Monday, September 5, 2011

It Happened on the Way to Work

Has it really been 10 years? It happened on the way to work. I remember driving in the morning (in a different life I worked in an accounting department before I taught yoga full-time) and listening to NPR, hearing the coverage of the planes striking the towers. I felt like I was living out a bad dream or some prank that just wouldn’t stop. I remember feeling powerless and vulnerable. I couldn’t think straight. I remember feeling surreal that people at work were going about life as normal while this horror was happening in real time on the radio.
I’m thinking about how yoga relates to the anniversary of 9/11. Of course, the first yogic principle of Ahimsa or non-violence comes to mind. I’m thinking that the bigger principle of non-violence is not merely keeping my airplanes to myself, but to make it a practice to cultivate the kind of love and respect that would preclude such an attack and subsequent wars. I suppose the more challenging practice is to practice non-violence through its highest form of expression of love when someone has seriously wronged us. How do you do that? Seriously.

It reminds me of the movie, The Mission, with Robert De Niro where and 18th century De Niro tries to atone for a life of killing and capturing slaves in South America by joining the Jesuit order. As an act of penance, De Niro carries a net full of implements of war and slavery up a mountain and nearly dies in the process. After an immense struggle, De Niro arrives at the top of the mountain exhausted and almost dead at which point he is met by the chief of the indigenous people whom he’d killed and kidnaped for several years. The chief places his knife on De Niro’s neck but instead of cutting his throat, the chief cuts the ropes that bind De Niro to his net, what represents his heavy past of murder and subjugation, and pushes it of over the cliff to be swallowed deep in the ocean below. Both De Niro and the chief cry and laugh at this miraculous display of forgiveness and love.

This kind of love and acceptance is synonymous with our True Nature, the deep, deep part of us that is the foundation of who we are. Call it what you want: your spirit, your divine nature, your Buddha nature, your fundamental humanity. When we practice understanding this True Nature, we see past the smaller part of ourselves that needs to express itself with hate and violence. Yoga practice is one way to learn to understand our True Nature. Every time we practice yoga we, honor each other with the the word Namaste means essentially: “my True Nature honors your True Nature.”

So Namaste twin towers, the Pentagon, and United Airlines flight 93. Namaste, to the survivors of this 10-year tragedy. Namaste to those who fight and don’t fight for this nation. Namaste to those we are trying to lead this nation. Namaste to our nation’s enemies. Yep, them too. Namaste to those who are trying to understand this act of violence a decade later. Namaste to those who are trying their best to make this world one that reflects our communal True Nature.

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