fire in the heart: it takes us into the heart where there’s an incandescent torch already burning. Perhaps always. For most of us, this big love fire in the heart is something we've not been taught about and we stare aghast at this beautiful conflagration within our centre; that is our centre. It’s like we find a star buried in our chests. And it can wreck us in that moment to consider that we’ve never been told about this. It can be one of the most heart-breaking moments in our lives to come up against all of the cultural deception and denial in that moment that persuaded us away from our natural power. That told us at our essence we were something sinful, wretched and disposable. Let it break, for that is the false heart breaking; the illusory shell constructed around the truthheart that we’ve all been complicit in constructing, though unbeknownst to ourselves…
When we become torched by the heart, we are filled with a sudden understanding of love. The intellect will try to understand it (wha?! What?! How? So big? You want me to do what? I can’t possibly? I’m anxious and scared to…) but can never do so. Thoughts cannot grasp this feeling. Only dance, singing, hugging, the DOing of constant acts of goodness can. Don’t get mired in trying to intellectualize it: the intellect will be overwhelmed by the Heart with a capital H and all of its universal desiring that will be unleashed quicker than an instant. The intellect will try, in a panic, to put everything back in, like toy box that explodes with streamers, only those aren’t streamers exploding but rays of endless light. The intellect will utterly freak to see them rays zipping out with ecstatic cries (YAHOO! YIPEEEE! YEEHAAAAH!) as they zip to all people, animals, flowers, plants, everything around you and even beyond to stars, planets, galaxies, ancestral spirits, aliens. The intellect will have no idea of how to understand this. GOOD. The child that is wisdom should be sanctioned to be a total trickster.
Yoga taps us on the shoulder with its politics of ecstasy, for we could disappear in utter unitive rapture, which sometimes is totally acceptable. But all force should be mastered, that is, channelled and made a nimble ally, able to be directed accurately, and even mischeiviously. Yoga reminds us, thus, to breathe, and in breathing we remember many things, like rhythm, cycles of in and out, tides, presence, and mastery itself, in that our breathes can be tempered in length, intention and direction in the body (to the belly, to the chest, to a chakra) which have direct influence on the workings of the body and being (stimulating, calming, exuberating, etc.). Now with our explosive-truthheart-star-centre we can be a little more skillful in the use of our majesty of infinite light. The Heart is filled with universal desiring: it wants to be one with everything and lay out a whole life of oneness for everyone. This is wondrous. Every urge is to do this. This Heart is no foolish imp: it will present ingenious ways for this to come to fruition. It will have abundant and creative ideas of how to make this possible. It will desire things like: invite other people to share your car trip to the grocery store to cut down on emissions, have weekly potlucks, daily acts of random kindness, take a homeless person out to dinner, open up respectful and frank discussions with police officers about our anxiety of their ability to protect a protesting public, kiss flowers, hug trees, make a list of all who we are at odds with and write them all letters of adoration and admiration etc. after eternal etc.
The Heart is a trickster. It has to be. The intellect can be one cold, sad sod sometimes. And understandably: the Heart has been covered up remember in a false shroud for perhaps millennia (who knows where that story goes?) and the intellect has had to do most of the work. It’s not used to Heart and will be fearful of its sudden ecstatic aims and, also, envious of its power. It will take infinite tenderness to move intellect back into alignment, to which yoga will be esteemed guide in helping our awareness be a constancy, so we can know (through vibratory feeling) when intellect has usurped Heart and is trying to run things again.
Heart is King-Queen, not some tyranny of such, but the most noble of rulers of our inner-kingdom and it needs to reclaim its inner-throne to begin ruling the external kingdom in the same fashion. It will take some time before the intellect is finally convinced of its proper place and revels in it. But it takes no time to resurrect Heart as King-Queen. Don’t forget that. No matter how mired we may become in heaviness and fog of intellectual quagmire, in a moment of yoga, of connection, a long, deep breath fusing us to this moment, to this body and the beat throbbing in our chest, we can come back to our essence and start working from our Heart. This is one of the greatest spiritual truths and one of the simplest. It requires no esoteric effort. No guru. No theory. Only the experience that we can create NOW by falling down from head into heart and rising in the flames of love into full embodiment.
I remember once having a lucid dream. I had been practicing a course in working in the realm of dreams called Astral Travelling (a numinous ancient technique, in fact) and was having a dizzying adventure in this dimension. At one point, I was flying in space and had gone a great distance from Earth so that it was a blue speck far in the distance. It would have taken a human-made space craft lifetimes to reach where I was. Yet, in an instant of desiring to be back on Earth and my intellect fretting at the massive quantity of distance, I zipped back into my body on Earth. It’s like that: no matter how far we go adrift of our centre, of our inherent beauty and power, in an instant, our divine-made craft of light body can zip us back. Never lose hope or Heart because really you can’t. The intellect can try and convince us otherwise, which sometimes makes for clumsy problems and even psychopathic genocides, but in the end, we can never be banished from the field of our Heart; from the aura of love.
The Heart is a trickster and knows this about the intellect. It knows that it can’t bash or shame the intellect into servitude to a higher goal of life. In fact, Heart would never-ever consider that. It knows that the best ways to convince intellect to join in the great fire of love are playfulness, constant tickles and loving joshing, fierce anthems and arias in the midst of the worst shrouds of intellectual alienation (i.e. madness) and, last and best resort, good, loving sex. There’s not a warmongerer on this planet whose belligerence could survive being sacred made love to by a woman or man adept in the sexual love arts. In fact, I believe that many of the worst tyrants and warlords/lordesses shared a common thread: they have never experienced a truly harmonious loving and sexual relationship. The heart (little ‘h’ indicating the false heart) could never survive being broken open by such experiences. In fact, the solution to world peace would be a romantic revolution and a global education on the healing benefits of healthy sexuality. There’s a legendary story in ancient Greece of an unjust war waged by the patriarchy. The women protested and decided to stop having sex with their husbands and partners as a form of resistance. The war campaign ended quickly thereafter.
We need to get away from only associating love with weakness, with something to do with submissive tenderness, and imbalanced sensitivity. We have to invite the warrior to the fire of love and ask how it is it loves. We have to wonder how Gandhi managed to love those bridled to the tyranny of British Empire, even after they had massacred his people. We have to wonder how Martin Luther King Jr. loved white supremacists in the wake of all the brutality wreaked on his fellow African-Americans. And we have to wonder why these individuals, who exuded love of a kind rarely seen, were able to change the world in profound ways by this force of love, this soul-power. Love needs to be redefined. But it needs to be redefined with awe. Awe is one of the great powers that contemporary humanity needs to recover. It involves being in a perpetual contract with mystery, understanding, as Socrates so emphatically asserted when asked about the greatest truth he’d learned in life, that the only thing we truly know is that we know nothing; that in fact so much is simply theoretical which can provide temporary stability and yet our words are mere symbols for an unnameable essence.
“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.” Albert Einstein
In his time, Socrates was sentenced to death for this admission because he lived in a time when intellect was not only king but tyrannical king. It was opposed to Heart BIG TIME. We have a lot of cultural conditioning to tickle to truth and thankfully most of us live in a time or in societies where we can admit as Socrates and not be killed for it. Some still do not and we must find ways to make sure that all humanity reaches the level where mystery can be welcomed to the festival of life, made love to in constancy and pranced around as sure-fire friend.
Mystery is inherent in life. Yes we can know things but there will always be things we do not know. This actually makes life the most beautiful thing for we are a species of wisdom. We love to know, it’s such a joy to seek understanding, the universe is like a library of infinite curiousities and part of our natural state is to be in constant seeking to know more of the mystery. And yet, the greatest sage always does so with the trickster Heart close by to constantly remind us, with barrels of laughter, great steams of passion poetry, luminous dances, etc. that there is a state of unknowingness to revel in as well, where we can never hope to know, and fall into flows of feeling alone, disappearing in the entiriety of being present to the experience before us; merging, losing ourselves to the lips of our lover, to the bastion of music electrifying the space of a concert hall. When we learn to be skillful surrenderers and lose ourselves completely to experience, we’ll actually FIND something else. We’ll merge into an ocean, and become a vibrating wave on the greater vibrating ocean of consciousness that is the universe. In a moment, we are all the planets, all the galaxies, all the gods and goddesses, all beings, creatures great and small. The intellect’s rightful place in this? Remember the mad smile we have when riding a roller-coaster, alight in tidal laughter? That’s it :)
Finally, yoga is making love to all aspects of our experience, even and especially the ones that make the intellect feel distaste, disgust and even sheer terror. So much of the problem facing our world currently is contracts we have made to uphold the intellect’s initial judgment of an experience to such a degree. But we can manevouer around the intellect by using the connective strategies of yoga to be in boundless breath and fervent awareness through the wisdom fields of the multi-dimensional body. Then, with space (freedom) made from the fears and ilk of the intellect, we can choose another option, we can seek to connect with that experience that is uncomfortable but we need not do so with analysis. We need to simply power ourselves internally with connection to Heart, with Love, and extend that love to the other, like a tentacle of starlight. That tentacle is connecting the most ingenious mind in the universe, the mind of love, and the instant it connects to the disconnected otherness, it will relay wisdom and guidance on deeper layers of that other that will help us understand it and how to best act in the situation before us. It may ask of us to do things that seem counter-intuitive to the intellect. It may ask us to sit and allow harsh and angry words to travel through us, not reacting and allowing another to blow off steam, before urging us to hug the other in the tiny opening that will be created when the rage reveals its vulnerable root as fear. That moment is so small and spontaneous that the intellect can never know it but the Heart will feel it and tell you when to act in exactitude. It may ask you to sit in reflection upon hateful acts to nestle beneath the surface and feel the trauma that may have unleashed such terrorism. It will always speak in paradoxes so be prepared for truths out of left field.
If we all take this yoga on, unleashing the Heart in its ecstatic glory, we will begin to apprehend that our essence wants to hunt down all the demons, all the evil and darkness in the world and hold it so close to the star in our centre that it will melt and become one with the light. It is insatiable in its hunger to be at one with all that is. This is what we are and what yoga is helping us recover/discover. Don’t make any expectations beyond being ravaged by wonder and anointed by supernovas; becoming a song sung by galactic spirals and a Heart the size of the universe, ever-expanding, laughing ecstatically, becoming birthless in mystery, loving with awe…