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From John Schumacher On the Passing of Mr. Iyengar

Guruji_nov2012My teacher, mentor, friend, and inspiration, B.K.S. Iyengar, died today, Aug. 20, 2014 at age 95. He wasn’t just my teacher, mentor, friend, and inspiration; he was that to all his pupils, direct and indirect; he was that to the worldwide yoga community; he was that to mankind. The world has lost a truly remarkable, profound, transformational, and unique individual.

Guruji’s teachings and the force of his personality changed yoga as it is practiced and taught today and helped instigate the explosion of yoga worldwide. In light of his immense influence on yoga and in recognition of his role in yoga’s acceptance and popularity, Time magazine in 2004 included Mr. Iyengar among the 100 most powerful and influential people in the world. We – you and I, Unity Woods, the yoga world, and the world at large – will miss him tremendously. And though the light of his personality has gone out, the light of teachings will survive, thrive, and guide teachers and students of yoga for many years to come.

In this time of grief and remembrance, it would be good to put Guruji’s passing in perspective through his own words: “The sadhaka (seeker, practitioner, student) perceives that there is no difference between life and death, that they are simply two sides of the same coin. He understands that the current of self, the life-force, active while he is alive, merges with the universe when he leaves his body at death…….In realizing the oneness of life and death there is an end to ignorance in the aspirant, and he lives forever in the flow of tranquility.” Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, II: 9.

And: “Discover what does not die, and the illusion of death is unmasked. That is the conquest of death. That is why I did not cry for my wife, in spite of all my pain, for I will not cry for an illusion.” Light On Life

And finally: “I am old, and death inevitably approaches. But both birth and death are beyond the will of the human being. They are not my domain. I do not think about it. The complexity of the life of the mind comes to an end at death, with all its sadness and happiness. If one is already free from that complexity, death comes naturally and smoothly. If you live holistically at every moment, as yoga teaches, even though the ego is annihilated, I will not say, ‘Die before you die.’ I would rather say, ‘Live before you die, so that death is also a lively celebration.’” Light On Life

So we mourn and celebrate and do what Guruji always taught and what he would want us to do: practice with intensity and devotion and love of yoga.

 

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9 responses to this post.

  1. Denise Rowe says:

    This perspective is well stated and shall be kept in sight… Rather than abide the sorrow that wants to lay claim upon us, a celebration of life we shall have forever more, His journey home is now complete. May he rest in peace until…..

  2. Joan Meunier says:

    Thank you John.

  3. Deborah Schwartz says:

    Excellent and inspirational article. Your fine teaching will keep his spirit alive for years to come.

  4. Mia Takeno says:

    Thank you to Mr,Iyengar and Thank you to Jhon.

  5. […] Iyengar’s passing has inspired a lot of commentary, including this beautiful tribute by senior teacher John Schumacher. As much as Iyengar must have recognized the magnitude of his […]

  6. Liliana Basile says:

    Thank you, John!
    you are keeping his teachings alive and you are helping us so much I can not find the words to express my gratitude.
    I have read some his books, study some asanas, read everything I found, I watched videos… I have heard about him from some of his students… though
    I would like to tell you that I felt I knew him through each one of your classes.
    I do not have any doubt you are keeping his teachings alive and I am blessed to be your student.
    Thank you so so much!

  7. Barbara S says:

    John and teachers at Unity Woods

    I believe all the teachers I have had the privilege of studying with at Unity Woods bring the wisdom Of Mr. Iyengar to light in their teachings.

    Thank-you for passing his wisdom on.

  8. Denyse Corrado says:

    Many years have passed since I first enrolled in yoga classes at Unity Woods, and reaped the benefits of such enlightened and ‘uncompromising’ yoga instruction. I thank Mr. Iyengar for lighting the way. Namaste. Denyse

  9. Girish says:

    Hi John
    Awesome. Thanks to you as well for wonderfull sessions on i Hanuman. They are among most played on my iPOD.
    Girish
    Bangalore

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