From June into July 2014, I went to California to do my art. I got quiet.
Right before I left I opened a favorite author's book, "The Wisdom of Yoga" by Stephen Cope and started to read it. I ran into the Buddhist concept of 'Samvega' and it blew my mind. I put the book down and stopped reading it as it was a pretty decent shock to my system. This all happened by page 15 & I needed to process this metaphorical brick wall. Not the most accomplished reading session but I think that discovery will always be a dog-eared moment for what is to come next for me. I went on to pack and left the book behind but brought the concept with me across the states. I needed some percolation to happen. The day after I got the LA, the woman I rented from (now a great friend) showed me the mediation space of the Lake Shrine where I began to feel like making this trip/pilgrimage was right. This place was right and the extreme discomfort I saw myself in was right. Here is why it was like hitting a wall of realization, discomfort and ultimately a soft sigh (content taken from Stephen Cope's book, "The Wisdom of Yoga":
The Buddhist monk Thanissaro Bhikkhu describes the state of samvega as: "The oppressive sense of shock, dismay, and alienation that come with realizing the futility and meaninglessness of life as it's normally lived: a chastening sense of our own complacency and foolishness in having let ourselves live so blindly: and an anxious sense of urgency in trying to find a way out of the meaningless cycle."
The reason I wanted to write about this concept was not only because of the impact that it had on me as I was reading it, but also because I see this happening in our culture, among my friends, situations and people I read about. I think there is an evolution in the human mind happening right now that is part of advancing to another state. I see a growing community affected by the following "symptoms" of samvega:
- A puzzling failure of previous sources of satisfaction
- A heightened concern with authenticity
- A deepening pull toward an intuited interior world
- A sense of urgency about realizing deeply hidden gifts and talents
- A global and diffuse sense of internal disorganization - equal parts psychological and spiritual
- A deeply felt internal imperative to stop business as usual - or to "get quiet"
- A call to explore a path that might give transcendent meaning to the enigmas of life
The person that left their corporate job to start a micro-brewary because they wanted to create a product of quality and share it with others. The person that wants to make jewelry in a light-filled studio and uphold a sense of authenticity they feel is missing in the mass-market offerings. The person that opens a pop-up store that becomes successful because their customers sense their desire to create a better product, a better brand. These are examples of samvega without having to get into the texts of Patanjali's "Yoga-Sutras". There are a myriad of examples all around us every day that point to this undercurrent of change that is taking place.
Over many nights that I sat in quiet with nature in Topanga, CA, I came to realize that it was time to let go of the control that I thought I had over the future, be okay with the now and viscerally understand the past is where it should be, in the past. I am certain this is a lesson I will grapple with forever but there was a sense of calm, of peace, that came with it. In the end, there is an excitement that comes from this place, in addition to solace, that everything will be okay. With these moments of stillness we find a type of faith - when things do strike us, and they will, we will be better equipped to handle them. In this quiet space, we get to connect to our authentic selves and it opens that thread of faith so that we can follow our own true path.
Samvega opens our intuition up for self-directed reorganization that allows us to become better participants of this life. It is a step in pointing us in the direction of authenticity and hopefully less madness.
The book --> "The Wisdom of Yoga, A Seeker's Guide to Extraordinary Living" by Stephen Cope
In Pacific Palisades, west Los Angeles area, The Lake Shrine Temple is a beautiful place to sit still, no matter your belief system