This Loka Hatha Yoga day we undertake two rituals: assembly, and the taking of duties.
The question of the Rig Veda (10, 121) asked of an assembly is "to what god should we devote our oblation?" We may reflect that the answer, Hiranyagarbha, not actually a god. The word means golden egg, or golden womb, and connotes the concepts of gold's unchanging and eternal nature, and the locus of identity, of self. It is neither a being nor not a being, god or otherwise. Most properly speaking, it is a ritual sacrifice, and this sacrifice is not properly devoted to any being, god or otherwise. The sacrifice is of the self. It is accomplished by taking new duties; the old self "dies" or "ceases to be" (self cannot die, as it is not alive, but the limitations of English present challenges without becoming overly verbose). Essentially, this ritual used to confer duty upon one's self is one of redeath and rebirth, it is the locus of identity, of self. It is the origination of all Yoga, the act of creation - and destruction.
Gotama said, "who takes upon themselves a burden that has not fallen to them is a fool. As is the one who doesn’t take up a burden that has fallen to them." (Angutarra Nikaya 2.98).
Taking new duties upon your self requires understanding what self is. Self, or soul, neither exists nor does not exist; it is a manifestation of numerous conditions of consciousness. Consciousness, itself is conditioned by imagination, which is conditioned by perception, which is conditioned by feeling, which is conditioned by form - none of which is self. Just as a flame is not its fuel, but is a result of several conditions: a spark and fuel. By its nature, a flame will self-exhaust its fuel. This is the duty of a flame. By the nature of self, it shall exhaust the conditions that led to its manifestation as well. This is the duty of your self. And every being.
This place is held in common to all, commonly held is its assembly, united in thought, united in purpose! As we sit together, a common purpose has been laid before us, as in a general oblation: let each take their appointed share! Let each be resolved in this: let each permit this unity, let each happily agree to perform their duty and play their part. Now is the time for assembly, the coming together. Now is the time to remember our friendship and our duty. Rig Veda 10, 191
The Hiranyagarbha ritual was first performed in the year 1659, after a remarkable military defeat in which the people needed a new King, one who was of a proper caste (the reason for the military defeat was determined to be that their King was not a warrior). Lacking a King of the proper caste by birth, but unwilling to actually change who was their King, the people, understanding that duty and caste could be changed, desired to perform a ritual of rebirth to mark the reforging of their diplomatic leader as a warrior. This ritual of rebirth did not require redeath. A large cow was built, and the defeated devotee entered into the mouth, and passed through, emerging as a new manifestation, or Avatar, of their former self. Embraced by their Ardhangini, the devotee was then "raised" and instructed in their new duties by their Spouse - much as Kamadeva had been. Full of pomp and ceremony, the new King managed to hold his defeated Kingdom together - for a while longer. Of course, over time, the two warring Kingdoms eventually made peace, and now coexist as friends.
The capacity of any being to adapt and improve themselves, to take on new duties and condition their own success is remarkable. The ability to reforge relationships we have with others is equally amazing. This is an excellent day to consider how best to relate with others, to take time and consider the friendship which naturally evolves out of gathering with someone else. Assembling with a spouse, with a family, with a neighborhood, a city, a nation - assembling with other beings, each assembly conditions friendship. Even long-time and vicious enemies can become friends under the right conditions of association.
But we can also gather ourselves: our body, mind and heart can all be purposed for friendship and love.
In the ritual of assembling, we condition the success of our duty to love. As when, by profound Yoga, we combine our strength of mind, body and heart for a single purpose of love. The act of assembling, the gathering of conditions requisite to the spontaneous achievement of success, the natural fulfillment of our duty - this is the act of creation worthy of our veneration today.
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