The Part that Knows
I've lost track of which version of #planbe we are on, which is maybe a great thing because it means that we are living more in the flow and less out of habit. Nonetheless, as we again adapt to the changing circumstances and the regulations imposed by an external authority, it feels increasingly important to strengthen the our ties to our inner authority, or what in yoga, is called buddhi.
The root "budh" means "to be awake," and buddhi is our capacity to be awake to the reality of our true nature or sat-chit-ananda (truth, consciousness, bliss). Wisdom resides in buddhi whereas manas is the seat of the mind. Georg Feurstein, a prominent scholar of Yoga, explains in The Deeper Dimensions of Yoga that while the mind relies on the physical senses for information which it processes to produce knowledge, buddhi refers to the "higher mind" which governs "a particular kind of knowing which relates not so much to the finite world of physical or psychological realities but to the Spirit." This knowing within you is the source of inner authority and it is a reflection of Pure Consciousness so that, when we allow this intuitive intelligence to guide our thoughts and actions, we start responding to life rather than reacting against it.
Lately, as we have been emerging out of quarantine and into a world where human interactions are mediated via plexiglass, screens, and masks, the sense of isolation feels somehow stronger. From the awkward dance we do around each other now, negotiating the space between us, trying not to touch our faces and stifling the urge to cough, and definitely NOT sneezing, we are confronted with ordinary choices like whether or not to wear a mask or send our kids to school or plan a visit to family that now have a whole new set of potential outcomes, none of which are guaranteed. And since the new "normal" of mask and glove-wearing, hand sanitizing, and physical distancing inhibits our sense organs and thus impairs our mind's already-compromised ability to make judgements, it is crucial that we develop our capacity to operate from intuitive intelligence. While buddhi lights the path to enlightenment, reinforcing the ties to our inner knowing is not just a matter of Self-realization, it is also a matter of survival.
As I too confront formerly mundane choices, I keep catching myself with the question: am I reacting out of fear or responding from awareness? Not surprisingly, it's usually the former. But even asking such a question brings me out of judgement, worry, and fear into the realm of inquiry where curiosity reigns. In this realm, it becomes possible to drop what my mind knows and open to door to the deep knowing within. To seek less for what is right and wrong and more for what is true. This is the territory where buddhi dwells. It's not a place you visit once and stay forever; it's a journey of forgetting the way and then remembering you're already here over and over again. And of course, the discipline and devotion that we cultivate through a Yoga practice is key for strengthening both our commitment to and capacity for being present with this inner wisdom.
So whether you are joining us as we resume gathering at our sweetest sanctuary starting next Wednesday (hooray!!!!) or venturing back into your community, may we enter into the space with the intention to connect to the deep space of wisdom within and to recognize and honor that light in each other. In this way, we will navigate the way forward, whether we're figuring out how to greet each other or how to pay the rent, with consciousness, clarity, and especially compassion.
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