Is there anything else to write about this week besides the devastating earthquake in Haiti? With thousands upon thousands dead and untold numbers injured and displaced, it's hard for me to think of anything else when I'm dedicating my practice to doing good in the world. After all, that's what our yoga can do - change the world for the better.
Yesterday, I got on the Metro and picked up the Express, the Washington Post's commuter daily newspaper. The photo on the front cover was of a woman's face, smeared with ash and encrusted with blood. Tears welled up in my eyes, and I looked away immediately - disturbed, heart-broken, fearful. Did I turn away because the image reminded me of my own mortality? The possibility for tragedy every day of my life? Was it pain at seeing someone else in such suffering?
One of my favorite yogic goddesses is Kali, because she won't look away. No matter how ugly things get in the world (whether that's in our own psyches or the interaction between peoples), Kali is undeterred. She will gaze in love and transformative power at the things which cause terror, rage and despair.
What if we all could take that on, even just a little? We could sit and listen to a friend, lover, spouse or parent and truly just witness their experience without the need to fix, to get our own ego trip by "helping someone." We could hold someone while they weep or scream in pain without the platitudes of "It's going to be okay" that often soothe us more than the person we're with. We could witness someone's deep rage at injustice without their anger saying anything about who we are and what we're about. To be a deep witness means that we take the self out of the equation.
In one of my Body of Myth workshops titled Inanna's Descent, one of the main characters is Ereshkigal, the ancient Sumerian Queen of the Underworld. Similar to Kali, She, too, is a deep witness, listening to the laments and tales of all the souls who inevitably make their way to her kingdom. It's a compeling act and one not to be taken lightly. Yet, by invoking that power we can bring Divine Love into the darkest of moments, illuminating it all with a flash of compassion's lightning.
The final words of this post were written by a deep friend, mentor and spiritual guide along the path for many people: Donald Engstrom-Reese.
our tears wash clean all that blur our vision.
May we again dare to
dwell in beauty, balance and delight.
May we again dare to see with
clear eyes and an open heart.
May our heart fires add flame to the
Cauldron of Change.
Fri, January 15, 2010
by Greg Marzullo