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Assignment: Pick a sutra from the Yoga Sutras and write a short essay on how it relates to your life:

Tada drashtuh svarupe avasthanam 1.3
Alternate Translations:

There are many Sutras in this book that resonate with me.  I find that they tend to blend together and compliment each other in such a way that it is difficult to talk about one without bringing others into the conversation. For the purpose of this assignment though I have picked the above Sutra because I believe it has in its essence the very core meaning of yoga.

In my opinion the “Seer” is the divine consciousness that is within all of us . This consciousness is connected to everything and essentially is a whole even though I have described it as “within”. It is beyond the personality and labels we create for ourselves during life. It is without border and time. To survive in this world it is essential that we learn to label and identify ourselves and things around us. However  in this process we tend to create layers of attachments on top of our true and fundamental selves (divine consciousness). We forget who we are. We think we are a name, a body, and a personality despite our awareness that these things are only temporary.

As we grow people, places and objects all start to get registered and filed away in our brain. Meaning is attached. Memories, emotions and feelings get associated. Expectations come in both on ourselves and others. We start to identify with something that is illusory.In our hearts we know all of this identification with self is only temporary but the idea of our impermanent selves; the knowledge that what we identify as ourselves as will die is utterly terrifying to many. In an effort to avoid looking at this truth we often fill our lives with distractions.

I am fortunate to have memories that go very far back. I remember my  life pre-language. I remember being something that didn’t have a name or a label. The memories are vague and very dreamlike but they are there. There was a sense of just experiencing. There was fear, comfort, pain and love… but none of this was labelled. There wasn’t a “Julia” feeling these sensations, there were just sensations. As I grew and became socialized I started to become self conscious. In school I was constantly worried about what my people thought of me. I pretended to like pop stars I didn’t really like so I would “fit in”. I played with barbies even though I thought they were dumb so the other girls would accept me. It felt shallow and weird but I didn’t know what else to do. I was pretending to be something I was not. This caused me a lot of stress and by puberty I was ripe with a desire to rebel. I ran away. Ran away from all those who knew me. I was seeking something else. Something real.

When I was a teen I lived on the streets. Although my living situation at that time showed me many tragedies it really was one of the best times of my life. Some of my deepest and most profound spiritual realizations came to me during this time. I lived like a gyspy, travelling from town to town. The feeling of being relatively unknown to those around me was incredibly freeing. I felt a huge relief as the preconceived ideas of who I was or who I was supposed to be fell away. I was fortunate and met many amazing characters during this time. Despite living in what was perceived as absolute poverty I felt rich and free. Nothing tied me down other than making sure I had a place to sleep and some food in my belly. Everyday was an adventure full of new surprises. Life took on a feeling of timelessness. I found beauty and love in the strangest places. It was as if I had stepped outside of the game, and now was just watching it rather than being caught up in it.

Eventually this kind of gypsy life tends to fall away for most people. In my case I fell in love… deeply in love with the father of my first child. I nested and settled down but struggled constantly balancing my feelings of attachment with a sense of freedom. For most of my adult life my greatest work has been intergrating that freedom of non-self while living a life full of responsibilities, attachment and love. It is a balancing act in which I often find myself wobbling back and forth on the scale in a rather frantic and unbalanced fashion.

When I read the Sutra above I take it deep into myself as a reminder. I truly believe that we already are complete, whole, enlightened and divine beings. Often in spiritual practices there is a sense that we need to work bringing our lowly human self up towards the divine self but I think that is a bit misleading. Striving just brings more suffering or feelings of being incomplete. I believe there is more a sense of remembering that needs to happen rather than thinking we need to do something to get somewhere. Nothing needs to be done.  We are already perfect. We can just rest in our own true nature. That is enough.

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