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it will be now.

February 9, 2011

I try I try I try to remember: it’s none of my business how others act in the world, as leaders, as lovers, as leavers.

Especially when I catch my thoughts judging and over analyzing the nature of ego on man’s existence, am I not merely contributing to the problem of ego? … egotistically thinking that I am better off because I can spot the sinner from a mile away.

But, in all honesty, it’s exhausting to simply watch in stillness as ego comes and ego goes. As ego grows and ego grows.  I have to interject NOW!

Is it a social faux-pas to confront the ego, question it, dissect it so we may better understand how it works and what it feeds on? Is this interrogative behaviour arrogant in itself and none of my business?

No, I cannot be lackadaisical about this hard work that we label in yoga classes “let go of your ego”, “don’t let your ego control your asana practice”. How can I not broach the topic when I share such offerings?

Compounded more so as I watch the bodies of my friends, my students, myself, undergo countless injuries, finding it impossible to take a break from the physical movement. Many of us feel a sense of loss to an unseen force when we cannot uphold the daily commitment of asana practice. The ego wins. And we ultimately destroy our bodies, the opposite of the healing and cleansing we initially set out to do.

Yes, it’s practice, yes, it’s love, yes, it’s dialogue, yes, it’s living in harmony with nature. And then it becomes an intelligent awareness and dissection of our instincts. Learning to know what is right, that it will all change and that we are all at different stages of becoming attuned to our intelligent spirits.

To endure the fears of impermanence and to struggle against the inevitable is a tiring business, so at the same time we long equally for loss of self, for fusion, for submergence, and transcendence, for release from the burden of ego. The egoic self is an exhausting traveling companion, forever demanding that his caprices be pandered to, that his whims be obeyed (though he is never satisfied), and his fears be calmed (though they never can be).

Much of yoga practice and ethic is concerned with cutting the ego down to size and removing the veil of unknowing that obscures its vision- with the intervention and assistance of intelligence.

What is the advantage conferred by the mirror of intelligence?  Simply that we can see ourselves as if from a distance. Suddenly the egoic self becomes an object. Normally it is the subject, incapable of seeing things except from its own point of view. A real mirror permits us to see ourselves as if from outside, therefore to notice what we could not otherwise see, food stains on our ties for example. Thus we can make changes in our appearances if we are disturbed by the images we see. In fact, consciousness is a double mirror, able to reflect the objects of the world, or the soul within.

We can choose to take off and clean our tie. We can choose to start asana practice and cleanse our bodies. “We can choose”. (Iyengar, Light on Life)

Or, forget intelligent intervention on the ego.  The pull between action, inaction and the choices in between become an internal debate once more. We can strip it all down to something real and selfless: ishvara-pranidhanad-va.

By giving your life and identity to God, you attain the identity of God.

Offer up yourself, your practice and everything you bring to it, to God. Give it up. Devote the fruits of your practice to God and your practice will become full of grace.  (Jivamukti Yoga)

After all, this is why we choose to do yoga. To heal our bodies, help the world. The remaining egos are tiny stumbling blocks toward the unity that we all desire…somewhere in our hearts.


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