Yoga is Community

Gorgeous sunset in Arverne, NY, on Memorial Day -- a perfect way to remember those who served the greater community with their lives.

Gorgeous sunset in Arverne, NY, on Memorial Day -- a perfect way to remember those who served the greater community with their lives.

For whatever reasons you are practicing yoga, try to remember also that you are one of many who are seeking further enlightenment. You are part of a much bigger community – a community that is trying to do right not just for each individual but for the entire community as well. Therefore, your practice is not entirely just your own, or of your own making. And your efforts are undertaken with the hope that both you as an individual and the beings all around you on the planet will benefit.

The venerable Thich Nhat Hanh believes:

The next Buddha will not take the form of an individual. The next Buddha may take the form of a community; a community practicing understanding and loving kindness, a community practicing mindful living. This may be the most important thing we can do for the survival of the Earth.

With the earth in peril due to the ignorance of many, it’s so important that we as yoga practitioners live mindfully, and with greater awareness. Perhaps this quote from the website can give you hope: 

When just one percent of a community spends time in prayer and meditation, the whole community moves toward peace. Scientific studies record as much as an 80% decrease in violence within that community. With so much uncertainty in the world, One % of us committing to a daily meditation practice can make a significant difference.

I have no idea of whether this statistic regarding reduction in violence is in fact true. But one thing I have no doubt about is that when I/we practice meditation as individuals for sure any violent tendencies within ourselves are at least mitigated and held at bay, if not eliminated entirely. And that helps everyone, because we are all connected. As the Dalai Lama said:

My call for a spiritual revolution is not a call for a religious revolution, nor for a way of life that is otherworldly - still less to something magical or mysterious. It is a call for a radical reorientation away from our habitual preoccupation with self, a call to turn toward the wider community of beings with whom we are connected, and for conduct which recognizes others' interests alongside our own.

Some come to yoga and meditation for escape, and some even come in hopes of experiencing ‘otherworldly’ experiences. I am of the belief that we should all come to yoga so that we can experience the actual day-to-day realities of life more fully – with clearer and wider eyes – and to truly work to see our connections to the whole of sentient beings with fuller awareness. Consider George Bernard Shaw’s words:

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.  I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live.

Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me.  It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.

What part will you play in helping the planet and all it’s inhabitants? As a yoga and meditation practitioner, know that you have a bigger role and responsibility than you may be aware of. You also have more power than you may realize.

May you be part of the next Buddha, …
May you be part of the one percent, …
May you let go of preoccupation with the self, …
May your candle burn brightly for future generations, …
May you deepen your connection to the greater community, …
… for the benefit of All beings.

Aloha with Metta,
Paul Keoni