These first weeks back in NYC have been great.
Now, I am the first one to say that everyday we encounter teachers–in physical form and in the form of situations, etc., and also that we ourselves are great teachers and all have gurus within us. On the other hand, there are people out there waiting to help us on our path and shed some light and I am seeking and finding them now.
This week I made it to my first Satsang. This is a Sanskrit word which basically means a gathering of people to discuss and reflect on topics in an attempt to better their community. I found one more traditional definition reading, “the company of saints, who have God in their heart and continuously aspire for him. It is believed that they can radiate positive or spiritual energy to our minds, and their presence can accelerate our spiritual progress.” How cool is that?
I attended the Satsang at The World Yoga Center’s main office…which is actually the living room of the founder’s apartment. There were about 15 of us circled around waiting to learn from our own guru, Rudrani. The discussion was entitled “What the world needs is love,” but this was not about the Valentine’s kind of love (which is good) but more about the love that we all have deep within ourselves. We learned that this life is a university for us to learn how to love. These were several of my favorite quotes from the evening:
The important thing is not to think much, but to love much; and so, do that which bestirs you to love.
–Saint Teresa of Avila
A comment on the love of our community and nature (from over 100yrs ago):
“We are all children of the Great Spirit. We all belong to Mother Earth. Our planet is in great trouble and if we keep carrying old grudges and do not work together, we will all die.”
We briefly spoke about how the art of communication is being lost. It’s true that the digital age of texting and FaceBook has contributed to this, but even beyond that. How many people do you truly communicate with on a daily basis? That means you are actually listening them and giving them your focus and attention. Your mind is not wondering and you are making eye contact. Real conversation would probably freak some people out. But we need this. We crave connection to other human beings and this present communication can satisfy that and help feed that well of love we have in ourselves.
“Something more, something greater needs to pass between us —For this to happen, we need to pay a higher quality of attention. That’s not the same as simply paying more attention to each other: it’s a transformative energy that passes between people when they genuinely listen to each other.—The value of genuinely being in each other’s presence is almost completely lost in our social discourse. It seems we don’t even know how to facilitate genuine presence, the kind of authentic being –with –each other that may actually bring about real positive change”
What the Yoga Tradition says about Love (via Satsang with Rudrani)
- LOVE AND ATTACHMENT ARE MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE ONE DISPELS THE OTHER
- LOVE ARISES IN THE HEART INDEPENDENT OF OUTER CIRCUMSTANCES
- LOVE IS AN INNER STATE IT DOESN’T HAVE A CAUSE OR A MOTIVE. IT ARISES FROM THE SELF
- LOVE IS OUR VERY NATURE
- LOVE IS ALL THERE IS
- LOVE IS FREE OF CONDITIONS
- LOVE IS THE INHERENT EXPERIENCE UNDERNEATH ALL THE TRANSIENT EMOTIONS, THE CONTEXT FOR OUR MANY PASSING FEELINGS
- LOVE IS THE KNOWLEDGE THAT WE ARE ALL CONNECTED TO EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE
- LOVE IS ALWAYS SHINING WITHIN US LIKE THE SUN ALTHOUGH WE CANNOT ALWAYS FEEL IT
- SUPREME LOVE CANNOT BE KNOWN WITH THE FINITE MIND, IT REQUIRES INNER KNOWLEDGE
This information is so inspiring to me. Some of these remind me why I have always felt that God and Love are the same and the words are interchangeable. Not everyone wants to believe that. Some think God could never be within us, but must be outside of us–something we have to attain access to through hard work; I do not believe this way. I am a child of God and it makes sense to me that ever fiber of my being would be made of God/Love and I would live my life for God/Love and that in fact, no matter how hard I tried, I could not separate myself from God.
I also had a few moments in contemplation of death (don’t worry-it’s not as depressing as it sounds) From Satsang:
In being with dying, we arrive at a natural crucible of what it means to love and be loved. And we can ask ourselves this: Knowing that death is inevitable, what is most precious today?
Roshi Joan Halifax
It is very important to spend some time in mediation contemplating death–if you are ready. (This would not be the first thing I would do if I was new to meditation.) Eckert Tolle calls it “death before dying.” After losing so many loved ones last year I started to think about my own mortality more and more. It was all so real to me to be spending time with people who I knew were at the end of their lives. I could not have more fully lived in the moments with them and yet I knew that there would never be enough. As I held my Grandmother’s hand in the hospital the day before she passed, I knew it was the last time I ever would. 28 years of holding those hands was still never enough. But we must learn to hold on to each other without the physical body. Contemplating your death will help you to shed fear and to value your life.
Another teacher who’s class I attend was Michel Swornik. He taught the yoga philosophy part of my training last fall. The class was wonderful. Two hours and fifteen minutes and donation based! I loved the mix of asana, pranayama and philosophy. (Now if we can just get some heat in there. Ha!) Anyway, he spoke briefly about fear–fearlessness to be exact. It started with talk of asanas but if trickles into life. He said (lightly quoting), when you have no fear, nothing has control over you. To be fearless is to have ultimate freedom. Rudrani touched on this as well saying, we cannot achieve enlightenment through asana, but the way we approach poses and work though them is the same. They teach us. (Like in inversions. For many of us there in fear involved, but how we struggle and practice and follow through all matters.)
And finally, I saw William Shatner on Broadway in a one man show. (Don’t worry, I do not consider him to be my new guru!) It was very enjoyable and I got to learn a lot about his life, and loves, and career. He also touched on death. He is 80 now and he was wondering what comes next. He said when Timothy Leary died, in his last breath he said, “of course.” And Steve Jobs said, “Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow.” Amazing. Shatner says, “Love is the difference between the cold light of the universe and the warmth of the human spirit, and life doesn’t have to end when love is present.”
Isn’t it crazy how all these different experiences were tied together this week? When you listen, the universe speaks.
What’s it saying to you ?