Birdsong by Rumi
Birdsong brings relief
to my longing
I'm just as ecstatic as they are,
but with nothing to say!
Please universal soul, practice
some song or something through me!
I’ve never really been able to “get into” poetry. I’ve tried. Many times, and with various motivations ranging from thinking that I “should” like it to hoping that I might feel something. And there have been a few occasions where it hit home. Like the time our dear friend Becky wrote a heartfelt poem and read it at our wedding. That was a special moment.
And then I met David Garrigues. He’s the teacher I followed to India and studied with this past month. He’s passionate about yoga and it fires me up. He reads poetry. And it fires me up. He read the one above when I first met him in November and it woke me up.
You see, I believe that even though we all come to yoga in our own time and in various ways, the one thing we all have in common is that we’ve done it before. In a previous life. Sharon Gannon (co-founder of Jivamukti Yoga) was the first person I ever heard say this. At the time I really didn’t know what to make of it, let alone believe it. But, as the years have passed and my experience has deepened, I have come to appreciate this concept and believe it to be true.
We live in a time when it has become increasingly challenging to connect with the source of our being. That source is most evident, most available, in the natural world – in places where it’s easier to find solitude, where it’s easier to touch nature. India offers this. Underneath all the craziness there’s a hum, the Om – the sound of the universe. It’s always there, no matter where we find ourselves, but it seems easier to access there.
Yoga plants in us a seed. This seed is much like those found in nature that take some energy to germinate and grow. Like that, our seed, sabija, is there waiting to take root and grow. “Sa” means “with”; and “bija” means “seed”, “cause” or “origin”. It is the Sanskrit term used to describe the first stage of samadhi or enlightenment, the 8th limb of Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga system and the ultimate goal of the yoga practice. This bija or seed has its origin in samskara, that being imprints left on the mind by objects we perceive and in the case of samadhi, the object of our meditative focus. Samskaras, if left unresolved, carry forward from one life to the next bringing our essence back to this material world. Knowing and accepting this as truth makes all the inexplicable events of our lives a lot less disconcerting because it suggests that some of our past actions are coming to fruition from existences we don’t even remember.
Yoga Sutra I.46 says, “ta eva sa-bijah samadhih”, which means “These samapatti (cognitive blending) states are known as sabija samadhi - cognitive absorption ‘with seed’.” In sabija samadhi we are experiencing something, including the very highest and sattvic (peaceful, pure, uplifting) things that can be experienced. The thinker and the thought remain; the experiencer and the experience, the Seer and the seen – all remain.
So, we can choose to practice yoga and we can choose to make that practice one of devotion, of longing to serve as a vehicle for the universal song. That’s the spark to ignite sabija and put us on the path toward ultimate liberation and the next stage of samadhi where there is no samskara, no seed.
I went to India with no expectations, only the intention to work hard, focus on my practice, devote my efforts to those who pay me the great honor of attending my classes, and be open to the teachings from David and from India herself. I left feeling satisfied that my intention carried me through.