Autumn Faith: Yoga Sutra 1.22

Stepping into Autumn.

Last Friday I walked through the park to reconcile myself to autumn.

Usually I don’t have much of a problem with the seasons changing, but this year, for some reason, I’m grumpy about the seasons. I don’t want winter to come. I want to bask in the warmth and new green of summer.

But the trees aren’t bright baby green anymore. They’re changing to golden rust. This very week the trees in Pittsburgh are changing.

I don’t deal well with change.

One of the ways I do deal with change is through yoga. In my practice, I have been cultivating the ability to notice change in my body and not judge it. Notice if one side of my body feels tighter than another. If I feel a knot next to my shoulder blade. If my neck is holding tension. If my heart feels grumpy. If my heart feels breezy.

Then when I notice change, I breathe.

So on Friday I took a walk to notice the leaves in Schenley Park and breathe. I walked slowly and took pictures.

My creative muse kicked in, and I felt joyful, wanting to write all weekend long.

These two trees: completely different timing.

I noticed that trees change at very different rates. Some of the trees were still fully green, some were fully yellow or red, and most were in between. Even on the trees themselves, the leaves had different pacing. The leaves closer to the sun started changing first.

Then I read the next yoga sutra translated by Desikachar, sutra 1.22: “Inevitably the depth of faith varies with different individuals and at different times with the same individual. The results will reflect these variations.”

Tree leaves. We’re all trees with faith leaves, responding to change in different paces and colors and ways.

In the previous sutras, Desikachar related the efforts of our faith to how well we attain the state of yoga. In a previous post, I talked about how it is the grace of God that allows us to attain the state of yoga.

Romans 12:3 takes this further: “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” This verse suggests that God gives us different measures of faith (measures is a word used by other translations). Various online commentaries link Romans 12:3 with other verses that discuss God’s grace giving us faith.

To be honest, I’m not sure what I think about this idea that we are given different measures of faith. Seems weird and unfair, but then, that might be the oldest child in me speaking. “Fairness” is my middle name, and the world is not fair.

But both Sutra 1.22 and Romans 12:3 discuss faith levels being different.

In people, as in trees, I bet if we could step back and see the gradations as a whole, it’d be just as beautiful as the trees in the fall. We all respond to change and faith beautifully.

Abstract Fall. Photo by Meghan Dupree.
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