There is No Guru, Only You
As I bent over into a forward fold in yoga class I wondered how much of asana practice is simply relaxing the tension that builds up within us. Easing tightness, unwinding muscles, letting go of our stranglehold on our bones. It is interesting to me that our bodies hold onto so many experience long after they have any need to do so.
If you can find joy and happiness in the smallest of moments you will find joy and happiness in the largest of moments.
Today I have lived for 40 years on this planet. Such a strange and not unpleasant feeling. Turning 40 is when double negatives start to make sense. It almost seems as if the universe is saying that you might even make it. But the funny thing is that nobody makes it. 40 is when you realize you already have made it farther then a whole bunch of people. For some reason, you are still in the marathon. Fate, luck, destiny — it doesn’t matter anymore.
A few days ago I read about a respected Buddhist teacher who has been accused of multiple sexual improprieties in his spiritual community. He has been fired from his job by a board of directors, and his name is now anathema in certain Buddhist circle.
There ain’t nothing worse then a spiritual leader abusing their privileges and authority to get sex and power.
It’s possible that he is an abusive asshole. His books have obviously sold well, mostly, I think, because he is a tattooed punk rock Buddhist teacher. He made himself a badass authority figure, and then abused that power to get what he wanted.
But at 40 year of age I know for a fact that all the spiritual teachings or gurus or classes or books in the world can’t fix the problems inside any of us — only we ourselves can figure out what is needed in our own lives, what we are looking for in this life, and what we are searching for on this planet. Only we can summon enough strength to see through the illusions. Nobody else.
“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.”
For 40 years I’ve followed some dead person’s teachings, whether it is the Buddha or Jesus or Walt Whitman or Albert Camus. I think at around 40 is when we began to realize that all of these people are just that: Human beings with their own problems and hangups. All of those guys are just people trying to make their way through the world, exactly like ourselves. Or anybody else.
Now, in my old age, I can set aside all those gurus, teachers, gods, celebrities, and rely wholly and only on the teacher that resides within me. There is no person somewhere that is more important than me, or you— we are all equally of vast importance. And completely not important.
A single step down the road could lead millions to war, a single nap could allow thousands of butterflies to live.
It’s your choice. You have complete agency over your life. That responsibility, in truth, is the scariest thing thing about being alive that we don’t want to face. That is why the woowoo shit proliferates like yeast in beer — we would rather think about horoscopes or Gods or destiny or stars than realize that we are unimaginably responsible for our own lives, that our every action creates ripples outward, and that what we do on a consistent and daily basis is what and who we are.
How you do anything is how you do everything. Which translates to this: If you can find joy and happiness in the smallest of moments you will find joy and happiness in the largest of moments. Gurus will happily help you out by feeding you false hope and taking your money if you haven’t learned how to bridge that gap yet.
I was walking through the rain the other day, mildly uncomfortable as the rain soaked through my old raincoat and shorts. I was just focused on my breath as I walked the 4 or so miles that I try to get in every day, and all of a sudden I realized that I had accidentally let go of my binary view of the world, the “us and them” war story, or the “before and after” concept. I was just there, in the rain, walking. It didn’t mean anything, and it was my own little world. Nobody else was experiencing exactly what I was at that precise moment. But that moment was connected to a million other moments that others had experienced that were and are just like that.
I realized that I was effortless — it wasn’t about beating down the door, it was about walking through it.