I recently watched the Krishna Das (KD) documentary. If you don’t know who Krishna Das is I suggest that you Google him and check out some of his music. I am also willing to bet that if you have spent any time in a studio then you have heard a handful of his songs.
I was moved listening to him speak about his demons and the process he has gone through to move past those challenges. One of the things that stood out to me in the documentary was how KD stayed the course, he remained true to himself regardless of what others thought or his own insecurities. This does not mean that he always had a firm grasp on who he was or the direction he was heading. He stayed true by listening to his inner self and that little compass that each of us has. I can relate with this feeling a great deal. There have been many times in my life that I have turned down opportunities or walked away from something just because it did not sit well with me. Each and every time I did this there was a sacrifice of some kind, a friend lost, a job and salary given up, or the relocation in my living situation. Time has always proven that these decisions were the best thing for me and for those around me.
When KD began to chant here in the States there was no one listening. After some time people began to show up in droves to take part in the worship he was offering. KD did not start chanting because he wanted to gain some kind of popularity but rather he wanted clear the dark spaces of his heart and move past attributes of himself that were holding him back from truly living in peace. As he gained in popularity and “rock star” status the desires for fame, fortune, and sex come flooding back in for him. He decided to that he would take a break from what he was doing and go back to India. This break was intended to process these desires and determine if he could continue to chant. He knew that chanting with these desires in is heart was not the way that he wanted to do it, that it was not pure and true to who he was.
KD was able to do this during a meditation he had one day. The metaphor he uses to describe this process is a wave crashing on the shore. As a wave forms it gets larger and larger until it crashes on land, disappearing by receding back into the ocean. The wave does not get proud or boastful as it gets larger and more powerful. It simply forms with no ego and no attachment to the process. KD related this to his life by drawing a conclusion that as he was gaining in popularity and demand he was just forming and heading in the same direction as everybody else, death.
I take this metaphor a step further by stating that when a wave crashes on the shore it leaves a mark. This mark is sometimes small and sometimes it is large. You see where I am going with this. This is our life. We form by gaining consciousness, wisdom, and applying those things to our life. Ultimately was pass on by crashing onto the landscape of our life. This landscape includes the people around us, those we leave behind. Having a proud heart or being consumed by other earthly desires does not change the fact that we all crash and will dissipate back to the universe. The attachment to these desires drives our lives and ultimately leaves us with nothing when we crash into the shore. The mark we leave on others is the legacy that we have developed during our time here on earth. It is accomplished and magnified by practicing humility through non-attachment.
“The consciousness of self-mastery in one who is free from craving for objects seen or heard about is non-attachment.”
Satchidananda goes on in his commentary to state that “our desirous mind dilutes us and we become ignorant.” It is only through giving these desires up and renouncing worldly desires that we are able to wholly experience peace. There is a reason that we often say “Om, Shanti, Shanti, Shanti, Om , Peace, Peace. Peace.” Peace is the highest attribute to possess in our lives.
We often see glimpses of peace but in order to truly know it and live it we must practice non-attachment. This does not mean that I am recommending that we all shed ourselves of comforts and go live in a cave somewhere. Rather, determine if an object or desire is good and fitting for us. Just reacting and taking hold of an object of desire is not practicing non-attachment or mindfulness.
My home practice enables me to keep this in check most of the time as well as surrounding myself with people who give me feedback from a loving and non-judgmental place. These two parts of my life bring awareness thus enabling me to practice non-attachment. I can observe attachment rising up in my life in the form of pride and insecurities. I challenge you to meditate on this principle today, then observe what actually benefits you and what is just attachment.
Matt Porter is on his yoga journey and will be continuing his formal studies under Isabelle Casey & Rachel Goldberg in Be Yoga’s 200 Hour Teacher Training this coming fall. He can often be found riding his bike all over or on his yoga mat. Matt has worked with children and at risk youth for nearly 4 years. It was at one of these programs that he and his wife Sandefur crossed paths. Matt’s desire in life is for those around him to recognize the potential to change and the power to do so. He is inspired by those who challenge perception and who desire most the connection between individuals. He believes that all people are capable of changing the world they live by recognizing the people around them as similar and not separate. We all have a part to play in each others lives, whether we know it or not. Matt is also passionate about what we put into our bodies. He identifies strongly with the belief that what we put into our bodies in the form of food directly affects the relationship we have with those around us and the relationship we have with our own bodies. Matt has recently joined the AYS community in an official manor as Co- Editor. He is looking forward to this new challenge as well as meeting and building relationships with his fellow yogis here in Atlanta and beyond. Please contact Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org
“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
Great post Porter!
Non-reaactivity is the practice. Very clearly delivered, MP. You go with your bad self! 🙂
Great post! I agree that it’s hard to see life clearly without practicing non-attachment. There is also such a thing as too much non-attachment, and sometimes I struggle with that as well. After 15 years on my mat, I know that we need very little to be happy, but we still have to respect what others desire for their lives. Yoga helps me keep both attachment and non-attachment in balance.
great article Matt – love how you explain the concept of non-attachment; it’s so easy to think that non-attachment means receding from life, but as we know, that’s not it at all!