This week, during Easter and Passover, powerful and mythic holiday stories, are told and retold, of journeys through great obstacles, from death to rebirth, from bondage to freedom. These lessons of struggle, metamorphosis, radical transformation, and awakening to one’s truth, are the core teachings of these world philosophies/religions.
In the yogic pantheon, this release from, and through obstacles is represented by Ganesha, the great and beloved, elephant avatar/deity.
The teachings state, where the elephant treads a path, many may follow, and where the “guru”, literally the remover of darkness, treads a path, the seeker may follow. On this path, we may then find freedom, a release from bondage, and awaken to the rebirth of our “yoked”, yogic self. And who, or what is the guru? It is the philosophy, the practice, the discipline, of integrating our physical, mental, and spiritual natures, into balance, health, and ease.
And what is bondage? Bondage is our delusion, that we are not enough, that we are not complete, perfect, and alive in each and every moment. All the great philosophies, and religions, teach this lesson, that once we are willing to let go of our suffering, release our pain, and embrace life fully in each moment, we may then arrive at self-realization, the journey of awakening. As we begin to understand and embrace this knowledge, the holidays perhaps will be sweeter. With courage, we introspect and inquire, what is our experience of bondage? Which part of us needs to experience a rebirth?
Ganesha’s enormous head symbolizes innate intelligence. His trunk, both gentle and strong, able to pick up a flower, or pull down a tree, represents “viveka”, discrimination, as translated from the ancient Sanskrit language. This discrimination allows us to know our struggle, understand when to utilize effort, and when to let go, to honor and perceive what is our truth, and to release what is not our truth. The elephant power of Ganesha, rooted on the earth, supports a strong foundation, that keeps us steady on our journey of transformation. Being truly present for ourselves, and others in our lives, allows us to access this energy of the great elephant avatar.
The ancient Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, one of the primary teachings of the yogic poetic canon expresses these teachings succinctly:
May we move from delusion to truth
May we move from darkness to light
May we move from fear to love, from the temporal to the eternal
The original Sanskrit form:
Asato Ma, Sat Gamaya
Tamaso Ma, Jyotir Gamaya
Mritor Mam, Amritam Gamaya.
Let us celebrate the holidays, each in our own way, with sweetness and joy!