If you find yourself in some difficulty,
step aside and allow Buddha to take your place.
The Buddha is in you.
- Thich Nhat Hanh
Step aside. Allow. The Buddha is in us.
To drop my heavy load, that ponderous shell - is such a joyous surprise and relief. The stream - I don't like that, this annoys me, I like that, I want that very much, this is too this or that. These judgements drain and tie down so much energy.
Stepping aside, wow...the divine but unspectacular nothing (!) takes my place. Sitting, waiting for my turn to enter the practice room, during morning asana practice, walking down the street, going to sleep, small or large freedoms can happen at any time and any where.
It can even happen when lost in literal or metaphorical space.
Last week I got this idea that I wanted to rent a scooter and drive around Gokulum's (less) crazy traffic. As friend Anna said, "There are no rules driving in Indian traffic. The only one is to stay alive!" I did manage to cling to life on my first scooter try, but it was a disaster and the mission was aborted. So to my great consolation, lessons were given.
At my last lesson a few days ago, my teacher came by at dusk for our second outing to a quiet street, somewhat far from where I am staying. He drove us there, and then let me drive with him sitting protectively behind me. We drove around the block a couple of times, and I was feeling good.
Then he got off the scooter and told me to drive. (I do love the Indian “you do!!” approach. It leaves no room for “I can’t.”) No problem! I zipped up the street and rounded the corner. By then, it had grown quite dark. Where was the short end of this block? I kept going, looking for a place to turn...and kept going... finally finding a street. Then I turned again.
Now where was the street where he was waiting for me? I drove back to what seemed to be beyond where I had started, but I wasn't sure. It was dark. I stopped, turned off the motor. Waited.
I could only see shadows of people around me. Each person who passed, I hoped (prayed really) would be my teacher, whose name I did not even know at the time! I did not have my phone. No money.
And I had not the vaguest clue of how to get back to the Garden... Gokulum.
I waited in the black evening. And waited. What was my plan B? No idea. Throw myself at the kindness of one of the human shadows? Maybe.
Anxious but not freaked, I waited. At long last, One of the many passing shadows came closer and turned into my scooter teacher. Angels sang! He grinned. I laughed. He laughed, jumped on the scooter and drove back. I ate dinner and slept like a happy log…slightly smiling.
Joy! To have faced and been released from a fear different (but maybe similar) to what I experience in back bend. There I am out in the unknown - outer space/inner space…upside down and backwards literally or figuratively --and I just might not get back!
I like to think that my yoga/spiritual practice provided me with the equanimity to wait - to step aside - mostly in calm for either my teacher to arrive or a course of action to arise.
We are stardust
We are golden
And we've got to get ourselves
Back to the Garden.
-Joni Mitchell, “Woodstock”