Wisdom from the Tao te Ching

Fifteen

The ancient masters were subtle, mysterious, profound, responsive. The depth of their knowledge is unfathomable. Because it is unfathomable, All we can do is describe their appearance. Watchful, like men crossing a winter stream. Alert, like men aware of danger. Courteous, like visiting guests. Yielding like ice about to melt. Simple, like uncarved blocks of wood. Hollow, like caves. Opaque, like muddy pools. Who can wait quietly while the mud settles? Who can remain still until the moment of action? Observers of the Tao do not seek fulfillment. Not seeking fulfillment, they are not swayed by desire for change.

translated from the Tao te Ching by Gia Fu Feng

2014-09-29T10:49:06+00:00 September 29th, 2014|Comments Off on Wisdom from the Tao te Ching

Reflection on World Travel and Inner Journey, part 2

satsang in Brazil

I want to continue sharing my experiences with teaching at the Integral Yoga Institute in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.  After the Raja Yoga training ended, I had a few days to rest before holding a Satsang—an informal gathering where I spoke and answered questions.  The Institute asked only for a contribution of food to attend, that was then donated to a local program that feeds the homeless. What a beautiful example of Karma Yoga!

The Satsang was attended by about 60 people and I spoke about Yoga being a way of life, not just a philosophy or health regimen.  The practice of Yoga is not intended to create or achieve something.  Instead, it is a way of revealing the deeper aspect of our nature that usually remains hidden behind the never ending movements of thought, the way the sun can be hidden behind a blanket of clouds.

Our normal way of pursuing goals with a forceful and driven mentality is not useful when practicing Yoga.  We must learn to adjust our practice to the capacity of our bodies and minds, to balance our efforts with ease, to develop our will power in small increments.  By learning to accept where we are now, we are able to decide what the next step toward healthy growth will be.   For example, someone learning to fast as a spiritual practice may start by skipping the evening meal instead of 3 days on tea.

I continued over the weekend with the theme of adopting Yoga as a lifestyle in a program called Work, Love, Lunch and Laundry: Integrating Yoga into Daily Life.  I spoke about the unique challenges of following the spiritual path while being immersed in this culture that embraces external experiences as the source of happiness.

Alternating between practice and discussion, we reviewed together ten practical suggestions for how to incorporate spiritual values into our lives.  I offer two of them here that are great to work with– the first one acts as a foundation for the others—and will describe more of them in another post.

1)         Create a personal mission statement that expresses your vision or understanding of your true purpose in life.  Write it down and use it as a guide to make big decisions or set long term personal goals.  If spiritual growth is really important to you, you can take steps to build it into your life.

2)         Learn to free yourself from inner conflict.  Judging or denying the unwanted aspects of your being creates suffering and consumes energy.  Accept where you are and bring healing attention to painful experiences.  Just as we all want to find the root cause of physical pain, you can reflect deeply on the roots of your mental, emotional or spiritual suffering and see if it is caused by unfulfilled desires or expectations that resulted in disappointment.

Swami Ramananda Signature

2016-10-15T01:45:49+00:00 September 25th, 2014|Comments Off on Reflection on World Travel and Inner Journey, part 2

Reflections on World Travel and the Inner Journey

Group from Lavras, Brazilrappelling friends

No matter where in the world you go, the human desire to achieve connection, fulfillment and lasting peace is always present.  I find myself thinking this way having just returned from teaching Yoga in Brazil.

Integral Yoga has a dynamic Institute in Belo Horizonte, a large city in south central Brazil, where I taught 13 people (in) the art of teaching Raja Yoga.  We spent 12 consecutive days discussing, practicing and immersing ourselves in this science of the mind, and how it can be integrated into the way we live.

Halfway through the training, I guided the group through an exercise in which each person first examined an area of personal struggle and then committed to practicing a specific teaching that would apply to this issue. Afterwards, we all shared our reflections.

One person wanted to address the obsessive self-criticism that she frequently noticed.  She practiced substituting a more positive and truthful affirmation when those thoughts would arise.  Another person practiced having compassion for family members, and to not take personally the hurtful things they might say when they were suffering.  I decided to practice Santosha, or contentment, as a way to cope with my mind’s tendency toward incessant and anxious planning.

I continue practicing this.  While I value the need to prepare for things properly, I also want to enjoy the present moment without constantly thinking of all the things I still need to do.  It feels so good when I allow myself to really relax into the present moment and trust that I will take care of the future at the proper moment.

During my first week in Brazil, I spent almost all my time either teaching or preparing to teach.  But when we had a half day off, I had my first experience with rappelling.

When my host mentioned the opportunity, I thought it would be fun until we arrived at an old, unused highway bridge and I saw just how high above the valley below we were—over 120 feet.

We had good safety gear and proper training, but it was still quite the challenge to lower myself over the edge and dangle so far above the nearby trees.  (Now that was a moment that was difficult to relax into!)  I ended up loving it and took two more turns descending. I was rewarded with an orange t-shirt reading, “Samari Adventures”.

We ended the training with each of the participants giving a 15 minute presentation on a specific topic.  Watching how much each of them had grown as a teacher filled me with a sense of joy and real accomplishment—I felt like a proud papa.  They all embraced the teachings of Yoga wholeheartedly, and it gives me hope for our world to think of these sincere yogis living by and sharing these precious teachings in their interactions and relationships.

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2016-10-15T01:45:49+00:00 September 18th, 2014|Comments Off on Reflections on World Travel and the Inner Journey