Flawed is Beautiful

I took this picture in our new studio in OTR and it has been speaking to me ever since.  I think it might be my favorite part of our new Shala.  What do you see when you look at it?  When I look at it, I see something flawed, gritty, raw, dirty, dark, imperfect, exposed, stripped, and utterly, gloriously, REAL & BEAUTIFUL.  This wall makes me think of our new neighborhood, OTR, the contrast between what this neighborhood used to be, what it is now, and what it will become.  The juxtaposition between all of the new, shiny goings on, the "improvements" to the neighborhood and all of the old, historic, richness that still exists.  OTR wouldn't be what it is now were it not for the old, gritty, flawed, historic richness that is it's foundation.  Our new Shala wouldn't be nearly as cool as it is if we had just come in and wiped away all of the history of the building we now inhabit and filled it with a perfect looking yoga studio.  The wall in this picture wouldn't be nearly as beautiful to me if it didn't contain the juxtaposition between what is new and what is old.  What is clean and what is dirty.  Both our new neighborhood and our new studio need the grit.  Somehow, in someway, it all comes together wonderfully and magically and in this juxtaposition, it is perfection.  To me anyway.  

Beyond thinking of our new Shala and our new neighborhood, this picture makes me think of our new neighbors, (those who have lived here for years and years before it was the cool place to be and those who moved here once it became cool), all of the people that will walk through the doors of our new Shala, and all of the people in my life and myself.  How do I/will I relate to these people?  How do I/will I relate to myself?     

There is a quote from Ram Dass that goes along so perfectly with what I am feeling as I look at this picture...

"I think that part of it is observing oneself more impersonally. I often use this image, which I think I have used already, but let me say it again.  That when you go out into the woods and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You appreciate it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree.  The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying “You’re too this, or I’m too this.” That judging mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are."

The fact of the matter is, we are all flawed, gritty, messy and imperfect.  Those imperfections, flaws and grit though are what make us UNIQUE and REAL and GLORIOUSLY BEAUTIFUL.  Seriously. They are.  In just the same way that our new neighborhood and our new shala are beautiful.  You may be saying to yourself, well I can see how so and so's flaws and imperfection make them beautiful, but MINE, not mine, mine don't make me beautiful.  I can see how this picture of this wall is beautiful, but my own personal messiness is not beautiful.  You are wrong.  As a yogi on a spiritual path, I engage in the practice of Svadyhaya, which means self study.  I try to observe and learn about myself from a non-judgmental point of view.  Then, I take what I have learned and try to improve, to better myself, to handle all the $%&* that life throws at me with more and more grace and dignity.  All this self improvement will never rid me of my flaws and imperfections though, they will always be there, they are my foundation, they are what has led me to this spiritual path in the first place.  In my opinion, this spiritual path, this yogic journey that I am on, or any spiritual path for that matter, should not be about fixing or ridding yourself of all of your flaws and imperfections so that you become the perfect human being, but should be about using them to grow, accepting them for what they are, maybe even celebrating them and being real about them, getting comfortable with them enough to stop judging yourself constantly and to find a way to love yourself as the imperfect yet glorious being that you already are.  To stop trying to hide all that is messy and imperfect about yourself.  Thus, becoming more and more yourself in private and in public, becoming more and more you, more and more your true self at all times, day in and day out. You will become a walking, talking, living, breathing juxtaposition of the "improvements" that may come about from your spiritual journey, coupled with your flawed and real foundation.  You will become YOU.  

Then, you take all of that accepting, non judgement and you apply it to your relationship with all other beings in your life.  You try to see them the way you see this picture, or some other picture that speaks to you.  You love them for and in spite of, their realness, their flaws, their imperfections.  You stop trying to fix the people in your life.  You see that they are all beautiful, living, breathing works of art just like you, just like our new neighborhood, just like this picture. You finally realize and accept that you and all of the other people in your life, all of the other people in the world for that matter, would not be nearly as beautiful as they are right now, if they didn't have that juxtaposition between flaws and realness and beauty.

{contributed by Sarah Crabtree}

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