When I go out to meet the light, the shadow of my body follows me, but the shadow of my spirit precedes me and leads the way to an unknown place
- Kahlil Gibran

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Some things don't change

April has not failed to live up to expectations, I am once again uprooted in this month.

Returning Down Under

After 2 months of living here, it is time to leave Singapore and return to Sydney for 8 months. I am surprised that I am feeling forlorn about this, it has only been 2 months but I’ve actually met some lovely people here. There is a girl at the tea house and restaurant that serves me free dessert samples and stands by the table often to speak about her dreams for her life. In return I tell her about yoga and places I have lived. She moves like a gentle breeze and her smile leaves traces of sadness.

At the Swiss chocolatier is another girl that wears spectacles and loves nothing more than seeing me recoil in pleasure from every bite of chocolate she offers me. When I told her yesterday that I was leaving, she seemed almost ready to shed a tear.

In a similar way, I have felt the emotions weigh on me at the hotel as I bid farewell to the staff at the Gravity Bar where I have spent some evenings recuperating over some tea and snacks after a stressful day at the client.

A few days ago I informed the staff at the yoga studio that I was suspending my membership until the end of the year and the lady that attended to me told me I had a peaceful aura about me that was appreciated by the staff members. I had not ever seen this woman before so it took me by surprise. I contemplated what she said, I knew it was not easy for her to say speak this openly from the way her hand shook as we filled out the membership suspension form.

In the yoga sutras, I have read recently about the first two cornerstones of yoga. In the first cornerstone we seek to suspend all negative thought patterns through deep meditation to travel through the five paths we all pass through during our spiritual journey: we see death, we see people suffer, we dream of saving them; and the journey ends when we change, finally, into a sacred being who actually has the power to save them. The second cornerstone upon which the house of yoga is built is “the Way” – sadhana. The state of nirvana is akin to stopping all negative thought patterns. And then comes “the Way” which means “to reach” angels through steady daily practice. We reach them first by contacting them, and secondly by becoming them.

I read these words the day after what she said to me and then I thought about what Beate had said in Switzerland when I had praised the weather, she spoke of a saying in Germany that alluded to this being a gift to an angel. I hardly ever consider myself as such, I know far too well of my shortcomings and I have no desire to be ‘an angel’ and I am far from convinced that I have any ability to ‘save’ anyone but it is interesting to consider nonetheless.

The author of the yoga sutra commentary that I am reading is Geshe Michael Roach. This is one of those rare cases where the man precedes the book in my awareness. I had not heard of this man until I saw a notice about a talk he would be giving at Pure yoga (the yoga studio I have been attending here), the talk was called “Love and the Yoga Sutras”. I attended the workshop and observed a man in monk robes looking somewhat bedraggled, but one who seemed to command a lot of respect and admiration. The message in his talk was simple but profound: whatever you wish for yourself, create it first for others. Focus on creation, because you are the source of your experience. You get in return what you sow.

I researched the man and learned that he obtained the title of Geshe which is a sort of Masters in Buddhism and it must be not an easy feat (he is the first American to obtain this title). Once he obtained this, he left Tibet under the instruction of his teacher and started a diamond business in New York that prospered greatly under the principles of “The Diamond Cutter” an ancient treatise based on a talk given by Buddha. Then he sold it and returned to the simple monastic life.

Observing the reactions of the people to the news that I am leaving reminds me of when I left California, it was a revealing time for me because it showed me that I have the ability to leave an impression on people. Just as I write these words I glance back at the paragraph preceding this one in which I state how I have no ability to ‘save’ anyone. Maybe it really just means to leave the right impression on someone and not necessarily don a cap and mask as some sort of crusader.