Tuesday, January 27, 2009

20/27 Conundrums

10:30 am with Lenette

Going in my left hip hurt even more than yesterday, and my back was still very stiff.  But I had a much better class than any of the last four, and I felt like I was working through some of those problems.  Since class, I've felt much better.

Lenette hit on two topics that have come up here recently.  First, she said that the one thing that will stop your practice in its tracks is fear.  The trick is to learn to distinguish between fear and respect.  But the key to making real progress is to let go of your fears.  

The second thing she brought up was "wanting" as the source of all conflict.  We get into trouble with others, and with ourselves, because we want too much.  I would have used the word "greed," but I don't think there's much difference in the central point.  Here, she emphasized that ridding yourself of greed is not incompatible with setting goals for yourself.  The distinguishing point, I suppose, comes from your attitude toward the goals.

One brief comment on actual poses:  In second set of Standing Separate Leg Head to Floor, she had us slide our legs apart as far as we could until our head hit the floor.  I'm still not there, and this pose is definitely the one that is throwing my hips through the ringer.  And so this is the one where I'm really going to have to learn the line between fear and respect.  It's easy to sort of do this pose and just hang out, but I really do need to open up the hips to make progress here, and yet I have the lingering doubt that pushing too hard is just going to flare up the sciatic pain again.  So, from once being just about the easiest of poses, this one has gradually become just about the most difficult for me.

Gates talks about how discussions of satya at yoga workshops, and how these invariably lead to trying to solve conundrums, like is it OK to lie to someone to spare their feelings?  or is it OK to avoid telling your boss what an idiot he is? etc...   The Sutras, and other yoga texts, of course, don't answer these questions.  Yoga isn't a detailed system of thoughts and rules.  And Gates says its easy to use these conundrums as a way to delay doing the work that needs to be done, or to avoid it altogether.  The point is that it's easy to get started on the path of being truthful, and the more you do it, the better you will get at it.

There's another point that Gates doesn't make, but its one that most lawyers, at least, will appreciate.  (And, yeah, I know some people will consider it odd that I bring up lawyers in a discussion of honesty.)  The conundrums are abstract cases.  They are the sort of thing a court would not decide, because they are simply hypothetical.  I think the same apples to the idea of truthfulness here.  The important thing is to apply the principle to real situations as best you can, and to improve at doing it over time.  If you can't solve some hypothetical case, who cares?  It's just not relevant, and shouldn't be seen as any sort of obstacle.

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