On the past half year away I have learned so many things - some concrete and tangible and others of a more introspective variety. Discerning which is which is hard to do, perhaps everything I have learned is a blend.
However, the lesson that stands out as the hardest and yet most liberating, has been my current understanding of the relationship between the future, the present, faith, and intention.
What I am staring to see, is that the future is already determined. It is inevitable. Perhaps that is the fear inducing thing at times - that in some capacity the future is promised and someone, some greater entity already knows. What can feel unsettling is that though some kind of future is promised, we do not know what the promise is, except that it is coming. This can leave us perceiving the future as a dramatic expanse, unfilled, unclear. We respond by mining, digging, squirming, searching for anything to fill it. And when we do this the experience feels jammed and uncomfortable.
From what I have learned in my own life, especially observing it this year, is that this is a sort of meddling with the present to try and soften or pursuade the future. What I have noticed is that in my attempt to divert myself from pain and discomfort, the end result is acutally a longer, bumpier, and more ardous path.
This is situation is easier for me to see in the yoga asana practice. The deeper variations have an identical play. Like the future, they will come. However, if they are rushed or forced, the positions held will not be the actual asanas as they are not a steady seat in which to sit. Additionally, it will take longer to heal the injuries and un-learn the misalignments commonly attributed to avoiding the reality at hand.
Asanas, as intended, are filled with nourishment and benefit, with wisdom, with conversation. The reason we are told we should be able to stay in an asana for any length of time is because they become nutritive. When we practice without this Wide Gaze, we are often unable to perceive the space that exists, the space that holds the clues that will actually lead us to the desired posture. Instead, in pain and frustration, we often quit, blaming the practice or ourselves as a whole rather than the particular method taken.
I have noticed that in life it is the same. When I rush the path, assume the end, force situations, or meddle with reality, I cannot sit comfortably. Then I constantly require adjustment upon adjustment and I never feel at ease. At this point I often confuse such constant busy-ness with progress. So many times I have called this kind of clean up, yoga, but most likely it is so that I could feel entitled to continue doing it.
Advancement, Intention, and a Broad Gaze
When we say, “dedicate yourself to the process” it is in movement to some "advanced place" - from that of an asana, to that of life, or that of spirit. In this situation advanced does not mean complicated, rather it implies deeper comprehension, nuance, and smooth subtlty. Leonardo DaVinci says, "Simplicity is the ultimate Sophitication." Advanced, to me, means this kind of Sophistication and it requires a Broad Gaze : soft eyes that that can encompass the periphery, while understanding what is behind in addition to what is ahead.
The awareness and desire for this "advanced place" is to me, intention. The deepest crevies of our cells will remember and digest our dreams and once assimilated, these intention becomes the very fuel of our path. They are our futures. Because of them we are gifted with a sense of purpose and direction, a dharma. Suddenly we have a course that will healthfully inspire our natural inclinations. We will feel connected and trusting of our instincts. This experience is what we tend to call faith, or letting it ride, or trusting the process, or manifestation.
Once we have set this Sankalpah, it is softly held within us, influencing us, guiding us, and we are able to focus on the task at hand. This I believe is what the Krishna means in the Bhagavad Gita when he says in Ch.2v.47 "Do the work that comes to you - but don't look for the results. Don'tbe motivated by the fruits of your action, or become attached to inaction".
When we are able to trust that we have handed our truest desires to Divine hands, we can put our whole and devoted attention on the path directly ahead because we are able to see the Divinity in the moments of presence. We can see that each minutia of action itself contains the greater action. Essentially, the small actions of life are the essences of the greater whole. When we can exist here, we trust ourselves and so we do not feel the need to check over our shoulders to see where we have been or peer nervously into the distant future to confirm where we are going.
So, we dedicate ourselves to these nuts and bolts and to do them excellently. We follow their natural flow like bread crumbs in the forest - trusting they are fully in line with the intention we sincerely set at the start - and so we are able to enjoy our footfalls, the trees, the smells of pine, the sounds instead. And, if we suddenly notice we have gone astray, we have every opportunity to recalibrate and begin again.
We will bump into our kingdom in the same way we will bump into our foot in king pigeon. The “deeper expressions” are inevitable. So, if the path is honestly executed, then we will become able to relax into the “correctness” of the experience and we will no longer need to worry about being on it because we will be confident we are.
When the path itself brings sincerity, joy, satisfaction, curiosity, it is the correct one. This is the active play in presence, when the path, though promising to lead somewhere, is wholly enough.
And of course, just because the future is promised, it does not mean we will get exactly what we expect. But, if our intentions are earnest and clear, we will understand and be elated with the surprise of where we end up, including whom and what we end up with.
We cannot control anyone else’s path - if we are to bump into each other - in many ways it is already destined. This is not to say there is not work required to do - as Krishna encourages us from becoming to equally avoid being attached to inaction. Sometimes when we think we are "being present" we are actually just waiting for life to push us along without actual, clarified intentions. This is torpor and laziness.
A Healthy Life is Made of Lucid Election
It is all such a fine line because the proper path will always appear, yet it is not a passive promise. Life well lived is active certainly. A healthy life is made of lucid election.
Of course this is easier said than done. The practice of yoga is built to teach us this very thing, so that our lives feel like they are on wings and we are soaring.
This concept is nothing new of course. But I am feeling it so strongly this year. The need to become exact with myself, my thoughts, my desires, my intentions, my visions so that my path itself can radiate this. This level of clairty I have found, also enfuses me with confidence and bravery because I feel fully in communion with my Fatih and my Soul and the Divine. I can see that I am not alone, that my life is not random and I feel Inspired to make fluent and decisive declarations of Sankalpah. When I am able to do this, I experience myself in my natural joyful state, free of anxiety, confusion, victimization, and fear.
If future already exists, our struggle is that we just do not quite know it or believe it yet. However, someone does - and there can be comfort in that. We are not alone in the journey no matter how lonely or blind it feels. We are not alone. And, if we become sensitive enough to perceive it, we will sense the pressure of a guiding hand leading us to our dreams.