A wonderful start to the BYC today, and as I come back home to rest, I am reflecting upon a highlight from the day’s sessions – the satsang with Godfrey Devereux. Satsang, or simply “being together” as he translated it, is a natural expression of our intelligence. We have the ability to come together, and be present with each other, and even communicate. To deepen our own experience of peace through this presentness by paying careful attention to our inner experience, even as we share an external experience together. And while we can and do engage in this activity quite often, being social animals, it is not necessarily often that we get the chance to be together in truth with such an insightful teacher as Godfrey.
Godfrey began by inviting us to come in touch with our own presence, and also with expressions of intelligence within that presence – for example, the beating of our heart. And that was it, in a nutshell – just pay attention to what extraordinary intelligence we both experience and manifest. To note its qualities – peacefulness, awareness, joy. These qualities that are always present, even if we overlook and do not experience them at a given moment.
He went on to elucidate his perspective on yoga practice and the integration of our conscious and unconscious mind(s). It made a powerful counterpoint to much of what we find in the modern “yoga world” – where often our preoccupations and unconscious neuroses are simply translated onto the practices we engage in, resulting in aggressive striving for something always just out of our grasp, reinforcing a sense of inadequacy, perhaps managing to develop our bodies or minds but potentially still giving us little insight into who or what we really are.
He emphasized the point that our mind is not our enemy. In fact it’s “our best friend”! And spiritual rhetoric along the lines of the need to “kill” the mind were in his view slander of an extraordinary part of our living intelligence. The same with the need to “transcend” the body. Though perhaps many of us might agree consciously with this, he pointed out that often we simply don’t know what kind of beliefs our unconscious mind may be carrying; often cultural patterning in our most formative years runs very deep, I suppose. And there are certainly strains of these sorts of ideas present in the DNA of the yoga practices and philosophy we might engage with these days – I was reminded of the current inquiries by Matthew Remski and others into the assumptions and mythologies we are sharing around the aims of practice, our experience of pain within it, where these stories come from and how aware or unaware we may be of how they are informing our experience.
It was refreshing to have insight into these processes communicated so clearly. At the end he offered his perspective that yoga was really the process of “internalization of authority”: finding a clear and present knowing within our inner experience, and thereby letting go of the need for external instruction. And in saying so, he clarified more than once – that it was not necessary to believe him. In fact, better if we didn’t! The practice and the point of it all is to find the truth within us, through ever deepening intimacy with our self.
Thank you Godfrey for being with us today and sharing your thoughts and experience.