In this interview with John Friend, the Founder of Anusara Yoga, I ask him how the philosophy of Anusara Yoga can help us understand why disastrous events occur, such as the deadly earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan a few days ago, March 11, 2011. This is my favorite interview with John yet, because to me, it gets at the heart of why so many of us are drawn to the practice of yoga in the first place, to better cope with pain and suffering.
In addition to helping us understand why disaster occurs, John speaks on the difference between pain and suffering, this distinction appearing to be top of mind given his recent tweet linking to a blog post on the topic. In this interview, John notes that when desires are not met, this can be a condition for suffering.
Salient quotes from John during the interview:
How are we dealing with changes? That’s the difference between pain and suffering. It’s about our response. We are going to experience pain. This is our destiny. Suffering, in large part, is optional…understanding this view alleviates suffering…once your understanding expands, your degree of suffering is reduced, and that’s called wisdom.
Pain many times is a beautiful thing from nature, it gives us a chance to properly make choices. Wisdom tells us something is out of alignment…wisdom is that which helps us to deal with challenges, all these difficulties in life.
From Video 3: To what extent are we empowered to end our suffering, and to what extent is Grace leading the way?…Grace, if we define it as this power that reveals the inner-connectedness of all things, that power of Spirit, then you think of it as a matrix of time and space that is incredibly vast across a whole universe. It’s there, but our limited capacity to understand the workings that help the soul to become more awakened to our true nature is super complex. Taking the premise that Spirit is innately auspicious, that it’s not like there is a power of Spirit that is creating problems for us arbitrarily and doing it so that we would suffer. I don’t hold to that view, so I take the premise that there is this Spirit that out of its own freedom is choosing to really help each soul, help me, to know myself and know my relationship to the whole world and the universe more deeply, to really want to help me know my innate essence which is joy, which is not trying to create suffering, but out of my own cloaking, I can not see things clearly, like a child not seeing clearly, a child can throw a tantrum, or can be put into a state of trauma and inner suffering, because they just don’t see clearly, so Grace, I think though is really always helping us to get the deepest experience of our soul. A lot of times, we go through these difficulties, and we look back and realize that it was from that most difficult time, that it gives me a deeper experience of freedom from that challenging point, that challenging time. My understanding of what it means to be free, the very essence that has been consistent even when things have gotten cloaked and then opened up, the whole play of consciousness allows me to know really my heart even more fully, that’s Grace, to know myself more clearly. That’s Grace, and it is working with us all the time.
In the 3 videos below with John, I asked him the following questions:
- Japan just suffered through one of the worst earthquakes and tsunamis on record. You are scheduled to go teach in Japan on your World Tour. Are you still going to Japan?
- Picking up from where we left off on our last interview, if the world is orderly and good, why do disorderly and devastating events such as earthquakes and tsunami’s happen?
- Is Japan’s tsunami an example of Grace out of her own free will causing destruction? Is this Leela? Kali?
- Why should a person want to step into the flow of Grace if life circumstances have proven to be unfavorable over and over again, even victimizing? (John defines a victim)
- Why should an authentic, hapless victim open to Grace?
- What is the best way to end suffering?
- To what extent are we empowered to end our suffering, and to what extent is Grace leading the way?
How to Help:
Samin Nosrat’s Bakesale for Japan, April 2, 2011
Om Lokaha Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
May all beings in all the worlds know peace and happiness
Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti