Tales of Loss and Love
Tisha B'Av 5771/2011
KOSHER SUTRA Why was the Second Temple destroyed? …Because of hatred without rightful cause. BT Talmud Yoma 9b
SOUL SOLUTION Rebalance the world through unlimited love
BIBLIYOGA POSE Lotus or seated
BODY BENEFITS Become grounded, lengthen the spine and open the hips
We have all experienced the loss of something precious to us. Whether it is a treasured relative, a pet, a friend or a keepsake, we know what it is like to suddenly feel a sense of loss.
What is more challenging is when we have lost something but don’t even realise it is missing.
We are now in the middle of Tisha B’Av, the ninth day of the month of Av that marks a 25-hour fast to commemorate the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. These hours offer a powerful opportunity to find something that we are all missing.
‘The Temple’ can be read as a code for ‘Universal Balance’. It was seen as a centre of spiritual light for the entire world and there is the description of window spaces in the brickwork that were designed in the reverse to most windows of the era. Rather than being wide on the outside and thinner on the inside, in order to capture the light on its way in, the Temple was built in the reverse. The windows were wide on the inside and narrow on the outside, because the building was seen as a container of powerful spiritual light that emanated to the entire world. How ironic that the place which had the potential to be a light unto the nations is now in the heart of an age-old conflict. But it is never too late. The rabbis teach that when the Temple is eventually rebuilt, the entire world will experience an unprecedented level of harmony and balance. This is Isaiah’s vision of the wolf living with the lamb and swords being beaten into ploughshares; we will see peace in our days.
Goodness knows we need it. These 25 hours are a time to remind ourselves of what we are missing; Universal Balance. Of course, we distract ourselves from remembering. Every email, tweet, facebook update, sms message serves to numb us to the balance that our society is missing. But we are still missing it.
Yoga is all about balance. When the mind is in pain, a yoga practice will be thrown off-centre. When we are internally distracted, it is hard to focus within the postures. When our ego drives us to get into postures we are not ready for, the body usually responds with a sharp sense of pain. When we are lethargic and avoid engaging in a practice, our body usually sends us a clear message that we are not doing enough. There is nothing easy or laid-back about yoga: if we choose to listen closely to our practice, the four sides of our mat reveal our negative traits, our bad behaviours and show us what we are avoiding. Our postures reveal what is missing in our lives - for example, we may need more discipline or we may need more relaxation, depending on the individual – and once we have identified what is missing, we can start rebuilding from there.
How do we achieve Universal Balance?
To find an answer, we’ll look to the Talmudic statement that explains how we lost it:
The concept of Tzinat Chinam, of baseless hatred, is something you may well be familiar with. But how many of us have overcome it? If this is what threw the world out of balance, it is also what can bring everything back into line.
Just as every posture has a counter-posture, there is a counterpart to baseless hatred. Ahavat Chinam is unlimited love.
Easy to say, hard to do.
To truly love members of our family who annoy us. To be genuinely friendly to members of our community who rub us the wrong way. To open our arms to people who don’t express any warmth. To step down from attacking – even in thought or speech – nations who we are taught to hate. And most difficult of all, to switch off that internal voice that says ‘you’re not enough’, and to love ourselves.
Easy to say, hard to do.
The first stage of the yogic journey is Ahimsa, non-violence. To truly step down from the fight, whether it is internal or external.
The asana to be practiced during these 25 hours of Tisha B’Av is to sit on the floor, whilst focusing on what we are missing. How would your world be better if you had peaceful relations with all of your family, your community, your enemies? How would your world be better if you had continual peace within?
“We look forward to the time when the Power of Love will replace the Love of Power. Then will our world know the blessings of Peace” (William E. Gladstone, 1809-1898).
Wishing you an easy and meaningful fast.