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Must read: Tim Miller reflects on Guruji

April 25, 2012

Well, I wasn’t expecting this this morning.

I knew Tim Miller had been traveling and teaching the past week or so, so I was anticipating hearing about his classes — some of which, I believe, are among his first to include Third Series more systematically. (Don’t quote me on that, but I believe that’s true.)

Instead, thanks to an old George Harrison cover of Bob Dylan, Tim is drawn down memory’s weird and unpredictable lanes:

In December of 2007 I spent a week in Mysore after teaching for two weeks in Goa. Guruji was 92 then and due to a series of health problems, had retired from teaching. He seemed thin and frail, but at the same time, was glowing from within, seemingly happy and at peace. … We spent about an hour visiting and during most of that time Guruji was looking at me with a steady, loving gaze. I could sense a subtle yet perceptible light flowing in my direction. Two days later we returned to the States and I proceeded to get sicker than I have ever been. For two weeks I was purging via diarrhea, vomiting, coughing up huge amounts of phlegm, and breaking out in a bright red rash all over my torso. Maybe it was just a coincidence, but I couldn’t help but think that all this purging had something to do with that last evening with Guruji, that he was making a last ditch effort as the “dispeller of darkness” to assist me in releasing some of my “Halahala.”

I’m not quoting the great ending to his post, so you have to go to the above link to get it.

I had the fortune — not quite the right word, maybe opportunity — to attend the memorial service Tim held at his shala following Guruji’s passing and right before he went back to Mysore for the services there. This was before I dove fully into Ashtanga; I’d perhaps had done two single day workshops with Tim at that point, a day with David Swenson and maybe one with Danny Paradise. I was still very much at the “this will be good for your health and maybe help your stress” point in the practice. (Oh, how I long for those days when I wouldn’t be up, as I am now, at 5 a.m. to get to practice!)

It was still extremely moving. I’m sure I don’t remember as much as I would had I been a bit more cognizant of all the names and the history. But it was clear that this Indian yogi had spread a profound influence on many in the room, with Tim of course at its center. I do recall the raw emotions mixed with a deep sense of gratitude. I also think there was a lot of facing of attachment happening, as I think back on it.

Did Bobbie’s gently forcing me to go help propel me on my own path? Hard to say. I certainly feel like I got a glimpse, in an early and strong form, of Tim’s relationship with Guruji. I’m sure that helped draw me in.

Separately, Tim also seems to provide a bit of an answer to the question I posed on my last post about the student-teacher relationship:

In the fourth chapter of the Yoga Sutras Patanjali says, IV.4 “Nirmana cittani asmita matrat”—Individual consciousness develops only in contact with another individual consciousness. This is the primary reason that it is considered necessary to have a Guru to make progress on the spiritual path. Our conditioning is so strong that it is difficult to break through it without some kind of assistance. Contact with the Guru allows a kind of energy transfer that is called Shaktipat. This can come through touch, through a glance, through a mantra, or even something as subtle as the gift of a flower. Taking yoga class with Guruji was an opportunity to receive Shaktipat through his touch when you were adjusted or by touching his feet at the end of class. Hanging out afterwards having coffee, chatting, and listening to him tell stories was an opportunity to have his Darshan, his “loving glance”—another form of Shaktipat.

Now, off to practice. I’ve been promised some extra pushing this morning by Jörgen Christiansson …

Posted by Steve

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