A key from the Viking era. Nobody remembers where it goes, and probably it goes nowhere. The yoga techniques are even older, but they are anyway keys that still very much work, and very much still go to places - to places within ourselves. The only question is whether the keys still have the correct shape, or if "key" details have been altered.
Picture from wikipedia
To preserve a yoga-tradition is a little bit like preserving an old family recipe, which has been passed on through the generations. Sometimes you don't know what things has been added because they are utterly important for some reason you have not yet discovered, or if they are there just by chance. I truly believe that if one is in doubt, when it comes to yoga, you should always keep the things *exactly* as you learnt them. The reason for that is that there are so many deep and profound hidden things in the yoga techniques that have been added by purpose, and that contains invaluable information - keys! - to unlock human tensions, and the human mind. When comparing yoga with many other religious traditions, I see that yoga has preserved much more deep knowledge (at least if you know where to look), and I think that this is exactly for that reason. The yoga knowledge has not been stored using words - which are so easily misinterpreted - but in techniques. And even if the teacher has forgotten some of the original knowledge, that knowledge is still contained within all of us, and as long as the techniques are taught on in exactly the same way as they were learnt, the techniques allow all of us to access this knowledge. For these keys to work, they need to have precisely the right form. But, if they do, they will work, even to doors that your teacher hasn't ventured through himself.
With this said, I also want to say that a tradition should be alive, and explorative. We do live in a time when so much is changing, both regarding how we live our lives, and regarding the general energy balances around and within ourselves. This means that techniques and practices that might have been suited for a different time, and for instance for a more monastic practice, now need to be adopted to another type of life, and to deal with other imbalances. To a life-style where virtually all yogis live ordinary lives, and where we live completely different lives: more sedentary, with new challenges such as the internet, more impressions, etc. I also think that things that are not hidden in techniques, but only contained in the general "level" of the teacher, tend to be forgotten. And I think that this is true also for the tradition that I come from.
For all these reasons, I therefore both have strong sense of protectionism for the deep truths hidden in the exactness of the yoga techniques, and a sense of urgency to modernize the outer process, and to make it integrated with our 21st century lives.
One such thing concerns the issue of meditating outside of the meditations. By inside the meditations, I mean the times during the day when we sit down, close our eyes, and go deep within the mind, without moving the body. And by outside the meditation, I mean all times when we are awake, and moving around, doing things either at work or in our free time. The instruction I was taught was to not meditate outside the meditations. In fact, we were given remarkably few instructions regarding how to deal with our lives, and it was only very vaguely stated that Karma yoga (working yoga) was important, somehow. But no techniques were given, no principles.
I think that this is one of the things that has gotten lost, and this is one of the things I see missing the most in the tradition I come from - and almost all things I am missing in that school, I think come from this single fact. It is also these Karma yoga techniques that I have been looking for the most in the last 10 years or so, and I have now come to a point where I think that this is integrated in my own life, not perfectly, but to a level that is comparible with the other aspects of my practice. However, these Karma yoga things, I have learnt from other sources, often current now living sources, and I have therefore had to merge these different traditions and viewpoints into a whole. But I certainly think that this has been possible, and fruitful. And the main point I want to make now, before I get started with the details of these things (which, interestingly enough will be outlined to some extent within the worldview project), is the following statement:
The meditation that we do outside of the meditations - i.e. our capacity to view, be aware of, and control our thoughts during all waking and sleeping moments of the day - is not less important than the ordinary sitting meditations, it is *more* important.
An old family recipe found on the attic. I wonder how much old knowledge has been poured into these lines, in an attempt to preserve a life-time - perhaps several life-times - of explorations. Picture from here.