yoga is a way of life.. For inner peace and good health, practice yoga

yoga is a way of life.. For inner peace and good health, practice yoga

Sunday, April 25, 2010

We Are Not Separate

A number of readings, teachings, and experiences in my life lately have reminded me of what the great sages have attributed to the reason we suffer in life: We feel we are separated from each other, animals, and the earth.

I hope some of you were able to catch "Food, Inc." on PBS last week (metro NY area). I knew things were bad in this toxic mix of profits and large-scale handling of our food, but had no idea how bad. Food grown on a homey kind of country farm is now a myth in this country. I tried to shield my eyes and close my ears to the scenes of cruelty to our traditional farm animals – chickens, pigs, cows – but did accidentally see a poor cow unable to stand any longer after being fattened up so much (from forced feeding of corn and things cows don't naturally eat) pushed and hit by men trying to shove the poor creature towards its slaughter. The cow was crying and suffering. That is among the most inhumane acts I can think of. I wonder how humans have evolved to the point where we not only produce food that is like poison for other people, but have no regard for the dignity or suffering of beings that we share this planet with.

But as a contrast, I was fortunate to be treated by my radiant friend Margot to a performance yesterday at City Center in Manhattan of Lori Belilove's Isadora Duncan junior dance company known as the "Beliloveables." (Isadora Duncan's young students were known in her day as the "Isadorables"). Lori's work with these young girls, 6-16 years old, is remarkable for the polished technique enabling the dancers to express the noblest virtue through movement. They show their hearts to the universe, they pass a warm glow to each other, they touch their foreheads and hearts gently, they regard the earth, they joyfully whirl around each other smiling and acknowledging each other in friendship. I felt honored that Lori selected inspiring music by Marjan Mozetich which I introduced to her for one piece, and was flattered to see she put something I said in the program notes: "Seeing the Beliloveables perform restores my faith in humanity." It's true! Look at the photo above! To learn more about the Isadora Duncan Dance Company and Foundation and their extraordinary work:

When we see ourselves as separate from our families, our neighbors, our community, our country and the world, even nature, we are miserable. We are connected by a universal energy. Everything vibrates at a frequency which is part of the entire field of energy we exist in. To think we don't need one another, to think that our actions don't matter, to think that we can deny or hide from the suffering of others is perhaps because we cannot admit that we suffer nor care for ourselves enough to alleviate our own suffering.

In the Yoga Sutras, there are 4 states of mind known as the brahmaviharas: "By cultivating attitudes of friendship toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and disregard toward the wicked, the mind-stuff retains its undisturbed calmness." In the Buddhist tradition, the brahmaviharas reflect on social relationships and the interdependent nature of all beings. The Tao teaches that the earth is in essence a reflection of heaven, run by the same laws – not by the laws of men. The more man interferes with the natural balance governed by universal laws, the further away harmony retreats into the distance.

When I discover an ant walking around inside the house in early spring, I put a glass over him, slip a postcard underneath and escort him gently outside. He and little spiders don't mean to be inside our homes. They seek warmth and food just like we do. I don't kill them because of this. They don't mean us any harm. They might look at us and see a huge ogre and are we? I love my cat Margarita and treat her with respect and love, as I would do for any animal. I can't eat them. I can't kill them. I will live fine without killing animals, yet they must die for us to enjoy the taste. To me, it's not necessary to eat meat any longer. Not when we are treating them like inanimate objects for insatiable profit. There are so many of us humans on the earth now (the population of the United States has DOUBLED since I was born) and we can't keep going like this, raping the earth, putting helpless animals into prisons of death, poisoning the earth and ourselves. How will you treat our garden?

In closing, a little verse to start each day:

Waking this morning, I smile,
A brand-new day is before me.
I aspire to live each moment
And to look upon all beings
With the eyes of kindness and
May you, and all other beings, be
happy and free from suffering.

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