The Path To Bodhichitta

You start where you are, the practice will meet you there.

My Photo
Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Staying Alive

I'm living through the tail-end of the most painful 9 weeks of my life. I've felt every single scratch, slash and slice on the skin of my heart and mind. It was agonising. It was terrifying. It dangled me over the cliff of despair. And it kept me alive.

For the past nine weeks, I have allowed myself to be immersed in my thoughts and emotions as deeply as I can. I have permitted my mind to ask my heart for explanations and vice versa. I have taken many pills of courage to look closer at the person within me and though different views offered fear, shame and comfort, I remain grateful for the experience to be completely present with my inner self.

I made a mistake that almost knocked two worlds off their respective axis. It was a mistake I thought I would never make, one that has taught me so much more about myself. My confusion and fear were overwhelming at times, but by forcing myself to stay in the moment, I was unwittingly practicing one of the yogic yamas - svadhyaya or study of the self. The yama that helps us separate illusion from our true selves, from those around us and from the world around us.

One of my favourite yoga teachers, Cyndi Lee, noted that 'even when our arms quiver and our hips whine, as long as we can stay awake and inquisitive to the process, we can learn to experience happiness.'

Nirvana is still elusive, but today, I am happy. Nine weeks ago, this emotion turned from best friend into complete stranger. One month ago, it began taking hesitating steps towards me. Last week, it reached out its hand for mine. And although our fingertips are only grazing right now, it is enough for me.

"When you look for happiness, look for pain, and when you find the pain, and you begin to see it lessening, you'll find happiness."
- Gehlek Rimpoche

Saturday, June 16, 2007

If You Don't Have

if you don't have
enough madness in you
go and rehabilitate yourself

if you have lost a hundred times
the chess game of this life
be prepared to lose one more

if you're the wounded string
of a harp on this stage
play once more then resonate no more

if you're that exhausted bird
fighting a falcon for too long
make a comeback and be strong

you've carved a wooden horse
riding and calling it real
fooling yourself in life

though only a wooden horse
ride it again my friend
and gallop to the next post

you've never really listened
to what God has always
tried to tell you

yet you keep hoping
after your mock prayers
salvation will arrive

- rumi

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Even Angels Fall

What more us mere mortals? So don't put me on a pedestal. Don't seek to uncover the universe's truths through me. Don't hang your hopes on the words that flow out of my mouth. Not even if I can stand on my head, balance on tiptoe or arch my spine into a perfect C. For I fall too.

"I'm so happy to find out that my teachers are humans too."

My student beamed when she uttered those words to me after today's class. I found them both comforting and unnerving. The former, because she truly sees me as a teacher and the latter, because she once thought I could do no wrong in her eyes. She forgot that behind the spiritual music, the yoga attire and the gentle guidance is a human being, who has been blessed with the ability to make mistakes and learn from them.

Yoga teachers go through the same emotions as yoga students. Just because we can correct your alignment in sirsasana (headstand) means that we're infallible. No matter how perfect our flow in surya namaskar (sun salutation), we're not always able to serenely flow from one disaster to the next in real life. No matter how deep our backbends, we're not always able to bend so far backwards to accommodate the world's every demand. And no matter now steady our breathing, we also sometimes hold our breath during tensed moments.

We're human. And we embrace that.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007