It is good to reflect on why we do things, why we travel, why we practice yoga, etc..
One fine afternoon, Padma Sharon asked us « Why did you come here ? » And the students, one by one, proceeded to answer. (That is a story for another day).
One of the many reasons I keep going back to the Wild Woodstock Jivamukti Forest Sanctuary is simply to be with my teachers. As long as they are willing to teach, I will do my best to never miss an opportunity to seat at their feet.
Last year, inspired by them, I started reading sacred texts for no other purpose but satsang.
Sat means ‘Truth” and anga means « Attachment,” the word satsang means “to be attached to the truth ». Regularly reading sacred texts is a powerful way to keep the company of sages and saints who wrote them, or whose lives are depicted in those texts. It literally is spending time with them. As a yoga teacher and an avid reader, I do read many books but it is recent that I decided to read for no other purpose than to hangout with elevated texts and/or enlightened masters. Some of these texts are intimidating and not my daily cup of tea. So what to do? A simple suggestion (drawn from my personal experience): sit with the text, stick with it, read out loud if you can. Even if you don’t know Sanskrit yet. Sanskrit is a vibrational language, so the practice of reading itself can be very insightful.
A year ago, I started a new routine of reading around lunch time (as my teachers do). One lovely thing that they do is, they read out loud for one another. And whoever is invited to share prasad is naturally invited to join in satsang . This practice had me reflect on idle talks or social media binging, iPhone checking as I eat.
They usually have one or two sacred texts i.e. The Srimad Bhagavatam with two different commentaries.
Last week, we read from the Mahabharata ( the epic poem that stretches over 100,000 verses and contains, the Bhagavad Gita).
When my turn arrived, I had the most poignant dialogue to read from a very famous passage (the yaksha’s questions).
The sage Yudisthira is asked, ‘What is the most amazing thing about the world?’ He answers, ‘Every day creatures die, yet the rest live as if immortal.’ *
This had me pause. And repeat the sentence out loud. It resonated with me. It stayed with me. I do see others die all around me, but do I ever seriously think about my own death?
Death awareness is a daily practice in many spiritual traditions ( The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, written by Sogyal Rinpoche is an important book) and is an essential topic for the yogi. It is not meant to be depressing.
What if every day, we set time apart to contemplate what will truly be important at the end of our life? Have we been willing to learn from seeing others die or did we freak out and throw all of our spiritual practices out the window?
The sage Yudisthira in his great wisdom is reminding us that the world is not interested by such contemplations. And that this is the most amazing thing.
“Awareness of death is the very bedrock of the path. Until you have developed this awareness, all other practices are useless. » – The Dalai Lama.
“A society based on the quest for security is nothing but a breath-retention contest in which everyone is as taut as a drum and as purple as a beet.” – Alan Watts
Thank you Sage Yudisthira, His Holiness and all the spiritual masters (in so many forms) for this essential teaching.
With love always,
* quoted from http://devdutt.com/books/jaya-3.html