Our Relationship with the Universe

Many years ago a wild Japanese macaque came to our central Tokyo neighborhood to live (really). He was quite destructive to the trees in our garden and would splash around in our little pond outside the den window. My husband was enraged. He said “It is my pond and I have to show him its mine!” He fought the monkey off with a ski pole on more than one occasion. We got the city of Tokyo to bring us a dog trap and he fiddled around with that in various set-ups. But the monkey would just reach into the trap and take what food he liked without stepping inside. Oh, our monkey was so much smarter than a dog for whom the trap was designed. My heart ached for the monkey because he needed to be captured and let loose in the forest, but he was too clever for that!?  My husband and the monkey battled it out, pitted against each other, as is their nature. Hilariously, my husband lost to the monkey again and again but finally the monkey disappeared from our neighborhood after about a year.

The human species has fought, destroyed and devastated nature. But to be fair, nature has not been kind to us either (earthquakes, tsunami and other natural disasters, predators, monkeys who randomly show up in Tokyo).

Now we are looking for a way to live in harmony and peace with our world because of global warming. This is not a new idea. Buddhism, American Indian cultures, and countless others have passed this idea on for thousands of years. Can all humans become sophisticated enough to accept our earth as the treasure that it is and live symbiotically?

Samedhi, the last petal of yoga, is the state where one becomes one with the Supreme Spirit pervading the universe, where there is a feeling of unutterable joy and peace. How can we find this bliss?  We can start by replacing aggressiveness and anger with benevolence, acceptance, and surrender. The yoga poses help us towards this. Forward bends quiet the mind especially if resting the forehead on a blanket, backbends open the chest and heart making it easy to be generous and benevolent, inversions give us a feeling of well-being, balance and equanimity.

The quote of the day is from B.K.S. Iyengar:

“By asana practice we can know how to face the ultimate relinquishing of all our attachments and addictions. In Savasana we begin to train and educate ourselves for surrender. “

Asana practice is practice of the poses. Savasana is the final resting pose of the class.

Would we ever have been able to live in peace with our destructive monkey? Our Japanese grandmother wanted to feed him– just a few snacks. My son named the monkey “Stevie.”  And a friend suggested my husband wear a gorilla suit…