Sunday, November 24, 2013

The path begins with "yes"

Dear Friends,

Arriving in New Orleans, I went straight to Swan River Community Center, a donation-only yoga center led by Haiyan, to hold satsang. Then Haiyan and I drove to his home where I stayed for a week. As we entered the neighborhood, he said that some people call this part of New Orleans "the hood." Well, I love the hood. Haiyan and his family welcomed me with love and kindness.

Another day, we walked through the hood. Haiyan would greet his various neighbors on the way who sat on the front porch socializing. We reached a large garden where Meredith was tending to the plants and picking vegetables. Haiyan picked a harmless looking pepper and said, "Take a bite." So I bit into it and my nose almost caught on fire and my head nearly exploded. The burning continued for a few hours as Meredith, Haiyan, and I walked through the French quarter all the way to the Mississippi River. There we sat on a bench and a flamboyant man approached us.

"Nice shoes," he said, addressing me. "Let me tell you about life." And then he gave me a satsang about the deep lessons of life. I sat there with a sort of stunned look. Had I asked for this? He certainly was delighted to have a captivated audience as he spoke his poetic words and then walked off.

That evening, Meredith took us to a meditation and potluck. We climbed up on the roof overlooking the the neighborhood at night. Meredith's kundalini teacher led the meditation. "Say the mantra, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Da Ni SaTaNaMA So Say etc in one deep breath, singing it over 2 octaves. I will time it for one hour and two minutes. Let's go!" Oh boy, if I had known what this entailed, I would have skipped the meditation. My voice could not reach the low notes nor the high notes. I breathed so much that my rib started to hurt again. That rib muscle had hurt for months after a prolonged sickness and coughing.

The first 40 minutes of the meditation, I wondered when it was going to end. It seemed much longer than an hour and 2 minutes. The last 22 minutes of the meditation, I suddenly crossed over a barrier and felt renewed. The rest of the meditation was easy. As we completed, I burst out laughing and the laughter peeled across the town below. This madness went on for a few minutes, and then my mind plunged into deep meditation. Some time later, we climbed back down to the kitchen and ate our feast. It was a lovely time.

As I cross over my perceived limits, I realize new possibilities, and the fears and struggles of life dissolve. The ultimate path of Spirit is going beyond all limits. And the path starts with one step...yes.

With love,

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A great friend

Dear Friends,

In St. Louis, I visited a holy place called Living Insights. Jack takes care of this rare place of pilgrimage. The primary relic is a large life-size statue of St. Therese of Lisieux which hundreds of people come to visit to ask for blessings. And indeed, hundreds of miracles are reported out of these prayers. The energy at Living Insights is so strong that I experienced deep meditation and healing just walking through the door. There are statues and pictures of many saints, bodhisattvas, gods, and goddesses from many spiritual and religious traditions.

I joined Jack in one of his morning rituals. We walked around the many rooms, lighting candles in front of the statues, chanting holy mantras, praying for the world, and honoring all the great saints and deities. There are sections representing Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Native American, Buddhism, and many more traditions. There are also crystal singing bowls that Jack plays, stunning the mind into deeper meditation. In the smallest room, we sat amidst hundreds of highly blessed crystals, pictures, statues, and other rare objects that heal the mind, body, and soul. Chanting "Om Namah Shivaya" 108 times, my mind settled into a state of deep peace, communing with the power of Shiva.

Jack has given his life and resources to keep Living Insights alive. He welcomes each person with love and friendship. His manner is kindly - always in service. Many are attracted to Living Insights just to be with him. There is no fee for coming to visit. People may donate to support the cause. Jack has dedicated his life to nurturing this sacred space. Every morning he honors the deities, thus bringing their presence alive so powerfully in each room. People have given Living Insights so many rare relics that many of them are hidden behind each other. I am touched by Jack's offering to the world. May many more people have the opportunity to visit Jack and this holy temple.

In gratitude for Jack, a great friend...