19 December 2016
On the Spiritual Life
It sounds all so mawkish and maudlin but what we see before us is a tipping point in history. We will be mocked for our desolation and ridiculed for cynical despair. We will tell ourselves stories to reject cheerless defeatism and encourage each other with hopeful admonitions to action. Well and good, I say, we will need redress however we can find it. We will need plans to thwart the plunder of decency and the exploitation of this beautiful earth. But make no mistake about it: humanity has taken a turn that portends changes we cannot reverse or merely anul with good intentions or soporific spiritualities.
Today I am sure of this: the forlorn cries you hear inside yourself are not mere crestfallen hopes, they are the chorus of truth coming to terms with a vision, it is the end of the republic as we have known it and the rise of an authoritarianism from which we may never recover. Why so bleak, you say? Because there is more at stake than four years of political reversals and rejections that mean to undo and refuse so much hard-won progress. The facts of climate change, the proliferation of statism and merciless war will bring outcomes and recriminations that may be irreparable. Today is a day for grief equitable to these losses and honest to the facts of that insipid reality.
Tomorrow we must take up again the task to endure and procure what decency there is to a world bent upon its dissolution. For some the path may be reinvention, as we confront what is most important and try to find a way.
For my part, "yoga" has always been of _this world_, with little concern for the weariful claims to unconditional realities and blissful banalities. Yoga has always meant an affirmation of the human condition for all of its foibles and inadequacies, not so that we might offer some respite or balm, much less some prosaic claim to "realization," but rather so that we might find the resilience to persist in our shared humanity. We discover in that common human condition all that is good and all that is not. There is no parsing of one without the other. There is no final mitigation that provides unqualified solace. There is only the time we take to care for each other.
I mean to contend with the inclusion of all that is hidden in the shadow and revealed in the light without false consolations or self-proclaimed solutions. We will not "cure" our human condition because we were never perfect and will never be. So, I will continue to tell the kinds of stories, as best I can, that allow us to inhabit ourselves more fully as human beings born into a world that is full of all of its wonder and includes all of our failures. There are bright days ahead because life itself confers the astonishment of living and, with the blessing, the company too of great souls. So long as our living is unfinished we will need more ways to tell our stories. We mustn't fail to celebrate when we can, all that we can. We are going to need each other more than ever. Love your life, that was my teacher's teaching. Find every way you can to share that, however you can.