Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Yoda at the bookstore; Or, why I might be choosing Yoda as my Ishvara

First, a few quotes and a snapshot of the man himself (okay, he's not exactly a man. Whatever: You get the idea...):  

"Attachment leads to jealousy. The shadow of greed, that is."

"To answer power with power, the Jedi way this is not. In this war, a danger there is, of losing who we are."


"When nine hundred years old you reach, look as good, you will not, hmmm?"
[Image taken from here]

So why might I be choosing Yoda as my Ishvara? First, a little story. I spotted this little Yoda doll at the local Barnes and Noble bookstore yesterday:
[Image taken from here]

For some reason, the sight of the doll totally cracked me up. And then it occurred to me that this might be a cool thing to have on the dashboard of my car... Well, you might not think it cool, but hey, people have been known to display way weirder things on their dashboards. Anyway, I took the doll and walked over to the cashier to purchase it. It was the lunch hour, and there was a long checkout line, serviced by only a couple of totally overwhelmed cashiers. As I waited in line for my turn, the woman in front of me fumed, turned to her husband, complained, "Can't they get more cashiers out here? This totally sucks!" And then proceeded to fume some more. 

I tried my best to muster some sympathy for the woman (although I have to admit that in that situation, it is quite a bit harder to muster sympathy for the woman than for the overwhelmed cashiers). And then a thought suddenly occurred to me, "Don't they check out purchases at the cafe section of the store as well? Why don't some of these people who are waiting so impatiently try bringing their purchases to the cafe? Actually, why don't I bring my purchases there?" With that thought, I immediately proceeded to the cafe with my Yoda doll. And, lo and behold, there was practically nobody there, except for one person who was getting some coffee. I went up to the counter, and asked the barista if I can pay for my Yoda doll there. She said yes, and I was out of the store in less than a minute, while the folks in that long line at the main counter continued to fume. Hmm... perhaps I should have performed a public service by going over to them and suggesting that they also try checking out their purchases at the cafe. But I have this feeling that such a well-intentioned suggestion might not be taken well by these fuming people, who might see my good intentions as an attempt to try to tell them what to do. So I went on my way. 

This might sound cheesy, but I can't help feeling that my holding the Yoda doll imbued me with the powerful flow of the Force, so that I was a little more attuned to my surroundings, and was able to see possibilities that others around me could not. But seriously, I really think that this little episode is a beautiful illustration of the power of radical acceptance. When one fully accepts what is going on around one without any judgment, previously unseen possibilities open up in one's life: In this rather mundane example, because I was able to fully accept what was going on without judgment, the possibility of a much speedier checkout at the cafe opened itself up to me. Pretty cool, don't you think? Or maybe it was Yoda acting through me...

In any case, the Yoda doll now sits on my dashboard. May it channel the Force into all my driving experiences, allowing me to be a more fully accepting driver who is driven (no pun intended) not by anger, greed or power, but by the power of full acceptance of the Force. 
Actually, I am even considering making Yoda my Ishvara (Ishvara Pranidhana, or "Surrender to God", being the fifth of the five yamas, the other four being Saucha (cleanliness), Santosha (contentment), Tapas (Perseverance), and Svadhyaya (Study of One's Self).) At her Yoga Sutra lecture during her Richmond workshop last year (see this post), Kino said that although Ishvara Pranidhana is commonly translated as "Surrender to God", one does not need to worship a particular god or deity in order to practice Ishvara Pranidhana. What one needs to do, however, is to surrender or devote oneself to something bigger than oneself. This something can be the Christian God, Allah, Krishna, or something non-personified such as a particular conception of Divinity or the Universe. In fact, Kino observes, one might not even have a name for this something, and that's totally fine. What is important is that one make a conscious decision at some point to devote one's actions to something that is bigger than oneself. According to Kino, Ishvara Pranidhana is so central to self-realization that Guruji once said (I'm paraphrasing), "There can be no yoga without surrender to Divinity."
So if Kino is right, then there should be no problem with devoting or surrendering oneself to Yoda, right? The only problem might be that Yoda is not, strictly speaking, bigger than myself: I'm quite sure if he were a real-life character, I would be quite a bit taller than him. But he is not a real-life character, and he represents all that is good and powerful in the Force. Besides, I have heard from some sources that Yoda is also an accomplished yoga teacher, as evidenced by the following: 
[Image taken from here]
So what do you think? Is Yoda a kosher Ishvara to Pranidhana to? 


  1. "When one fully accepts what is going on around one without any judgment, previously unseen possibilities open up in one's life."

    Beautiful story, Noble :-)

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