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V for Victory - The Downwards Triangle

Stephen in Wide-Legged Headstand at sunset in Pathos

Here I am in Wide-Legged Headstand from my trip to Pathos, at sunset. The wide-legged version evokes the ‘V’ symbol, famously used by Churchill to evoke victory. A ‘V’ is also a depiction of a downwards triangle, used in alchemy and yantras to depict the force, grace, or blessings, that flow down like water, whereas the upwards triangle, as in a pyramid, depicts the upwards journey of ascension, like fire. Inverted poses like the handstand are sometimes called Upside Down Tree Pose, evoking the eternal tree of the Upanishads, which is said to have its roots in heaven and its branches down on earth, in contrast to the tree of life, which flows up, in fractal patterns, transforming earth into life forms, like the rising of the kundalini. The eternal tree flows down, reminding us that we live by grace, and grace alone. It’s fascinating that when you get into inverted poses, particularly supported ones like the headstand, you instantly get the feeling of letting go, and letting flow, as if suspended in space. The great jnani yogi of India, Sri Ramana Maharshi, said that there is a journey of ascent, as our energy seems to flow upwards, in deep meditation, but then there is a journey of descent, back into the heart, as we finally let go of our mind/body identity. Similarly, Satyananda Saraswati of Bihar says, in his writing, that there is a kundalini that flows up and a kundalini that flows down. In the Shri Chakra Yantra you see these two journeys depicted as downwards triangles superimposed on upwards triangles, and this is the basis for the Star of David—a Hexagram. The Western spiritual tradition emphasises this downward flow, calling it the flow of Prophecy, and the Eastern tradition emphasises the upwards flow, as the search for enlightenment. For a complete life, we need both sides of the coin—the effort to lift ourselves up, and the grace to let ourselves go.

 

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