Let us begin with a story, to invoke and hold space for our attendant, Lord Ganesha, paraphrasing here:
Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati lived with their two children – Ganesha and Kartikeya. Kartikeya was a beautiful boy with strong limbs, whereas Ganesha had the head of an elephant and was pot-bellied with short stubby legs. Kartikeya’s vehicle was the swift peacock and Ganesha’s vehicle was a mouse.
A mischievous sage, Narada, came to see Shiva and Parvati. Sage Narada, with a mischievous twinkle, brought out a mango. He presented the mango to Shiva, ‘Lord, this mango is a very special mango. It is sweeter than the nectar of the Gods and whoever eats this mango would become wise and learned.’ Shiva was about to cut the mango and give half of it to Parvati, when Narada stopped him. ‘My Lord! He said, ‘the mango has to be eaten by one person only. If it is cut or shared, it would lose its value.’ Shiva frowned and immediately handed over the mango for Parvati to eat. He smiled, ‘Enjoy the fruit, my dear!’Parvati hesitated as she too was unwilling to eat something which her husband would not eat.
At that time Ganesha and Kartikeya came inside their home to find their parents talking seriously with Sage Narada. ‘What is happening? What is in your hands, Sage Narada? Kartikeya came up from behind and asked Narada, eying the mango. Narada said ”Oh this…”. Ganesha looked at the mango, licked his lips, why his parents had rejected such a delicious gift. The aroma wafted even more strongly as Kartikeya said, ‘Mother I will take it, it smells so delicious… and I like mangoes too…’ Ganesha interrupted, ‘I saw it first, I want it…I like eating.. it is mine….’ Ganesha yelled as he tried snatching the mango from Narada’s hand, only to be stopped by his brother.
Narada safely moved to the side, his mission accomplished, he watched. Both Shiva and Parvati realized that Narada had created a rift between the two brothers. Shiva angrily shouted at Narada, ‘You came here to start this fight! I hope you are satisfied now…’ Shiva angrily shook his head.
Parvati knew it was time she intervened, as Shiva, Ganesha and Kartikeya were all angry. Shiva stopped advancing towards Narada and looked at Parvati. Both Ganesha and Kartikeya stopped their bickering and looked at their mother expectantly. ‘We will organize a competition, whoever wins the competition, gets the mango, ok?’ Parvati said with a quiet smile. Both the brothers nodded realizing that this was the only solution. Now Narada asked: ‘Mother, shall I suggest the competition?
Parvati nodded. Then Narada said, ‘Whoever goes around the world three times and returns first would win the mango.’ Kartikeya smiled. There was no way Ganesha could win this competition. Kartikeya was sure he was going to get the mango. Without saying another word, Kartikeya ran to his peacock and starting his flight around the world.
Ganesha was perturbed. He knew that he his mouse couldn’t match the speed of the Kartikeya’s peacock. He was wondering what to do, when an idea struck him. Meanwhile Kartikeya after circling the world three times came home to claim the mango. Much to his amazement, he saw the mango in his brother’s hands. Kartikeya could not believe that Ganesha had circled the world faster than him and had claimed the mango! Bewildered he turned to his mother, ‘How did Ganesha complete the race first?’
It was Sage Narada who replied, ‘Ganesha said that Shiva and Parvati were his parents were his whole world. He had asked Shiva and Parvati to stand together and circled them three times, taking the mango.’ Kartikeya looked long at his brother who had the mango in his hands. He knew that his brother had beaten him fair. Kartikeya smiled. Ganesha smiled back and offered the mango to Kartikeya!
We all follow the path of either Ganesha or Kartikeya in our lives. Some of us gather knowledge by traveling the world – like Kartikeya, whereas some of us gather knowledge by staying at the same place and observing people– like Ganesha.*
Now we want to share our perspective, to save any confusion. So there is no question as to the year that was, we want to talk about it. There have been plenty of moments that have given us pause for thought, and none of that seems out of line with the given experiences of a human culture at large. There are also some dynamics, like those offered by Narada, unique to the yoga world. These are the cultural complexes, which we are intimately bound up in. Since we expanded our business 2 years ago, we instantly had the falling apart (or blowing up) of Anusara, and with it our original business plan. Since that time, we tried to recollect ourselves as best we could. Inevitably, the complex phenomena in the yoga world that shook Anusara apart completely, ended up on our doorstep. At times, it has felt like the terrorizing space shrapnel that revisits us every 1hr and 30mins (if you’ve seen the movie, Gravity), which is about every year in our world. It is as if we have been racing to escape this.
Our biggest challenge over the last two years has been in terms of reorienting and grounding the culture of our business. Since that time, our community of students and teachers have been cycled through to varying degrees. One of our longest serving teachers recently resigned, and we are grateful for her growth, while sad to see her leave. This is a positive outcome after being with us from the beginning of her career as a yoga teacher. The reason we were given for her resignation was that our culture was “too much of a revolving door”. Framed in that way, the aspect of the revolving door was taken to be negative, and gives the impression that there should be reason for the door to remain closed. Yet who really wants the door to be closed? Having “no exit” is an existential nightmare, and in reality, there is no such thing. If the door were to be closed we could never escape life, and we would be stuck in one place, or phase, psychologically speaking. Alternatively, this could lead to a facing of ones demons, which if handled intelligently, will lead to a removal of any such obstacle. This brings us to our primary host for this Christmas – Ganapati – the indestructible mover and shaker.
If we take the image of the revolving door, and turn it on its side, we have the symbol of the rota or wheel. This is an archetypal image, a form with universal significance. It has functioned as container for the experience of an ultimate reality, on which the whole phenomenal world rests. In the eastern spiritual tradition, this is the work of mandala symbolism. These images describe the basic structure of our existence, in its fullness. They do not make meaning like our signs, through exclusions, but instead draw contents in. They might look static, but as we know the action of wheel is made to turn. In our culture, we get about in our wheels, and this is literally our primary mode of transport. As we see in the metaphor, it also functions on a symbolic level.
The spokes on the wheel describe the innate order, created through the spontaneous divisions manifested out of the basic movement of life, Prana. Sacred geometry sees the living essence in the shape of things, that is, in how they “turn out”. We can’t be blamed if it was not as we expected, because we have something to learn from the basis of that unfolding. Strangely, the psyche is also an intervention into that natural process. What we can see happening in these artworks, relates precisely to what Ananda said in last night’s class: “the observation is the transformation.” To be part of that work of transforming our situation, we must look to see what patterns are occurring in our embodied existence. When you see these things staring back at you, from wherever they may be, that is the pivotal moment that changes the course of life. This is precisely what we set out to do freely for ourselves, when we create the world from the space of observation. Of course, that work is never finished because this principle, the wheel of life, understands that the unfolding is a process of concealment and revelation. With our embodied awareness, we can begin to know that these two facts of consciousness are actually two sides of the same coin, two aspects of the one reality.
We have chosen to keep our doors open and to enable movement, whilst we stay in the same place, observing life as it circles around. The past is receding, and the future expanding, holding us to our centre. We are proud to be a container in which teachers and students develop their capacities. We have all shared our love for, and knowledge of yoga. The momentum gathers, as 2014 will offer more expansive knowledge and love for the practice, as we work on our capacity to hold more, together. We are really excited to have the door wide open for new programming and faces next year. Stay tuned for our New Year newsletter, for a complete description of events, classes and schedule. We look forward to having you visit, practice, learn and love yoga at Preshana.
*Full story retrievable at http://hindumythologyforgennext.blogspot.com.au/2011/10/ganesha-wins-mango.html