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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Living at the Thin Edge


Someone recently described to me something that happens in biology where things get moved to the middle and the edges are taken off and how sometimes things get taken away at the middle and the edges get bigger. He said that being creative and forward thinking gets you out in the edge and it can be lonely there sometimes. I think it's probably lonely to some degree everyplace on the curve, but out at the edge you're aware that you're alone.

It seems to me that when you want transformation or change, you are open to yoga and meditation and the Landmark Forum, which I would put in the realm of jnana yoga, and things like that. When you are not aware that you want transformation and you aren't aware of your suffering or the obstacles in front of you, you won't want to do those things. Or you'll think those things are stupid or perhaps just doubt their benefits and judge the people who do take on those practices.

When I was in India studying yoga a long time ago, I'd meet people in town and they'd ask me what I was doing in India. When I told them I was studying yoga they asked me, "are you sick?" Because for them, they only did yoga when they were sick, or they did it in school as punishment, like my math teacher used to throw chalk at us and make us do laps around the classroom or push-ups, and these guys had to do sun salutations.

And when people tell me the Landmark Forum is a cult or scheme or that meditation is stupid, or my favourite, "I can't do yoga," it makes me bristle a bit inside. Sometimes it makes me bristle a lot. But what I have learned to do with that conversation is look at who's saying it. Where is it coming from? Usually it's first of all coming from someone who hasn't tried yoga or meditation or spent the weekend at the Landmark Forum. It's commentary from other people who also haven't tried those things. Where it's really coming from though is from fear. Fear of change. Fear of growth. Fear of responsibility.

When we're in a place of fearlessness things don't occur as threatening. And when we're on a path of fearlessness, we're also on the look out for other things that can help us maintain or grow our fearlessness. We resonate with things that bring on transformation and strengthen us rather than take us back to the middle. We may turn off our tvs, we may stop listening to so much news, take a closer look at our children, maybe meditate and listen to what's happening inside, perhaps have live conversations and spend time with people. We are invariably faced with criticism and judgement from people whose opinions we care about and may even begin to doubt our own path. But that's just another one of the obstacles on the path of yoga...

And if we are into transformation and we aren't into meditation, yoga - hatha, jnana or otherwise - and we've got another path (there are many, many) - we still recognize their value and that they are paths and we can appreciate them without having taken those particular paths because they resonate with our own inner wisdom. But that would mean we're living at the thin edge, sometimes remembering what life in the middle was like...

3 comments:

Cristina said...

I bought that book last week! In other news, I'm going through a huge turmoil, and I've been thinking for days to email/facebook you and say hi, so there you go, hi! for now and I'll email you soon... take care!

Caroline Chapman said...

Love it. That really resonates. Fear is responsible for so many "bad" reactions and keeping sight of this can help hugely in dealing with our own stuff but particularly the reactions/responses of loved ones who may not quite "get us". Thanks again for sharing.

Jamine said...

Thanks guys. This was the book that Pema Chodron spoke from at the retreat in October. I think you'll like it! It's part of a trilogy. The first is the Sacred Path of the Warrior.