Travel and Gurus. Outside and Inside.

Some people say that traveling is not good for the spiritual practice. I´m thinking here in one verse (62) on The Hatha Yoga Pradipika and in some story that one friend told me about Prashantji (BKS Iyengar´s son) answering that for being a better yogi you must not travel, (I don´t know the context of the last information I´m giving  but, even though I believe that the context is very important in cases like this, I will go further anyway.)

The Hatha Yoga Pradipika is a book written around six centuries ago that focuses in the physical practice of asanas (postures) and kriyas (cleansing teachniques) as a way for transcend oneself.

Cleaning the nadis so the energy can finally move!
Cleaning the nadis so the energy can finally move!

Travel six centuries ago it was not the same as traveling today.

It probably took much more time that it takes today and this was a very clear way to lose a lot of vital energy but, when I think in Prashantji´s words –he probably said that somewhere during the last 15 years- a big contradiction grows inside of me.

In one hand there is something that is really important in the Yoga tradition and it´s basically that: TRADITION. In a short way this means that the practice must be inside of a lineage, that´s exactly why the Guru is SO important. It´s not that he/she is there just to keep you humble, oh no, it´s something bigger than that: He/She is there showing you a path that he/she already walked. Sometimes as a very present energy that guides you all the way, sometimes just as an observer that lets you discover for yourself, reaching you when you have gone too far.

Having a Guru is a very important element in every spiritual tradition.

But, what happens when the Guru is not close?

Well, basically, you travel to find it.

On the other hand, and I will talk here about my own personal intimate experience, one thing that happens when you travel is that you get very amazed by the outer world.

There are so many beautiful places out there, full of different things to look and to do, full of different flavors, colors and energies and, somehow, all of this influences oneself. The indriyas (senses) are so happy when we travel!

Those same senses are the tools we need to turn inwards (pratyahara), to go inside.

When everything is new outside it´s hard to concentrate in the inside. At the same time, I believe it´s a very honest way of challenge yourself because, everything  is new all the time, it doesn´t matter if you travel or not.

Maybe, traveling in the world can be seen as a preparation –or as a reflex?– for traveling in your inner world. If you learn how to be outside, maybe it will be easy to just be, inside.

Turning everything upside down.
Turning everything upside down.

Maybe, after traveling in the outside world, you realize this that Rumi said better that anyone:

You have no need to travel anywhere – journey within yourself.

Enter a mine of rubies and bathe in the splendor of your own Light.

Inside. Or outside?
Inside. Or outside?

BTW: After an amazing weekend in the incredibly beautiful northern part of Sweden teaching for the people in the Haglöfs Artic Weekend I´m now in Marseille enjoying amazing yoga lessons with the super gentle Senior teacher Sthéphane Lalo, observing myself and the beautiful spring that finally arrived, at the same time. I will write more about this but, meanwhile, maybe you´re able to find some photos of these moments HERE!

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Odyssey.

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As you set out for Ithaka

hope the voyage is a long one,

full of adventure, full of discovery.

Laistrygonians and Cyclops,

angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:

you’ll never find things like that on your way

as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,

as long as a rare excitement

stirs your spirit and your body.

Laistrygonians and Cyclops,

wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them

unless you bring them along inside your soul,

unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope the voyage is a long one.

May there be many a summer morning when,

with what pleasure, what joy,

you come into harbors seen for the first time;

may you stop at Phoenician trading stations

to buy fine things,

mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,

sensual perfume of every kind—

as many sensual perfumes as you can;

and may you visit many Egyptian cities

to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.

Arriving there is what you are destined for.

But do not hurry the journey at all.

Better if it lasts for years,

so you are old by the time you reach the island,

wealthy with all you have gained on the way,

not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.

Without her you would not have set out.

She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.

Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,

you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

(Ithaca, Konstantinos Kavafis, 1911)

When I first read this poem, eight years ago, the trip was internal, mental, and emotional.

I guess I always wanted to go somewhere I’ve never been able to define but maybe, now it´s time to leave always and nevers behind, and enjoy the abundance of this moment, being faithful, relax and go on in this trip. That remains internal, even though I´m moving a lot.

The journey.

Images

This journey through the layers of the Self is really beautiful because, sometimes, you understand that the answers for your questions are, all of them, not far away but closer than you thought.

Usually they are so close and that´s why it´s not easy to see them so, you need to take the long way, turn around starting once and again, traveling all over the world. Searching for the flower that was, always, in your backyard.