Written By Iris Disse. *Published in Yoga Aktuell– Germany
Tantra and yoga, art and shamanism are paths of rebellion. They support me in becoming the change I desire.
Years ago I had already decided to no longer be against something, but in favour of something. As a filmmaker, I learned: When I fight against something, I am trapped in duality, giving my energy to the problem. I have seen that in Colombia, the fight against drugs, using a lot of weapons and money from the U.S., produces more drugs and more misery. Revolutions have been able to change systems, but not people. Real change is an inner process of examining our imprints, taking our values seriously, and turning our convictions into action. “Walk your talk”, ” walk your talk” is a good rule. We need to get back in touch with the “Great Mystery” or “God Mother Father” as the Indigenous people do, so that we change from within. Then we can no longer be instrumentalized from the outside.
We live in a time when social hypnosis is becoming more powerful. “The madness of reality” is what Arno Gruen calls it in his theory of human destructiveness. We are gently drilled from an early age to be sensible, to strive for security, to protect ourselves with health insurance and pensions against life’s adversities, so that as adults we gratefully participate in a system that lulls us and we visibly allow our planet to be destroyed. In exchange, we cede our rights as self-determining beings, we allow ourselves to become functioning beings. We are caught in the vortex of “not having time” because of the work that is our life – even though it does not fulfill us. We are disciplined self-destructive for foreign interests. We organize our children and elderly away, allow the fragmentation of our life flow to serve these foreign interests. We no longer have time for love, birth, and dying; for spontaneity and laughter; to cook and do things that are not expedient. Nietzsche wrote, “Whoever does not have two-thirds of his day to himself is a slave, be he who he will, by the way: statesman, merchant, official, scholar.” What do we get in return? An apartment, usually rented, a car, four weeks of vacation. We are filled with fear of not being enough, fear of the flow of life.
How do we find a path that reconnects us, with our center, our values? What can we do, what can we leave behind? A path that helps us sneak past the paralyzing fears, the feeling that “I alone can’t make a difference anyway” or ” If I don’t go along, I’ll fall through the cracks into a social abyss”, or “… then my partner will leave me” or ” You just have to adapt”. I have relinquished control over my life, feel helplessly exposed like a boat on the high seas of life without a captain. The absent captain – that is not society. That is myself. And that is scary, deep inside me. I cannot escape responsibility for my own life and death. I am a magical being – even if I pretend to be totally powerless, at the mercy. Only we humans can direct energy into the future, can materialize ideas. Our consciousness is powerful. We need to shake ourselves, wake up from hypnosis, use our power to live a vibrant life where we take full responsibility for our actions. We again make decisions that will last – for the next seven generations, say the Kichwa indigenous people, our neighbors in Ecuador. How do we do that – to connect with our own personal compass of life? Not to weaken ourselves in “being against”, but to stand up for myself and my values and to live them?
I know it well, that feeling: I would love to… it would be right… but unfortunately I don’t have time. Just recently again: my friend’s daughter Vero calls: labor has started. She lives in the mountains with her husband and three children. The baby is to be born at home. The midwife is not available at the moment. In Durga’s Tiger School ®, the first “in-person” yoga teacher training is running again after seven covid months, yogis and teachers, we are all happy. I feel like I can’t leave, I talk to the team, to the students: “Oh, we can do it for two days,” and I drive off, four hours into the mountains. Vero and her husband are shamans. I help cook and look after the children, give Vero a massage, take everyone for a walk along the river – the baby is a long time coming, and six days have already passed. When I come back home, with a slightly queasy feeling: ” oops, I hope that our yogis and yoginis are not disappointed now”, I am surprised: all of them, really all of them have the feeling that it was important for them to feel that one has to take time to react to life that cannot be planned.
I arranged my life according to my values: I wanted to have time for my beloved, my son; time to attend births of girlfriends or the dying process of my mother. To keep on learning. To listen to my visions. To walk unknown paths when they call me. Not to listen to the lure of apparent certainties. And yet: Every time it calls me, the unpredictable, I have to go through the gate of fear: “You really don’t have time for that now – too bad”. Then I remember my decision. And go.
It’s often not easy. We have a clear impulse to do something, it feels inexplicably right. Now our “mind” comes into action, explaining to us why illogical impulses and visions are unrealistic, childish, nonsensical or simply not feasible. It is important to understand that doubt belongs to the mind. It is its task to examine the pros and cons, to clarify how we get to the goal. But the decision comes from another source. I learn to feel when an impulse, a vision comes from my soul self, or from the great mystery. It’s just a moment when I can perceive it very clearly. And I learn to trust this perception, and decide on the basis of this trust – even if it feels crazy, or not feasible. Decision means: I take a small stone and throw it into the water eye under the starry sky. This action cannot be undone. What comes out of it, I will never know. That is what life will show me. And after I throw the little stone of my decision, I see what the wave rings bring to me. And at the same time I ask my mind to clarify what I can do on a very material level so that my decision can unfold as I wish – with all doubts. Such a decision also endures crises in love. There is a level where love, once deeply felt, also becomes my decision, which I follow – even and especially when I suddenly no longer know why I have put myself through this particular partner.
Fireball in the belly. My partner is in Switzerland and tells me on the phone that the readings for his new book are cancelled. The second covid wave is upon us as predicted. We intelligent Northern European people are allowing a more or less accentuated new lock down. For me, faith in our democracy is crumbling away. We allow ourselves to be treated like immature children. Is it so easy to subjugate humanity? One creates fear of death on purpose. In Germany, government papers have been published confirming this. And for those who do not have the fear, one appeals to the solidarity with those who let themselves be frightened. And if that doesn’t help, the fear of punishment is supposed to tame people.
I have a lump of fire in the area of the solar plexus, it does not go away for days.
Fear. Burning and nameless. In meditation, I see a laughing shadow descending on the world – the dream of world domination. Is it time? Have we let ourselves be subjugated?
What am I supposed to do? I feel irritated, overwhelmed, alone, excluded.
“Go to the places you fear,” says Puma Chödrön. “Sit in meditation, and if you want to run away – sit, sit, sit.” This is an effective way to face crises. So I sit, and my mind races, and I just want to jump up. “Is this the harvest of your twenty years of practice?” it sneers inside me. Now the aggression is directed at myself. It thinks: …I still wanted to talk to a student…. and the gas for the shower in the cougar house…the contract for Dad’s new caregiver…and the community paper needs to be revised…oh it’s our cook’s birthday today, the cake!!!! .
I hear myself singing, it just started inside me, deep ohms filling my belly, loud and powerful. Sounds have power. Quite amazed, my thoughts pause. I use the gap, and sing, sing, until my whole body vibrates. In my head it becomes light. I remember my mission to help people follow their “path in the wayless,” as Teresa of Avila puts it – no matter what is happening around me. To live the vision I have received. Later, we chant mantras in the group, and the vibration continues to spread. And the trust comes back.
Another technique is dance. I allow my body to dance – every day for at least half an hour. In the morning, when I get up. Or before going to bed. The important thing is to get in touch with myself and push open the door to the “here and now.”
Death My Friend
The “Ways with Heart” help me to perceive myself as a soul that has experiences in a material world. I begin to listen to this quiet voice. For this I seek silence. I can make music, paint or go on long walks in nature. I can jump into a cold lake. We can also meet our death in an Ayahuasca ritual, or by fasting and going on a vision quest in the mountains. A shamanic advice against existential fear: Make your death your friend. Let him become your advisor, turn the following question to him: “Dear death, please tell me what is really important now in your face? What can I leave out?”
I keep realizing: the only power I have over my life is to stick to my own choices and live according to my values. I received a vision in the spring of 2020 to create a community, in a medicine wheel up on the mountain. Right now, I have no idea how this vision will unfold. I am trusting and waiting. But the land has already materialized – 42 acres on a clean river. The sea is not far. Life is unpredictably exciting.
Maybe it’s time again to turn to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, which so briefly and broadly – succinctly describe the way inward: Gain power over your life, bring yourself back to the here and now again and again; observe your unconscious patterns; allow the body to become relaxedly aware of itself in the asanas and thus calm your mind; and travel deep into your inner being via the bridge of pranayama, the breathing rituals. This is how you come home, reaching the door to your center. Now you can focus your consciousness on one point. Wakefulness in nothingness-doing, deep contemplation can be attained in this way, where even the I is no longer there. In this moment of emptiness bliss arises. A person who reaches this state radiates light, lightness and love, and the world around him changes by itself. He no longer needs to do anything. He is like a light on a sloping jungle path in the dark of night. I was fortunate to meet the Sufi master Pir Vilayat Inayat Kahn. He made my heart glow with love – just by passing behind him… but that’s another story.