With Love

            What’s the motive? Such a wonderful and often profound question to ask oneself or others. In any action, circumstance, desire, what propels it? If we want to truly love without conditions this question must be at the heart of our journey.

            Loving without condition is not loving without boundary or safeguards, but it is loving without motive to receive or change. In yoga this is known as the practice of Bhakti. Bhakti is loving the divine source for the sake of loving, and serving that source for the love of it. Not for the reward of spiritual enlightenment, assured prestige in the everlasting, or perfection in the human form. Rather Bhakti Yoga is pure and reverent arising from the purest state of awe.

            Every time we are loved without feeling bound to some obligation we are graced with the divine that is the nature of love. This is the heart of love. Love without obligation or bais, motive or reward. Love for the sake of love.

            When we approach loving for the sake of loving we are in the purity of motive that is the grace of Bhakti. The Narada Bhakti Sutra’s teach that in attaining the heart space of bhakti a person does become perfected, immortal, and content, but paradoxically this is not a result of selfish motive, because pure bhakti cannot arise from selfish means. So how does one get there?

           

NARADA BHAKTI SUTRA 77

TRANSLATION BY: WILLIAM K. MAHONY (EXQUISITE LOVE 2010)

Sukha-duhkhecca-labhadityakte kale pratiksamanae

Ksanarddham-api vyartham na neyam

Relinquishing happiness, dissatisfaction, self-centered willfulness, worldly gain, and so on, when there is attentive awareness in every moment, not even half an instant should be passed uselessly.

            In gaining awareness of our motives we can ultimately control our desires. The pursuit of which must be endured with every passing and fleeting moment. The reward of which is the luscious sweetness of the ambrosia of love, without condition, without motive, without desire for reward. From bhakti awareness arises the motive to serve in bhakti, to serve in love.

            Again, such love is not love without wisdom, without safekeeping of human body, without safekeeping of human needs. Such love is wise love. Such love is not idle, not waiting to be quaffed, for it is always drawn from and returned to an unlimited source.

With love, always, in all ways, for giving, in joy,

Genevieve

Ignorance May Be Bliss, But Knowledge Is Power

One of my favorite stories, a story that I find very inspiring, is the story of Socrates and the Oracle at Delphi. Socrates served in the Peloponnesian war between Athens and Sparta. After the war, he devoted his life to the pursuit of truth. His reputation for being a man with a deep love of wisdom spread throughout Athens and beyond. He was told at some point along the way that the Oracle at Delphi had proclaimed him the wisest man in Athens. Socrates, being in constant pursuit of the truth did not believe this to be true outright, and instead he decided to prove the Oralce wrong. Henceforth, Socrates set out on a quest to find anyone who knew what was truly worthwhile in life. For anyone who knew the answer to this riddle was truly wiser than he. Questioning everyone he could find, the quest proved a great challenge indeed. For all that he questioned pretended to know something they did not, and he felt he never got a pleasing or honest answer. Despite his effort to prove the Oracle wrong he decided that the oracle perhaps was right after all. He was the wisest man in Athens because he alone was willing to admit his ignorance and not claim to know something he did not.

Just as much as I enjoy the story of Socrates’ search for a man wiser than he, I am endeared to the note written above the door to the Oracle at Delphi. “Know thyself” and the lesser known second half of the sentence “and nothing in excess.”

Like the story of Socrates, the writing above the door to the Oracle invites one into the never-ending quest for self-empowering gift of knowledge. And what makes knowledge self-empowering?

With knowledge, we become able to make well informed decisions. Wisdom itself is the power of being discerning and making thoughtful decisions. And making a choice in the moment is the only power we ever really have. Therefore, having a broad base of understanding and perspective to choose from we enable ourselves to make the best possible choice for the circumstance, from our most authentic and present self.  This is power. Even more powerful is the ability to acknowledge that we do not know something. In such an acknowledgement, we accept our ignorance and our opportunity to learn. In learning we lift the veils of our ignorance and step more deeply into the power of self-knowledge. This is stepping from ignorance into awareness, this is the great gift of revelation.   

This is one of the many gifts of a yoga practice. Through yoga we are revealed to ourselves over, and over again. To ourselves it is revealed what we know and what we are learning, in our bodies, in our minds, in our breath, in our emotional responses and reactions to the animate world we are living in. The revelation takes place in the friction between our willingness to surrender and our desire to stay attached. Through yoga we get to continue to experience the revelation of that which is true for us at any given moment. And the ultimate truth, that what is true right now, may not be true later, as all things are always changing. Knowledge is power and it is the opposite of ignorance is bliss.

Knowing thyself and nothing in excess allows us to face our ignorance and rather than see it as an impediment, to see it as an invitation. This is beginners mind. This is true flexibility. This is the root of the ability to yoke or bring all facets of our being into balance finding a state of unification in all matters of being, self, and the world. Perhaps it was being in a war that led Socrates on a lifelong pursuit of the truth. Perhaps somewhere on the battlefield he realized it was only an illusion of separation that created a false premise of difference. Perhaps it was there that he realized rather than seeing enemies in that which we do not know, we have an opportunity to see that which we do not know and an invitation to learn something new.

And for the question as to what is truly worthwhile in life. We all get pursue the answer to this mystifying riddle and greatest of quests, with each breath, and each I don’t know.

With Love, Always, in All Ways, For Giving, In Joy,

Genevieve

 

Crystals and Ruts

            Words have power. Words are a form of energetic vibration which modulate other energetic vibrations. This is what makes mantra so powerful. The repetition of a vibration changes the vibration of the one repeating it.

            Many people are now familiar with Masuro Emoto, the Japanese scientist who studied the powerful vibrational relationship between words and water. He photographed water in crystalline forms after it had been in the company of a word for an extended period. The vibration of the word, even without being spoken, was powerful enough to leave a mark on the crystal. His experiments explored a variety of words, higher vibrating ones such as love and caring as well as lower vibrating ones such as hate, and stupid. The higher vibrating words made more beautiful and elaborate crystals, while the crystals of the lower vibrating words were almost always fragmented and incomplete.

            In one of his books he discussed an experiment completed by school children in Japan. In the experiment, the children put into three jars a generous amount of cooked rice. The jars were sealed and left by the door to the home. Each day, as the children would enter and depart from the home they would greet one jar with kind and caring words, another with cruel and hurtful words, and the third with no words at all. Because the rice had been cooked it began a fermenting process in the jars. The jars that were spoken to kindly took the longest to ferment and grow mold. One would expect that the jars which were spoken to with hurtful words would ferment the quickest, however, that is not true. The rice which got no attention at all fermented rapidly, while the rice that was spoken to with cruelty took a week or so longer to rot. Words have power.

            It is valuable to acknowledge from this experiment that when no energy is given to a thing, whether high in vibration or not, that thing loses vibration rapidly. It is also valuable to recognize that words of lower vibration will increase the rate of decay of an energy that is already compromised.

            The mind is fallible, humans are fallible. Take for example the availability heuristic which is a judgment bias. Quite simply it is a mental shortcut that the mind takes to resolve a problem based on the information that is most available to answer that problem. For instance, recall your assumption that the rice spoken to cruelly would be the quickest to ferment in the argument presented above. Based on the information that was presented to you before the results of the experiment it was an easy leap to decide that the vibration of cruelty would be more harmful than the vibration of indifference. However, your assumption was not evidence that cruelty was more harmful than indifference. Rather, it was just your mind using the information most readily available to it to quickly leap to a judgement. To avoid the failings of the availability heuristic we must ask ourselves how reliable is the information we are working with?

            Words not only enhance and deplete energetic vibrations, they also create illusions and delusions. The availability heuristic is a form of delusion. It is the formulation of a belief based on incomplete or false information. In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali these kinds on mental delusions are addressed:

Yoga Sutra 1:9

ŚABDAJNĀNĀNUPĀTĪ VASTU ŚŪNYO VIKALPAH.
An image that arises on hearing mere words without any reality [as its basis] is verbal delusion.

            Verbal delusions and judgment biases are valuable for contemplation because, while the creation of the belief or understanding of the situation is merely a delusion it will leave an impression on the mind, much like the water crystals of Masuro Emoto. The practice of yoga is about so much more that moving the body into strange and interesting shapes. Beyond the impressions of comfort and discomfort, like and dislike, is the opportunity to explore the ruts carved out by the delusions and misconceptions of the human experience. Getting to know the trappings of the mind and the minds ability to liberate itself from those trappings is the great gift of yoga. To know the power of the vibration of the words that move through you and to use those words mindfully, like planting seeds, pulling weeds, and watering a garden.

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