If joy and the pursuit of knowledge is the solitary goal of your yoga, spiritual, religious or scientific practice, then this is not for you. If you practice inside to be more mindful and feel good only to go outside without paying attention to how and what you eat, what you buy and how your spending affects others, then this is not for you. This is for those who understand that real growth comes with growing pains, sacrifice and ceaseless examination of self and others. This is for those whose motivating force is the desire and belief that through their actions, even if in some seemingly small way, the world can and will change.
"We are usually thinking all the time, aren't we? Not that we live in order to think, but the opposite isn't true, either – that we think in order to live. I believe, contrary to Descartes, that we sometimes think in order not to be. Staring into space might be unintentionally actually have the opposite effect"
-Haruki Murakami from a short story entitled Where I'm Likely To Find It.
After 21 days of silence and meditation, I have been asked numerous times how it was and if I have any insights or experiences worth sharing. For the record, 21 days really isn't that long to be in silence and strict meditation. That said, it is certainly long enough to drive some people crazy. To borrow from Dickens, "it was the best of times it was the worst of times." I had moments of wanting to scream and run away and moments which showed me things about myself and the world that are both beautiful and beyond language.
One main thing that I was able to take from the 3 weeks at the temple is a renewed sense of purpose in being alive at this precarious moment in time. This purpose includes an array of responsibilities and a huge amount of love and respect for parents, teachers, friends and family.
I'm not going to share the parents, friends and family part as it’s personal. However, at the risk of sounding cliché, if there is an unresolved issue with your family or friends, now may be a good time to get over yourself and address it. Otherwise, deep work on the spiritual path will be greatly hindered. If your loved ones are no longer living, there are still many ways to send loving kindness to them.
As for my teachers category, I also include the sangha and the community that supports the teachings via the teachers.
I am incredibly grateful to Sharon Gannon and David Life for all they have done. I am incredibly grateful for those who find the teachings of Jivamukti meaningful in such a way that they choose to live by the teachings and lead by example.
As information becomes more and more available, it’s easy to find instruction which helps us to become more aware of how our actions affect the whole of creation on both subtle and gross levels. It’s equally as easy to become overwhelmed and distracted. I understand that the Jivamukti Method is not the only way to practice spiritually. My reaffirmation of faith in Jivamukti is not in disparagement of other ways of being, it is in fact the opposite. The Jivamukti Method forces me to investigate as many ways of being in this world as possible. Sharon and David have never once discouraged me from following the Dharma wherever I felt it leading me. True, for those with an immature world view and concerned with differences, this can be a dangerous path and has at times caused in me confusion.
This last round of looking into another practice has been revolutionary in the true sense of the meaning. There has been a revolution in me, or you could say I have come full circle. I am back to where I began, with Jivamukti Yoga.
It's not like I took this opportunity thinking I would go off on my own and create JulesYoga™ or become a Buddhist, or anything of the sort. It is true that the beings most important to us and with us everyday somehow become invisible. They are not just taken for granted, but dismissed outright as commonplace. The beings most important to us are extraordinary. Our respect imbues these beings with significance and keeps them close to our heart so they continue to inspire.
All of this to say that if your spiritual practice, religious practice, scientific practice... whatever category you place the moving of your life into, if those ways of being, individually and collectively, do not question cultural norms, bring about investigation into problems of the world and in so doing, bring about solutions, ingenuity and a growing sense of solidarity, then you most likely need to fundamentally question what you are doing. Especially for those who consider themselves on a spiritual or religious path, I implore to ask if the world is not a better place because of your practice what is the point? For those of us who are constantly looking for the balance between knowledge, faith, confidence, energy, mindfulness and spiritual activism, I thank you and humbly bow to you. I bow to my teachers and to the sangha.
Thank you Steve Sager for the fantastic edits to this post.