Jenny Beeken – Director and Principal Inner Yoga Trust
Namaste dear colleagues, teachers and students of life,
It is vital to become even more aware of all that yoga brings to our lives, in connection with what is happening in the world right now. There is so much fear and uncertainty that we cannot help but be affected by it.
Yet we need to consider the bigger picture – I feel the way the economy, and our way of living with it, had got out of hand, and this is actually obvious and borne out by others rather than just “my feeling”. We were/are as a civilization living on credit and beyond our means and in “comfort and luxury”. I have been reading Kundalini Tantra by Swami Satyananda Saraswati, who says that total slavery to luxury and comfort can be as dangerous as alcohol and drugs. So somehow this roller coaster of an out of control monetary situation needed to be halted or even reversed, that is all. It was predicted by yogis and astrologers and is a consequence of the movement of the great ages.
In The Holy Science, Swami Sri Yukteswar (Guru of Paramahansa Yogananda, author of Autobiography of a Yogi) wrote about the movement from the Kali Yuga – the material or Dark Age to the Dwapara Yuga – the Energy, Electric or Atomic Age. This, he states began in 1700AD when electricity was first discovered. Despite the 300 years since then, although we can use it and describe it, scientists still do not understand its nature.
In astrology this has a correlation to the movement from the Great Age of Pisces moving into the Great Age of Aquarius. That movement was said to have begun when the planet Uranus (the planet that rules electricity, atomic energy and sudden change) was discovered in 1781. The Yugas and astrological ages are very long so it takes time to move from one to another completely.
In the Kali Yuga, everything was considered to be solid matter, the earth was flat; if you could not see it, it didn’t exist, except that there was also a blind superstitious belief in a judgemental God. The advent of the Dwapara Yuga has brought with it revolutionary discoveries on an atomic and universal scale that has enabled us to embrace the concept of energy and movement of energy that has been part of yoga philosophy all the way through the ages. In yoga that energy movement can be felt and used from a disciplined practice.
So our age is here, we can celebrate and have faith in that. People will turn to and develop faith and trust in the practice of yoga in all its forms because yoga will support us in these challenging yet fascinating times. As teachers we may need to adapt to what people can afford or want to spend in classes and day workshops, etc. Rather than exotic yoga holidays we may be greatly needed to teach in places like schools more than anywhere.
The Guardian in its “Road to Ruin” report talks about “The new age of austerity” and luxury fatigue. The Oxford Dictionary defines austerity as “without luxury”. A definition of Aparigraha is “abstention from greed”. These link in the ideas I have heard Ajahn Sucitto (the abbott at Chithurst Buddhist Monastery) speak about. Ajahn says that austerity is practised to bring about a shift in the consciousness to a more peaceful state of mind or a release from the hold of the senses.
Thinking about it this way takes the practice of austerity out of that bleak sense of self-denial, to something with a purpose that is worthwhile pursuing. It feels as though maybe society is moving towards a much more yogic and Buddhist path. Maybe we needed this current situation to give us a jolt, a waking-up call to look at our lives. The movement of Pluto into Capricorn, early 2008, correlates with the collapse of the monetary market and is about reality, finding what is real and of the earth – not the stock market or short selling, both of which are corrupt!
Our yoga practice is real and solid and takes us forward whilst enabling us to deal with what is the here and now. If we are solid in that, we will survive any amount of hardship or restriction and come through with greater awareness of what is needed for ourselves and the world around us, so “take heart” and go with it all, however challenging it gets.