On the Way from Svādhyāya to Ahimsa—Part 2: A random walk takes longer

[The first part of the post is here.]

So we’re on the way from here to Nirvana. Practicing Svādhyāya, we study ourselves to find out where we’re on our way. We walk a little and then stop and study where we are, how it looks like there, how it feels like there. And then we decide on the next direction and go a few steps farther. Our walk is not very straightforward. Because we don’t know the right direction. Because we don’t have a map. If we had a map, we could be much faster on our way to Nirvana… No, there is no map. Just a small road sign here and there if we look properly. But no map. We need to find our way to Nirvana by ourselves…

Let’s go back to the labels. We study ourselves and give labels. To us and to others. Good labels and bad labels, and labels of all shades in between. Marshall Rosenberg, a peacemaker and the author of Nonviolent Communication, calls these labels a violent language, or Jackal language. He sees them as the origin of violence. The Jackal in us is excellent at giving labels. Excellent at telling what’s good and wrong about us and others. And excellent at diagnosing why it is so (e.g., because you’re like your mother). Even the positive labels are violent. They are a form of manipulation, believing that having nice labels will win us the love of others. There is a beautiful video on Youtube worth watching.

In this video, Marshall Rosenberg also says that to resolve any conflict he needed less than 20 minutes from the point in which both parties understood what their own needs and the needs of the other conflict party had been. Even conflicts lasting long years. Even conflicts which had cost many lives.

The thing is that it can take hours or even days to get to the point of understanding of the needs. There is another, 8 hours long, video from another Marshall Rosenberg’s workshop which beautifully demonstrates how difficult it is even for intelligent and eager people to dig deep enough to understand their needs, or even to distinguish what a need is and what not.

The first videos was a small road sign on my Svādhyāya path.

Understanding our own needs goes much deeper and farther than the shallow labels. Understanding of our needs is the hard part of Svādhyāya. But it’s the part which dispels violence. Violence against our selves and violence against others.

Ahimsa is the first yama and means nonviolence or non-harming.
… “suddenly love arises from the abandonment of violence”.



On the Way from Svādhyāya to Ahimsa—Part 1: Who is the stupid here?

[This post is an afterthought of the Svādhyāya exercise in the YTT class.]

Svādhyāya is the forth niyama and means one’s own reading or self-study.

Listening to the participants saying “I’m a good…”, “I’m a bad…”, “I’m good at…”, “I’m bad at…”, or even “I’m good only for…, I’m stupid for anything else.” We are giving ourselves a lot of labels. We are giving other people a lot of labels. Me too…

I sometimes get really upset how stupid people think and act—there is so much stupidity in this world that it’s beyond a joke. I found for myself a formula to overcome the emotions in such situations: Imagine people 2000 years ago. Our school kids know more than any of those people. The moral and societal standards of that time where much more primitive compared to our standards nowadays. And then imagine Jesus, somebody so much more brilliant than anybody of us living in our time. How hard it must have been for him to watch and live with those people! So, breathe in, breathe out… Your fate is not that terrible at all…

Now, imagine the people living 2000 years after us looking back at our times. I’m sure they will think the same: how horribly primitive we are. Even the best of us, the smartest of us, the most brilliant of us are just a shadow of the people to come, their skills, qualities, and moral standards (under the assumption that we don’t destroy the planet before they get the chance to come).

So, the next time you get upset about others or yourself doing stupid things, just breathe in and breathe out. Nobody is stupid here. Really. Nobody is good or bad either. Really. Good and bad are qualities relative to our standards and expectations. Relative to the standards and expectations of our tribe. They are changing with the times—from more primitive to less primitive.

We all are on our own journey from more stupid to less stupid, from less brilliant to more brilliant. Every day one step further from the lower qualities and one step closer to the higher qualities… Breathe in… Breathe out… At the end of the journey is Nirvana…

My long way to Yoga

I grew up in a world which doesn’t exist anymore. I’m not writing it with a nostalgia. If it existed, I surely wouldn’t be here today and it surely wouldn’t be me, but somebody completely different, who would be sitting somewhere else in the world doing something different than writing these words.

I’m happy that that world doesn’t exist anymore. But, writing that, I’m not feeling bitter about that lost world either. The environment I grew up in gave me what I wouldn’t have gotten if I had grown up under different circumstances. It gave me experiences which are very precious to me.

One of these experiences happened in a summer when I was 13 or 14—I don’t remember exactly. My uncle was undergoing his spiritual transformation and I loved sitting with him and listening to him. His path brought him also to yoga, which was something completely unknow in our world at that time. That summer he was challenging me with various poses and I realized that yoga was something I would like to understand more.

The spiritual path of my uncle has developed, and I continued loving sitting with him and listening. But there were no other summers with yoga poses. I grew up, the old world disappeared and I had to wait for more than 25 years till my yoga journey has really started.

My uncle is almost 85 now. I don’t have many opportunities to sit with him and listen. But last time when I visited him and told him about my yoga journey. He gave me the precious material he still had from that forgotten time. So interesting to read it and see how times have changed. Only one hasn’t changed—the yoga poses.