July Teaching: Spiritual Independence

We decided to apply the concept of spiritual independence to our lives for the month of July.  Independence suggests a freedom from outside reliance or support.  Spiritual independence implies freedom from depending on any outside source for our happiness, which is possible when we experience the profound and unchanging peace within.
Most of us experience daily ups and downs as the situations and events in our lives unfold. When things go our way, we feel pleased and cheerful; when they don’t, we are disappointed and frustrated.  This tells us that we have unintentionally allowed a desire or goal to determine our ability to be happy.
When I can catch myself feeling anxious or angry, I like to question my mind, “This isn’t going the way you want, but do you really want your baseline of happiness to be dependent on something outside of you?” Then I reaffirm, “I am doing my best to succeed, but I am free to enjoy my life right now.”
If we are in touch with an inner sense of contentment, our relationship to anything that we might acquire or achieve is dramatically different.  We can still enjoy things that we accomplish or experience, but our happiness is not contingent on those things.  We can still enjoy eating something or winning a game, and pursuing a career or a relationship, but we can also enjoy the process since we are not relying on the outcome.
Yoga teaches us that we all experience this spiritual independence when we are able to quiet our minds and its movements:  all the planning, reasoning and problem-solving that normally occupy it.  Beneath the surface waves of the mind lies an ocean of peace, a deep sense of contentment and connection with all of life.  Imagine going about your day with that feeling in the backdrop of your mind.
Stilling the mind this way is no easy task, but even a little success through some form of spiritual practice gives us a taste of that natural joy that is ever-present at the heart of our being.  A regular meditative practice, whether it is asana, meditation, prayer, selfless service or self-inquiry, will deepen over time.  As it does, and our sense of inner contentment grows, we will naturally become less reliant on events and pursuits to feel good.  This is true independence—the birthright that we are all meant to experience.

2017-07-03T17:05:01+00:00 July 3rd, 2017|0 Comments

The Tao on Humility

“I have three precious things which I hold fast and prize. The first is gentleness; the second is frugality; the third is humility, which keeps me from putting myself before others. Be gentle and you can be bold; be frugal and you can be liberal; avoid putting yourself before others and you can become a leader among men.”
― Lao Tzu

2017-06-30T21:33:44+00:00 June 30th, 2017|1 Comment

Practical Humility

“Humility is perfect quietness of heart. It is to expect nothing, to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing done against me. It is to be at rest when nobody praises me, and when I am blamed or despised.”
― Andrew Murray

2017-06-26T20:32:02+00:00 June 26th, 2017|0 Comments


On Sat, June 6, a magnificent statue of Lord Ganesha was installed in the stairwell leading up to the Institute.  It is the generous donation of a sangha member, Will Tyagan Abel, who acquired it from Bali, where it was carved from river rock. Weighing about 400 lbs, it took 5 of us to lift it into place, where it is surrounded by some of the most prolific and exquisite roses our garden has ever produced.

We immediately did an arati and made petal offerings to welcome Lord Ganesha’s presence.

2017-06-23T21:47:13+00:00 June 23rd, 2017|Comments Off on Ganesha