Georg Feuerstein

I tend not to keep up with what the contemporary yoga world does. It makes me sad most of the time. The emphasis on the physical aspect is so intrusive to me to the real stuff of yoga and I feel it really hinders the true development of the human into a spiritual being that I really want to have as little to do with it as possible.

So because I have an aversion to reading the same crap about yoga over and over again, I miss the news of something very near and dear to my heart: the Death of Georg Feuerstein.

Georg was…is a scholar of the yogic life. He delved deep. Georg really was able to articulate the process of yoga so clearly, it is mind-blowing. He intellectualized the teachings so we could read and understand, but he also conveyed the great need to not intellectualize the process and to be sincere in your practice. He emphasized doing the work was more important than just intellectually knowing it. He understood that that was a trap.

I came across this news because I was researching a bit of what he had said for a post I was writing (I will publish it later – this is more important) . . . my eyes are filled with tears as I write this. I had an opportunity to meet him and work with him, but realized I didn’t have the time (I was running my studio back then – on my own). There is a feeling of regret that I didn’t meet him. I read his books and listened to his CDs (podcasts) over and over again to become a better teacher (I was conducting a teacher training at that time as well). I received such inspiration from his wealth of knowledge.

Below I’ve given you links to a couple of articles (not too much – if you’d like more, I’ll post some more titles). I urge you to read and listen to anything you find that Georg wrote or recorded. Please let me know what you find!

His absence in the yoga world will be felt!

Georg Feuerstein

http://georgfeuerstein.blogspot.ca/2010/08/death-and-resurrection-of-yoga.html

http://www.examiner.com/article/the-yoga-teacher-s-unofficial-17-commandments-by-georg-feuerstein

The Process of an Ashtanga Practice…

The Process of an Ashtanga Practice...

 

I go through what’s on the graph in a split second every other day. 🙂 And it continues to be like that no matter how I advance in my practice. Ashtanga is a complex and very layered, deep practice. There’s always room for improvement, and there is always signs of improvement. It keeps me humble and it fills me with such joy too.

I love Ashtanga … no matter what.

I miss going to Mysore classes…

I miss going to Mysore classes...

I miss my Mysore classes. I miss the feeling of doing yoga in a room with people who are doing similar things. Although it was not a very communal atmosphere; everyone was there for themselves really. So was I. It just felt really good to be in your own practice with people around you. I practice at home alone. Different. I’ve been doing that for about 9 or 10 years now. I’ve become my own teacher finally. I thank all my teachers and teachers of the lineage for their work and guidance throughout the first 20 years of my discovering my own practice. I keep you in my heart.

Picture is from a studio in Boston. I just liked the interaction of the assisting teacher and the student. It was like that sometimes.

*Bhoga or Yoga…

Bhoga or Yoga…

Acrobats are NOT yogis/yoginis. Circus freaks are NOT either. Come to think of it neither are ballet dancers or athletes. Yogis/Yoginis are well… yogis/yoginis. It is beyond the physical. Beyond the point of “look at what I can do”. There’s a subtlety and a humility that is expressed through the body when doing asana. Can you see it…within yourself?

FYI:

Someone commented:

Hmmmm…

I know what you mean, I think. But many dancers and athletes and acrobats I know are also yogis/yoginis… the various practices and arts and sciences do interleaf with each other, all the intersecting influences and balances and movements and stillness add the kind of texture to life that I adore…

My response:

You may think so – but the quality of the relationship between mind and body is intrinsically different because of how you approach the physical practice. If you are in a discipline such as gymnastics or dance which focuses on ‘performance’, that becomes a part of the ‘yoga’ you do which is NOT the how or the why of Yoga…

Gymnastics and dance, etc. are just physical. Just because you can contort your body seemingly perfectly into the postures does not mean you are doing YOGA. Yoga is so much more and if you’ve done it long enough say 20 years (yes I think it takes that long and even longer), you will know that performing the postures and enacting asana within your practice are NOT the same thing.

*Bhoga is doing yoga asana for the sake of the self. For entertainment, performance or narcissistic purposes. Yoga asana should only be done for the purpose of worshipping god (universal energy).  – Paraphrased from the writings of Mr. Iyengar founder of Iyengar Yoga.

Yogas Citta Vrtti Nirodhah – Yoga Sutra #2

Yoga is “the control of thought waves of the mind” – as one translation of the Second Yoga Sutra states. Mr. Iyengar puts it another way, “Yoga is the cessation of movements in the consciousness.” Sri Swami Satchitananda says it this way, that Yogas Citta Vrtti Nirodhah translates as “the restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga.”

Stopping Your Thoughts

So . . . What now? What do I have to do? It sounds like your thoughts are like horses and all you have to do is build a fence around them and they’ll stay corralled and under control. Or they’re like a swarm of mosquitos; unlikable, pesky things that you shoo away with all get-out with some kind of fly swatter or bug repellent (the soy kind). Or perhaps more like a barking dog tied to a post and hopefully you can find the muzzle. Hmmm – I don’t know how to do that with my thoughts. Do you? Do I deal with each thought separately or do I lump them all together?

When this is taught in most yoga or meditation classes, sometimes the translation of the sutra gets lost and teachers and students tend to talk about stopping a thought or a number of them. I suppose it’s a Christian thing – you know, your thoughts are the sin or . . . it’s not about what you think but rather what you do with the thought, or it is what you think and what you do with the thought, etc. Confusing, isn’t it? It occurs to me that that must have been misquoted for centuries probably as well. Stopping thoughts always catches people up. After talking to a lot of people, it is the one thing that most fixate on.

The Thought About the Thought

What I’ve been taught and what I’ve experienced though, is that it is the movement of thought rather than the individual thought itself. But how do you stop movement? And is that what we’re supposed to do? The movement of thoughts to me is like the movement of air like wind. Sometimes it’s gusty, and sometimes it’s gale force strength. And other times, it’s a welcomed breeze. Thoughts flow constantly. Sometimes you take notice. Sometimes you don’t. So when do you take notice of thoughts? When they bother you of course. When someone says something that just gets under your skin, or when something happens and you have a strong reaction to it – like you feel embarrassed, or when you have to get or do something because your life depended on it. All worthy thoughts. How many times have you reiterated a conversation in your head hours, days after the conversation – or before the conversation has even happened . . . even if you didn’t want to think about it, yet there it is? What makes thought waves so powerful? Pema Chödron said that her teacher Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche would say – it is not the negative, but it is the negative about the negative. In other words, it is not the thought, but the thought about the thought which turns into another thought about that thought and so on, that gets us into trouble.

My First Meditation Retreat

I remember my first meditation retreat some years ago. I am a self-declared ‘idea’ person; Give me a problem and I will give you a number of solutions that are pretty creative and sometimes even original. Anyway, I was at this meditation retreat for the first time, sitting Zazen. I was determined to do a good job. I went with a friend who is a seasoned sitter, and so I mimicked him the first day. I sat for 4 hours straight without moving. OMG – I was so sore for the rest of the time. In order to get through this, I made sure I sat a lot (it was a very relaxed atmosphere about your schedule to sit – still very strict about eye contact and silence.) I battled the whole way through. I sat and sat, and still my thoughts came, ideas about: how to fix the roof; what gifts I can make each and every person there because they are so great; how much I wished I could eat (I was fasting as well); how much I wished I could wash my hair (little facility to do that at this place), and how I was right about being eaten alive by mosquitos (it was a hot week in August). Afterward, I told my teacher I found out how I wasn’t as still and silent as I thought I was; I had always thought that I was a pretty laid back, quiet person. But I wasn’t. Maybe that’s why some of you don’t want to do the meditation that asks you to be still. It can be a pretty shocking, and an eye opening experience, and some of you may not want to know. Through my years of practice, I learned that thoughts will always come and go, but it is most certainly about how your organism responds to those thoughts.

The Paradox of Still Mind

“Yoga is the suppression of the transformation of the thinking principle”, as someone else puts it. Suppression? Hmm. I am not a fan of our potential interpretation of the word suppression. In psycho-talk, it can be interpreted as ‘swallowing’ or ‘eating’ your thoughts or words and that never ends well. How I have experienced this, “suppression of the transformation of the thinking principle” has taken a number of years of hard work to understand my reactive responses to external stimuli. Most of us react because we feel threatened by something/someone, or, we are anxious to prove something, and so on. What needs to happen is simultaneous to developing a Still Mind. Once you develop the Buddha Mind, you will realize that you are not separate and there is no threat (really) because there is no you. Before you develop Buddha Mind, you struggle with all the thoughts which anchor you into an identity that is separate. In other words, you need to develop Buddha Mind before you can transcend your reactionary self and you need to transcend your reactionary self before you can realize Buddha Mind. It is a paradox. Like peeling the onion, or chipping away at a stone. The only way through is to open your heart and risk the death that all of us are so afraid of – ego-death.

I always liked the word Transformation. Here it is talking about the transformation of the thinking principle. Transformation? Is a thought a thought if you don’t react to it? Like the falling tree in the forest thing – it is a conundrum. Is the mind-stuff just like scattered dust particles in the air and only when you start to collect them do they become annoying dust-bunnies? Is that what “transforms” thought particles into real thoughts, whether you organize them, collect them or corral them?

Steps to Yoga

Movement of thoughts is the undulation of the mind when it is reactive. Now we’re getting somewhere. It is not the thought that needs work, but the reactive mind. A lot of yogis/yoginis, swamis, etc. say that any kind of therapy is not necessary when you do yoga. But the key here is that you do “YOGA”, not little ‘y‘ yoga (mostly asana practice) or what it has now turned into because it is mostly a hedonistic practice to most – bhoga (meaning, doing yoga for its own sake for the appeasement of your own ego – i.e. look at what I can do). To do YOGA is to delve into the workings of your mind and how it effects your Being. Awareness is key, and to affect awareness, there needs to be some sort of dialogue (with a teacher who knows, a therapist who knows, etc.). But this is still not Wakefulness. Almost every yogi/yogini I know equates being aware of the present moment, of what you do or say in that moment, of how your organism reacts and so on, to and in line with Enligthenment. But this is not so. In awareness, there is still the “I” – You are aware.

The Heart Path

This is really only the beginning. The process that is the Heart Path will take you Home. The Heart Path really to me is about the final step toward Enlightenment and that is “Acceptance”. You have seen who you are and you accept it. You don’t try to hide, mask or manipulate it. You have seen the world as it is – truly, and you don’t run from it, or hide. And you don’t try to manipulate it. You have seen what other people are like and you don’t do anything to change them. You just accept them. You have seen the truth of the wild, untamed world of animals, vegetable, mineral and you see them for what they are. Without greed or fear in your Heart. There is only Love.

My friend says this – Yoga (Union) is just that. You need nothing else. We’re already there. Yoga IS the Cessation of the Thought Waves. That is Yoga. Yes, yes, yes I say. It is that simple.

. . . Yoga is the Stillness Within. Let It Be.

Walk with Grace.

Namaste

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