We have a new Deity in town. Recently a beautiful metal sculpture of Ganesha (artist Rick Lewis) was installed on the corner of 6th and Sherman - just a couple blocks away from Garden Street Yoga. It is an amazing piece of art representing a powerful aspect of the Sacred. Ganesha is the Hindu, elephant-headed god that is That aspect of the Divine that generously and fiercely governs sequences of unfolding. Sometimes the governance takes the form of obstacles - and sometimes opportunities. Ganesh is also the Guru Principle - the Heavy.
The sculpture has drawn much delight and gratitude as it is seen as quite auspicious that Coeur d'Alene has been graced by this sculpture and all it represents. There has also been a smattering of protest. A few fundamentalist Christians are unhappy that a Hindu Deity is occupying a prominent corner in downtown Coeur d'Alene. I get that.....I mean, I can sort of slide my own mind into that mindset and realize that if I were "there" I would believe that Ganesh is a representation of Satan and might bring Satan's power into my lovely town. That would scare me.
[By the way - Ganesh looms large at Garden Street Yoga, via our logo, the stone sculpture of Ganesh - that I got from my guru - and which came from a 12th century temple in India, the artwork on the wall, our t-shirts, and so on.]
In tandem with this "New Deity in Town" drama, is the ongoing drama over at the Kroc center - our local - and truly wonderful - athletic facility, brought here by the Salvation Army and funded by the McDonald's Hamburger Empire (Ray and Joan Kroc). I love that place. I am grateful that a Christian foundation has created a pool that is low chlorine (and high saline). It's where I swim and where some of the other Garden Street teachers work out. I love it that I can go there after teaching my evening class, get in the pool. I love it that sometimes I see Jen (Garden Street Teacher) there, sitting with excellent posture- while her husband Ron swims - and reading books like Job's Body (an Anatomy book that is deep, subtle and practical). Her studentship is just one example of the level of dedication and studentship common to the Garden Street Yoga teachers - and to Yoga Teachers in general. It blows my heart open on a regular basis.
The Kroc center is where one of our Garden Street teachers, teaches. She can't call what she teaches "Yoga" as Yoga is considered to be in the same general category as Satan. This is a double-difficulty to her because she is a Yoga teacher and a Christian. She loves Jesus. And she loves Yoga. And she is an amazing representative for both. But she has to keep one of her loves hidden - or she might lose her job. Luckily, her classes at Garden Street are growing quickly (she is an outstanding teacher - soon to be Inspired, I predict) and she could not possibly lose her job there for loving Jesus. I'd mention her name but maybe that would get her in trouble at the Kroc center. Sheesh. (Her name starts with A).
OK - from here I could go on into a rant. But I won't. I learned a lot about containment from Lee. I also I learned - from Joseph Chilton Pearce's book The Biology of Transcendence - to not spend attention and energy opposing things like all of the above. He makes a great argument for "not feeding" the field of ignorance, hatred, war, fear, etc. Everything needs to eat. Ignorance, hatred and fear are no exception. Like everything else, they are fed by attention.......by my attention. I am continuiong to learn to be careful and to feed my attention to what I want to grow (beauty, intelligence, kindness, etc) Ultimately I aim to have my attention only be food for God. (that comes from Lee - it's his teaching).
I also learned about this from my meditation teacher, Paul Muller Ortega. Once I saw him respond in a way that transmitted to me something that no words could have done on their own. A fellow student was asking about something similar to the ignorance cited above. I remember Paul saying with utmost intelligence and compassion (not a hint of dismissal - not a trace of minimization) "It's just Apasmara." (Apasmara is the "demon" - like satan - of ignorance that exists in all of us - no exceptions - and has all of us scared, limited and contracted into an "us versus them" cramp of misery). Paul didn't give the presented scenario of ignorance his Attention. Instead he gave the questioner his Attention - and woven into that Attention was a deep and clear compassion for the subject of the story - the one who was under the heavy influence of ignorance.
I can predict the obvious objections - becaseu they have sometimes come from my very own self. So I'll beat you to the punch line and sat "No - we don't always just stand by and say "It's just ignorance." And, "Yes - of course - there is a time to act". I almost want to add "duh".....oh, there I did it.
But discernment is critical. If I rant and fight back - is it useful? Or did I just fatten up the already bloated field of ignorance? I want to be clear and discerning and contained enough to avoid indulging in a rant that might temporarily make me feel better but ultimately does not serve the Highest.
In most of India's towns and cities, every hundred yards or so, there is a temple or a shrine. Those shrines might be to Ganesh, or Jesus, or any number of faces of the Sacred. The Indian culture is not spiritually idyllic, but there is a wide and wise understanding that the Unfathomable - the Sacred - has assumed many faces in order to be knowable to humans. There tends to be a great inclusiveness, spiritually. In general, there is no contradiction inherent in loving Jesus and loving Shiva. No problem. And I have to say - that is exactly what Jesus taught. Love is intrinsically inclusive. And Jesus taught Love. So there. I don't care if one is an anti-Christian Yogi or an anti-Yoga-Christian....get over it. Do your Work & LOVE. Just do it.