June 22, 2011

A Yogi Gone Bad, Consciously!

The Final Blog #10 – Crimes Against Wisdom.

Photo: Vectorportal

Energy of Mind: A Sauhu Therapy

This is the 10th and final blog in an ongoing series of a yogin’s intentional “crimes against wisdom.” This series is highlighting my experience of purposefully ignoring 10 years of training in yoga, meditation, ayurveda and psychology in favor of performing typical current cultural behaviors of modernity. It has cataloged all the negative symptoms endured, explanations of the principles broken, insights gained along the way and will now give way to a new series, “Adhering to Natural Wisdom, A Yogi Gone ‘Right’, Again!”, which will detail the entire “recovery process” as I return to a life based on staples of natural wisdom. You can find the 1st introductory “Crimes” blog here, and you can sign on for the RSS feed and see all the blogs, here by choosing the appropriate link in the top right corner of the page. Please also feel free to “like” our FB page: here follow us on Twitter, here and share the fruits of this experiment with your friends. Thank you.

The Linchpin: View-Method-Fruit

View is so important. I can’t write about all the negative crap I have been experiencing anymore. I am writing these “Crimes Against Wisdom” blogs a few weeks after the fact – though they are all based on live notes taken in the moment. Now, a few weeks into “Adhering to Natural Wisdom,” I am finding it nearly impossible to continue to dwell in the drama of the “crimes” and their repercussions. For sanity, View must be in line with Method and Fruit.

I have mentioned the terms View, Method and Fruit on numerous occasions throughout this series of blogs. I would like to expand upon these notions. View is our beliefs, assumptions and conditions that we already demonstrate through the physical, mental and energetic expressions of our lives. It can be something more if we allow it to be.

View is also the ever-expanding lens of wisdom that we hope to stretch into and experience in our  body, mind and energy; in our actions, thoughts and feelings. If we do not have the “proper” View then we cannot experience the Fruits of life that we desire. In this case, by proper I mean: View that is congruent with Method and (desired) Fruit.

Method in the broadest sense is everything we do in life. In relation to spiritual work Method refers to the actual practices we perform – like asana, pranayama, puja, prayer, study, meditation, etc. When we see that Method bears Fruit (our experience of life) and we get that View informs Method, then we will understand that our View is essential for tasting the desired Fruits of life.

This theory and practice stems from Non-dual Kashmir Shaivist Tantra (NST), though other dharma traditions also employ similar terminology. As many of you know, Tantra is known for it’s “anything goes” View. As long as an expression of body, mind, or energy leads to an enhancements of one’s liberation, and is therefore necessarily compassionate, then according to classical non-dual Tantra nothing is “wrong.” I state this to emphasize that there is no judgment in my urging readers to align their Methods and desired Fruits with a View that will allow such experience to ripen.

An entire other series of articles is necessary to describe the serious problem in spirituality wherein people desire a fruitful life of imminent enjoyment but practice Methods born from Views of transcendent, dualistic spiritual traditions like Patanjali, Samkhya, Advaita-Vedanta, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, etc. This dynamic is coined “spiritual schizophrenia” by my guru’s guru, Satyananda Saraswati, and will be addressed in future writings.

For now, though, I would like to highlight more general inconsistencies in the way View, Method and Fruit create our experience of life. I will reiterate, in order to be crystal clear, that the View I am divulging is not prejudicial in any way. I only aspire to follow my dharma, which happens to be teaching and talking about natural wisdom and its practical application to people’s actual situations. Our View is that any path can be an appropriate path, depending on the principle: for whom and when.

However, in light of the astounding increase in cases of depression, anxiety, suicide, apathy, self-neglect, self-hatred, violence and aggression that have come to characterize the modern human predicament, I have to call to question whether or not we are lining up our Views, Methods and Fruits.

Wide vistas inform wide Views. I am lucky
and well-served by living in sight of this every day.

Do we really take the time to contemplate: what do I really want from life? Then, having arrived at a View, do we then actually make sure that we apply the Methods necessary to taste whatever Fruits we desire. Finally, if life is most often hard to digest and feeling like an uphill battle, do we re-assess and change our Views and Methods in order to try out some different Fruits?

We suffer when we struggle against our View, strive for a View that is not “our own,” or attempt to implement a View that is beyond our relative capacity. If we follow our nadi by doing what we love and what comes naturally to us (what we’re good at), we minimize/eliminate personal suffering and optimize health and happiness. Stress, tension, anger, frustration, apathy, and despair are born from a lack of radical acceptance of our actual situation and/or from NOT making the necessary changes in order to be more able to experience such contentment. We are 100% responsible for our own experience of life.

If happiness is one of our desired Fruits, then love for the path we live must be a given.

It sounds simple and even cliche,  but if we do not love what we spend most of our waking hours doing, thinking about, planning for, etc. how can we expect to be “happy”? This love then, would afford one a state of being that would not suffer over the necessary sacrifices that result from the priorities we must make in life.

Every path requires sacrifice.

I love what I do. I live a life organized by dharma practice, study, teaching and counseling. It is 24/7. I am immersed in View, Method and Fruit. But, there are sacrifices. I am away from my family of origin whom I love dearly and I am fairly broke because there aren’t many opportunities for a foreigner to make money where I live in rural Thailand. Those are the two principle difficulties.

But it is not even a question as to whether or not it is worth it. The good so far outweighs the bad that there is no doubt. Doubt is a pre-cursor to suffering. I have taken considerable measures in my life, however, and have been as stubborn as an ass at times in my insistence on living a life with a confluence of View, Method and chosen Fruit.

Therefore, I no longer suffer the sacrifices too much because I am 100% aligned with what I want to do with my life. I accept that there are some heartaches around missing my parents, sister and brother, my nephews, etc. But, though I do not wish to callously trivialize the situation, I don’t really suffer about it except when I am confronted with the pain my physical distance causes them. I still have a hard time fully digesting that – but day to day, moment to moment I am lovingly immersed in my life.

It is a priority to raise Rudi as best I can, which means showing him that I live my life by the dictates of my heart, accepting the sacrifices that necessarily result, and choosing to be content no matter how it all turns out.

I have consciously, intelligently, and whole-heartedly made my priorities in life. I take solace in the View that my doing so will be of greater benefit to a wider spectrum of reality than I would be if I gave in to my guilt about not being closer to “home” or my fears and insecurities about not making enough money.

NST View recognizes that this same principle applies for all people in all situations. If we are doing what we are “meant” to do, what we “love” – no matter what that is – then we will automatically benefit maximally. Again, in Sanskrit we call this following our nadi, which inherently includes compassionate benefit for all.

We do not need to be directly involved in service work to make the world a better place.

In fact, if it is our fate to be a stock broker then this View would suggest that we would be doing more good for the world by impeccably following this path than by forcing ourselves to work in a soup kitchen due to some conditioned expectations about what is right and wrong.

But, so many people suffer in the midst of life paths that they, themselves, have chosen. My heart aches in a different way for those who have less freedom to choose than the average citizen of first-world nations and for those within relatively free societies that are, nonetheless, hemmed in by their circumstances. But, my heart aches no less for those who choose – from a basic position of advantage and intelligence – lifestyles that are not cohesive with their desired Fruits. I must ask you latter folks, the ones who have chosen and are still unhappy, what can we do to assist you in freeing yourself from your suffering?

I am not asking facetiously. I really want to know. All I can think of right now is writing this article and imploring you to recognize the profundity of this View, Method, and Fruit equation. And, if you decide that you don’t need to make big changes in your life, then I beg you to get behind the life you live with all of your body, mind and spirit.

There are great pearls of wisdom, not to mention some brilliant humor in Bill Murray's "Groundhog Day" - a classic Dharma teaching. Photo: AlicePopkorn

If we are suffering we don’t necessarily need to turn our worlds upside down to make things better. It is possible to sincerely learn to want what we have and not want what we don’t have. But, if this is not working and you are still burdened by a great deal of angst and struggle in your life then I hope you can hear that I am not being a wise-ass by saying, you’ve got to make some changes!

On the heels of father’s day I will borrow a cliche often repeated by my dad, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” I know this calling out is a tangent from my blog about crimes against wisdom, but it is a perfect way to end the absurdity of my choosing to do shit that results in sufferingWhen I am adhering to natural wisdom I spend my life contemplating (View) the most skillful way (Method) to reach out to people who are suffering so that their burden can be lightened bit by bit (Fruit).

But I am stumped when it comes to the suffering of hoards of people that choose lives that they don’t, in their heart of hearts, want to live. Or, in the face of so many clients who say, “I want to change,” but then don’t do what is suggested and proven to work in effecting that change. For those of us whose role it is to work with the range of people who are not quite satisfied in life to those who are totally despondent and ready to call it quits, help us live our fate. What can we, as teachers, writers, therapists, brothers, sisters, parents, friends, and compatriots do to serve you?

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