A Higher Appeal


Many years ago, after dropping out of the doctoral chase in the 11th hour, I found myself in Lenox, Massachusetts at The Kripalu Yoga Center where I had stumbled my way into a Yoga Teacher Training; having gotten there through a series of unlikely and serendipitous events. I had no clue what I was doing. What I did have going for me though was that I was very, very open, having recently let go of how I felt I needed to show up in the world.

It was that time in Life where I had released one well-known trapeze bar before I had my hands fully on the next one. As a matter of fact, not only could I not see the next bar, I had no idea if one was even there to take hold of. Or, as I sometimes feared, if I would be left plummeting, embarrassingly and publicly so, to my professional and personal demise.

It left me in a position that when I got to this training, it was like all bets were off given the realties I had been subscribing to. Looking back, I guess I should not have been surprised by some of the things that started happening to me, but I was. I would enter deep states of both expansion and relaxation, where much to my surprise, for it was nothing I knew anything about, Swami Kripalu, the yoga master, Indian saint and namesake of the institution I was at, would show up and tell me things. And while what he was saying was spot on and blowing my mind, it was nothing I talked about because, well, you know… he wasn’t actually there. And oh, by the way, he had been dead for nearly twenty years.

After a time I got used to it. More than that, I began to count on it. I believe I was able to do this because I had just released long-standing beliefs and models around who I was and how I needed to show up in the world. Given that I was wide open, my ideas around what was possible had broadened. So while I knew nothing of what was happening, I knew it was working. Whatever it was.

At one point, I began to go with questions, and have “little” conversations with him. During one of these interactions, I was painfully aware of the rift that I felt inside of myself regarding who I was, and of not trusting that I could be that in the world. I was becoming ever more aware of the ways that I would either feel like I needed to hide or to fight. Hide the truth about who I was. Or, try and defend my right to live in a way that made sense to me.

I was stuck. I knew that neither way was working, but I couldn’t figure it out. It felt like I either had to be who others thought I should be and do as they thought I should do, or, go to war in order to win my right to do so. This left me feeling either bad about myself, or feeling at odds with others. When I asked him about it, he simply said, “Nothing that separates.”

Nothing that separates. I have never received more profound guidance around how to be in the world in a way that honors myself and what I know to be true, while doing the same for others. Nothing that separates not only includes all of each one of us, it includes all of anyone else as well. This is not something many of us understand, or would believe to be possible in our zero sum game world, where it is either my way or your way. Either I get my needs met or you get your needs met. Either your candidate/issue wins or my candidate/issue wins.

It’s not working. And it is not because of those of us on the other side of the divide. It is because of the divide we have created. It is because of the separation itself. Let us stop talking about this as if it is someone else’s fault or doing. Let us recognize that we are part of the equation, and that our inability to entertain anything outside of our frame is not the other side’s doing or fault, but an indication of how little faith and confidence we have in our own beliefs and ways of being. So much so that we cannot tolerate a “dissenting” view as it challenges in a way that we cannot bear.

For the Truth is, anything that is true and real and worth living for, cannot be ruined because of a dissenting view point. Anything that is real and true and worth living for is only made better by open challenge. And because in the end, anything that is worth fighting for takes it orders from beyond our particular and conditional ideas about how the world should be. Accordingly, if you yearn for something else, seek a higher perspective on how you approach things and I will lay odds that you will get the same message that I did: Nothing that separates.

I leave it to you to work out what that means for you.