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The Most Honorable Host

Yoga teachings point out the big mistakes we all live by. One of the biggest is the mistake of confusing guest with host. In speaking of host, we are not referring to having your in-laws come stay with you for the night. We are talking about the Big Host. The Big Host is the one who accommodates us all, who provides the space and time for all things everywhere to arise. The Big Host is always bigger than we think, bigger than we can imagine. This host is not limited in scope to your house or mine but is everywhere. The Big Host is always permissive. It never judges what enters its domain. It doesn’t delineate between black or white, old or young, Arab or Jew, beautiful or ugly. It simply admits. Now each of us gets bamboozled, believing that we are host. Our small I assumes that it is the emcee and presumes to lord over its own private patch. What we don’t realize is that our short-lived, small self is but a guest of the magnificent host that provides for all.

We get it wrong (called avidya in yoga, meaning literally “not seeing”) and this is a source of big time suffering. Preoccupied with our own hostliness, we get stuck in hubris, become fixated by control, and so gobble up the planet and all its resources. Blind to the Big Host we deem our needs and desires to be most important. The assumption that you or I am host is a real snafu in judgement. There are many practices to help clear up this muddle. You could chant the name of God 108 times, meditate with a wide open heart and mind, study Zen koans or take to heart Krishna’s cues from the Bhagavad Gita, “for those whose thoughts have entered into me, I am the liberator from the ocean of suffering.” At some point, we sense the presence of the Big Host. This is a marvelous moment, for we can stop pretending we are host. What a relief! The tricky part is that the Big Host has no form, no size, no shape or color. That’s what makes it the Big Host! If it were not unbounded and perpetual, if it were made of bone, plastic or steel, it would be but another guest, inseparable from the myriad things of the world.

So each day remember that you are a guest in the eyes of the Big Host. And like a good guest, move through the world with gratitude and respect. Be considerate and grateful that the Big Host is here providing for you. And everyday after practice, when you bring your two hands together and bow, bow with reverence to the Big Host that entertains us all.

Alchemy + Aim