Category Archives: The True Self

The 52: Lesson Forty Three — Tapas: The Flame of Change

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butterflyblueskyTapas.  Ah!  Spanish food!  But no, this is not the kind you eat at a Spanish restaurant — all those delicious “small” plates of food. But, in another way,  this kind of tapas is food too.  It is food for your soul and your eternal being.  In tapas, one might say we are “cooked” into something new.  We are “cracked open” so a greater understanding can emerge.

Tapas is a Sanskrit word that describes yet another of the niyamas, the ethical practices as set out in classic yoga philosophy.  It is a guideline to help us live in the world while still embracing the spiritual essence of our own being.  Most of us are not monks or hermits, living apart from everyday life.  We need systems of support along the way.  Thus, we have the eight limbs of yoga.  And, thus, we have tapas.

LESSON FORTY THREE

TAPAS —  THE FLAME OF CHANGE AND ENTHUSIASM

The word, tapas, has been described in a variety of ways.  Some say it is a fire that burns within and fosters wisdom, integrity, simplicity, and focus. Others laud its ability to trigger enthusiasm and excitement pushing us ever more to release all distractions and bring us through the flames to a place of deep balance and tranquility.  Others explain tapas as that which kindles the flame of the divine within us and burns away all impurities.  All of these describe the richness that is tapas.  

It is useful to think of the practice of tapas when we are in the midst of crisis, change, and pain.  When it seems that some sort of catharsis is occurring and pressing us into a sometimes dramatic change.  When something within us is being burned away so that a new version of ourselves may appear. For myself personally, a few years ago my path took me into a place of deep loss and fear, It was a falling away from what I thought I had been.  Something new was struggling to make itself known — a new “me” in effect.  It felt like being burned up until I could see the debris was melted away, and I was glad to see it go.

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.

Khalil Gibran

Pain and loss are not uncommon in the physical world and while we are residing there, even in it as a dream, our feathers get ruffled.  Staying steadfast in our beliefs is a powerful means of unearthing the “pearl” within the shell.  Sometimes we become so immersed in this play of grief, self-pity, anger, and other emotions, that it is hard to catch the spiritual drift.  Swami Muktananda wrote:

The secret to success in sadhana (spiritual practices) is to use everything to our advantage.

There are legions of stories about those who have turned tragedy into enlightened experiences.  Take, for example St. John of the Cross in his writings in The Dark Night of the Soul. His suffering carried him into the arms of the Divine.  Or consider the response of Ram Dass, a contemporary teacher on the spiritual path who, much to his surprise, “suffered” a stroke some years ago, leaving him quite debilitated physically.  Yet this experience of “fierce grace,” as he called it, resulted in his naming his experience as “being stroked” by God.

Don’t be mistaken, it is my wish that none of us are so “blessed” as to reach deep levels of pain, but perhaps we can begin to see that the fire that consumes the forest makes way for new shoots to spring from the soil.  It is a form of re-birth that allows the Divine within each of us to shine in the light of day.

These ideas may help you better understand tapas:

  • When you are confronted with levels of fear, pain, or loss, what might you do to “ground” yourself?  Would it help for you to take a walk, listen to some music, do yoga poses, watch your breath, meditate, read a book that makes you laugh?  What about praying, asking for guidance and strength?  Or reading some passages that help you remember who you are?
  • Using affirmations can bring a lift.  Saying “I love myself completely NOW,” can be helpful in giving something positive for the mind to give focus, and breaking a pattern of negative thinking.
  • Can you remember times when you felt lost and afraid?  Do you remember how long this lasted?  Did something else arise to replace that experience?  Can you recall in any way that those feelings and emotions were constantly changing, yet you, the real you, was still there, unchanging.  Are you able to see that you made it through and came out stronger?
  • Try thinking of ways that sustain you and keep you steady, when you are not in the eye of the storm.  If you devote more to those habits, like eating good, healthy food, caring for your body, finding coping mechanisms for stress, taking time to go inward, laughing, giving love and forgiveness to yourself and others, they will be “set” in your everyday life.  All of these build up strength for times of duress and flame the fires of joy and happiness within us.

Remember that tapas builds enthusiasm, and “fires us up” for confronting whatever may arrive in our lives.  So let the multiple meanings of tapas enrich your life in new and surprising ways.  We are all in this together, walking hand in hand, on the path that guides us to Eternal Love.

With love and namaste, Deanne

For more information, go to http://www.deannemincer.com

The 52: Lesson Thirty-Eight — Well, Just How Pure Are You?

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butterflyblueskyWhat a challenge!  Can we be “pure” in body, mind, spirit, thoughts, and words?  What if you think you have accomplished one of them and then you have a little “slip?”  Say, you eat only raw foods, but you go to a banquet and have something else?  Or you promise yourself you will only have pure thoughts, then anger arises?  What then?  Is it time to go back to the last lesson — on forgiveness?

Purification is spoken about in many spiritual disciplines.  In yoga, it is called, in Sanskrit, saucha, and refers to purification on many levels — in body, mind and heart, in thought and action.  Saucha is the first of the niyamas or observances that make up a part of the Yoga Sutras, the comprehensive and reliable path as laid out by the yoga sage, Patanjali.  This eight fold or eight limbed guide is thoughtful and as relevent today as it was at the time it was written.  I like to think of sutras as guidelines.  If we are too rigid, we (and the ego) might use them as a means to beat ourselves up , to judge ourselves and others.  That would, from my viewpoint, defeat the whole idea that we are loved unconditionally, right now, just as we are.

LESSON THIRTY-EIGHT

SAUCHA — PURITY

When I was fairly new to yoga and its teachings, I took very seriously the idea of purification of the body.  I was learning to be a teacher of hatha yoga and understood very well how two of the “limbs” of classic yoga  were effective for the body — asana (the postures or poses of yoga), and pranayama (breath work).  Simply expressed, the poses are effective in purifying the physical body as well as the energy system, the nadis and the chakras.  The breathing practices help cleanse and purify by moving oxygen and prana through the body.  Of course, the mind and spirit benefit as well.

In addition to these forms of purification, there were others that I embraced.  They were things like weekly fasting on water and juices, cleansing through daily use (which I still do every morning) by using the neti pot and sending water through both nostrils and out, eye asanas to cleanse the eyes, and various and sundry other cleansings.  I can still hear the gasps from my yoga students when I describe the “string” neti, pulling sterile string through the nose and out the mouth, and, even more loud gasps, fasting then inducing vomiting (we called it purging) to empty the stomach of mucus and old contents.  Well, let’s just say, without going into some even more shocking methods, ,you could spend a lot of time on cleansing the body.  I sure felt clean but I’m not sure I was doing the big time, real purifications I needed — like purifying the mind and thought and heart.

Of course, I tended to want pure and fresh foods, eaten with intention and reverence.  My diet styles shifted and changed.  I had jars of sprouts growing and ground my flax seeds and balanced non animal proteins and felt quite virtuous and a little smug too.  Wasn’t I just being so pure?  In point of fact, wasn’t I just deceiving myself?  Every morning, before I began my formal meditation, my mind wandered through all the yamas and niyamas, giving myself a kind of check list of how I was faring on the spiritual path of yoga. Did I notice that, while I thought I scored high on some measures,  I still lacked forgiveness.  I was harsh in my  judgment of others and myself.  I only understood the baby steps of these concepts.  I had a long way to go…

Only when the purification REALLY began to happen, in my mind and heart, in actions and thoughts, did I know for sure I was actually doing something transformational.

Here are a few ideas to consider.  For some they are baby steps.  For others, they may be old hat.  It never hurts to be a beginner again.

  • Look at your body.  Is there something you can do today to help to purify and nurture your body?  Maybe you will drink some glasses of pure clean water or have a cup of green tea.  Perhaps you will do some yoga stretches or take a walk outside.  How about not eating that hot dog loaded with additives?  You may wish to speak to your body about how much you appreciate it.  Whatever you choose, let it be filled with love and pleasure.
  • Try changing your attitude towards something that is routine, like vacuuming the rug or taking out the trash. Think of it as purifying and cleansing.  Imbue it with positive energy.  Cleaning out a closet could be like this.  Or taking away clothing you no longer wear and giving it to others who would appreciate those garments.
  • Take a moment to see how you are thinking.  Clean up the “closet” of your thoughts? Like getting rid of complaining and negativity, judging and arguing.  You might even consider a little silence, giving your mind a chance to rest and be quiet.  Or you could meditate for a bit of time or extend you meditation.

Ultimately, the following  are the words I like best.  I could not find the attribution, so I am not sure who made this point, but, nonetheless:

The only “dirt” is Avidya, ignorance of the True Self.

When you know who you are and that you are Divine Light and Love, your heart sings, and everything else is window dressing.

With love and namaste, Deanne

For more writings and on the Yoga Sutras, go to http://www.deannemincer.com

The 52: Lesson Thirty Three — How Do You Use Your Energy?

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butterflyblueskyWe are vibrating bundles of energy!  Our bodies.  Our breath.  Our thoughts.  All that is around us.  All that ever was.  No wonder we are inter-connected, at the primary level of being!

Energy is a precious thing.  It is not just what propels us in our activities, providing the stamina needed to function in everyday life.  Energy is everything!  Literally!  It is everything!  What does this mean to you and your life?

Do we seek to soar, like the blue butterfly, toward the light? Do we want to experience the bliss of knowing Divine Light and Love? Do we want to just plain be happier in our lives?  If so, then we must become acutely aware of the energy in ourselves and in everything around us.  We will learn that we feel different — better– when that energy feels pure and clear.  Do you ever think about  your own thoughts and actions and how they are affecting your energy (positive or negative) at that moment?

One way to understand this better is to look at the yama , called, in Sanskrit, brahmacharya,.  As you may recall, we have been exploring some of the guidelines laid out as the yamas in one of the most important books on yoga called The Yoga Sutras.  Endeavoring to follow these guidelines can lead us to living a happier, lighter and healthier life.  Conserving our energy through non-excess and through viewing all of life as sacred keeps our energy pure and powerful.  Brahmacharya means “walking with God.”

LESSON THIRTY THREE

BRAHMACHARYA — PURE IN ENERGY

While this yama has often been described as indicating self-imposed celibacy and monastic living, it is far more complex than this.  It was thought that retaining sexual energy would allow for greater energy in spiritual seeking, and this is likely true.  But we live in an era different from that when it was quite usual for those on the spiritual path, (mostly males at the time and residing in India) to join monasteries for all of or portions of their adulthood.  It is not my purpose in writing to delve deeply into the subject of energy on only this level.  Suffice it to say that non-excess is of value in whatever we pursue.  Yet there are profound lessons to be learned beyond this.

Every thought and act is a movement of energy. What choices do you make, every day, to keep your own energy pure and loving and to avoid excess?

Just recently, someone suggested a new television series, praising the acting and writing.  I watched part of one episode.  The characters were cruel, insensitive, and distasteful.  The story line was dark and rife with violence, abuse, and double-dealing.  It was, in short, repugnant to me.  Why would I want to spend any time watching a program with this kind of energy?

Here are some ways to observe how you use your energy:

  • Do you deplete your energy in pursuits that are negative — like gossiping or listening to music that is caustic or viewing films that glorify ego and destructive behavior or reading stories (even the news) that are unceasingly unsettling?
  • When observing mistreatment of others, do you join in?  Do you bully just to be accepted?
  • Do you sometimes find that you over-do — in eating, exercising, drinking, fulfilling your “bucket list?”
  • If you can choose activities in your free time that feel good — like taking a walk in the woods or sitting and meditating or cooking a lovingly prepared nutritious meal or calling a sick friend — do you think about how fulfilling and boosting it will be to your own well-being?
  • Trust your own truth.  You will know, on some level, if what you are doing or thinking is depleting or diminishing your energy.   Go with what enhances love and light.

These are simple ideas, but we often are paying no attention.  We just operate by rote.  “Oh, I always watch that news show or TV series.”  Stop!  Pay attention!  What you are doing is having an affect — on you and on everything around you.

With love and namaste, Deanne

For more:  http://www.deannemincer.com

The 52: Lesson Thirty One – Are You YOU, Wherever You Go?

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butterflyblueskyOkay.  I know I am paraphrasing Jon Kabat-Zinn, who famously said “Wherever you go, there you are.”  In fact he wrote an important book with this same title.  His words are wise.

Don’t we often think that WE would be different if something around us would be different? Oh, if only I lived in Paris (or New York or India or Montana — fill in the blank).  Or, if only I had a more understanding spouse, partner, mother, child (fill in again).  Or, if only I had the time to study meditation or get my M.B.A. or take a vacation.  You get the picture!  If only . . . The grass is always greener, isn’t it?

Or what about this?  I am my most authentic, honest self only under certain circumstances.  It emerges when I am with  like-minded people.  But are you the same one with your co-workers, your “superiors,”  your in-laws, your children, your parents, with all your friends?

LESSON THIRTY ONE

ARE YOU YOU, WHEREVER YOU GO ?

Many years ago, I was teaching a yoga class at a health club.  This how it was when yoga was not on every corner.  There were step classes next door and people gazing through the glass to see what this weird thing, yoga, was.  One of my students, who I now realize was actually, (how can I put it?) really realized, as in enlightened, arrived at class early.  I casually said to her, knowing that she had spent a lot of time in an ashram in India with a very famous guru, “Oh, it must have been so much easier to have peace and quiet and practice yoga in such a place.”  I remember that she laughed a kind but hearty (filled with heart) laugh and told me that it is the same everywhere.  I did not have a clue what she was talking about. How could that be? How could it be the same, in an ashram filled with silence, incense, meditating people as in a noisy, sweaty, muscle flexing health club?

But now I know it is true!

Some time ago, I returned from a weekend program at The Omega Institute in the rolling hills of Rhinebeck, New York.  In the United States, it is considered a venerable place for learning, a kind of spiritual summer camp.  The place overflows with synchronicity, with energies of past and present teachers of Divine Love, with cross-overs on all spiritual paths.  Hundreds of us were there to bask in the place and learn something new.

It was intriguing to hear one person after another say how happy they were to be with others who were open to whatever they were seeking.  Over and over I heard the comment: “When I am at home, I almost never talk to others about this” — or that (whatever their focus on the path of growing)  “They just wouldn’t understand.”  Such is the pity.  So they were different at home.  But at Omega, it was a safe environment.  They could simply BE.

Yet even there, just like the most sacred locations in any part of the world, emerged  the ego identities we hoped had we left behind.  There were those who complained, who brought their “baggage” with them, who found fault — they struggled to BE something new or different, but it was not so easy.  I don’t say this in judgement but as a witness.  I know to the depth of my being, that EVERYONE is the Divine Light of Truth and Love, steeped in compassion, gratitude,  and forgiveness.  That is the core that we can rely on, no matter where we are.

I don’t pretend that remembering this all the time is easy.  It takes a measure of trust and courage to be congruent at all times.  I try my best but do not always succeed.  I do see improvement however…

This helps me. I hope it will help you:

  • Is it possible for you to witness yourself, as if you could stand aside and watch your own behavior in an impartial yet kind and loving way? This can lead to a better awareness of who you are being at different times.
  • When you know in advance that you may be in situations that will challenge your sense of Self, can you take a few moments to settle into your core — taking a few breaths or meditating for a while or saying an affirmation like I love myself completely NOW?
  • Do you sometimes hear yourself say or do something that you know for sure is inauthentic?  Can you simply mentally put a check next to it to revisit the moment later, to see how and why you took that action?
  • Are you able to stay “light” regarding your behavior?  In other words, not replaying over and over again those times when you felt out of sync.
  • Finally, and only if this is not too astonishing to consider, can you believe that all unfolds with Divine Consciousness and that you are not the “doer?”  Is it possible for you to venture the thought that the world is actually a “play” or maya?

These lessons are meant to help us find ways to feel lighter and happier in the world.  When you operate from your own truth, you will feel better.  Your life will be more smooth and easy.

Imagine being able to say and be who you are wherever you go!  It may take a little time to get there, but it is worth it!

With love and namaste, Deanne

For more, go to http://www.deannemincer.com

The 52: Lesson Twenty Eight — What Do Your Senses Tell You?

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Have you any idea how profound the sense of smell and taste can bebutterflybluesky?  Consider this:  When there are bad odors in the air, people drive very aggressively and car accidents increase in number.   Did you realize that, for most of us, when we are exposed to the scent of lavender, we experience a feeling of peace and calm.  Examples are numerous!

Did you know that the sense of smell is 10,000 times more sensitive than any of the other senses and that the response is immediate.  It goes straight to the place where emotion and memory is held.

So watch what you are breathing — and tasting…

In yoga, we learn to examine the world around us so that we better understand how we are internally influenced.  This is done in many ways, but, ultimately, we come to recognize that the “play” of the world does not define us.  We come to know who we are as beings of Light and Love,  but this is usually a process and does not happen overnight, even if we have recognized glimpses of Truth in an instantaneous fashion. Most of us need some help along the way, often in the form of lessons and steps.

The Eight Fold Path of Yoga is a complete system to bring us to awareness.  In this lesson, today, we complete one part of it.  It is called pratyahara. It is about learning to control the senses so that we can better focus on our True Self.  We need to first understand the subtle influence the senses have on us, how to work with them, and use them to enhance our lightness, happiness, and joy in living. We have already spent some time with the senses of sight, sound, and touch (in Lessons 7, 14, and 21, if you care to review).   Now we give attention to the remaining and more subtle two senses — smell and taste.  They are surprisingly powerful and may influence you much more than you might expect.

LESSON TWENTY EIGHT

THE SENSES OF SMELL AND TASTE

Whenever I smell cookies baking, I am back in my mother’s kitchen at Christmastime, seeing her open the oven, removing the cookies and placing them out to cool a little so that I can taste one while it is still warm.  Anytime I smell a fresh tomato, I remember picking them from my father’s large vegetable garden, of his explaining about ripe tomatoes, taking them into the house and eating them right away.  The scent of lavender reminds me to be calm and restful.  The smell of peppermint, even in the peppermint soap I sometimes use, energizes and lifts my spirit.  Whenever I have a taste of chili con carne, it is football season in my mind. The roses I just picked from my garden always brings a feeling of love, romance, and beauty. Some say that when you smell roses, Mary, the mother of Jesus, is near.

What about you?  What scents and tastes brings memories rushing into your awareness?

If the sense of smell were not so important, we would not have access to thousands of perfumes and colognes, to deodorant and breath mints and even Odor Eaters.  We are a smelling population.

I have grouped together the sense of smell and taste because they are closely aligned.    Have you ever noticed that your enjoyment of food may decline if you have a cold and stuffy nose.  Smell and taste work together.  Smell is known to be the most powerful and primitive of the senses.  It attaches to memory and emotion in a way that the others may not.  It bypasses thought process and brings memory alive. It is the only sense that moves directly into the brain (the hippocampus and amygdala) through the limbic system and bypasses routine thought evaluation.  Imagine the power!  If one loses the sense of smell, usually appetite declines and food “taste” is different.

Because these two senses are so tied to memory, emotion, and survival, here are a few ways to become more keenly aware of their influence:

  • Make a list (in your mind if you like) of those fragrances and foods you find pleasing.
  • When you respond in  negative manner to either sense or taste, take note.  Is a memory being tripped?  Can you find a way to avoid the experience?  Can your learn something of value from it?
  • If you know your mood and sense of enjoyment in life is enhanced by certain smells and tastes, consciously make them a habit .
  • If your routine requires that you be around smells and tastes that are unpleasant, how might you adjust your reaction to remain in a state of equilibrium and at ease.
  • Can you see that none of these senses actually alter who you are, at the core of your being? Yet they can enhance your life.

I remember hearing a story many years ago about a group of followers of a certain esteemed guru who took them on a “conscious” walk.  Their mission was to see everything as part of Divine Consciousness, of God.  As they strolled along the street, a bus passed them, emitting a black cloud of noxious exhaust.  Everyone reacted, finding it repulsive, harmful to the environment, irresponsible of the driver — except the guru.  She reminded them calmly that everything is part of the Divine  — even that.

So let all of your senses bask in Divine Light, even as you bring more knowledge of the senses into your everyday life.

With love and namaste, Deanne

For more, go to http://www.deannemincer.com

The 52: Lesson Twenty Seven — Are YOU The Divine Self?

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butterflyblueskyMarianne Williamson, the writer and popular spiritual teacher who was  inspired by one of the most life changing books ever written, A Course in Miracles, has shared these words:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us…

We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.  It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone.

Why, oh, why, then is it so difficult for most of us to believe and acknowledge this?

In the yoga world, we talk a lot about the Self and the ego.  I used to think that I needed to work hard to recognize the Self (the divine presence) in myself.  That I might be the Light of Love and Truth and Divine in any way seemed a huge stretch. Me?  ME?  Flawed me? Unworthy me?  ME?  Who was I kidding?  It would be lifetimes, I would say to myself, before I could even approach something so wonderful and self loving as that. A few times, I thought, why even bother?

Guess who was telling me all this?  If you said , “the ego,” you would be right.  Of course, the ego is totally invested in bringing on guilt, shame, helplessness, and fear.  That shadow side was ever ready, cloaking itself in oozing sweet words, so I wouldn’t recognize it.  Hiding behind trees and jumping out in various costumes, to masquerade as a logical, reasoned voice.  When the ego wasn’t showing off in cunning words, it was shrieking words so full of fear, I just knew I was low-down and a hopeless loss.  At the time, I didn’t recognize that I didn’t have listen to that talk, entertain those notions, or spend even an iota of time analyzing whether or not they had merit.

The ego, that nasty voice of doubt and fear, relentlessly tries to convince us that we are less than The Divine Light of Love.  If we really, truly knew beyond doubt, just how wonderful and complete we are and how much we are loved, the ego would lose its job.  Imagine!  Banished forever!

LESSON TWENTY SEVEN

ARE YOU THE SELF OR THE EGO?

Many years ago, I thought it would be useful for my students (and for me) to draw up a list of what I considered some of the attributes of the Self.  This is the list:

DIVINE

ETERNAL

BLISSFUL

LOVING

NON-JUDGING

CONTENT

LIGHT

CALM

AT PEACE

TRUSTING

PERFECT

I told everyone that these words express who we are, at our core and that, for a quick glimpse of the ego, just apply the opposite of these words.  I felt as if too much attention was focused on destroying the ego attributes, that it was better to focus on the “good” in all of us.  One of my students memorized the words and repeated them as she took her daily walk, letting them sink into her consciousness.  She said it helped a lot. Another student dropped a copy of the list onto the backseat of her car as she left class.  Sometime later, her husband was in the car with her and spotted the sheet.  Reading it, he asked if these traits were something she aspired to.  She replied (and I love this), “No.  It is who I already AM.”  Would that we ALL knew that all the time.

Here is an exercise for the week:

  • Take any one or all of the words and see how they manifest within you.
  • When doubt arises, remember that it is only the ego throwing water on your parade, diminishing you.
  • The Divine Self is naturally perfect.  That is how you are seen by the Divine.  Don’t get mixed up in thinking the word “perfect” is “egocentric.”
  • Apply these characteristics to others in your life.  If you see them in this light, maybe it will be easier for them to experience this for themselves.
  • Be patient with yourself.  If your thoughts start running contrary to these attributes, try a little thought monitoring as described in an earlier lesson.
  • Whatever your success level with this exercise, always end it with repeating, I LOVE MYSELF COMPLETELY NOW!

Oh, by the way, it takes some practice to “get this.”  Be patient and kind to yourself.  You might have already spent most of your life thinking just the opposite.  It is never too late to change…

Let me know how you do with this.  See if you aren’t lighter and happier! I am here to help, seeing ALL those attributes in you all the time.

With love and namaste, Deanne

For more, fo to http://www.deannemincer.com

The 52: Lesson Twenty Six — Bhakti Shyamdas, Devoted to Divine Love

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butterflyblueskyShyamdas, a great devotee and follower of Divine Love was honored in a memorial gathering a year ago. I was privileged to share this tribute with his family and friends at the Connecticut home of his mother and my friend, Gloria.

I thought of re-writing this post, one year later.  but to me, it still resonates with an important message. I hope you will experience this too.  We all need examples of those who lived in the world, while not pretending that any of us escape the ego, some have moved us more than others. So it is in this reflection:

On this beautiful sun-filled afternoon, the time of the summer solstice, and with a full moon rising, everything felt auspicious, almost as if the space were energized by a special brightness  The sound of kirtan softly welcomed the many of us who were invited — the family and friends of various faiths, many of whom knew Stephen Schaffer as a young Jewish boy who frolicked on the lawn where we were now seated and others who knew him as Shyamdas, a bhakti yogi, who wrote and translated scores of books, who was a musician, artist, and kirtan chanter of renown, and whose unbridled love of Yoga and God made him an exceptional teacher.

He spent much of his adult life in India.  He didn’t follow the pattern of many yogis (and others named “das”) of his era, who returned to live in the United States and develop a following, (though some of this happened later in his life).  In most cases, seekers went to him, people like Sting and Trudy Styler, Madonna, David Life and Sharon Gannon (the founders of Jivamukti Yoga in New York), The Beastie Boys, and others. He was welcoming to all.

There is much to learn and appreciate when considering the life of a bhakti, one who ecstatically sings the praises of God, lives in that praise, and sees that all of us are part of Divine Consciousness. The times I met and spoke with Stephen, as I knew him because of my relationship with his parents, were not the simple ordinary settings — one was the memorial gathering for his father and the other was a wedding reception for him and his new bride.  I don’t think I quite understood who he was and what he knew.  Even as we spoke of yoga then, I was still years away from knowing myself as the bhakti I would become. So what I experienced and learned during the tributes yesterday resonated with me for many reasons.

LESSON TWENTY SIX

BEING DEVOTED TO DIVINE LOVE

How would it feel to be embraced in a feeling of love and devotion most of the time?  To witness yourself through eyes of pure love?  To see the world as lila, God’s play?  To recognize the Divine in everything around you? To know that this Love is eternal and will accompany your soul even when you depart your body?  These are some of the Truths that seemed so relevant during the memorial tribute.

How can we apply this, in our everyday life, to be lighter and happier?  Here are some ideas:

  • When you rise in the morning and before going to sleep at night, spend a few moments considering the wonder of life.  It could be in the form of gratitude or in something special that happened that day.  It might be simple like how comfortable you feel lying in bed. Anything!
  • Ponder the idea that you, yourself, carry the light of Divine Love within you all the time.  Think of it as a birthright, as a given.
  • Imagine that everyone you meet and everything you see is part of the Light and shares this Eternal Love.  You might bring to mind someone you love and see them surrounded by this Love.  Or, maybe even better, see someone who has troubled you or angered you, and see them equally that way.
  • Put yourself into the most perfect, dreamlike spot you can imagine.  Maybe at the sea or in the mountains or wherever you feel “at home.” See that place as a vista of God’s Love, of lila.
  • Try to hold on to this open-hearted Love, with complete abandon and joy.  And, if sometimes you lose that sense of joy (which can happen to all of us), be kind and forgiving and know that the feeling will return.  Just witness yourself without judging.

I don’t know that these would be words of advice from Shyamdas, they are interpretations of my own feelings of bhakti. I think he would like them.

Here is something he wrote in his last will and testament:

Jai Shri Krishna…What a lila!

To my entire family as well as to my circle of satsang friends and teachers: It was an honor to be part of it.

Know that the soul is eternal and plays onwards,

always reaching for the Beloved.

Thank you, Shyamdas.  We know your soul is very much alive, chanting even now. And as you say, Om shalom!

With love and namaste, Deanne

For more writings, go to http://www.deannemincer.com and to http://www.shyamdas.com.