Chauffeuring children is chore of great contrasts--a constant drudgery and yet a source a great revelation. Conversations held over shoulders seem to provide a lot more information about offsprings' thoughts and concerns, more so than face to face. Eamonn (4.5 yr.) always has a ton of questions, some completely mundane--Are trucks too big for the carwash?--to very heavy--Where do you go when you die? So, coming up with answers always keeps me on my toes--How did my baby brother get in your tummy? (cough, cough, what? I can't hear you...you're breaking up...)
Not too long ago, he asked, "Is Gram too old to die?" I paused, then answered that, unfortunately Gram was not too old to die, but that our memory of her would live on and on. (My mother later asked, "does he know something I don't?")
I've been thinking about that question, and my answer, in light of the passing of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, the father of Ashtanga Yoga yesterday. It is a very sad time for his family and his followers, and a wistful time for everyone who practices a version of Krishnamacharya's yoga--whether via the teachings of Jois, B.K.S. Iyengar or T.K.V. Desikachar. The longevity of these great "gurujis" is both a testament to the power of the practice they represent to heal and keep the body healthy, but also the reminder of the temporality of the physical self.
That so many students and teachers have found strength and wisdom in their teachings, suggests that each of these mortal men are "too old to die." They have developed and passed on a practice that each yogi out there can refine and modify to suit their physical and mental needs and can make a part of their every living day. So many people have connected to this ancient practice and have learned from these teachers and their acolytes, that it suggests an unbroken chain (yoke?), unaffected by the coming and going of physical bodies.
And yet, even if the soul carries on in a new body, there is still a sense of loss of the old. We reflect and revere the cycle, but mourn the departure of some one truly loved. Eamonn has been asking a lot of questions about these beginnings and endings, and it's been a challenge to explain what I believe, while still leaving the door open for his own thoughts. Too Old to Die? Who knows, but I hope so...