Raw, adjective: 1. uncooked, as articles of food: a raw carrot.
I am about to head out for the morning to pick up some groceries, do laundry, and run to the bank before teaching this afternoon.
Very sexy-sounding, I know.
When we sing to Guru Vishnu — the Preserver, the day-to-day, the space in between beginnings and dissolutions — this everyday "stuff of life" is what we're talking about. It's the teacher, the guru, in the errands, in the dirty clothes, in the mundanities, the brushing the teeth, the taking out the trash, the unsexy stuff that doesn't usually get mentioned when we're talking about deep spiritual awakenings and whatnot.
I have been making a more conscious effort the last few months to buy my groceries from the new little Chinese mom-and-pop veggie market that opened in the basement of a weird 1970s shop building down the corner from my place. It's a sweet little store in a cursed space that has turned over several times in the 9 years that I've lived in this neighborhood; it's seen a number of varied tenants, none of which has done particularly good business.
Whole Foods is up the street just one block past Golden Veggie Market. I used to make near-daily trips there. The cashiers knew me and my Kombucha-and-Lara-Bar habits well. Between fresh flowers and Honey Crisp apples and that devilish deli of theirs, I used to spend a fair chunk of change there. They don't call it "Whole Paycheck" for nothing.
And then, walking up the hill with my shopping bag one day, I realized that if I simply shifted every dollar I drop at this national corporation (which is doing just fine making ends meet, with or without my few pennies) to the scrappy little Chinese grocery on the corner (which offers much the same organic produce at much lower rates), I could make a world of difference in a few folks' lives, easily, on the regular.
This feels like yoga to me.
This feels like Guru Vishnu.
This feels like the teacher present in everything mundane.
I love that.
In theological circles, we call this "walking the walk" praxis. (It's not a coincidence that that word sounds a heckuva lot like practice.) Praxis means taking our spiritual beliefs, whatever they might be, out of the realm of the ethereal and into the realm of the real. Making them tangible, lived-in, present.
So, for me, praxis today will mean spending thirty bucks at a locally-run business, with the hopes that it might be able to survive. It feels subversive, this, looking out for the little guy. Putting money into this struggling new shop (bustling with hopeful energy, for sure, but still fighting against tough odds, particularly with the corporate behemoth up the street staring down its little indie neck) means that I understand what it's like to effort, to have a dream, to try to make that dream a reality, and one that maybe even pays the bills. Because I have been there, in different but parallel ways. And the yoga teaches us that we are one — that your struggle is mine, and mine is yours, and there is no separation. This means, of course, that your success is also mine, and my ease is also yours.
And so, suddenly, as all things do, it just becomes about compassion.
So we lift one another up. In small ways.
Even if that just means becoming a little more conscious about from whom we buy our cherries.
This is what Sri Aurobindo meant when he said: All life is yoga.
Holler out to Guru Vishnu, baby.
Guru Brahma Guru Vishnu
Guru Devo Maheshwara
Guru Sakshath Parambrahma
Tasmai Shri Gurave Namaha