3 Basic Points to being on the path (or on a path):
˜Buddhist monk, Chogyam Trungpa
- You have a teacher
- You have a practice; and
- You practice.
The path in yoga is not a concrete advancement, like finding a path in the forest and knowing that you can find your way along it because use suggests that many have before. It is more like wanting to fly and seeing the birds above, jumping and trying it out. Like the birds or fish, the best teachers provide an example but not a clear path. In order to proceed along the path we need to have some faith.
I am well aware that today, in our world, it is very hard to trust. We have many false gurus. We can see the failings of our teachers more clearly. But we still need to trust. That trust manifests as faith, as devotion – and it is absolutely essential to the spiritual path.
I have realized over the years that we need not have blind faith in anyone, but we do need to trust the “path”, that somehow we will be shown the right way. We need to believe that the next learning, the next challenge, the next lesson will come up for us. We need to trust that the challenges help us to become stronger. In short, trust in the process, which I believe has a life of its own, independent of all the teachers that might contribute to it.
Teachers open the door,
but you must enter by yourself.˜Zen proverb
I’ve been thinking about taking responsibility lately, because I can see how often we do not, and how grateful I am to be part of a spiritual tradition that tries to “live” yoga. It’s about practice, not business or ‘career spirituality’ (I wonder if I’ve just coined this!). Though I have chosen to live outside of the ashram, I have a model of a monastic tradition to follow which reminds me at each moment that I am meant to practice, not to give lip service to the teachings. It’s not about money. It’s not about ego. It’s about practice, being.
If you want to draw a bird,
you must become a bird.
The yoga sutras talk about how easily we can go on a flight of fancy, a sort of spiritual idealism, based on our experiences and imagination. Patanjali says that imagination is a process of consciousness, and may be helpful initially, but must be dropped ultimately in order that we do not seek an imaginary goal.
So what is the goal? I often feel that when people talk about the goal, they don’t really understand it. They use words that don’t seem natural, that maybe they don’t truly understand. If we’re asking, “Am I there yet?” we probably aren’t, or are not asking the right questions. “How do you feel?”, as my astrologer friend says. “What is your capacity in life?”, as my teacher says. Maybe it’s all about the invisible path.