The Castle of Mankind
History can be a powerful teacher when the student is ready to learn. It is important to realize that history is much more than what is in the books. Some of the greatest segments of history can only be revealed by simply listening to another person's story. Each story is unique. There are nuances, fine details and choices that determine how their brick will lay in this ever expanding castle of history that we all build....together.
Parallel your yoga practice to learning history. When you initially start, you're just getting a grip on how to breathe and achieve the "beginner" poses. (I use quotes on this word because no pose leaves nothing new left to discover.) As you start to get the foundation of your practice set, you start to learn some things about your body, mind and spirit. It does not take long to realize that as you practice yoga, you unveil fine layers of subtle aspects of yourself you did not notice before. More importantly, you will start to notice the finer details of your fellow students and teachers. These distinguished group of people can be people you know or will never meet. Life has a magical way of bringing them to you.
As the quote accurately declares: "When the student is ready, the Teacher will come."
As my practice of yoga has progressed through time, learning and age, a desire to understand more about everything has been ignited. The study of anatomy kept me busy for several years and still does. Anatomy knowledge lead to the searching to understand the ever evolving mind. The study of the mind lead to a quest to understand the minds of profound people in history...which lead to the revelation that it is not just the "great" minds in the history books that make a difference. Listen to enough people to hear their story and you will realize each life is a brick in the Castle of Mankind.
Indulge a few moments of time to read a sliver of one man's history. Still alive, yet bravely facing cancer, with no regrets and no fears...only humility and love. Blessed to have taken the time to hear a little of his journey in life, I knew within an instant, he was a Teacher. You see, he grew up during segregation and outspoken racism was the mindset. A black person not only could not ride the bus, go to any restaurant, or school; but, they, could not even park their car wherever they wanted. My friend remembers having to park his car in an alley to pick up his family from work. He remembers walking to meet his family and a riot broke out. He stood in the middle of the street and within feet of him, black men were suddenly being clubbed by the police for some unjust excuse. I got angry as I listened..but, he smiled and used his hand as a message to relax.
He scanned the street for his family and spotted them. They ran to him and they managed to escape unscathed. As he initially watched the brutality, he pondered the choice of joining the barrage of hostility for the sake of getting a few good punches in. But, he knew fights could not be won at the same level as the mind of the fighter. He knew he had more to learn....he was only twenty.
He later in life learned of the rape of his sister by a white man. She never told anyone...until years later. When he asked her why she never told him, she said she had forgiven the man. She intuitively knew that revenge would take place. She knew revenge could cost a life. The rapist was a man of "power." To lose a brother would not right the wrong. Instead, she struggled and learned to forgive. She asked her brother to do the same. Never having met the man who hurt his sister, he had to learn to forgive this person...and he did.
When he went to college, he had a white roommate. His roommate was not racist...rather the opposite. He knew that all of us are extensions of the Higher Power. His roommate was a great Teacher for him. He witnessed him take hits and stabs for not backing down to the police when it came to blacks not being allowed to get on a bus. He showed strength, yet forgave the oppressors. They have cherished over fifty years of true friendship and interconnection.
He studied history in college. The details of history lifetimes before his own was very disturbing. He wanted to change majors and discussed his concerns with a professor. The professor wisely explained to him that history is never black or white. There are stories behind the stories. People of greatness have weaknesses just like everyone else. Ironically, out of bad comes good and even out of good intentions, bad results have emerged. It is truly a delicate balance that depends on the individual of the moment to determine how they want to lay their brick. What they cannot always, if ever, control, is how the next brick is laid...only the next one in line.
My friend completed his degrees in history and became a teacher of it for many years. He made a point to teach the story behind the story. History, like yoga, has much more going on in than you can you assume at the moment. There are a lot moving parts that make it happen. Sometimes we make a false assumption of our edge and pay the consequences. But, it is those delicious moments when we are in just the right place...physically, mentally, and spiritually that all falls nicely into place.
The practice makes you more aware of your teachers. The true sign of a strong practice is if you are being a good teacher to your students. Build your physical practice move by move....breath by breath. Place your brick in the Castle with care...the one that goes beside it depends on it.
Love, respect and gratitude to my friend that shared a chapter of his story today. It has always been an honor and gift to learn anything that comes from the heart. He does not even know I write; but, I want others he will never meet learn there's a lot more to history than meets the eye. And, forgiveness, my friends...is one sure way to do a major re-model of the castle in your mind.