Monthly Message 
Message for June 2005:

The Unwanted Gift
Brian Afton

YogaBetsy Yoga Center Discourse 11:

     It is ironic, but many of the most important gifts and considerations which come into our lives are either unwanted, or taken for granted; especially those gifts given to us early in life by our parents and teachers.

  This all seems very unfair but it doesn't mean we are bad people. It is no simple matter to decide what is good or true and what is not.

  You have undoubtedly heard a number of Aesop's fables. One of them is the story of the Stag who was enamored and frightfully proud of its powerful antlers but repulsed by his thin and weak looking legs. This situation continued for some time until, one day, a Lion leaped at him from ambush. The Stag bolted and quickly began to outrun the great cat. He had almost escaped when his antlers became entangled in a limb and the lion sized him.

  At that moment, the Stag cried out: "Woe, I have disparaged the legs which could have easily saved me and loved the antlers which have cost me my life."

  That story is over twenty five hundred years old.   Aside from the obvious moral and aside from its great antiquity, there is something very interesting about it: To begin with, it is unlikely there was ever any deer that worried about how its legs looked. People think like that, not deer.

  The story is a fiction, a fable: in other words it is a lie, but it is a very special kind of lie. It is a true lie. Think of it, a lie which is true.

  If there are lies which are true can there be truths which are lies?  You better believe there are! It was Hitler's propaganda minister who said that a really good lie always needed to be at least partly true.

  Separating these kinds of truth is not always easy.  Life is complicated and we all make mistakes. Hopefully as life goes on we start making better choices. Of course, some of us do not. Growing old is mandatory, unfortunately, growing wise is not.

  In the face of all of this it is small wonder that we see the things unfolding here at the Yoga Center as they have. Virtually no one who comes here ever does so with any real understanding of its value. Practically every person who has ever enrolled here did so for the wrong reasons or with expectations which were very different than the experience they eventually had.

  I don't think there is a single facility in this town more misunderstood or less appreciated than the Yoga Center, nor one which has greater potential for improving the lives of the people who live here.

  Practically all the people in this area think this is an exercise studio; the rest seem to believe that it is a Satanic cult. To say that the YogaBetsy Yoga Center is an exercise studio is unfair because it is like saying that a Nuclear Attack Submarine is a boat.

  To say that the Yoga Center is a satanic cult or a cult of any kind is not only utterly false but is to completely misunderstand just about everything about it, and yoga and the nature of power itself.

  In the first place, black magic is about as far removed from the purpose and teaching of yoga as anything can possibly get.  In the second place, anyone who was interested in acquiring real power, either over himself or others, would not be seeking it in black magic anyway.

  Black Magic was big in the minds of the people in our culture a couple of centuries back.  It was part of that  human love affair with evil that continues to this day under various names.  People were and remain enamored with the idea of finding some simple means of doing things they know they had not ought to be doing with little or no trouble to themselves. 

  Moreover, by the basic principle known as transference in psychology, many of them unfairly focus their own shortcoming on us: that is, it is not really us who believes these things, but them.

  No, we do not teach it here but it does still stalk the world.  Today, few people presume to invoke evil by using magic, but, they do invoke it nevertheless.  Whatever the name, it still boils down to a method of pursuing evil. In big business it is sometimes called, "Playing Hard Ball;" in other words being unethical or indecent. In popular film culture the method was probably best and most directly expressed in Star Wars as following "The Dark Side of the Force" 

  Of course, Star Wars was just a movie, but like Aesop's tales, it was a true lie. There is a very telling scene in the first “Star Wars” book where Darth Vader confronts Obi Wan Kenobi on the Death Star. "I have been waiting for you Obi Wan," says Darth Vader, "When last we met I was but the learner, now the circle is complete, now I am the master."

  At this point the old Jedi reluctantly draws his weapon, and gives Vader what to my mind is the most crushing rebuff in all of literature: "Only a master of evil, Darth," he tells him.

  Only, that is the key word here. Only! The power Darth Vader has cultivated is very spectacular viewed from a certain point of view and it is much sought after by many of us today but as Obi Wan has pointed out, it is also very limited and it is not taught here despite what many people say and think about us.

  The Dark Side, as “Star Wars” calls it, can only destroy, it can only take away, negate and it can never be completely successful at that, not even in principle, because negation is inherently self limiting.  It can only make less.

  Affirmation, construction, the Path of Light, on the other hand is exactly the opposite. There is a definite limit to how much you may take away, but there is no limit in the other direction.   The Dark side is definitely the weaker of the two forces.

For all of those reasons it is the path light that we follow and teach here at the Yoga Center.  Ironically, very few people come here expecting to find that.  It must be admitted that they may be, in some cases, looking for these things but they do not expect to find them here.

  Typically, people come to the Yoga Center to engage in a negative pursuit. They are here to lose something, not to gain something. They are here because of an injury, to lose weight, to calm their nerves. They do not come in search of the great gift which is actually here: A body of knowledge and skills laid down and perfected during a period of over 5 thousand years, nurtured and added to year by year, decade by decade, century after century until it has reached its current form.

  And what will that August treasure of knowledge do for you? It will energize your body, invigorate your mind, raise your level of consciousness and can completely alter who you are.

  Yoga is not the latest fad.  It is the most sophisticated energy management system ever devised. It is a systematic method of developing and using your body and energy system and raising the level of your consciousness through a completely natural process.
The process itself is part physical and part mental. One of the things we stress here at the Yoga Center extensively is what our students are doing with their minds. We teach that meditation is the most important part of the class because it is what we are doing with our minds that is the most important factor in determining what comes to us in this life.

  It is not easy for us to change our mentality and learn to control our bodies and our thoughts. This is the real focus of yoga, it is not witchcraft or hocus pocus of any kind. It is simply to learn and to accept the fact that we are each responsible, utterly responsible, for our own lives and our own development.

  Our own thoughts profoundly affect our bodies and well being. Holding negative thoughts of any kind releases chemical peptides, and hormones into the blood stream which bond to receptor sites on the cell walls. The ensuing chemical reactions affects the behavior of that cell.   Moreover, it will, in time, affect the physical structure of that cell, because the cell wall, and cell, adjusts to accommodate the kind and amounts of the peptides and hormones it is receiving.
If the cell is getting a lot of a certain negative chemical, when that cell divides, its sister cell will now have more of those receptor sites that it originally did. It is now different than it was and will react to stimuli differently than it did.

  The thing is that this can work for you just as easily as against you. You can develop good and profitable habits just as easily as bad ones. This process, of course, takes time and you must stay with it.

  Now, you can derive a lot of benefit by doing yoga exercises alone at home, but, you will never derive the benefits practicing alone that you will gain in a consecrated setting like the Yoga Center.   There are a hundred reasons for this: one of them is that there is an energy field which forms around such a class. Because you are helping each other, everyone gains more than they would alone.

  If you search your feelings during your next class here, you will realize that this is so.

  One level higher than our regular class, we have the Circle Meditation.  Just as the regular meditation is the most important part of a Yoga Class, the Circle Meditation is far and away the most important thing we do here.

  Each of you who has come to the center has been developing a power, a new kind of strength. What do you suppose happens now, that you would be given this power and energy and could hoard it and keep it all for yourself?

  The light does not work in that way.  If you try to use your new vitality and power exclusively for selfish purposes we can assure you, absolutely, that the energy will turn upon you.  Some portion of this gift must be shared with others.  This is the reason that some students find that their early enchantment and success with Yoga fails.  For a time the Cosmic will permit you to keep all this new found energy for yourself, but not indefinitely.

  Sharing light is the purpose of the Circle Meditation. It is not the only way to do this but it assures that some of this energy given to you here is shared with the world.  It is very important for each of you to do this in some way, someplace.  It does not have to be done here, but it must be done!

  As George Lucas pointed out in Star Wars, the Darkness has one great weakness, it can be dispelled by the light of a single candle. So we ask you now to join us in radiating love, joy and healing into the world.

  Thoughts will not only change your own body, they will change the world we live in. Here in this temple, thus configured, you are in a position to radiate energy into the world of a vastly greater power than any of us could possibly produce by ourselves and you must never underestimate the power or importance of doing this.

  If enough of these United Circles formed and started to operate the appalling conditions which exist in the world today could not persist for a single day.

 Now, take a couple of yoga breaths, your energy channels are already largely opened, and radiate love, joy and healing into this world .

© Copyright 2005  Brian Afton 2822 Grover Rd Olean, NY 14760