Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sanskrit Word of the Week: Karma

Yesterday, I slipped and fell.  And at my age I don't bounce well.  Crash. Boom. Bam. Splat. Owwww.  Laid out flat at the bottom of the stairs.

After accessing the situation and determining I would live, my oldest son walked back up the stairs, singing, "Kar-ma, KARRR-maa."  My younger son showed a little more concern, "Should I call an ambulance or something?" he asked standing over me.

Earlier in the day, I had carried the clean laundry upstairs and put it away; only to find that my oldest son, when looking for a pair of socks to wear, had emptied the contents of his drawer onto his bedroom floor.  And then left for Taekwondo.  When he returned home, I calmly instructed him to not only hang up his uniform, but also to re-fold and put his socks and underwear back in the drawer.  When he finished, I checked to make sure the task was completed to my satisfaction.  After determining I could live with the results, I headed back down the stairs.  And then I fell.

My son implied my slipping was a result of the universe punishing me for wrongdoing--in this case for making him undo a mess he made.  He was wrong.  The universe was not punishing me by causing me to slip and fall.  However, the universe is punishing me for sins I committed years and years ago;  it's punishing me for disrespecting my own mother as a teenager--by providing me with my own disrespectful teenager.  In fact, it's downright LAUGHING at me.  Is it too late to apologize? 

...Or is it?

Urban Dictionary defines Karma as:   The Buddhist belief that whatever you do comes back to you.  For example, if you do something good, something good will happen to you and vice versa.  Merriam-Webster and define it essentially the same way.

Later that evening, we dropped both boys off at their Taekwondo school for a "lock-in" which coincided with Valentine's Day weekend.
Ten minutes after leaving them for our date night, my oldest son called, "Mom, I ripped my pants.  Can you bring me another pair?" 
"Sorry kiddo.  No can do," I sang, "We have res-ser-vaaaa-tions."

Yep.  Karma is a bitch!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Celebrating Valentine's Day with Metta: Loving Kindness

Some time between the year(s) 53-55 AD, the Apostle Paul was credited with writing the book of Corinthians.  One of the more well known passages from those writings is found in 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

But long before Paul wrote these beautiful words defining love, which are often recited at Christian wedding ceremonies, there was Metta Sutta, thought to be written as early as 400 BC.  Metta, in its simplest terms is defined as loving kindness.   It is a meditation focused on the development of unconditional love for all beings.  Because of its practice of loving all beings, it is also known as universal love.  The word Metta is of Pali descent which is an Indic language, closely related to Sanskrit, in which the sacred texts of Theravada Buddhism are written.

Some of my favorite concepts of Metta from the website are:
  • Metta is empathy. It’s the willingness to see the world from another person's point of view: to walk a mile in another person’s shoes.
  • Metta is wishing others well.
  • Metta is friendliness, consideration, kindness, and generosity.
  • Metta is the basis for compassion. When our Metta meets someone suffering, then our Metta transforms into compassion.
  • Metta is the basis for shared joy. When our Metta meets with another person's happiness or good fortune, then it transforms into an empathetic joyfulness.
  • Metta is boundless. We can feel Metta for any being, regardless of gender, race, or nationality.
  • Metta is the most fulfilling emotional state that we can know.
  • It’s our inherent potential. To wish another well is to wish that they be in a state of experiencing Metta.
  • Metta is the answer to almost every problem the world faces today. Money won’t do it. Technology won’t do it. Metta, loving-kindness toward all beings, will. 
While Apostle Paul's words, "Love is patient, love is kind...." are undeniably true so is the idea that if you project love into the universe, you will get love back. 

In a January 1981 interview with Playboy magazine, John Lennon stated, "I am no more a Buddhist, than I am a Christian..."  Released ten years earlier in 1971, the lyrics to Imagine suggest to me that John had a philosophy all his own.


Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

So whether you subscribe to the Biblical belief of love, the teachings of Buddha and the philosophy of Metta, Imagine the world according to John Lennon, or all of the above, I wish you a very Happy Valentine's Day and much loving-kindness and peace to all!

The world of yoga is vast and as a teacher trainee, I have much to learn.  I have unearthed only a tiny portion of what there is to explore.  I owe Melissa Smith, founder of Grace Yoga and Pilates and the instructor of Thai Yoga Massage, which I recently studied through Holistic Yoga Therapy Institute for introducing me to Metta--my newest treasure.