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Archive for October, 2011

Blessed

Another day on the Parkway

Home. As captured by a good woman.

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I have just completed my second training weekend at Bodhana Yoga School.

Since August and for the next several months, I am participating in two separate yoga training programs. One is an Anusara immersion. Anusara is a Hatha yoga system based on Taoist philosophy – or as Anusara calls it, Shiva Shakti Tantra – created by John Friend. The word Anusara means “Open to Grace.” Its philosophy draws from Taoism and Taoist practices (for example, the “focal points” used in asana practice are aligned with the three tan tiens we work with in Tai Chi), all though for some reason this parallel goes unknown by many anusara practitioners and teachers.

The Bodhana Yoga School is a teacher training program. In this training, we are learning some Sanskrit, Hindu deities, classical yogic philosophy, gross and subtle body anatomy, and pranayama and mantra techniques.

In my experience and insperience on this Earth, I have come to construct my own philosophy based on a variety of influences. I have worded this philosophy in a previous post as RastaTantraTaoKamitEsotera.

Check it, this is where I’m coming from:

We live in a fucked up and divinely perfect world. The Earth and all things physical are spiritual manifestations. At the subtlest level, there is One Great Spirit underlying all. The Omniverse is One pulsing being. This Oneness divides into 2 major forces in order to create experience. In Taoism they are described as Yin/Yang. In Hindu belief they are Shiva/Shakti. On planet Earth the 2 major forces are displayed within the sexes: feminine and masculine. This is a system of polarity. Everything in existence has a polar opposite to counterbalance it. No-Thing can physically exist without an opposing force. Something cannot be hot without something else being cold. There is no left without right. No day without night. All is relationship. Relativity. The interconnectedness of all things is undeniable and ever-present because Ultimately, All is One.

This past weekend at Bodhana Yoga School crystallized some things that have been forming for a while. My life has developed and defined itself along the vein of three great passions: art/expression, spiritual evolution, and socio-cultural upliftment and change. These three passions are actually all One drive and inextricable. I began in dedication to art, writing, theater, dance, and singing. I also devoted myself to volunteering my time in assistance to oppressed peoples. People, the human experience, and the oppression that is so instrumental in creating that experience, have given my life drive and meaning.

I traveled to Tanzania, East Africa, in 2006 after graduating from High School. In Tanzania, I volunteered as an English and arts teacher at a school and orphanage. I heard Tanzanian children repeating the English alphabet in their classrooms. I taught children whose parents had been lost to AIDS. Children who had AIDS themselves. Children with open sores all over their bodies. 3 year-olds who were sexually abused before their third birthday. Children who had been beaten or burned. I went walking every day. I learned the shape of the land and gained a sense of direction. I saw houses standing half-built, their owners building as much as they could with what money they come across, one step at a time. People followed me as I walked. People who wondered if I could help them. People who wanted me to give them money or show them my watch. I heard wailing last for hours at neighborhood funerals. I saw people dressed in shoes made of tires. People with Polio. People without limbs and people without eyes, spending their lives laying on mats in town, passersby dropping coins onto the mats. The market was an expanse of wheelbarrows in open air, filled with clothing from United States Goodwill. African people wearing clothes with American slogans on them – unwittingly advertising for Nike. I saw how hard the servants worked for the rich family I stayed with. Watched them on their hands and knees mopping floors with wet rags twice a day. Carrying wood. Taking care of children. I watched as they fanned fire in a shed with the night ablaze by thunderstorm around them – another night without electricity. I heard stories about witch doctors and magick, which at the time I did not believe. I heard the dreams of my host family brothers – they wanted big cars and big money and women like the ones in American rap videos. They wanted to go to the United States. The Tanzanian shilling was worth nothing compared to the US dollar. A loaf of bread there was equivalent to $0.08 US cents. The average weekly wage for a hotel worker is $12.00 USD. Twelve dollars a week. Forty-eight dollars a month. Tanzanian people are living on less than fifty dollars a month. Tanzania is considered a safe, peaceful, and prosperous country in Africa.

When I returned, I wanted people to see what I saw. I went to school in Boston to study Screenwriting, Postcolonialism, and Womens/Gender Studies with the intent to research and write for documentaries. I felt that if people could only see what life is like in Tanzania and elsewhere, things would have to change. While at school, I studied Frantz Fanon, Walter Rodney, and Aime Cesaire. I pieced together the reasons why Tanzania and greater Africa are in these conditions. I studied the slave trade and how it removed all able-bodied workers from an entire continent and dispersed them throughout aryan countries – leaving a population of  ill, elderly, and children behind. Europeans arrived in Africa as missionaries, breaking down the foundation of ancient religio-cultural tradition and replacing it with the foreign faith of Christianity. Languages of the populace were replaced with German, French, and English in order to serve the market and disempower the people. The Industrial Revolution left Europe poised to purchase raw materials from Africa, process them in Europe, and sell the same goods back to Africa at a much higher price. I learned that the World Bank and the IMF operate the same way, giving out loans to “developing nations” (it would be more accurate to say “nations whose development is being purposefully restricted,” or “systematically oppressed nations”), dictating how the money is spent – on infrastructure that will support continued systematic oppression – then upping the interest and demanding the loans back when the projects they supported in the first place were designed to be unprofitable for the borrowing nation.

What I learned taught me that I would never again in good conscience travel to Africa, or anywhere, to teach English. English is a left-brain dominated language which, when spoken for long periods, drains prana (life force). While it has become necessary to know English in order to succeed financially in this global economy, that is not a good enough reason to continue to propagate it throughout the globe. There are other languages which must be revived and spread for their specific cultural, energetic, intuitive, and spiritual purposes. I consider my time in Tanzania as a modern extension of the missionary story. I went there in good faith and with good intention, but during my time there I taught African children about American culture. Of course people everywhere should know about other cultures. But they should know their own first. And too often that information has been forcibly removed, warped, and tainted by those who dominate the world economy; those with the economic means to travel and introduce, then impose, their worldview upon others. Africa needs to know itself again. That entire continent shows symptoms of trauma. When someone experiences trauma – as in, they are beaten, or raped, or stolen from, repeatedly denied, what have you – they disassociate from themselves. Their spirits eject from their bodies and they experience all kinds of turmoil and misfortune as a result of this disconnect. They become in constant battle with themselves. The journey back is a reconnection, and a soul needs to know that it is safe and loved in order to return to its natural order inside the body. The world must become clear about the tyranny that has occurred and continues to occur, and Africa must reconnect. With the truth of its history. With the strength of its communities and individuals. With the love, power, and wisdom that form the basis of its ancient Life philosophies.

Realizing that film and media were not my highest path, I left Boston for Swannanoa, North Carolina. During the years of 2009 and 2010, I developed an intimate relationship with a man which informs all of the content one will find on this blog. This relationship taught me so many things, the fruits of which will unfold in(de)finitely, as Love does. One of the greatest things I came to Know is the intertwining relationship between spiritual evolution and the cessation of oppression.

The point of Life is to Evolve. There is one constant in nature: Change. Beyond that, there are simple truths of elements and cyclic process, such as birth to death and seasons. Natural growth exists and occurs in spirals. We may come to another summer, and it will have similar characteristics of the past summer, but this summer is never exactly the same as the past summer. It is a new summer. Evolution is always occurring, but as conscious beings, humans have the special ability to speed up or slow down that process through conscious mind intent (also known as Will). The way humans speed the process of evolutionary growth is simply by aligning with the Divine.

All things are organized by divine law. We make ourselves familiar with the structure of the cosmos: All is One, which splits to 2 to create the phenomena of balance and imbalance, which divides further into basic elements to oppose and support one another and create a dynamic and diverse experience on Earth. A human being is essentially a fingerprint of a set of energies which define natural inclinations – gifts and challenges – and these energies are determined by karma. However, while nature and animals are locked into their own fingerprint, human beings are self-reflective. They hold the gift of self-consciousness, which allow them to manipulate their own actions to shift the course of consciousness. Humans have the power of Mind over Matter.

A human also has an ego self, which is the identity of an individual. Many people on Earth place so much emphasis and importance upon their ego self (this process is encouraged and maintained specifically by the market), that they become blind to their Divine Self, which binds them to all things as One Unified Being. Both the ego self and the Divine Self always exist. The process of spiritual training is not to deny either self, but rather to align the ego self with the Divine Self. This is the unison of the Heart and Mind. The Heart corresponds with the Divine Self. When people say “follow your heart,” they are really directing you to align with the Divine natural order. The Mind is often overridden with socio-culturally (and historically) conditioned thoughts that disturb the natural peace of the Heart. When one is able to quiet the mind and listen to the True Mind, they are experiencing the unison of Heart and Mind, in which the Divine Heart leads the way. In order to align with the Divine, we must battle with the lower aspects of our ego and create/maintain balance within. Life gives us pure messages through elemental symbology and incidence that show us directly where imbalance lies. Walking the Path requires remaining awake, aware, observant, and recipient to these messages, as well as enacting the necessary tasks in order to maintain Balance. The Divine Oneness must be upheld over the ego, for the ego easily leads us astray and fool us with strong feelings associated with habit, craving, and past karma. One can know when their ego is directing an action because fear, anger, or some form of negativity and/or selfishness will be involved. For example: at work I don’t stand up to cruel treatment from higher-ups because I fear losing my job. I diminish myself as a result, and wound my ability to stand in my Divine power. My inability to deflect the cruelty stems from fear, and perhaps a lack of self-worth. If I align with my Divine Self, however, I am able to transcend the fear of losing my job and assert my position as a person of power, dignity, and Love. The job may still be lost, but the spiritual growth that occurs from the action of aligning with the Divine Self delivers benefits that outweigh the loss. I have also psychologically reinforced an action of self-maintenance that will make me more likely to stand in the power of the Divine in the future, which encompasses compassion, self-sustenance, and fearlessness in the face of challenge.

The reason I go into all of this is to explain a point. My journey began in concerns about oppression of human beings. How did I go from volunteering in Africa to studying Yoga? I came to the very real-ization I begin to describe above. The world is Divinely fucked, meaning: it is fucked to give humanity an impetus to Truly Live. Light and darkness exist to feed and support each other. Good and evil exist so that good can work to transcend and transform evil. If there wasn’t oppression on Earth, I would have nothing to live for, as my Life is devoted to transcending and relieving oppression on Earth. [Note: in Rastafari tradition, ‘oppression’ is re-worded as ‘downpression.’ Word is Sound is Power. The subtle vibrations of the words we say send subconscious messages. It is important to speak of things as they truly are. Notice that the English language has associated the meaning of the word ‘oppression’ with a root sound related to the word ‘up.’ Oppression is not a positive thing in any sense, therefore it should be revealed in its association with negative vibrations. This is the purpose of renaming it ‘downpression.’]

I came to yoga after seeing the flaws in my previous activism. I came to yoga while feeling completely enveloped and trapped by the system. The system, which is controlled by the market, and guided by the simultaneously filthy and bloody and probably germless hands of a select few and their friends and contacts (this is the true “invisible hand” of capitalism). I came to yoga at a time when I was desperately trying to make the system work for me and failing at every turn. I was going to school and designing my own education, but I could feel all the bullshit requirements I had to fulfill sucking the life out of me. Living in the city was sucking the life out of me. The constant sounds of traffic. I recall looking up at the sky and being amazed by its vast blue expanse in contrast with skyscrapers. I was breathing fumes, I needed starbucks, and I was always hungry. Worse, every way I could possibly think of to help all those suffering seemed nominal if not impossible. I saw ugliness all around me and ugliness was inside of myself.

I came to understand that the way to change the world was actually internal. In truth, it is a simple equation. It is no mistake that the concept of heaven in Christianity has been degraded to some far-off, after-death dream in most North American’s heads. What better way to keep a population in service to a market system that does not work for them but to completely disempower them? Keep them from the special realization that, as the Bible states, the Kingdom of Heaven is within. The equation is this: human beings are manifested God Consciousness. If humans can align their ego selves with their God Selves, thus acting as God would – or Jesus, if that’s your bag – in all situations, then planet Earth becomes Heaven. This is Zion. Created by maintaining discipline, compassion, strength, selflessness, and striving to protect Life, Creation, and the One Love while stepping fully into the expression of your individual self. And the nature of Unity (Inity) is like an ocean. One drop creates a ripple effect, so that every individual action sends out signals and vibrations surrounding to affect the collective. This is the cause of the rising vibration spoken of by New Age theorists. The more personal strength, integrity, and Love on person can maintain, the more likely it is those touched by their life will have strength, integrity, and Love as well.

However, there is something I need to address. It has been my repeated experience that many folks involved in spiritual practice have trouble integrating their spiritual belief with their mundane actions and activities. This integration of the spiritual and the mundane is where true Yoga begins. [Note: the word “yoga” means “union,” or, “to join together.” It is referring to the phenomenon described above, of uniting the self with the Divine.] And yoga is not simply about ‘being kind’ or ‘practicing the golden rule.’ While these are important facets, we must not end our Christ-like behavior there. Christ is so admired because of the sacrifices he made. Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., all of these people become immortal in our Earthly memory because they sacrifice themselves for the sake of Light, Truth, Righteousness, and the Worth of Humanity. They are great Healers. Yoga is about shedding illusion from your life so that you, with the gifts you have naturally been endowed, can be of most Service in the path of freeing and uplifting humanity.

I mentioned the current Occupy Wall Street protests at my yoga training this past weekend, and no one seemed very interested. To me, what protestors are doing all over the world is Living Yoga. Yoga is not some mantra practice or study of Sanskrit designed to cushion you into a comfortable life so that you can have enough space and peace to meditate. Yes, it is important to keep your light bright through practice and devotion, but there are other methods of devotion than those outlined by Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. There are methods of devotion that may not even appear to be religious because they flow with the true shape of Life and Purpose. It’s in doing the right thing, under all pressures and in all circumstances. It is sacrificing some aspect of yourself so that others can suffer less – taking to the streets for weeks on end in order to speak the truth of suffering for all those who either don’t have a voice or can’t find their voice for fear. Protecting life, in whatever fashion, and being willing to give up the greatest part of yourself to that end –

this is True Yoga. This is spiritual development. And this unfolds even without meditation or knowledge about Krishna. This is simply Being Real. This is Earthly reality coming into art-iculation with Spirit. This is the joint of a body, a simultaneous splitting, extending, and settling of energy. Real is flow.

I have one more point before retiring for the night. As I said, the Bodhana Yoga School I am training in now is teaching devotional yogic practices primarily through the lens of classical yogic/Buddhist and Hindu philosophy. During the first weekend of this school, it was taught that yoga originated and developed in India, as recorded in the Vedas, which were texts written by Sanskrit-speaking people in the Indus Valley around 1800BCE. I challenge the concept that yogic practice and philosophy originated in India. Yogic philosophy is basically the delineated path to humanity reuniting with God/the Divine/Oneness/Jah. Based on the realization that all religions share major commonalities in this most basic regard, I feel that humans have been on this path of return to Jah since they have been in existence. As far as I can ascertain, the earliest relatives to modern day humans have been traced back to Africa. [Note: I do not believe it is an accident that Blacks, the earliest peoples on Earth and their descendants are also historically and perpetually the most widely downpressed group.] I do not believe that human beings existed for several thousand years in Africa without developing practices and philosophies of spiritual cultivation. Due to Earth and weather changes, human ancestors in Africa migrated to the regions of the Middle East, India, and China. Civilizations were founded around sustaining fresh water sources such as rivers. Some of the oldest civilizations on record are Mesopotamia (The Middle East, which includes Canaan/modern day Israel, its first written history in 3100BCE), Kamit or Ancient Egypt (3150BCE), Sumer in Africa (4000BCE). The first Chinese dynasty was recorded in 2100BCE and there have been cliff drawings discovered in China dating back to 6000BCE.

I cannot believe that yogic philosophy developed in India pure of influence from it roots which originally migrated from Africa. Yes, the Rig Veda appeared around 1500BCE in the Indus Valley. I wish to look past these well-known origins into the social, economic, and racial conditions surrounding the publishing of these holy texts, whose teachings had been passed intimately and orally through language and culture (and through the invisible bounds of nations) prior to publishing. I also wish to question the translation of works such as the Rig Veda from the angle of knowing those who are educated in writing tend to have social and economic mobility, meaning they translate from a certain worldview and perspective. Who wrote the Rig Veda and other texts? To what social, economic, and racial sect did they belong? Where did they receive the information (or the techniques which led them to discover the information) they needed to author these texts?

I still retain a strong sense that Africa and Blacks worldwide are underserved, overlooked, and ferociously dominated by downpressing forces. This is not to downplay the omniversal effects of downpression on One and All. Merely, I wish to advertise this in the case of blackness, to the end of hoping to drive home the fact that Humanity literally Originated in Africa. And with the origination of humanity was also the seed of incredibly powerful spiritual tradition, knowledge, and wisdom. What secrets of Love Lie within fertile Earth with a sky so close and home to heavy Hearts? We Respect our Roots and our Elders, and we make correct the dignity, pride, and freedom that has been stolen from those we Respect.

I, Bredren.

in peace

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Deciding Incarnate

Because my actions are mindful, careful, righteous, and selfless

They Defend Themselves.

And when they do not,

I humbly admit to my mistake.

 

I laugh at the possibility of lowering my vibration

for Life is easy, Radiant

as Nature is perfect order in Love

 

True Love is not merely kindness

it is Justice, Courage, Strength, and Bravery.

It is the Earth and Sun combining:

a Mother’s solidity. Unconditional receptivity. Defense.

a Father’s Brilliance.

 

And if I want to be a mother

I practice first

to Mother myself

the All surrounding.

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