Wednesday, June 1, 2011
THE YOGA OF COMPASSION
The word "Yoga" comes from the root "Yuj", to join. It is related to the Latin "Juga" as in "Conjugal". The coming together of opposites, to creat a new wholeness, is the purpose of Yoga. That is why Sri Aurobindo referred to what he called "Integral Yoga". I have thought about the relation of Yoga to art. Can we speak of a "Yoga of Art"? I would suggest that the "Yoga of Art" is linked to Compassion. In the gestures known as "Surya Namashkar" or the "Greeting to the morning sun" which are essentially Yogic postures, we find the movement of touching the earth, falling down and being one with the earth, but then lifting up again, like the serpent that lifts its body from the horizontal. This process of going down, and then again being lifted up is the process known to Kundalini Yoga, which pictures the energy of life lying at the base of the spinal column as being like a coiled serpent. This inner spiritual energy of life has to be "lifted up", becoming a sign of the mental awareness of the mind. In a mysterious dialogue between Jesus and Nicodemus, which took place at night, Jesus told Nicodemus that the "son of man" will have to be "lifted up" like the Serpent who was lifted up by Moses in the desert, for the healing of people. The lifted serpent is also a sign of healing. As I have understood art as compassion, I have also thought of art as healing. What is lowest in the human being, most reptilian, most connected to the earth, and the underworld, has to be "lifted up", that is made conscious. That is the healing process, which is also the Yoga of Art. It is here that these disciplines of healing, compassion and art all come together as a praxis that relates the human to the body, and beyond the body to the whole of nature.