Thursday, March 11, 2010

Warrior Beginnings


It started as a minor disturbance. Years ago, when I was assisting Gabriel Halpern in his 10am class on Tuesdays at the Yoga Circle, I had the assignment to present Warrior One to the class. When I was researching the pose in Light on Yoga I found it hard to understand the short version of the story in the beginning of the section devoted to the Warrior poses, and I was perturbed by this, but I let it go for a while as life occupied my attention otherwise.

Then, more recently, I came across the story again in Zo Newell's wonderful book, Downward Dogs & Warriors, and it really came alive for me this time. It is a vivid story that practically tells itself once you have the images and background.

The story has such potency for me. And I wonder if this might be the beginning of my journey with the Warrior, rather than the completion that having already presented the workshop might suggest. The Warrior is not done with me yet!

The story of the great Warrior, Virabhadra, is from a mythological story from India. It is my belief that when we hear stories from mythology that the images have the potential to open up understandings that otherwise could remain hidden. It engages the creative matrix of mind. And I also think that the images might interact with the minds of different people differently depending on what they are available to hear at the time. It is similar to visiting the Art Institute of Chicago: I respond to certain artworks, and others just seem pass over my eyes without much happening for me. And with stories (and poetry) certain aspects will rock my world and other parts I probably will not understand. If you listen to the same piece with me it could be that you will be strongly affected by things that had little affect on me and vice-versa. This perception is also time-dependent. Like when I visit the museum on a different day I find myself resonating with artworks that I wasn't drawn to previously, and similarly when I hear the same story or read the same poem years (or days) later I understand different parts. So the same piece can open up meaning differently depending on how the viewer/listener/reader is oriented at a particular time.

6 comments:

YogaforCynics said...

I just recently saw Newell's book on Amazon, while looking for something else, and have been thinking about getting a copy, so it's useful to have a thumbs up from you, Brooks.

Gotta admit, it's taken me a while to get past the "I'm not supposed to take this literally, am I?" when it comes to the Hindu stories (I consider my religion-phobia very well-founded) often brought up in yoga classes and books, but I'm getting there...

Brooks Hall said...

YogaforCynics - Jay, it is so cool to be right where You are! I don't think that you have to "get" anywhere (I think you would agree with this.). I can understand resistance, and for myself I'm convinced by my experience that stories from religious and cultural traditions can be powerful and non-threatening. It's all art and creative expressions of experience and imagination. I don't go for the dogma.

And I don't like it or take it well when someone seems to want to convert or manipulate my beliefs. But when I'm given the opportunity to explore images and stories on my own terms, I feel differently about it. I like that.

svasti said...

And that is why I love re-reading certain books over and over, or listening to recorded lectures again every so often.

Because we are capable of being open to different truths at different times, and they don't always come from the places we expect.

I see mythology in the same way I see poetry - an interpretation that offers innate wisdom, reaching beyond words or images into the heart and mind. We then get to use that to make sense of reality for ourselves. And that is far more true to me than any collected wisdom.

I've heard it said over and over that both meditation and yoga are little more than a laboratory. Take nothing for granted. Explore, discover what is true for you and keep testing and re-testing (because our truth can and does change over time). Never buy anything wholesale, but rather experience it deeply for yourself!

Bob Weisenberg said...

Hi, Brooks.

How fun to see this book pop up on you blog. I just started reading it for our next Namaste Book Club on the 21st. I've been in touch with the author Zo on Facebook. Maybe I can get her to join us.

Appreciated you other wise words in your blog, too.

YogaforCynics, I struggled with relating to the ancient stories for a long time, too, even though my inspiration, Stephen Cope, really likes them and used them in his book, "Yoga and the Quest for the True Self." I even avoided reading the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita for a long time.

The breakthrough for me came when, from studying these ancient Yoga texts, that these guys felt just the way you and I do about these stories! They couldn't accept them literally, and Yoga itself began as a personal rational alternative to the irrational, ritualistic, priest-dominated formal Vedic religion of the time. Once I realized the authors of the ancient Yoga texts were just like you and me, it was clear sailing after that. I did what they did--turn whatever didn't make literal sense into rich metaphor.

I've written more about this at http://bit.ly/d2Y9DK

Thanks for the thought-provoking blog, Brooks.

Bob Weisenberg
http://YogaDemystified.com

Laura Hegfield said...

I'm feeling like I'm living my own version of warrior right now...so I'm glad you are at the beginning of this exploration...ME TOO!...always a beginner, that's me. What you have written here is so true Brooks...we bring something different to a story/work of art/ event...every single time we show up...we hear/understand what we are open to in that particular moment in time...we receive what we can...and it shifts...as long as we stay open:) And what could be more open than a warrior pose? The more I think about it/embody it...the more I realize warrior is not about standing ready to do battle...but standing open to possibility/ to learning.

human being said...

a delightful read... as i look at the world from the same window...
:)
that aspect of time... when we experience differently at differnt times we examine an art work... is so true...
meaning is not a hook to cling to... it's a river... we should swim in the river of the meaning... then each time we gain something new...

stories (mythological, religious, modern or classical are our collective dreams...
interpreting them leads to our awareness...

a wise answer to dear dr. Jay, too...

best wishes