The Yearning that is Behind Everything

narayan3Last weekend I went to the Community Satsang at our local yoga studio. My friend TeZa, aka Lord Flea, led us in two chants, the second one was Om Hare Bhagavate Satchidananda.

Bhagavan, or as Teza’s sweet husband Carter calls him, our buddy Billy Bob Bhagavan, is The Lord God, the most eternal name for God, the huge ancient God before any religion, any incarnation, any expression of God.  I love chanting to Bhagavan. I always experience The Lord God as a primordial infinitely profound and glorious presence.

TeZa explained how Satchidananda means Sat – Truth of Being, Chid – Consciousness and Ananda – Bliss, and how this is what all humans long for. This is why we chant, why we meditate – to know this Truth, Consciousness and Bliss.

So, we began the chant and my mind wandered in and out as it usually does. I would chant, then think of something I wanted to post on my blog (NaBloPoMo has me thinking a little bit too much about such things). But as I allowed the chant to do its work on me I started feeling this ancient Presence of Bhagavan and I started feeling this underlying yearning for Satchidananda.

My entire focus went inward and upward (I even forgot about my blog for a few moments there). I could feel this reunion with Bhagavan, the presence of The Lord God of my Being. And I could feel my heart aching, yearning and breaking in this core longing to know God, to know the Truth of my Being, to dwell in this Consciousness, to live in this Bliss. My heart was burning and I could feel the flame focusing me inward, upward, deeper into this presence of God.

Chicago Architecture City Skyscrapers Upward View

In that moment of yearning, I remembered how years ago I had gone into a big city for a meeting with some lawyers on behalf of a spiritual group. We were doing the worldly paperwork needed for us to do what we wanted to do from our Love of the Divine, part of the necessary steps to follow. As we were leaving the attorneys’ office and getting back into our car, all of a sudden I could feel everything in the whole city as a manifestation for our yearning for God – not just us, but all of humanity. All the buildings, all the roads, the parks, the cars – I could feel how every human invention, every human endeavor was actually coming from our longing to return to God, even if we don’t know it.  The motivating energy behind humanity, in all our efforts, all our drive to be successful, to grow and learn, to study science and engineering, to be bigger and better – that underlying motivation has always been to find our way back Home to union and wholeness. And as I was feeling this, I could feel that same energy IN all the things we have created. The skyscrapers were reaching up towards Heaven, our rocket ships and submarines are both striving to reach God as quickly as possible, our laws and systems and governments are all attempts at getting closer to God. I looked at the building we had parked next to and every single faded yellow brick was screaming for God.

In some strange way – I could even feel that all the terrible things that humans have done, all the hurtfulness and cruelty, was also coming from some kind of yearning for God.  It was just twisted in the wrong direction, like a child that wants to be held and when it perceives that the Mother is not there throws a tantrum kicking and screaming, throwing toys and tearing the house down, not realizing that the Mother is always there holding us, we just can’t feel it for all our kicking and screaming.

inside-an-ancient-temple-jason-irishIn remembering that moment during the chant, feeling the deep yearning for Satchidananda, for Baghavante, I started feeling all around us an inner Temple, an ancient eternal holy place where God is in fact holding us.  And I could feel how we have never left God’s Temple.  We have never fallen, never been kicked out of Paradise, never been separated, not really.  In truth, all of our human existence is happening inside the Temple of God.  God loves us so much, we could never leave God’s care, we could never be outside of God’s home for us in Her heart.  Everything we have ever done has happened inside this ancient eternal Temple.  It is a Temple small enough to fit inside each human heart and a Temple large enough to contain all of humanity.  We are always and eternally inside this Temple that contains our lives and all that we are.

As I felt this ancient and loving living Temple around me, my heart broke even more with gratitude.  I cried deeply from the comfort that God has never ever left us out in the cold, that we have always been warm and safe inside this ancient Temple of Bhagavan.  Just as we have been yearning for God through all the ages, through our evolution and progress and history, God has been answering that yearning in every moment along the way – we just need to stop screaming, rest in the love of God and open to feel it.

ancient-indian-temples9

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu ~ May All Beings Everywhere Be Happy

Amma prayersAbout 3 weeks ago I was browsing Facebook.  I have my doubts about the merits of Facebook, as when I spend too much time flipping through post upon post I feel my brain turn to mush and my productivity draining out of me, yet I do believe, when used responsibly, it can be a force for good.  And here is the proof.

On this occasion I came across a picture of Amma standing amid a crowd and the caption said she was leading the chant “Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu,” – a sanskrit chant that is translated as “May All Beings in All the Worlds be Peaceful and Happy.”

It was just a quick glance, I didn’t even click on the “read more” option and scrolled down to the squirrel in front of the Buddha statue and the mini-pig jumping in a pool.  I regretfully admit that I spent more time watching the video of the dog walking on its front legs for a full two minutes peeing than I did reading the post from Amma’s Facebook page.  But through the mercy and blessing of Amma, after I saw that picture I all of a sudden had that chant stuck in my head.

I have had chants stuck in my head before after attending a community satsang or burning a hole in my Krishna Das CD. But this was unusual because it’s not a chant I have chanted before and it’s not a chant I even knew at the time – yet I found it repeating itself in my head even as I was scrambling for the words.  It was like my mind was involuntarily half-mumbling this chant over and over, all of this going on internally as I was busy going about my day.

After a couple of hours of mumbling a chant I didn’t know I looked it up on you tube and found this version by Wah – and then I had something to listen to on the outside that matched what was going on inside.

Since I was being given this blessing (it is infinitely better to have a sacred chant stuck in your head than for example a song “all about that bass” which can also happen) – I gratefully learned the chant and joined in with my conscious mind whenever I did not have some other task requiring mental concentration.  I chanted under my breath at my desk at work.  I chanted as I drove to and from work or anywhere else for that matter.  I chanted as I walked my dog Peachy in the evenings.  I chanted as I cooked dinner in my kitchen.  I chanted as I brushed my teeth morning and evening.  And for almost two weeks I felt the chant going constantly in the background even as I was engaged in conversation or attending meetings at work.Amma 14

In first reading the meaning of the chant, it seems like a prayer – like a request, asking God or the universe or some all-powerful being somewhere for all beings everywhere to be peaceful and happy.  So I thought, great – what a good thing to do as I’m walking across campus to pick up the business department mail – even if it looks like I’m mumbling to myself, I might as well be praying for peace and happiness for all.  But as I continued to chant “Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu” I started feeling that it is much more than a prayer – it is a state of consciousness.

In chanting those words I was getting in touch with the part of God that holds for the peace and happiness of all souls, of all Her children.  I was noticing that each time I sat down to meditate I had an easier time going into a state of peacefulness, slipping right into a calm steady happiness as soon as I closed my eyes.  One time when I took Peachy down to the fort I sat down on the grass with some live musician playing in the background and plenty of tourists milling about, and as soon as I closed my eyes and focused on the chant I could feel the vastness and eternity of God that is IN and behind and underneath everything as this state of peaceful happiness.  I could feel this chant as God holding everyone – all beings in all the worlds – with this loving happy presence of peace.  I could feel all the tourists around me, the musician playing across the street, all the people in all of St Augustine being held in this Presence.  And not just now, but beyond time.  It was like I could feel this constant loving Presence of happiness holding all beings through all of time – through the most ancient days of this ancient city, I could feel this Presence, somehow connected from where I was sitting to these men and women from long ago.

I realized that this chant is not just a prayer – it is not just asking “May all beings in all the worlds be peaceful and happy.”  It is the actual state of consciousness of Peace and Happiness that is just a click away from all of us – right next to us, right under every cell of our beings – there It is, just waiting for us to shift, to let go into It.  So, in chanting this prayer we can merge with God’s own wish for all beings everywhere to live in peace and happiness, and in praying the same prayer God prays, we become just a little bit closer to God ourselves.

Amma 10Just a few days after this experience I saw yet another post that read “Amma’s intention is that each person somehow grow closer to God.”  So, for this blessing, I thank Ammachi and Facebook!

Unity & Peace Inside & Out – the Mind is Not the Bad Guy

scottsaw_eternal_embraceI recently went to a chanting circle.  In all the quiet spaces between the chanting, the leader of the group included some guided meditation instructions, reminding everyone to get our minds out of the way to let our hearts and souls just be.

At one point she spoke in a soothing voice to let our minds be quiet, that the mind was not designed to be in harmony with the soul… and from deep within my meditative state something inside of me said – say what??

How is it possible that I was designed with some part of me in constant conflict with my soul?  How could any part of me not be designed to be in harmony with my Self?  Why is the mind always made out to be the bad guy?  How can I truly find inner peace if I’m constantly telling a whole part of my being to shut up?  How can my heart and soul only expand by pushing a part of me out of the way?

These were the thoughts that were going through my mind in the midst of chanting God’s name – and I didn’t want to push the thoughts away.  As common as it is to use this kind of meditation technique, I realized that it’s still coming from a conflict paradigm – the soul vs the ego, the heart vs the mind… who will win?  But I do not want to conquer some part of myself.  And if we truly DO change the world by changing our thoughts and our internal world – then I want to love myself and create unity & peace with ALL parts of my being, inside & out.

Of course the mind was designed to be in absolute harmony with my soul – it was designed to be in perfect harmony with the whole universe!  God did not design us to be in conflict within ourselves or with each other.

So, I would like to change the conflict model of meditation.  Let’s have the soul embrace the mind and entice the mind to serve the soul.  If we love our minds instead of fighting with them, our minds will love us back and do anything for us.  The mind is amazing – it gives us focus, intelligence, insight and the ability to use words to express, to pray and to chant the name of God.  Ask your mind to help you focus on the stillness inside yourself, ask your mind to keep coming back to the peace you truly are, ask your mind to rest inside Divine Light. Invite your mind to be a full participant in your spiritual practice.

The mind is perfectly capable of understanding Truth – that is what it was made for – so let’s not push it out of the way.  Let’s unify the soul and the mind into one purpose of loving God, loving the Self and loving each other.