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More Auspicious and Holy Time, II (the Tuesday post) April 28, 2021

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in Uncategorized.
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“Ramadān Mubarak, Blessed Ramadān!” to anyone who is observing the month of Ramadan. “Happy Ridván!” to those celebrating the “the Most Great Festival.” Many blessings, also, to those who are celebrating Chaitra Purnima (Tithi) / Hanuman Jayanti (and the Pink Super Moon), as well as those who are Counting the Omer and those who are observing the last week of Great Lent.

[This is a post related to Tuesday, April 27th. You can request an audio recording of this practice via a comment below or (for a slightly faster reply) you can email me at myra (at) ajoyfulpractice.com.

In the spirit of generosity (“dana”), the Zoom classes, recordings, and blog posts are freely given and freely received. If you are able to support these teachings, please do so as your heart moves you. (NOTE: You can donate even if you are “attending” a practice that is not designated as a “Common Ground Meditation Center” practice, or you can purchase class(es). Donations are tax deductible; class purchases are not necessarily deductible.)

Check out the “Class Schedules” calendar for upcoming classes.]

 

“The moon has always been a prominent feature in the religious and cultural history of every culture in the world. Naturally, this is because it is one of the biggest, brightest things visible to the human eye. Considering the ease with which humans can observe a lunar cycle, it was practical centuries ago to establish a timekeeping method based on the moon.”

 

 

– quoted from the Medium article, “How the Moon Made the Calendar” by Sandhya Ramesh (posted Dec. 7, 2016)

Time is, in many ways, a human construct; it is a measurement, a contract (if you will) which we use to define and delineate “the indefinite continued progress of existence and events.” Time is how people know when to plant certain things; when they can expect to harvest those things… and when to show up for our virtual yoga practice on Zoom – even when people are in different time zones. And you may be thinking, “Myra, there’s nothing arbitrary about time. Let me break down the science….” And your scientific breakdown might be as follows:

The Earth revolves around its axis and also revolves around the Sun. Simultaneously, the Moon revolves around revolves around the Earth, as it revolves around the Sun. We use the first type of revolution to determine periods of “time” we call “day” and “night.” We use the second type of revolution to designate a period known as a “year” and we sort of use the third to establish the period of “time” we call a “month.”

 And if you broke time down for me like this, I would say, “Yes, that’s how we’ve agreed to understand (and describe) time… if we’re using the Gregorian calendar.”

It is true that a good majority of people in the United States base most of their lives around a single calendar: the Gregorian calendar. Sometimes called “New Style” calendar, it is a solar dating system that was first implemented in Roman Catholic governed countries during the fall of 1582. It replaced the Julian calendar and was calculated so that religious holidays would occur within the same season. The months of the Gregorian calendar do not exactly correspond with the moon phases, which is why we have “Blue Moons” (a second full moon within a calendar month). Even though it has been widely accepted as a “secular” calendar, there are at least 40 calendars being used by a large number of people in the world at any given time.

I often describe calendars as “solar” or “lunar,” but the truth is there are four clear designations: solar, lunar, lunisolar (sometimes called solilnar), and season. As their names suggests, solar calendars are based on how the Earth revolves around the Sun; lunar calendars are focused on how the Moon revolves around the Earth; and the lunisolar/solilunar calendars are a hybrid that include the phases of the moon. One of the most common solilunar calendars is the Chinese calendar, which has twelve months that fall within a 12-year cycle, with an intercalary month every 2 – 3 years.

Seasonal calendars are based on perceived environmental changes and often have a close tie to one of the other designations. For instance, the Aztec calendar was a complicated calendar centered around agriculture and religious observations and included “empty days” when nothing was done. Other American cultures tied the seasons to what happened during certain moon phases. For instance, the current full moon is known as a “super moon” because the rotations of the Earth and the Moon places the Moon at a proximity that makes it appear bigger to the naked eye. According to seasonal calendars – like those of the First Nations and Indigenous American cultures – this particular moon is designated as the “Pink Moon” because of certain pink wildflowers that blossom around this time of year.

“This name came from the herb moss pink, or wild ground phlox, which is one of the earliest widespread flowers of the spring. Other names for this month’s celestial body include the Full Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon, and among coastal tribes the Full Fish Moon, because this was the time that the shad swam upstream to spawn.”

 

– quoted from Farmers’ Almanac

One of the oldest calendars is the Mayan calendar, which dates back to (at least) 5th Century BCE and is actually a combination of three different dating systems – the Tzolki’n (divine calendar); the Haab’ (civil calendar); and the Long Count, which is a set of repeating “Calendar Round” dates based on the previous two calendars. Because of its intricate design, the overall Mayan calendar system is solar, lunar, planetary, and seasonal (based on human cycles). It is one of the most accurate calendars in history.

There are several calendars used in India and Southeast Asia which may be referred to as the Hindu calendar (or, in some cases the Buddhist calendar). For the most part, these are lunisolar calendars. Some, like those used in Nepal and certain regions of India, emphasize the lunar cycles and start with the (spring) harvest season. On the flip side, the Tamil calendar emphasizes the solar cycle and begins around the Vernal (Spring) Equinox. (In fact, I have seen the Tamil calendar described as a purely solar calendar.)

The Indian calendars tend to have twelve months, however, in some areas (particularly in the North) a month begins the day after a full moon and in other areas (often in the South) the month begins at sunrise after the “no moon” or new moon. The months are usually divided into the bright half (waxing, when the crescent appears after the new moon) and the darker half (waning, the day after the full moon). Because of the different starting points, the same lunar-oriented religious holidays may start at slightly different times throughout the continent. Additionally, the official observation of a Full Moon Day like today’s Chaitra Purnima (Tithi) overlaps with religious celebrations like Hanuman Jayanti, the birthday of the Monkey King Hanuman. Similar to the celebration of Rama Navami at the end of Chaitra Navaratri, Hanuman Jayanti is celebrated with prayers and fasting, kirtan and other forms of bhakti yoga, and readings of sacred text that honor the glorious and humble heroics of Hanuman. Some people will also make donations on this day to honor the way Hanuman assisted those in need throughout the epic poem the Rāmāyana.

“Lord Ram gave Hanuman a quizzical look and said, ‘What are you, a monkey or a man?’ Hanuman bowed his head reverently, folded his hands and said, ‘When I do not know who I am, I serve You and when I do know who I am, You and I are One.’”

 

– quoted from the epic Sanskrit poem Ramacharitmanas (Lake of the Deeds of Rama) by Goswami Tulsidas

 

According to the Hebrew calendar, another solilunar (or lunisolar) calendar with 12 months, we are in the middle of the year 5781. This calendar was one of the inspirations for the Gregorian calendar – in part because it is calculated so that religious holidays occur during the same season every year. The Hebrew calendar has extra intercalary months every three years (so leap months instead of leap years) and, like many of the other calendars described here, its origins are oriented around a particular religious/spiritual event. In the case of the Hebrew calendar, that origin point is Creation.

One distinct difference between the Hebrew calendar and some of the other calendars in wide use around the world is that the beginning of the calendar and the beginning of the year are not the same. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year and the beginning of the Ten Days of Awe, actually occurs in the fall at the beginning of the calendar’s seventh month. The calendar itself begins in the spring – after a new moon associated with the ripening of barley. Passover occurs in the middle of this first month and, beginning on the second night of Passover, some members of the Jewish community (particularly those in Orthodox traditions and those who practice Jewish mysticism) begin Counting the Omer.

As I have previously mentioned, Counting the Omer occurs over a period of 49 days (so 7 days for 7 weeks) and each day and week is associated with an element of the Divine that is found of the Tree of Life. This week the overall focus is Hod, (“humility” or “gratitude” or “splendor” or “glory”) which is associated with the left hip and leg. It is, in many ways, this is the attribute of being full present, of making space for others, and of listening to others. Like a good majority of religious observations, sunset marks the beginning of a new day – which means at least one of my classes overlaps Days 30 and 31: strength within humility and balance (or harmony) within humility.

“REACHING OUT vs WELCOMING IN

There is a part of us that forces actions, pushing ourselves out into the world, garnering attention, getting clients, bring about changes, and there is a part of us that allows things to happen. That makes space for people to come to us. Where Moses / Netzach-Endurance is reaching out to someone to pull them close to us, Aaron / Hod-humility is the part that opens our arms to welcome someone close to us in a hug.”

 

 

– quoted from The Kabbalah Sutras: 49 Steps to Enlightenment by Marcus J. Freed

“Splendor” and “Glory” are actually the English translations for the first two months (and days) of the solar calendar used by people within the Bahá’í community. The Bahá’í calendar has 19 months with 19 days – each named for one of the 19 names/attributes of God. There are 4 or 5 intercalary days that occur just before the final month and these days are considered “transcendent” in nature. This calendar is partially tied to the Gregorian calendar, in that days on each calendar always correspond with each other; however, the Bahá’í calendar is very much focused around its own historical liturgy. Hence, 2021 is the year 178 BE (Bahá’í  Era).

Tuesday night marks the end of the second month – so we move from “Glory” to “Beauty” – and is extra auspicious because it marks the beginning of the ninth day of the twelve-day festival of Ridván, “the Most Great Festival.” The ninth day is considered one of the three most auspicious days of the year (along with the first and twelfth), because it corresponds with the day in 1863 when the family of Bahá’u’lláh (the founder of the faith) joined him in the Najíbíyyih Garden just outside of Bagdad before he was exiled to Constantinople.

The Hijri calendar, also known as the Islamic calendar, is a pure lunar calendar and is perhaps the most utilized lunar calendar in the world. Each month begins with the visual sighting of the crescent moon AFTER each new moon and each day begins at sunset. The Hijri year is shorter than the Gregorian year, which is why the holy month of Ramadān (currently being observed) occurs at different times on the Gregorian calendar. (NOTE: There is also a Solar Hijri calendar, which is the official calendar in Iran and Afghanistan – it predates the Gregorian calendar AND is one of the most accurate solar calendars since it is based on astronomical measurements rather than mathematical calculations.)

Finally, there are people around the world who may use the Gregorian calendar for business dealings and are also Christian, but use a different calendar for their holy observations. They use the “Old Style” Julian calendar or a “New Style” revised Julian calendar, both of which are solar calendars. As a result, there are Orthodox Christians and Christians within Eastern traditions who are only now observing the Holy Week known as the last week of Jesus’ life.

Similar to how Passover and (Western) Easter occur in close proximity of one another even though they are based on different calendars, the Eastern/Orthodox observation of Great Lent and Easter often occur within a week or so of the other holy observations. However, remember that one of the reasons behind the calendar reformation was to keep the religious holidays within the same seasons. This “slippage” means the Julian calendar adds a day every 128 years, and that adds up – which is part of the reason why Great Lent and Easter are almost exactly a month after Lent and Easter. Another reason for the disconnect is that Western Christians exclude Sunday from their 40-day count, while Eastern/Orthodox Christians include Sundays in their count. (NOTE: While I am focusing on the calendar timeline at the moment, there are some definite liturgical differences in the way different traditions observe this significantly holy period. These differences include the liturgical timeline.)

“Contrary to what many think or feel, Lent is a time of joy. It is a time when we come back to life. It is a time when we shake off what is bad and dead in us in order to become able to live, to live with all the vastness, all the depth, and all the intensity to which we are called. Unless we understand this quality of joy in Lent, we will make of it a monstrous caricature, a time when in God’s own name we make our life a misery.

 

This notion of joy connected with effort, with ascetical endeavour, with strenuous effort may indeed seem strange, and yet it runs through the whole of our spiritual life, through the life of the Church and the life of the Gospel. The Kingdom of God is something to be conquered. It is not simply given to those who leisurely, lazily wait for it to come. To those who wait for it in that spirit, it will come indeed: it will come at midnight; it will come like the Judgement of God, like the thief who enters when he is not expected, like the bridegroom, who arrives while the foolish virgins are asleep.”

 

 

– quoted from “An Introduction to Lent” (dated February 17, 1968) by Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

 

Tuesday’s playlist is available on YouTube and Spotify.

 

Come On, Kiss My (Half Moon) Asana!!

Yes, yes, it’s that time again! The 8th Annual Kiss My Asana yogathon benefits Mind Body Solutions, which was founded by Matthew Sanford to help those who have experienced trauma, loss, and disability find new ways to live by integrating both mind and body. Known for their adaptive yoga classes, MBS provides “traditional yoga” classes, workshops, and outreach programs. They also train yoga teachers and offer highly specialized training for health care professionals. This year’s yogathon is only a week long! Seven days, starting yesterday (Saturday), to do yoga, share yoga, and help others. By participating in the Kiss My Asana yogathon you join a global movement, but in a personal way. In other words, you practice yoga… for 7 days. And you can start today!!

The yogathon raises resources and awareness. So, my goal this year is to post some extended prāņāyāma practices and to raise $400 for Mind Body Solutions. You can do yoga starting today. You can share yoga be inviting a friend to one of my classes or by forwarding one of the blog posts. You can help others by donating or, if you are not able to donate, come to class Saturday – Wednesday (or request a class you can do on your own) and practice the story poses on Thursday and Friday so that I can make a donation on your behalf.

You can add 5 minutes of yoga (or meditation) to your day; you can learn something new about your practice; or even teach a pose to someone close to you – or even to one of your Master Teachers/Precious Jewels. You can see how many “moon” related yoga experiences you can mindfully fit into your practice. (Keeping in mind that the exhale is the “lunar” breath – and since you need to inhale in order to exhale, you’ll need to counterbalance your poses.)

 

If you are interested, check out last year’s April 27th theme based solely on Gregorian calendar events.

 

### PUT YOUR LIGHTS ON & SHINE BRIGHT (SO THAT OTHERS MAY ALSO SHINE) ###

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