Monday, November 1, 2010

"The physical practice is the access point to the spiritual"

This is the theme with which Kino started her afternoon hamstring/hip-opener workshop on Saturday October 23rd. According to Kino, Guruji's view is that most of us living in the modern world today are not ready to access metaphysical or spiritual issues directly. Indeed, we are often so governed by our chittas (or ego-consciousness), and by the "grasping" nature that characterizes the fluctuations of chittas, that any attempt to intellectually apprehend metaphysical or spiritual concepts simply amounts to meeting chitta with more chitta, entangling us all the more inextricably into the web of ego-consciousness.

The physical practice is designed to help us to step outside of this chitta loop. The practice is intensely physical, but it is not physicality for physicality's sake. Guruji says, "Do your practice, and all is coming." The ego consciousness has the tendency to understand the "and" here to mean the "and" of causation. So we tend to understand Guruji to be saying that if you, say, open your hamstrings or hips to x degree, you will attain x amount of enlightenment or self-realization (or whatever the desired state is). But if we think this way, then we are back in chitta mode. Rather, perhaps the "and" here refers to something more spontaneous and serendipituous; the idea is that "all is coming, but you have no control over when or how it will come."

According to Kino, this might also explain one of Guruji's famous personality traits: the trickster. According to Kino, Guruji is known for his non-sequiturs. For example, somebody might ask him how to open the hamstrings more, and he would say, "You take marriage, then everything okay!" (huh?)

Here is Kino's interpretation of this famous Guruji trait. Perhaps Guruji knew that we tend to take our grasping intellectual mind even into the asana practice, which was designed to steer us away from the chitta in the first place. If he had replied to the question by going into a long exposition of various techniques to open the hamstrings, he would be meeting chitta with more chitta, which would have frustrated the original intent of the practice. So, rather than do this, he decided to throw the chitta off-track by throwing it something from left-field (okay, I don't play baseball, so I can't quite remember the exact baseball metaphor here, but I think you get the point, no?). Once the chitta is thrown off-track, an opening is created for some real learning to happen.

I think we are all familiar with this phenomenon. We tend to apply the grasping mind to the asana practice, and this often manifests itself in frustration over the fact that we do not seem to be able to achieve certain postures despite our best efforts, and despite having done everything right. But perhaps when Guruji says "all is coming", he does not mean that the coming always (or even usually) occurs at a time when we want it to. The only thing we can do is practice, practice, and practice some more. And when the coming comes, it will come in a way that we least expect or even in a way that we are barely aware of ("hey, did I just lift up in x-asana?! Gee, how did that even happen?")


1 comment:

  1. Yes, totally true, I wish I had a trickster teacher too like guruji, then again I am doing my practice so I am sure it's on the way.... For me the "all" literally means all, but as you point out, in unexpected ways, I guess this is why metaphysical teachers recommend we intend what we want but always leave room "for something better" too... As we never know the shape in which that good old "all" will take.