There is no Yoga without ahimsa (non-harming). Just by breathing we are part of a cycle of life and destruction. The cells in our very own bodies are dying. It is an inevitable part of our existence that harm will be done. What we can do to avoid it we must. We must eat but we can choose to hurt less by eating vegetarian foods for example. We can pollute less by walking.

With every action we should think how we can live with the least harm done- not just to ourselves but to any and every being on this planet.

This is an intricate and complex and even paralyzing idea. That is why they give us guidelines in yoga for how to live our lives.

Read the Bhagavad Gita, the Yoga Sutras and Ayurvedic texts. But in a down-home personal way, just inform yourself about the world today and naturally you’ll be inspired to do the right thing….

Thank you Josh Fox for bringing the issue of Fracking to our attention.

Education is the first step before action. Action is where we have the opportunity to live according to Dharma.

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I always found small goals to be more attractive in my mind than really big ones- regarding the personal growth sector. Run three miles every day or run three every day this week only… invariably I will be more committed to the shorter term commitment. It always feels less daunting and like I will get a prize or something at the end. Open-ended goals seem to lose their holding power in my mind.
In that spirit I have undertaken weekly goals for self-improvement. Many of these are simple and universal ideas from the great spiritual traditions. We read about them, agree with them, and then hope we’ve already got enough of them in practice and that’s where it usually ends.
Each Monday is the start of a new week.
This week has been “Silence and Introspection”. Like a little mantra whenever I feel the urge to chit chat or complain about something or argue my opinion or watch other people doing, thinking, acting (and even judging what I observe); I start reminding myself of my goal this week and allow it to soothe me back into shape.

It has been mostly very successful- even when I didn’t keep my mouth quiet, I was able to reflect later if it would have been better to have kept to myself or say what I did.

These are all about looking at ourselves in closer detail and with manageable steps for spiritual or call it human progress/purification.
The good news is we can return to any one week and try it again later if we really felt it was good for us. But keep the time frames short so they don’t get lost in the closet and stay fresh in our minds and consciousness.

Do you have any suggestions for a week?

Like a Bank Clerk

December 29, 2011

There is a wonderful Indian analogy and advice for yoga practitioners, indeed for all.

Be like a bank teller.

When the clerk receives two thousand dollars he does not get bloated with pride and ego. Nor does he cry when he hands out four thousand dollars to another client.
A bank teller remains equal tempered in his position, steady as things come and go. He doesn’t have sticky hands, clinging to the money.

We too should be steady as things (materials, relationships, money, health etc.) come and go in our lives, not clinging or repelling anything.

And by doing this, we will always be content with whatever comes and whatever may go realizing that our happiness does not depend on either of these two.

The Monk and the Sword

December 20, 2011

This is a powerful story I have been told a few times here in India. It goes something like this….

There is a Monk in the forest who has relinquished all worldly life and material possessions. He is only living for his sadhana practice, a practice of stilling his mind from any thoughts. One day a man comes through the forest and meets the monk. He asks the monk, who is sitting under a tree in meditation, if he could leave his sword there for a while and if the monk will watch over it until he returns. The monk doesn’t see any problem with that and tells him to leave it there by the tree.

Some days have passed with the sword sitting there next to the monk. The monk goes to fetch some water from the nearby river. He takes only a couple steps and looks back at the sword. He thinks, ‘what if someone takes it while I am gone? That man would come back and be upset with me. I should carry it with me.” He doesn’t even know how to hold a sword so he takes it awkwardly and carefully to the river.

One day, on his way to the river a thought arises in his mind: “Oh, what if I hold the sword like this, as the soldiers do?” and places his hand on the handle. He feels the sword and thinks to himself how nice it is to hold the sword. With the sword in his hand, a thought enters his mind that he should see how this sword is used,  so he just takes one swing and cuts a stalk of a plant growing out of the earth.

In the following days, that man does not yet come to take his sword back, and the monk who was sitting quietly in the forest has started to cut down many things. Even he has begun to kill animals. When the stranger finally comes to reclaim his sword, the man who was once on a path of meditation and liberation is now a mighty hunter and ‘king’ of the forest.

This story is told to illustrate the powerful effect objects have on our psyche. There are many traditional Indian customs around material objects (mostly lost today). If a person came to your house and wanted to give you something but it was something you didn’t need or want, they would say ‘You keep it for me. If it is with you, it is the same as if it is with me.” This dually acknowledges that we are one, a fundamental idea behind Indian philosophy and culture. Very strictly it was their practice not to let one single pin inside their house if it was not necessary. Quite contrary to what we see today across the globe.

They had good insight as to why such rigorous boundaries should be maintained. Even a pin will have an influence over my mind. According to the Indians, all objects were created for an intention of use. That object inherently desires to be used as it was intended for. This is how the sword laying simply under the tree with the monk draws his thoughts to it and how he is pulled by it’s main purpose of existence: to kill.

I have experienced this and I have seen it with other people.

The computer is a very strong tool we have created. I left mine in storage when I came to India. I didn’t have a computer in my house for over a year. I read books and did other activities that made me very happy. Until…now. Now we have a computer and internet. When I enter the room where it is kept I feel this desire, without any impending reason, to use it, to check my email, write on this blog, research some topics etc.

I agree that we should carefully evaluate the impact of any object we take into our homes. Though they may be very good tools for us, such as the computer, what is its effect on us? Should we keep it in the home or elsewhere?

Our homes are filled with materials. Why are we so happy when we do a spring cleaning and throw stuff out? Would we be even happier if we took that up to a new level and really evaluate what is essential, keeping only those items?

They say here that by keeping any material we are then tied to protecting it. It causes us to develop attachments which lead to sorrows if we loose these objects and thus require many efforts to protect them from being lost. If we can lessen our material life, we will have more money from our jobs, less stress about protecting the materials we own and hopefully detachment that will free us from suffering when materials are lost or broken. We will have a clear mind that is not under the influence of objects which are not appropriate for us.

Traditionally an Indian would never ‘Buy two, get one free”.

They would buy one.

If someone cheats you…

November 5, 2011

Beautiful, as only Ma can be:

“Question: If you have business dealings with someone and he cheats you by not giving you your money’s worth, should you go to court or keep quiet over it? {one can apply the following answer to a myriad of ‘cheatings’ we encounter in our lives}

Ma: Some may feel, if I don’t give this person a lesson, he will do more cheating and so they go to court.

But there is another way of looking at it.

Who is it that has cheated me? In all forms it is only He {God}. What was taken from me was evidently not meant for me to keep, so He has taken it.

Then there is a third way:

Once a thief came to a sadhu and stole whatever he could. He was just running away with the load on his head when the sadhu discovered him. He quickly ran after the thief and shouted: ‘Wouldn’t you like a few more things? Take this also and this!’ The thief was so moved that he gave up stealing and became a sadhu himself.

Then there is yet a fourth way:

‘Is it my business to punish the evil doer?’ Once a bhakta of Krishna was walking intoxicated with the love for his adored one and, without noticing, trod on newly washed clothes. On seeing this the dhobi [washerman], who had just spread the clothes out on the ground to dry, got furious and said ‘Have you no eyes?’ and he took hold of a stick and was about to beat the devotee. At that very moment, Lord Krishna was having his meal with his beautiful wife, Rukmini. Suddenly he jumped up without further explanation and ran off, but returned after a short while.  Rukmini asked him where he had been. He replied: ‘My bhakta was being attacked by a dhobi, so I went to save him, but as soon as I got there I saw that he had already picked up a stone and was ready to throw it at the dhobi . So since he could take care of himself, there was no need for me to intervene, and I at once returned.’

There is still another way to consider this matter:

Once a sadhu was being abused badly by someone. He thought: ‘What a terrible punishment will be his for this grave offense.’ So he gave him a light slap to avert a more severe punishment.

Whichever of these ways seems most correct to you, according to that you should act.

Question: If one takes the first mentioned view, that the evil doer must be taught a lesson, does one not thereby injure oneself, especially when a sadhaka {spiritual aspirant}?

Ma: Yes, for by acting thus, one’s ego will be enhanced.”

-Teachings from Shree Anandamayee Ma found in the book “Death Must Die”

Before anything

October 20, 2011

Before anything:
Before the universe was created
Before you were born
Before a thought arises
Before a storm
Before a vibration ripples through the air
Before the meditative state

Before ANYTHING.

There is silence.

Deepen your understanding of inner and outer silence before you attempt to understand anything else.

The Problem:

November 9, 2010

Primarily you fail to recognize the Divine within.

When we know exactly who we are, we can identify that an action, an image, some dirt on our facade is not who we are, nor are we afraid to admit such things.

One who can not see the Divine in others or the surrounding universe stems from his/her own inability to acknowledge it within and vice versa.

When we fail to see the divine within, we look to others to validate it for us.

Find yourself.

make the adjustment

June 22, 2010

When the teacher removes their hands, do you fall?

When a loved one, companion, friend, mother, soul mate leaves, do you fall?

adjustment

June 20, 2010

Getting an adjustment from your yoga teacher is mostly a liberating and enjoyable experience, giving you more strength, stability or space in the posture. Sometimes, the teacher will take on some of your weight, give you balance or introduce added strength. Ask yourself in these moments, are you ‘leaning’ on your teachers adjustments or are you absorbing it and moving towards independence?

Standing on one foot, the teacher in adjusting you naturally holds your body so that you will not fall. In this delicate moment it is easy to let him/her take on your weight and to cease your own concentration and search for equilibrium. Take notice.

Take notice in your life. All of our relationships are like adjustments,  tweaking us. Someone strong and influential will enter into your life. Suddenly you feel like things are opening, shifting. It may be painful, it may be pleasant but ultimately you know it’s affecting you, adjusting something that is a little off. How do you accept it? Do you lean on it? Rely on it? Does the adjustment or the teacher become a crutch? How can you move towards independence in the midst of change?

pause

June 2, 2010

Take pause now.

Right now.

See the invisible.

Listen to the silence.

I am here too, in the silence.

Come with me.

Return as often as you can.

OM

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