A First Glimpse of The Four Desires, by Rod Stryker
September 6, 2011
I will begin with a contextual description of how this book exactly ended up in my hands. A few short months ago I didn’t even know of Rod Stryker when I was called upon to do some work with the Give Back Yoga Foundation to mix and master a Yoga Nidra audio CD release, and Rod is one of the teachers whose recorded voice I had to work with for the benefit of future listeners. To give credit where credit is due, the only reason this connection was made comes in the name of Diane Ferraro, who, among other things, is the co-host of the Where Is My Guru? radio show which airs live on the internet weekly. Rod Stryker was recently a guest on the show, and Diane Ferraro had a copy of his book, The Four Desires, to get acquainted with before she and Jessica Durivage, her co-host and founder of the show (who already has prior workshop experience with Rod), began the live interview.
I am thoroughly excited with this book, and I haven’t even read half of it. Let me explain that this book is an adaptation of a workshop that Rod Stryker leads, called Yoga of Fulfillment, so although you can read it like a book, it is meant as a workbook and you are encouraged to participate in the exercises given, and the goal is fulfillment, which is directly linked to true lasting happiness. This is a true Yoga book, hitting upon all of the aspects of Yoga that are easily and commonly ignored by most people because they are either afraid to confront themselves, or don’t know how to, and putting on the face of misdirection and procrastination masked in busyness, or business, seems to be the easy way out. Luckily, this book helps, explains, guides, and shows you how to get to your true self and drop the things that make you unhappy and unfulfilled. As I told Diane when she first asked me how I like the book, “People write self-help books, and people everywhere are buying and reading all sorts of these self-help books. I don’t read self-help books. I’ve never found the need or want to read such a book. This book is quite possibly the best self-help book ever written, and I find this book exhilarating.”
So why am I reading it? I opened the book to challenge my notions of who I am and where I am in my life’s journey. I am perfectly at peace with myself and have found years ago what I can only describe as a sense of true happiness that I can call upon and see and experience at any given time, all alone and at the same time in union with all that there is. But there is more to this story; since then I am not alone, but in a relationship. I have been finding myself over the last year in a constant struggle trying to make sense, with mind and heart, of what I can only describe as a change in behavior within the relationship, and actions speak louder than words. From title to content, the explanation of the Four Desires, what they are, not what you think they are, is one aspect I found most important. This clear and concise breakdown and categorization immediately did about 90% of what I was looking for when I opened this book, not realizing that the remaining 10% of seek-worthy unknown will probably expand to another 90% that I was unaware of, and such is the excitement of experiencing all that life has to offer. The section explaining tantra is equally revealing and poignant, an extra bonus. Sure enough, The Four Desires immediately put me in line with calibrating myself, tuning me to my unique resonance where I am most efficient and productive, where I feel most at home. Who knows, when I’m done reading it, it may even end up being the best “relationship self-help book” out there.
It’s very easy for us to get lost in the world of distractions, whether it’s in work, wasting time on the internet, giving attention to needy friends, or in a relationship with your significant other. I’ve posted more than one entry in this blog focusing on meditation and how to do it. Rod Stryker, on page 72 in his book, doesn’t try to explain with too many cerebral details how to meditate; instead he goes one step further to expose where I have failed in my attempt to impart a sense of how to meditate to those who don’t know how to and probably never have had the experience. He writes directions that lead you through a meditation on the breath, and with these directions, you don’t have to think with your brain but instead just experience it, and that is the point. He suggests recording yourself saying the directions to yourself in your own voice slowly and calmly. What a wonderful idea! I have done this before with other meditations and it has proven very powerful. Keep in mind that I have no problem meditating but I do have a deep urgency in wanting to get as many people as possible to experience this; of course, being a recording engineer, I will record myself directing this meditation, and will offer to record anyone I know personally to direct themselves through this powerful, personal experience that takes about twenty minutes.
This brings me to where I am currently in the workbook, page 74. Here Rod says that the more you practice this simple, accessible, yet profound approach to meditation, the more capable you become of stilling your mind and tuning in to dharma. You see, in the first exercise in this book you are led through very specific steps that allow you to unlock your Dharma Code. This comes before the meditation, and I have already written the first draft of my Dharma Code. Rod Stryker has admitted to struggling for years before accepting his dharma, embracing it wholeheartedly. In the chapter that concludes exposing your Dharma Code and becoming familiar with it, even if only a glimpse, he shares this wisdom with us: Let your Dharma Code lead you, and the career and everything else your heart seeks will follow. In the Introduction to the book which explains that no experience is required and that you can do yoga and not do postures, Rod lays out the possible challenges we encounter in the face of suffering and how The Four Desires addresses each of these challenges, showing how to successfully navigate them, teaching you how you can fulfill your life’s highest calling. Rod designed this book as a process to be used over and over as a regular part of your life. This is not so much a self-help book, but a user’s manual to life itself.