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Obstacles, Tapas and Acceptance

sunshineyoga
Jessica Sunshine Klein
Sunday 9/11/11 ~ Meditation based on Patanjali's Yoga Sutras
Saraswati Andrea Lee and Chitra Jessica Sunshine Klein
Starseed Yoga and Wellness of Montclair, NJ

HariOM call/response chant to open.

This evening’s class began with a message from our Guru, Sri Reverend Jaganath Carerra. Entitled Seeing the Beauty in Life , it speaks to how we manage to appreciate the blessings in our lives in the midst of suffering. I believe that this is fitting as we sit here ten years after the events of September 11th -- as a nation and as a global community we have experienced both light and darkness and both have significance to us. How do we navigate the darker times without diminishing the light? His message reads,

“How can we see the beauty in life when we know that many are suffering? We need to view what seems to be negative as an integral part of the entire tapestry of the flow of life. The darkest shadows only come in the brightest light. Everything that happens, in some way or other, brings about a purging of ignorance and movement towards the Light. It takes patience and faith to perceive this, but if the mind is perfectly clear and focused, and heart open, you certainly will. Everything really does work together for the good.”

We are not asked to ignore suffering or numb ourselves to its effects. Instead it is suggested that we begin to change the way we understand suffering and how it fits into the fabric of our lives. This reminds me of one of the niyamas, a set of five ethical observances of people on a spiritual path. They are purity, contentment, discipline, self-study and surrender. The one that I would like to discuss is the third niyama which is called tapas in Sanskrit and can be translated, among other things, as discipline and zeal of practice. It includes the practice of accepting pain as a means of personal and spiritual growth. This is a critical concept yet one that is certainly by no means easy to practice. Instead of running away from suffering, burying it, or trying to combat it with more violence, we are asked to see suffering as a teacher who is trying to guide us in the right direction. If we understand pain and suffering as a part of a web that encourages our learning and growth, we can start to make sense out of events that appear to be utterly senseless.

Again, this does not mean we should condone certain acts or to ignore them, but when suffering does enter our lives we can ask ourselves “What can I learn from this situation?” or “How can I help prevent this as well as lessen the suffering of others?” or “How can I be even more grateful for the aspects of my life that reveal my inner peace?” I believe this is a message that is important for us as individuals and especially so as members of familial, national and global communities. Stilling the mind through meditation makes it easier to find these answers and to keep our equilibrium during the toughest moments.

It is said that the closer we get to our goals the more difficult the journey may seem. If you are walking towards a mountain does it appear larger or smaller the closer you get to it? And if you are on a path to the sunlight of peace and freedom it will most likely get hotter the nearer you are. Pain and suffering may come as signs that we are closer and closer to our own liberation and that we need to continue on with discipline and faith and make use of our communities to strengthen our journey.

Four Locks and Keys
Patanjali Yoga Sutra 1.33  By cultivating attitudes of friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and equanimity towards the non-virtuous, the mind-stuff retains its undisturbed calmness.

Considering where we are in live, how we live, who we live with, there are bound to times when our mind becomes disturbed while engaged in interactions with others.  Let us understand that everyone has a right to be who they are and say what they want, but it doesn't have to affect us.  The four locks and keys", as named by Sri Swami Satchidananda, are the locks to the puzzles we face daily and the keys are the solutions.  Let us look a little closer at possible scenerios...
1) Happiness to the friendly ~ It is possible to meet someone who gets on your nerves.  Perhaps when this occurs the person is super friendly and you find it annoying.  Do not disturb their peace, instead be happy for them.  Just smile and keep your unshakable peace.
2) Compassion for the unfriendly ~ We can all say that we have interacted with a grumpy person.  By keeping your heart open in this situation and being empathetic (we've all had bad days) towards another, you can increase your peace.  Again, just smile and keep your unshakable peace.
3) Delight in the virtuous ~ When you recognize  a positive quality in another, rejoice in it.  By acknowledging virtues in others, we can manifest them in ourselves.  When you see kindness and patience in your neighbor or friend, appreciate it.  Share the joy of peace with others.
4) Equanimity for the unvirtuous ~ In the state of yoga, there is complete union with everyone.  Yoga is union, we just have to wake up to this fact.  Equanimity means to see each other as equals, that we are all allowed to make our own mistakes.

"Acceptance is the key to Peace.  It means to recognize that every situation, every challenge holds priceless lessons for our growth." - Sri Guruji Reverend Jaganath Carrera

There is no fear when we feel oneness, only joy, love and peace.  We are a reflection of our mind.  When joy, love and peace are reflected in the mind, it is a true reflection of the Self ~ who is the same in all ~ Divine consciousness.  We are not told what to do, but how to be, how to ensure that we are in the best condition to make the proper assessments and choices.

Suffering Can Be Avoided
In Sutra 2.16 of the Yoga Sutras , Patanjali gives us some good news about the future of our pain and suffering. He states that “ Pain which has yet to come is avoidable .” I think most of us would say that we know this to be true and that we understand it on an intellectual level, yet we often do not live as though we know it. When pain occurs we have hundreds of options for treatment but Patanjali informs us that directing our energies into prevention allows us to avoid the suffering altogether. We see the preference for treatment over prevention often in western medicine. Thousands of dollars are spent in the advertisement of medications for heartburn and acid reflux treatment, all methods that can be used to quell pain and discomfort once it starts, but less is said urging us to eat less acid producing foods -- preventing the discomfort and pain from even coming into contact with the body. Patanjali would say that this is our attachment to temporary pleasures that allows us to ignore preventing suffering. It is the ignorance of who we really are that keeps us grasping for pleasure outside of ourselves and that keeps us believing that it is worth the potential pain.


In the beginning of book two Patanjali lays out for us the obstacles that come in the way of obtaining freedom from suffering. The first, and the mother of them all, is the underlying ignorance of who and what we are. From this grows egoism, or our identification with the feelings we experience, the activities we do and the objects we possess. From this egoism grows attachment to these things because we think that they make up who we are. Because of our attachments we become averse to anything that we believe will come in the way of or interfere with what we hold so near and dear. Our greatest aversion is to death and therefore we cling to the idea of life in this bodily form because we think the end of life in our bodies is the final.
Using the practices of the four locks and keys allows us to begin to prevent the suffering which is not inevitable and to ride the waves of our current troubles with grace and equanimity.

Four Pains we cannot Escape in the Human Body
1. Birth  2. Death  3. Old age  4. Disease

Deergha Swaasam Pranayama (three part breath) and Breath Meditation Practice

Closing Peace Chants
Asaato Maa Sad Gamaya
Tamaso Maa Jyotir Gamay
Mrityor Maa Amritam Gamaya
Lead us from unreal to Real
Lead us from darkness to the Light
Lead us from the fear of death, to the knowledge of Immortality
OM Shanti, Shanti, Shanti
Lokaah Samastaah Sukhino Bhavantu
May the entire universe be filled with Peace and Joy, Love and Light.
Namaste.

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