Listen To The Wind Blow


“The soul can never be cut to pieces by any weapon, nor burned by fire, nor moistened by water, nor withered by the wind.”

Bhagavad-gita 2.23

This verse came to mind during the past week of back-to-back natural disasters assaulting the east coast of the United States. I have to admit that I was a little slow in getting my yoga mojo in gear during the earthquake: despite the violent trembling of my apartment and the accompanying sounds of shattering objects, I stood stupefied in complete denial of the self-evident truth before pulling it together as the tremors dissipated.

It’s easy to understand why the mental discombobulation inspired by an earthquake (in Washington DC?) would throw one for a loop. As Brooke Gladstone tells us in her book about the media, The Influencing Machine; “Humans are wired to absorb information that confirms their worldview, and to repel information that disputes it. The quality of that information is immaterial.” This explains my denial: in my worldview, I’m immortal. The earthquake was clearly and emphatically disputing my worldview, so my mind reacted by rejecting the information it was receiving.

My yoga mojo was a little more together for the hurricane – in part because the media provided plenty of advance warning for its arrival and the effects of my ‘quake-up’ call hadn’t worn off yet. The media communicates via its technologies: newspapers, television, the Internet, etc., and so does nature: clouds, wind, and rain are nature’s technologies and she uses them to communicate with us.

Earthquakes and hurricanes aren’t random phenomenon in a world composed of pure chance; they’re nature’s way of telling us that we’re doing something wrong. Nature is a reflection of its consumers in the same way that the media is. The media isn’t a dark force of hyperbolic consumerism artificially imposed on us by external forces beyond our control; it’s an accurate reflection of the inane consumer culture that created it. In other words, as Ms Gladstone puts it, “we get the media we deserve.” One could say the same thing about sunny skies and tsunamis: we get the nature we deserve.

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali make a clear distinction between purusa-s – conscious living beings – and prakriti – the stuff of which our world is made. In other words, consciousness is categorically different from nature insofar as spirit is different from matter. The form material nature takes is determined by the consciousness around which it is forming. Whether forming a mind and body around a single conscious being or a weather pattern around a collection of conscious beings, the quality of our environment, local or global, is a response to the quality of our consciousness.

As the hurricane made its grand entrance into our nation’s capital my consciousness was filled with awe. It was fascinating to watch the artful dance of leaden clouds swirling around the sky from north to west knowing that the storm was actually approaching from the south. The night of rustling trees, whistling wind and driving rain facilitated a meditation on the world as a divine form manifesting its opulence of irresistible force.

And when it was gone the air had a distinctively clean and fresh quality to it; “of purifiers I am the wind”.

If a yoga practice is meant to prepare one’s consciousness for nature’s inevitable turbulence then I clearly need more practice; I need to let my mantra to be the wind that purifies my heart, need to still my mind so that I can really hear the sound of the mantra that whistles past my lips and into my ears, need to spend more time being quite in the midst of nature’s howl, need to sit like a candle in a windless place and listen to the wind blow.

2 Comments

  1. Posted September 12, 2011 at 10:42 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Catching up on blog reading today. Glad I found yours in my Inbox! Hope you are enjoying the return of your yoga mojo with these more predictably summer/fall days. OM Shanti.

  2. Posted September 12, 2011 at 10:42 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Oh, hey – I just noticed that my UYD blog is on your list! Thanks, Hari. OM Shanti.

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