Here in Spain we are taking a day off to celebrate the arrival of the Three Kings in Bethlehem. Bearing gifts of gold, myrrh and frankincense, they came the rejoice in the birth of the baby Jesus. Whatever your take on modern-day Christianity, Jesus did some pretty cool stuff in his time. My friend Joel Gazdar, of the Wild Food Café in London posted this on FB a few days ago:
Christmas: Celebrating an unmarried teenage mom giving birth in a stable, to a baby who grew up to be a prominent activist for peace, playfulness, laughter, love, liberation, appreciation and beyond-capitalist values; who preferred the company of honest prostitutes to that of the religious and political elite; who partook in joy-filled, ecstatic, radical direct action in transcending the banking system, and was publicly executed as an enemy of state. My prayer today is in: Celebrating that this wisdom within guide all who call themselves Christians, or any other illusory label or limitation in this world.This day of the Three Kings, I urge you to honour and venerate the king - or queen - you carry within. We are all born noble and beautiful. Throughout our lives, we carry the light of illumination within our spiritual heart - Hridaya. We can dull our light with ego and illusion, but it never stops burning, with hope and persistence, as long as our heart beats and out lungs draw air. Yoga is a practice that allows us to believe in, then perceive, and then polish our inner light. When I began practicing yoga, I had no idea that inside myself I carried such beauty. In fact, I didn't have a very high opinion of myself at all. I judged myself so harshly - the inner and outer me - that I wept often, crying out in pain and frustration at the brutal futility of life. Or, seeming brutal futility. Because that light was glowing within me even if I could not see it. It manifested in many ways, but I had been trained to see these manifestations of loving compassion as something negative. I judged myself as weak, emotional, tearful...unrealistic. But from the darkest night, the sweetest dawn. From the thickest mud blooms the rose-hued lotus. That gnawing resentment of the state of the world hammered at me, pushed me forward, forced me to find solutions. Our suffering is our friend. As Patanjali says in YS II.23 "svasvamisktyoh svarupopalabdhihetuh samyoga", which is translated by TKV Desikachar as "however powerful or disturbing something may appear to be, it is our reaction to it that determines its effects..." This means that every time we suffer, it is really an opportunity to practice distinguishing between the observer (our inner light, our purusha) and the observed (the changing material world, the prakriti). Because I suffered, I found yoga. Yoga has helped me see my inner light, to polish it, and to keep it as a sacred part of myself. Of course I am still dogged by my ego, my stupidity. But I don't suffer as much because I know and believe that the inner light shines bright and constant within me, and that I, and everyone, every single person, is blessed with this light. This is your inner King, your inner Queen. Honour and love him or her. Celebrate his or her arrival. Accept the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Rejoice and be happy. Share you happiness with someone else and soon we will all be free. AUM.