When You Try to Ride a Bus to Hampi…

Goa is a teeny bit soul-destroying.  Not to be dramatic or anything.  But when one is on a spiritual quest-type adventure and enjoying bungling one’s way through confusing Hindu ceremonies and making inappropriate choices to follow Shiva priests to the top of pitch-black rat-infested towers, being anointed with all sorts of colorful powders that subsequently stream down one’s face as you sweat in the sun, and enjoying the mystery and great gentility of the Indian people, one does not want:

  • trance music blasting through one’s ear canals all night and shaking the bed, making sleep a remembered concept
  • white people everywhere one looks (because why did one travel across the world then?)
  • restaurants full of strange western-indian hybrid food (incorporating the best of neither)
  • no ceremonies or religious rituals to be had except that of vacationers taking lots of drugs and swaying weirdly to aforementioned trance music
  • a strange Osho-massage teacher who requests that one hold hands with him and close one’s eyes and dance and then tells one they are too shy (while charging an obscene amount of money for this service)

So, like any self-respecting yogi, I changed what I could about the situation.  I had a Moon Day (full moon=no Ashtanga practice), so I high-tailed it over to Hampi for two days of historical and religious bliss.

Hampi contains everything I love about India – gorgeous history, beautiful landscape and temples and ceremonies everywhere you turn!

The overnight bus ride contains everything strange and upsetting about traveling in India, so let’s start there, as it might provide more entertainment.

You arrive at the travel office indicated on your bus ticket, but the man from Paulo Travel says the bus will pick you up on the side of the highway, gesturing vaguely “down there”.  You wait by the side of the highway and eventually the bus actually comes.  You board and make yourself comfortable on a sort of shelf for sleeping.

After 15 minutes, the bus stops.  “Get out!’ the conductor yells.  So you get out and stand with a lot of confused white people as Indians try to sell you dolls made out of foam and ice cream and travel pillows.  After about an hour you see the friend you were going to meet and together you determine the location of the actual bus going all the way to Hampi.

Together you finally board, the bus starts moving, and when he sees your ticket the conductor yells, “this is not your bus!  get down!”  You say you booked this bus to be with your friend and where are you supposed to go?  He disappears so you feel as if you’ve won that argument, albeit far too easily.

You chat with your friend and then you both lie down on the sleeping shelf and fall asleep to the tipping, swaying motion of the bus and its frequent lurches and honks.

“Get out; get out!” you hear.  You sit up quickly.  He is telling you to get out.  It is dark.  You’ve been asleep.  “Your bus there!”  He is pointing out the window.

You get out.  You get on the other bus, as your friend gives you instructions on how to find her in Hampi.  You try to sit down on the other bus.  The conductor asks for your ticket.  You can’t find it because you were asleep and maybe you left it on your sleeping shelf.

“Get out; get out!  No ticket; get out!”  You get out.  It is dark.  The original bus is pulling away, but you flag it down and find your ticket.  Your ticket in hand, you are surrounded by a circle of screaming Indian men in the dark on the side of a road.  You duck out of the circle, and they remain, still screaming.

You are finally on the other bus.  You have paid for a sleeping shelf but you are seated in a cramped upright seat.  You point to the space on the ticket indicating “sleeper” but the conductor says, “too late.”

You are too late to sleep.  An Indian man who was forced to relinquish his seat for you keeps yelling and pointing to his eyes, which seem to be streaming with some kind of disease.

At the next stop, you are directed to a toilet, and you stand outside near a small shop, patting the forehead of a cow and wondering if you will ever see your traveling friend again.

This time, when you board the bus, there is a German girl in the eye-disease man’s seat.  You have had it and yell to the conductor, “Sleeper.  I paid for sleeper.  You find me a shelf!”

So he does.  You sleep a bit and then you are in Hampi and things improve a lot…

Today a coconut could fall on your head.

I ran out of money today.

I have gotten used to my gorgeous schedule here – Ashtanga, tea, walking home with my friends Liza and Merrin, greeting the usual cows and dogs along the way, and then spending the afternoon practicing poses and reading, stretched out on our lawn under coconut palms.

I withdrew enough rupees to pay for this month’s hotel, Ashtanga practice at the shala and massage training in the afternoons.  My bank balance is now 200 rupees, which is $4.

I walked out from the ATM enclosure, and smiled at the guard, to make him feel as if he was actually performing an important service rather than sitting on a chair.

I smiled at my friend Liza.  I walked off down the street in the wrong direction.  She called me back.

“Rebecca!  This way!” she called.

I said something unintelligible.  There were sounds coming out of my mouth that echoed and I was pointing off in the distance, saying something about dehydration.

Liza grabbed my arm and handed me her water bottle.  “What’s going on?”

“I have no more money.”  Those words made sense.  They were out.  I felt better.

It wasn’t a complete surprise.  I knew it would happen.  But between exchange rates, the mystery numbers of foreign currency and my own tendency towards denial, I wasn’t exactly sure when the day would actually come.

Now it’s come.

I would like to say it is a relief.  But I am so happy now in my wandering spiritual questing life.  I don’t want to go home yet.

Liza said, “You know; you can figure something out.  Someone will lend you money.  Or you can just hang out on the beach and not take massage lessons.  That would be cheap.”

I liked this.  I had choices.  I would make it work, no matter what.

“Don’t let money rule your life,” Liza said.  “You might as well just go home right now if you’re going to spend your time worrying.”

Last night I rode on the back of the motorbike belonging to Gibran, an Ashtanga teacher from Mexico City.  At one point, we almost skid out in the sand along the beach.  A cow blocked our way as three motorbikes flanked the rest of the street.  We turned a corner and almost rear-ended a truck.

“At least it says ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ on it,” he said.  “If we go, we go with God.”

Ha.  I was not so amused.  My knuckles and inner thighs burned from clenching.

I would never go on a motorbike again.  I would walk home.  I would never tell my mother or grandmother about this irresponsible ride.

At dinner, I had a glass of wine.  I needed to chill out.

Gibran, as Liza likes to say, is a little bit pervy, and he loves to chat.  I thought I knew his type.

In the course of chatting over dinner, Gibran turned out to be a lot more.  He’s a cancer and drug abuse survivor who is now a sick yogi (sick as in badass) and has a long history of studying yoga and meditation in India with some amazing gurus.

I asked him about his meditation practice.

“I don’t sit there, no?” he explains in an Indian-Mexican hybrid manner.  “I live my life.  I am just present.  Like, now (he points up to the tree above us), a coconut could fall on my head and I could die.  That’s how I live.”

I got back on the motorbike to ride home.  I relaxed this time.  I thought about my afternoon on Liza’s yoga mat with a book, underneath the coconut palms.  Turns out, that was just as dangerous as the back of a motorbike in India along the cow-spotted beach.

Turns out, the money can always run out.  The trip will inevitably end.  The coconuts, as coconuts do, tend to fall.

What I can do is hop on the back of the bike and feel the wind blowing across my skin.

Love

I am falling in love, in India.

Who with?  I know you are curious.  I’ll give you a hint: not a man.  Not motorcycle exhaust, dirty feet, Goan trance dance music echoing from the beachside restaurants, not fully dressed Indian men harassing me on the beach.  Not being constantly hustled to buy a sarong, or a jackfruit.

I am in love with the hours between 6 and 10 AM.  Those previously panicked hours first thing in the morning are now suffused with heat, joy, breath, inspiration, frustration, sore shoulders, tight hamstrings, bhandas and the soft German voice of one of the kindest teachers in the world, Rolf Naujokat.

Ashtanga Yoga is India’s gift to me, even in the yucky Westernized Goan jungle.

Ashtanga takes many of the limbs of yoga and combines them into a beautifully physical practice that isolates muscles previously undiscovered and encourages meditative concentration to the soundtrack of your own breath.

My friend Samar told me once, as we were walking on Ouputere Beach, “You have a belief that you can’t have what you want.”

I didn’t know what she meant.  Now I begin to.

I had a belief that my desire for a strong body and yogic ability was wrong.  Totally shallow.  It’s what’s inside that counts, I would tell myself scoldingly.

But what if the outside reflects, to some degree, what’s inside?  I am an increasingly happy and more able person, and my body and its ability to move with strength and efficiency, is following suit.

Another friend Josie, said once, “Flabby thoughts = Flabby body.”

To some degree, I recognize this as true.  But I also believe that unless we find what truly works for us, on a purely individual level, a strong body and mind are elusive.

I learned, through my Ayurvedic teacher Madan, that a cookie-cutter prescription for healthy living is ineffectual and ridiculous.  We are diverse as Indian coastal towns.  We each need our own food and schedule and rest.

Yoga bridges these differences, to an extent.  On some level, any kind of yoga will work to the benefit of any person, if done safely and properly.

Ashtanga yoga, for me, works even better than more relaxing or free-flowing styles of movement because it requires so much focus and physical effort.  I literally burn off anxiety and flabby thinking in the early morning hours.

Also, I will never master Ashtanga yoga.  This is not defeatist thinking.  It is just true.  The point of the practice is just that: to practice.  The point of the practice is not to master the system.

I am fully, at times, completely inhabiting my body – my muscles, bones, heart and lungs.  Except when a cow sticks its head over the wall of the shala (school) enclosure.  Or I fall out of a pose.  Or when a hot Portuguese guy distracts me momentarily.

But all in all, Ashtanga yoga is immediate.  Slowly, slowly, it directs the gaze and the attention to “this,” what is, right now.

Slowly, slowly

Hello, sun in my face. Hello you who made the morning and spread it over the fields…Watch, now, how I start the day in happiness, in kindness. ~ Mary Oliver

I don’t know about you, but I used to open my eyes in the morning, blink…and panic.  The panic was unremitting and two-fold.  Here were the early AM options:

1.  Shoot.  I have so much to accomplish.  How can I get everything done efficiently and completely?  Most importantly, how can I fit a lot of exercise into the day to burn off every calorie I consume?

2.  Yikes.  I don’t know what this day holds.  What if I can’t find anything fun or productive to do?  What if I’m lonely/bored/missing something, etc.?

Even in the first daytime moments, there was no way to win.  Anxiety was my faithful companion, like a rescue dog with baggage that seems sweet but could turn on me at any second.

Anxiety is a friend because it gets shit done.  Anxiety is an enemy because it tortures you constantly.  It’s important to begin to quietly mention to yourself the following: being you, you will probably always get shit done.

I always have trouble discerning between hunger and anxiety.  Between fatigue and anxiety. Basically, between being alive and being anxious.

There are endless metaphors.  Here is one: I am the vehicle; anxiety is the fuel.

There are endless reasons: childhood messages, ambitious Western culture, friends and family who can’t determine either, for the life of them, where anxiety leaves off and life begins.

There’s a reason I found yoga and ayurveda, the two sciences that intertwine around freedom like the ida and pingala nadis around the shushumna, or astral spine.  (Sorry, but months of yoga and tantra discourse makes me like this.)

Yesterday in a Goan jungle clearing, a fellow from the University of London described the roots of tantra (from which originated yoga and ayurveda).  Tantra was a rebellion against the Brahmin priests’ obsession with cleanliness and purity.  To sum up the lecture, yoga began with ash-covered cemetery dwellers experimenting with disgusting practices involving corpses and urine.

To be completely free, those early yogis believed, you free yourself first of social convention

To be completely free, I have to ask my mind to throw off its coils of anxiety.  To help with this process, I find myself balking against much of what I’ve ever been taught to believe.

I am not covering myself with ash in a crematorium, but I am changing my eating, waking, exercising and thinking habits.  (And to be honest, at this point, if covering myself with ash and growing dreadlocks facilitated the process, I would probably do it.)

The whole basis of yoga is this: The repeated action of mental discipline with building heat in the body is designed to change the brain’s chemistry.

Ayurveda gives you prescriptive methods to support the yogic system by telling you how to eat, how to wake up, how and when to move and rest, all for your specific constitution or dosha.

I have changed the way I wake up because I have changed the way I live enough to begin to change the way I think.

Here, for your benefit, is a recommended Ayurvedic morning for all doshas (meaning I have left out some of the weird stuff – email me if you want to know more specific info.):

1.  Wake up 30 minutes before sunrise.  Think about how well your body has assimilated the food you ate the previous day.  Drink a glass of warm water.  Practice alternate nostril breathing to balance the brain’s hemispheres.

2.  Brush teeth.  Gargle with sesame oil.  Wash face with cold water.

3.  Practice Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation).  This is also the time for extended physical yoga practice.

Maybe it is a placebo effect, but my mornings have changed a bit.  I open my eyes now, and if I forget to think about my very efficient digestion, at least I have a strong and inspiring yoga practice to begin before the coils of anxiety clamp down at all.  And ever since Mataji taught me about true Bhakti, the practice of yoga inevitably draws me, at least for a moment into acknowledging the Divine.

It seems small and ordinary.  It may not be full moon rituals in cemeteries.  But as Ganga, Santosh Puri’s yoga teacher says about change and progression, “Slowly, slowly.”

Bhadrakali

There’s the question of deities in India.  They can represent the myriad attributes of the Divine, and our interaction with the sacred.

The Indian people are in general very accepting.  As a result, Hinduism is one of the most accepting religions- you can often pick your own deity.

Shunyata Yoga posted this image of Ganesh with a great concise descriptions of what he represents.

I like Ganesha.  Being the Remover of Obstacles, he’s one of the most popular deities in Hinduism.  Who doesn’t want that?

Generally, what I want doesn’t coincide with what the universe decides I need.

For example.

After a long day of yoga practice, swimming, powder massage and Ayurvedic cooking class, we made our way toward the rickshaw stand in Trivandrum to find a ride home.  Before we reached it, we discovered a Ganesha temple.  They sold coconuts for 10INR (20 cents).  We bought coconuts, because if you throw them inside a pit in the temple and they crack, Ganesha grants your wishes.

I was nervous about being strong enough to break the shell, but it turns out, a coconut striking a stone wall inevitably breaks.  My wishes would come true!

I was then given a piece of coconut to offer to the deity in the inner sanctum of the temple, so I got in line to enter the area (after mistakenly thinking I was supposed to eat the coconut shard and taking a bite).  A man with a fleshy pouch for an eye came up and spoke vehemently about something.  After a while, I gathered I could not enter the inner sanctum because I was not wearing a sari.

The men, by the way, were mostly shirtless, with a piece of cloth tied around their hips.

Ganesha, my favorite, had denied me access.

Still buoyed by the memory of my shattered coconut, I drove a sleepy 20 minutes home in a rickshaw, dodging pariah dogs, bicycles and all manner of other conveyance.  I told my friends I thought I knew a shortcut, and as usual, we became lost, winding through mazes of alleyways filled with small shops selling tiny gods and crystals, artwork and hippy clothing.

Eventually we came to a temple and decided to enter.  The priest gave us prasad and explained that the temple in front of us belonged to Parvati, the mothering, benevolent consort of Shiva.

Usually when I receive prasad at a temple, it is food to eat.  I was confused when this prasad was composed of red powder and flowers on a banana leaf.  I assumed I was supposed to offer it to Parvati.  I began to climb the steps to her temple.

“No!” the priest cried, rushing over.

Apparently I was not supposed to climb the steps.

“Only Brahmin,” he said.

Parvati had rejected me as well.

There was another temple area and I asked the priest what deity resided inside.

“Bhadrakali,” the priest said.  I had no idea who that was.  I could barely tell what the image inside the temple represented until my friend Liza pointed it out.  (I had thought the head was a sweater or something.)

Kali, standing on Shiva in the battlefield, with a nacklace of human heads and a skirt of human limbs.

“See the blue head and the crazy eyes and tongue?” she said.  “That is Kali.”

I stood and gazed at the image, and the priest appeared beside me, smiling.  He handed me a banana leaf covered with fruit and ghee.

Success.  Apparently this deity had chosen me.

Of course, I thought.  Just when I’ve become a full-fledged vegetarian on principle, the goddess of carnage and animal sacrifice appears.  So appropriate.

Since visiting the Kali temple, I have been visited by a strange force.  I’ve been a bit confrontational.  I’ve demanded what I need.  Instead of negative reactions from my friends, they seem thankful.

“I think you needed a little Kali energy,” Liza says.

I look up Bhadrakali on Wikipedia.  Bhadrakali is the manifestation of Kali worshiped in this region of India, Kerala.  She’s the auspicious and fortunate goddess of battle.

There is a ritual in which you seek to confront Kali, and thereby assimilate and transform her into a vehicle of salvation.  This fits within the tenets of yoga.  Pantajali says all fear, at its heart, is a fear of death.  Conquering the fear of death conquers fear.

From Wikipedia:  In the Mahanirvana-tantra, Kāli is one of the epithets for the primordial sakti, and in one passage Shiva praises her:

He, O Mahākāli who in the cremation-ground, naked, and with dishevelled hair, intently meditates upon Thee and recites Thy mantra, and with each recitation makes offering to Thee of a thousand Akanda flowers with seed, becomes without any effort a Lord of the earth. 0h Kāli, whoever on Tuesday at midnight, having uttered Thy mantra, makes offering even but once with devotion to Thee of a hair of his Shakti [his energy/female companion] in the cremation-ground, becomes a great poet, a Lord of the earth, and ever goes mounted upon an elephant.

So, in seeking transformation, I don’t get the contented god Ganesh.  I get the terrifying goddess of fear itself.  At least in its auspicious form, the odds are that I will confront her and win.

One Job

The word God is difficult for many of us because it’s been perverted by religions and wrong thinking.  I’ve decided personally, to allow God to have different names.  Here’s a beautiful talk by Sharon Gannon, founder of Jivamukti yoga, about the source of life and beauty and the goal of yoga.

We only really have one job in this life and that is to find God. Since God dwells within each one of us, we had better get inside as soon as possible, if we want to find what we are looking for. Run for cover; seek the solace, which is always waiting for you inside. Don’t spend too much time out there looking around trying to find it. Valuable things, the important things that we think we have lost, are always found in the least expected places, the last places we would think to look.   
         The storm is coming-it might already be raging and you just haven’t noticed in a while, or you might even consider yourself well aware that the storm is occurring but you think it is like the weather and there is nothing you or anyone can do about it. You think things just happen to you, the world is coming at you and you are a passive victim of circumstances, sometimes fortunate, sometimes unfortunate. You have heard optimistic people say that peace and love are possible. But the world is in such a mess, shouldn’t we or somebody do something about all the violence, misery and unfairness in the world, first, before we go inside and sit down cozy by the fire with a cup of tea? 
         Everything you see is a projection coming from inside of you. If you don’t like what you see out there, the best way to change it is by doing your best to change the inside first. If you want the world to be a peaceful place, you must be a peaceful person, before you expect others to be. Once you have found the inner peace-the inner joy inside of yourself-you are able to move in the world from a place of spiritual activation. You embody that which you want to see in others and the world. God is the source of that inner peace and joy; joy is the nature of God, and you and God are one (that’s the meaning of yoga). When you act from that serene inner reality, you can then see the world realistically: you stop blaming others, you stop being angry, judgmental or upset with others and instead you find creative ways to increase your inner joy.  If instead you search for God (peace, love, happiness, joy) outside of yourself and try to find happiness and fulfillment in things, situations and other people that appear separate from you, you will eventually, but inevitably, become disappointed, disillusioned and perhaps even cynical. When that occurs you will lose your faith in life, feeling that it has no meaning and there is no lasting happiness or joy to be found. 
         Often times it takes a violent storm for one to seek shelter. There are many accounts of people who have gone through a traumatic experience-an accident, the death of a loved one or a serious illness-which instigated a mystical or transcendental realization, forcing them to go inside and reevaluate the purpose of their life. 
         Okay, so you’re convinced that it is important to go inside-you have answered the why of the situation, but what about the how?  How do we “go inside?” Patanjali says, Give up and take refuge in God (PYS 1.23). But that brings us back to where we started, because we don’t know how to find God. Patanjali of course gives meditation as a means to find the inner Self, as does Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita. But what if I’m a person who has a lot to do, I have children and a job and not much time, and I can’t seem to meditate long enough or good enough to begin to feel that inner peace, then what-am I destined to be lost and unhappy? Is there something else I can do? Yes! Krishna says, Keep doing what you do, but remember me while you are doing it (BG XII.10). You don’t have to divide your day into spiritual activities at one time and mundane work or entertaining distractions at other times; all of your life, every moment, can be a spiritual practice, if you can remember God. 
         I once heard an interview on the radio with Alice Coltrane or Swami Turiyasangitananda, which was her spiritual name. The interviewer was asking her about her prolific musical accomplishments and had cited a list of many recordings she had done and performances that had happened or were scheduled to happen, as well as a recent book she had authored. The interviewer then said, “You have been so busy, how do you keep it all together and get so much done?” To which Alice responded in her characteristic voice, which was so slow and serene, “I only have one job and that is to get to God, and that is a full-time job!” 
-Sharon Gannon

Sharon Gannon with my favorite yoga teacher and friend Giselle Mari

Bhakti

What is a Realized Soul? I asked Shanti once.  And how will I know if I see an Enlightened Being in India?

He started a story, as usual, about a shopkeeper near Rishikesh.  It didn’t answer my question.  It means he doesn’t know.  He mentioned that if someone advertises that they are an Enlightened Being, they are probably not.

There are billboards and posters all over India plastered with the smiling faces of saint-type people.  Not being able to read Hindi, I can’t say for sure that they are advertising themselves as Enlightened Beings.  But many Hindus travel to see these god-men and say that even touching the fabric of their clothes will purify their souls.

Umm, no.  I am a doubter.  I doubted Mataji when I arrived at Santosh Puri Ashram.  She dresses all in orange, with a crystal mala, two rudraksha malas, and a tears of Shiva double-rudraksha bead around her throat.  Her gray hair falls in a curtain of heavy dreadlocks.  She is nearly always smiling and at 67, she still works all day, directing the cook, setting out cushions around the Aarti fire, feeding the dogs.  But I didn’t see what made her so special.

Her three children are more immediately special – their articulateness, their sweetness and their knowledge of yoga and Ayurveda are endearing and command some respect.

It wasn’t until yesterday that I let Mataji in.  We sat in front of her in the yoga hall, in a meditative asana.  She opened the Baghavad Gita and we chanted, as we always do before her lessons.

It was the chapter on Bhakti Yoga that day, the Yoga of Devotion.

Something has been missing for me on this trip.  All the yoga postures, pranayama and meditation techniques seem like magical spells I have to get right in order to gain the reward: peace.  It’s been producing peace’s opposite: Pressure.

Mataji

Mataji, over the course of this week, has changed that for me.  The Yoga of Devotion broke it all wide open – the purpose, expansiveness and hope of yoga.

Anything becomes boring, stale, dissatisfying, if love is missing, she said.

She summarized a myth about Bhakti.  The god Shiva transformed himself into a legless leper on the day of Khumba Mela, where all the saints take a Ganga bath to achieve liberation.  His wife Parvati asked him, “Will all these Saints achieve their goal?”  He said, “No. Watch.”  Shiva the leper asked millions of Saints to bring him to the water because he would like to attain liberation, but they hurried by.  Finally, a poor man rushed down with only moments before sunset.  He stopped when he heard Shiva’s request, and said I wouldn’t be worthy of liberation if I didn’t help you as well.  The poor man won his reward.

As Mataji told us this story, tears ran down her face.  Her expression was gentle, joy-filled love.  Bhakti right in front of me.  She personified the whole point of everything – to see what you are doing as worship!

Make everything in your life God, she says.  A thorn, anger, a cough, an enemy, a mishap, death – all God, purifying and refining you.

Then see how much love will fill you! she says.  Krishna says ‘there is nothing besides me.’ He is the scent in the flower; not the flower, because the flower will die.  He is the light in the sun; the fluidity in the water; the playfulness in the puppy.  (She said the last one for me.)

Santosh Puri with baby Ganga

Mataji doesn’t claim to be Enlightened.  She came to India from Germany at age 24, in 1969, and found her Guru, the one she had dreamed about as a little girl, sitting alone and nearly naked on a small island in the middle of the Ganga, near Haridwar, where I am now.  She stayed with him on the little island for 10 years, caring for cows, sleeping on the ground and only eating when someone brought them an offering of food.  For the first year, all she said was Om Nama Shivaya.  She nearly died many times.

Her guru Santosh Puri, was, from all accounts, Enlightened.  He left home as a boy to devote all his energy toward union with the Divine as a yogi, renouncing worldly pleasures.  When she arrived, he fought terribly to stay a renounciant, but in the end, they married and had their children.  He felt God called him back to ordinary responsibilities to test his devotion.

Santosh Puri was generous, devoted and angry.  Once he threw Mataji physically across the island because he was fighting his desire to be with her.  Once he told a man who was harassing one of their cows that his son would die if the cow died.  The next day when the cow died, the son also died.

The Samadhi Temple built over the cave where Santosh Puri was buried.

These stories are confusing.  But what I find here is that Mataji is sincere, and there is a deep peace pervading the ashram that Santosh Puri founded.  He died consciously, by all accounts, sitting in padmasana, the lotus pose.

I can’t begin to understand everything.  But, returning to Bhakti, it’s nice to remember that I don’t have to understand everything.

Like Mataji says, Just bow down like a child.  Say ‘I am small and God is great.’

It’s easy to forget that yoga is about more than “party poses” and secret formulas.  True yoga is so much easier than all that.  True yoga can be anything, as long as it’s done with the spirit of bhakti, love and devotion to something larger than yourself.