Meaningful discourse is a powerful thing; we have all experienced essays, poems, lectures, documentaries, or speeches that riveted us in a way we couldn’t fully explain. Something about it made us feel something, a moment worth so much. I write mainly because my whole life has been a steady search for compelling words from authors, poets, artists, and the people I love most in my life. I am addicted to that feeling. And I like to share it on this blog.
On my to-do list for today was my About Me page. I am thrilled to say that since I placed an ad on Darling Magazine‘s website, traffic on this little wee blog has nearly doubled.
Coffee in hand, waiting for the N train uptown I thought, what exactly is it about me that I should share to make people want to stay? Ugh! I stopped myself immediately from thinking of it as a sales pitch, and approached it from a place of affirmation and relation – what can my heart bare that will attract readers who can relate? Yes, that is better. That is yoga. Personally, I love when other bloggers are humble and unveiling, and much less rhapsodic and boastful. Blogging has turned into a competition for some, but for me its a creative outlet and place of empowerment.
So I began to revise. What came pouring out of me was tremendous gratitude for the teachers I have had along the way – which is nearly everyone that has touched my life, my heart. This, not surprisingly, took me off topic…but I went with it. I had the memory of being 19, falling unexpectedly into a deep and very scary melancholia (that’s right- major depression) and nearly not returning to college. Now, in my heart of hearts, I just know I was meant to go back to continue studies with my favorite teacher, Dr. Douglas Brooks. He was part of the Religion Department which meant he taught classes on all the eastern religions and philosophies. The funny thing is, it wasn’t until after college that I finally grasped what he personally found most fulfilling- the teachings of South India and the Hindu Tantra. No matter what he lectured about, whether he embraced it or not, it was conveyed to us students with passion and humor. That’s how good of a teacher he was. My final year I applied to the Take Five Scholar Program, specifically designed to allow passionate students explore a proposed topic for a year FREE. My proposal was how Buddhism and Hinduism, each in their own manner, enhance and arouse various forms of creative expression. I was denied! Too broad and too close to my major, they said. Five years later I became a certified yoga instructor, which is basically an advanced version of my proposed topic, right?
As I said previously, meaningful discourse is both dynamic and if we are lucky, transformative like it has been for me. Read below for some of Douglas Brooks’ own words extracted from an interview with Waylen Lewis of the Elephant Journal. But first, enjoy a photo of Brooks lecturing us as we walked through a temple in India.
“We all need community, because to realize our potential as human beings we need the love, the support, and the evolution of valuable conversation. As yogis we mean to engage deeply, to yoke ourselves. To what? To each other, to the things we understand to be of worth and value, to the possibilities a universe so vast offers. But to create deeper engagement we must nurture a conversation of peers. We must learn the difference between deference and submission. We defer to allow others to do their job well, express their gifts, and make an offering to the community—but we don’t submit, we don’t abdicate the responsibility to conscience. We become better, greater when we realize that we can accomplish more together, far more, than we could ever achieve alone. Enlightenment is a collective experience.”
“Fear can be a constructive experience when we learn not to deny or repress, and understand its role in empowering experience. There is no courage without some important element of fear to empower the heroic act. My teacher called this process “radical affirmation.” When we create inclusive conversation about every human possibility, then community can understand that everything we humans were born with can become an asset to our understanding. Buddhists create the strategy of the Middle Way, while in our south Indian Tantra we talk about how we learn to expand with boundaries, but not exceed them. The community needs to begin with the notion that we are already free beings: what lies before us is how we yoke ourselves. What’s valuable enough that you would yoke yourself, commit yourself so that there is more at stake than merely your own narrow interests? When we have clear boundaries, then we have no limits.”