A student asked recently about the 10-day course I would be attending in San Luis Obispo. What would I be studying? What kind of training would I receive? Would I be receiving any certification? These very reasonable questions left me at a loss to describe why I incur the expense, inconvenience and psychological burden of slipping out of familiar daily life into the realm of the unknown, where humility and unpadded self-observation stand ushering my arrival. The question hung in my mind for days, and it was only after our first lecture with Shandor that the answer came clear. In a word – I come for the transmission.
Transmission – sometimes called shaktipat -- is the energetic exchange between a teacher who is willing to share and a student who is able to receive. It happens at un-orchestrated intersections of time and space, when wisdom and spirit interweave to transcend personality. Transmission cannot happen when the teacher or the student is trying to prove something, because any agenda in the mind obstructs the conduit. Transmission happens in moments of neutrality when you aren’t analyzing alignment, comparing yourself to others, over-breathing or trying to hang on to what the teacher just said. The process needs a fertile internal landscape – meaning some early inner work has been already been done. Transmission requires trust in the guide, faith in the teachings and -- most importantly -- confidence in oneself to take in what is needed and let the rest slide through. Insecurity or performance mentality breed comparison and defensiveness, more obstructions to an open conduit. The transmission may happen through eyes, ears, voice or touch, or during an internal moment of “aha” beyond words or sense experience. Energetic transmission is meant to be received, protected and gradually absorbed: it cannot be packaged, marketed, shared with anyone else, broadcast or communicated electronically. It is living transmission which has brought the wisdom of yoga through time, and it is living transmission which will keep it alive – as much as possible – for future generations. Theories and techniques can be memorized, but transmission pierces those barriers erected by the mind and speaks directly to the spirit. So that’s why I’m here.
There will be no certificate as a result of this course, no new skills to post and no guarantee of personal growth. Making use of what’s been given is totally up to me, and some things will percolate for months or years before they are fully understood. I don’t come here to accumulate knowledge, feel better about myself, receive congratulations on my abilities, or prove my credibility to the outside world. I step into the line of fire because that is where something is awoken inside me, and where the recognition of universal presence trickles down into my consciousness. Over the years, this process has taught me openness in other aspects of life including relationships, teaching, parenting, and the creative process. I find that the more rules I stockpile about how life is supposed to feel, the narrower the opening for transmission. But the more I trust, the more light and wisdom comes through. Eventually receptivity becomes a habit, gradually replacing the defensiveness and comparison that too easily shapes our thinking if left unchecked.
I was not always open, and sometimes I’m still not. There have undoubtedly been times when wisdom (and I don’t mean advice) came in one ear and went out the other. I’ve also experienced the situation in reverse, when students tune me out or get up and leave class altogether during one of my profound dharma talks ☺ It pokes at the ego temporarily, but I don’t generally take these things personally or guess at why a student isn’t interested in what I have to say. As I know from having been there myself, it really has nothing to do with me at all. I take a breath, march ahead with my talk and send them godspeed that they find a teacher who transmits what they are ready to hear.