Tuesday, October 20, 2009

195/292 - The Gold Ring

Sunday off.
Monday 8:15 pm with Rohit.

I haven't been to the late class for a while. It's been long enough that Rohit expressed surprise at seeing me so late. I don't know why exactly I haven't gone. It turns out that I really like the class. I have more flexibility at that hour, which is always nice. And there is something really soothing about having the sun set during class. But mostly, what I like about the class, especially at this time of year, is the cool, fresh feeling the evening air brings when I step outside. That early autumn feeling (and its only a fake feeling here in Houston, but I'll take what I can get) just gets amplified by the sweaty satisfaction that comes after a nice Bikram session.

Class was good. I dumped out of a set of Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee because I balled myself up so tight in the set-up that I started cramping in the abdomen. I couldn't keep the pose together, keep my breath, and deal with the cramp all at once. Otherwise, things went smoothly. I had a nice smug feeling in first part of Awkward, when Rohit said "Everyone go lower, unless your name is Duffy." And after Rabbit, Rohit turned to me and said: "You see, I made it through the entire pose without telling people to "pull" once." I really like a class that has some humor in it.

In the day 270 meditation, Gates suggests a new mantra, sort of. He opens with this quote:

The goal cannot be anything apart from the Self, nor can it be something gained afresh. If that were so, such a goal cannot be abiding and permanent. What appears anew will also disappear. The goal must be eternal and within. Find it within yourself.

Gates suggests internalizing the last two sentences as we try pranayama. As he puts it, let the energy of this statement intertwine with your practice. I haven't tried this yet. But I will. For a long time I've been haunted with a similar thing expressed in the closing lines of Crazy Fingers, a Grateful Dead song with lyrics by Robert Hunter. I may have quoted these before, but if so, they are worth a repeat:

Midnight on a carousel ride
Reaching for the gold ring
Down inside
Never could reach it
Just slips away
And I try....

The connection is pretty simple. Life is like whirling in circles at midnight, which is "everything apart from the Self". The goal is the gold ring down inside -- after all, gold is eternal. What I like better about the song than Gates' quote is that the song acknowledges how difficult or rare it may be to actually achieve the goal. And the song is not at all despairing. Instead, I think it has an odd kind of hopeful resignation -- of letting go, if you will.

1 comment:

Bosco said...

Duffy, I think Crazy Fingers really does state the essential thought here. A couple of ideas:

Carousels (at least the one at the ding-a-ling in Levittown) usually have a literal gold ring that you can reach out for as you circle on the carousel. Crazy Fingers captures the reaching that we are prone to do to get something outside our reach that - like Dorothy's slippers - is really inside us after all.

Also, you said "and I try." I have usually heard it as "when I try." And sometimes I heard Jerry sing "but I try." I love the nuances of meaning that come from changing the conjunction here. I think I find "and I try" the most uplifting.

This is one of Jerry's great songs, wiht some of Hunter's best lyrics. I agree with you about Jerry's singing on Stella Blue. As technically lacking as he was in his singing(let's face it, I don't think he had a voice coach), you can really hear - as Doug Shapiro pointed out to me in high school - the entire range of human emotion in his voice, and often all at the same time.