I finally made it to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II. Now I have to admit, I’m a big fan. Have read the books since they came out (and vividly remember sitting in the parking lot of a Borders in Ft. Lauderdale reading one of the books – too excited to wait till I got home). But I was moved in a different way as I sat, with my 3d glasses on, in a theatre in Angel this weekend. Spoiler warnings here if you happen to be the rare specimen with no knowledge of the Harry Potter plot.
As the wizards battled it out at Hogwarts against the forces of Voldemort, and I found myself cheering them on – I registered within me a deep desire for justice and goodness being satisfied. How often do I find myself helpless in our complicated world of social injustices feeling paralyzed by my seeming inability to do anything effective. But here was Harry & co. making a difference – changing their world. Sadly, it is mostly in stories where we find black and white clarity about what and whom is good or bad.
But Harry is no solitary super-hero. Through the efforts of those around him – their intelligence, dilligence, persistence…but most especially, their love – a movement is created and succeeds. And, in the moment that is now sticking with me, in the film’s epilogue 19 years in the future, Harry comforts his son’s nerves before he goes off to Hogwarts to train as a wizard.
The young Potter worries about his fate being decided by the sorting hat. Specifically, he worries that the hat will place him into the Slytherin house – filled with the bad wizards. But Harry lets him know two things: firstly that even the seemingly bad Slytherin house has had good wizards, and that the sorting hat will take his wishes into consideration when sorting him. Meaning that this isn’t just fate – there is choice and free will in the matter. Harry Potter’s son can create his own destiny by the choices he makes.
Now, what am I going on about? Why am I writing about Harry Potter on a yoga blog. Well…
I think for many of us, when we begin going down this yoga path, it is like going to Hogwarts. We learn new languages and skills. We are enriched in ancient texts. We are challenged physically and mentally. We are embraced into a community of like-minded yoga wizards, and soon find challenges in the muggle world. I could even go as far to say we have our own sorting hat (Adam Hocke…I choose…HATHA).
Through our education we develop skills to improve our own life, but most importantly, to change the world around us either through example or active effort.
Although yoga texts don’t necessarily offer moral instruction, they arm us with the tools to determine what encourages stillness, peace and joy in our world and what disrupts it. From there we can expand ever outward.
And what about choice…when we begin our yoga path, like informing the sorting hat of our wishes, we become an active participant in our own lives. We are no longer ruled by the mind’s fluctuations, the body’s desires, or the external actions pushing us in one direction or another. We take a stand. We all have our mini-Voldemorts to face, and yoga is a good place to start in conquering those destructive forces.