Eben Oroz: Yoga Teacher

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Bio:

My name is Eben Oroz. "The world is moving. There is a current. There is a direction.  Dear friend, we all feel this dance. It is our path pulling us. But where? I believe to spirit. I believe to self. But the road is long and it is filled with lessons. Sometimes the lessons bite and we suffer. But in that we grow. On the way we meet our forgotten comrades. We learn to see each other again. They teach us. We teach them. We walk together and then go our separate ways, trusting when the time is right our paths will again surely cross. Eventually we learn to trust the path, despite its pits and its thorns. Through our cuts and bruises we learn to understand. To understand is to love, sit with this and the current will slow. Stillness is now your teacher and silence is your lesson. Take a breath to remember what it is you are. Now, where to go from here?"

That is my yoga. It is symbolic and in that drenched with personal meaning. It is a constellation of understandings. It is my life in new expressions. It is the invisible within me emoting. It is metaphor. It is a very wise fruit tree fruiting for the season. It is my heart felt through my body, my body perceived by my mind, my mind found within my soul. It is infinite access. It is a place of deep remembrance where I can learn to approach my truths. Yoga is intelligent. It is a tool to decipher the unconscious zones of the self. It is a path through the many hues of our suffering. It is the liberation of the human spirit and the recognition of the world’s luminosity.

What do I do best?

My most practiced skill has become discrimination. In sanskrit discrimination is viveka, a necessary quality for the yogi, or anyone fascinated with touching the heart of the world. The metaphor is a swan whose beak can separate milk from water. Life, is brilliant for its diversity, but because the personal mind is often narrowed by opinions and delusions of “rightness” and “wrongness”, life can often be muddled and its expressive range can often be dulled. I’ve found that discriminating between Mind and experience is the greatest use of viveka. To know the difference between what experiences, which is the innermost self, and any form of experience, which even includes the experiencing of our most personal and secret thoughts and emotions, has proven to be the critical component in the attempt of fathoming the personal bliss of raw being. To know where the water ends and the milk begins is invaluable because our secret perfection waits where the mind meets the world.

What makes me the best version of my self?

My best version of self is defined by a capacity to grow. But growth is tethered to death. Considering mortality as a whole is what inspires me to act. To act is what, in time, leads to change, and change is what leads to a peak expression. When I remember that this game of being is mortal and will most certainly end, I remember how deeply I wish to play and play well. I don’t solely define mortality by the inevitability of the end, but equally, mortality is defined by the inevitability of beginnings. The fact I, as do all things, have a beginning most be actively remembered. Mortality permits a reality of new beginnings! As I consider the miracle of reality as a billion year creative engine, generating new forms of existence across every domain and in that destroying previous incarnations of itself, I feel more aligned to the fundamental qualities of existence, birth, and death. To be better I must destroy the aspects that are “lesser”.  That is the mechanism of evolution, which only occurs in the immediate moment. That recognition of life’s generative and destructive game instantly infuses me with the urgency to take advantage of this moment I know as life and Self. Then, with the perfect dose of neuroticism and impetus to become more, I can make a small step just slightly beyond what I seem to be. At the end, my best is defined by the continued willingness to fall into a process of personal and partial reincarnation.

What are my aspirations?

Of course, there are surface aspirations like personal love, career success, travel, creative passion, and happiness, but there are more interesting aspirations that bubble below the surface. One is, I have the sense that I have forgotten something very important along the way. There is an intrinsic feeling of exile or aloneness, which in turn leaves me in the midst of great journey back to what I feel is a sort of home. There is the feeling that I am not recognizing a key aspect of myself or of life and in that suffer the imploding sense of an emptiness. This forgetting, that I presume we all feel to a degree, is the seed of all discontent. Yoga equates this amnesia which leads to any form of distress with the idea of maya, illusion. The illusion is three fold, life is deranged because I resist too many things, I cling to too many things, and I identify myself to these things that I push away and/or hold far too closely. Now life is distorted because I am disconnected from the whole. Wholeness is the home. The hilarity is I never left, I never was apart, but within the “illusion” it feels as though I have and was. How can I share it but poetically; While I have a name it is forgotten, while I have a body it is not now, as I speak and act, reach and push, what is the center of this thing I falsely hold as elsewhere? I aspire to know the center of my being as abstract as it may be. Yoga supports the feat of opening a mind to absorb the rays of an invisibly effulgent reality whose completion is dependent on the very person who ferociously hopes there is something more to find.

What is my greatest success?

It is odd, so odd, at least to me, because of where I started; but my greatest success is that now I can only see the world as alive. I can speak to the trees and converse with the stars. The word God, which before was nothing, now is understood. I smirk at how I didn’t see it before. The yogic term that proved to be the bridge to understanding this is mahat, the cosmic mind. The logic is simple enough, I have a mind like mine, and we, as humans, have minds like ours because sentience is rooted in the fabrics of reality. The trees grow the way they grow because there is mind within their code. There is time and space, gravity and laws of light and radiation, truths of atomic and cellular interaction because there is mind within every set and subset of life. Once I was able to tiptoe outside the territories of hyper-rationality I could begin to intuit a language that whispered to me an idea. You are alive because life is alive. You are conscious because life is conscious. Life is not human but life is too conscious. It speaks, not English or French or Hindi or Latin, but it speaks. What a success to learn the language of the world. What a blessing to feel the world is speaking! What a joy to befriend the world itself!  

My most challenging moment?

I went to India in a naïve pursuit of enlightenment. I mapped the models of the avatars and sages onto my journey. I would walk the Ganges River from the South to North. I would sleep in the streets or on the banks. It would be challenging. I would be wild and strong but focused and clear. I would encounter danger but rise to the threat with noble courage. I would befriend the world and reach the lotus of soul. This was the romantic story I built. This is what the stories inadvertently told me to do. This is how someone becomes a Buddha. None of this happened. I meandered through the guts of Calcutta. I saw a peoples’ will to survive. I saw fatigue and poverty. I saw depth and curiosity. I saw another way. I was lost and away from the river, whose banks were inaccessible anyways. The holy river was dominated by the city, its banks where the property of police and military compounds. When I finally walked out of the city and had the opportunity to run into the forest a voice inside my head spoke very clearly.  I was staring into green. Layer after layer of green. “Go into that forest and you will die tonight.” I stepped away, wounded in heart and mind. The challenge was defeat. The bitterness was that there were journeys I wasn’t able to take. There were dreams I wasn’t strong enough to pull into reality. The challenge was admittance. I am small and the journey is more than what I will ever be.  

My Motto?

I have a few poems that have become personal mantras. One of my favorites is about a boy’s encounter with a shark. In my dreams, especially when they were more lucid, I would always encounter sharks. In these dreams I’d find myself swimming in the middle of the ocean with atmospheres of dark blue mystery beneath me. Then, the thought of danger rose. The unknown always came with teeth. This poem, this personal mantra, it reminds me to stay curious enough to consider that what seems to be an enemy may in truth be a friend.

Upon a tiny wooden ship barely big enough for me I see adventure swimming, its fin rising from the deep. Its black eyes are hunting, hoping endlessly, that from above the waves will come and adventurer to seize.

My Role Models?

When I think of role models I think of ideals, which makes me think of idols. As a yogi I am weary of ideals. The final expression of classical yoga seems to be a dismantling of hierarchy, in that there can be no ideals; no person is greater than another. All are teachers, equivalent in all regards. The method would then be to find the role model within everybody. So, I try to find models of growth within everything I encounter. I believe that is the most experienced form of the sadhaka, the student. Still, I have many, many heroes whom I do idolize. I’ve been collecting heroes my entire life, steadily absorbing these archetypes into my identity. These heroes range from Ninja Turtles and Batman to the Pharaohs of Egypt, from the artists of the Renaissance to my friends and my family, scientists, philosophers, psychologists, activists, sages, poets, warriors, dancers, myths and mythmakers, parents, children, mountains, trees, lightning, stars, hunters and prey, even the violent monsters of current and distant history, from who we have all learned what never to become.  When a person authentically interacts with life itself as the teacher that person is experiencing Ishvarapranidhana, which is the willed appreciation of life as a guiding force. From that current, the concept of ideals is unconstrained and free to be mapped onto each and every leaf that is moving with the same current, on the same river, to the same ocean, for the same lesson; to be as we are.  

My Favorite Place?

The world is beautiful but the mind that holds the world is even more beautiful. Indisputably, my most cherished place is my mind. The mind is my zone of authentic sacredness because it is mine and mine alone and also, because it is an infinity that is equivalent to the universe itself. Speaking to the first reason, there is a quality of privilege when I shut my eyes and tread into mind because, again, none but I can enter it. If I am destined or supposed to reach into anything, shouldn’t it be the one thing that only I can reach into? In regards to the second reason, the mind is infinite as infinite as the universe. Its not just the sheer magnitude of neurons that compose the brain but the number of connections each neuron is capable of establishing that catapults its complexity into the realms of divinity. And that is my own cosmos to experience directly. Once I learned to see its patterns and recognize its mechanisms, which took time in meditation, I could marvel at its perceivable majesty. Memories transforming into fantasies, inspiring epiphanies that support the moment at hand, which manifests into subtle judgments and fast-moving emotions that cyclically pull me to remember something new. The third eye, Agna Chakra, is practically considered to be this ability to introspect and reflect upon the Self with specific keenness. To clearly “see” my mind is when the mind is known. Then the mind and its thoughts and emotions play out like a night sky far more alive than the night sky my eyes perceive, where every star is attached to a thousand stars and each star holds a history and future personal to the emotional story of my life.

My favorite product?

It has to be my phone. I’m always using it! In moments of contemplation, embedded in the timeline of technology, I know my phone to be a pinnacle expression of humanities’ genius. It connects me personally to the conversation of the era. There’s not much that I need to say. I’m sure most of us must feel similarly. The pleasure of this question was realizing, because I didn’t, how much I appreciate my phone. Ironically, it’s my unrestrained and certainly conditioned love for it, which turns into impulsive obsession that nurtures my sense of apprehension towards the device. We can love too much. Raga, is the sanskrit term. Addiction, clinging, grasping. My attachment to my phone is, however, the fruit of a grander love affair between technology and myself. My phone is a personal arrowhead, a piece of flint carved to help me master my environment, to help me navigate the world. It is a bridge to my family and friends and in that a tool to support my heart. It is an access point to the collective thoughts and conversations of our generation and in that a tool for my mind. I like to think of kings and shaman of history, what magic my little phone with a voice of its own would seem to be.

My Current Passion?

My current passion is still yoga. As I practice this archaic attitude the world seems to respond. The response is mundane because the divine is elusive. It all hides. This cat and mouse between seeker and truth is the great game, Lila. As much as I’ve learned I know there is much left to realize, much more to unveil. I’ve steadily been building the confidence to define what yoga is to me, as to give me my specific direction. I’ve come to the conclusion that the theorized quality of the first yogi’s mind, the Adiyogi, must be remarkably more conscious than our own. I won’t diminish the mythical consequence of this practice to serve my complacency and skepticism. From what I can tell; this mind would be a thoughtfully constructed shrine built of only the highest quality cognitions. Every virtuous thought would be adorned with focus and sensitivity so as it orients to the innermost stillness of the truthfully objective Self, that consciousness would be worthy of what it was looking for. It’s own being. Inside the center of this awareness there would be a door made of stillness and silence, invisible to most. This door would lead to the reality of “I am the world.” Sat. Truth. Ahambhramasmi. I am that. There is another mantra to describe this journey. Asato ma sad gamaya. Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya. Mrityor ma amritam gamaya. Lead me from untruth to truth, darkness to light, mortality to immortality. There’s nothing that can compete with the potential that this practice of consciousness holds. I also love the added romance of thinking I’ve been playing this game of hide and seek for lifetimes.