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Journal Post

Samtosha is the Sanskrit term for contentment - it is one of the guidelines of a Yogi seeking union with God. On a daily basis, there are a million opportunities for me to practice this, (enough to eat, enough sleep, enough this, enough that, enough). But there are some bigger feeling events happening that challenge my ability to find contentment as easily as I do when I stop eating when I am full, (instead of cleaning the plate).
 
We now find ourselves halfway between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. Earth-based spirituality celebrates the period from February 1st-February 4th by observing a holiday called Candlemas.  One of eight fire rituals in the traditional calendar, it marks an important time of purification and passage.  It is interesting to note its counterpart in the Christian tradition, in which the holiday Candlemas marks the ritual purification ceremony performed at the Temple of Jerusalem for the infant Jesus and his mother Mary.
Ishvara Pranidhana is the essence of Yoga and the goal of spiritual aspirants. There is no higher practice. Devotion to God is renunciation of all actions and ego to the Lord. Lose all sense of “I”-ness, “me,” “the do-er”—all separateness. Renunciation and surrender of the ego is Ishvara Pranidhana.
Read more: http://ncschoolofyoga.com/library/new-year-message-2011#ixzz1Qm2UKvgc
North Carolina School of Yoga
 
Hari Om! At this auspicious time of the new year I send to you all my sincere heartfelt wishes for a bright and successful year ahead. May God bless you with spiritual aspiration, unfoldment and divine peace, bringing to you spiritual light and illumination.
Brahmacharya is not merely the life of celibacy and spiritual study, but the purification of all the senses. The practice of brahmacharya is the vow of abstinence for all sense objects, in particular mentally. Overeating, oversleeping, overtalking and dwelling on, or longing for sense objects are all breaks in brahmacharya. Purity and freedom from lust in thought, word and deed is an essential part of the vow, however. It is freedom from sexual thoughts and sexual urges.
Jesus in word and deed was almost violent in his call for death, for denial, for stripping, for abandoning, for letting go, for leaving all, for the journey up by going down. . . . This whole dialogue runs deep in us and all things. One could say, with complete honesty, that life is really no more than a series of heart-breaking good-byes, so full is it of having and letting go, of embracing and parting.
-- from My Song is of Mercy by Father Matthew Kelty
I looked at the jail that secluded me from men and it was no longer by its high wall that I was imprisoned; no, it was God who surrounded me. I walked under the branches of the tree in front of my cell but it was not the tree, I knew it was God. It was God whom I saw standing there and holding over me His shade. Or I lay on the coarse blankets that were given me for a bed and felt the arms of God around me, the arms of my Friend and Lover...It was not the magistrate whom I saw, it was God, it was God who was sitting there on the bench. I looked at the Prosecuting Counsel and it was not the Counsel for Prosecution that I saw; it was God.
- Sri Aurobindo, 1908
A Simple Path, a book about Mother Teresa and her Missionaries of Charity, describes some of the prayers they use in their spiritual practice. One especially caught my eye, because it seems to be specifically geared to letting go of our whole sense of the personal self.
Go ahead, light your candles and burn your incense and ring your bells and call out to God, but watch out, because God will come, and He will put you on His Anvil and fire up His Forge and beat you and beat you until He turns brass into Pure Gold.
- paraphrased from Saint Keshavadas
On June 17th, 1744, the commissioners from Maryland and Virginia negotiated a treaty with the Indians of the Six Nations at Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The Indians were invited to send their boys to William and Mary College. The next day they declined the offer as follows:
"Humanity grows more and more intelligent, yet there is clearly more trouble and less happiness daily. How can this be so? It is because intelligence is not the same thing as wisdom.
When a society misuses partial intelligence and ignores holistic wisdom, its people forget the benefits of a plain and natural life. Seduced by their desires, emotions, and egos, they become slaves to bodily demands, to luxuries, to power and unbalanced religion and psychological excuses. Then the reign of calamity and confusion begins.
Dear Family,
There are times in our lives when our problems seem so overwhelming we don't have any idea what to do next in any significant way - how to change our lives, how to address the biggest problems, how to heal the damage between us and our loved ones, how to motivate ourselves to even get out of bed to tackle each new day. Our prayers may be sincere but we may not be hearing any answers. We don't understand the Big Plan a loving God may have for why our lives are so hard, and we just don't have a clue as to what to do next.
Many of us say we have faith in God. We say we believe in prayer, we believe that God loves us and has a plan for our lives. But do we actually walk through the day feeling comforted, protected, and secure in those beliefs? Do we go to sleep at night knowing God is with us and is guiding us? Jesus said, "Take comfort and be of good cheer. I am with you always." Notice the two verbs, "take" and "be," suggesting that it is up to us. We must take comfort from His presence, not wait for it or hope for it. He is delivering the good news to our doorstep, but it is clearly up to us to open the door and let it in. So this practice is to take comfort in an active way.
In the past several months as I've been speaking across the country, many people have approached me and asked with some degree of excitement in their voices, "Bo, have you seen The Secret yet? Oh, you'll love it! It will change the world! Let people know about this!"
From a talk given by Bo Lozoff at a meditation center in Tallahassee, FL, December 11, 2005.
Transcribed & edited from a talk given by Bo Lozoff in Costa Mesa CA, in March, 2006
Dear Family,
A friend wrote recently that she was in a deep funk and feeling low. I was about to reply with an encouragement for her to realize that these are hard times for most of us on Planet Earth, and it is understandable that she will feel her own share of these hard times, and for her to try not to take those feelings as a personal crisis, but rather as her "portion of the cross" that we are all bearing. I was going to point out that instead of making her feel tight or further separating her from others, her blues can actually soften her heart and expand her compassion and sense of unity.
Dear Family,
In the ancient Hindu epic The Ramayana, there's a passage where Rama, a young prince who is actually God born as a human being, is supposed to be made King the next day, and his people are the happiest people in the world because they love him so much. There's a classic line in this part of the story that I have remembered so many times in my life - "Many things can go wrong in the dark night before a King is made." How true!
Transcribed from a sermon Bo gave at Unity of the Triangle Church in Raleigh, NC.
When I teach meditation, I'm a stickler for keeping the body still. In the Old Testament there is a curious passage that says, "Be still and know that I am God." Isn't that curious? Be still, not "be righteous," not "be busy," not "be productive," not even "be kind," but "be still" to know God. Do we make enough room for stillness in our lives to know God?
There's an old Native American saying that I quoted in We're All Doing Time:
If you seek to understand the whole Universe, you will understand nothing. If you seek to understand yourself, you will understand the whole Universe.
Transcribed from a sermon Bo preached at the Ainsworth United Church of Christ in Portland, Oregon.
The first attempt at an English translation of Patanjali's Yoga Sutra ("Threads of Yoga") was made by James Robert Ballantyne (1813-1864), a Scottish Orientalist and linguist. From 1846 to 1861 he was the principal of the prestigious Sanskrit College in Benares, established in 1791 by the British East India Company. Ballantyne, an adherent of a movement known as the Scottish Enlightenment (which also claimed as members poet Robert Burns, novelist Walter Scott, philosopher David Hume, and inventor James Watt), was also a prolific translator and writer.
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