Sri Dharma Mittra instructs “Copy the teacher.” This is a very practical instruction for students. If you want to learn something, yoga, cooking, medicine, business, etc., you look toward experts and follow their examples. You have to have some measure of faith and ego-less-ness: the teacher knows more than you, so do what you are told. Although asking “why” is good, but at some point we, as students, just need to shut up, pay attention, and repeat.
Sri Dharma’s instruction very much applies to teachers as well. Teachers must be aware that students are looking to them and copying them. The teacher serves as the example, the proof, and the reminder that the method works. This is an underlying theme in both the Ramayana and the Bhagavad Gita. In the Ramayana the characters are archetypes of perfection: Rama is the perfect King, Husband, Son; Sita is the perfect wife; Hanuman is the perfect servant; even Ravana is the perfect villain. How should a leader act? Read what Rama does. How should a devotee act? Look to Hanuman. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna explains that, as Supreme Lord, he does not need to do anything. He chooses to act (ie incarnating in the world of Man) because if he did nothing, all of humanity would follow his lead and do nothing. One of the responsibilities of leaders is to set the example for others to follow.
This is why it is so vital that teachers practice the methods they teach. Teach asana, practice asana. Teach meditation, sit on your cushion. Quote the shastras, read/study/apply the teachings from the shastras. If teachers are not actualizing the methods they teach, what choice will the students have but to follow their direction?
A little side trip, then we’ll come back around…
The celebration of the birthday of Ganesh, called Ganesh Chaturthi, was observed on September 1st this year. The date is based on the lunar calendar, it falls on the 4th day of the bright fortnight (waxing moon) of the month of Bhadrapada (August/September)(Sivananda, Hindu Fasts and Festivals).
And back for serious content…
In September of 2001, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois was in New York City to preside over a ceremony consecrating a statue of Ganesh at the Broom St. Temple as part of the celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi. He was in Manhattan on September 11th. Following September 11th, he stayed in NYC and continued to teach. Doing so set an example for his students. “Do your practice, and all is coming,” means do your practice in good times and bad. If he did not continue to teach, he would have demonstrated that yoga is only a fanciful exercise with no lasting value. How do you get through bad times? Do your practice. How do you build and demonstrate strength and faith in the face of disaster? Do your practice. How do you help others overcome tragedy? Do your practice. How do you demonstrate good (Truth) triumphs over evil (Ignorance)? Do your practice. Be an example for others to follow.
Our example is how our individual practice benefits the world. Others see our practice, and the strength (not talking physical) and goodness which comes from it. Have we all conquered ignorance, anger, stupidity, ego? Not necessarily. Our continued practice demonstrates that we are trying to move towards Truth. In good times and bad, through disasters man-made or natural, our practice will provide the hope and inspiration for others who are hopeless and lost. We are the teacher, we must teach something worth copying.
svasti prajabhyah paripalayantam
nyayena margena mahim mahisah
gobrahmanebhyah subhamstu nityam
lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu
May all be well with Mankind.
May the leaders of the earth protect in every way by keeping the right path
May there be goodness for all who know the earth to be sacred
May all the worlds be happy
[TR Sri K. Pattabhi Jois]