"How could you possibly talk about yoga for 6 hours?!" That's what my husband wanted to know when I got home from a visit with my teacher. I hadn't realized how much time went by. I got a little glimpse of what Yogananda was talking about in the Autobiography of a Yogi when he talks about sitting at the foot of his master until dawn. I could have stayed there forever.
For several months now my teacher, Ed Zadlo, has been opening his home to anyone interested in studying the Upanishads. Each month a handful of serious yoga students show up with our translation of the Upanishads in hand ready to dive into this ancient yogic text. Sometimes, we never even open the book, other times, we read the entire Upanishad and discuss it in depth. Either way, I always leave feeling enriched by the experience.
It's more than just sitting around "talking about yoga". It's about being in the presence of like minded individuals discussing a subject that we feel so passionately about that keeps me going back each month. It's about supporting one another on this spiritual journey. My beloved teacher has devoted his life to the study of yoga and I, for one, feel privileged and honored to call him my teacher. Who better to teach us how to live our yoga than someone who has been living yoga for 40 years?
Yesterday, we begin reading the Chhandogya Upanishad (It's my favorite one BTW)
"As by knowing one tool of iron, dear one, we come to know all things made out of iron, that they differ only in name and form, while the stuff of which all are made is iron -
So through that spiritual wisdom, dear one, we come to know that all of life is one".
All of life is one. Imagine that.... Even the people in our lives who we decide we don't like, they too are one with us. The same prana (life force) that sustains us also sustains them. The same Divine that resides in the lotus of our hearts is the same Divine that is residing in the lotus of their heart. Even if they don't know it.
The light bulb went on for me last night. Ed was talking about our personalities being masks that we wear.
We wear different masks for different situations. With our mother we wear the mask of a child, when we are with our teacher we wear the mask of a student, when at work we wear the mask of an employee. The masks may change but our true nature behind the mask is that part of us that never changes.
These masks are required in order for us to live this human experience. The "person" behind the mask is our true nature. It's the "person" behind the mask that is the aspect of the Divine that dwells within us that we call Atman. I realized what my friend Jon has been trying to tell me.
When I decide that I don't like someone, what I'm really disliking is the mask that the person is wearing. When I acknowledge that their true nature, behind the mask is the same as my true nature when I take off the mask, it's impossible dislike anyone. We are all one when the masks come off. All of life is one. Is that what SD is talking about when he talks about loving everyone? It's about loving the aspect of the Divine that dwells inside each of us even if we don't necessarily love the mask? --- I think I get it now.
I'm going to make a conscious effort to try and see the person beyond the mask. Maybe that's what the concept of mirroring is all about. I will connect with my true nature, Atman (through the practice of meditation) and then look for it within others. In this way, I can practice loving everyone.
Even though I spent 6 hours with my teacher I still drove home thinking about all the things I wanted to ask him about but didn't get the opportunity to ask....... Yoga has so much to teach us that we can spend an entire lifetime talking about yoga and still only scratch the surface.