Sunday, April 29, 2012

About Durga

When I graduated from the Sivananda Yoga Teacher Training I was given the opportunity to choose a mantra and receive a mantra initiation. I also chose to be given a spiritual name which would be based on the chosen mantra. I spent several days deciding what to do. Mantras are very powerful energy encased in a sound structure, and are directed towards a specific deity.

I did not choose the name for myself, only the mantra. The name was given to me by one of the main spiritual leaders of Sivananda Vedanta and Yoga Centers, Swami Swaroopananda.

There are many names for the Goddess Durga. I expected to be given one of these other, "lesser" names, not the name Durga. Think of it as a ladder, with the name of Durga being at the top rung, while many other names (Ambika, Lalita, Gauri etc) exist on the lower rungs, still representing the Goddess.

The way I understand this occurrence of my spiritual name is this: I need the support. So I got the maha (great) Goddess herself to help me focus my mind and my life. So far it is working very well--when I spend time with the mantra and ask for the help I need.

Here is an excerpt from a link to an article that describes Durga: 

Goddess Durga is the mother of the universe and believed to be the power behind the work of creation, preservation, and destruction of the world. Since time immemorial she has been worshipped as the supreme power of the Supreme Being and has been mentioned in many scriptures - Yajur Veda, Vajasaneyi Samhita and Taittareya Brahman. The Meaning of "Durga"
The word "Durga" in Sanskrit means a fort, or a place which is difficult to overrun. Another meaning of "Durga" is "Durgatinashini," which literally translates into "the one who eliminates sufferings." Thus, Hindus believe that goddess Durga protects her devotees from the evils of the world and at the same time removes their miseries.

Elimination of suffering is a very good thing I think. Om shanti

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Bahamas Ashram Living: Photo Essay

Homa or Fire Ceremony in the Temple
Chanting in Morning Satsang on the Beach
Karma Yoga Shift--Chopping

Beach Break

Altar in the Temple--every day a different color

Fellow Kitchen Staff Karma Yogis

Evening Sastang Lecture on Yoga for Healing and Western Medicine--look closely!

Broccoli every day keeps the doctor away

Swami Sitaramananda Teaching in the Temple

Dinner Partners

Another dinner view

Typical sunset from beach platform

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Karma Yoga--why would a yogi resist?

Today at the graduation ceremony for Vedanta and Silence, Swami Sita commented on the test we took in terms of getting it or missing the point. We all passed and she felt we did some deep work but in certain areas we all missed some vital points regarding Advaita Vedanta.

For me that point was the realization of the necessity of karma yoga to be firmly grounded on the yogi path in order to become devoted to Atman or the True Self. In order to progress and thus end the unending wheel of suffering.

Many yogis miss this. In fact I may have only met one or two who truly get it. It is what separates the wheat from the chaff and it is a cornerstone of yoga practice and training at Sivananda centers.

Karma yoga and all spiritual practice is first and foremost about one thing: self-surrender, or surrender of the individual ego for the good of all. Think Star Trek at the end when Spock dies:
the good of the many outweighs the good of the few, or the one

Based on Swamiji's comments to me and upon reflecting on my resistance, I have made some personal observations about me and surrender.

What I most do not want to surrender:

Time--more than personal space, money and being in control, this is the big one

Unwilling to trust in other people-- this is really big for me and I realize now just how I have constructed a life of independence to not have to depend on any one other than myself as much as possible--this must be karmic because I have had a 

Feeling of working all the time my whole life-- it is a deep inner feeling that I was born doing karma yoga because my parents were so sick and suffering that when I was a child they needed and possibly received more care than I

It is very possible my view of my past is faulty, as I am still much in ignorance about the Self and Truth. But now, at least I have a very good path, and a very good teacher.

Om shanti