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Showing posts from January, 2014

Hang On, Let Go: Embracing Paradox

Abhyasa Vairagyabhyam Tannirodhah.-The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, I.12

"These mental modifications are restrained by practice and non-attachment" (Translation by Sri Swami Satchidananda). 

This sutra and the ones immediately following it are well-loved by yoga teachers. If you attend a yoga class regularly, you will likely hear your teacher talk about balancing the two wings of practice: steady effort and non-attachment. Because of the nirodhah portion of this sutra, you'll probably hear this in the context of, "why do we do yoga in the first place?" 

What is Yoga, anyway? Well, the second sutra tells us, Yogas citta vrtti nirodhah, "The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga." You know that stuff going on in your head all the time? Sometimes it gets to be too much? People have experienced that mental excess, that cloudy, disturbed feeling, as far back as they could write and teach. So, thousands of years ago, some people in India develo…

A Nontheist Theist, Part II: Embracing Hope

"Three things will last forever--faith, hope, and love--and the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians, 13:13. 

Translations of words and concepts like "hope" cause misunderstandings across cultures and religions, but when we simplify, we see that we all share experiences of suffering and loss and also joy and triumph. So what does that mean?
Dukkha, Anatta, Impermanence, these are real, but cannot negate Faith, Hope and Love. All of these concepts have emotional components. Our positive and negative emotions are not hindrances to Enlightenment. 
Jesus wept before the tomb of Lazarus (or someone wrote that he did). He cried out in agony on the cross. We feel, the Divine feels, and our feelings can lead us to experience deeper connection when we trust in a reality greater than our small selves and let go enough to be guided by it, and know that we are part of it. Hope does not have to be an obstacle to immersion in the present moment.
You can feel a quickening of hop…

A Nontheist Theist: Where Uncertainty Meets Devotion

I had a strong internal response to this book passage, which prompted me to write something down so that my head could follow where my heart was leading me.
"The difference between theism and nontheism is not whether one does or does not believe in God. It is an issue that applies to everyone, including both Buddhists and non-Buddhists. Theism is a deep-seated conviction that there's some hand to hold: if we just do the right things, someone will appreciate us and take care of us. It means thinking there's always going to be a babysitter available when we need one. We all are inclined to abdicate our responsibilities and delegate our authority to something outside ourselves. Nontheism is relaxing with the ambiguity and uncertainty of the present moment without reaching for anything to protect ourselves. We sometimes think that dharma is something outside of ourselves -- something to believe in, something to measure up to. However, dharma isn’t a belief; it isn’t dogma. It …