Saturday, March 17, 2012

Sivananda Yoga Teacher Training--Karma Yoga for Life or Why Meditate?

When I came here to do three months of karma yoga I did not intend to do the teacher training. I had already done one teacher training in 2009 and had begun to teach yoga last year. The intention I had in coming here to do karma yoga was to learn better how to be of service. Being actively involved in 12 Step programs for the past year and a half --and not having a job-- I had been experiencing the concept of selfless service. That service was changing me: my attitudes, my relationships with the people in my life, my feeling about myself. The seed planted in doing this service, the karma, led me to Sivananda

Another intention I had was to live in the Bahamas, and to do so without paying rent or having to buy food! It has been my karma, though, to spend all of the money I might have spent on food and lodging at the Boutique where I have been doing my karma yoga job here, as well as at other shops in Atlantis and Nassau. I would like to stop spending money needlessly on clothing, jewelry and other items, so I am very interested in how I can transcend my karma! And the teachings at Sivananda seem to offer a way out.

The Sivananda Teacher Training Course offers much more than working on yoga postures. I am learning about the four paths of yoga, of which karma yoga is the very beginning. Just think about it, all great spiritual teachers are karma yogis, serving others.

Here is a bit of a one of the daily philosophy lectures with Swami Brahmananda on karma yoga:

In addition to lessons from the Sivananda tradition we get teachings from other traditions. 

Geshe Michael Roach
Geshe Michael Roach is the first westerner in the 600-year history of Sera Mey Tibetan Monastery to be awarded the title of Geshe, or Master of Buddhism, after more than 20 years of study. He is the author of the international bestseller, The Diamond Cutter, translated into over 20 languages and has written 30 other books and translations.
From the Sivananda bahamas web site

Geshe Michael told us the story of ice cream: the more you give it away, the more you will eat--whether or not you want to! Even the smallest action, good or bad will come back to you 10 fold. That is Karma. We are born with a certain amount in the bank account of karma. Whatever we do in life increases that karma. Actually, the thoughts behind our actions increase our karma. Think about that for a minute.

Our most recent speaker here was :
Swami Shantananda
Swami Shantananda has dedicated his life to mission work and Vedantic teachings. He is presently the resident Acharya of Chinmaya Mission centers in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York. His lectures are filled with wonderful insights into life. People respond instantly to his wisdom and affectionate nature. From the Sivananda bahamas web site
He taught us about :
Drig-drishya-Viveka literally means the wisdom of discrimination (viveka) between the seer (drig) and the seen (drishya). In his scripture of the same title, Adi Shankaracharya takes us through an inquiry into our own essential nature by discriminating between the seer, which is the pure consciousness, and the seen – the field of enquiry. From the Sivananda bahamas web site

At one point in his lectures, Swami Shantananda spoke directly of the "exhaustion of karma" as being possible with "direct knowledge". Direct knowledge of what, I hear you ask. Direct knowledge of the Ultimate Reality I answer. Ultimate Reality, what the heck is that you say. That is what Vedanta Advaita --the philosophical foundation of Sivananda Ashram --is all about: the seer and the seen are truly One and the Same. Think quantum physics. It is said that the Rishis (great sages and yogis) in India 5000 years ago experienced this "Ultimate Reality" receiving the knowledge directly through meditation. They also calculated the distance of the planets, knew the earth was a sphere and developed many other sciences long before telescopes, computers and Columbus, all through meditation.

What I have experienced directly at this point consists of a lot of joy at doing the teacher training studying asana (yoga poses), pranayama (breathing exercises), chants, the Bhagavad Gita and Vedanta Advaita philosophy. Not sure where it will lead, but having a great and very thoughtful time. What a gift to have time to contemplate the true meaning of life and enquire into the ultimate question of existence, "Who am I, really?"

Today was a day off (still had to go to 6 AM and 8 PM satsang and do an hour of karma yoga in the Boutique). Otherwise I was on the beach, alone and with other TTCers, marveling at the beauty of it all: the ocean and sky as well as the teachings we are receiving. Om shanti

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