November 2017 Yoga Newsletter
Greetings yoga sangham attending class this November 2017!
This month we were contemplating and practicing thanksgiving, delight and recognition. There is a whole philosophical school of Yoga Tantra methodology devoted to this attitude called “Pratyabhijna” : the School of Recognition.
Recognition is an orientation to reality that cultivates awe and reverence in place of entitled apathy, uprooting the dulling tendency to take things for granted.
Recognition is the willingness to see the miraculous in the ordinary and the ordinary in the miraculous.
We did asana with awe. Mindful of the adage “familiarity breeds contempt,” we awakened and kindled appreciation for the miracle of being human, with all our mental capabilities savoring the sensory avenues of refreshed perception.
In enacting the postures of reptiles, amphibians, mammals and humans we re-cognized and celebrated the continuity of evolution’s 3.5 billion years that shimmers and sings in our cells DNA.
Tantric methods of Recognition emphasize the appreciation of the arts as a way to wake up to the magnificent gift of existence. The 10 Century Tantric sage Abhinavagupta who taught “the constant practice of taking delight” calls this esthetic receptivity :
“The complete absence of wonder is in effect a complete absence of life. Esthetic receptivity [in] the heart of a person, shedding of its attitude of apathy…immediately starts a wonderful vibratory movement. This is called ananda-shakti (energizing bliss)”
During this month of November 2017 an event in the art world nicely illustrated this theme. A lost Leonardo Da Vinci portrait of Christ surfaced, was displayed at the auction house Christie’s, and ultimately sold for the highest price ever to command a work of art : $450 million.
But the painting had been acquired in 2005 for only $10,000! That is because it wasn’t recognized. When after removing some dulling layers of paint, Leonardo’s authorship was determined, and suddenly the public who had ignored the thing were flocking to see it with tears and gasps of awe. They gave themselves permission for esthetic receptivity.
I wonder why we wait for cultural consensus to allow ourselves to be moved and wonderstruck by beauty. What myriad masterpieces of luminous existence go unacknowledged and unappreciated as we sleep-walk through our days?
A poem shared by our dear classmate Cristina Vatulescu:
that so many commonplace miracles happen.
An ordinary miracle:
in the dead of night
the barking of invisible dogs.
One miracle out of many:
a small, airy cloud
yet it can block a large and heavy moon.
Several miracles in one:
an alder tree reflected in the water,
and that it’s backwards left to right
and that it grows there, crown down
and never reaches the bottom,
even though the water is shallow.
An everyday miracle:
winds weak to moderate
turning gusty in storms.
First among equal miracles:
cows are cows.
Second to none:
just this orchard
from just that seed.
A miracle without a cape and top hat:
scattering white doves.
A miracle, for what else could you call it:
today the sun rose at three-fourteen
and will set at eight-o-one.
A miracle, less surprising than it should be:
even though the hand has fewer than six fingers,
it still has more than four.
A miracle, just take a look around:
the world is everywhere.
An additional miracle, as everything is additional:
— Wislawa Szymborska
And i was delighted and astonished when our classmate Konstantina Tsoukaris presented me with this exquisite Yantra she created, with a picture of my Guru, Swami Muktananda in the center!
With love, gratitude and awe,