Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Yoga every moment, beyond the mat

I have this amazing comic strip book on Milarepa, a very gripping book that gives the most compact introduction to a powerful yogi. Since then, whenever I catch the name of a tantric Buddhist I can see it tracks back to him -- they are all part of the tradition which started from Tilopa. It feels good, this connection, as I move, trying for the stillness that I can sense, hovering, like a sweet fragrance around my yoga practice. 

The thing in tantra is to first find out how thoughts seduce you, constantly. They are nothing basically, but their inevitability in your mind creates an attachment. In one of the Wow moments that I am having more frequent these days, I woke to realise that if we did not think or associate with a thought that came up, this includes emotions, we become anxious. In fact, thoughts and anxiety are very related. To watch thoughts is frightening. To participate, is soothing for a nervous mind. So, we start thinking our thoughts instead of letting them pass us by. In yoga, you allow the thoughts to pass by, indifferent mostly. To do that, you need to be aware. A lot of us are unaware -- the non-yogis. But even the yogis, they become attached to thoughts. To leave thoughts, that is not an natural state. But in yoga, we go beyond nature. To be thoughtless can excite much anxiety -- this may explain why people cannot meditate. Or if they do, they need to visualise. But in tantric yoga, if you meditate, you use a technique which allows the flotsam of your thoughts and its debris to float up. Then you can dredge it off, or watch the flotsam pass by. This is such a fantastic Wow feeling for me -- the fact, that thoughts are actually an extreme reactive, hypervigilant, nervous movement of the mind.  If thoughts are like clouds, you must watch them drift by. Then, instead of limiting yourself into a vacuous cloud, you become the sky, the space...

                                           (Tilopa, tantric Buddhist, on the ultimate yogic experience)
The void needs no reliance
Mahamudra rests on nought.
Without making an effort,
but remaining loose and natural,
one can break the yoke --
thus gaining liberation.

Above is where one is headed. But below is how u get there...

If you sit, sit in the middle of the sky.
If you sleep, sleep on the point of a spear.
If you look, look upon the center of the sun.
I Tilopa, who saw the ultimate, am the one who is free of all effort.

I think we have misread the word tantra so much, with all those sexual connotations. But in tantric meditation, thoughts and how to finish them off, is the main focus. These fantastic lines from Milarepa, the last in the line of Tilopa and whose life makes fascinating reading:

"When you run after your thoughts, you are like a dog chasing a stick: every time a stick is thrown, you run after it. Instead, be like a lion who, rather than chasing after the stick, turns to face the thrower. One only throws a stick at a lion once." 

(This is the book I told u about -- a must-have for yoga lovers:) 

And reading Osho  "Tantra, Supreme understanding". He says, the one who has no-thought (that stage is very difficult - it may be somewhat similar to holding the fortress door against the bludgeoning army of stampeding elephants:) can create palpable energy. The point is, when struggling with the thought stampede, you actually allow them in --  sneaking or stampeding -- because it is more natural to believe thoughts are necessary force. Which, in yoga, is not true... Thoughts are like useless weapons in the hands of an untrained warrior, causing more damage. Instead awareness creates that no-thought state -- then you are like a warrior who needs no weapons..So, yes, it is  when you have that Eureka moment, and realise, that thoughts actually come in the way! 

Sometimes, you sense that, while teaching -- watching, not reacting, and holding back thoughts or watching them drift off. And then, later, students will say they enjoyed the class and felt energized:) Mmmm, how much to learn when you teach...

1 comment:

evnathan said...

Yes, Milarepa is a great book. It narrates the struggles one has to go through to achieve realisation. I knew about the book reading about Bhagvan Ramana Maharshi, who recommended someone to read it. I wonder how Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi knew about Milarepa.