Thought I'd share a letter from a fellow practitioner on the path following our brief and lovely encounter after a class I taught at the Austin Yoga Festival. I offered a Tantric philosophy-embedded asana class. The story I told, to make a very long Indian story short, goes like this:
Shiva, the Lord of Yoga, is a fairly seedy, fringe-of-society character. Here, in this story, he lives in the forest (away from culture) with his love, Parvati. We come upon Shiva and Parvati playing game after game of dice. This Indian folklore tells us that Parvati, (aka Shakti aka Matter) wins nearly every game of dice (life) and Shiva (aka Consciousness) loses nearly every time.
This might seem odd in the light of yoga and its attempts to make more conscious humans out of us...like a good tantrika, though, matter/Mother Nature/the body always wins. The tantric stories remind us we're here to savor the time we have in these bodies, to listen to the body's innate wisdom and to let Shakti win: to let the vibrancy and fullness of life win; to understand fundamentally the gifts of our own embodiment...
From: Karly Pitman
I wanted to write and say hello - we chatted yesterday before your talk and I met you when I first moved to Austin and took your class on the free day of yoga on Labor Day.
I so enjoyed your class and the stories.
I was chuckling to myself as you spoke, because when you were talking about us being misfits, I thought of this quote, one that comforts me about being completely abnormal -
"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society." - J. Krishnamurti
I also loved what you shared about matter always winning...AND that even though we lose, we play the game over and over. That percolated in my heart all day after the festival. My path has been one of loving every messy, aching, human part of us, to embrace and care for our humanity, rather than looking at it as a nuisance, a hindrance, something to evolve out of it, to edit, minimize, or, sadly, to feel ashamed about.
And yet opening to our limits, to our humanity, is not an exercise in pity or giving up. We still play the game. We play it over and over by opening our hearts to this need for care, to relate kindly to these limits, to relate compassionately to our tender vulnerability and not to make it wrong.... Rather, it is the source of our beauty, our joy, our cosmic lovemaking.
I think it's intentional that we live in human bodies with limits and impermanence and our tender, tender needs. And I celebrate this with you.
Lastly, I really love the reminder that the "spiritual life is not a vacation from irritation!" That's it's not about escaping from our problems but to relate to them kindly and wisely. In my experience, a spiritual life can bring more challenge. To have others affirm this makes me feel less alone and gives me belonging.
I bow in gratitude for you, and for what you do,
Karly is a coach, speaker, workshop leader, and author who helps men and women heal the roots of food suffering through self kindness, self compassion, and self acceptance - what she calls growing human(kind)ness. Karly founded First Ourselves and leads its compassion based support group for women healing from food "stuff." She lives with her family in Austin, Texas. Learn more about Karly at karlyrandolphpitman.com.