Lokah Samasta Sukinoh Bhavantu
May all beings be happy and free
Lokah samasta – all beings everywhere
Lokah – location, here, region, world
Samasta – all, whole
Sukinoh – be happy and free
Bhavantu – may I contribute to this, I pledge to this, may it be so
Part of embodying lokah samasta is to fully inhabit your body – your personal region, your world of existence. Asana practice is one of many ways we deepen our ability to do so.
Seeing clearly the whole space and world in which we find ourselves, moment to moment to moment, is another part. This is both in the larger scale of world citizenship, and also the daily scale of the space you’re in, right now, reading this.
Our ability to fully embody all aspects of our lokah samasta is limited by our edges. We all have edges. We all have parts of us, others, and the world, that we don’t want to see. Sometimes we can’t see. We have lines drawn between what we’re willing to work with and what we’re not. What we include in our intentions and practice and hearts, and what we don’t. Often, a large part of the path is being able to first see those lines and then to soften or shift them.
As Abbot Myogen Steve Stucky said, “Whatever you feel is right at the edge of your familiar world, that’s the edge of your deep intention to wake up with what is.”
This past year I’ve made a practice of a weekly morning silent walking period through my local park. There’s a waterfall along the route, and I usually sit with it for a good while. One day, the light, the leaves and sky behind invited a picture.
I soon noticed that I was being very careful to cut out the collection of three or four discarded soda bottles someone had left on the side. The waterfall was beautiful and inspiring, the trash was not. A clear line – what I was including in my experience, and what I was cutting out.
I was cutting it out because if I spent time with it, I would go on a thought train of how thoughtless those people were. I’d berate the park employees for not picking it up. Thinking those thoughts made me feel bad. So I cut all of it out.
Seeing the division enabled me to turn and actually look at the bottles. To actually include them in the whole moment of experience. This park is special to me, my time here is meaningful. I love the earth. Even the part of earth over there on the side that’s ugly and unusable. If I’m also committed to yoga and dharma in action, how can I respond fully? How does all of my personal embodied world meet the needs and experience of the whole space and world I’m in this moment? The answer for me was a new addition to my weekly walks: a plastic bag. I fill it two to three times on my way to the waterfall with trash, emptying along the way in the park garbage cans. It doesn’t matter why they did it, or whose job it is to pick it up. What matters is how I respond to it.
What or where are your edges? What do you care about? How can seeing and softening those edges allow you to interact and respond to the world, to the moment? It won’t look the same for everyone. But imagine if everyone did this practice?