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THE WIND, ONE BRILLIANT DAY

The wind, one brilliant day, called
to my soul with an odor of jasmine.

“In return for the odor of my jasmine,
I’d like all the odor of your roses.”

“I have no roses; all the flowers
in my garden are dead.”

“Well then, I’ll take the withered petals
and the yellow leaves and the waters of the fountain.”

The wind left. and I wept. And I said to myself:
“What have you done with the garden that was entrusted
to you?”

– ANTONIO MACHADO –
trans. by Robert Bly

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At this moment, I am humbled and filled with gratitude…barely able to find words for my experience. Today at Yoga School, I took the “Hatha Yellow” proficiency exam. It began at 7:30 this morning with 20 push ups; 60 crunches; 20 rear leg lifts…followed by a multitude of asanas and forms. That part of the exam ended at 9:15.

At 11:15, six students returned. We sat and did Pranayama and meditation for 45 minutes. We began this round with 150 knee to chest warm-ups; 25 more push ups; 60 more crunches; 100 abdominal pumps; 90 bicycle crunches; 10 roll-ups and more rear leg lifts. For two hours we did forms and asanas until we exhausted ourselves and our entire repertoire. In order to be promoted to the next level of practice, we need to have at least an 8 out of 10 possible points on each form and each asana.

Midway through the afternoon, we started doing balancing poses–one legged prayer pose. extended prayer pose; knee to chest; hand to big toe; crane 2; moving crane; tree; standing bow. I can’t be sure, but I think I fell out of most of them at some point. All of what I had so diligently practiced at home was lost on the mat. My legs were shaking; the bottoms of my feet were sweaty and my mind…well, my mind was surprisingly calm and determined. I looked the front wall–at the photographs of the yogis of our lineage and other lineages. I looked at the words that are painted above the photographs:

Self-Respect…Self-Responsibility…Self-Discipline…Gratitude & Humility

Achievement, attainment and attachment fell away. There was only this moment; this posture; this form. I was so deeply grateful to be on my mat at almost 59 years of age with my fellow students–some in their 30’s–all of us determined to do our very best.

I could feel the presence of Swami Divyananda Saraswati–his warmth and his support and his laughter! I could hear Katagiri Roshi saying…”Don’t be tossed away; make positive effort for the good daily; continue under ALL circumstances…” And, I did.

LAST NIGHT

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt – marvelous error! –
that a spring was breaking
out in my heart.
I said: Along which secret aqueduct,
Oh water, are you coming to me,
water of a new life
that I have never drunk?

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt – marvelous error! –
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt – marvelous error! –
that a fiery sun was giving
light inside my heart.
It was fiery because I felt
warmth as from a hearth,
and sun because it gave light
and brought tears to my eyes.

Last night as I slept,
I dreamt—marvelous error!-
That it was God I had
Here in my heart.

– ANTONIO MARCHADO –

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