Thursday, December 17, 2009
So, for the last couple of years, right around the Solstice, I have been giving each incoming year a little theme, inspired by yogic concepts that I feel most in love with at the time. 2008 was 'unmesha', which is the word for gap; the space between breaths, or concepts, or stances, or the space between anything -- the infinite space in which anything can shift, even to its opposite. Unmesha is the freedom that anything has to be what it is not, and the freedom that we each have to lose our rigidity and enter the realm of possibility.
2009's theme was 'anugraha', which is a word for Grace: the grace that comes from knowing what to hold tight to, and what to let go of.
Anugraha is about loving and releasing, and the freedom to choose. Anugraha is also about one of Krishna's deepest teachings to Arjuna; anytime we make a choice based on fear or ignorance, the choice brings a chain of karmas behind it... And one cannot avoid the responsibility of choice, for even not choosing is a choice, with all of its own inherent repercussions.
I got a lot of emails back from people who appreciated my little theme-game, so I'm inclined to do it again, but I'm also a little embarrassed... It's embarrassing because it's really very cheerleader-y of me, as if a year would need a theme to really rise up and make something of itself. In truth, each year has its own momentum, and doesn't need anyone waving pom-poms around, or telling it what to do. Each year, just like each singular moment, has its own essential nature, its own path, and, as much as I do enjoy setting intention, I don't pretend to actually have any particular influence on how life unfolds. Life seems to me to have inescapable heft; it gives and takes without warning. With no compunction life can crash upon us like one of those colossally huge avalanches that comes plummeting down a hillside, and then in an eye-blink it can as easily turn us awestruck and blind with the magnet-pull of love. Life doesn't have to preface or forewarn, it is as precocious as the snapping shut of the trap of a lion's mouth, closed in on its prey, or the sudden sheets of heavy rain, snatching away complacency.
How, then, to name this year? How, when I am more than anything stunned by the raucous whimsy of life's events; how one knows almost nothing about anything, and how everything is so constantly the same and then suddenly new. I am not sure if this is just the normal lament of someone who realizes that they're getting older, but life seems so uncontrollable to me, and I'm grateful and terrified, in unequal measure. Gratitude wells up more powerfully than fear, somehow, because, above all, life is the incredible sweetness of music, that touches everything without using hands. I walked into my office the other day to find one of my therapy clients -- at the agency where I work in the East Bay- transfixed by a tiny down feather. The speck of a feather was floating up on an invisible updraft, and she was all a-twinkle over it; ga-ga, like a child... and I thought, how precious it is, to see this woman, who has come to me to share her troubles, and whom I know has suffered in a way so disporportionate to justice, as fascinated as a child, by this feather. She'd fallen in love, like a child does, with the simplicity of wind and lightness, and a feather's indignance towards gravity.
So I've given the year the theme of honey-sweetness and light. Sweetness; Sukha, Madhu; Honey, and light; Jyotir. May your life give you the capacity to apprehend sweetness in the midst of everything, regardless of dukha, and even because of dukha, pain. May your eyes stretch up to see the light of the terrestial world, and the luminous nature of your own precious consciousness.