stone by stone
There is a story about the Tibetan yogi, Milarepa, whose teacher instructed him to build a house out of stones. When it was complete, the teacher asked him to take it down, stone by stone, and rebuild the house in a different location. When that house was complete, he was asked again to take it down and rebuild it elsewhere. He built, took apart and rebuilt the house over and over again.

Milarepa persevered in service to his teacher, in the faith that his actions would be the path to his enlightenment. This story was on our minds as we put together our Work & Service issue. In our office, it’s become common knowledge that while we’re working on an issue of the magazine, we all start living the theme. But with this issue, it was even more pronounced. Our interpretation of work and of service is informed by karma yoga, as explained by Krishna to the warrior Arjuna in the sacred text, The Bhagavad Gita. Karma yoga is selfless service, to work without expectation of reward or attachment to the outcome.

The Gita is a conversation between Arjuna and the god Krishna, which takes place on a battlefield. Krishna advises, “Perform action, O Arjuna, being steadfast in yoga, abandoning attachment and balanced in success and failure. Evenness of mind is called yoga” (2:48, trans. Swami Sivananda). This is timeless wisdom. Yet how do we produce a magazine and not be attached to results?

There’s an apparent paradox here. Of course, we want all the content to adhere to our standard of quality. We want to sell copies and subscriptions — we want people to read this. We don’t create it so it can just exist! As a team, the ascent staff has been steeped in this tension.

Making a magazine is a process very similar to Milarepa’s. We build something, piece by piece, stone by stone, send it off to press and then start the process all over again. The work of putting together the magazine (commissioning articles and art, working with writers and designers, entering subscribers’ addresses into our database, replying to emails) is our karma yoga.

And for those of us who work at ascent, the magazine is our battlefield. It is where we think about right action, relationships, what we are trying to say to the world. It is the field of our work.

As the final days of magazine production are ahead of us, we prepare to dismantle this issue, and then start afresh on the next one. It is never ending, these cycles, this karma yoga … \

the editorial circle

Amanda, Vanessa, Roseanne

P.S. We are excited to welcome our new designers, Michel, Grace & Jennifer at Black Eye Design! Many thanks to Emrys Miller & Rocketday Arts for a wonderful year.

Copyright ©2007 ascent magazine, first Canadian yoga magazine, yoga for an inspired life