By Susan Clarke
Susan leads Come Alive, Living Alive Phase I and Couples Alive at The Haven. You can read more by her at her really excellent blog: susanbclarke.com
What does it mean to be enlightened or awakened? I am asking myself this question because soon a yogi master, Shri Mahayogi, will visit our yoga studio at Jodi Petlin’s invitation. Shri Mahayogi is a man who was enlightened at a young age. He has mastered all forms of yoga and various teachings. In preparation for his visit, I have been reading his book, Satori. This is a series of questions and answers from Shanghas that have taken place over the years.
I am enjoying a great deal of the book, though I still wonder about enlightenment. Personally, the closest person I have known who I consider enlightened is Ben Wong. I say this because he has a presence about him that is profound, and when I sit with him or witness him working with someone, my heart opens in resonance with his ability to locate himself and invite the other to be fully open. There is always a moment of deep connection.
But is that enlightenment? As I read, I am learning that to awaken is to tap into the true essence of who I am. This essence is not related to any physical, emotional or mental state that I may or may not reach, but is rather, a vibrational resonance that is universal to all religions, practices and states of being.
I cannot say that I have found that resonance yet through my yoga practice. Although as I focus more on lessons and classes, I am finding that my alignment is improving and my heart is opening, which is quite interesting. I am experiencing an energetic shift in my being. Not always and I would not say regularly—but there is a subtle, steady shift. I find at times I am uncomfortable with the shifting. I feel more vulnerable. This is a good thing but not always a comfortable experience.
Is this enlightenment? Or on the path? I do imagine it is a part of awakening. To be vulnerable and live in the world with an open heart sounds inviting and worthy of effort.
Still, is that really the essence of everything? I wonder.
Weeks Later—After meeting with Shri Mahayogi
The opportunity to meet and be with Shri Mahayogi was quite wonderful. He had a sweetness and sincerity about him with a deep resonance in open-hearted moments. Listening to his simple wisdom struck a note deep inside me and though I was not always certain of the meaning, I felt the warmth and possibility that transcends words.
A few bits that really rang true:
There is one truth. Many paths lead there.
It seems like some of us need to try many paths while others follow only one and that is where most of the problems start. If we could just remember we are all heading to the same place and that all paths are possibilities.
Grace is a moment when immortal essence meets pure faith.
This was my experience, completely, at my first Come Alive when Ben’s music, Jock’s accupuncture needles, Father Jack’s holy oil and everyone’s faith touched my cells. Cancer—gone. Grace!
Find a guru (a bright light) and commit fully.
For me that guru came through my Haven experience. I came to that place and I fully committed. The light is bright and I am still on the path to relational enlightenment.
What to do when in conflict: Speak honestly and let go of the outcome or results.
This last one may be the least profound but the hardest for me to live day-to-day.
In summary: My path is not his. However, as I return to chopping wood and carrying water, Shri Mahayogi’s light is still bright and so is mine as a result!