Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Master's Class!?!?!?


“So Ron, I’ve heard your snide remarks about ‘masters.’ In fact, you have even written in this blog ‘If you ever encounter someone who claims to be a master, turn and run in the opposite direction as fast as you can.’ What gives you the right to teach a ‘Master’s Class???’”

Well, dear reader, let me sum it up:

Is this class claiming to turn you into a master?  NO!
Is this class claiming to be taught by a master? NO!

In this class we will practice in the way that the Masters have advised: Hatha Yoga for the purpose of Raja Yoga.

Group classes (mine included) tend to focus primarily (or exclusively) on asana, postures.  This is a great place to start, and the best place for the casual student to work.  But asanas are only the gateway, the first step.

Hatha yoga is all about manipulating energy within the body.  We start with the body because it is the most accessible and tangible place for us to start.  Raja yoga (which is truly a combination of Karma, Jñana, and Bhakti yoga) begins with the mind, which is a very, very difficult place to start.  In other ages (so we are told) humanity was more spiritually inclined, so starting with meditation, service of others, placing total faith in the Lord, and deep philosophical introspection were appropriate places to start.

Think of it this way:  If I want some toast, I plug my toaster into the wall.  Viola! Toast.  If I tried to plug that same toaster into the turbines at Hoover Dam, Viola! Explosion! There’s toast alright, for a fraction of a second before it is vaporized.  In order to utilize electricity, it has to travel through a transformer and be altered to a voltage which can be used by my small appliance.

Our minds are the bread, our bodies the toaster.  If we try to plug directly into Atman (or God or The Divine or Truth, pick what works, it’s all the same), our minds will, well, Kablammo! We need to prepare to handle the new energy.

Millions of years of teaching to draw upon and I come up with “our minds are bread” and “Kablammo!”  Told you I was no “master.”

Hatha Yoga begins with asana to make the body healthy (toaster can’t operate correctly with frayed wires and faulty circuits) and to build energy within the body.  Pranayama (breath regulation) is practiced to clear the channels through which that energy will flow.  Mudras are then practiced to channel the energy and create specific attitudes within the mind.  Bandhas are practiced to move energy and ensure it does not escape.  Finally we focus and listen (nada); when we hear the ‘unstruck sound’ energy has risen from our lowest facilities to the highest, and we are ready for meditation.

Asana-Pranayama-Mudra-Bandha-Nada.  That is how we will practice.

But wait! There’s more!

The practice of Hatha Yoga readies the mind for study (one of the 3 actions of Raja Yoga—practice/study/faith). Having prepared the body and mind, we will turn our focus to The Bhagavad Gita, the Eighteenth Teaching “The Yoga of Freedom and Renunciation.”  This is the final chapter of The Gita which summarizes nicely all of the teachings within the work.  We begin with the grossest form (the body) so that we can practice the more subtle aspects (as taught in The Gita).

That’s it. No complex contortions.  No alternate names (I was born Ron and will stay Ron. Although Sri Tabbouleh Babaganoush Mahadas has a nice ring to it!  I am joking.  When you look at me like that I am joking). Just practice.  A complete practice as prescribed by the Masters.

You won’t walk out a master.  You won’t call me a master.  You WILL have more tools to move your own practice forward.  After all, the only thing separating us from the masters is that we have forgotten that we already are masters. Our continued practice helps us to remember, bit by bit.

Can you dig it?  I know you can.  See you Saturday.

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