Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Shark God

A Tale of Compassion

This month’s story comes to us from the great island of Hawaii. Here is a brief summary, I don't want to give away the whole story as  it has a special aspect one should experience when hearing/reading it in its entirety.  You can find several versions online, the book we used for our adaptation is by Rafe Martin.

North Regional Yogis
Side angle pose/descending the cliff

Imaginative paintings

Our Story begins with two brothers who have been taught by their father, a temple caretaker, to respect and care for the people, plants, and animals that live upon the earth. One day they discover a shark tangled in a net and courageously set about freeing it. 

Thrilled with their accomplishment they rush to the village filled with revelry and begin beating on the High Chief’s drums. In their excitement the boys forget that the drums are forbidden to be touch by anyone other than the High Chief. The Chief has the boys captured and imprisoned. Their father hears of their fate and rushes to beg forgiveness, but the Chief is an intolerant man and refuses. He leaves the compound disheartened and begins seeking counsel from wise men but no one is willing to help. Exhausted he eventually enters the cave of the fearsome Shark God to ask for assistance. This is his last hope. The Shark God listens. Compassion arises in the Shark God and a plan is set in motion. Days past and suddenly a wicked storm descends upon the valley flooding the prison. The boys are freed and swim to a floating gate where a shark begins guiding them to shore. There they find their father waiting with open arms at the temple that has been untouched by the storm.
South Regional Yogis
Chair pose/ becoming lightning

Compassion is the sacred energy that flows through us to each and every living thing in the universe. Compassion allows us to feel a sense of oneness with all of life. It is cultivated by our personal experience through physical, mental, and emotional hardships. The hardships of life are meant to soften us. With an open heart we can perceive the suffering of others. Compassion is the ability to relate to others on a level where we make connections. We each have our own challenges and struggles, our stories, and it is easy to forget we are connected one to another.  

The Yoga Sutra 1:33 roughly says, “The mind become peaceful as one radiates friendliness, compassion, delight, and equanimity toward all things, whether pleasant or painful.”

Compassion is the emotional, feeling side of our nature. Compassion is made up of two words, ‘co’ meaning together and ‘passion’ meaning strong feeling. When we can see someone in distress and feel their pain as our own, this is compassion.

Here are a few poses to cultivate compassion when working with this story. 

warrior II – boys courage to show compassion
high lunge- father begs the High Chief to be compassionate
goddess- compassion naturally arises in the Shark God
gate pose- shark compassionately guides the gate

Namaste and may compassion flow through you.

Moving Tale; Kathe and Melanie, tandem yoga storytellers