Discussion with James Traverse
Over the years how has teaching, doing, welcoming, action changed in quality or as processes?
It’s the Yogic journey. There has been the unfolding of James’s journey. I started Yoga looking for another exercise modality and because I was told there were lot of nice looking women in Yoga classes. Even though some of my reasons for entering Yoga were not the highest spiritual reasons, I very quickly felt something about the nature of the practice, the particular shapes we were doing, and the umbrella of Yoga. I understood, even though superficially, that there was a meditative aspect and a spiritual component that offered answers to the deeper questions of life.
I knew there were hints, yet initially I didn’t have any great understanding of what Yoga really had to offer. The teacher I studied with didn’t dwell on much more than the physical aspects for health and well being. It was wonderful exercise and I knew it had some penetrating benefits, but I didn’t know much more than that during the first five years of my practice.
Then on my own I started reading books and exploring ways of meditation and Yogic related forms of meditation. An understanding naturally evolved as I read J. Krishnamurti, David Bohm, and other texts popular at the time. I studied Iyengar Yoga for about fifteen years. There was a natural progression and improvement in my physical abilities. There were some parallel unfoldings of deeper meditative states and understandings of the spiritual nature of things.
The real understanding of the nature of being happened the instant I met Dr. Jean Klein. It seemed like all the work I’d done prior to meeting Jean Klein was preparation. The instant I met this man, on the very first meeting, I clearly saw that here is a representation of the true nature of being and I realized in the same instant that I had been exposed to this quality of being earlier in life in a relationship with my grandmother. She loved me unconditionally. The same quality of experiential being was present with my connection with Jean Klein. So a seed had been planted when I was very young with my grandmother and it fully flowered when I met Jean Klein.
There was a lot of challenge in meeting Jean Klein because the understanding I had prior to that was shattered. I had formed intellectualizations from all the understandings, the readings of all the sages, and the activities of Yoga. When I met Jean, there was nothing that I could intellectualize about what was offered or what he represented. There was a feeling space that to me was an unshakable truth. I could feel it and there was this knowing level of being that he represented and that was awakened in me when I met him.
That was the early 90s. It took another six or eight years before I would say I was established in this understanding. It wasn’t a big upheaval for me. I went through six or eight years of bouncing around in terms of the spiritual understanding and establishing the stillness that is the true nature of being and at the same time finding ways of functioning.
Intellectually I suspected there was an ease to this, but it wasn’t really happening for me for that period of time. And I was trying to teach Yoga and earn my livelihood. The conflict was that I had one foot in the physical camp of Yoga in order to make money, and in my heart I knew that this wassn’t what Yoga has ultimately to offer and what I wanted to offer to people.
How has all this changed over the years?
Some of it has to do with connecting with people in the nonduality scene on the Internet. I could chat with people and see they had similar circumstances to mine and they talked about nonduality. I had a chance to connect with people dealing with life in ways similar to mine and who had come to an understanding of the nature of being.
The change was that I came to a point where the clarity was that the only way I could perceive was to honor this truth that is nondual. I couldn’t any longer teach Yoga in the old way I had been teaching. At the same time, the old way has its merits in terms of the practical, functional way the body follows the laws of natural order. It’s not that I threw that knowledge away, but the orientation of how it would be presented was definitely changed in that I today feel, and for some ten years now, that the true nature of being has to be honored.
All of my life, my Yoga teaching and relationships of whatever manner are all based on that understanding, and that is the way I conduct things today. All the people I got to meet on the Internet are celebrated as friends and people with whom I can share this understanding, yet at the same time there are folks I meet in everyday life who have yet to come to their own understanding of the deeper questions of life and what the truth is for them.