Highest Peaks and Deepest Oceans

“Yoga or union is the cessation of the movements of the thinking mind for the time being in order to feel “Who am I?”  Sri Bramananda Saraswati’s translation for Yogash Chitta Vritti Nirodhah

From “Uji” by Dogen

An ancient buddha said:

For the time being stand on top of the highest peak.
For the time being proceed along the bottom of the deepest ocean.
For the time being three heads and eight arms.
For the time being an eight- or sixteen-foot body.
For the time being a staff or whisk.
For the time being a pillar or lantern.
For the time being the sons of Zhang and Li.
For the time being the earth and sky.

Close your eyes. Feel the breath in your rib cage, feel the subtle expansion and contraction of the inhale and exhale.  The height of the collarbones and broadening of the skull on the inhale, the depths of the exhale down in the pelvic floor.  Our very essence is one of contraction and expansion, of highs and lows, inhales and exhales.

top of mountainFor the time being, embody fully where you are right now – the highest peak or the deepest ocean. We all know what it’s like to be in both of those places. We also all know what it’s like to either try and hold onto that space, or to feel like it will never end.  Our very heart beats out to us the message that it’s not possible, not true.  When we fully take in the first two lines of Dogen’s poem, we are listening deeply to this message. We are fully embodying right where we are, right now, in this moment.
bottom of ocean.1“In the midst of pleasure, we are anxious about when it will end. In the midst of possession, we worry about loss. Even the most beautiful birth and most gracious death come with pain, for entering and leaving the body is inherently a painful process. We know that throughout our day, experience changes from pleasant to neutral to unpleasant, and back again, ceaselessly.” Jack Kornfield

When we share our day with others, how bizarre that we often reduce it down to one word or mood. Keeping separate that which is simply in flux. Conditions come and certain parts of our day and mood arise, different conditions swell in, and things change.  The subway car fills with people and there is discomfort, it empties at the next stop and there is spaciousness, a man comes through asking for money and there is concern, we step off the car and there is cold.  Our life is more inhale and exhale than our sequential minds believe it to be.

Listen – A short excerpt from Ram Dass’s “Making Friends with Change” Podcast. I recommend listening to his reading before googling the printed version.

We extend this to our practice:

“Now, at the stage that many people I meet are at, they do their practice, their method, as “good” and as well as they can. And then they take a little time off. They say, “Well that’s been great; now what do you say we have a pizza and a beer and listen to some good music?” Now that – pizza, beer, and music – could do it for them too, except in their mind there’s a model that the “time off” has nothing to do with it.”  Ram Dass from Grist for the Mill

I don’t know about you, but I have definitely done this. And my first instinct upon coming across this passage and essentially being called out in a very specific way – was defensive. I need time off- it’s hard work to practice off the mat or cushion. But then I thought – why would I want to being doing something if that’s how I feel about it? Why would I be committing to a life time of delving deeper into something I needed to be away from.  And I saw habit thoughts around the concept of “work” – it’s something I’ll put effort into in its time, and then I need my time off from it to “relax” and really enjoy life. That’s not at all how I actually see my practice.  With that, I realized how accurate Ram Dass’s critique was – in ways I hadn’t even known.  Now I think – I just don’t want to do anything, anymore, without being as fully there as possible. Whether it’s drinking with friends, or watching Netflix, or sitting with trees, or studying with my teacher, or engaging in relationships.  It’s not separate. One is not a black or white sheep. Whether a high or a low, being fully in that space means being fully present, as fully awake as I’m capable of in that moment. And I stopped using “work” to apply to my practice, or study, or teaching, or the dharma in general.

Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes.
if it were always a fist or always stretched open,
you would be paralyzed.

Your deepest presence is in every small contracting
and expanding,
The two as beautifully balanced and coordinated
as birdwings.

-Rumi (excerpt)

A Coincidence & A Dance

I live in Park Slope – a Brooklyn neighborhood with numerous highlights, one of which is “stoop recycling”.  It is unanimously agreed upon that anyone can leave a box of books just outside their stoop and everyone else is free to take as many as they like.  These boxes are almost always empty by the end of one day. I LOVE books – so this has always been pretty exciting to me.

I used to live in Hawaii – which perhaps due to daily light rain showers, does not have this practice.  Although they have a delightful one of sharing the abundance from mango and other fruit trees that grow in their backyards.  I LOVE mango – so I was equally pleased.

While living in Hawaii, I took one of those fateful walks home along a different route.  And stumbled upon a Park Slope style box of books. I couldn’t believe it. I think I even looked around as if waiting for someone to tug on a string and pull the box back as I reached down.  Instead, I found a treasure trove of books by Ram Dass and Krishnamurti . I was early on in my yoga path, not yet even calling it a path, and had no idea who those men were. I did, however, recognize the word “yoga” and scooped them up.

only dance there is coverI chose the book with a psychedelic dancer on front (later I would learn this to be Nataraja – the dancing destroyer siva), and opened to the first page:

“Last evening…as one of the journeyers on a path, a very, very old path, the path of consciousness, I, in a sense, met with the Explorers Club to tell about the geography I had been mapping”

And so begins The Only Dance There Is by Ram Dass. The book that launched my understanding of yoga as so much more than the physical practice.  In a very real way, I have been journeying on this ancient path following the maps laid out by the greats, and exploring the occasional off shoot of my own, ever since those words entered me.  Ram Dass has been an integral part of that experience, and a continual guide and inspiration.

He has written a number of remarkable books, yet this is one I return to over and over. He has a true gift with words, and shines best, in my opinion, through the recordings of the numerous talks he has given over the years (many of which are now being released on the free podcast “Here and Now”).  This book, a collection of such talks, remains my favorite.

Which is why Yoga Between the Lines – yoga book club – is reading it for May & June.  Learn more about the club, and then pick up your copy and join fellow explorers!

Missed the beginning of the book club? No worries! The format of the book is perfect for jumping in anywhere!

Isvara Pranidhani


Isvara pranidhana


What is it?


Although it is the most mystical of the yamas and niyamas, isvara pranidhani can be simply thought of as cultivation of a connection, through devotion, through the heart – not through the mind like svadhyaya  –  to Oneness/Realization/True Self/etc as represented by isvara.

Connecting to Oneness is vague at best, and nearly impossible at worst.  By using the placeholder of isvara, one is much better able to cultivate a relationship or intimacy with the Divine.

Isvara is generally conceived of as a personal idea of god – Christ, Krishna, Mary, Buddha, etc.  But can often be, for those rare beings, a guru.

By linking up, connecting to them – you cultivate it within you.  Like when you become good friends with someone, you start to take on some of their habits, or personality traits, or vernacular. But this relationship is with THAT. Tat twam asi. So ham. That kind of THAT.  And you can imagine what kind of habits and traits thalakehouset would cultivate.

Don’t get caught up in finding a person, or a thing, or having one, or not. It will come. Mine is a particular small forest of trees in upstate New York. I was hung up for a very long time, because I didn’t have an isvara, and I wanted one. The ironic thing is that trees always were, since I was a kid, I just had never thought of trees as isvara.  Until suddenly, one day I did. When the student is ready, the teacher arrives.

How to connect without an isvara?

heart handsSo what to do if you’ve yet to realize your isvara?  There are several practices orientated around service that help us cultivate the openness to find our isvara and be in that type of relationship by starting with those we already are in relationship with.  It must be made clear that humans are human, and when we surrender to them, it is to develop this internal state – not to follow them.  Even using a “guru” is tricky, and it is highly advised you feel you can make the distinction between a sat-guru and an upa-guru.

1) Service & Surrender

The story as I’ve heard it: Allen Ginsberg was told by his doctors that he had one month to live. He went directly home, and called his friends, and asked each one; “What can I do for you?”

Ram Dass has described the process he goes through before he does one-on-one work with people. He does his mantra until can say “How may I serve you?” and be addressing that to the depth of the other person, the light of them, the Namaste of them. He is NOT asking, “How in the melodrama can I serve you?” It’s not about lending a car, or rehashing the terribleness of an ex-lover.  He’s really asking, “How may I serve you in the journey we’re on to the light?”


What journey are you on with another? That’s an excellent place to play with as well.

Try it out before your next asana class:

Close your eyes. Imagine the person closest to you. Say to them “How may I serve you?” – Notice all the tightness, panic, backpedaling, exit strategies, and worst case scenarios that arise. Pause, breathe. Then trust that this person wouldn’t ask anything of you that would be harmful. And ask them again.  Open-ended, heartfelt, totally committed.  It might feel a bit like going bungee jumping – a whole giant dangerous mess of space where anything could happen. Practice in that space.

2) Surrender & Serve

qqi2oo5j3qa6uupn.D.0.jay-hanuman-khatrijiHanuman has a ton of great stories that always seem to be a bit more relevant to our lives than some of the other gods. One of my favorites is the story about his powers.  He was born with incredible strengths, but as a small monkey wasn’t quite in control of them.  Some of his exploits angered powerful humans and gods alike.  As a precaution, the king of the gods put a curse on Hanuman. He would forget all his strengths and powers until the time he was called upon to be of service to another.  So he spent the rest of his teen and adult years as a normal monkey/man.  Then he met Ram. Ram had a stolen kingdom, stolen wife, and arch nemesis. He needed a lot of help. Hanuman’s powers were reawakened, and he served and aided Ram in retrieving his kingdom and wife, and defeating his arch nemesis.

We are a bit like Hanuman – so many of our powers and strengths are latent until called into service by another.

We get so tight around developing our breath, our yoga practice, our concentration. But the power they give us pales in comparison with what those strengths could do in the service of others.

3) Surrender the need to be the one who knows, the one who figured it all out, the one with the correct answer.

Journey-Together-300x168“Mount Analogue, by Rene Daumal, is a lovely metaphor about climbing the mountain of consciousness. First, the travelers have to deduce the existence of the mountain, and then they have to figure out how to get there. Finally, they start to climb the mountain, and the narrator says, “By our calculations, thinking of nothing else, by our desires, abandoning every other hope, by our efforts, renouncing all bodily comfort, we gained entry into this new world.  Or so it seemed to us.  But we learned later that if we were able to approach Mount Analogue, it was because the invisible doors of that invisible country had been opened to us by those who guard them… Those who see us even though we cannot see them opened the door for us, answering our puerile calculations, our unsteady desires, and our awkward efforts, with a generous welcome.”  [“Pathways to God” Ram Dass p.172]

4) OM

Meditating-Aum-Woman8Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras tell us that “OM” is the sound expressive of Isvara.  Chanting OM is one way to tap into relationship with Isvara, and cultivate the qualities of the Divine.  Repeating any mantra shifts our internal state – just think about some of the negative self-talk mantras you’ve played in your life and how they have created your worldview, and how your world has shifted when those mantras become positive self-talk.  The resonance of OM works the same way.

When you chant, make sure you are chanting OM the fullest and most accurate way possible.  It would be best to work with a teacher in person, but a few tips that I find most students could benefit from:

* Complete the chant with the “mmmm”
* Try chanting it normally once, quietly once, and the silently once
* Try chanting it only silently, with the breath, throughout class
* Begin the OM on the final lift of the diaphragm at the end of the exhale, and keep the diaphragm engaged
* Draw in as much prana as you expel during the chant
* Emphasize the vibration and resonance over a singing quality

5) Listen & Take things to heart

A story

Listen_to_Your_Heart_by_cho_okaA teacher who wanted to show his students the transformational value of deep listening took them to a cremation ground. There, he picked out three skulls. Taking the first skull, he put a stick through the hole where the ear once was, and it came out through the other side of the skull. The teacher said, “This is a person who heard the Truth with one ear, but was too lazy to contemplate what he had heard. Instead, he let it go out the other ear.”

The teacher picked up the next skull and put a stick into the ear hole. The stick got stuck in the middle of the skull and moved upward.  “This person,” the teacher said, “not only heard the Truth, but contemplated it.”

When the teacher put the stick into the third skull, it entered the ear, moved upward toward the brain, and then came down toward the heart. “This is the skull of a person who not only heard the Truth and contemplated it, but also let it permeate the heart. This person cultivated the type of deep listening that leads to realization.”


Aparigraha is traditionally translated as “greedlessness”, a word traditionally always spell-checked in word processing programs.  It is the yama that has the greatest variety of alternative translations, with the greatest amount of nuanced differences between them.  Ahimsa, for example, is traditionally “nonharming”, and sometimes “causing the least harm”, but very rarely is it contemplated to err that much from the “harm” vocabulary.  While I do not know for certain the reason why aparigraha has such variety, I think those spell-checkers are on to something when they question leaving it as “greedlessness”.  Here, for consideration, are five different definitions:

1)    Nonhoarding.

While television has brought the idea of hoarding into our reality TV vernacular, it is not a predicament that many yogis find themselves in.  However, just as with Asteya, broadening the scope of what is included in nonhoarding can really open up the practice.  It’s possible to hoard someone’s attention, their affection, someone’s time or skills, you could hoard space on public transportation, or ideas.  You could hoard habitually, when the situation arises, or only once in awhile.  To take a moment, with closed eyes, to ask yourself “What do I hoard?”, can be a surprising and enlightening practice. I know it was for me. Follow up questions could be “When do I hold back?”  “What do I hold back?” – these are other subtle forms of hoarding.

Nonhoarding opens up aparigraha to something more than greed and money – to a practice of investigation, of letting go, but most importantly of opening up.  Yoga is not meant to make us into someone different than we are – it’s meant to bring us into honest investigation into who we already are, and to help us in living it as fully as possible.

In your next asana class, consider having as your intention the commitment not to hold back.  Not to approach triangle like just one more in a long succession of triangles, or hold back from your first chaturanga because many more will follow.   This intention is not one of those “do this as if it were your LAST TRIANGLE EVER!” dramatic ideas, but because every moment, every triangle, matters as much as every other, so why would you hold back for this one?

2)    Nonpossessiveness.

This one comes from Michael Stone.

Think about the last time that you planned what you would do on a free day – what activity or relaxation you would pursue,  the ease of flow throughout the day, the fullness of it – and then had something come up  at the last minute where you couldn’t do it. Maybe it was a family obligation, maybe work, or maybe a storm.  If you’ve ever gotten frustrated because someone ruined YOUR day – there is where we can work on aparigraha.

I recently took a trip to New Orleans – where I used to live.  Within hours of my first day, I noticed something from speaking with different people there.  I had a tremendous amount of walls built up when talking with someone, especially a stranger, from living in NYC.  The walls went something like this | What do they want? | How can I make sure not to inadvertently give it to them before I decide if I want to or not? |  I most likely don’t want to give it to them, how do I ensure that? |.  Upon reflection, I realized that this was unnecessary in New Orleans, and I could relax.  I also realized that the reason those walls exist is because, at least in my experience, people in NYC want something from you, all the time.  Money, a smile, your attention, money, sex, time, religious conversion, money, etc.   As a result of this, I had become very tight around anything that was mine – everything from the above list, and more.  Even in the face of people I loved, and truly wanted to give everything to, I had these barriers going on the whole time, without knowing it.  The only way I could realize it was in the complete absence of it from the other side.  Without strangers in New Orleans wanting anything from me, my walls had no ground to stand on, and were so superfluous I laughed at myself in the moment of realization.

In the Bhagavad Gita (XIV.12) an imbalanced person is one where “greed, constant activity, excessive projects, cravings, and restlessness” are ruling or predominant.

Perhaps in looking at how we’re choosing to live our lives, where we’re allowing “our” time to be dispersed, we wouldn’t be so tight around them?

3)    Generosity/Giving

This one is pretty simple: time, money, talent, skills, love, etc:  be generous, give often

In asana class, we’re always talking about being present.  Could you contemplate giving this to someone?  Michael Stone often speaks of “giving your face”. In this age, it’s so easy to barely look in anyone’s eyes, or to shy away from sharing yourself with others.  You could bring more awareness to how you quite literally share your face with others?

In what ways might you be unintentionally stingy? Again, contemplate broadening the scope to not only include money, but much more.

4)    Not giving or receiving gifts

This one is from Ram Dass.

Initially upon hearing this translation, I was a little surprised.  Especially having previously considered giving as a way to embody aparigraha, now Ram Dass was saying the opposite!

Then I thought about it a bit more deeply, and I thought about Japanese custom (at least in Hawaii, where I also used to live).  If person A gives a gift to person B, then B MUST give a gift back to A. But now A has received a gift, and MUST give one back to B, creating an endless -cycle of enforced giving.

And while such strict rules on giving may or may not exist in the culture you were raised in, we all have some kind of motive behind giving. It could be to get a gift of some kind in return or something as simple as a smile, appreciation, or thank you.

I’m not saying to boycott the upcoming holidays and birthdays of your loved ones.  But perhaps consider your intention when you go shopping and purchase a gift.  Could it be equally wonderful to give a gift whether or not the recipient even smiles?

In the Bhagavad Gita, giving is one of the best practices recommended.  It specifically says it doesn’t matter what you give (even a leaf would be a wonderful gift!), as long as the intention is to give without thought of getting something in return.

Could we perhaps practicing giving more often, throughout the year, so that it doesn’t become such a huge deal at other times?  Could it even lead to our own well-being?  How to Buy Happiness

Andrea Gibson has a line in her spoken word poetry:  The hardest part of having nothing, is having nothing to give.  I used to feel that so acutely when I first moved to NYC, and had so very very little.  Now, I’m not so sure I agree. Now, I think that we need to reimagine giving.

And still, after all this time, the Sun has never said to the Earth,
“You owe me.”
Look what happens with love like that.
It lights up the sky.”
― Rumi

5)    Not taking more than you need

This is perhaps the most timely of the definitions, considering the recent encounter NY had with Hurricane/Tropical Storm Sandy.  How many people might have taken a few extra candles, gallons of gas, loaves of bread, or containers of oat milk than they needed?  And in doing so, left less or none for others, or for restocking after the storm passed?

At a recent Jivamukti Yoga Tribe Gathering in NYC, the makers of China Gel were giving away free travel-sized samples.  As a Jivamukti Yoga teacher, I use quite a lot of China Gel, and the large tub often weighs down my already heavy yoga teacher backpack I take out for the day.  How wonderful to have travel sized ones! So on the way to the bathroom I took one. On the way back from the bathroom I took another.  On some trek or another, I wound up with 5 or so free samples, because I needed them as a teacher, and I needed them to help lighten my load.  This, of course, was not a very aparigraha moment for me.

This definition asks us to work on that part of us that “needs”, when we actually mean “really really wants”.  China Gel was not a need.

Needs are unbidden, basic, elemental – like affection, housing, food and water.  But when we put coffee, new yoga pants, China Gel, or that fifth loaf of bread in the same category, we’re in trouble. This is because we can’t control needs, and therefore we have this unconscious Green Light from within to get whatever falls in that category whenever we can.  Wants get the Caution Light, and give us the opportunity to bring our decisions into a more conscious place.

Whether it’s in yoga class, the grocery store, or a family gathering see if you can set as your intention to be aware of what you’re setting up as a “need”, and if it might not actually be “really really want”.

The Plutocrat – Kahlil Gibran

In my wanderings I once saw upon an island a man-headed, iron-hoofed monster who ate of the earth and drank of the sea incessantly.  And for a long while I watched him.

Then I approached him and said, “Have you never enough; is your hunger never satisfied and your thirst never quenched?”

And he answered saying, “Yes, I am satisfied, nay, I am weary of eating and drinking, but I am afraid that tomorrow there will be no more earth to eat and no more sea to drink.”

Be the change you want to see in the world – Ghandi

ImagePerhaps one of the most famous rallying cries of yogis, activists, optimists, anarchists, and anyone   believing that it is possible for the world to live into its highest potential.

For years it had always seemed to shout “do good, be good!” to me. Which of course came with its accompanying self-disappointment when I did or was not. Then in a sudden shift in perspective, something I’d seen one way all my life, had a whole new connotation.


 All my life false and real, right and wrong tangled.
Playing with the moon, ridiculing wind, listening to birds….
Many years wasted seeing the mountain covered with snow.
This winter I suddenly realize snow makes a mountain.

-Eihei Dogen, translated by Kazuaki Tanahashi

The only change possible, is the change we do ourselves.  It is never possible to change another person, it’s not even possible to make someone a better person.

The one thing, the only thing, that ever happens, is that we are at our highest most centered and allowing state. When another steps into that place, they may be able to change. But it comes entirely from them.  You did nothing, except yourself.

Even when we think we are with people who make us better by their example, they are not changing us.  They have inspired self-reflection, perhaps, but then we decide how we will step next, which must necessarily be the one and only way WE step. We cannot be that person and their achievements.

So instead of Ghandi telling me “Be better! Save the world!”, I now hear him encouraging “Let the world and others be.  The greatest support you can give to both is your highest most truthful and open self.”

Which inevitably returns me to Ram Dass:  Image

“I would say that the thrust of my life has been initially about getting free, and then realizing that my freedom is not independent of everybody else. Then I am arriving at that circle where one works on oneself as a gift to other people so that one doesn’t create more suffering. I help people as a work on myself and I work on myself to help people.”

“In our relationships, how much can we allow them to become new, and how much do we cling to what they used to be yesterday?”

“What you meet in another being is the projection of your own level of evolution.”

“Only that in you which is me can hear what I’m saying.”

The Purpose of Miracles: Siddhis & Gurus

Early in my yoga life, a yoga teacher friend of mine told me one day I would read stories about the lives of yogis. I thought this unlikely – I couldn’t stand nonfiction reading, especially of the biographical sort.  Several years later, I remembered this and realized I stood very much corrected.  It is an inevitable part of the path, that at some point you start to delve into the lives of those who have walked before you, for guidance, for anecdotes, for inspiration, for fun, for teacher training homework, for all of the above and more.

A universal aspect to these accounts is miracle stories, whether of the author, or of the author’s guru.  Over time I have grown to see these stories as falling into one of three categories (although I’m sure there are plenty of stories out there waiting to happily surprise and enlighten me further:) ).

1)      Doing the impossible/Causing the impossible to happen

“The conductor discovered Maharaj-ji seated in the first-class coach without a ticket, he pulled the emergency brake and the train ground to a halt.  Maharaj-ji was unceremonsiously put off the train. The train had stopped near the village of Neeb Karori. Maharaj-ji sat down under the shade of a tree while the conductor blew his whistle to start the train.

The train didn’t move. It sat there for hours. Another engine was called in to push, to no avail.  Finally some passengers suggested to the railroad officials that they coax the sadhu back on board.  The officials were initially appalled by such superstition, but after many frustrating attempts to move the train, they decided to give it a try.

…Maharaj-ji finally reboarded the train. As soon as he was in his first-class seat, the train began to roll.” Be Love Now p.198-199

I see these miracles as invitations to imagine being in the place where everything is possible.

Take a moment, close your eyes, and allow yourself to believe in nothing BUT possibility – spontaneously floating in the air, your yoga mat turning a different color, becoming immovable, anything and everything is possible. It might not actually be happening, but it’s possible.

When we connect to the place within us that knows that everything is possible, there is a feeling of a weight falling away or layers coming down. It leaves you feeling light, open, free.  You have tapped into the experience of the basic nature of existence – change. Since the state of every thing is change, within each moment is the possibility for every thing to be another thing in the next instant. The possibilities are literally limitless. It takes some intentional work – or the playfulness of a guru – to allow us to experience this.

2)      Causing an experience of Samadhi/enlightenment in a disciple

“I think the greatest moment I ever had with Maharaj-ji was at sunset one day at Kainchi, when K.K., his cousin M.L., and I went out there. Ostensibly we were delivering some fragile things from Haldwani for Durga Puja at Kainchi.  In the twilight sunset we just sat, and he was like Shiva. He lay down and started to snore, or what sounded like that, and he took me into states of ecstasy and bliss. I started to shake very violently and to go out and out, and he brought me down. He said, “He isn’t ready.” When we left, I turned back and watched him sitting there on his bench, just that living-murti quality of him.” Be Love Now p.210

These experiences can only be transmitted via the grace of a guru, which we are not all fortunate enough to have. Yet they are reminders that sometimes all it takes is a small jolt to crack open the space within us.  Sometimes it seems like a monumental long arduous task that we have set for ourselves (and in some ways it is), but it is also the smallest of shifts in perspective that allows us, even for a moment, to experience the truth.

3)      Knowing the impossible

Example*:  In multiple books Ram Dass relates one of the initial experiences he had with Maharaj-ji.  The previous evening, before meeting Maharaj-ji, Ram Dass had separated from his group to spend time alone on a hill contemplating the stars, and his mother’s recent death.  When he met Maharaj-ji the next day, Maharaj-ji told Ram Dass all the thoughts he had had about his mother – Maharaj-ji even knew what had been the cause of her death.  It was information Maharaj-ji had no way in the world of knowing, but did.  It was this act that Ram Dass points to again and again as what “changed” him.

I see these miracles as encouragement to realign ourselves to the place where these beings reside that makes such knowledge possible – the place where everything is one.  The place where you have let go (vairagya) enough of your stuff, and your attachment to living, breathing, being, and reveling in your stuff, that you are open to Other.  In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras (III.19), it is said that the knowledge of other’s thoughts comes from studying another’s ideas and facial expressions. We have a hint of that in our close relationships, mostly in the facial expression domain, because we study that quite naturally.  However, how often do we really study other’s ideas, how often do we have conversations that are not about what we have to say?  It’s not that we are bad companions, but we are caught up in our stuff/ego/self, it’s inescapable.  It’s only through truly letting ourselves go that we can really connect with Other; whether on the emotional, metaphysical, physical, or other level.

The purpose of siddhis is to reveal and instruct.  In multiple texts – both sacred and personal – advisories abound on focusing on the attainment of siddhis. They can easily shift from functional to entrapping, stagnating the practitioner on the path, and feeding the ego/self.   Instead, immerse in the miracle stories, and take a leap of faith – tapping into that space within you where everything is possible, filled with grace, and connected.

*Examples are given from Neem Karoli Babab, as it is his lineage via Ram Dass and Bhagavan Das that I have spent the most time with, and feel a completely partial draw toward.