I love yoga. The practice has deeply connected me to myself, others, and God in ways I didn’t know where possible. It’s beautiful, amazing, and life-giving. It’s brought me wholeness and peace I can scarcely put into words. AND I think there’s also a danger here.
In some flavors of yoga, this inner peace, this mind-body-spirit integration, and the bliss we experience when we’re connected is the whole point of it all. The danger, in other words, is there’s a temptation to keep all the blessings of yoga for oneself. Naturally, this temptation isn’t unique to yoga, but seems to be pretty universal to humanity. When we receive good gifts, it’s easy to fall victim to the temptation to keep and hoard goodness for ourselves.
As you might expect, this train of thought leads me to the new “Wonder Woman” movie 🙂 Hopefully, you get I was joking about that. My wife, daughter, and I saw “Wonder Woman” over the weekend, and it was perhaps the most beautiful and inspiring action movie I’ve ever seen. During some of the climactic parts I could barely see the film, because I was moved so deeply my eyes were full of tears. You see, “Wonder Woman” movingly and wonderfully depicted what I’ve come to realize is a vital life truth: The blessings we receive are so we can bless others. Yoga’s gifts are for off the mat. True enlightenment is to love.
Wonder Woman and her people, the Amazons, are incredibly blessed. They’re given great powers and abilities, with the EXPRESSED purpose of using those talents for the benefits of the world. YET, fate has seen the Amazons removed from society and the world, as they’re hidden on a remote island. And understandably, when given the choice, they decide to stay removed, as the “world” had burned them before. Diana (aka Wonder Woman), though, chooses differently. Born from a god, she’s incredibly blessed physically and mentally, and when she finds out World War I is raging around the globe outside of the comfortable confines of her home, Diana chooses to use her blessings to benefit others, declaring: “It is our sacred duty to defend the world. And it is what I am going to do.”
In an effort to avoid spoiling the movie, I’ll only speak in broad terms about the rest of it. The majority of it is set during World War, which was an especially brutal war. Along the front lines devastation was widespread and essentially total. Wonder Woman goes straight into the belly of this beast, so to speak. As she first enters the war she is deeply troubled at the vulnerable, poor, and hurting civilians whose lives are being effectively ruined by the war. Astonished by this, in what was an especially inspiring scene for me, Diana declares: “I will fight, for those who can not fight for themselves,” before risking herself and diving into battle for their sake.
In the climactic battle, Wonder Woman’s nemesis points out she’s fighting for the same fallible humans who started and perpetuated the war. His point being that us humans are capable of great evil (the line between good and evil is within EACH of us, after all), which means not only do we not deserve help, care, and support, but the world may very well be better without us! At least that’s the point the baddy is getting at.
Leaving me with tears of joy streaming down my cheeks, Diana responds with Love. She emphatically declares and acts in a manner that believes the best in people, which, as so often happens, calls forth and brings that goodness out of people around her. These people, who could easily have instead gone a negative direction, instead choose Love. As she says to the antagonist: “It’s not about what you deserve. It’s what you believe. And I believe in them (people).”
Love doesn’t need a reason to care for others, it doesn’t worry about their worth, or lack thereof, it IS the reason, it DECLARES them worthy. “Wonder Woman is different,” Gil Gadot (the actress who plays Wonder Woman) told We Got This Covered in an interview last October, when discussing how her character differs from many of the other heroes we see in the cinema these days. “What I love about her so much is that her agenda is love. It’s not about fighting, it’s not about who is stronger than whom; it’s not about women versus men. It’s about love, and acceptance of others. She stands for love, justice and compassion.”
This brings me back to yoga. The practice helps us connect to God and our True self amidst all the chaos and storms of life. Via an inward journey and moving mediation, yoga brings great peace, wholeness, and joy to individuals. As I mentioned, though, it’s easy to stay blissful and happy yourself, while others suffer, without doing anything for them. After all, we ARE blissful and happy, so why would we spoil our vibe so to speak … because that’s all that will come from dipping our toes in the hurt and pain of others … right? No. NO. NO! A hundred times, NO!
Blessings in life are fantastic and to be cherished … AND generally speaking I believe we are blessed in order to bless others. Along those lines, one of my favorite mantras/sayings in yoga is: “Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu” (meaning, “May all beings everywhere be happy, safe, and free”). Isn’t that a beautiful sentiment? The thing is, unless we tangibly DO something to make it increasingly true, all it becomes merely a meaningless sentiment! I believe the peace, wholeness, and joy that comes from yoga is meant to be taken OFF our mats and used FOR the benefit of others. We SHARE our joy with others. We GIFT our peace to friends, family, and strangers by taking time to talk to them, listen to them and WHATEVER is going on in their lives, and truly see them in a calm, thoughtful, and non-anxious manner. Like Diana, we venture forth INTO the storms and wars of life as whole and integrated beings to love and care for others.
I’m convinced this mentality doesn’t just apply to yoga, though, I believe it applies to all of life. I think the blessings we receive are to be enjoyed … and also used to bless others, because true enlightenment is to love. Practically speaking that could mean any number of different things. How are you and I blessed? Relationally? Financially? Emotionally? Physically? Intellectually? Perhaps we’re gifted with listening. Maybe we’re great at encouraging others. We could have more money than most. It’s possible we’re good at yard work or construction or handiwork. The list of ways you and I could be may be blessed is endless, but here’s my point: We are blessed, lets enjoy those gifts, AND lets find ways to use them to benefit others. Let’s love more and more and more, until the world is saturated with kindness, care, and joy.
THAT is what Wonder Woman did! Friends, when I grow up I want to be Wonder Woman. As she concludes: “It’s about what you believe. And I believe in love. Only love will truly save the world.”
If you enjoyed this blog you can sign up for email notifications of future ones on the right. Additionally, I have a Facebook page where I regularly post articles, blogs, quotes, meditations, etc. to encourage us to more Light and Love. Again, to the right there’s a link for you to “Like” the page. ❤
Grace and peace,