Jivamukti Focus of the Month With Great Love, All Is Possible – February, 2018
suhṛin-mitrāryudāsīna-madhyastha-dveṣya-bandhuṣu sādhuṣvapi ca pāpeṣu sama-buddhir viśiṣyate
A person stands supreme who has equal regard for friends, companions, enemies, neutral arbiters, hateful people, relatives, saints and sinners.
With great Love, all is possible. –Padma
If you had, at your fingertips, the ability to destroy someone else’s life, would you do it?
Where do you set the bar for justifiable homicide?
How often do you turn the other cheek instead of taking revenge?
Those are not rhetorical questions. They are questions that have been reflected upon in many ways, in many different times. Whether a school shooter in Littleton Colorado with his finger on the trigger, or President Harry S. Truman dropping the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in both cases these were the sad gestures of deluded and lonely individuals with the ability at their fingertips to destroy others for selfish reasons–and they did it. When we ask ourselves ‘Why?” there only seems to be one answer “Because they could.”
We have been reading the Mahabharata everyday for the past year and a half. Just a few pages each day, and it speaks an interesting commentary on the passing of current events. Sometimes it seems like nothing changes…ever. The Bhagavad Gita is inspiring, and Krishna’s teachings on the nature of the yogic way, like the one above, are timeless. But also timeless is the fact that the entire war on Kurukshetra was fought over a dice game and wounded pride. There was never a question of dharma, or of following Krishna’s timeless teachings. Brother killed brother, killed teacher, child killed child…nothing ever changes.
Every day billions of animals are victims of humans that have a taste for their blood and carcasses, and this slaughter seems to be the only means they have to accumulate self-esteem; by exacting an ultimate control over the lives of others. These actions are sanctioned by a culture built on the motto “The Earth belongs to us,” and peopled with lonely confused souls not unlike the Pandavas and Kauravas (who, as Kshatriyas, hunted and ate animals). As we gaze out over the modern killing fields, just as Arjuna did ages ago at Kurukshetra, and we ask Krishna what can we do? His timeless response is to embody equanimity, poise, compassion, forgiveness, and kindness. He also says that if we wait until it’s too late, there is nothing He can do except wipe the slate clean and start all over again.
Guns, bombs, and abattoirs are one thing, but each of us has, at our fingertips, the ability to destroy the life of another. Lives are ruined bloodlessly, at a convenient distance, by internet bullies with no connection to the lives of their victims.
Saint Valentine of Terni, long associated with a tradition of love, is commemorated on February 14th. I remember St. Valentine Days of bygone eras. Those were simpler times, when a red heart cut from paper delivered in a tiny envelope meant that someone cared for me. But as I reflect on those primary school days now, I wonder how many of my classmates never received a heart in a little envelope with the simple reassurance “Be My Valentine.”
We have at our fingertips the ability to make peace, to embody love and compassion. Never underestimate the power of forgiveness. A few of the humans that we know have made that conscious choice to not repeat past errors and to change the lives of others for the better.
The nature of God is Love. Our future as evolved souls depends on us acting as instruments for this great love—then all is possible.
- Reading the Mahabharata gives you the full story behind the war that sets the stage for the Bhagavad Gita. When you read how feelings of envy, greed, and vengeance, propelled the war of the Gita, it illuminates the actions of people today who destroy each others lives with the same petty motivation as this classic tale.
- See if you can, with the help of your class, write new endings to classic trigger situations that normally evoke anger, envy, and violence, etc. Ask your class: What makes you angry (envious, greedy, violent, etc.) today? How do you act on those feelings? What are some alternative, positive, ways of acting?
- Speak about vairagya (dispassion) and how the asana practice gives us a chance to develop resilience to feelings of either self-deprecation or self-aggrandizement. Present the asana practice as an opportunity to recognize feelings of fear, envy, rage, etc. and to trace those feelings back to an untainted source of energy and propel your self forward with freedom from the bondage of negative emotions and the effect those negative emotions have on pure action.
- Use a backbend focus to purify the heart chakra of negative emotions such as anger, jealousy, and blame towards others, and work on resolving old karmic issues through compassion and forgiveness. For further tips reference the Jivamukti Chakra Balancing DVD with Sharon Gannon.
- “No Complaints Month” Students can keep a diary of how many complaints they make each day and gradually work to reduce that number throughout the month in one of two ways: 1) Don’t say anything, or 2) Make a positive suggestion instead.
- Purify your speech by following the advice that Prem Prakash gives in his translation of the Narada Bhakti Sutra: Before you say something put yourself to this test: 1) Is it True? 2) Is it Kind? 3) Is it necessary?
- Ask students to bring the mailing address of family members to the next class. You supply envelopes, stationary, and stamps and have your class compose letters of thankfulness to their family members.
- Encourage your class to create together internet content that is not critical of others, but supportive and affirmative. Have everyone bring their phone or ipad to class and send surprising and supportive loving kindness and thankful emails, comments, and posts to people/sites that they know–or even don’t know personally. Suggest a “no more emoji pledge” to eliminate the trivializing of feelings and emotions and to actually say what you mean and mean what you say.
- For St. Valentine’s day, suggest that your class contact someone that they care for and tell that person exactly why they love them with more than just a paper heart or a piece of candy. Suggest an “every day in February is a day of love pledge” and ask your class to use one of these methods in teaching tips to connect to someone in a joyous way each day of the month.