Production Mode, Book Excerpt: On Seeing Our Vasanas
I am in full on production mode as we get ready to go live with my new website. I look forward to sharing it with you! It will feature fresh content and a new community portal.In the meantime, here is another excerpt from my book Confessions of a Former Yoga Junkie. This is the opening of the chapter entitled The Dirty Work.
Amma speaks of how, when we sweep a floor, we may think it is clean, but then upon washing it, we find more dirt. We go through a similar process in purifying our minds. We may feel that we have “gotten somewhere” and no longer have a certain tendency, only to discover that it still exists within us in a subtler form. We may even feel that our negative tendencies have increased after we have been doing spiritual practice for a while. As we cultivate inner light, our vasanas will arise to be witnessed, understood and released.
We do not need to be discouraged when we discover that there is yet more to be done in the process of purification. Our attachments will naturally be brought to our attention in subtler and subtler ways as we continue along the path.
To avoid becoming a yoga junkie, we must be willing to accept that we are imperfect beings in an evolutionary process. We don’t have it all figured out. Byron Katie has the wonderful remark, “Don’t pretend yourself beyond your evolution.” When we try to hide the dirt of our tendencies from our self and others, we only create suffering and greater complication.
This section and the three following are an invitation to begin to wade into the muddy areas of our psyches, roll up our sleeves and start the “dirty work” of unearthing our tendencies, understanding them for what they are. Once we see them clearly, we can practice witnessing them as they arise on a moment-to-moment basis, so we may ultimately release them.
Until we become fully enlightened, we all tend to resist the moment in some way. Throughout the day, our minds are busily working out creative ways to keep the illusion of separateness alive, so that we may feel temporarily important, in control and powerful. Our ego loves to build and sustain the mirage of divisiveness to keep itself alive. But the fullness, perfection and beauty of life is unfolding all the while beyond our self-sustained delusions.
There are four primary ways we resist the moment: defending, holding onto, justifying or relishing in “mine”. Some of these we do passively, other aggressively, while others through stasis. Each will yield the same result: temporarily supporting the illusion of being separate from this moment and from our true divine nature.
Anger is easily seen as an active defense of “mine”. When we get angry, we mark our territory and defend what we feel is ours with vigour.
We passively hold onto “mine” in various ways. When we resent, for example, we hold onto the idea that life is “happening to me”. We feel victimized and powerless by a situation or a person. Resentment passively incubates the feeling of “mine” more deeply into our psyche.
Similarly, when we feel jealous, we hold onto the self-perception of “mine”, because it feels threatened and unfulfilled. We are convinced that someone else has what we feel we lack.
In shame, we are attached to our shadowy self, as though it were our identity. We passively hold onto the shadow, which we feel we deserve, eclipsing the truth that we are divine light.
When we are depressed, we feel helpless beneath the weight of our identity. We hold onto it, listlessly afraid of letting it go, because we are attached to it being who we are.
Both justifying “mine” and relishing in “mine” are driven by the same static energy, that is, by the desire to keep things unmoving. When we judge, we justify “mine”. We maintain a divisive perception by either putting our self above or below another.
We relish in “mine” when we are proud. Through pride, we attempt to maintain a lavish, over-inflated self-perception, which we feel we need to boast about to uphold. This keeps us ultimately feeling alone in our ivory tower.
Whether we are defending, holding onto, justifying or relishing in “mine”, each is a way we keep unhappiness alive in our lives. These tendencies, when left unchecked, can even develop into addictions, in which we find it very difficult to renounce certain behaviours – or even realize they are a problem – because we have a deeply ingrained sense of our self as flawed, dirty, incomplete, incapable or bad, and in need of something external to take away the pain of it all. It is only through the willingness to to bring these tendencies to the light that we free the energy stuck there within. In so doing, we find the fulfillment we have been wanting all along.
The second edition of Confessions of a Former Yoga Junkie will be available soon. To add your name to the pre-orders list, click here.
Wishing you peace and joy on your journey,