Welcome into the community of the powerfully peaceful. Our tribe is carrying the banner of all the great visionaries of peaceful change, like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and John Lennon. You are the ones we’ve been waiting for. You can change the world. You ask how can I do that? The answer is that the “you” that you know as “I” cannot do it, but the essential you—the “I AM”—is a force for peaceful transformation that can work through our bodies and minds into the world. Our first task then is to transform ourselves into an instrument for the change by being that change. What is the change that is needed? Well, for one thing, a shift away from I-centeredness to other-centeredness. This is the first step in conducting “peace-power”—seeing ourselves in others—and it is the way of the tribe. Next step: cradle-to-grave security for all life forms on Earth.
We have responsibilities in the world, and the three main ones are:
Responsibility to the whole family of living beings—all species;
Responsibility to Mother Earth—the natural world—composed of earth, air, fire, water and space; and
Responsibility to world leadership and the welfare of the common good.
Our culture’s concept of power has two aspects. Power is taken to be the cause of any change that we observe, including death, and power is also a latent force within that has the potential to cause change, like muscle power or willpower. Human beings are the only animals who confuse power with force, coercion, deceit, manipulation and death. We must change this misperception in order to access “peace-power” and live up to our responsibilities. Our true power is the power of friendliness, the power of kindness, the power of One, the power of Love.
How to accomplish this transformation? The most important step is purification of all our bodies—physical, energetic, emotional, mental and causal. The yoga practices purify us on all levels and pave the way for us to become peaceful warriors.
For thousands of years yogis have been using the same techniques to re-create themselves and as a result, re-create the world we all live in. In the Yoga Sutra, Patanjali teaches that a result of yoga practice is power (vibhuti)…
power to fly in the sky of infinite possibility;
power to be invisible to the demons of envy, greed and low self-esteem;
power to know the great forces of the universe;
power that moves the sun, moon and stars; and
power to channel those forces for the good of all beings.
These powers can transform the world we all share.
With a steady yoga practice, you will develop powerful calmness and joy that will allow you to express a vision of the natural world where we live together in peaceful harmony with all living beings.
With a steady yoga practice, you will develop a powerful vision that will cut through the old way of seeing the Earth as a thing to be manipulated and tamed and that will open the eyes of everyone to Her invaluable connection to our own Being.
With a steady yoga practice, you will become a powerful citizen of the world who advocates for the well-being of all, rather than the enrichment of the few.
With a steady yoga practice, you will empower yourself and learn to conduct that power into the actions of the perfect citizen of the world.
– David Life
The Art of War, by Sun Tzu
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Principles of non-violent conflict resolution
Maitri-adishu balani (PYS III.24)
Through friendliness, kindness and compassion, strength comes.
Sa tu dirgha-kala-nairantarya-satkarasevito dridha bhumih (PYS I.14)
Abhyasa, meditative practice, becomes firmly and naturally established when, over a long period of time without interruption, one fixes one’s mind on the Self, the “I-am,” with constant effort, reverent and dedicated energy, and great love. (translation by Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati)
Some styles of yoga today are described as “Power Yoga.” There are many great and distinguished Power Yoga teachers, and there is no reason to judge them negatively. But we should look at the idea of power as it relates to yoga. The distinguishing feature of these yoga methods is not the techniques that are used. The same techniques have been used in yoga for millennia. What really distinguishes these styles is the attitude and fervor with which one performs the techniques. It seems to reinforce ideas of “making” something happen by working somewhat ruthlessly—unrelentingly and with a self-improvement approach. Our culture tells us that this is how anything is gained.
Patanjali tells us that attitude and fervor are important but he defines them differently than we do in our culture. As far as attitude, he advocates friendliness, kindness, etc. And his idea of fervor suggests working steadily, uninterruptedly, for a long period of time.
Vira is the peaceful warrior. As we move through the Virabhadrasana series and model the archetype of the peaceful warrior, we perfect our understanding of this gentle art. From the outside two warriors may look identical, display resolute confidence, and appear formidable. What distinguishes the master, however, is not an outer display, but an inner wisdom and joy that make him or her undefeatable.
When we sit in Virasana we learn to face adversity with the joy and wisdom that come only from titiksha (forbearance) and tapas (austerity), together with ekagraha (single-pointedness), which leads to samadhi (all-pointedness).
There are really two issues here: the acquisition of power, and the exercise of power. We can acquire power in many different ways. As yoga teachers our power comes to us from our students. As children our power comes to us from parents and teachers. As yoga practitioners our power comes from the infinite source of all power. Whenever we acquire power we have to choose how to exercise it. For many of us it is difficult not to resort to the stereotypical power plays of our culture. For men this means exercising their power in a “manly” way, and for women it means exercising their power in a “womanly” way. These very limited expressions of power belie the true limitless potential that we have. When we do a yoga asana practice we experience the expression of dog-power, bird-power, tree-power, mountain-power, etc., and we experience an open doorway for expression of power as life itself.
Create sequences: dog to bird to tree to mountain to…
Create stories for the future acted out through asana.
What is your vision of peace? Will war really ever stop? Will people ever stop killing the animals and forests?
We experience power, or energy, as prana. Prana always flows…it never stops flowing. We can, like the clever rice farmer directs the water to his rice (PYS IV.3), direct the prana as a positive force of peace into the world.