A Spiritual Almanack- March: Early Growth

March 1, 2016 at 12:19 pm Leave a comment

Hexagram 4: MENG (Childhood)

Mountain

Over

Water (stream)

I have always been regretting that I was not as wise as the day I was born.

H.D. Thoreau

All beginnings hide their magnificence. Life is unfolding, but it is not yet fully manifest: in the beginning of things, in early growth, we see only the tips, the first growths that hide enormous potential.

The image: A spring flows out of a mountain.

Water emerging from a deep source under the dark cover of the mountain collects naturally into a spring, pure and transparent, like the clarity of a child’s innocent mind. As it travels down the mountain and enters the valley the murmuring streams converge into a great river, grow broader and deeper and eventually merge into the sea. When the spring gushes forth, it doesn’t know where it will end, it just flows on and on, trusting its own nature. Everything begins in this small way and has the potential to become naturally great.

But at the foot of the mountain lies difficulty. After the spring emerges, sediment builds up and the initial pure clarity of the fresh spring is obscured and lost. Our own minds also start out pure and clear, showing the mind of Tao, but as we grow up we acquire conditioning – kleshas, ignorance, attachments, false illusions – which obscure our inner clarity, and we are left with the conditioned human mind, losing the real and gaining the false. We fail to see the world clearly, and our ego gets in the way.

The way to combat ignorance, to reverse the human mind back to the mind of Tao is through self-cultivation, through nourishing our correct nature, but it is difficult to do this without losing childlike innocence.

Lao Tzu was asked,

“Can you explain the Tao of keeping good health?”

He replied,

Can you embrace the One?

Can you keep from losing it?

Can you know good and bad fortune without consulting the oracle?

Can you rest where you ought to rest?

Can you stop when you have enough?

Can you leave others alone and seek it in yourself alone?

Can you flee from desire?

Can you be sincere?

Can you become like a little child? A child can cry all day without becoming hoarse — so perfect is its harmony. It can clench its fists all day without relaxing its grip – such is the concentration of its power. It can stare all day without moving its eyes — so unconcerned is it by the outside world. It walks but doesn’t know where. It rests where it’s placed, but it doesn’t know why. It unconsciously mingles with things, and just follows their flow. This is how to guard life.

Rabbi Jesus said,

Truly I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

All beginnings, whenever we start something new, whether it is a yoga teacher training course, a business, a relationship, a creative work, a new political or social movement or the birth of a child, all follow this pattern. We start everything with the expectation that it will grow, develop and prosper, and it can if we have the flexibility of yin to act in accordance with the time and follow the right principles.

The danger at the beginning of things can only be overcome by cultivating our virtues, our highest human values. These are the principles that can sustain our growth, help us to fulfill our potential, and avoid and correct any obstacles that arise. What are these virtues? Swami Satchidananda said that his teacher Swami Sivananda used to say that yoga was so simple. It was “just being good, doing good.” All new beginnings need to be sustained by the most positive values that we can bring to bear: love, compassion and honesty. The ethical teachings of the yamas and niyamas in Patanjali’s yoga sutras say the same thing – by living correctly, ethically, we can live well.

At our beginning we are innocence itself, pure love, and for most of us we are as close to our essence as we will ever be in this body and in this life. As we grow and develop we cross a bridge from love to fear and our task is to return to that beginning and go back over the bridge from fear to love.

When you watch a baby, she is completely at one with her body; her body moves where it needs to go, and her beauty is in her perfection. She is totally present; there is no future, there is no past.

The goal of yoga is to find our true essence, to be totally connected to the spirit or soul within, our inner God, and to be present in each and every moment, just as a baby is.

As we practise our yoga asanas, we are looking to release the habitual patterns of deep tension and bad posture that many of us have developed so that we can allow our bodies to move freely and without tension. It is our attention on the body as we practise and the conscious use of the breath that will help us to get in touch with the body’s inherent wisdom to keep us healthy and happy. As we allow the gravity and our breath to work for us and touch the ground with trust and love, we can learn to trust and love ourselves and the universe around us. This is how we can make the return journey to that bridge so that we can cross back from fear to love.

Pranayama practise and kriyas will help us to clear the impurities from the body, clear our energetic pathways and give us a deep inner strength. The purpose of meditation is to still the mind, learn to understand its wily ways and gain some control over it so that we can go beyond the conscious mind to something much deeper that puts us in touch with the God within us and the immense universal power within us and outside of us. This is true love and with this love we have nothing to fear.

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