K, you've got me started thinking. Thank you for that. I recognize that the list of things you loved about SY and now miss terribly is a litany of loss. I have my own litany; we all do. But, there are other things I have to acknowledge that I take with me. Herewith a partial list of those:
1. When I see someone on the street, or subway, and I'm tempted to have a judgment about them at first sight, I stop. Reflexively, I think: "they, too, are God." I don't claim to know what this means. It might mean nothing at all. But, it brings my judgment up short. Usually. And sometimes I even walk away with a renewed sense of the common dignity we all share, and I find myself wishing that person well.
2. I no longer think of myself as a sinner. In fact, the idea strikes me as absurd. For someone raised in the Roman Catholic tradition this is...a radical change in self-concept. To no longer have a majority of my inner life consumed with calculations over degrees of guilt, negotiations between venial and mortal sins and the need for confession, repentance, forgiveness, penance... this is immense. For me.
3. I can meditate. I can fall into a steady posture and quiet my thoughts and plunge inside. I don't anymore. But I trust that I still can. Like riding a bike, it's something you don't forget. My body remembers the posture, my mind remembers the mantra. Meditation was a refuge for me, a sweet surcease from the incessant demands of the world. I hope I can find it again.
Oh, God. This is hard. Because when taking account of those things I'm grateful for as a result of my practice of SY, many things crowd forward to be acknowledged, and I have to reluctantly dismiss them. For instance, what did it mean that we would smile at one another over chai before the Guru Gita, our eyes shining with joy, and silently acknowledge each other's state, which was really our shared state of bliss, of unaltered happiness? What was the unsaid connection we felt in those early morning hours at South Fallsburgh amrit? A common ecstasy produced by our united good thoughts, intentions, feelings, wishes? Or, the muted glow that junkies pass around with a lazy smile and tired nod?
4. I've met and befriended people in SY whose goodness takes my breath away. Friends whose purity of heart and intention I've never had cause to question. (I'm thinking of Nina, Iwona, Kathy, Stephan and Anne, Willa, and George, my George...) A few people have even expressed the same opinion of me. Something about this path invoked that in each of us. Yes, this was abused. This unquestioning, trusting goodness was exploited. That was...evil. But, it doesn't take away what I've seen and loved in others. And now, I know what to look for. I trust that this is there, in anyone I would call a friend. I guess I believe that at their core, most people are good.
5. I find it much easier to forgive. Not because I've become a more forgiving person, but because many of the small transgressions we all traffic in every day no longer seem so important to me. Has my ego shrunk? Not likely. I like my ego nice and strong these days. It just has a tougher shell. Guess all that knocking around had it's silver lining, after all.
6. I can talk about spirituality with others in this unmediated medium of the internet, and know that we all share unspoken assumptions and common beliefs and a language which, though corrupted, frames our experiences in ways we all understand. This is not, I realize, a direct product of SY practice (which officially circumscribed such unofficial dialogue, lest anyone start comparing notes and realize that the gig was up) It is, rather, an unintended and quite wonderful bi-product of our practice. Still, it could not have been possible without the intense, shared experience of the "laboratory of the Shakti" that was SY.
7. I know enough not to give my heart away again for a few hits of Shakti and a flashing blue pearl. I now know that my heart belongs entirely to me. In an ironic, sad way I finally understand the teaching that god dwells within my own heart, as me. Ironic, because the one who gave me this teaching sought to claim my heart as her own. Sad, because so many years have passed and, dazzled by the outward show, I've never made any serious attempt to claim the treasure within. But, at least I know it is there.
Well, this is a start. It is a benchmark of sorts, for me. You can't begin picking among the ashes for those few things that are left to you until you've accepted that there has been a fire. A really bad fire.
Please! Have at me with your comments. I'm feeling kinda open and vulnerable and susceptible to whatever comes my way. That's one thing we were never encouraged to feel in SY, n'est-ce pas?
PS Zennie. Start your blog! Please. There are so many correspondences between the yoga we practiced and addiction. I look forward to hearing what you have to say on this subject, and others as well.