BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE IN THE WORLD
yad-yad ācarati śreṣṭhas / tad-tadevetaro janaḥ / sa yat pramāṇaḿ kurute / lokas-tad-anuvartate
A great person leads by example, setting standards that are followed by others all over the world.
The streets of Calcutta were dangerous and dirty. Thousands were infected with leprosy, cholera, and other contagious diseases. At overcrowded hospitals, nurses were forced to turn away dying patients onto the cockroach-infested streets. A group of activists, led by Mother Teresa, risked their own health to treat the sick and poor, even though most could not be saved. Why would Mother Teresa dedicate her life to working in the most unsettling conditions for people who did not have anything to give in return? She responded by saying, “I see the divine in every human being. When I wash a leper’s wounds, I feel I am nursing the Lord himself. Is it not a beautiful experience?”
The great leaders of the world – Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Rosa Parks, the Dalai Lama, Malala Yousafzai – all share certain characteristics. They are clear communicators as well as great listeners. They have a firm and steady grounding that reflects an unwavering commitment to their cause. They inspire and empower. They are also confident, honest, and discerning. There is another quality each great leader has, that perhaps outshines all the others – humility.
Business philosopher Jim Rohn says, “Humility is almost a God-like word. A sense of awe. A sense of wonder. An awareness of the human soul and spirit. Humility is the grasp of the distance between us and the stars, yet having the feeling that we are part of the stars.” In other words, humility is seeing yourself in others; it is seeing all life as holy.
The word humility is derived from the Latin humilis, which is translated as “grounded” or “from the Earth.” The Chandogya Upanishad teaches tat twam asi or “you are that.” This mahavakya, or great saying, relates to the idea that everything is Brahman, that the supreme Self and the individual self are one and the same. If you are Brahman, and the tree is Brahman, then you and the tree are one. The yogi has the humility to understand they are the same as all that exists on Earth. Its natural resources support life, so it is our responsibility to support the Earth just as much.
According to Vedic scripture, we are currently living in the Kali Yuga – an era of conflict and struggle – and great leaders are especially needed. If we want to see peace and happiness in the world, then we must live the kind of life we want to see. There was a point in time when humanity lived in harmony with nature. We only took from the Earth what was necessary to survive. Now, each year, humans kill billions of animals and destroy millions of acres of land. We are fighting wars over natural resources and the Earth can no longer sustain us. The business of taking all the earthly resources we want was once thought of as progress. We have instead regressed, causing billions of humans, animals, and plants unhappiness.
A great yogi offers strength to others so that they too can learn to be steady and joyful. Humility allows the yogi to be the change they want to see in the world. We can consider progressing in a different way, one that would help us rediscover our higher consciousness and realize that we are the same as the stars and shine just as bright. We can also lead by example, setting standards that are followed by others all over the world.
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LOVE & A BLESSED 2017!
Focus Of The Month – January, 2017
You know the story of the student who says to the teacher, “I studied eight years with so-and-so and two years with so-and-so, and I know all about this and that and the other.” As he is speaking the teacher is pouring a cup of tea. The student is going on about all his credentials and why the teacher should teach him. The teacher is still pouring the tea, which is now pouring out of the cup, all over the table and dripping on the student. “What are you doing?” the student asks. “Are you crazy? Why’d you do that?” The teacher laughs and says “You’re like the cup. You’re already full, and I can’t teach you. It would be like trying to put more tea in the cup; it’s not going to happen.”
Letting go, or the release, of a restricted way of moving is essential to being filled back up. That emptying out process is a surrender. Surrender has a negative connotation to us. It usually means that we have lost. But in this case it allows us to let go of the way things have been and embrace newness as it appears in each moment. We are able to find a new range of motion with new possibilities and thoughts coming into our minds.
We can see how we’ve been indoctrinated by our culture in the ways that we move. In some places we shake hands, while in others that’s not considered a good thing to do. There are differences in how women and men move, and how people signal and interact with one another. We learn these ways of being. As we grow older, we become more attached to our own set of prohibitions and possibilities. They become narrower and less available if you are only walking down the same path every day.
A new way of approaching the future is expanding what is possible rather than limiting it. There are actually a thousand different ways you can get to work instead of taking the same route each day. The key is not clinging to how we’ve always lived our lives. Most of our decisions are made according to how we’ve been programmed instead of spontaneity, creativity and originality. If you were raised with writers, musicians or dancers you might be more likely to tap into the universal consciousness and conduct real creativity instead of the same old ideas.
We would all like to know how to step forward in a way that doesn’t hurt others. It is good for us and good for the Earth. We want to orient our self to the Earth in all kinds of ways so that we get different points of view; upside down, right-side up, half-way turned around. Those are very potent things to do with your body. They can deprogram you, opening up the list of possible ways of being. We all have certain prejudices about what we are capable of. For example, the thought “I have very little upper body strength.” That’s not a fact. That’s an idea. It’s not a matter of lifting weights. It’s a matter of what you already decided the possibilities were. “A world without war? No way!” As long as you have that thought, then you’re going to live in a world where there is no way of living without war.
Look at the hip socket. The possible range of movement is big, but if all you do in your life is sit at a desk and barely walk around, then you see the range as small. The joint is unable to find its full potential. That limited range of movement is also in your brain and nervous system. Your ability to understand, comprehend and accept new ways of being are also limited in the same way. The body’s limitation is a reflection of the mind’s limitation.
Usually what happens is the mind, because of its limitation, creates an action. The Sanskrit word for action is karma, which means any action: word, thought or step. The law of karma says that any action will continue on, reverberate and come back to you eventually. If you’ve ever thrown a pebble on a pond it sends out these waves. As soon as they hit the border of the pond they start to come back to the original spot. So every action we’ve done in this life and past lives are inside this body. The results are the restrictions, the tightness, the closed mind. The inability to be creative, spontaneous and to invent new possibilities is because of those past actions. The yoga practice allows you to bring those past actions to completion. Get them out of there!
~ David Life
When I was a child growing up Africa, we called all friends of our parents ‘Auntie’ or ‘Uncle’ (in french ‘tantine’ or ‘‘tonton’) which was an honorific and considered respectful. And among the aunties and uncles, there were those you wanted to be related to: Too cool not to be yours. And they actually didn’t care for honorifics. Heartbreaks, delights, anything: you could call them and they would always be there for you. You would never feel uncomfortable around them.
Shyamdas – affectionately and respectfully called Shyamdasji – belongs to that category, as a spiritual teacher. He had dedicated his life to the music, literature, and people of Braj. He spoke Sanskrit, Hindi, Gujarati, and Brajbhasha. He was a scholar who insightfully translated and commented many of the songs and writings of saints from the Pushti Marg tradition (Shri Vallabhacharya, Govinda Svami, Raskhan, Surdas and others). His immense knowledge was only surpassed by his joy – ananda.
Shyamdasji lived in the bhav, mad in love with God and in service. He left his body in January of 2013.
Regular students of my classes are familiar with his voice … and his laughter!
Today, I’d like to share Braj Raja with you.
All these sacred and ancient teachings are preserved and distributed through the wonderful work of the Shyamdas Foundation.
As Shyamdasji would say: “It’s all Hari’s grace”