A Life of Practice: I Am the Light of the World
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Awakening to awareness is a dominant reality in scripture. Throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus makes very broad, altering statements that are laden with meaning. In John 8:12, Jesus says that he is the Light — the illumination of the world. The Pharisees challenged this admission. Jesus explained that even if he repeated His admission of identity, he and the Father were sure of it, but this sect of law observers could not because they chose to remain in darkness. They chose not to wake up to who he was.
What does it mean to wake up to the Light?
The awakening to Light involves the observation of darkness. Darkness is a place of obscurity. As yogis and yoginis we have felt the dark places that have pervaded us.
I am here to affirm that the struggle is real.
There are things within us, situations and we long to change. Habits, dependencies and dispositions don't meet the hopes we have for our lives.
We ache with the suffering of rejection, dislocation and regret. Our hearts break for the pain we see in ourselves and in the lives of others.
The smokey clouds of doubt hover within. The more we know, the more we do not know anymore. The intersection of the science, the history and the truths we grew up with no longer serve nor feed us within.
We feel these things especially in this in between space of worshipping in a western church and practicing an eastern discipline that we often hide from other church goers for fear they will not understand this intimate reality we experience with the spiritual disciplinary science of yoga.
I am not here to say simply, "Let the Light of Jesus in these places." No.
Let's go deeper into the psychology of the Yoga Sutras and how it relates to us in the scope of scripture.
Often times when I teach I say, "Observe the sensations in your body without judgement, without putting any color on them." By coloring I mean muddying them up with things we are feeling or seeing them with the blemishes of experience. The mind is what we use to observe and the observation is something different. The yogis refer to the part of us that has observation as purusa. The mind is the instrument of perception and the purusa is the perceiver. If the mind or citta is colored, the purusa is colored. If the mind is clear, then the perception or purusa will be clear.
The purusa is a lot like what Paul calls the 'mind' in Romans 8:4–5. If we track this back to the Greek, the word used here for mind is sarka or 'flesh.' Since we can't work directly with our purusa, we work with the mind/citta, stilling it or uncoloring it through with breath practice. When we do so, we let the Spirit into the space of our purusa for the transformation of our flesh. We let the Spirit in to take charge.
In your breath is the name of God: I Am.
Then we begin to observe sensations with less of the colorings of the mind. As we do this we begin to loosen the grip of our habits and conditionings, and begin to re-write the patterns of our lives or samskaras. The mind governed by the flesh is destruction. The mind governed by the Spirit is peace.
This bringing our breath into places of perceived darkness is bringing the Light in. It is transforming the darkness in our perception by simply breathing. If this seems foreign, the Quakers, the mystics, the warriors of faith and spiritual freedom have been teaching this for hundreds of years. The product of this breath, this Light, is awareness. Awareness is transformation: consciousness, recognition, realization. We are children of this Light. Romans 8:14–17 (NIV) says:
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again;rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
This is why all the wisdom of the world points to the breath. It is all connected here in this thread of Spirit and breath and light and awareness. Here.
In this place, longing becomes an enchantment with the Beloved and the uniqueness He sees within you. Suffering becomes an identification with carrying the sacred wounds of Christ. Doubt becomes being adrift in a sea of beautiful unknowing with the Maker of the universe.
Do your practice. All is coming. — Sri K. Pattabhi Jois
You are a child of Light. You are an offspring of this growing awareness. Allow this breath to soak up the darkness. The darkness was your perception all this time; the Light has always been and will always be there.
(Here is my prayer for you in the form of an old 90s tune by the band James.)