One of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn is that my reality is real only for me. Assuming that others should agree with my world view, and perhaps even adopt it, has been the cause of suffering for me in the past.
When I started teaching yoga 30-plus years ago, I was gung-ho in my interpretation of the Iyengar method. I learned from a tough teacher and I tried to be one. I made people do things they may not have been prepared for and I thought poorly of them for not performing as well as I thought they should.
On my wish list for a romantic partner (oh, this is embarrassing to say!), I wanted my dream man to have a perfect yoga body. Fortunately, when I met Daniel , I was starting to let go of some of my rigid, idealistic thinking, and was able to appreciate that he had many great qualities that didn’t relate to yogic perfection.
Daniel has done yoga in my classes now for 20 years, and the discipline has served him well in terms of his health. He’s been hugely tolerant of yoga views and beliefs that I hold, and along the way I’ve learned from him, too. For instance, while I’m not an expert at it, I employ critical thinking much more than I did before I met him.
At the moment we have a Buddhist visitor who has described to us her experience of being on an 18-month retreat in France, six months of which were in silence.
I was trying to imagine what her experience would have been like – visions, sounds, colours that arise spontaneously from one’s psyche when there is very little input or stimulation. I’m fascinated to listen to her stories, in the sense of hearing about an exotic land. But I probably will never go there in this lifetime.
What I could resonate with from my friend’s world view was the notion of opening up, to being spacious, and to adopting the sort of tolerance that let’s us learn from each other.
Na caikacittatantram cedvastu tadapramanakam tad kim syat
For an object to exist, the mind need not perceive it. Otherwise, without perception, would there be any objective reality?*
*The Essence of Yoga, translation and commentary by Bernard Bouanchaud.