Someone asked me a provocative question this week. We’d been having a discussion about the fact that the path of tantra (the perspective from which I’m teaching) considers everything from the mundane to the sublime to be a means of waking up, to living fully, to remembering our own best and brightest nature. I had told this person that I used to be a successful IT executive but that I had hated, hated, hated it but that I am struggling to make ends meet as a yoga teacher. So he asked me, “If you’re really living a tantric lifestyle, why aren’t you working in an office instead of hiding in a yoga studio?”
In considering my answer to the tongue in cheek but very pointed question, I was reminded of the concept of Adhikara. This is often translated as studentship. I once heard Noah Maze say it can also be translated as entitlement, qualification, mastery or competency. From the tantric viewpoint, we are all individual drops of the same great consciousness, bestowed with embodiment and our own unique set of gifts. According to what I recall from my study with Noah, Adhikara is the process of receiving our gifts and bringing our studentship and effort to manifest the gifts in the fullest expression possible.
My gift was not sitting and cursing at a computer screen, filling the world with venom and discontent (though I must admit I did have a gift for creative cursing!). If I were in the situation now, it would be up to me to bear it gracefully if I had no other choice and to look for the lesson. But the aspiration of my heart led me out of that world into this one where I feel like I am living in line with my gifts, even if it’s more difficult than the financial easy street I used to live on. I am committed to ever expanding Adhikara, in order to be a fuller expression the bit of consciousness that is me.
There are a few things I can do in seeking the fullest expression of my gifts and I am grateful to my cheeky friend for spurring me into remembering them.
First of all, I must come into beginner’s mind, over and over again. With a humble remembrance that I don’t know it all, I must continually set the pure intention to align with nature. The thing that led me into the corporate world had nothing the remembrance that I am a drop of pure consciousness that has manifested as me in order to know a certain aspect of itself better. I was there for the money and the prestige. Eventually something inside me rebelled and drove me to a yoga mat. It was there, in the soft receptivity afforded by the practice that I could hear the whispers of what my heart, the Universal heart, wanted to express into the world. It’s because I keep forgetting that I must be committed to always opening to the bigger consciousness that never forgets.
Next, I must be steadfast, consistent and patient. Just because I know what my gift is doesn’t mean I can rest on my laurels. I find a consistent asana, pranayama and meditation practice invaluable to cultivating this set of characteristics. It is the foundation which supports my physical, emotional and spiritual well being. From that place, I dedicate myself to honing my tools, refining my skill set. When my practice slides, it’s all I can do to just get through the day, never mind evolve into greatness!
Along with humble, steadfast commitment, I must stay receptive to the flow of life. Sometimes doing something that seems off the path. Yet some of the most incredible opportunities for growth and expansion of my teaching have occurred as a direct result of something that was not planned and, at the time, did not seem to serve the highest. In (trying valiantly) to accept the reality of those situations, I have learned things that have made me a much better teacher.
In rising to the challenge of being the fullest expression possible of myself, I must honour the drive to evolve and transform and have the confidence that I am capable of what my iccha shakti (will) is spurring me forth to do. This is where I’m struggling at the moment. I have no doubt that I can teach a yoga class. But my confidence in earning a living at it is faltering at the moment. There is a huge transition ahead with the ending of my studio’s lease and I am allowing the uncertainty to weaken me. I think this was the crack that my friend saw and in his own way, was trying to spur me into repairing.
Finally, I must be creative and inventive. The path is not smooth so I have to dig deep to be able to live fully from my heart.
The pursuit of Adhikara, like everything, is a pulsation. Looking back I can see periods of intense studentship and drive to evolve and periods of simple riding with the flow, resting and gathering resource. I feel like life is throwing me back into an intense period where fiery Adhikara is going to be the key to this transition.
So am I, as my friend’s question suggests, hiding in a yoga studio rather than heading out into the real world to earn a living? Or was I actually hiding from stepping up my Adhikara to be a fuller expression of the unique set of gifts that have been bestowed upon me?