What is…real?

Posted on October 5, 2011


 One of my favorite quotes of the moment is as follows:

We must use the same ground upon which we have fallen in order to stand up.

It’s from The Mirror of Yoga by Richard Freeman which is an amazing book and I recommend reading it to those of you who are interested in examining the ever twisting threads of yogic philosophy.

I would like to say that this passage applies to some sort of tangible change in my understanding of the yogic practice…but to remain honest it does not…really. Well it does but not in a conscious way. It as well as the rest of Freeman’s chapter on Tantra has given me a headful of meaningful words that have helped me unravel some of the knots in my personal life. You see, Ahimsamaven is…recently divorced, like 50+ percent of the American population. Until recently, I haven’t been able (or willing) to address the repercussions of this word. That I am now a woman without a husband and that the life we planned together is also no longer a part of this reality. Not that I haven’t moved forward. For those of you who have not experienced the divorce process…it takes a long time and life moves on around the process. I simply have not assimilated the meaning.


I’ve been pondering this issue of reality and non-reality…especially since I’ve been plumbing the depths of existentialism and permanence/impermanence via my Ashtanga certification course.  What does it mean to have a heartfelt belief move from real to non-real? If we look at it from Jean Baudrillard‘s point of view (a postmodern French philosopher but really…we all know about him because of his influence on The Matrix movies) there is no real…simply a place where real used to exist. In the place of real are archetypal trappings, a symbol left to simulate a real thing which is a shadow memory of an object reflected against object reflected against object ad infinitum. It’s like a complex version of Indra’s net…without emotion attached AND tying in the concepts of non-reality right away without prepping the reader first… or perhaps it’s more like applying the concepts of reincarnation on a microcosmic scale…all thoughts are constantly being born within our lifetime and as they live and die that loose association to the thing they define and become unreal in the process.

Keeping the process in my head space like this has worked thus far…but it feels like I am pretending that there is nothing to deal with and using yogic and postmodern concepts to validate myself. Besides, large life changing events are affective. They shift where one is in space and time regardless of what one believes. What I believe.

It is like death. Except it’s not like death where a body loses prana and eventually is no more. There is no corpse to ritualize or put into the earth.  There is nothing to mark the passing of a conjoined vision of what future and present should look like…not in my marriage anyway. There is no time or date to pinpoint the faltering of belief that a person will be an active part of one’s future.  I mean honestly…When did my path disconnect from that of my former husband’s and begin meandering on its own away from his…taking my perceived reality of children and home and constantly growing love with it? When did my reality become a divorce rife with all the trappings of discontent usually associated with the word? It is disconcerting that we (I) lack this: The ability to point to where my marriage became not-real…unless I ask myself to believe that all things are unreal and then it simply ceases to matter. Or I simply choose a point in time…the day I left perhaps or the day our divorce finalized. But it isn’t that simple. Vestiges of the former reality still exist in me. I still feel that reality.  Technically, it shouldn’t matter because feeling and associations and the like are all ego anyway right?

Yoga and post modernism both fail me here. I can’t…uncouple. Emotionally I am the same as my reactions to the divorce. Call it ego or lack of faith. I call it feeling. I feel this at many levels. My mother tells me that questioning how things went wrong is something every woman does and that really it is unanswerable. I could wander this path for days because there is no simple answer and I know that traipsing down it can only lead to a place full of tears and tubs of ice cream.

Cue Richard Freeman:

We must use the same ground upon which we have fallen in order to stand up.

This phrase has given me some peace because it provides a way to think about where reality and future lie in relationship to this ever shifting moment. It gives me the ability to stop thinking about the deeper aspects of the ego and unconscious and what may or may not be real and indicated that…sometimes doing deep work is as simple and surface as knowing that where I lie now is where I will eventually move from to the next stage of my life.

So. I am alive and growing. When it feels as if the concepts of reality have been taken away and broken into pieces there are still emotions and emotions are ok and are not head based and are as fluid as this second shifting into the next and the next. ..I dunno. It makes sense to me and settles my heart when my head take over and I start to think things like…what the fuck does peace mean anyway? What does self mean.. … …

Posted in: Lessons, Philosophy, Yoga