Peace is every Step

I have a sort of conflicting double nature. As one friend once put it, “you are quite the rule follower for someone who pushes the limits on rules so well.” As I have grown older I have come to see this in myself more clearly. I have come to see that it is the tension between these two instincts that drives me to understand myself and my communities. This tension is the source of my struggle as well as of my success.

I have struggled with this for years in relation to my writing, my yoga teaching, my work: the absolute need for a teacher and the absolute need to evolve beyond a teacher. It reminds me of something a friend once said to me about becoming an adult. She said that she never really felt like a real adult until both of her parents were gone. A comment that haunts me because I sense the truth of it– the inevitability of realizing that in the end we have to do the work– of living in the world, of becoming mature spiritual beings, of leaving the world– alone. Perhaps this is why the power of the parent and of the teacher is so immense over us. It is also the impetus for us as teachers and parents to stay awake and pay attention to how we show up to these callings.

We need teachers as we need parents. And teachers and parents who teach and parent with love, have the capacity to lead us toward our truest and fullest potentials. However, by focusing on our guides too exclusively, we can miss that greatness that is larger than all of the individuals and their teachings– (god, the universe, the Self). We can get caught up in the guide and give our power away. And the results can be heartbreaking. The recent tragedies in Arizona during  a sweat lodge and spiritual retreat, reminded me of this ( See the NY Times article on the deaths at the James Arthur Ray event & see also, Lianne Raymond’s blog post on this as it relates to the collapse of the old paradigm in self help).

Since I moved to a new city recently, I have noted an absence of something for the first time: that is the need to run out and find a Teacher or a Community (capitalizations on purpose). I have many limitations on my time to get to classes or events. Yet, some of the times that I have had the opportunity to try something or go to class, I have watched an old voice rise up to say “you should go, because….” And then, as I listen and hear the ‘shoulds’, I have decided not to go. This does not mark the end of my learning, nor the end of my returning to learn with other teachers. It marks a shift in motivation and awareness. On a more cellular level, I know, now, that it is not someone’s else’s structure I need, not the confirmation to some system, but contact with the world. I need contact with the world as a way of understanding the divine, the “larger than”. And while a teacher in a formalized setting can be this, so can my two year old son, my new neighborhood, an email with my friend, my marriage, the two hours up in the middle of the night with a sick child. Peace, enlightenment, joy, is not waiting out there in some perfect system created by some perfect teacher. As Thich Nhat Hahn writes: “Peace is every step.. it turns the endless path to joy.”

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