Amma’s Letter:  November 18th, 2003

Divine World Yoga Family:  Namastey!                                                      

The sun is out and shining bright at noon, and this is very strange for it is the middle of the monsoon! (To paraphrase Alice in Wonderland ideas!)  We have had some heavy monsoon rains this year, for the first time in several years.  Actually, we have had almost a drought state for three-four years and the land has been dry and the earth forlorn.  This year we have had some good rains, not daily as is usual in monsoon, but here and there.  At least it has been enough to give some nourishment to the earth.  But, this also has a bad side effect, as the sun will be shining in great heat one moment and then, we shiver in cold as big black clouds suddenly cover the sky.  One extreme to another!  The weather patterns have changed world wide.  Many people living in Germany told me that this year the heat was so great, they felt to be in India!  Mankind tries to manipulate Nature for his own convenience and pleasure, but She will not long tolerate this.  She shows Her own power when the time comes, and then, we can only stand and gaze in awe as her fury expressed in heat waves, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods and other natural catastrophes.  Knowing all this, we continue to meddle  blissfully, trying to change the environment instead of attempting to adjust to it.  The ancient Rishis created a culture which was cored in a deep respect and reverence for Nature.  Nature was God:  Agni, fire; Indra, lightning, thunder and rains; Varuna, the water and the sea; Vayu, the air; Bhumi Devi, the earth Herself; Surya, the sun.  Delicate, sensitive rituals and Pujas reinforced that natural awe and reverence and served as a means of communion between man and the natural forces.  Man’s mind and mental attitude had the power to placate natural fury.  Now, humans merrily devour the earth as though there is no future generation who will need a place to stay.  We talk in conferences of blowing up segments of the earth on which other people live as though that will have no effect on us.  The poet said, You cannot pluck a flower without disturbing a star.  Who realizes this deep in their bones?  If we did, could we indulge in such greedy consumerism, or fight wars in the name of love?  Food for thoughts!  Necessary thoughts.  Aurobindo said a good thing when a disciple complained to him that everyone was selfish and mean.  Aurobindo replied:  “Well, we have our work cut out for us, don’t we.  We must make certain we ourselves are not selfish and mean”!

Many come to ICYER to study Yoga with us, but few realize what Yoga really is.  Most think it is a keep fit exercise, or will bestow peace of mind if we perform a few Asanas.  Some hope it will cure disease.  Some want to lose weight, some hope it will give meaning  to their lives.  Unhappy people expect Yoga to make them happy, undisciplined people expect Yoga to give them discipline.  However, Yoga may have these things as spin offs.  The essence of Yoga is its power to make us less selfish and reduce our petty, mean-mindedness.  Many can perform Asanas and Pranayama to perfection.  Many can sit for hours in meditation  But very few are good people.  Strong, stable, sensitive, alert, skillful, capable, healthy, energetic, aware, open, happy, grateful, appreciative, quiet and controlled.  Without those qualities of character, what kind of Yoga can we practice?  Our real job in Yoga is Swadhyaya (Self Study) and the desire to develop Yogic qualities so beautifully summarized in the Yamas and Niyamas of Patanjali - non-harmfulness, truthfulness, non-stealing, control of sexual power and non-greed-restraining our animal nature, our mammalian brain, the deep powerful impulses of the animal’s intense urge to survive.  Then the sculpting of the higher nature.  Manas, consciousness, the cerebral cortex, the pre-frontal lobes - through the Niyamas:  cleanliness, contentment, spiritual discipline, self study and surrender to Divine Will.  How basic these are to spiritual growth!  How few embrace them or even care for them, cultivate them, nurture them!  The bedrock of Yoga living, the very ground under our feet - The Yamas and Niyamas.

A danger in spirituality is getting too tightly wrapped up in the arms of ourselves.  Self-absorbed, but an absorption in the limited petty ego.  Sage Vashishta in the Yoga Vashishta gave a beautiful description of the ego:  “The ego is dull, inert and stupid.”  Yet, we cling to this heavy, crude lump of stone and sink to the bottom of the sea of ignorance encumbered by its weight!

How peculiar life is!  How strange we humans be!  We always yearn for something which can not exist!  Like Sita’s yearning for the golden deer!  The illusions of the world hypnotizes us and in our mad passion to grasp them we become ignorant selfish and mean.”

Just thoughts on a rainless, sunny monsoon day!  May our Yoga Sadhana be based on Virtue, may your Yoga Sadhana be based on strength, wisdom and awareness.  May your Yoga Sadhana be successful and may the light of the Guru shine in your spirit!

Affectionately in Yoga,

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