Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Controlling or learning a pose: a lesson from Brahma

When Brahma was created out of Vishnu's navel, he becomes aware of himself. To break his loneliness, he creates forms.  He generates Ushas, a beautiful woman.  Then, though she is his daughter, he falls in love with her, chasing her, becoming the male form of every female form she takes  to evade him. His need to control her is so intense, he even sprouts foru heads, then a  fifth , to catch sight of her. It is Shiva who chops off that head, which represents the ego in us. I read this in Devdutta Pattanaik's book From Shiva to Shankara, decoding the Phallic Lingam. I liked this story's interpretation very much. The shock value of this story, Pattanaik says, tries to teach us something. That the incestous craving of Brahma is the disgusting way the ego turns upon itself, seeking to control where it should have tried to learn.

Lets take how a pose can be a learnt: by controlling (ego) by feeling it, knowing the muscles involved (awareness/chitta).

(Top the right way, holding the crane with awareness. Bottom the wrong way, holding the crane with ego and lack of awareness!)

For instance, if I teach this pose which is the tougher version of the standing crane, with opp hand to opp foot (here left foot, right hand), and other limbs up, the final part is where you turn your head to look at the uplifted hand. But if I even suggest this final stage, very competive students will sacrifice form and immediately turn their head.

Then they will hold the pose in the wrong fashion, some cramped crooked way of which they are completely unaware, because the ego is now blinding their discrimination to subtle things. The back leg will be bent, as well as the standing leg, because these parts of the body are preparing for a fall because the body is aware that subtle balance is involved. Since to `control' the pose becomes paramount, the subtle awareness in the pose is lost. Ego has been chosen over chitta, or pure awareness.

But if you move through this pose in stages, your awareness will become subtle and you will reach the pose from an inner fineness of awareness, which I believe is what yoga is supposed to create. I also believe that yoga is to be used to drop the ego... Instead, that ego has been allowed a subtle backentry and become something even more dangerous sukshma ahamkara (subtle ego) which is the most difficult to dislodge. I worry when I see student go this way...  But each to his/her karma.. I am done with pondering over these difficulties ahead in the spiritual space of that student. In a pose, too, the ego...

(First stage of the pose.)

(Second stage).

(Final stage, to turn to look at the uplifted hand).

The ego has no patience to transit stages. Mostly, the ego has no patience with awareness. It enjoys effort because it then gets itself a great platform from which to shine.
There is nothing in a pose unless it can help u destroy ego..Only pure awareness can do that.  Everything else, just gymastics:)

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