Transformation Summer 2019 - Issue 4
Spiritual Practices & Inspired Lifestyle
Celebrating Spiritual Practices & Yoga Day Featuring Featuring articles articles from: from: Philip Philip Hellmich Hellmich Denise Denise Scotto Scotto Deborah Deborah Moldow Moldow Andrew Andrew Cohen Cohen Diane Diane Berke Berke Terry Terry Patten Patten Jeff Jeff Genung Genung Gard Gard Jameson Jameson Jeff Jeff Vander Vander Clute Clute Chris Chris Grosso Grosso Including Including highlights highlights from from the International Day the International Day of of Yoga Committee at the UN Yoga Committee at the UN 2019 2019 Special Special Issue! Issue!
Are you being called to a higher level of service?
SPIRITUAL EDUCATION FOR THE 21ST CENTURY Interfaith/Interspiritual Seminary • Interspiritual Counseling Emergence Leadership Academy • Public Workshops Available in person in NYC or via Zoom video conference
212-931-6840 ext 151 • 1spirit.org
M A G A Z I N E Spiritual Practices & Inspired Lifestyle Light on Light Magazine Issue 4 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Summer 2019
Host Editor ............................................................................ Karuna
We at Light on Light Magazine are dedicated to illuminating the light of wisdom and compassion of spiritual practices and inspiring lifestyle features for the flourishing of health, mind, and spirit every day.
Contributions Editor ...................................................... Kurt Johnson, PhD Managing Editor ........................................ Rev. Shannon Winters, MS Book Review Editor ..............................................Swami Shraddhananda Graphic Editor & Layout ............................................................... David Winters Acknowledgements: The editors gratefully acknowledge Roxanne Bank, MA for copyediting the feature articles in this issue.
Light on Light Magazine welcomes authors, spiritual teachers, and our readers, to contribute ideas and brief concepts for content in future issues. We welcome light-filled submissions of wisdom, inspiration, and transformation for feature articles, personal transformation stories, poetry, fictional short stories, music, artwork, #ShineYourLight inspirations, and more! Please send a brief description of your content or idea to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration. Except for fair use extracts with full credit, no part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the publisher. We make every effort to obtain proper permission to reproduce images. Images and artwork that do not include a citation for use where they appear in Light on Light Magazine are from Pixabay or licensed from Shutterstock Please contact us with any information related to the rights holder of an image source that is not credited.
Connect with Us Online! www.facebook.com/Light-on-Light-157239711589063
The opinions expressed in this issue due not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher or editors of Light on Light Magazine.
The Interspiritual Network Serving the Emerging Global Interspiritual Paradigm
a member of the UNITY EARTH network ÂŠ Light on Light Magazine. All rights reserved.
TABLE OF CONTENTS Editor's Welcomes An Update and Welcome by Karuna.......................................................................................4 Welcome by Dr. Kurt Johnson......................................................................5
Welcomes Welcome by Phil Hellmich............................................................................6 For Conscious Activists, the Means Are the Ends by Rick Ulfik...................................................................................7 You Are Your Most Significant Other: Spend Quality Time with Yourself by Yanni Maniates....................................................................8-9 How Do You Get to Carnegie Hall? by Rev. Deborah Moldow......................................................... 10
Feature Articles Translating Heartbreak into Action by Terry Patten........................................................................11-12 “First Remove the Log” Shadow Work in Spiritual Development by Rev. Diane Berke............................................................. 13-14 Evolutionary Enlightenment by Andrew Cohen.................................................................15-16
Spotlight on International Day of Yoga 2019 Introduction by Denise Scotto, Esq.......................................................... 17-18 2019 5th Anniversary Yoga Day Message by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar............................................................. 19 Meditate on Truth by Amma Sri Karunamayi...................................................20-21 Yoga: A Science Not a Religion by Sadhguru.........................................................................22-23 Yoga in Buddhism: Toward Mindful Awareness by Bhikkhu Dr. Dhammadipa Sak...................................24-26 Meditation by BK Suman Kalra................................................................... 27 How We Became a Nation of Yogis by Philip Goldberg..............................................................28-29 Yoga & Climate Change by Valeriane Bernard..........................................................30-31 SDG 16—Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions: Creating a Culture of Peace & Non Violence by Denise Scotto, Esq. ...................................................... 32-34 Achieving United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3 through the Practice of Yoga by Padmini Murthy, MD, MPH........................................... 35-37 Using “Mind Yoga” to Create Sustainable Low-Cost Housing by Patrick San Francesco................................................. 38-39
Diet for a Sustainable Future by Denis Luci (Kripadevi) ...................................................40-41 The International Peace Trees Program: A Means to Achieve the 17 UN SDGs by Sabine Devlieger........................................................... 42-44 The Importance of Yoga for Kids by Deepali Sharma.............................................................45-46 What in the World is Going On? by Paul Luftenegger........................................................... 47-48 Infinite Qualities by P.C. Turczyn........................................................................... 49 Inner Peace Is a Global Opportunity by Philip Hellmich................................................................50-52
Illuminations Buckle Your Seatbelt: Interspirituality Moving in Our Mids by Jeff Genung.....................................................................55-56 Illuminated Interbeing Inspires Dedicated Interdoing by Gard Jameson................................................................ 57-58 Satsang for Collective Illumination: Two Offerings by Jeff Vander Clute for The Enlightenment Zone.....59-60
Inspired Voices Tony Hawk, Public Enemy and the Universe Inside by Chris Grosso....................................................................61-62
Travel - Along the Journey Along the Journey by Joanne Kujawa..............................................................63-64
Music Light Warriors - spiritual practice in music by Erik Rabasca...................................................................65-66
Art Art and Creativity As Spiritual Practice by Rev. Franne Demetrician............................................. 67-68
Book Review Goldberg Strikes Gold with The Life of Yogananda by Sw. Shraddhananda Saraswati....................................... 69
#ShineYourLight Can A Hug Change the World? by Edie Weinstein................................................................. 70-71 The Practice of Amazing by Sarah Bowen........................................................................ 72
Preview of Next Issue Light on Light Magazine Change Makers & Leaders by Rev. Shannon Winters.........................................................73
An Update and Welcome
from Light on Light Host Editor, Karuna
Welcome to this expanded issue on Spiritual Practice and Lifestyle following on our recent inspiring issue in cooperation with the International Day of Yoga Committee at the United Nations. We've also just posted a VoiceAmerica Special which we hope you’ll find exciting as well, available here. In this issue of Light on Light we extend outward to multiple feature writers and additional spiritual practice and activists organizations, movements and leaders. And, we look toward the upcoming September and October events and celebrations centered on the International Day of Peace (September 21st), the 11 Days of Global Unity, Global Oneness Day, and our issues of Light on Light magazine and companion specials on VoiceAmerica related to these. In September and October, Light on Light will bring you another VoiceAmerica UNITY EARTH Convergence special coordinated around our globe’s International Day of Peace festivities. This will include a special issue of Light on Light: “CHANGE-MAKERS: Leadership and Transformation”. In this issue we will welcome, among others, Deepak Chopra, Jean Houston, Michael Beckwith, Ken Wilber, Audrey Kitagawa, David Sloan Wilson, Brian McLaren, Stephen Dinan, Diane Berke and Ambassador Mussie Hailu with Victor Kazanjian. We’re looking forward to participation in a host of events across September and October 2019 which also look toward even more important events on these dates in 2020! As 2019 closes out Light on Light will bring you another special issue, in collaboration with the Conscious Business World Summit: “Conscious Business for a Flourishing World” including Gregg Braden, Erwin Laszlo, Chris Laszlo, Peter Matthies, Ken Wilber and a host of participants from the Summit organized by Summit host Steve Farrell of Humanity’s Team and Deborah Moldow of The Evolutionary Leaders. Light on Light extends a heartfelt “thank you” to the sixtyeight Evolutionary Leaders who have been a part of our issues and our VoiceAmerica companion specials!
Karuna’s Healthy Tip for pure celery juice.
I have been so personally blessed to work in the company of these incredible human beings who have such an open heart to listen, to clarify, and to share all that we at Light on Light have been so blessed to offer. Recently, we have started a new journey—writing a new lifestyle manual/book, personal story, and spiritual practice guide. This will be something you can carry with you as you move through the additional opportunities of your life's journey. I feel it is tenderly possible in our evolution to carry these tools with us as we travel through our own personal awakenings and deeper awarenesses, to host and encourage ourselves to become a bigger part of this truly inspiring time in our lives. We all contribute to this time of change in our lives. Here at Light on Light we have offered you many shape-shifters and changemakers in these issues mentioned above. But most importantly, you are one of them! There is deep impact when you do your spiritual practice daily. You impact not only your family, your friends, and your community but universal things. So, as part of our ongoing work, we want to hear from you! It is truly my blessing, beyond the beyond, to offer this magazine to you and to be a part of this magazine's vision—Light on Light. Let's continue to "grow up" together, to "wake up" together, to "clean up" together, so we can "show up" for the generations to come. Let's remember also the ancestors who have brought us here today to do this work. So, all in all, I bow to you and I thank you, and I love you dearly. Sat Nam Karuna Click here for a recent interview with Karuna published online in Voyage Denver. For more Upcoming Events and Classes with Karuna, click here for her newsletter.
from Light on Light and the global organization community
A hearty welcome to this expanded issue of Light on Light Magazine that follows on our amazing issue for the International Day of Yoga, with the United Nations Committee for the International Day of Yoga. In this issue we add additional features, updates and spotlights, and also tell you more about what is ahead with Light on Light for 2019. I want to express again my thanks to the amazing collective of international organizations of which we are a part. These are important organizations and networks who work together to regularly place pivotal global issues and messages front-and-center before for our world community. Our major challenges today are global in scope. Thus, their examination and remedies must also be international and world-centric. It is really the task of the international transformational community to join the essential global values and ideals from our world’s Great Wisdom Traditions with the expansive landscape of our species’ global life-- issues like peace, health, and so many more. Upcoming in Light on Light Magazine this year will be more issues precisely meeting this task. Following our issue for the International Day of Yoga, this issue emphasizes the centrality of spiritual practice and lifestyle in creating the kinds of individuals who can provide desperately needed leadership for our very challenged world. With that in mind, for the International Day of Peace, September 21st, we will publish a special issue: “CHANGE-MAKERS: Leadership and Transformation”. This issue is ‘chocked full’ of major global voices, leaders and activists who are truly making a difference across issues from environment, to human rights, health, peace, innovation and our general global well-being. In winter, we will publish a second special issue “Conscious Business for a Flourishing World”. This issue follows on, and grows from, The Conscious Business Summit which Humanity’s Team, UNITY EARTH, and the Evolutionary Leaders hosted in March of 2019. Both of these issues will be companioned by a VoiceAmerica Special on our Convergence series on VoiceAmerica. In all these issues we continue to serialize feature articles from our forthcoming book, inspired by the 2019 Parliament of the World's Religions: Waking Up, Growing Up, Cleaning Up, Showing Up, Linking Up and Lifting Up. We feel the articles will get much more readership by combining the serializations with the publication of the book itself. We all join in “Standing for Peace” in the deepest sense of what that means, within and without. Enjoy this issue and join us throughout 2019 as we build the road together toward 2020 and beyond. Dr. Kurt Johnson The Interspiritual Network and UNITY EARTH Community
Yoga is practiced by people around the world and is helping catalyze a global shift in consciousness. Yoga is one of our most ancient spiritual practices (estimated between 5,000 and 10,000 years old), which is part of why the United Nations has designated June 21 as the UN International Day of Yoga. Yoga’s introduction to the West came through many avenues, starting with Emerson and Thoreau’s interest in the Bhagavad Gita; Swami Vivekananda’s presentation at the Parliament of the World's Religions in Chicago in 1893; Paramahansa Yogananda’s arrival in the U.S. in 1920; The Beatles going to Rishikesh, India in 1968 to take part in an advanced Transcendental Meditation™ training course; and, many other avenues and great teachers over the years. In the classic Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda, it is written that great Himalayan yogis intentionally planned, years in advance, to send Yogananda to the United States to help spread yoga around the world. (The same is probably true for Swami Vivekananda and other great masters.) They believed humanity was headed into an age where technological advances, including the advent of the atomic bomb, would create potential hardships for humanity. They saw that the ancient science of yoga was needed to help people awaken to their innate divinity and to help harmonize humanity. The spread of yoga around the world truly gives us hope that there is a global shift in consciousness taking place — one person, one breath, one posture and one meditation at a time. And, that this raising of consciousness is being supported by great beings of different lineages. All we have to do is commit ourselves to daily practices and allow the ancient science of yoga to transform ourselves so we can better attune and align with divine inspiration and serve as instruments of peace. Philip M. Hellmich Director of Peace The Shift Network
Philip M. Hellmich is a globally renowned thought leader in creating a new narrative for peace, Philip brings over 25 years of experience in international development and conflict transformation including 14 years with Search for Common Ground. He also served for four years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Sierra Leone where he lived and worked in small remote bush villages. Philip recently published God and Conflict: A Search for Peace in a Time of Crisis. He serves as adviser to The Global Peace Initiative of Women. A long-time meditation practitioner, Philip enjoys studying and teaching about the parallels between inner and outer peacebuilding.
For Conscious Activists, the Means Are the Ends Welcome to this especially inspiring issue. We are building on the global celebration of the International Day of Yoga, June 21st, which follows and is part of the 100-Day Countdown to the U.N. International Day of Peace. Changemakers around the world are likewise participating in 11 Days of Global Unity - 11 Ways to Transform Your World which culminates on Peace Day September 21st. Collectively, WE are helping to create a Culture of Peace "from the Inner to the International" as Philip Hellmich of the Shift Network has said for many years. This consciously mindful approach, what some are calling "Sacred Activism", is becoming more common as people realize that the strategy of "the Ends Justify the Means" does not work if you want to truly transform society. Rather, when "the Means are the Ends." then leaders Walk their Talk with integrity. And strong connection and support are forthcoming from all in their communities. Conscious Activism is particularly important to us at We, The World as we prepare to celebrate the 15th Anniversary of our Annual 11 Days of Global Unity - September 11th through September 21st. In 2004 We, The World brought together Amnesty International, Pathways To Peace, World Peace Prayer Society, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Jane Goodall, Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson, Robert Thurman, Barbara Marx Hubbard, and people doing actions and events in 125 cities worldwide to launch 11 Days of Global Unity culminating on the International Day of Peace. Since the launch, 11 Themes were created for the 11 Days, and the Themes have turned into 11 Campaigns For Change with over 600 organizations signing up to participate all year long. From working with vulnerable families in Botswana, to Renewable Energy Community Development in Maine, USA, to International Children's Month, to Light On Light Magazine and VoiceAmerica Radio, participants like you are part of a growing global wave of caring, concern and kindness! As a result, we are beginning to see a cultural shift that has even affected the 2020 Election Campaigns in the USA where Marianne Williamson reflects her spiritual values as a candidate. I and WE are grateful for all you are doing, and for who you are being, as part of this mindful movement. Thank you and Welcome! Rick Ulfik Founder of We, The World and the WE Campaign at WE.net Rick is the Founder of We, The World and the WE Campaign at WE.net. We, The World is an international coalition-building organization whose Mission is to maximize social change globally - until we have a world that works for all. To fulfill this mission We, The World creates and promotes Programs, Platforms and Campaigns that unite and amplify the efforts of changemakers working for the Common Good. Rick is the Co-Creator of the annual 11 Days of Global Unity - 11 Ways to Change the World September 11th through September 21st, the International Day of Peace. Rick has worked with Nonviolent Communication (NVC) since 2004 and has been an NVC workshop facilitator with the New York Center for Nonviolent Communication. 7
You Are Your Most Significant Other: Spend Quality Time with Yourself By Yanni Maniates
Who do you spend the most “Quality Time” with? Who is Your “Most Significant Other?” Is it your “Self?” Learning to meditate, quiet my mind and touch into the deep place of Peace and Embrace within my Self is the greatest gift I have ever received. Meditation is the art of self-mastery, of learning to experience each moment with calm awareness and compassion. It is learning how not to identify with our incessant thoughts and feelings, but instead to choose to identify with the profound peace that dwells within us. This place of peace is available to all of us. It’s not something only a "select" few can attain. It is a natural ability we all have. Unfortunately no one has ever provided us with an "owner's manual" for our minds, thus we are not aware of this incredible potential within us. By meditating we develop our own "owner's manual" for our mind. As well, it is an opportunity to sit quietly and in the sacred Silence to come to "Know Thy Self;" and in coming to "Know Thy Self," one is better able to appreciate and love oneself and others. It is an opportunity to connect at the deepest level with our soul, our higher self and to tap into our highest potentials. When we meditate we touch in with that part of us that accesses great wisdom and creativity and is connected to infinite love, peace and potential. Learning how to identify or interact with that peaceful center within is accomplished by not getting caught up in our fears, worries, anxieties, responsibilities, etc. It is done by quieting our minds
and opening our hearts. This allows that peace at the center of our being to flow into our awareness unimpeded by all our thoughts and feelings. When we are not all "clogged up" with thoughts and feelings, when we empty ourselves of them, we allow stillness and peace to flow in and fill us up. We then enter a state of joy, peace and love that is so profound and so liberating. It is here where we can eavesdrop on God. Meditation is an antidote for the over emphasis we find so prevalent today on always “doing” and “thinking.” As Deepak Chopra said, we are meant to be human "beings" and not human "doings" or human “thinkings.” We are meant to spend “quality time” with ourselves on an ongoing basis so that we can get to know who we truly are. We can't do this, if we are always on the go, always doing and thinking and never have any sacred, quiet time. So, the goal is inner simplicity–maintaining a quiet mind in the midst of a busy life. Why, you might ask is it worth maintaining a quiet, balanced mind? The answer is: A tense mind creates a tense body and a stressed out life; a relaxed mind creates a relaxed, healthy body and a happy, life. There are numerous scientific studies that show the direct link between stress, illness and longevity. Meditation helps to put us into a new relationship with our body, thoughts and feelings--a healthy one. But meditation is not something you can just read about and gain benefit from, you must sit and practice in order to enjoy its numerous benefits. There are many meditation techniques that can help to quiet the mind and help us to experience a true, lasting peace. Observing 8
focused, etc.. After just a few minutes of doing this you will be pleasantly surprised at how balanced, relaxed and grounded you feel. So, constantly use your breath as an ongoing frame of reference or "ground" for your being. Whenever you get lost in compulsive thinking or in "doing" too much, come back to an awareness of your breath. Your breath is always in the present and if you focus your attention on it, it will bring you peace.
the breath is one of the most accessible and powerful methods. It is used by beginners and masters. It is often the first technique that is taught. So, I would like to offer you a simple breath meditation exercise you can do for about five minutes anytime in the day. Here is a link to a 5 minute guided breath meditation: Breath Meditation Please note that you can also do this exercise with your eyes open, e.g., while you are standing in a line, waiting for a bus or an appointment, in a meeting where you don’t have to be fully
We waste an enormous amount of our precious energy worrying about the future and reliving the past. Use your breath to come back to the present and revive your energies. And then use these energies to create joy and success in the present and to plant seeds for even greater joy in the future. This is the way to peace of mind. There is nothing more grounding and centering than your breath. Peace of mind is but a breath away. So, remember, meditation takes practice, but everyone can do it. It is not easy, at first, to learn how to calm our minds, focus our thoughts, and concentrate on our inner worlds, but with patience and practice one can experience an incredible leap forward in the quality of one’s life. As Rousseau wrote: "Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet."
Yanni Maniates, MS, CMI, is a spiritual guide and consciousness pioneer who has been teaching Intuitive Development, Meditation, Healing, Hermetic Wisdom, Ancient Mystery School and Metaphysical subjects for 30 years. He has trained over one thousand people to successfully meditate and deeply develop their Intuition. He is the author of six Kindle books on Meditation and Intuition, three Meditation CDs and numerous courses. As well, he has been doing “Soul Readings” for decades. The primary focus of his work is to help people experience the “still, small voice within,” or as he prefers to call it, “The Embrace,” and then to help them live a fulfilling life that is bursting with real passion and grounded in true integrity. He loves helping people discover who they really are. http://www.insideoutjourneys.com/ In addition, as a sacred activist he works with UNITY EARTH as its Global Projects Director and as chair of its US Board. As well, he is a core member of the contemplative practice community Transformation 365 www.transformation365.org
When You Are Quiet, You Can Eavesdrop on God When You Remember Who You Are, You Forget Who You Weren’t 9
LIVING LIGHT is a regular column for Light on Light Magazine intended for those who feel called to live more fully into the emerging consciousness.
How Do You Get to Carnegie Hall?
By Rev. Deborah Moldow
You know the answer to the old joke: Practice, practice, practice! The concept of spiritual practice is both as ancient as humankind and also ever-changing in today’s fast-paced world. In any group that is essentially tribal in nature, ritual is deeply engrained in the culture and tends to be practiced as a community. Elements of sacred practice may include fire, chanting, dancing, drums and perhaps ingesting some kind of substance to heighten the experience. A shaman, trained from birth or a very early age, leads the ceremony in special garb. The purpose is to enter into a state of communion with a God or gods, nature spirits or other intelligences normally beyond our reach. As the great religions of the East and West emerged, similar practices developed, often with the use of candles, song and sometimes wine, and generally led by a rabbi, imam or priest trained in the mysteries. In the East, practitioners sat to still and focus the mind in meditation, while Western religions generally put more emphasis on prayer. Over time, as the individual grew more likely to be educated and less attached to the tribal culture, seekers began to experiment with various practices from other traditions. This was particularly true in the late 20th century, as closely held religious and spiritual techniques became open secrets accessible to all. Yet the rise of science led many away from orthodox practices with intense ritual and toward more rational, social religious communities, such as Protestantism, Reform Judaism and Unitarianism.
But the tide has turned once again and the spiritual path beckons even those who do not consider themselves to be religious. Just as today’s physicists are beginning to describe a material world based on consciousness rather than substance, more and more people of all ages are looking for spiritual practices that are less tied to organized religion and codified dogma. If we live in a quantum field of infinite possibilities, what methods would best help us to maximize our potential? And so we turn a fresh eye to the mystical traditions and shamanic practices in our attempt to crack the codes that will usher in a new level of consciousness, not only for ourselves as individuals, but also for all humanity. There is a sense today of being on the verge of a new era of inner awakening, where the truths that guided our ancestors back in the earliest times can be rediscovered at the next rung of our evolutionary spiral, showing us the way to lives of purpose and loving service – and giving us hope for the future. We are listening less to our religious leaders and more to the still, small voice within that guides our spiritual journey. And as we learn to hear that inner guidance and to trust its whisper, we are continually surprised at the grace that comes through. So let us explore ways to quiet the chatter of our busy minds and enter into the light of Spirit that will open us to new worlds of possibility. All it takes is practice, practice, practice.
Rev. Deborah Moldow is an ordained interfaith minister committed to assisting in the transformation of human consciousness. She is the founder of the Garden of Light, an online platform for the emerging global spirituality. Deborah is Co-Director of the Evolutionary Leaders circle, a project of the Source of Synergy Foundation. She served for 22 years as the Representative to the United Nations of the World Peace Prayer Society and the prayer “May Peace Prevail on Earth.” Rev. Deborah leads monthly Interfaith Sundays at the Chapel at Croton Falls and is a Creative Consultant at UNITY EARTH. 10
Translating Heartbreak into Action By Terry Patten
Author, Teacher, (R)evolutionary Co-creating a New Republic of the Heart
No one can say with certainty how our civilizational crisis will play out. We don’t know how much suffering and destruction—human and nonhuman—might lie ahead or how soon. But we do know, with increasing certainty, that the actions of human beings have created an existential predicament; and we can also know that the actions of human beings—for good or for ill—will determine the future of our great grandchildren and most other living beings. The stakes could scarcely be higher. We cannot wait to “see what happens” before we act on this awareness. Rather, we are obliged right now to do whatever we can to help prevent or mitigate the horrific scenarios that we may have set in motion. What could be a greater moral imperative? Only human beings can protect and defend the future of life on Earth from human beings. It will take conscious individuals making deliberate choices based on the best information available—people presuming responsibility to make a difference. Nothing could be more honorable and worthwhile. The word “activist” conjures images of sit-ins, people circulating petitions and raising money and marching and organizing and meeting and getting people to the polls. But it also means doing research, starting businesses, making loans, and changing one’s diet. When people creatively act on their moral intuition, all kinds of things happen. The world of activism is very big, diverse, and dynamic. And it requires—and helps us along in—transcending the collective trance. Gratitude, Grief, and Spiritual Activism
Spiritual life involves growing into a wise and healthy relationship to reality. The word “spiritual” points to the deepest level of being: essential and existential. Spiritual growth and development enable us to glimpse the bountiful grace in which we live, the beauty of the world, and the privilege of conscious embodied existence. Gratitude is universal spiritual wisdom and it is sufficient. Such gratitude is awake. It is realistically in touch with loss and death and threat—not in denial. Saints are grateful even while resonating empathically with suffering. Everything we love is mortal, even the living Earth. Everything regenerates, and yet it is also wounded and under threat. The heart breaks to see the destruction of vulnerable people, living creatures, and wild places. We want to protect them. We want to help. As Joanna Macy so sagely puts it, “If everyone I love is in danger, I want to be here, so I can do what I can.” Activism is simply acting on the impulse to “be of benefit” to something greater than yourself, in a whole variety of ways. Not all of them look like overt “activism,” but many do. All are natural expressions of human maturity. But exactly how can we effectively address the totality of this crisis? If addressing it requires knowing exactly how the crisis will unfold and exactly what it will take to prevent it, then we can’t. As we have seen, no one, not even the best of scientists, has that degree of omniscience, especially with the kind of wicked predicament we are facing. There is no way that we can address the whole tangle of causes and consequences; everything is connected to everything else. Our predicament requires a revolutionary transformation of every aspect of human life: a “Great Transition” or “Great Turning.” It will ultimately require revolutionary changes in human consciousness, behavior, culture, and the physical, economic, and political infrastructure of our whole civilization. It is so vast and intricate that it easily seems impossible. We might be tempted to despair, but despair easily becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. And yet, because this huge transformation has 11
so many aspects, every one of us can readily find ways to magnify love and sanity and beauty and truth and human connection. Every one of us can find many things we can actually do. Paradoxically, the many little things we can do—each of which may seem in itself woefully insufficient to our total predicament— may well be a good start. We will continue to see the endings of life all around us, and we will grieve for all of the losses we witness. Our spirit and consciousness will go through a transformative ordeal as we take in new terrible truths about our predicament. But many actions on many levels, when collectively engaged (and perhaps further catalyzed by positive black swan breakthroughs) may ultimately add up into a single great action. At our micro level, there are many things we can do, and are doing, to address even our mega crisis. To be an effective agent of change does not mean we have to know everything. But it does require opening to another level of transformation and creativity. Our predicament presents us with a vast demand and limitless opportunity for growth. Our crisis seems overwhelming, and yet we live in a universe of awe-inspiring creative potential in nature, in our fellow humans, in the evolutionary process, and certainly in ourselves. The story of evolution is a story of miracle after miracle. We must simultaneously take in the magnitude of the problem, grieve for much inevitable suffering, and do what we can on behalf of creative solutions on every scale. To do both requires great openness on our part—openness to growth and to creative responses that we didn’t know were possible. We give ourselves over to something that feels true. We magnify health and wholeness, even in the face of fragmentation; and, in our trust of the larger process, we also become more effective. Our souls are positively stirred and conscripted. This process of growth is clearly never-ending. From Growing Up to Waking Up to Syncing Up: Personal and Collective Practice
What exactly does that look like for each of us personally? We can live a whole life of practice. And that expresses itself through a whole spectrum of Integral practices, both personal and collective. In Integral Life Practice, my co-authors and I introduced the phrases “Waking Up” (to higher states of consciousness that intuit our divine nature) and “Growing Up” to higher developmental structures of consciousness. Others, including Ken Wilber and Dustin Diperna, have expanded on this sequence to include “Cleaning Up” (shadow work, healing, and forgiveness), and (following my writings on integral activism) “Showing Up” (committed courageous action in the world). Others, including Kurt Johnson, Jude Currivan and I, have added “Linking Up” (practice in community that builds a social movement). Here I would like to add an additional phrase, still aspirational, and yet, I think, now an evolutionary imperative: Syncing Up. Deep and profound practice in and among communities of practice can liberate ever deepening alignment to what is most fundamental and universal about what all practitioners are participating in. Each of us is a fractal expression of Wholeness as it reasserts itself, like an immune response, in the face of an urgent global crisis of fragmentation. As we become more and more deeply surrendered to the heart of wholeness, we will cease to live in our superficial and divided ways. We will learn to notice and presume the greater divine wholeness that we are all serving.
TERRY PATTEN is a philosopher, activist, consultant, coach, teacher, social entrepreneur, and author of A New Republic of the Heart: An Ethos for Revolutionaries. As an author, he co-wrote the book Integral Life Practice with Ken Wilber and a core team at the Integral Institute. As a teacher he is the founder of the “Beyond Awakening” teleseminar series and Bay Area Integral. As a social entrepreneur, he founded the pioneering consciousness technology company Tools For Exploration, led the team at the HeartMath Institute that developed their first commercial heart-rate variability monitor, and is now involved in restorative redwood forestry and fossil-fuel alternatives. 12
“First Remove the Log” Shadow Work in Spiritual Development By Rev. Diane Berke
Founder and Spiritual Director of One Spirit Learning Alliance and One Spirit Interfaith Seminary
We do not become conscious by imagining figures of light but by making the darkness conscious. -
Carl Jung, Collected Works, Vol. 13: Alchemical Studies
If you imagine someone who is brave enough to withdraw all his projections, then you get an individual who is … unable to say that they do this or that, they are wrong, and they must be fought against. … Such a man knows that whatever is wrong in the world is in himself, and if he only learns to deal with his own shadow he has done something real for the world. … How can anyone see straight when he does not even see himself and the darkness he unconsciously carries with him into all dealings?”
- Carl Jung, Collected Works, Vol. 11: Psychology and Religion
If we are to contribute to the world from a place of clarity and compassion in these profoundly troubled and troubling times, we must undertake the difficult, daunting, and at times intensely painful challenge of shadow work: facing and reclaiming the rejected, despised, and exiled parts of ourselves that we have banished to the dark corners of our psyche and projected out onto the world. Unless and until we do this sacred work, we will be prone to an angry self-righteousness that distorts our vision and renders us ineffective. We will blind ourselves to the ways we become the very thing we hate and condemn in others; and we will deny ourselves access to the tremendous energy and potential wisdom released when the shadow is brought into the light and reintegrated into a larger, truer, transformed experience of self. In the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 7, Jesus issues a sharp rebuke to our tendency to self-righteousness, asking why we are so concerned with the speck in our brother’s eye when there is a log in our own. First we need to remove the log from our own eye, he tells us; then we will see clearly how to truly help our brother. There is profound wisdom in this teaching that we must take very seriously. Jesus is not saying that we should not engage or act to correct what is wrong or needs healing in the world. But he is saying that we will not be able to do that effectively until we first deal with whatever is interfering with our ability to see clearly what is really needed and how to be most helpful. And one of the most powerful interferences to clear seeing is the shadow – both the communal or collective shadow of the groups and culture we are part of, and the personal shadow we form through our own process of development and socialization. The Roman dramatist Terence wrote: “Homo sum: Humani nihil a mihi alienum est.” – “I am a human being: Nothing human is foreign to me.” It takes courage and a real depth of compassion to face that there is nothing that any human being can be or do that does not exist as potential within us as well. That includes the most abhorrent thoughts, feelings, and actions human beings are capable of; the most terrifying levels of vulnerability, helplessness, and desperation anyone has ever experienced; and the most inspiring courage, generosity, and spiritual magnitude any human being has ever embodied. 13
In doing the work of reclaiming and transforming the shadow, we are forced to discover that everything we hate in others lives in us; that everything we fear in the destructive forces raging in our world has a home in some dark corner of ourselves; in an unacknowledged, unhealed fear or trauma, a hunger to be special, or an unexamined desire for revenge. Carl Jung wrote that the inner darkness we refuse to bring to consciousness returns outside of us as fate. By refusing to acknowledge the darkness in ourselves, we empower its expression in the world. Our collective unwillingness to do this searing work is made blatantly clear in the angry, seemingly intractable divisiveness in our society; in the heartless dehumanizing of those we see as “other;” and in the threatening undercurrent as well as sometimes overt expression of violence in our public discourse and treatment of one another. Our culture’s obsession (demonstrated and magnified by social media) with image reinforces our tendency to perpetuate the split between our persona (the mask, or acceptable self-image, we want to present to the world) and our shadow (whatever we consider unacceptable and therefore want to hide both from ourselves and from the world), which we will inevitably project onto others and feel justified in attacking in them. To be willing to undo the persona/shadow split in ourselves – to come to recognize and accept the complexity and dance of light and shadow in ourselves and in all human beings – is to be willing to stand against the prevailing cultural forces of our time. It is essential work if we are to move in the direction of psychological and spiritual maturity and see clearly how to be helpful in the world in this time. There is one final dimension of shadow work that is important to name. Our shadow contains not only the aspects of ourselves that we have judged as unacceptable in a “negative” sense, but also the “positive” potentials of the human spirit we believe are unattainable to all but a few special and rarified human beings. This is sometimes referred to as the “Golden Shadow:” we project our own gifts, strengths, talents, and power onto experts, gurus, political candidates, celebrities, courageous and inspirational activists and public figures we hope will save us. If we do not reclaim our own undeveloped and unexpressed potentials, we collude with the existing powers that want nothing more than for us to remain in a state of “learned helplessness,” convinced that we cannot really make a difference. Accepting responsibility for cultivating our own gifts, developing our strengths, utilizing our talents in the service of others, and exercising our power to choose to embody what is best and noblest and most loving in ourselves is another essential dimension of the shadow work we are called upon now to do. Rev. Diane Berke, PhD, is Founder & Spiritual Director, One Spirit Learning Alliance/One Spirit Interfaith Seminary. Diane holds a Master’s Degree in sociology from the University of Pennsylvania, a Master’s Degree in psychology from Yale University, and a PhD in therapeutic counseling. She was co-founder and Senior Minister of the Interfaith Fellowship and is well-versed in the world’s spiritual traditions, psychology, and the Course in Miracles. Ordained as an Interfaith minister in 1988, Diane became a leading figure in Interfaith education, serving as a dean and faculty member at The New Seminary for ten years before becoming its Director from 1998 to 2002. Diane is a psychotherapist and spiritual counselor in private practice for over 25 years, as well as an inspiring teacher for over 20 years. Diane has authored many articles and several books including Love Always Answers and The Gentle Smile. 14
By Andrew Cohen Spiritual Teacher, Founder of Evolutionary Enlightenment
The teaching of Evolutionary Enlightenment is about the profound awakening to evolutionarily enlightened consciousness and its manifestation and expression in the world. Enlightened consciousness, by whatever name, is the movement of consciousness beyond the personal ego or narcissistic separate self-sense. Traditionally, in most of humanity’s Eastern mystical schools, the attainment of enlightened awareness did not include being awake to evolution. Indeed, traditionally Eastern enlightenment meant something very specific: that one had awakened to the timeless, formless Ground of all Being. Typically, spiritual aspirants discovered this profound dimension of consciousness through the experience of deep meditation. That meant letting go of compulsive identification with, and attachment to, thoughts and emotions and sinking slowly but surely into absolute non-activity. This happens when we slow down and cease compulsive thinking. Through focused concentration, we become both intensely still and profoundly awake. When, in this way, our attention begins to release itself from the conditioned mind and thought process, we fall ever more deeply into a deep meditative state. This is when we discover the limitless interior dimension of our own Being, when consciousness begins to open to itself to an immeasurable degree and when we discover the unmanifest dimension of reality. In that mysterious domain, there is no time, no space, no world, and no mind. Nothing has happened yet. This absolute nothingness or voidness or emptiness is traditionally called the Ground of Being. When we discover the literally infinite, timeless, formless nature of this dimension, we recognize that "This is what it was like before the universe was created." To attain direct knowledge of what enlightenment is, it's important to understand that everything that exists—the entire universe, time and space and all of life, including each and every one of us—is a manifest or material expression of that which does not exist. From nothing came something. The unmanifest became the manifest. From the empty void, this whole material universe, which eventually gave rise to energy, matter, life, 15
and the capacity for self-knowing awareness, dramatically emerged. Everything that exists came from this absolute nothingness. That means nothing is the source of everything that is. This fundamental mystical insight is basically this: that the ultimate essence of everything that exists is this no-thing-ness. Traditionally, this is the revelation that enlightens, that frees the self from attachment to the world, the process of creation, and everything in it. Evolutionary Enlightenment, however, is focused on the manifest or active or creative expression of enlightenment. lt is a different orientation for spiritual development and a completely new context in which to understand our human experience. lt is a radical embrace of manifestation in which you begin to see your own incarnation—whoever you think you are, including your human personality, your body, your mind, and your soul, all the way from the gross to the subtle, including your deepest spiritual revelations to your most mundane experiences and everything in between—within a truly cosmic‚ evolutionary context. You realize that who and what you are as a sentient being is a product of fourteen billion years of cosmic evolutionary development. Every dimension of who and what you are is intimately related to, connected with, and an expression of the creative process as a whole, which began when something came from nothing fourteen billion years ago. In this new understanding you know that every part of yourself is also not separate from that empty ground from which literally everything emerged when time began. That unmanifest dimension is always at the very core of ALL of your experience in every single moment, including this one, whether you are aware of it or not. When seen from an evolutionary perspective, unmanifest nothingness is not nothing. There is nothing happening there, and yet, inherent in the nothingness is an ungraspable mystery that is deeply compelling. That is why, when you enter into a very deep state of meditation, it is always so absolutely enthralling. Why? Because in that absolute nothingness there always exists the inﬁnite creative potential for everything that burst forth as
the entire universe. That unmanifest domain is the indestructible, transcendental realm of inﬁnite potential that forever abides before anything has happened. The unmanifest domain is a place where everything is possible but where nothing has ever happened. In this absolute emptiness, there is a positive, creative tension experienced as a profound and powerful state of suspended awakeness. This unbroken tension exists in the infinite depths of consciousness precisely because everything is possible but has not yet occurred. This is the vibration of empty fullness that is so completely enthralling.
of inﬁnite potential to effect change in the manifest world. This evolutionary drive has been active since the beginning of time, but now it is beginning to become aware of itself in individuals who have reached higher levels of consciousness. The dramatic journey from Nothing to Energy and from Matter to Life, Consciousness and then Self-Reﬂective Awareness is the very same drive to become that has been the surging source of universal unfolding for fourteen billion years. And this entire process is just now beginning to awaken to itself at the leading edge of evolving human consciousness.
When l speak about the manifest expression of enlightenment, I'm pointing very speciﬁcally to what happened at that precise moment when nothing took that unimaginable leap and became everything. What happens when nothingness, which is the essence of everything that exists, becomes manifest? It's important to try and recognize that moment in your very own experience. What we're interested in here is locating that same vibration—that same energy, that same intelligence that initiated the entire creative process at the very beginning of time and history—in your own experience. That energy and intelligence is the creative impulse, the urge to become. Traditionally, it is called Eros. And the highest and most profound expression of that creative impulse is felt when a human being experiences the mysterious compulsion to become more conscious. One experiences the vibration of the evolutionary impulse when it becomes the spiritual impulse. And that impulse, which is not separate from the very same impulse that initiated the creative process and is driving it right now, doesn't have a personal agenda. That’s why, to truly realize it, we have to be willing to let go of the ever-obscuring narrative of our narrowly focused narcissistic selves. Most people have no idea of the enormous spiritual potential that lies unrealized in this dimension of themselves. In Evolutionary Enlightenment, we call this potential or, when it becomes awakened, the Authentic Self.
In the highly developed uniquely human capacity for selfreflective awareness, the process that originated with the Big Bang is not only awakening to itself but is beginning to take responsibility for itself at higher and higher levels of knowing and being. It is doing this through the sophisticated consciousness and complex cognition of the awakening human being at the leading edge. And that's why truly understanding this is of ultimate importance for all of us. When you really get the purpose of Evolutionary Enlightenment, you realize that the demanding process of spiritual awakening is not about you as an individual, it’s about the evolution of the process itself. It’s the humbling realization that the universe is utterly dependent upon your conscious participation in the evolutionary process in order for it to be able to move itself forward.
The Authentic Self is that same vibration of infinite potential that exists eternally in the unmanifest. And, just as unmanifest Being is vibrating with the inﬁnite potential to become everything, so the Authentic Self within you is fueled by the same sense
Knowing this, the depth of your engagement with life is determined by how profoundly you are able to take responsibility for this truth in the life you are living.
Andrew Cohen is an internationally respected spiritual teacher, and the founder of Evolutionary Enlightenment. Departing radically from a traditional Eastern approach, Evolutionary Enlightenment calls not for transcendence of the world, but for a deep and heroic responsibility for its evolution. In nearly three decades of teaching work, he has engaged with thousands of seekers worldwide, evolving his teaching in response to direct dialogue with students, teachers, scholars and philosophers. The community that formed around him eventually became known as EnlightenNext. From 1991 to 2010 he was the editor-in-chief of the award-winning EnlightenNext magazine, a publication that explored the deepest spiritual questions of our time with some of the world’s most noted thought leaders. 16
spotlight on the International Day of Yoga 2019
Introduction By Denise Scotto, Esq.
As we mark the 5th Anniversary of the International Day of Yoga, I’m delighted to extend a warm welcome to everyone for this special issue of Light on Light. It feels like only yesterday we were cheering the passage of UN GA Resolution 69/131 proclaiming 21 June as World Yoga Day and meeting with a core group to promote the understanding of the fullness and richness of yoga within the UN system, the greater UN community and globally. Now, five years have already passed! Number five is significant. We refer to the five elements of nature--fire (agni), air (vayu), water (jal), Earth (Prithvi) and Spirit (Akash). We see a multitude of flowers having five petals--imagine the pansy or the hibiscus. The starfish has five arms which it can regenerate. We speak about our five natural senses-- sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. But, did you know that almost all amphibians, reptiles and mammals which have fingers or toes, have five of them on each extremity? In Greek Orthodox Christian mysticism, five symbolizes the Holy Spirit, as the bearer of all life. Muslims pray to Allah five times per day. The Torah contains five books as does the Book of Psalms. Confucius taught the five virtues of gravity, generosity, sincerity, earnestness and kindness while Sikhism instructs about the five virtues of truth, contentment, patience, faith and daya (compassion) as well as the five truth sacrifices. The pentagram, a five-pointed star, bears religious significance in various faith traditions including Baha’i, Christianity, Freemasonry, Taoism, Wicca. The Goddess of knowledge and intellect, Saraswati, is associated with Panchami (or the number 5). At the same time, the God Shiva has five faces and his mantra is also called Panchakshari (for five-worded). The epic Mahabharata revolves around the battle between Duryodhana and his 99 other brothers and the five pandava princes-Dharma, Arjuna, Bhima, Nakula and Sahadeva. Our five-year anniversary provides the opportunity to review our many efforts during this window of time. We’ve been actively promoting yoga’s beneficial impacts, yogic values and underlying philosophy, yoga’s contemplative practices in addition to highlighting how yoga is experienced and practiced in the work of the UN and its affiliated organizations at UN fora and globally. A highlight was moderating conversation between acclaimed scientist Dr. Bruce Lipton and famous BK Sister Shivani as we celebrated Yoga Day in 2017 and another was observing Women’s Day with Yogmata and Pilot Baba in 2018. At both events, special friend and recording artist, Paul Luftenegger, added a beautiful dimension through his music. Another high point was speaking at events during the Parliament of the World’s Religions meeting in Toronto and being with long-standing partners and friends such as Light on Light’s Karuna and Kurt! We’ve also held meetings within UN official commission sessions and observed key UN days, among them, the International Day of Peace, Women’s Day and Human Rights Day as well as World Interfaith Harmony Week. We’ve organized various events to foster community participation, engagement and collective action. One that stands out is Unity Earth’s Lift Off NYC. The published 5th Anniversary issue continues to feature preeminent Yoga Masters who have participated in UN Yoga Day observances, respected spiritual leaders including venerated Buddhist teachers, esteemed colleagues associated with the UN, distinguished experts, 17
and friends. A special focus this year is the section on Yoga & Youth. Like last year’s articles regarding Yoga Accessibility, Yoga & Youth is close to my heart having worked on strengthening children’s rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and serving as Chair of the Children’s Rights Committee for over twenty years. In this special spotlight section in Light on Light, we are delighted to welcome you to excerpts of the International Day of Yoga Committee Special Edition celebrating the 2019 International Day of Yoga! Here, in New York, as in many cities, it seems that Yoga Day has become Yoga Week given the multitude of offerings. I received a lovely surprise of a Yoga Day e-greeting card in my email inbox to wish us well! The International Day of Yoga Committee at the UN held our 5th Anniversary Event in the beautiful Tillman Chapel for the Church Center of the United Nations. Music by soprano Heather Lee, modified yoga asanas by teacher Doriano Miletic, facilitated dialogue between our very own IDY Committee Vice Chair and Brahma Kumaris UN Representative Gayatri Naraine and founding director and CEO of HeartMath Bruce Cryer, and various minutes of collective meditation were part of our experience. Due to heavy rain, the community event usually held on the UN North Lawn was moved indoors to, none other than, the UN General Assembly Hall. It was beyond thrilling to hear the GA Hall reverberate with our ‘Om’ chanting knowing how the thousands of us were breathing peace and harmony in advance of the September session of world leaders! A high level event moderated by HE Ambassador Naidu of the Permanent Mission of India to the UN was held in New York in the Secretariat on the topic of climate change. 2018 Light on Light Yoga Day Special contributor Kusumita Pederson participated as did our friend yoga master Eddie Stern. Finally, Sadhguru participated in an event in the UN in Geneva regarding, Yoga-the Power of Inclusion, with World Health Organization Chief Scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan and World Intellectual Property Organization Director General Francis Gurry. As we enter the sixth year of World Yoga Day, I encourage all of us, myself included, to deepen our own understanding and practice of yoga. In appreciating the truest sense of yoga or union, let us also come together to share experiences and insight as we grow together. I send everyone my heartfelt wishes, Denise Scotto, Esq. Chair, International Day of Yoga Committee at the United Nations (IDY Committee at the UN) www.facebook.com/yogadaycommittee
Denise Scotto, Esq., is an attorney at law, policy advisor, international speaker, interfaith minister & Founding Chair of the International Day of Yoga Committee at the UN. Denise held leadership roles in professional bar organizations including: the NY State Bar, the NY State Women’s Bar, the International Law section of the American Bar Association, the UIA. As a UN staff member in NY Headquarters, she worked on issues to reform the internal system of justice, then, in the Department for Economic & Social Affairs formulating policy to advance law, good governance and human rights. Denise has held leadership positions in the UN community including: the UNSRC Enlightenment Society, the Values Caucus at the UN, the NGO Committee on Spirituality, Values & Global Concerns, the NGO Committee on the Status of Women, the International Federation of Women in Legal Careers, the International Federation of Women Lawyers, the UNA-USA New York City Chapter, Bridges of Hope Project, the Source of Synergy Foundation and the Evolutionary Leaders Circle. 18
spotlight on the International Day of Yoga 2019
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar 2019 5th Anniversary Yoga Day Message Nature exhibits many colors through diverse landscapes and changing seasons just as our mind exhibits many moods and feelings. Without all these colors and emotions, life would be very dull and boring. While some people think that emotions cloud one’s ability to act logically and prefer avoiding or suppressing emotions, one’s personality and growth is not complete without emotional depth and maturity. All different emotions can be appreciated when we step outside the mind and get to know its intricacies, the games it plays, it’s abilities of perception, inference and creativity. Everything we see around is a making of the mind. It builds upon notions and ideas from the real world and creates a world of its own. Most people are trapped in this world created by their minds. When one realises this, there is a spontaneous desire to be free and the path to attain the ultimate freedom is Yoga. It is a step-by-step journey to separate what IS from what appears to be. Yoga is both a science and an art. It is scientific in its clarity of principles and artistic in the way it is practised with dedication. On one hand, it involves developing a keen sense of analysis of the finer processes of the mind. On the other, it brings about a synthesis and integration of all the aspects of one’s being. There are a number of texts on Yoga and among the oldest are the Patanjali Yoga Sutras. The precision and terseness with which these set of formulas draw out the map of consciousness make the Yoga Sutras a unique work of its kind in all of the world’s literature. Apart from describing higher states of consciousness, the preparation needed to experience these, the pitfalls one might encounter and ways to overcome them, yoga also touches the realm of quantum mechanics and subtly indicates how the seer and the scenery influence each other. Yoga is not about withdrawing from the world and turning into a recluse. On the contrary, it is defined as skill in action. The more established and stable one is within, the more dynamic and skillful one is in action. Yoga not only brings clarity of mind that helps read situations better, it also enhances intuition which is invaluable in decision making. A healthy body, sharp mind and keen instincts improve one’s ability to take greater responsibility and that is why, in the ancient times, yoga was especially mandatory in the training for kings and leaders. Just as a flower’s fragrance can be smelled by anyone who comes close, a place where people meditate and practise yoga has a calming and healing effect on everybody who comes there. In fact, this is the concept behind pilgrimage places and ashrams in India that have been visited by millions of people for thousands of years. The practise of Yoga also brings a balanced and equanimous perspective in one’s outlook and attitude. This balance is much-needed today, in times of increased intolerance and polarisation, that erupts in incidents like shootings and violence, which cause further polarisation in the world. Yoga bestows a broad vision reminding us of our foremost identity, that we are all part of one big human family. When there is a sense of belongingness with the whole world, conflicts arising out of smaller identities fade away. The world will be at peace when its people are at peace within themselves. Yoga can play a great role in realising this vision. This knowledge is a wealth for the entire humanity and the International Yoga Day has made it possible for this wealth to be shared all over the world. 19
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is a world-renowned spiritual and humanitarian leader whose programs have reached an estimated 370 million people in 155 countries. He is the founder of the Art of Living Foundation and the International Association for Human Values which collaborate on humanitarian initiatives worldwide. Sri Sri’s work includes empowerment and trauma relief programs for youth, armed conflict resolution, U.S. Veteran PTSD therapy, prisoner rehabilitation, addiction treatment and human rights advocacy.
Meditate on Truth by Amma Sri Karunamayi
My most beloved children, my heartfelt love to all of you. Human life is very short; time is fleeting like anything. To reach the gateway of Truth, have more and more purity in your heart. My children, who is the first enemy for us? Anger. There is no dangerous enemy like anger in human life. Who is your best teacher? There is no greater teacher than pain in this world. In our world-home, peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sufferings are like an eye-opener for all of us. Pain is a silent teacher. My beloved children, to help and serve our people in this world, sacrifice anything rather than principles. Our life without love and service is death, and it has no essence. There is no treasure like the wealth of love and service; they only are the essence of life. There is no virtue like love to support and elevate people in our world-home. Let all of us be kind and compassionate. We have to hear peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s heart, their problems, pains and sorrows. Love this world. The world is nothing but Truth only. Self-control is the best quality among all others in this world. If people have selfcontrol in their mind, then, 95% of the problems in this world would be solved. (1) Nonviolence, (2) patience, (3) firmness, (4) goodness and speaking kind words, (5) absence of anger, (6) absence of hatred, (7) courtesy and good behavior; so many things in one word are self- control. Is it possible to attain self-control? Yes. By meditation. People with self-control become sinless, fearless, and also acquire great merits and attain Truth. My sweet children, there is no greater thing in our world than Truth; no treasure higher than Truth. Truth is our duty, our tapas, our meditation. Where Truth exists, nonviolence also exists. Where there is perfect nonviolence, there only is Truth. Beloved, beloved children, meditate on Truth. Truth is the Light of all of the lights. Truth is the only reality, fortitude, mercy, endurance, magnanimity, impartiality, justice and purity. My children, be truthful in your life and you will become an example for all to imitate. You will overcome all difficulties. Truth speaks inwardly, without the noise of words. This gives you immense peace and bliss. Then, we have to give service to our world. Realize that life is meant for service and not for self-seeking. Service expands your heart and people forget about ego or I-ness. Let your life be built on the great ideal of selfless service. Then, all other ideals will manifest in life through this ideal of egoless service. Discipline the mind and body, again, and again; this is the first stage of practical meditative life.
spotlight on the International Day of Yoga 2019
Service to people in need is the worship of Truth, or God. Truth is peace, bliss and Light; worship Truth through service. Dedicate all of your actions to Truth. Be pure. Be truthful and never hurt othersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; feelings. In service, you have to bear so many injuries and insults. Have forgiveness and be kind. Your meditation power gives you everything. Controlling our mind and our nature is the greatest civilization. Matter should not rule your life; your life should rule matter. My Beloved Children, have peace first in your heart, next in your home. Share your peace in this world. Be a peacemaker in our word-home. With motherly love, Amma
Her Holiness Amma Sri Karunamayi is revered as an embodiment of unconditional Divine Motherly Love due to the care and compassion that she so liberally showers upon all. In 1988, she established SMVA Trust, a global non-profit affiliated with the United Nations, creating social justice initiatives to serve those in need demonstrating how the timeless wisdom of Sanathana Dharma (Vedic Culture) interweaves tradition and public service. SMVA Trust provides: free education/housing/medical care, clean drinking water and womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s empowerment programs. Amma is also the founder and spiritual head of Manidweepa Maha Samsthanam, a serene forest ashram which includes the Sri Lalita Parameshwari Devi Tri-Shakti Peetham. The ashram regularly hosts events such as: meditation retreats, students retreats, festivals, the annual Navaratri Grand Celebrations, Homas, and Pujas.
Community is a place where the connections felt in our hearts make themselves known in the bonds between people, and where the tuggings and pullings of those bonds keep opening our hearts. ~Parker J. Palmer 21
Yoga: A Science Not A Religion by Sadhguru, Isha Foundation
The United Nations declaration of June 21 as International Yoga Day was a momentous one. But there has been so much misinterpretation over the years that it is more relevant now to look first at what yoga is not, so we know exactly what we are celebrating. Is yoga a system of physical exercise? Is it a religion? Is it belief in god? Is it about becoming a good or moral person? These are common questions. The answer to all of them is no. Standing on your head, twisting your body into all sorts of postures, is not yoga. Yes, there are yogic practices that involve the body. But fundamentally, ‘yoga’ means union. It means you have begun to experience the universality of who you are. Modern science proves to you beyond doubt that the whole existence is just one energy manifesting in various forms. If this scientific fact becomes a living reality for you, if you begin to experience everything as one, you are in yoga. Yoga is a science, not a religion. Just as there is a physical science for external wellbeing, yoga is a science for inner wellbeing. Because this science evolved in this civilization -- in the land between the Himalayas and the Indu Sagara (the Indian Ocean) -- it was identified over time as Hindu. But terming it Hindu is akin to saying the theory of relativity is Jewish! Yoga has nothing to do with any creed or faith. Does it entail a belief in god? No. Devotion can be a powerful and effective stepping-stone to your ultimate wellbeing. But devotion works only if you are a very childlike person. If yours is a questioning mind, don’t waste your time on devotion. If you happen to arrive at an overwhelming inner experience where your logic falls apart, that is different. Then devotion is natural, and it can be explosive. But don’t try to practice devotion. It won’t work. The question is, are you looking for solace or for a solution to your life? If you want solace, belief in anything is fine; it will settle you psychologically. If you want a solution, it’s a different game. Yoga is a solution. No belief system is involved. It’s about simply doing what works.
Ranked amongst the fifty most influential people in India, Sadhguru is a yogi, mystic, visionary and bestselling author. Sadhguru has been conferred the «Padma Vibhushan», India’s highest annual civilian award, by the Government of India in 2017, for exceptional and distinguished service. 22
spotlight on the International Day of Yoga 2019
Does it entail a value system? No. If you experience yourself as one with everything, you don’t need any values. That is the beauty of yoga. It is an experiential system. If you experience everyone as a part of you, I don’t have to instruct you: ‘Be good to all.’ Once inclusion happens, nobody needs to teach you any morals. When you are in yoga, the need to be good has itself disappeared! This is also the difference between morality and spirituality. Spirituality is not about trying to fix or prescribe any values or morals. Prescribing will never work in the long run. Only that which is free will live totally and inclusively. Only that which is free will last. After my own life-changing experience in 1982, I realized a state of freedom and joy is the birthright of every human being. When I saw that everyone is capable of this, I wanted to transform the world. We have touched a few million people since then. Some think that’s a huge achievement. I don’t. For the first time we have the kind of information technology that allows us to reach the whole world. In this sense, we are more empowered than Adiyogi, Gautama Buddha or Patanjali! In such times, we can inspire an entire planet of 7.2 billion to turn to this profound science of inner wellbeing. All those who have been touched and benefited by it should stand up and make this happen.
Sadhguru, Isha Foundation Ranked amongst the fifty most influential people in India, Sadhguru is a yogi, mystic, visionary and best-selling author. Sadhguru has been conferred the “Padma Vibhushan” by the Government of India in 2017, the highest annual civilian award, accorded for exceptional and distinguished service. Sadhguru has initiated Rally For Rivers, a nationwide campaign to revitalize India’s severely depleted rivers, which has found phenomenal support among India’s people and leadership. With a celebratory engagement with life on all levels, Sadhguru’s areas of active involvement encompass fields as diverse as architecture and visual design, poetry and painting, aviation and driving, ecology and horticulture, sports and music. Probing and passionate, insightful, logical and unfailingly witty, Sadhguru’s talks have earned him the reputation of a speaker and opinion-maker of international renown. With his astute and incisive grasp of current issues and world affairs, as well as his unerringly scientific approach to the question of human well-being, he has been a primary speaker at the United Nations World Headquarters and a regular at the World Economic Forum. He has also been invited to speak at leading educational institutions, including Oxford, Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Wharton and MIT, among others. Over three decades ago, Sadhguru founded Isha Foundation, a non-profit human-service organization, with human well-being as its core commitment, supported by over nine million volunteers in over 250 centers worldwide.
I wish I could show you, when you are lonely or in darkness, the astonishing Light of your own Being.
- Hafiz -
Yoga in Buddhism: Toward Mindful Awareness
by Bhikkhu Dr. Dhammadipa Sak
natthi jhānaṃ apaññassa, paññā natthi ajhāyato.
yamhi jhānañca paññā ca, sa ve nibbānasantike. (Dhammapada verse 372) There is no meditation (jhānam) without wisdom, and there is no wisdom without meditation. When a man has both meditation and wisdom, he is indeed close to nirvana. How we Understand Yoga
The term ‘Yoga’ has been employed to denote a method, device, strategy, a charm, an incantation, an endeavor, a combination union, zeal, care, diligence, discipline and so on. The elaborate psychophysical exercise routines of Hindu Yoga might be quite familiar to Westerners, however the subtle metaphysics and refined methods of the mental development of Buddhist yoga are seemingly less familiar to them. Yet, to characterize the semantic field of ‘yoga’ too broadly is also problematic, as much as treating the discursive context of the term too narrowly. Because Sanskrit was a shared language for writing, it is beyond doubt that the restriction of analysis of yoga discourse to solely one religious or textual cannot be justified. Buddhist Meditation Buddhist meditation should not be confused with yogic meditation, which often includes physical contortions, autohypnosis, possible quests for occult powers, and an attempted union with God or gods. Not all, but mostly Buddhist meditation deals exclusively with the everyday phenomena of human consciousness for the sake of eradication of defilements and of purification. A treatise called the Yogācārabhūmi (the stages/ground of the Yoga Practitioner) has a term ‘yoga’ which refers to Buddhist practice. It covers the entire spiritual path with great emphasis on practice of meditation. An overall definition of yoga consisting of four in the Yogācārabhūmi literature: faith (śraddhā), aspiration (chandas), vigor (vīrya) and skillful means (upāya) (tatra yogaḥ katamaḥ, āha, caturvidho yogaḥ, tadyathā śraddhā chando vīryam upāyaś ca (Śrāvakabhāumi, 2 ,9 B. 7-7b)). According to the literature, one begins in having faith through the conviction from activities (abhisaṃpratyayākārā) and through the serenity from activities (prasādākārā), based on examination of the truthful teachings and based on a person’s experiences of supernatural meditative skill. The first two refer to the faith out of hearing the teachings and out of capability in recognizing the serenity. And the latter two refers to the faith in relation to cause and effect established by seeing the truth (i.e. Four Noble Truths) and in relation to witness Higher knowledge (ṛdhi; supernatural meditative experiences) established by persons’ meditation. When the practitioner gains the right meanings through practice accompanied with faith, aspiration will automatically arise. 24
spotlight on the International Day of Yoga 2019
Aspiration: Its Four Characteristics Aspiration can be understood as having four characteristics. When one practices incessantly in any given time, on the road to practice, aspiration arises. First, Aspiration to attainment refers to one who aspires to have deeper meditative stages or deeper path achievement. Due to strong aspiration to attainment, one aspires to seeking advice, which constitutes the second. After gaining advice from masters/ teachers, one aspires to cultivate any means as being more mindful of one’s virtue and more aware of the danger of the consequences of defilement. In keeping oneself alert in relation to one’s virtue and the possibility of contamination, one thus becomes comfortable with one’s virtue and six sense faculties (i.e. eyes, ear, nose, tongue, physical body and consciousness), etc. The fourth characteristic of aspiration, then is to allow oneself to “go with the flow” -- practicing tirelessly and gaining joyous aspiration, again and again. The positive outcomes of aspiration are a result of the practitioner’s earnest vigor: vigor in learning more, vigor in pondering the teachings, vigor of being energetic in practice for the sake of consolidating the Concentration (samatha) and vigor in cleaning and avoiding the hindrances to one’s practice for the sake of improving Insight meditation (vipraśyanā). And lastly, to supplement aspiration, skillful means is necessary, i.e., means to guard one’s sense faculties for the sake of bettering one’s form of virtue. Means to mindfulness allows one to master guarding the sense faculties; wonderful mindfulness will consequently be established. Next is developing the means to cultivate energy, and the last consists of skillful means to accomplish Concentration and Insight. Practices of Buddhist Yoga Two main practices of Buddhist yoga introduced by the Buddha either in early or later Buddhist texts include: tranquility practice (samatha bhāvanā) and insight practice (vipassana bhāvanā). While the first is aimed at cultivating tranquility/concentration (samādhi) and absorption meditative state (jhāna; dhyāna); the latter, at cultivating wisdom (paññā; prajñā). The Buddha had learned some forms of absorption meditative state before His enlightenment. Due to combination of both Concentration and Insight when He sat under the Bodhi tree, He achieved nibbana/nirvāṇa which results in transcending suffering (dukkha/duḥkha) and cutting off the circle of rebirths. Hence, He is called The Buddha, the Tathāgata or Arahant. One of the salient methods of tranquility/concentration (samatha) introduced by the Buddha is the Four Enriching Divinity. It comprises, the Loving-kindness (mettā/maitrī), compassion (karuṇā), emphatic joy (muditā) and equanimity (upekkhā/upekṣā). Among all the Samatha methods, this is still my favorite and highly recommended to every one who aspires to cultivate selfless 25
emotion that gives rise to boundless peace and empathy. As once the Buddha said, “mettāvihārī yo bhikkhu, pasanno buddhasāsane. adhigacche padaṃ santaṃ, saṅkhārūpasamaṃ sukhaṃ.” (The monk who lives exercising loving-kindness and is devoted to the ministry of the Buddha will reach the state of peace, appeasement of formations (nibbana) and happiness.) (Dhammapada verse 368). Non-Distinction and Empathy Towards All Beings In addition, the cultivation of Four Enriching Divinity is not limited to only meditating upon the objects dearest to him/her, but also includes empathy for hostile objects. This method of inclusion also helps one to learn to break down the barriers between oneself and others. One is supposed to have a strong vision of equality of all beings in relation to oneself. Utilizing this way of non-distinction, one can establish the concentration of equally-right loving kindness and the rest three Enriching Divinity meditation. Certainly, a further practice of jhana/dhyana can be achieved easily with good guidance after establishing equally-right Enriching Divinities. A complete Samatha practice also includes the development of mindful awareness (sati/smṛti). This means the meditator can also maintain full conscious awareness of the immediate object of attention as well as being introspectively aware of the inner activities of the mind. Mindful awareness can rest in an open state, serving as a platform for observation, and allowing objects of consciousness to arise and pass away with full awareness. It is the state of whether the practitioner wants to pay more attention to meditative objects or not to with full understanding (yoniṣomanaskāra). The practices of meditation mentioned above are commonly shared by early Buddhism (Theravāda) and Mahāyana Buddhism respectively. A few renowned Mahāyana Buddhist sutras like the Sandhinormocaṇa sūtra have also documented the practices, as well as the treatise called ‘Stages/Ground of the Yoga Practitioner’ mentioned above. Therefore, the basis and origin of the practice of Concentration and Insight is not restricted to any Buddhist tradition, but is essential for all beings to practice, in order to sustain the thrust for the Buddha supreme enlightenment. In this way, through the meditative practices noted above, Buddha’s teachings are further disseminated, and His disciples may all have the potential to achieve different levels of sainthood (phala; fruits from attainment).
Ven. Dr. Dhammadipa Sak has been a Buddhist monk since 1987, is the Abbot of US Zen Institute in Germantown, MD. He earned his Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies from UK. While seven years serving as an abbot at Chuang Yen Monastery in Upstate New York, he taught accelerated classes in Buddhist theories and practices at the City University of New York. Besides his academic activities, he has been invited to conduct mediation retreats in United States, Mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Malaysia. Ven. Dr. Dhammadipa Sak also serves as a trustee member of Parliament of World’s Religions. 26
spotlight on the International Day of Yoga 2019
Meditation by BK Suman Kalra
This piece is more about what meditation offers and less about ‘how to’ get there. I have decided on this stance quite consciously as for me the ‘how to’ has, in fact, been a hindrance. There is part of me that believes if I am able to paint a picture through words of what meditation ‘feels’ like, and, if I do it well, you, as the reader will be able to transport yourself to that picture. You will be able to ‘see’ it, ‘touch’ it, take the ‘fragrance’ and in doing so, even without trying, you will have experienced meditation. Before beginning this journey, though, I would like to introduce one of my most favourite words: ‘Yogi’ – meaning a practitioner of meditation. So, join me to get a glimpse into the yogi’s mind. The yogi seeks nothing from the material world. For him or her, the material world is like one big room full of toys – the car, the house, the job, the relations – all colourful and interesting but really just toys. The yogi enjoys them (maybe even thoroughly) but deep down inside doesn’t form any attachment to them. The yogi knows that the yogi will outgrow them – knowing they are just toys and knowing that real joy comes from elsewhere. The yogi never takes life too seriously, which incidentally doesn’t mean that he or she isn’t reliable and responsible where need be. In fact, quite the contrary. What goes on is like one big soap opera – with the yogi being entertained by it, but not influenced. This is why if you inspect the many statues made of yogis, you will surely see a special smile on their lips. It’s gentle; it’s calm; it’s never overstated, and, it has a quality of ‘quiet knowingness’ attached to it. The yogi’s presence is unintrusive and yet profoundly felt. When a yogi walks into a room the vibration changes. Everyone at some level begins to feel safe, re-assured or just more self-aware. Hearts oftens; barriers and resistance to life come down and for a moment one feels completely at ease, you like yourself, all worries and concerns melt away. One can breathe. The yogi does not judge but simply observes. The yogi does not take sides but simply understands. The yogi understands your feelings, your frustrations, your inner conflicts - all without your even having to utter a single syllable. The yogi only offers friendship, empathy and showers all with compassion. Yogis does not comprehend ego. They do not have any grand ideas about who they are, what skills they have or what they have achieved. They feel that anything that happens is nothing to do with them. They were just in the right place at the right time and some Higher, Benign, energy simply worked through them at that moment in time. I am sure that there have been times for each one of us, in our lives, where we have slipped into being like the yogi, even if it’s just momentary. We have been in the ‘space’, in that ‘zone’ where we are loving, kind, unafraid and still inside. How did that moment come to be and can I bring such moments into my life at command? Or, are they just random gifts from the Universe giving me a glimpse of what’s possible? I believe that they are memories – distant memories of who and what we all truly are like, of what we are behind the masks, behind the amnesia, behind the busyness. All we have to do it slow down enough to be able to see. The ‘how to’ is nothing more complicated than that. It’s about slowing down enough to arrive at the present moment and not race past it. It’s about believing that at our core we are all yogis and that ‘behind’ the chattering mind and all the voices in my head, there is tiny space where it is very very quiet and where everything just stops. Call it stillness, silence or peace – it doesn’t really matter. All I have to do is for a moment forget about everything that exists in my life, turn inwards, take myself to that place and just sit there, just be – even just for a moment. It will be enough. And if I can, let me also know that somewhere out there, up there, there is very very Loveful Being who truly and deeply cares for me – and all I have to do is turn my mind in that direction to feel the light of that love fall on me. The yogi in me will then once again be restored.
Suman Kalra was born and raised in a traditional Indian family, growing up near London and introduced to Raja Yoga Meditation in her early teens. She has a Diploma in Business and Finance and has for almost 30 years been a dedicated and pivitol member of the teams operating some of the key and busy UK Brahma Kumaris Meditation centres. Suman is known for her intuitive sense of direction, strong organisational skills and keen attention to detail, which is evident not only in her day to day work but also in her poetry sketches of people.
HOW WE BECAME A NATION OF YOGIS by Philip Goldberg
When I say we are a nation of yogis some people think I’m making an exaggerated statement about the millions of Americans who stretch and bend in our ubiquitous yoga studios. In fact, I’m referring to a much bigger and far more significant phenomenon: that millions who don’t own a yoga mat, who can barely touch their knees let alone their toes, and who may never set foot in a trendy yoga class are, in fact, yogis in the deepest, most profound sense of the term. Their worldviews, their spiritual orientations, and their practices are consistent with central yogic principles—and, it must be added, also consistent with the mystical sectors of every religious tradition. Those perennial insights and methods have so permeated the West that they will soon be, if they are not already, the normative approach to spirituality across traditions. As most readers of this publication know, the unity that defines Yoga is not the union of head to knee or ankle to neck, but of the individual soul and the cosmic soul, of personal consciousness and universal consciousness, of our little human selves and the infinite Reality that is the true Self of all and everything—or, for the devotionally inclined, of I and Thou. In that highest sense of Yoga, there are yogis in Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain temples; in Sikh gurdwaras, churches, synagogues, and mosques; in New Thought sanctuaries (e.g. Unity Church and Centers for Spiritual Living); in secular meditation and mindfulness centers; in stress reduction seminars in healthcare settings; at Esalen, Omega, and other workshop centers; and, of course, in Yoga studios where the tradition is presented as more than a fitness regimen and the practices stretch the mind and bend consciousness, not just muscles and connective tissue. The point is that people who are conscious of our ultimate Unity and who strive to realize that state of awareness in their lives can justifiably be called yogis, and there are millions of them. They are represented in data that reveal a shift in how Americans understand who and what they are, how they fit into the rest of the cosmos, and how they approach their personal and spiritual development. Surveys over the past few decades show a discernible shift toward a yogic perspective (with, strictly speaking, a generous helping of Vedanta, Tantra, and nondual Buddhism). In simplified terms, the direction has been: Away from belief-centered religion toward an experience-centered spirituality. Away from “dwelling” (institutional loyalty) toward independent “questing.” Away from dualistic theology toward a nondual unity where the Divine is both transcendent and immanent. Away from seeing the innermost self as fallen or depraved toward an unbound and unblemished Self (from original sin to original bliss, so to speak). Away from “my religion has the only truth” toward acceptance of all pathways – akin to the Vedic maxim “Truth is One, and the wise call it by many names.” 28
spotlight on the International Day of Yoga 2019
How this came to be is complex and multifactorial, but clearly a central element has been the transmission of teachings born in the mountaintops and forests of ancient India. As I chronicled in American Veda, those precepts and practices have been filtering into American culture for more than two centuries now, through a variety of streams and tributaries. The principle source has been, of course, the gurus, swamis, roshis, lamas, and other teachers who came to the West. That emigration began in 1893 with the illustrious Swami Vivekananda; continued in 1920 with Paramahansa Yogananda--who made America his home for three decades and left behind the still-influential Autobiography of a Yogi; erupted in the 60s and 70s with the Zen Masters Shunryo and D.T. Suzuki and a host of yogic luminaries such as Swamis Satchidananda and Muktananda and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (whose mentorship of The Beatles and advocacy of scientific research ushered meditation into the mainstream); and a parade of others up to the present day with popular gurus like Mata Amritanandamayi. But the transmission was not solely the work of Asian teachers. Their efforts and the growing accessibility of sacred texts and scholarly commentary influenced prominent Westerners who, in turn, furthered the dissemination in their work. They included seminal thinkers from Emerson and Thoreau, to mid-20th Century figures like Aldous Huxley, Huston Smith, Joseph Campbell and Alan Watts, to contemporaries such as Ken Wilber. Also psychologists from William James to Carl Jung to Abraham Maslow and today’s cadre of spiritually-oriented therapists; and physicists (Erwin Schrodinger, Robert Oppenheimer, Fritjof Capra), physicians (Deepak Chopra, Dean Ornish), poets (Whitman, Eliot, Yeats, Ginsberg), novelists (Somerset Maugham, Herman Hesse, J.D. Salinger), and a host of musicians, most notably the Beatles, whose 1968 journey to India was a watershed moment. Not to mention thousands of Westerner teachers who have been anointed to represent Eastern lineages in public, as exemplified for half a century now by Ram Dass. I believe that history will count the great East-to-West transmission as one of the modern era’s prime shape-shifting forces. Some of the hallmark trends in contemporary spirituality—individual choice, inclusivity, inter-spiritual and interfaith eclecticism, disaffiliation, rejection of dogma in favor of inner experience, pragmatism, the so-called “rise of the nones,” the ever-growing Spiritual But, Not Religious cohort—would be unimaginable without it. That transformative process is bound to continue, and, Eastern wisdom will deepen its penetration into the fabric of Western culture. Those of us who think this is a very good thing have a duty to ensure that traditional teachings are creatively adapted to our time and place while also preserving their integrity, accuracy, and effectiveness.
Philip Goldberg is an acclaimed author and public speaker whose numerous books include the award-winning American Veda: From Emerson and the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation, How Indian Spirituality Changed the West; Roadsigns on the Spiritual Path: Living at the Heart of Paradox; and his new book, a comprehensive biography of Paramahansa Yogananda titled The Life of Yogananda: The Story of the Yogi Who Became the First Modern Guru. A meditation teacher and ordained Interfaith Minister, he is also the cohost of the popular Spirit Matters podcast and leads American Veda Tours to India. His website is www.PhilipGoldberg.com
CLIMATE CHANGE by Valeriane Bernard
As a global family, human beings share the same home: our planet earth... The question we should really ask ourselves is: What does that really imply? Each step and each second spent on the planet ought to be thoughtful, because caring for this amazing gift is at the core of our spiritual duty. Caring for the human family is also part of our sacred role. Would you let some of the people of your home go hungry if your pantry is full? We often hear about the economic crisis and the inequality of the world economy, but, as Jeffrey Saks put it at the United Nations in Geneva during the Forum on Sustainable Development Goals “Never was the world so rich!”... The way we live, interact and operate is related to our self-awareness, and, this is one of the meanings of the word “yoga”, which could be translated as ‘conscious connection’ or ‘union’. According to this definition, one could see life as a ‘yoga discipline’. Life would then be the opportunity to express our core values, thereby promoting greater attention to the way we use our inner resources such as thoughts, feelings, vision, attitude….Because, the use of these intimate and subtle capacities will define the quality of our lives and the quality of the impact we will have on our world. Within its centres all around the world, Brahma Kumaris teach a very spiritual ancient form of yoga called Raja Yoga allowing selfexploration, realisation and understanding. Raja Yoga offers a knowledge of meditation and the spiritual laws. Since the beginning of “yoga day” at the UN, we have included it throughout the BK organisation promoting the day worldwide. Instead of a simple exercise or an ‘India Day’, I personally see it as an ‘awareness day’ for everyone to celebrate and as an opportunity for introspection and selfexamination with the aim of setting new directions for the self. … “It (yoga) is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help in well being”... Narendra Modi, UN General Assembly, on 27 September 2014 As a spiritual organisation which obtained its NGO ECOSOC accreditation status in the 1980s, the Brahma Kumaris has been engaged with the UN in various topics such as environment, gender and women’s equality, human rights, climate change..., as well as participating during the Conference of the Parties (COPs) since 2008. Our primary topic has been about “Consciousness and Climate Change”... which is apparently a very unusual connection in the minds of most people! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked what consciousness has to do with climate change! Human beings have the amazing gift of conscience and the capacity to develop awareness which help them create a relationship with the world around them on the basis of universal values such as respect, love and peace… The act of living is a unique opportunity of expressing creatively all these universal values and changing one’s life into a work of art! For example, if we look at how human behaviour is putting in peril the millennial balance allowing the survival of the human family at large as well as many other species – one has to ask oneself “why does each one of us and all of us act and live the way we do?” 30
spotlight on the International Day of Yoga 2019
“What can I do to keep this balance, understanding it’s ecological implications?”. In these circumstances, how does one apply the core value of respect? A spiritual perspective would invite the individual to contemplate and appreciate the deep wealth inside… And, experiencing one’s own deep inner beauty. One feels a kind of satisfaction that is greater than the “consuming satisfaction”, getting a kick out of purchasing a new object. So, in this frame of mind, if one was to ask oneself what I want or need to do, one would choose simplicity as a way of life. Not because it looks ecologically right, but, because it would be feeling right and would mean--I deeply respect my self as well as nature. Greed is what leads the world. It’s also what will ultimately starve it. Living with simplicity is my way to restore the balance, therefore, it is my way to give respect to the rest of humanity. I don’t do it out of charity, and, I certainly don’t do it for the show. I do it because it feels right, and, because I can suddenly appreciate the real taste of a simple fruit that I just bought at my local farm. The work of the Brahma Kumaris is based on the concept that the present situation regarding Climate Change, and most of the world crisis, is a direct consequence of how we think, understand and view the world around us, and in the way we relate to it. Within the global international political framework, we aim to bring to the table the need for a change in awareness. “The implications of the role of human thinking in creating and perpetuating the tragic degradation of the Earth cannot be overstated. Without a profound epiphany or awakening we are never able to see ourselves as separate from the kind of thinking that we do. We believe we are simply perceiving things the way they really are, when in fact our limited thinking is causing us to see a fragmented world, for example, to see the Earth as a storehouse of resources to be mined for the World’s consumers” Consciousness and Climate Change Confluence of two living systems II Statement for the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP16 November 29 – December 10, 2010, Cancun, Mexico As a spiritual organisation, the Brahma Kumaris work together with religious organisations and share our views about the importance of keeping ethics alive at the centre of our consciousness during the time of decision making. Considering that we are all part of an interdependent whole, we encourage the awareness of the duty of those who have agreed to administrate the riches of the world to take into account the existence of every one and every life form on the planet. There is a necessity for solidarity and the need for political will to tackle the issues related to climate change. The Brahma Kumaris also promote a different mindset regarding the way we live, and, we advocate for a change in lifestyle as well as an individual or community reflection and conversation regarding the choices of eating and consuming habits, of which the situation at hand is pushing us to undertake. As human beings we need to develop a real awareness of the historical situation we are in and the choices and changes we are called to make. Our individual and global response to the present situations will design the future not only of the planet but of each human being alive. Valériane Bernard Geneva, 6/02/19
BK Valériane Bernard Since 1992, Valériane has been involved in the ecological movement, raising public awareness about sustainability. Underpinning her community-based activities sits her interest in spirituality and she foresaw that only genuine personal engagement between people could create a quality of life in the human family. Valériane produced radio programs on the theme of culture of peace, spiritual development, in Costa Rica. She is currently part of the Interfaith Liaison Committee with the UNFCCC secretariat and Co-founder of The Geneva Interfaith Forum on Climate Change, Environment and Human Rights, an informal group of faith-based NGOs reaffirming the responsibility of each faith to care for the earth and address climate change and its impact. 31
SDG 16—Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions: Creating a Culture of Peace & Non Violence
by Denise Scotto, Esq.
We are determined to foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies which are free from fear and violence. There can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development. Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
We use the word peace very often, and, yet, it holds multiple meanings and great promise depending on one’s frame of reference. Although peace is the absence of war and armed conflict to some, or, the lack of worry to others, it is both of these, and, at the same time, so much more. Together with safeguarding human rights, justice, the rule of law, accountability, transparency and good governance, peace underpins an enabling environment for people to live together and actively engage in society freely, safely, prosperously and of course, harmoniously. Peace is specifically pinpointed as one of the five cornerstones upon which the UN 2030 Development Agenda is grounded, in recognition of the overriding obligation of governments to ensure that their citizens can live safe, secure lives. “Goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals is dedicated to the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, the provision of access to justice for all, and building effective, accountable institutions at all levels.” It acknowledges that we, as a globally community, have the ability to make our world more peaceful, safer and better in each way for everyone, everywhere. Although it is an important one, the UN Security Council is not the only mechanism that has the authority to influence peace and security. While SDG 16 anchors all the other sixteen SDGs, the foundation for all the global goals are institutions that respond to the needs of the public in a transparent and accountable manner. It’s an innovative goal which expressly recognizes the critical importance of governance and institution-building as the pillar where development and peace-building efforts rest. It includes a commitment to human rights, justice for all, good governance, transparent dealings, holding people and institutions responsible in a conspicuous way. How does SDG 16 do this? The UN has identified 12 Targets and 23 Indicators. The Targets specify the goals and the Indicators represent the metrics to analyze to what extent these Targets are being achieved and how far we are making progress. Some obvious indicators are significantly reduce all forms of violence and death rates everywhere; end the abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children everywhere; guarantee universal legal identity by compulsory birth registration for all; and promote and enforce non-discriminatory laws and policies. Other indicators may seem ambiguous: provide public access to information and ensure fundamental freedoms; promote the rule of law at national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all; eliminate organized crime, corruption, bribery, and establish effective, accountable ,transparent institutions; and design inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels.
spotlight on the International Day of Yoga 2019
Improving institutional accountability and effectiveness may seem like an onerous one. By appreciating that many of these bodies are supported with government funds but are statutorily created and operate independently makes it more achievable. Providing access to justice for all rests upon the administration of justice which includes the courts, impartial judges and the office of court administration which are intrinsic parts of national accountability systems. High courts have the specific role as constitutional arbiters and serve as protectors of human rights. Institutional targets are scattered across the justice system and comprise the police, prosecutors, lawyers, legal service providers, judges, prison or ‘corrections’ system and ministries that deal with justice and policing or law enforcement. By broadening our view to encompass a larger scope of SDG 16 in this way, we can additionally incorporate institutions working to address gender-based violence, money laundering as well as specialized policing units or taskforces focused on combatting trafficking in people or child protection.
SDG 16—Facts & Figures by Denise Scotto, Esq.
50% Is the percentage of the world’s children who experience violence every year. 246 million Children worldwide have been affected by school-related violence each year with 1 in 3 students being bullied by their peers at school in the last month, and at least 1 in 10 children have experienced cyberbullying. 68.5 million People by the end of 2017 had been forcibly displaced as a result of persecution, conflict, violence or human rights violations. 49 Countries lack laws protecting women from domestic violence. 10 million Stateless people (a minimum) have been denied nationality and its related rights.
Practical efforts to accomplish delivering access to justice for everyone is through providing legal services also known as legal aid as well as by engaging in law reform by drafting new law or changing existing law. Another means is through public interest litigation which is quite strategic as it clarifies, amends or extends the law in support of an overarching legal reform campaign where human rights advocates seek pro-rights interpretations of constitutional bills within their countries. This is a viable tool because, in some instances, courts may act on a significant societal matter before the legislature. One example where we see this in the USA is in the area of climate change. The Rwandan genocide touched my innermost core and brought me to international human rights law leading to work as a UN staff person in New York headquarters. I had been part of a group of lawyers attending the preparatory committee meetings (prep-coms) that were being held to establish an International Criminal Court. I deeply believed that the ICC could be a powerful mechanism to handle crimes against humanity, war crimes, egregious violations of human rights, torture, rape as a war crime, child soldiering, forced pregnancy. 33
US$1.26 trillion Corruption, bribery, theft and tax evasion cost developing countries US$1.26 trillion per year. 1 billion People are legally ‘invisible’ because they cannot prove who they are. This includes an estimated 625 million children under 14 whose births were never registered. 31% Is the percentage of all prisoners that have been held in detention without sentencing with this figure remaining almost constant in the last decade. $1.7 Trillion In 2017, the world spent more than $1.7 Trillion on arms and armies which is the highest level since the fall of the Berlin Wall. 1/8th of that amount could eliminate extreme poverty and hunger. Less than 1 % 14 UN Peacekeeping operations.
After meeting with many genocide survivors and reading testimony of horrendous acts that seemed inhumane, I had the profound realization that it’s important to establish institutional mechanism at the local, national and international level, but, the very center of genocide prevention and the heart of human goodness lies beyond institutions, the rule of law, accountability and good governance. Instead, it is a revolutionary knowing that each and every person belongs to the one human family and deserves dignity, respect and the fulfillment, at the very least, of our basic human needs. I’m sure that this epiphany was the result of many causes and conditions, but, I credit my time spent with one of my mentors Rabbi Joseph Gelberman, reading the writings of Sri Aurobindo and Krishnamurti in addition to my visits to Pondicherry and Adyar, India as being catalyzing events making it crystal clear. By learning yoga’s philosophy and practicing yoga in its various ways, I believe that delivering justice and living peacefully with one another, both in our individual lives and in our diversity as members of the human family, requires a transformation in human consciousness. Yoga is a mighty ‘technology’ as Sadhguru remarks and this ‘inner engineering’ supplies the opportunity to know one self in new ways; to connect with something greater; to feel united with others and a sense of belonging; to develop caring and respect for others; and to join together in a common cause taking collective action, all for the general good. Yoga practitioners know and experience that yoga, essentially, fosters a culture of peace and non-violence By acting, countries pledge to implement SDG 16. This is indispensable and positive to creating a safer and prosperous world for everyone. In and of itself, it is not enough. I’m convinced it will take us as a global community only so far. We see too many countries that still are involved in devasting armed conflict and within countries there is a tremendous amount of violence. Creating a culture of peace and non-violence, inclusive societies, social and sustainable development, a world that works for everyone, everywhere requires an opening of our minds and an opening of our hearts.
Denise Scotto, Esq., is an attorney at law, policy advisor, international speaker, interfaith minister & Founding Chair of the International Day of Yoga Committee at the UN. Starting her legal career in the public sector, she was a litigator appearing in courts in all boroughs of the City of New York. Denise held leadership roles in professional bar organizations including: the NY State Bar, the NY State Women’s Bar, the International Law section of the American Bar Association, the UIA. With these associations, she organized numerous events at UN fora as well as at national and local levels on global issues of pressing concern including conducting the first legal education program in NY City and NY State on the topic of human trafficking. As a UN staff member in NY Headquarters, she worked on issues to reform the internal system of justice, then, in the Department for Economic & Social Affairs formulating policy to advance law, good governance and human rights. Denise has held leadership positions in the UN community including: the UNSRC Enlightenment Society, the Values Caucus at the UN, the NGO Committee on Spirituality, Values & Global Concerns, the NGO Committee on the Status of Women, the International Federation of Women in Legal Careers, the International Federation of Women Lawyers, the UNAUSA New York City Chapter, Bridges of Hope Project, the Source of Synergy Foundation and the Evolutionary Leaders Circle. Denise developed “mindful social justice” which additionally serves the legal profession through her 20+ years of meditation and her connection with diverse yoga masters & spiritual leaders. 34
spotlight on the International Day of Yoga 2019
Achieving United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3 through the Practice of Yoga by Padmini Murthy MD, MPH
The great Indian sage Patanjali bestowed upon humanity the greatest gift of the eight limbs of the yoga, or what are also referred to as “ashtanga” yoga. They include, the aspects of which we currently identify as yoga: the physical postures or asanas, the breath exercises or pranayama, meditation or dhyana. The practice of yoga is unique in that it can be considered both an art and science. The Sustainable Development Goals were adopted by the member states of the United Nations in 2015. There are 17 SDGs but this article is limited to the role played by the practice of yoga in achieving the targets of SDG 3. SDG 3 is a health-related goal which focuses on ensuring, “healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages.” The practice of yoga is a powerful and effective method of meeting the following targets of SDG 3. Maternal Health and Well-being Studies across countries have shown that the practice of yoga by pregnant women under the guidance and supervision of a trained yoga instructor has resulted in a decrease in maternal hypertension, intrauterine growth retardation and premature births. Medical experts at the Mayo Clinic have highlighted the importance of prenatal yoga as “a multifaceted approach to exercise that encourages stretching, mental centering and focused breathing. In addition, studies have demonstrated that practicing yoga while pregnancy helps to improve sleep patterns, reduce stress and anxiety, increase the strength, flexibility and endurance of muscles needed for childbirth such as the muscles of the pelvic floor. 1 This example illustrates how SDG 3 target 3.1 which aims to “By 2030, reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100 000 live births’’, can be achieved by the regular practice of yoga during pregnancy. 35
Mental Health and Non-communicable Diseases SDG 3 target 3.4 aims, “By 2030, reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being.” Examples to illustrate the benefits of yoga to achieve this target are: In recent years there is a growing utilization of Yoga as one of the therapeutic measures in the field of psychosomatic and mental health where the benefits of yoga practice and therapy are being widely recognized. Many health professionals in recent years are aware of therapeutic values of yoga and have introduced the approach as a psycho-physiologic and spiritual technique in their treatment. 2Research conducted in recent years which chronicles the benefits of yoga in the treatment of pain, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke prevention and post stroke rehabilitation. Yoga is also beneficial in reducing the chronic pain associated with multiple sclerosis and peripheral nervous system conditions/ disorders. 3In addition practice of yoga boosts cardio vascular and respiratory health and thus is a valuable tool in prevention and reduction of cardiovascular and respiratory ailments. Yogic exercises and breathing techniques have proven beneficial in reducing stress in Australian schools; promoting well-being and employment of young people in Africa; helping to alleviate childhood trauma for girls in the US juvenile justice system. 4 It is not an exaggeration to say that the practice of yoga is an effective primary/secondary preventive strategy to improve the health and well being of global communities.
Substance Abuse Unfortunately, there is a global public health challenge with the increasing use of narcotics and alcohol, especially among adolescents. In 2014, an estimated 21.4 million people in the United States who were 12 years old or older battled a substance use disorder, which equates to about 1 in every 12 American adults, according to a survey released by the National Survey on Drug use and Health. (NSUDH) reported. Yoga is being used along with other traditional substance abuse methods in addressing the problem of addiction with good outcomes 5 Including practice of yoga as an extracurricular activity or in the curriculum in schools for adolescents has helped to build positive, mind and body image and reduce the risk of substance abuse among them. Thus, the practice of yoga is a useful strategy to achieve SDG 3 target 3.5 which aims to “Strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol.” 36
spotlight on the International Day of Yoga 2019
The other health benefits of practicing yoga are: increased productivity in work place, due to increased concentration and wellbeing; decrease in musculo-skeletal ailments; improved digestion; and increase in immune status of the practitioner and weight reduction. The various forms contribute to improved physical health and boosting self-esteem and happiness through their positive benefits on the autonomous nervous system. On a personal note my yoga teacher Ms. Ila Gupta has incorporated the practice of yoga into her practice of energy healing where she balances the chakras and works to help people suffering from chronic pain. Yoga is a powerful instrument in the creation of sustainable global peace in the world, especially in the present times of increased conflicts and unrest. It is no exaggeration to say that the practice of yoga is not just for self-transformation but is truly an instrument for global peace as it helps to bring about emotional and spiritual reconciliation and healing among individuals and communities. The practice of yoga has stood the test of time having helped to improve the overall health and wellbeing of people and has crossed borders and united people of diverse ethnicities and faiths. References 1.Lynch A, 5 Benefits of Yoga.(nd) Accessed from https://www. mindbodygreen.com/0-4695/5-Benefits-of-Prenatal-Yoga.html 2.Das S (2003) Holistic counseling for health and well-being. In: H.L. Kaila and K. B. Kushal (Eds.). Towards development with young people. Himalayan Publishing House, Mumbai, India. p 160-177. Accessed from https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/global-mental-healthpeace-and-sustainability-does-yoga-show-the-way-2167-1044-1000294. php?aid=93468 3.Burton A (2014) Should your patient be doing yoga? The Lancet Neurology 13: 241-242. Accessed from https://www.omicsonline.org/openaccess/global-mental-health-peace-and-sustainability-does-yoga-show-theway-2167-1044-1000294.php?aid=93468 4.Bhagwat S, ( 2018). Can yoga help us achieve sustainable development goals? Accessed from https://www.open.edu/openlearn/health-sportspsychology/health/can-yoga-help-us-achieve-sustainable-development-goals 5.America Addiction centers (nd) Yoga in recovery. Accessed from https:// americanaddictioncenters.org/therapy-treatment/yoga
Dr. Padmini (Mini) Murthy, MD, MPH, MS, FAMWA, FRSPH, is Professor & Global Health Director at NY Medical College. She is an obstetrician and gynecologist practicing medicine and public health for the past 28 years in various countries. She has an MPH and a MS in Management from New York University and is a Fellow at the NY Academy of Medicine. She serves as the Medical Women’s International Association NGO representative the UN and promotes safe motherhood and other health initiatives focused on women in India, Malawi, Grenada and Nepal. She is widely published and is the author and editor of Women’s Global Health and Human Rights (Jones and Bartlett publisher) which is used as a text book worldwide. Dr Murthy is the recipient of numerous awards such as: the Jhirad Oration Award; the Soujouner Truth Pin; Millennium Milestone Maker Award, the Blackwell Medal and the Dr Lata Pawar Oration award. 37
Using “Mind Yoga” to Create Sustainable Low-Cost Housing
by Patrick San Francesco
Yoga, as most people know it, is all about health through ‘asanas’. This aspect of yoga is marketed as it is popular. Unfortunately, scant attention is paid to the enhancement of the Spirit through ‘mind yoga’. The Spirit, if enhanced, controls the mind, which in turn controls the body. My motive for writing this article was not to showcase the PET bottle structure, but to demonstrate that even a mind untutored in the sciences, can put forth solutions that have not occurred to those who are expressively schooled for the purpose.
linking the bottle necks, the nylon fishing net was then stretched across to the opposite facing wall and linked to the bottle necks of that wall. The stretched fishing net between the two opposite walls served to replace the tor steel bars in the concrete roofing. The linking of the walls to the roofing with fishing net, served to create a homogeneous structure of incredible strength and stability.
I am NOT an architect, nor am I a civil engineer, scientist or technician of any kind. I am just an ordinary person with the implicit faith that every problem has a solution. Thus ‘equipped’, I proceeded to address the problem of PET bottle waste disposal. When Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) products were introduced, PET was heralded as the ‘miracle material’. PET was lightweight, yet incredibly strong and durable. What wasn’t taken into account, was that the durability and longevity of PET would pose a problem when it came to the disposal of the used PET products. Shredding and melting were some of the solutions offered. Melting PET exposed one to carcinogenic toxins unless safety measures were followed. These precautions were difficult to implement in third world countries. It was then that I thought of turning the bane (longevity and durability) into a boon. By tightly packing the PET bottle with common earth (mud) and recapping it, I created a ‘brick’ that was extremely durable and eliminated both the carbon footprint caused by conventional baked clay bricks and the carcinogenic toxins caused by shredding and melting. The next question I had to address was stability. The glass-like, smooth surface and cylindrical shape was in direct contrast to the rough surface and block-like shape of the traditional baked clay brick which offers considerable traction when cemented together. Faced with this dilemma, I tried various configurations of interlocking the bottles to gain maximum stability. Once the bottles were cemented together to make a wall, the protruding bottle necks were linked together with nylon 6 fishing net. After
These PET bottle structures, besides being low cost and of incredible strength, are also a means to empower the unemployed, aged and infirm. We involve the local communities to collect the bottles, which are most often found on the streets, taking care of the waste management aspect and providing employment to the bottle collectors. The bottles, once collected are handed to the aged and infirm in the area and given the task of filling each bottle with earth for a fee, commiserate with the local wage structure. This concept, besides empowerment, helps restore their dignity and sense of self-worth. The first ‘bottle brick’ school room was constructed in 2010 in Kishangarh, New Delhi. (www.samarpanfoundation.org) I had not yet conceived the idea of using nylon fishing net. Thus, only light roofing was used in the construction. Spurred on by the success of the Kishangarh school room, I began to experiment 38
spotlight on the International Day of Yoga 2019
with different configurations of bottle placement to achieve increased stability. It was then that I thought about nylon fishing net as a stabilizing medium.
In September 2015, I was invited to present my unique bottle house construction technique to the UN Academic Impact Symposium. (click here to view on youtube.com)
The fishing net is approximately 1% of the cost of the steel that would normally be used. This has a great impact on the overall cost, making the structure extremely affordable. But what was left to be seen, was the ground reality. Would it pass the battery of structural tests required to make this concept available to the public? So, I built a prototype using the fishing net and asked a professional wrecking company how long it would take to demolish the structure. Assuming it to be a conventional structure, they estimated 30 minutes as the maximum limit. You can imagine their consternation, when at the end of 4 hours there was still one wall standing!
Having the PET bottle /fishing net house fully certified, I have gone on to build schools, homes and hospitals throughout India, South Africa, Malawi and Nepal.
Emboldened by this result, I built a similar structure in the CSIR laboratory in Chennai, India, and subjected it to seismic testing. To my utter amazement, the structure was still standing even after 18 simulated earthquakes ranging from 1.6 to 9.8 Richter. (click here to view on youtube.com) Further structural tests were carried out by CSIR in Pretoria, South Africa, and I am happy to say that all the requisite tests were passed ‘with flying colors’, including the daunting fire test. A normal fire test requirement for a conventional single floor structure is typically 800 degrees centigrade for 30 mins, after which the wall usually collapses. My PET bottle/fishing net house structure (as it was commonly called) was subjected to 1,020 degrees centigrade for a period of 2 hours and was found to be un-compromised in structural strength.
5ft water tower constructed entirely out of PET bottles and fishing net.
Recently completed two-story maternity hospital in Chinsapo, Malawi, to be commissioned in July 2019.
To further demonstrate that the PET bottle structure was not a ‘flash in the pan’, but a true use of mind yoga, I will shortly be announcing a solution to world hunger—a complete and wholesome food that is available and free for all!
Patrick San Francesco is an internationally recognized humanitarian and world-renowned energy healer from Goa, India. He is the chairperson of the Samarpan Foundation, established in India and also operating in South Africa and Malawi. He is the pioneer of a unique earthquake resistant and affordable green building technique. This new construction concept has been internationally certified and is being implemented globally. The unique new building method was presented to the UN Academic Impact Symposium in September of 2015. Patrick is also the recipient of the prestigious Mandala Award, presented by the Rubin Museum in New York City in 2011. His mantra is Love, Peace, Happiness, Kindness, Simplicity and Clarity.
Blog: www.whispersofwisdom.thefirstprinciple.org Healing App: www.facebook.com/apphealing/ 39
A Diet for a Sustainable Future by Denis Licul (Kripadevi), Yoga in Daily Life - New York
This speech was originally presented at the International Day of Yoga Committee at the UN - CSW63 side event: “Women’s Empowerment through Yogic Values: Advancing Sustainable Development” on March 13, 2019, New York City, NY
Growing up in a suburb of a small town in my home country, Croatia, we had a garden with a henhouse in it. I still remember the day when I first saw a chicken being slaughtered…I was shocked. And, when I became aware that the piece of meat on my plate was the chicken that was running in the garden the day before, I refused to eat. It took my mother quite an effort to convince me that it was OK to eat the meat, that everybody else eats meat and that it was good for me. Gradually, I desensitized myself to the fact that the meat I eat comes from an animal that had been slaughtered. It took me thirty years to reconnect again with that child in myself, and it happened with the help of yoga. Practicing yoga and meditation, I become more aware of my deeper feelings. I could also notice how the quality of my energy, my thoughts, and my feelings reflect what I eat, what I drink, or with whom I spend my time. When I could no longer ignore that, I became a vegetarian. Ahimsha, Non-Violence, is the main principle of yoga. Leo Tolstoy said: “As long as there are slaughterhouses there will always be battlefields.” Yoga practice provides “Harmony for body, mind and soul,” and the balance between nature and consciousness. Sustainability, on the other hand, implies a non-harmful behavior toward natural resources, and supports long-lasting ecological balance. Yoga values are fully compatible with the values of sustainability. In December of 2018, at the UN Climate Summit in Katowice, Poland, known as COP 24, the World Resource Institute presented a study with this topic: “Creating a Sustainable Food Future.” The study focuses on current food resources and sustainable options for the future, posing a single question: How do we feed 10 billion people, without using more land, while also lowering emissions? There are three co-dependent parts to this question: the first part addresses the number of people in need of food, the second part acknowledges limitations on land use, and the third part posits the necessity of lowering carbon and greenhouse gas emissions.
spotlight on the International Day of Yoga 2019
(1) How do we feed 10 billion people? In 2010 there were seven billion people on the Earth. By 2050 there will be 10 billion people. To feed three billion more people, we need to produce 56 percent more food than we produce today. (2)…without using more land? Currently, we are using 50 percent of vegetated land for agriculture. To increase food production by 56 percent, with our current diet, we would need to deforest an area twice as large as India. This would be an environmental disaster. And when we look at how agricultural land is used today; we see that 70 percent is used by “animal agriculture.” This means that 70 percent of the fertile land is being used to produce food to feed animals for meat production. (3)…while lowering emissions? This part of the challenge addresses the need to reduce current greenhouse gases and carbon emissions by 67 percent by 2050, in order to slow down global warming! Agriculture in the USA, structured as it is today, produces 26.9 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases, more than any other single source. In addition, to produce one kilogram of beef, we use 100 times more water than is required to produce one kilogram of wheat. The conclusion is obvious: “animal agriculture” and the meat industry are leading causes of air pollution, deforestation, species extinction and habitat loss. So far, we mentioned two equally important arguments for committing to a plant-based diet: nonviolence and environmental protection. The third, equally important argument, is that of human health. There are numerous studies finding beneficial effects of a plant-based diet (such as Portofolio Diet recommended by scientists at the University of Toronto) on human health: reducing stress, lowering bad cholesterol and blood pressure, and ameliorating other risk factors for cardiovascular diseases and inflammation. In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) added red meat and processed meat to the list of cancer-causing substances. In addition, the American Institute for Cancer Research recommends a plant-based diet for cancer prevention and for cancer survivors. How do we feed 10 billion people, without using more land, while lowering emissions? The answer is clear. For the sake of survival on this Earth, we need more people to lower their meat consumption and become vegetarians and vegans. We have the facts and the knowledge, and based on that, we are responsible for making a conscious, compassionate and sustainable decision. The yoga community is the leading global community force promoting a sustainable lifestyle and vegetarian diet. Women represent more than 70 percent of the global yoga community. We women also have a dominant role in making choices about the diet of our families. The choice of what we eat can shift this downhill course where human civilization is heading. We have to choose on which side of history we will stand. We can be, and we already are the change we want to see!
Denis Licul (“Kripadevi”) is practicing yoga since 1994. Inspired by yoga and Advaita Vedanta non-dualistic philosophy, she became a disciple of Vishwaguru Swami Maheshwarananda. She first started teaching yoga in her home town Labin, Croatia, and continued when she moved to New York in 1999. She is a president and co-founder of Yoga in Daily Life (YIDL) New York. Being a teaching artist - ceramicist, Denis implements the elements of mindfulness and meditation in her art work and teaching methods. Denis serves as a Secretary General of Sri Swami Madhavananda World Peace Council (SSMWPC) and representative of YIDL-US and SSMWPC at the United Nations.
The International Peace Trees Program: A Means to Achieve the 17 UN SDGs by Sabine Devlieger
Today, our Humanity is at a crucial turning point, facing severe planetary emergencies and collective life survival challenges. Working together for making the worldwide vision of the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs a reality for everyone, is now indispensable. To facilitate this process and to involve youth and communities toward taking necessary innovative actions, our NGO developed “The International Peace Trees Program for the SDGs” after more than 25 years of research and professional practice. Through 5 universal reconnection practices, this creative program helps to activate one’s natural abilities to experience inner peace, balance, loving heart connections, kindness, cooperation, the joy of collective successes, and the joy of collective intelligence, revealing everyone’s talents beauty and the soul’s greatness. Supported by their inaugurated Peace Trees, children and communities worldwide are helped to reconnect with essential forces to reveal the highest human creative potentials and genuine innovative abilities leading to collective actions solving local and global problems related to SDGs.
Significantly, the Peace Trees Program starts with SDG 16: Peace and SDG 4: education, which are genuine entrances to achieve all 17 of the SDGs. All the “Active Schools for Peace and SDGs” receive the tools, trainings and professional support to learn the art of slowing down and creating daily “Micro-Breaks for Peace” in order to come into one self, to sink into one’s consciousness from head to heart, and to breathe softly, directly into one’s hearts. From the peaceful, loving space in the heart, all have natural access to a new level of consciousness--inner balance, heart coherence, opening to far greater universal intelligence and to higher wisdom and knowledge. Heart breathing is a real door to which allows one to rise naturally from a stress and fear level to a new level of heart-based caring and supportive collective solutions.
spotlight on the International Day of Yoga 2019
The inaugurated Peace Trees beautifully operate as children’s best friends and coaches, helping to remind them of their greatness, abundant talents and inner peaceful nature. The “Active Schools for Peace and SDGs” create new partnerships on local and international levels through the worldwide Peace Trees network. Daily, they make the same concrete experience of the 5 pillars of the 17 SDGs: Planet - Peace – Partnerships – Populations – Prosperity, to make new possibilities of living and working together come alive on earth. Today, thousands of youth worldwide reconnect with their Peace Trees, with trees and nature, breathing in consciousness and creating new breathing exercises/games, reconnecting with the love energy in their hearts and share loving peace doves in support. They create artwork, research and undertake innovative class actions for the well-being of others and our planet, for achieving the SDGs, for celebrating life, progress and our collective success. Special trained local Peace Tree Coaches support them to integrate these new habits and valorize their actions within entire communities.
Our experience is that the practices of the Peace Trees Program are very helpful for children and all communities who are experiencing stress, in Northern countries as well as those experiencing post-war and post trauma situations, in refugees camps, in conflict zones or in areas experiencing severe deprivations, illnesses, extreme poverty and precarious predestination. The Peace Trees Program helps them to again feel solidly rooted and secure, to raise self-love and confidence and to become active and creative in their difficult situation. We have observed how they help the other children and adults around them recover inner balance, comfort, health and well-being. It is very touching how some of them celebrated Peace or Christmas with the local UN Blue Helmets around their Peace Trees. Her Majesty, Queen Mathilde of Belgium, who was nominated by the UN as official defender of the SDGs, expressed her support of this program and follows the children in Belgium relating to their Peace Trees Project. We thank Denise Scotto, Committee Chair in addition to the entire International Day of Yoga Committee at the UN for their important work and for including our video of “Love Time” –showing a little Peace Trees practice, covered by Paul Luftenegger’s song “My Heart” --on the Committee’s International Day of Peace September 2018 celebratory event. That day, more than 10,000 Active Children from around the world connected in their hearts to celebrate Peace and the SDGs around their Peace Trees together, as the Secretary General of the UN rang the “International Peace Bell”.
This International Program is in service of the UN, Governments, Mayors, NGOs, civil societies and educational teams willing to implement efficient solutions to foster, maintain and educate sustainable peace and the achievement of the SDGs. We are delighted to invite them to a creative Peace Tree inauguration with local communities or to live with the children the fascinating “Story of the Peace Trees with Magic Powers”. Collective funds are needed to support the development of the local International Peace Trees Program for SDGs in various countries. Women have an important role to play in this and we wish to involve the First Ladies of the UN countries to together become ‘God Mothers’ of the International Peace Trees Program for SDGs. It is a beautiful way to support all the “Active Children for Peace and SDGs” and their communities in their countries in the achievement of sustainable solutions for the youngest and future generations.
Children invite to celebrate international day of Peace
9000 children celebrated International Day of Peace -21th of September
Sabine DEVLIEGER Contact: email@example.com - Coach, trainer, educational and clinical psychologist - Founder and international coordinator of the International Research and Training Center of NGO Peace and Kindness in Action - Author of “The International Peace Trees Program for SDGs”
NOTE: The International Peace Trees Program for SDGs is actually implemented in schools in France, Belgium, Switzerland, DR of Congo, Burundi, Togo, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, Canada, Reunion Island. Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Cameroon, Nigeria, Madagascar, Vietnam, Tahiti, Luxembourg, Israel, Palestine, USA, Argentina, Brazil are joining. Hundreds of teachers in Algeria and Arabian countries will be trained in March 2019 and supported by the local Peace Trees Coaches, who are specially trained and supported by our international team. All these local educational teams are willing to improve school climate, offer quality education for all children in their countries, and involve them in the achievement of the SDGs.
spotlight on the International Day of Yoga 2019
The Importance of Yoga for Kids by Deepali Sharma
There was a big earthquake in India when I was in my twelfth grade. We were collecting money & food to be sent to families in need. A nine-year-old girl, who I knew, came to me and handed me some coins. “Are you sure you want to give all this money. How did you collect it?” I asked. “This is my lunch money saved in the past few days”, she said. I had tears in my eyes. She came from a very poor family, and, still, she skipped meals, saved & wanted to contribute. “Why do you want to give?”, I asked. “It makes me happy. Besides who will take care of all these people?” I still remember the happiness in her eyes. I was touched & amazed that a nine-year-old, living in a slum, had the understanding of social responsibility. “Giving” made her happy. Fast forward a few years. I was taking a session of 12-16-year olds. I asked them what would make them really happy? And the answers were: “if I had this phone,” “if I had this videogame,” “lots of money,” etc. What was the difference? All of us are running behind something that is so elusive that many times we even forget what the goal of life is and we keep running. If you ask someone what is that elusive thing? Ironically, after some reflection, the answer is “happiness.” How do we define happiness? Is it the happiness that was experienced by that girl or is it the happiness defined by the latter kids’ group? We all try to define happiness based on our own value system. In another session with 5-16-year olds, I wanted to know how they feel about life in general. After every question, a few hands would go up, but, when I asked how many of them feel stressed, instantly all hands went up. I was shocked--how can the youngsters, who should not even know the meaning of stress, be feeling stressed. After this experience, I make it a point in different sessions with youngsters to ask this question, and, to my dismay, more hands kept going up. I wonder what kind of a future we are looking toward. What kind of personality or life will these kids have when they grow up? This stress will definitely have an impact on the kind of people they grow up into; on their career path; in their family life; and, in turn, it will have an immense impact on society as a whole. In today’s world, where is the time, even to contemplate on questions like these? What is it that we are running after? What is creating so much havoc & stress in our lives and lives of our children? Is it not time to take a step back, pause & give it some thought? Is it our lifestyle? Is it our “definition” of Happiness? How do we ensure that our kids develop the right kind of values and try to live a stressfree life? I believe the answer lies in Yoga. 45
A few days back, in a school in New York, one of the teachers came to the Principal and asked “what did the kids do today before they came to my class? I have never had these eighth graders so calm & peaceful and in such a positive state of mind.” This was just one of many positive feedbacks we received from the Principal of that school. Every year, in January, Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), the organization that I am part of, conducts “Yoga for health; Health for Humanity Yogathon” aka “Surya Namaskar Yajna.” It aims to create awareness about yoga and its advantages in achieving a healthy body, mind and Spirit. Under this initiative, along with other activities, HSS conducted sun salutation sessions in different schools all over the US. The above-mentioned feedback was from one of the teachers to the Principal, after the eighth grade did a yoga session, where they engaged in sun salutations, Pranayama & Shavasana. After every session, for 1st to 8th graders, we would ask how they felt. Consistent replies would be “calm,” “relaxed,” “energized,” “stretched.” Imagine if one session can have this kind of impact, what would happen if it becomes part of their daily life. That is the need of today. Today, we have yoga, because thousands of years ago, Hindu sages developed a system for the benefit of humanity; for individuals to grow into better human beings. Shri Aurobindo defines yoga as “an effort towards self-perfection, through developing your latent potential on the physical, vital, mental, intellectual and spiritual level.” But, this effort by Hindu sages was not just for individuals to evolve themselves, rather, to make the whole of society more evolved. When the whole society has to evolve, naturally, the effort needs to be focused on everyone, youngsters & adults, with a special focus on kids, as they are the future. HSS is trying to do that through its various activities. Imparting values that will create people with good character & virtuous qualities that are also part of Yamas & Niyamas; living truthfully while not having feelings like hatred or jealousy; being virtuous in body, mind & soul; keeping away from greed & avarice; expanding our mind so that we feel that the whole world is one family; surrendering oneself for service of the society, etc. If our children grow up with these yogic values, our tomorrow will definitely be beautiful. All of us who are involved in the field of yoga, should impart this gift to children around us. It helps to impart these values to the children of today so that our societies will have a bright future. And, if that happens, our journey of finding happiness in the outside world will slowly turn into finding happiness within. Our world will become a divine place, and, our journey towards real “sat-chit-anand” will begin.
Deepali Sharma. Born in India, she was introduced to yoga when she was little, by her parents. She had a unique privilege of being associated with some great Yogis, Saints & social reformers in her childhood. Hence after completing her MBA she took to her calling and became a Yoga practitioner & a teacher. She believes Yoga is a journey and one always remains a student. She is also an active member of HSS, which believes in ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ i.e. Whole World is a family. Her mantra: changing your own self is the first step towards changing the whole world. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
spotlight on the International Day of Yoga 2019
What in the World is Going On? by Paul Luftenegger
I have an extraordinary life with conscious, amazing souls all around the world that learn about my work more and more everyday. As many of you know, I’ve been invited to the United Nations in New York City three times now. My work has been shared on too many interviews to count; it’s in seven conscious albums to help the heart & soul feel its worth; and, it’s now published in two books. It’s been used in schools, hospitals, healing centres, conscious workshops, abuse workshops, therapy centres, etc. all around the world and that is increasing. For the past 8 years, I’ve been studying relentlessly and experiencing the metaphysical world with and through writing and sharing sound conscious music through soul consciousness, vibrational consciousness, through heart and soul coherence. Ultimately Divine Synchronicity – in full bloom by surrendering to my heart as the compass of my life and mission, being a human being that is a conscious musician with a distinct call from Source/God to help the world through sharing music that helps nourish the heart and soul of the listener from the inside out. The results have been astounding! FOR ME, CONSCIOUS MUSIC IS AN ASCENSION TOOL TO HELP THE SOUL INTIGRATE WITH FULL CONSCIOUSNESS OF ITSELF IN REVERNECE FOR LIFE FORCE ENERGY THAT IS ALIVE ON EARTH FROM THE INSIDE OUT OF ALL LIFE. We are literally a piece of all that is and all that will ever be, and that for me is no longer a question. Some people are aware of this fact and at the same time, right now, many are not – and that is about to change. Once you increase your rate of vibration, you can no longer decrease your rate of vibration. When you know, or, better, yet, realize, or, maybe, even, perhaps, “remember,” you begin to change, and, your whole life changes too! Conscious Music Supports and Nourishes the Heart & Soul of the Listener with Reverence for Soul Self-Sovereignty Helping the Dimensional Space within, Transcend and Lift; Shifting Paradigms through Ascension Reaching, the Highest Self.
Conscious Music is a Divine Sacred Technology and Tool for the Inside Space of the Human Being to Help Ascension of the Soul
Conscious Music bypasses the brain and goes straight to the heart and soul allowing the Divine Mind/Cosmic Mind to bloom from the infinite Soul of the listener
Conscious Music Supports the Sovereign Soul to be Completely Free with the Beloved – Strengthening the Connection to God/Source [From the Inside Out]
Conscious Music Helps the Heart & Soul within to Thrive with Being Nourished and Supported with Divine Love from Self & with God/Source – Co+Creation in Full Bloom Healing / Remembering and Releasing Limiting Beliefs / Programs / Stories and Patterns through Shifting our Thoughts into the Cosmic Understanding / Cosmic Remembering – Being an Eternal Soul having a Human Experience on Planet Earth
Conscious Music Is an Infinite Divine Love Battery- Sacred Vibrations Held in Timelessness, in Reverence for the Eternal Life of Each Soul being honoured with Sovereignty and Reincarnation [Eternal Life]
We are Never Without Our Source/God – “Divine Intelligence” once we embrace Free Will and Soul Sovereignty through the Eternal Life of the Soul. We are all able to become ONE with “Divine Intelligence” Source/God and this happens once we take responsibility for the energy, vibration, and frequency we expand and emit which I like to call “The Soul Signature.” Conscious Music and Divine Loving Vibrations/Frequencies/Energy are very helpful sacred tools to understand the “How” to Ascend and ultimately tap into this Divine Intelligence of the highest-self to help the soul feel it’s holy worth from the inside out with selflove, self- acceptance through self-validation. ASCENSION 1. The Heart & Soul is Divine Energy Intelligence
2. The Heart & Soul is Divine Vibrational Intelligence 3. The Heart & Soul is Divine Frequency Intelligence
4. The 5th Dimension is the Heart & Soul Consciousness where there is Energy Intelligence, Vibrational Intelligence, and Frequency Intelligence combined 5. Infinite/Eternal Life Force Energy Fully Aware of Itself which is the Eternal Soul in Reverence for Each Life Force Soul Being 6. The Inside Intelligence Creates/Co+Creates the Outside Manifested World We Experience – Individually & Collectively – Many manipulators have known this that have controlled and manipulated the mind control system through sub conscious programming, and, the time has come to free oneself by directly going from the programmed mind to the free heart by opening the heart from the inside out with free will for the heart & soul connection as ONE
7. The Soul Independently Taking Responsibility for the Energy, Vibrations, Frequencies One Creates and Co+Creates Shifts the World and Paradigms that we as a World Experience individually and collectively Conscious Music Is Each of these Things Combined; the Soul Conscious of Itself in Reverence for Infinite/Eternal Space with the Heart & Soul Honoured When Will the World Know this and Live this? The Answer is Now! Emotion is our source field that surrounds each one of us. When we increase our emotional love that surrounds ourselves by loving…. more love surround us….to enjoy….. it’s that simple. If we want more love in the world, we must be willing to love more.
Paul Luftenegger is an International Multi Award Winning Conscious Singer/Songwriter/Composer Inspiring Global Love & Kindness from Within On March 6th, 2011 Paul’s life changed forever by having an alchemical experience with God. God came to into his heart and soul and asked him to sing for God. Each day since, he has been devoted to his beloved by writing conscious, kind, loving music to support, nourish and refresh the heart and soul within the listener through what he calls divine inner sacred technology--Sound ConsciousnessVibrational Consciousness/Energetic Consciousness To find out more about Paul’s work please visit: www.beekindness.com 48
spotlight on the International Day of Yoga 2019
INFINITE INFINITE QUALITIES QUALITIES by P.C.Turczyn
The Infinite Qualities series of nature mandalas came about in answer to two questions: “How can my work benefit the greatest number of people?” and “How can visual art support the healing process?” The circular, mandalic format represents integrity, interconnection and perfection. Each mandala expresses a quality essential to wellbeing: compassion, gratitude, unconditional love and inspiration, among others. The centerpoint, or bindu, is analogous to the “You Are Here” icon on a local map. From that centerpoint, the artwork depicts one’s energy field as it radiates in perfect resonance with an Infinite Quality. The mandalas are floral or arboreal because initial Evidence Based Design research indicates that nature motifs have the greatest benefit for hospital patients. Sacred Geometry overlays reveal the order and balance found in nature, a source of comfort and inspiration. (And there is even speculation that Sacred Geometry can provide protection from harmful electromagnetic fields, such as WiFi and cell phone signals!) How does the work actually support the healing process? One way is provide a visual aide for medical and healing professionals to be even more effective while they work. To test this, a diverse group of Reiki (vibrational healing) practitioners worked with my Reiki mandala and then answered survey questions about their experience. 92% of respondents felt simply hanging the mandala in their treatment rooms would provide a supportive atmosphere. Most felt working with the mandala enhanced their practice. For a fascinating result analysis from The Reiki Digest sponsored focus group, follow this link: http://reikidigest.blogspot.com/2011/10/results-are-in-reiki-digests-focus.html Or, artwork can instill a calm, peaceful feeling, as most of the focus group members reported having experienced. Since it has been estimated that 75 – 90% of physician office visits are for stress related problems, calm inducing artwork is an important asset to any environment. A third way artwork can support the healing process is by acting as a focal point for meditation. The mandalas in this series both contain and convey the vibrational energy signature of a specific quality in its infinite manifestation. Each of them has an accompanying guided meditation and suggested practices designed to help one integrate the desired quality. “Infinite Surrender” was presented at a sound healing retreat by Lisa Miles Jackson, RN, CHHC, CYT. A survey taken by the participants, who included physicians, healers and health counselors, revealed a unanimously positive response; all felt the mandala enhanced their meditation. In this and a subsequent survey, taken at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY, participants reported reduced pain, increased relaxation and a sense of connection. All of these formal aspects of the mandalas are greatly enhanced, or rather activated, by a rigorous spiritual studio practice. Just as I had received a vision of the series in answer to my question as to how my work could serve the greatest good, I continue to ask questions and listen for guidance while working in my studio. Before dipping my brush into paint, I will have gone through an extensive preparation that could include invocation, prayer and meditation, movement, breath, sound/music and the written word. All these expressions enable my embodiment of the Infinite Quality’s vibration which is then translated and inbedded into a visual image. By asking how one’s work can support universal evolution or benefit the greatest number of people, one sometimes receives a surprising or even enlightening response. By combining spiritual and scientifac techniques, the work takes on power through synergy. With a drishti gaze, one can see that the product of one’s creativity is fully present both here in the three-dimensional world and in the world of spirit. May we all have the blessing and the privilege to give service in this way. P.C.Turczyn, artist, writer, tree empath. www.pcturczyn.com www.artthatsupportsthehealingprocess.com 49
Inner Peace is a Global Opportunity by Philip M. Hellmich
There can never be peace between nations until there is first known that true peace which is within the souls of men. — Black Elk Note: an edited version appeared in the Contemplative Journal.
For centuries, saints and sages have taught that world peace originates from an inner source. Yet it has taken millennia for us to recognize the impact our collective lack of inner peace has had on the world. The very survival of humanity depends on understanding how inner peace tangibly and practically contributes to global harmony. In the past thirty years, technological advances have empowered humanity to speed up and amplify our lifestyles, giving rise to massive consumerism and an economic globalization that potentiates the pursuit of happiness. The resultant spiritual crisis is wreaking havoc on the environment and contributing to deadly violence around the world. At the same time, yoga has been quietly spreading around the world, transforming lives one posture, one breath at a time. The United Nations International Day of Yoga is a testament to the growing awareness of the positive impact of yoga in transforming lives, and, ideally, enabling us to create a better world. The relationship between the spread of yoga and the growing hardships facing humanity are directly linked, one that I became aware of through my love for the people of Sierra Leone, West Africa—a country consistently listed near the bottom of the United Nations Human Development Index. Sierra Leone: Love Affair and Heart Break
A.K. Sesay, with wife Tendy, three daughters and nephew
From 1985-89, I served with the Peace Corps and lived in two small remote villages in Sierra Leone—Kagbere and Masongbo. There were about 30 houses in each village, which meant there were approximately 300 people in each community. There was no running water, no electricity, and no telephones. My friends were largely subsistence farmers—like the Conteh family in Masongbo, or school teachers—like A.K. Sesay in Kagbere. They all lived on less than a dollar a day. Yet their lives were richly connected in a way I had not experienced in America. It would have been easy to romanticize village life if not for the fact that Sierra Leone was, and still is, one of the poorest countries in the world, where one in every four children dies before the age of five. It was when I returned to the United States that I realized how much the experience in Africa had changed me. I was suddenly aware of the wealth, material abundance, and incredible waste. People seemed to be in a hurry, heading some place to do something or get something; yet, many people did not seem as happy as the Contehs or A.K.’s family. To compound matters, the United States was heading to war in the Persian Gulf. And then, the unthinkable happened: war broke out in Sierra Leone. The causes for the Persian Gulf War were easy to see, the U.S. dependence on oil being a large factor. The conflict in Sierra Leone was more subtle and would take years for me to understand.
The Contehs and Hellmich ate together almost every night. 50
spotlight on the International Day of Yoga 2019
This began my questioning of the “Western pursuit of happiness” through massive consumerism which led to my reading the Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda. I was surprised to learn that great Himalayan yogis intentionally planned, years in advance, to send Yogananda to the United States in 1920 to help spread yoga around the world. They knew humanity was headed into an age where technological advances, including the advent of the atomic bomb, would create potential hardships for humanity. The ancient science of yoga was needed to help people awaken to their innate divinity and to help harmonize humanity. As I dove deeper into the Kriya Yoga tradition, I began to better understand the fundamental and scientific challenges of massive consumerism: seeking happiness primarily through external material objects focuses the attention outward, robbing us of the experience of the deep inner peace and joy that exists within the soul. The temporary pleasures gained through the fulfillment of material consumption don’t last and need to be stimulated again and again by the acquisition of something else in what psychologists call the “hedonic treadmill.” This leads a person to seeking the next item, like a dog chasing its tail—needing to make more money, to buy more things, leaving a wake of waste and destruction. So, it became clear to me that the accelerated pursuit of happiness through consumerism is actually a spiritual crisis. Yogananda also advocated for a balance of spiritual and material development – it is important to help people take care of needs, such as food, water, shelter, education, health care and to ultimately have creative expression in the world, guided by intuitive wisdom…. As I worked to cultivate peace in myself, I so much wanted to help. The opportunity came when I started working with Search for Common Ground, an organization with the ambitious goal of transforming the way the world deals with conflict, away from adversarial approaches and towards cooperative solutions. The underlying principle of Search for Common Ground is that when people rediscover their common humanity, it often awakens compassion, tolerance and forgiveness which makes it easier to work together on shared interests. In this way, “Search” was similar to the teachings of the world’s great spiritual traditions and specifically the ancient science of yoga in helping people to awaken to their innate positive potential and to learn to live in harmony, acknowledging our interdependence and interconnectedness.
RUF combatants that occupied Masongbo under the command of teenage Colonel Rambo.
Even though there were many factors contributing to Sierra Leone’s war—including decades of corruption and regional politics— it was clear that the conflict was fueled in part by the global economy. For example, diamonds—the symbol of everlasting love— were sold to purchase AK47s, RPGs, and other weapons to arm rebels. Meanwhile, Charles Taylor in neighboring Liberia clear cut vast forests to pay for his war efforts. And the global economy soaked up these natural resources to feed consumer demands. I later traveled to other countries across Sub-Saharan Africa, including Angola, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria, and Rwanda. Most of these countries had experienced violent conflict or were desperately trying to avoid it and many of them had natural resources that were sought by the global economy. After these trips, I came back to the United States with a deeper appreciation for the basic necessities that could be so easily taken for granted – violence-free elections, infrastructure (roads, electricity, schools), professional police and military, economic opportunities, and other features of American life that my friends in Africa did not enjoy.
In 1998, I was assigned to return to Sierra Leone with Search on an assessment mission. During that trip, and several others during and after Sierra Leone’s war, I got to see firsthand the impact of deadly violence on my loved ones. Several friends had been killed, others raped, and many beaten. Thousands of child soldiers had been used as weapons of war in Sierra Leone. The village of Masongbo, where I had lived, had been sacked by child soldiers headed by a teenage boy named Colonel Rambo, trained in part by watching Rambo movies. The author with the Conteh family during a return visit.
While grateful to be home, I also was disheartened to see media obsessed with the ridiculous exploits of Britney Spears, Lindsey Lohan, or the latest “reality” TV program. Meanwhile, Wall Street had taken the individual pursuit of happiness to new extremes by manipulating markets for short-term gains, often throwing morality and the life savings of thousands of people out the window. It seemed most Americans were caught in a dream of distraction and self-indulgence that was only accelerating, yet scientific studies were showing people were less happy than they were decades earlier. There was a disconnect between the pursuit of happiness, the inner void it was creating, and the suffering it was causing around the world. In response to the mindless consumption in the United States and witnessing the hardships across Africa, I dove deeper into my Kriya Yoga meditation practice. At times it seemed a battle was raging inside as I struggled to calm my restlessness, anger, and confusion. Other times, towards the end of meditation, I would sit in stillness and experience an expansive peace. Inner peace became the “Comforter” (John 14:26), a source of healing, helping me to release the trauma of being exposed to the impact of deadly violence. In essence, inner peace became an experience of my own soul and Spirit, an anchor and reference point in the midst of a chaotic world. Inner peace became a treasure, one I guarded carefully, tending it like a garden or lover. By returning to that peace in meditation and attempting to carry it throughout the day – at times failing miserably – I felt a gradual transformation. Inner peace allowed me to feel my oneness with humanity and nature, thereby opening me more to the suffering of the world. Peace was the container for the alchemical process of shattering the heart, subjugating the ego, and discovering purpose, passion, and power based on a sense of interdependence and interconnectedness.
people; consuming only what was needed while ever mindful of the people who produced the goods; and planting an urban garden in order to have a relationship with food and the Earth, like my friends in Kagbere and Masongbo. Tapping into inner peace became the means to sustain taking action, even in the face of tremendous suffering. And at times it seemed grace would open doors to collaborations and initiatives I never dreamed possible. Over time, I began to wonder who was “pulling the strings” and was reminded of what Michael Singer, author of The Untethered Soul, once said to me: Look, there are billions of stars and planets in the Milky Way. There are billions of galaxies, all with billions of stars and planets. Science is discovering more and more galaxies all the time. All of them are guided by some intelligence and by natural laws….All you have to do is turn to that intelligence and it will guide you….That intelligence is much more creative than what you can ever come up with on your own. It will take attuning with Universal Intelligence to help humanity find solutions to our global challenges. Going inward and finding inner peace are the first steps to accessing that Intelligence and to becoming an instrument of Its peace. Note: From 2015-18, I traveled to Rishikesh, India, the birthplace of yoga to attend the International Yoga Festival hosted by Parmarth Niketan Ashram and the local Indian government. Serving as the Director of Peace for The Shift Network, I interviewed swamis, swaminis and yoga teachers on the banks of the Holy Ganges River in the foothills of the Himalayan mountains. The intention was to look at the ancient roots of yoga and its role in modern transformation. Here is an article published in 2018 with insights from those experiences. Global Celebrations of Yoga: The Yoga Day Summit and International Yoga Festival
It seemed my daily actions were increasingly guided by the silent Friend—taking time to greet neighbors; reaching out to homeless
Philip M. Hellmich is a thought leader in creating a new narrative of peace, from inner peace to international peacebuilding. As the Director of Peace at The Shift Network, Philip is the chief architect of the Summer of Peace, Yoga Day Summit and World Peace Library - online global forums that seek to inspire, inform and involve people in the many ways that peace is emerging around the world. He also is the co-lead faculty of the Peace Ambassador Training. These peace programs provide skills training, inspirational stories, and powerful solutions from the world’s top peacebuilders, social change leaders, scientists, Indigenous elders and spiritual mentors. Philip and his colleagues design these peace programs in partnership with a number of organizations while advancing strategic initiatives, including the Alliance for Peacebuilding on re-wiring the brain for peace; International Cities of Peace in promoting 1,000 cities of peace; PeaceJam in promoting global peace education; and, numerous partners in celebrating the UN International Day of Peace. Philip has dedicated most of his life to global and local peacebuilding initiatives, including 14 years with Search for Common Ground. He also served for four years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Sierra Leone where he lived and worked in small remote bush villages. Philip is author of God and Conflict: A Search for Peace in a Time of Crisis. Philip serves as a board member of the Rasur Foundation International and adviser to The Global Peace Initiative of Women, The Gaiafield Project, and The Oracle Institute. He is a member of the Rotary eClub of World Peace. Philip is a member of the Evolutionary Leaders Circle, a project of The Source of Synergy Foundation. He is also long-time meditation practitioner and enjoys studying and teaching about the parallels between inner and outer peace. 52
spotlight on the International Day of Yoga 2019
The SHIFT Network's 4-day series began on the International Day of Yoga— with yoga teachers gathering from diverse traditions for a journey through the world of yoga, from its ancient roots in India to today's global movement of transformation.
To celebrate the United Nations International Day of Yoga, The Shift Network, in association with Parmarth Niketan Ashram (Himalayas, India), Yoga International, and numerous organizations, kicked off a 4-day online summit a Yoga of Healing and Awakening Summit (previously called the Yoga Day Summit). The videos broadcast on the International Day of Yoga, June 21, was the “Best of India” series -- over 8 hours of footage filmed in and around Rishikesh, India between 2015-18. (The Best of India series is still available for free at: Yoga of Healing and Awakening Summit) The Best of India series offers insights into the ancient roots and deeper essence of yoga while also highlighting its role in the modern transformation of individuals and society. What makes the Best of India series all the more special is that a number of the interviews are filmed at the annual International Yoga Festival held at Parmarth Niketan Ashram in Rishikesh, India - the Yoga Capital of the World. Parmarth Niketan, the largest ashram in Rishikesh and one of the largest spiritual institutions in India, is located on the banks of the holy Ganges River in the foothills of the Himalayas, a few minutes walk from the historic site where The Beatles studied yoga and meditation in 1968. His Holiness Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji is the spiritual head of Parmarth Niketan Ashram. “Pujya Swamiji” is highly revered throughout the world and deeply loved by all the partners of the Yoga Day Summit. Working alongside Swamiji is Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji, PhD, a monastic born in Hollywood, California and a graduate from Stanford University. 53
Swamiji and Sadhviji, together with the dedicated team at Parmarth Niketan Ashram, host the annual International Yoga Festival that has steadily grown over the past 29 years and has become world renowned. In past years, over 2,000 people from 100 countries attended the festival, bringing to life an experience of a “global yoga,” or union, amongst people of all races, religions, etc.... The International Yoga Festival is a global celebration of yoga featuring world-renowned spiritual leaders, yoga teachers, and experts, scientists, government officials, and musicians. Focused on the concept of union at all levels, the festival provides a rich opportunity for participants to explore yoga as union of body, mind and Spirit; union in families and relationships; union as a global community; union with Nature and all of Life; and, ultimately, union of soul with Spirit. And, there is much more to the International Yoga Festival. As Sadhviji says: People come to the International Yoga Festival thinking they are here to study with world-famous yoga teachers. Yes, that is part of it. And, then, they experience the spiritual vibrations of Mother Ganga (Ganges River). That is why they are here: to be blessed by the Mother Goddess and the spiritual energies so many holy people. For thousands of years, saints and sages have lived in caves and walked the banks of Mother Ganga. There are spiritual vibrations that permeate the International Yoga Festival helping make it a life transforming experience. The Best of India series seeks to share an experience of the spiritual presence at the International Yoga Festival and highlight the relevance that the ancient science of yoga has to modern life. The Best of India series also seeks to demonstrate that yoga is helping to transform individuals, families and communities around the world, one posture, one breath, one person at a time. Over 100,000 people from over 100 countries have enjoyed The Shift Network and Parmarth Niketan’s online celebration of the International Day of Yoga since 2015.
Your free registration includes these special features on the International Day of Yoga: • 8+ hours of global video broadcast with 40+ top luminaries • A journey to the birthplace of yoga — the foothills of the Himalayas along the banks of the holy Ganges River • Inspired yoga and meditation practices for all levels of practice • Interviews with world-renowned yoga teachers, and visits to holy sites in and near Rishikesh, India 54
Illuminations chaos and destruction toward deep and lasting peace and global unity like the world has never known.
Buckle Your Seatbelt: Interspirituality Moving in Our Midst
Visionary author and mystic sage Brother Wayne Teasdale envisioned a time he called the “Interspiritual Age.” By “interspiritual” he meant the capacity of people from any tradition to learn from and be nourished by the practices, wisdom, and spiritual insights of other mystical traditions. He predicted that this “second axial age” would be revealed by “the emergence of interconnected global networks of communities that will serve as a synergistic incubator for a new civilization, a civilization with a heart, a global community of love.” Moreover, the people who comprise these communities will share a profound commitment to spiritual transformation, environmental sustainability, justice, and peace for all living beings. And so, just as Jesus taught, they will be known by their fruits. Behold, the Interspiritual Age is upon us. It’s emerging everywhere you look, but here’s a sampling of four organizations at various stages of formation that manifest the attributes Brother Wayne Teasdale envisioned years ago: Parliament of the World’s Religions: A global NGO that includes participants from all of the world’s religious, spiritual, and indigenous traditions. The first Parliament was held in 1883 in Chicago—an historic and groundbreaking event that brought together religious and spiritual leaders from around the world. In 1993, the second Parliament, also held in Chicago, released its signature document titled “Towards a Global Ethic.” With more than 200 initial signatories from leaders of the world’s great traditions, this seminal document distills the essence of the common ground we all share and continues to serve as an evolving framework for humanity as we move toward a civilization of love.
By Jeff Genung Co-founder and President of Contemplative Life
“Who has seen the wind? Neither you nor I, but when the trees bow down their heads, the wind is passing by.” Christina Rossetti Do you feel the winds of change blowing across our Earth, foretelling a great storm approaching on the horizon? The constant bombardment of negative impressions coming at us each day reinforce the divisions that exist in our world. The growing sense of chaos and fragility warns of a world out of balance—with various global crises at their tipping point even as the storm approaches. But can you also feel the winds of global consciousness beginning to rise, serving as a counterbalance and shelter of love during this time of crisis?
United Religions Initiative: URI is an NGO that consists of a global network of Cooperation Circles, CC’s. Each CC includes people from at least three different religious traditions. CC’s are typically action oriented and form around a particular service to their community or service to humanity in general. By uniting these small, grassroots movements, URI empowers them to empower one another.
We sit at the cusp of chaos and cosmos, bearing witness to the emergence of consciously aligned organizations joining forces to form an interconnected substratum of nodes and networks, even as previous social structures crumble before our eyes. Communities of people committed to transformation—deeply rooted in contemplative practice while manifesting outward signs of compassionate service—are tipping the balance away from
UNITY EARTH: UE is a collective of changemakers and visionaries that bring people together through music, events, and media to proclaim universal unity. Unity Earth and its partners are currently engaged in a series of global transformational events called the Road to 2020, which will culminate in the Caravan of Unity, an experiential journey across the United States from Pacific to Atlantic coasts, in a grand expression of unity.
Contemplative Life: C-Life is a non-profit organization whose mission is “connecting people and communities with transformative practices.” Contemplative life has created digital hub that brings myriads of practices and communities under one umbrella, making it easy for people to find practices of interest and connect with others of like mind. The virtual gatherings taking place at C-Life both mirror and facilitate the phenomenon known as interspirituality. Each of these organizations share some common threads in that they: 1. are composed of networks interfaith communities 2. are interconnected with and supportive of each other 3. share a common vision for humanity based on practice, community, and service 4. each has a connection with Brother Wayne’s interspiritual vision 5. are all coming together in November at the 2018 Parliament in Toronto to manifest this shared vision And this is just a snapshot of one facet of a vast network of interconnected communities forming worldwide. The Parliament of the World’s Religions was the pioneer of this particular matrix; URI is a major partner of the Parliament’s growing interspiritual network; UNITY EARTH and Contemplative Life are both CC’s of URI and also partners of each other. Looking toward November, I was excited to see what emerged as these four organizations collaborated at the Toronto Parliament. I was honored to be lead a panel discussion on the Global Ethic and Brother Wayne’s vision for the Parliament as a model for the inauguration of the Interspiritual Age. URI and UE also effectuated big plans for the Parliament—as did the hundreds of organizations and thousands of participants gathering for this momentous event. It’s no coincidence that these fractured and chaotic times are primed to yield significant fruits of unity, peacemaking, reconciliation, and love. Just as Brother Wayne predicted, the Interspiritual Age is destined to be a wild ride. You might want to buckle your seatbelt! Contemplative Practices Navigating Contemplative Life A Contemplative Life Jeff Genung is co-founder and President of Contemplative Life, a non-profit technology company that helps connect people and communities with transformative practices. He also serves on the board of The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, a pioneer in bringing contemplative pedagogy to higher education. Jeff has spent decades studying and teaching contemplative practices that apply to many areas human life and experience. He is currently focused on developing technology solutions that can enable people to find and integrate transformative practices into their life and easily connect with others with like mind. Jeff has a B.S. in Business from Cornell University and lives with his family in Austin, TX.
Transformation 365: Grounding Unity Awareness through Deep Daily Practice When contemplative practice becomes a natural part of our daily lives, we begin to see the oneness of all creation through a new lens. We may experience this heightened clarity while on silent retreat, or when deeply inspired by a sublime piece of music, or while gazing at a breathtaking sunrise or sunset. Or maybe we catch a glimpse of this oneness through our own suffering or while standing in solidarity with oppressed peoples. We’ve all had life-changing moments where we can clearly see that “All is One.” But how do we avoid that all-too-familiar deflated feeling after the fact, as weeks go by and we find ourselves stuck in rush-hour traffic feeling anything but oneness with our fellow commuters? Of course we’re only human, but at Transformation 365, we’ve found that developing a deep, daily practice can ground our awareness in ways that allow us to move into a new level of consciousness marked by unshakable unconditional love. Transformation 365 is a collaborative experiential practice network with both local and virtual communities designed to cultivate and support contemplative practice. Members of these communities experiment with diverse teachings on a regular daily basis, with opportunities to explore new practices or go deeper into one practice for a period of time. Our network is linked with meditation teachers, contemplative visionaries, and modern-day mystics, many of whom offer teachings from time to time. But it’s really the members of the communities who breathe life into Transformation 365 as they share their experiences and support one another in the spirit of unity, day in and day out. If you sign up at Transformation356.org, you’ll become part of our free online community. We’re currently sharing two practices per month, launching them via Facebook Premiere and then archiving them at the T-365 page so members of the T-365 community can return to these fifteen to twenty-minute guided practices regularly on their own time. We encourage you to practice every day for a week or two as you experiment with a variety of practices. Try one on for size and see how it fits! Inspired by the need for an online platform devoted entirely to guided practice, Transformation 365 is the shared vision of One Spirit Learning Alliance founder Rev. Diane Berke, UNITY EARTH director Yanni Maniates, Sister Mary Friedland of the Chicago Brahma Kumaris, Contemplative Life founder Jeff Genung, and Contemplative Life director Kate Sheehan Roach. We’re working together to bring a diverse assortment of deep practices to T365 for people from all walks of life, from all traditions and from none, so together, we can develop daily practices that will surely transform us and, in turn, transform the world.
Illuminated Interbeing Inspires Dedicated Interdoing by Gard Jameson Author, Professor, co-founder of The United Religions Initiative (URI)
The Vietnamese Buddhist sage, Thich Nhat Hanh, hoped that one day the word “interbeing” would make it into the dictionary. Interbeing suggests that all life is connected at a very deep level of subjectivity. It is for each of us to “illuminate” that quality of interbeing by our own spiritual practice, which includes engagement with the world at multiple levels. Recently, I have had the privilege to be with interfaith co-workers in Washington, D.C., “reimagining interfaith.” It was a wonderful experience of fellowship, shared values and dedication to working for healing, peace and justice for all creation. What emerged for me from Reimagine Interfaith in D.C. is that we have an opportunity to lead by example, by allowing radical love and compassion to bring down all walls dividing groups within interfaith work and the peace movement, to create affiliations across the institutional boundaries, affiliations that are sacred and engaged. We all have the opportunity to allow radical love and compassion to expand the circles of inclusion. It was in 1988 that a group of us gathered in Wichita, KS, to talk about creating a network of interfaith councils across North America. This event turned into NAIN, the North American Interfaith Network, which has since done a stellar job in connecting interfaith leaders around North America annually, discovering Martin Luther King and friends in Atlanta, Thomas Jefferson and friends in Virginia, and who knows what in Las Vegas! The campfire at NAIN in Wichita brought together the great religious traditions of the planet. We have all seen the T-Shirts with these traditions’ sacred symbols, COEXIST! Which is lovely and deeply meaningful. However, our inclusion, our campfire needs to include even more! During the D.C. gathering, I shared that I have two daughters who are “spiritual but not religious;” and, one of my daughters is transgender, something she shared that she was only comfortable doing in this generation. There is a benign tsunami coming… the next generation. Globally, more and more are comfortable to identify as “spiritual” but not “religious.” As Huston Smith has suggested religion will always have an important place at the table, as the river bed, whose water is either the abundance or lack of spirituality. Perhaps it is good that we examine the water level and the quality of the water! Lao Tzu shares in his immortal words that Supreme Reality, TAO, of existence cannot be bottled or institutionalized; “the Tao that can be named is not the Eternal Tao.” From 2,500 years ago, this coming generation echoes these wise words. My daughters resist the labels with words like, “NONE.” Labels and words actually help define our limitations, creating the context for functional communication. But, as Wittgenstein suggests, words can be “a cage.” “It is high time that (each of us) had a religious experience so personal and so sublime that it could be realized and expressed only by ‘feelings that lie too deep for words.’” (The Urantia Book, 99:5.9)
Out of this contemplative stance, illuminated interbeing, comes the inspiration for “dedicated interdoing.” What I have learned in my community work with the medically fragile, vmsn.org, the children, caanv.org, anytownlv.org, and with non-profit leaders, jamesonfellowship.org, is that if we truly come to experience “interbeing,” we are invited to the opportunity for “interdoing.” Our community issues are best solved in a “collective impact” manner. The education sector desperately needs the other sectors, social services, arts& culture, healthcare, workforce development, environment to help solve its issues. I invite you to examine one such collective impact solution unfolding in our community through gardens, Green Our Planet, greenourplanet.org. The possibility for such “interdoing” is predicated upon trust. At our Free and Charitable Medical Clinic, vmsn.org, TRUST stands for Teamwork, Respect for all, Unity & Urgency of mission, Service with excellence, and Transparency, TRUST. We build that trust one circle at a time, within ourselves, within our families, within our communities, within our nation, globally. I invite you to examine the good work of Parker Palmer, A Hidden Wholeness, who has elegantly invited us to engage in a new quality of trust, that leads to character, that leads to a healing of institutions: religious, political, economic, social. My favorite definition for religion is: faith, trust, and assurance. Trust is the middle name of our religious and spiritual traditions. Without trust, these traditions become irrelevant. The same might be said of our economic, political and social institutions, as well. Have you noticed? And, so, we need spiritual practices that illuminate our being, that connect us to “interbeing.” Teilhard de Chardin let us know, along with others, that joy is the infallible sign of the divine. Our traditions suggest that joy is our birthright. Let us have the contemplative presence to immerse ourselves in that quality of being, so that we might go into the world ready to engage “dedicated interdoing!” May our legacy be that we ignited “interbeing” in such a manner as to bring hope and healing to our troubled planet by our “interdoing!” Blessings! Gard Jameson, PhD, Pacifica Graduate Institute. He teaches Indian & Chinese Philosophy at the University of Nevada Las Vegas and is the author of three volumes; Phaethon, an epic of the West, Monkey, an epic of China, and Ramayana, an epic of India. Gard is Chair of The Interfaith Council of Southern Nevada, interfaithsn.org. He and his wife, Dr. Florence Jameson, co-founded Volunteers in Medicine of Southern Nevada, vmsn.org, the Free & Charitable Medical, Dental & Behavioral Clinic of Southern Nevada. He is on the boards of The Childrens’ Advocacy Alliance, caanv.org, The Stillpoint Center for Spiritual Development, stillpointcsd.org, The Stanford Center for Longevity, The Charter for Compassion and The Raymond M Alf Museum of Life, alfmuseum.org.
Satsang for Collective Illumination: Two Offerings by Jeff Vander Clute for The Enlightenment Zone
The range of spiritual practices is as vast and beautifully diverse as the cultures and sacred traditions that enrich the human family. Meditation, prayer, yoga, mantra recitation, conscious movement and exercise, and even sports can all help us to encounter the profound dimension of life and develop our spiritual nature. The fruits of sustained spiritual practice include greater self-awareness, expanded capacity to give and receive love, reverence for all of life, healing of conflict and division, and, ultimately, peace on Earth. These benefits are realized over time as we engage with heart and dedication, and as we are transformed through the practices that are right for us. Moreover, as the Maharishi Effect1 and the Intention Experiments2 have shown, the benefits of spiritual practice can be amplified to the scale of societies, and even the whole planet, when we connect and harmonize our individual practices. At The Enlightenment Zone (www.enlightenment.zone), we are exploring new ways of practicing together that are made possible by telepresence technologies such as the Zoom video meeting platform. Our website and social media channels enable individuals to connect with one another and with peer-to-peer programs that use telepresence to access and help spread the enlightened consciousness that is quietly sweeping the planet. Two such programs are “Virtual Satsangs: Journeys into the Heart of Awakening” and “Living in God-Realization,” hosted by Yanni Maniates and Jeff Vander Clute. These regular online gatherings connect people from around the world using the power of Zoom and, most foundationally, the spiritual practice of satsang. The word satsang derives from the Sanskrit words sat and sangha, which mean truth and company or association, respectively. The traditional form of satsang consists of a group of people who gather physically to associate with the true and the good by engaging in a spiritual inquiry led by a teacher or master. Satsang typically includes meditation, a discourse, and a period during which the teacher answers questions posed by the students. In the powerful field that satsang creates, participants experience epiphanies and awakenings, and, in some cases, receive direct transmissions of consciousness and energy. The Enlightenment Zone is building on the traditional practice of satsang – with an emphasis on experience and transmission – while innovating in at least two dimensions: 59
(1) creating a field of liberating energy and consciousness that powerfully blesses each participant and the planet through telepresence; and (2) calling forth the spiritual mastery inherent in each individual so that they can become a co-teacher, with their peers, and offer their unique gifts into the collective. Thus far in our explorations, we have discovered that satsang and telepresence are completely compatible, and that groups of empowered peers can reliably become collective expressions of loving, awakened consciousness. We have also found that great wisdom and light emerge through each individual, and that every participant contributes to the group’s ability to embody truth and goodness. While some people may be, or may appear to be, more advanced in certain ways (though generally not in all ways), everyone is learning and evolving, and the collective presence is on its own journey of awakening and embodiment as well. Therefore, to create the conditions for collective awakening, we have found it helpful to consider that we are all teaching and learning from one another simultaneously, that each of us is supporting the awakening of one another and the collective as a whole, and that each of us has the potential to be a leader, teacher, and spiritual master who is capable of embodying the light for the benefit of all beings. A spiritual practice is an ongoing adventure. We practice, we deepen, and we discover new territories of inquiry and possibility. So it is with satsang. Through engaging with forms of practice that have existed for millennia, and innovating in ways that are appropriate to the times, we are discovering how to grow awakened collectives that can eventually coalesce into an awakened humanity. Thus satsang is a practice which, sustained and magnified, may finally enable us to realize the comprehensive healing and peace that we know in our heart of hearts to be the inevitable promise of humanity. The Enlightenment Zone is an online destination for exploring our true nature where every offering has been created to transmit awakened consciousness and energy. To learn more about the Virtual Satsangs and Living in God-Realization explorations, including a schedule of upcoming events, please visit the Courses section of www.enlightenment.zone. 1 2
Jeff Vander Clute is a consciousness coach and guide who grows spiritually awakened people and organizations. He loves helping visionary entrepreneurs and changemakers to open to the deeper reality of their being, expand into freedom, and live a highly empowered life now. Jeff has pioneered methods that enable individuals and complex systems to navigate radical transformation with grace. He facilitates awakened decision making that serves life, as well as the development of extraordinary capacities for inspired action, joy, and real prosperity. He spends his days exploring the unity of inner and outer reality and working with people who are committed to a full awakening for themselves and humanity – an awakening that can be applied practically, in service. With a growing family of fellow travelers, he offers consciousness-oriented retreats, workshops, and online courses to a growing global audience. Jeff is a founding steward of The Enlightenment Zone, a co-founder and facilitator of The Consciousness of Money, a co-founder of Sourcing The Way, a member of the Evolutionary Leaders Circle, and board chair of Source of Synergy Foundation. www.jeffvanderclute.com 60
Tony Hawk, Public Enemy and the Universe Inside By Chris Grosso Author, Speaker, Indie Spiritualist
Sometimes I find myself feeling trapped—bound to this physical body and material universe. It’s an intimate—and at times horribly claustrophobic feeling—this trapped-ness. I spent many years somewhat baffled by these experiences because I’m fine in tight situations like a crammed elevator, filled to capacity with people. Hell, I’m even good to go in show and concert environments. From small punk clubs filled with sweaty adrenalized people going nuts to larger hip hop festivals; I don’t feel the slightest tinge of anxiety or claustrophobia. Still, on occasion, and in times of quieter solitude, I feel as though I’m being held captive by my own skin, bones, muscle and tissue. Throughout the years however, these selfcontracting and chest-tightening experiences—besides being a serious pain in my ass—have become a blessing in disguise. I say that because they inspired me to deepen my meditation practice, which time and again has left me with the experience and awareness that I am much more than just this physical body which I sometimes feel bound by. Before we go any further however, I believe it’s important to note that shunning our physical bodies (including our ego nature) as burdens on our spiritual journey is not only futile, but a great waste of time as well. Christ, just look at the Buddha who spent all those years as an aesthetic, trying all sorts of practices that brought him to the brink of death, only to inevitably find liberation in the middle path, which is to say, cultivating a practice between indulgence in pleasures and indulgence in pain. With time spent sincerely in meditation and other practices, people often experience the transcendence of their thoughts, 61
emotions and physical bodies, though in most cases, this is very short lived. Still, these experiences give us a glimpse into our non-conceptual, Witnessing Awareness of all that is arising. And an interesting point worth mentioning is that this Witnessing Awareness is actually right here, right now, always already coexisting with our normal, waking consciousness. So then, what’s stopping us from experiencing this Witness on a regular and consistent basis? Well, it’s fairly obvious to say that we’re conscious beings who for the most part experience said consciousness smack dab in the middle of our heads. It’s as if there’s a small being navigating our lives from a captain’s chair in the middle of our skull—which results in the experience of us identifying with our physical bodies, thoughts, emotions and so on as the ultimate truth of who we are. For example, right now from my ego’s perspective, I, Chris Grosso, am experiencing my physical body sitting in a slightly chilly white room listening to Deafheaven and trying to think of some witty and accessible ways to explain this otherwise daunting topic. The room I’m sitting in is in a house, which is surrounded by grass, trees, birds and all sorts of other nature-y goodness, and all of that is surrounded by the sky—a sky that extends out into the farthest reaches of the universe. So again, coming from my ego’s perspective (which is a limited perspective based only on relative reality), this is a completely accurate view and experience of what is happening in my immediate reality. Most of the great wisdom traditions however assert that while yes, our physical bodies are of course a part of the equation, they’re not the be-all and end-all things we think they are. There is another truth to our existence, which resides in the unmanifest dimension of life and this is where names and concepts such as Dharmakaya, Spirit, God and Brahman come in.
"Chris Grosso seamlessly blends the ideas of individuality and spirituality in a way that is selfless, easy to read and inspiring. He can help you find a purpose and be proud of yourself." - Tony Hawk, Skateboarding Icon
Now this Spirit (or whatever you choose to call it) is a pretty amazing thing. So amazing in fact, that Zen masters have said It can swallow the entire Pacific Ocean in one gulp… one gulp! Okay, so at face value this whole “one gulp” thing might sound a bit ridiculous to some of you, and that’s fair. However, as we explore these implications (through things like meditation, contemplation, mantra and yoga) of who we are beyond just our finite physical selves, if we stick with it long enough, we’re inevitably going to start having some experiences which result in that “one gulp” statement making perfectly clear sense. However, it’s important to remember that it’s only through personal experience that things like this go from sounding completely batshit crazy to making the most perfect and natural sense possible. That said, and in the spirit of not leaving anyone hanging, the reason we, as Spirit (or Dharmakaya, God etc.) can drink the entire Pacific Ocean in one gulp is because when the strict identification with ourselves as bodies and senses is laid aside, no mater how temporarily, we come to see—no, better yet— we come to know that we are the entire Pacific Ocean. More specifically, in this place we embody the pure Emptiness, which underlies our entire physical, and manifest experience. Returning to my initial example of the whole room/house/nature and listening to Deafheaven thing, let’s approach this from another vantage point than that of the ego and instead look at it from Witnessing Awareness.
So as the Witness, I gaze across this room and still “see” everything as I normally would—noticing things like various musical instruments scattered here and there, a wall decorated with prints from Public Enemy and Ram Dass, some Star Wars action figures on a shelf, and my very first Tony Hawk skateboard just below. And as I rest in this Witnessing Awareness (rather than my egoic self) I experience, in crystal clarity, that neither my body, nor any of these things, are actually out there, or, even in the universe at all. Instead, this body, and these things (which even includes the universe itself) are all within Me—within the Witnessing Awareness that is much closer to the truth of who We truly Are. And so it is in this recognition that there is no room left for any of the claustrophobic feelings of trapped-ness I’d previously felt to remain, because I’m no longer strictly identified with my body. In fact, I’m now free to experience this body as being housed within this Witnessing Awareness. And it’s in this place of Witnessing Awareness that swallowing the entire Pacific Ocean in a single gulp makes more sense than literally anything in this life that I could possibly know. RECENT BOOK LINK Indie Spiritualist: A No Bullshit Exploration of Spirituality ALSO BY THE AUTHOR https://www.amazon.com/Chris-Grosso/e/B00EN34HDQ?ref=sr_ ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1565654058&sr=1-1
CHRIS GROSSO is an independent culturist, professor with en*theos Academy, author of Indie Spiritualist: A No Bullshit Exploration of Spirituality, (Simon & Schuster, 2014) and Everything Mind: What I’ve Learned About Hard Knocks, Spiritual Awakening and the Mind-Blowing Truth of it All (Sounds True, 2015). He writes for ORIGIN Magazine, Mantra Yoga + Health Magazine, Huffington Post, Rebelle Society and Elephant Journal. For more, visit TheIndieSpiritualist.com
Along the Journey By Joanna Kujawa ‘Had it not been for my first yoga teacher, my life would have taken a different course’, I said to my MalaysianAustralian friend, as we were picking up our yoga mats to attend a 4am yoga session in the jungle in northern Malaysia. Officially, I had come to Malaysia from Toronto to teach at an Australian University that had a campus there. Unofficially, I had used the move as a pretext to start my spiritual journey – not only internally but also geographically. For me, as for many people around the world, spiritual journeying has always been inexorably connected to my physical travels and adventures. While still a postgraduate student at the University of Toronto, I once attended a yoga class held on campus – and everything changed. I went, at a friend’s prompting, to try a different form of fitness but instead I met my first spiritual teacher. The yoga teacher, whose name I do not remember, was a Canadian man who told us fascinating stories about his regular trips to India and, casually, as he was showing us different asanas, he also taught us Patanjali’s yoga sutras. Although I had been a philosophy student, I had never heard of anything like it. Pantajali, the teacher told us, compiled the knowledge of yoga around 200 BCE or a little later. He also mentioned that he had a personal library on yoga teachings that we could borrow from. I approached him after the class and borrowed a few books. Four months later, I had read every single book in his library, but my favourites were always those of encounters with gurus, such as Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi, and those concerning spiritual travel, such as Paul Brunton’s A Search in Secret India. A strange and powerful desire was born in me to travel to Asia to encounter spiritual teachers. This completely new desire overrode all my previous ambitions and plans. My whole being wanted it.
For a while I did not do anything in this direction – only occasionally looking for a work in Asia – until I received an offer to come to Malaysia as a lecturer. A few months later, there I was with my new Malaysian friend in a remote
part of Terranganu on an advanced yoga retreat. By then, I knew already that yoga was much more than physical exercise, that, behind it, there was an ancient tradition of spiritual teachings which was much older than Patanjali’s sutras. There was something transforming about getting up at dawn for the four o’clock meditation, listening to the teachings and pushing myself physically, mentally and spiritually in this remote place, where the humidity seemed to be dripping from the air, among the tall and thick, tropical vegetation. I knew that inner transformation can happen anywhere but, for me, being thousands of miles away from everything familiar was a big and essential part of this. I learned to depend on my inner strength. I learned about the deepest dimension in myself and others. I learned that Consciousness permeates everything, including my own being. One evening, I was walking back with my friend after a strenuous Hatha Yoga class when we saw two eagles circling above the jungle. I thought: ‘I need to find another teacher with whom I can grow even more.’ By a set of synchronicities, I met a teacher from India and went and studied Vedanta (Hindu scriptures) with him. And when I thought that I needed more again, I met another teacher, this time in Melbourne, Australia, with whom I learned about the Shakti tradition of Kashmir Shaivism, which, yet again, changed and deepened my perception of life. My story is not unique. Only much later, when I started to research the topic of spiritual travel not only as a spiritual seeker but also as an academic, have I learned that hundreds of millions of people travel each year to fulfil their spiritual yearnings outside the comfort of their regular lives. They all respond to the mysterious inner call, which – I believe – is the call for inner transformation. It is a call to start journeying our own journey. Not the one society tells us to journey, not the one that will necessarily make us ‘successful’ in the outer world, but the most significant call of all – the call of our authentic Self. The word Yoga, after all, means the ‘union’ of the body, mind and soul or, even better, the union with our highest Possibility. And what is better than unifying your inner and outer journey and travel as you grow spiritually?
Joanna Kujawa, PhD, is the author of a spiritual travelogue Jerusalem Diary: Searching for the Tomb and House of Jesus and the Journaling to Manifest the Lost Goddess in Your Life Workbook. She is also co-author and co-editor of Tourism Management Perspectives' issue on Spiritual Travel and many other articles and academic papers on Spiritual Travel. She is inordinately passionate about her Goddess News blog.
The Breath and Life of Music By Erik Rabasca
“Breathing in, I hear globally joyful music. Breathing out, I let go of all that impedes the flow of this music’s creation.” I try to do a variation of this meditation before every practice session, rehearsal, recording session and show. When I forget to do this, without that conscious breath, the music fails to engage the sacred connection made between subtle realms and human souls. Music is breath and life, fueling everything from our connection to each other and our healing.
be a resounding yes. But the first order of business was mastery of basic chord structures and strumming, focusing my playing on being as easy-flowing as every breath, feeling the vibration from the attack of my strumming hand through the strings to a chord position of my fretting hand, being fully present in its resonant frequency, harmony and tone. As breath deepens, so does one’s ability to listen and hear our tone, our true unique voice. The recognition of hearing one’s soul shine by expressing their true voice is as clear as what can be heard in all of the greats from Duane Allman to John Coltrane, from Eric Dolphy to Eric Clapton, from Jimi Hendrix to Frank
I first learned about the practice of conscious breath when studying meditation in college. As part of the coursework, we had to journal about our daily meditations in addition to the required reading of zen masters and philosophers. What would I write about? Who would care? Why did it matter? In the beginning, these and other questions and doubts clouded any attempt at “following breath”. But then reading Thich Nhat Hanh helped bring order instead of anxiety to my daily assignment. He stated, “Breath in deeply to bring your mind home to your body.” This was revelatory! The mind is not separate from the breath which is not separate from the body. It’s all connected. In conscious breath we come to realize that we are all connected like a deeply practiced band elevating and uniting with an audience. I began to see how the notion of separateness of organs and muscles, of thoughts and breaths programs us to view all things in life separately instead of interconnected. Deprogramming this coding allows us to glimpse the potential power of collective energy uniting our human family. And what better unifying source than universal language of music? It is only music that makes us move in unison without language. The daily exercise of practicing this inner connectivity through mindful breathing sparked a much deeper exploration of my guitar playing and music creation. If my breath, thoughts and body were in deep resonant alignment, could I extend that energy and alignment to my instrument? The answer would eventually 65
Zappa and yes, even Bob Dylan who many say can’t sing. When tone is discovered, purpose is revealed. In the artistic and expressive pursuit of one’s purpose, that shift from imitation and practice routine uncovers one’s voice. As with Coltrane, who achieved the highest artistic expression of self in service of God through his music, upon this level of becoming, the quest for ascension seems the next likely pursuit. The muscle memory developed from countless hours of repetition is essential for the possibility of any spiritual connection created
with one’s instrument. My method of practice was intuitively developed as a meditation and began to encompass visualization, where with closed eyes I could see the notes my hands played on the guitar neck, anticipating and reacting in the moment to create tone, deliver the appropriate energetic attack and develop harmonic form within practice. This opened a deeper practice in spiritual connection and, every so often I would glimpse that ascendancy where I sometimes moved into trance-like states, feeling elevated as if my tonal resonance expanded beyond my body, sometimes into deep space. Going deeper through improvisational exploration, I began to consistently feel that sound in my body, being fully present with every angle my fingers touched the strings, playing every strummed nuance and anticipating notes beyond my learned ability. Eventually my playing became fluid which gave me the confidence to join a band and create.
deliver Raise The Frequency, deepening my ability to channel my creative decision-making vs. “normal procedure” or “industry best practices”. On a recent collaborative side project, Ecstatica’s Fragile Thunder, I was finally able to allow full creative flow from A-Z of the creation process. These experiences both deepened and improved my playing and my spiritual practice at the same growth rate. As I reached a level of creative confidence with each album, I have deepened my connections with friends and family, collaborations with amazing musicians and within myself, shedding unneeded and unwanted energy and baggage to allow the magic of music to flow in true voice. Practice is lifelong. I’m grateful every day for this miracle of musical breath.
As I transitioned to adulthood and the working world, there were significant periods of time where I forgot my practice. I was miserable as a result. In my late 20s when I began to write original music that connected with an audience, I finally made the correlation that musical growth is both a compass and a guide in life. Much like the continual presence of a dragonfly signaling self-realization and transformation, periods of musical time became associated with my spiritual growth. For example, with my first Light Warriors album, Survival of Joy, I literally experienced a joyful period of months while going through the album cycle. This timeframe got me back in touch with the ascendant potential and magic of music, deepening my daily practice of musical breath and the ability to listen and search within for answers to all things musical and non-musical. By the second album, I honed my technique, practice and process to
Erik Rabasca is a Musician/Producer/Singer-Songwriter, recording and performing as Light Warriors. He runs the indie music label Highest Frequency Records and is also a Reiki Energy Healer.
Art and Creativity As Spiritual Practice By Rev. Franne Demetrician
“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way — things I had no words for. ~ Georgia O'Keeffe Georgia O’Keefe, one of my art heroines, speaks to the way art can be a vehicle for spiritual practice. It is for me. Most of us will agree, regardless of our belief system, that there is an unnamable “something” that moves around and through our existence. We see it and feel it in our very being, in our environment through plants and trees and flowers; in our relationship with animals and the natural world; and in our relationships with each other. Art has been a living presence in my life in one form or another from the time I can remember. I’ve always been surrounded by creative people; musicians, dancers, singers, and songwriters are all part of my family and my world. It wasn’t until recently that life allowed me the latitude to finally pursue my own creativity and for the last several years I have been fully engaged in embracing my artist self.
For some, art or artistic expression is a means for experiencing an artist’s relationship with Spirit. For instance, when we look at a sculpture like Rodin’s “The Kiss”, or Michelangelo’s “Pieta” we are permitted to view the subject through the intimate lens of the sculptor. The same is true when we listen to a piece of music. I always know when I’ve heard a “truth” in a piece of music when the goosebumps arise or when I feel a unique lump in my throat that was evoked by the emotion and intention of the composer. It’s the same with the written word, theater, cinema, dance or any other creative device. As an artist and a spiritual seeker making art is one of my most sacred activities. The act of creation is one of the greatest gifts we have received. For me, when I am engaged in the act of creation – be it painting or drawing, taking photos, cooking a meal, or gardening I am actively engaged in spiritual interaction and process. This process for me is one of the most powerful physical expressions of the Divine in my life. As I am creating I am acutely aware of the movement of spiritual energy throughout my being. When I am inspired by an emotion or something I see or hear, I can feel the energy of Spirit moving through me in a way that is unlike anything else. And the usual result is the impulse to create a piece of art that expresses the experience. In his wonderful book, “Dancing With The Gods”, one of my great heroes, Kent Nerburn, says, “…this ecstatic annihilation has called to me, beckoning me with the promise of being taken out of myself and transported to a place where I am nothing more than a vehicle for a vision. All artists know this experience. This, more than almost anything else, is why we do what we do. It is an occasion of grace, and, once experienced, it holds with a power that will not let go. This is also the reason why artists often speak of their work in religious terms. To be lifted out of yourself - to be taken up and used for what feels like a higher purpose – is to feel, if only for a moment, that you are participating in the creative power of the universe. You are held in the hand of something greater than yourself.” The act of creation is not limited to “the artist” per se. In fact I believe that everyone is an artist because we are each given the gift of creation simply by our being. Every day is an opportunity to engage in our intrinsic creativity. We create our day by listening to the impulses we receive through our intuition. Intuition is Spirit’s communication pipeline and when we tune in we are able connect to that guidance and use it to create our life experience. We become the artist, the creator, the one who expresses that which is inexpressible.
Franne Demetrician is an ordained interspiritual minister and spiritual mentor. In 2004 Franne co-founded Common Ground Interfaith/Interspiritual Community, a monthly living room spiritual community. She has been a licensed holistic health practitioner since 1995, specializing in women’s health issues and chronic pain. Franne is an artist, photographer, writer, and a lover of the magic of Life. She a certified trainer of Infinte Possibilities and Playing The Matrix and has co-written and facilitated a variety of workshops focused on individuals and couples. www.demetrician.com www.entwinedandenlivened.com
By Sw. Shraddhananda Saraswati, Light on Light Book Review Editor
When Sw. Vivekananda, ardent disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, arrived at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in 1893, he set the stage for a host of magnificent Indian teachers to follow. It didn’t take long--about twenty-seven years--for Mukunda Lal Ghosh, born the same year that Vivekananda stole the Parliament show in Chicago, to step off a ship in Boston harbor. Ultimately, he would become Paramahansa Yogananda, and he would write Autobiography of a Yogi, now a classic in Religious Studies. Philip Goldberg brings to his biography of “the Yogi who became the first modern Guru” the same expansive knowledge and eye for detail he displayed earlier in American Veda (Harmony Books, 2010). He writes Yogananda’s story in language at once captivating and vibrant. His narrative is well-paced, and he covers the bumps in Yogananda’s life skillfully as well as the triumphs.
It had not been easy to secure a publisher, but Philosophical Library stepped up with an initial printing of 7,000 copies. Reviews were favorable. As a Charleston, South Carolina reviewer wrote, for instance, India’s pending independence made Yogananda’s book timely, “since it endeavors to raise one of the many dark curtains” that has “enshrouded the deep mysteries of that ancient country too long.” I first encountered Autobiography of a Yogi thirty years ago in 1988, the same year I discovered my own Indian path of meditation at an ashram in Oakland, California. I couldn’t put it down, just as I couldn’t stop reading Philip Goldberg’s biography of the Guru who blended Indian philosophy with Christianity in ways that are still appealing to Westerners today. Philip Goldberg’s The Life of Yogananda is likely to climb to the top of every spiritual book list in the U.S. and India. If it doesn’t, there’s something wrong with the list, not the book. It’s a great one. It’s pure gold.
A compelling section of Goldberg’s biography deals with Mukunda’s meeting of his Guru. He heard the words, “The Master Cometh” early in the day, and when he sighted the “Christlike” figure of Sri Yukteshwar Giri, he recognized Yukteswar’s face as the one he had seen in visions. For his part, Sri Yukteswar Giri also knew Mukunda immediately to be the one who would take his teachings to the West. “O my own,” he reportedly said, “you have come to me? How many years I have waited for you?” In an age when it is fashionable to demean Gurus, Goldberg’s respect for the Guru-Disciple relationship is refreshing. Clearly, from his own years in Transcendental Meditation, Goldberg understands the powerful role the Guru can play in a Disciple’s spiritual practice and attainment. Goldberg does not duck Yogananda’s struggle with finances and his efforts to stabilize the Self-Realization Fellowship in southern California. A wealthy disciple stepped forward several times to bail the fellowship out. Yogananda was also betrayed as many Gurus are. But, he kept on working, his love for humanity far greater than the ill-will sometimes hurled at him. Autobiography of a Yogi was published December 1, 1946, “just in time for Christmas giving,” according to Goldberg. The date of publication was appropriate given Yogananda’s respect for Jesus the Christ. American had money to spend, and “spiritual quests that had been suspended” during the Depression and World War II were resumed, as Goldberg notes.
The Life of Yogananda THE STORY OF THE YOGI WHO BECAME THE FIRST MODERN GURU By Philip Goldberg Hay House Inc., 2018, 336 pages, Hard Cover, $26.99
Sw. Shraddhananda Saraswati serves as head of Sacred Feet Yoga, an Interspiritual path, and Slate Branch Ashram in Kentucky. A college professor for 35 years, she has published numerous books and articles, most recently a collection of poems entitled Are You Dancing with Me, Shiva? She holds a doctorate from Emory University and has lectured on six continents. We welcome submissions for consideration for book reviews. Contact, Sw. Shraddhananda, Book Review Editor at: email@example.com
Can A Hug Change the World? by Edie Weinstein, founder of Hugmobsters Armed With Love
On Valentines’ Day weekend, 2014, I gathered a group of friends at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia known as The City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection, for a FREE Hugs Flash mob. In an hours’ time we hugged over 100 people who were making their way through. One was an Iraq War vet who told us that he was the only survivor of his platoon and he had contemplated suicide until he met us, since we gave him hope. He asked if he could join us. We gladly gave him a FREE Hugs sign and soon he was on his way, handing out hugs. Friends started calling us ‘Hugmobsters’ and I added the tag line ‘armed with love,’ to counteract the image of mobsters as violent. A few months later, following a heart attack, I began to walk around Doylestown, PA as part of my cardiac rehab. It occurred to me that I could combine the two activities since hugging is heart healthy. When people hug, they release the hormone oxytocin, which is a mood enhancer. Touch by consent, brings people together across all culturally imposed lines of gender, sexual orientation/ preference, religion, age, socio-economic status, country of origin or even political party. When I hug someone, I generally don’t know on which side of the political spectrum they stand or who they voted for. Now, nearly four years later, I estimate that I have hugged thousands of people on the streets of Philly, and at the
iconic LOVE sculpture, DC, NY, Portland, OR, in airports, in other train stations, at vigils, rallies, at athletic events, at street fairs, in restaurants, at my polling place on Election Day 2016 and many other locales since then. In May of 2018, I hugged my way across Ireland. Recently, I joined a group called FREE MOM HUGS which was founded by Sara Cunningham whose son Parker came out to her as a Gay man and she had to come to terms with that reality as a devout Christian. Ultimately, she realized that she didn’t have to choose between God and her child. She became a minister who marries same sex couples and is also a stand-in mom at weddings. Jamie Lee Curtis discovered her story and they are creating a film together. In the past month, I have attended two local Pridefests (New Hope and Philadelphia) and by the time this runs, I will have also hugged it out with people in Doylestown for our Pridefest. At the previous two, I embraced people who cried as they told me that their parents haven’t hugged them in a long time, some since they came out. Some held on as if for dear life. I keep signs in my car to do spontaneous hugging, as the mood arises. It is not pure altruism that motivates me. I reap benefit from it as well. Sometimes I am on my feet for hours and limp back to the car or train, but feel my energy recharged when I share hugs. Can a hug change the world or even save a life? It clearly did for the man in 30th Street station who happened to be at the right place at the right time and it did for this heart attack survivor who celebrated her fifth Cardiaversary on June 12, 2019. I encourage people to share the love once we part company. I am convinced that just as depression and despair, fear and negativity are contagious, so too is love, nurturing and genuine heart to heart connection with others.
Rev. Edie Weinstein, MSW, LSW–Love Ambassador, Opti-Mystic & Bliss Mistress Edie delights in inviting people to live rich, full, juicy lives. She is an internationally recognized, sought after, colorfully creative journalist, interviewer, author and editor, a dynamic and inspiring speaker, licensed social worker and interfaith minister, BLISS coach, event producer, certified Laughter Yoga Leader, certified Cuddle Party facilitator, and Cosmic Concierge. Edie is the founder of Hug Mobsters Armed With Love, which offers FREE HUGS events worldwide on a planned and spontaneous basis. She speaks on the subjects of wellness, relationships, trauma recovery, addiction, mental health, spirituality, sexuality, loss and grief. Edie is the author of The Bliss Mistress Guide To Transforming the Ordinary Into the Extraordinary and co-author of Embraced By the Divine: The Emerging Woman’s Gateway to Power, Passion and Purpose. She has also contributed to several anthologies and personal growth books, including Taming the Anger Dragon: From Pissed Off to Peaceful. 71
The Practice of Amazing By Sarah Bowen
As a preacher’s kid, I somehow thought spirituality was limited to scripture reading, going to church, and prayer—none of which worked very well for me at the time. Somehow, I had concluded that customs from other religions or cultures weren’t acceptable for me. I struggled with wanting to follow my heart, but I was simultaneously afraid of what might happen if I did. So, I did nothing for two decades but “follow the motions.” Luckily, later in life, I stumbled into a yoga studio. Before long, I dove deep into Eastern philosophies and practices, such as meditation, kirtan, lovingkindness, seva, and, of course, yoga. Tiptoeing in, I sought things that felt good. That made me feel like a better person. As I became increasingly involved in spiritual activities, I quickly overwhelmed my husband. I’d come home—my speech zooming at 3x speed—to share everything I’d learned that day, all the dots connecting to other things I knew, expecting, of course, that he would be just as intrigued. For many weeks, Sean listened patiently, with an appropriate amount of “Wow!” utterances. Then one day, he was full, I guess, and told me, “I love you. And I’m interested. But seriously, you need to go find your people.” And he was right. Auspiciously, I found them at One Spirit Interfaith Seminary, where I was introduced to these words of interspiritual innovator Wayne Teasdale from The Mystic Heart: “Spirituality is a way of life that affects and includes every moment of existence. It is at once a contemplative attitude, a disposition to a life of depth and the search for ultimate meaning, direction, and belonging.” My spirituality was no longer limited, the cat was indeed out of the proverbial bag. The worms were out of the can. I now claimed hundreds of spiritual practices and had re-claimed prayer as well as numerous sacred texts. Everything in my life became sacred and worthy of becoming a spiritual practice. Which is how I began what I call amazing. HOW IT WORKS 1. 2. 3.
Start your day by tuning in to the flow of life force within yourself. Step outside and look up. Observe the vastness. Breathe in and out slowly, contemplating how far “up” is. Notice the movement of any clouds and the feeling of any warmth from the Sun, which is nearly 93 million miles from you. Find a place to sit quietly. Consider these ideas: · You are a tiny part of a massive galaxy, one of over one hundred billion galaxies, with the nearest 600,000 light years from you. · Each year, a thousand tons of Martian rocks rain down on Earth from nearly 34 million miles away. · At night, the nearest star will be 25 trillion miles from where you are sitting. · Right now, you can only see about 0.0035 percent of the light spectrum around you. The rest is invisible to the naked human eye. · You are one of over seven billion humans among 8.7 million more species of life on Earth. Close your eyes gently and consider how small you are, one tiny blip in an ever-expanding, increasingly connected universe. Amazing. Open your eyes. Look at your hand, then at your foot. Consider these ideas: · Around 10,000 different species of microorganisms call you home. · Your body is made up of around 37.2 trillion cells, 2 billion of them in your heart alone. · Your nose can recognize almost a trillion different scents. · Information is zooming along your nerves at about 250 miles per hour. Close your eyes and consider how large you are: An entire world lives within you. Amazing. Continuing your day, cultivate amazement. Contemplate your world as you pass through it. Let amazing be your word of the day.
© 2019 by Sarah Bowen. Excerpted and adapted from Spiritual Rebel: A Positively Addictive Guide to Finding Deeper Perspective & Higher Purpose from Monkfish Book Publishing Company. For more spiritual practices and info on the book, go to www.spiritual-rebel.com.
SARAH BOWEN is a multifaith educator, animal chaplain, and award-winning author. A member of One Spirit Interfaith Seminary’s faculty, Spiritual Directors International, and several recovery communities, Sarah seeks to help others connect with the higher power of their own understanding through whatever practices are meaningful to each. When Sarah grows up, she hopes to be a Jedi. Follow her on Instagram @modernreverend.
Preview of next issue
Standing for Peace: Spotlighting Spiritual Practice and Activism Listen to this special new broadcast on The Convergence radio series at VoiceAmerica hosted by Dr. Kurt Johnson! The special Includes details of major 2019 and 2020 global events upcoming from UNITY EARTH partners Standing for Peace Campaign, Road to 2020 Events, and Caravan of Unity across America. The five sections of the Special spotlight also include discussions on the United Nations mandated global holiday events like the International Day of Yoga and the International Day of Peace, the vision and work of Light on Light Magazine, and the roles of groups including Transformation365, We, the World, URI, UNIFY, EcoPeace and The Evolutionary Leaders. Featured in the special are global leaders from the UN, UNITY EARTH, Light on Light Magazine, Transformation365, We, and The Evolutionary Leaders.
Preview of Upcoming Issue of Light on Light magazine - Issue 5
CHANGE-MAKERS: Leadership and Transformation We don’t have to read the news headlines very long to realize the turmoil that our world is currently in. Not that this is anything new for us. Wars, conflicts, and injustices between opposing sides of humanity have long ingrained the historical record of our existence. And yet, as a collective, we are waking up—there is another way—the way of peace. One of true wisdom that leads to harmony and lovingkindness for all of us in unity. All over the globe, visionary change-makers are standing up heralding the possibility of a world greater than we’ve experienced before. It is these CHANGE-MAKERS, who are leading the way of transformation, that we are honored to include in the next issue of Light on Light magazine. Some of our featured contributors include: • • • • • • • •
Deepak Chopra Jean Houston Audrey Kitagawa Claudia Welss Michael Beckwith Brian McLaren Stephen Dinan Ambassador Mussie Hailu
• • • • • • • •
Victor Kazanjian David Sloan Wilson James O’Dea Lynnaea Lumbard Andrew Cameron Bailey Connie Baxter Marlow Ron Friedman and Victoria Friedman
With tributes to Fr. Thomas Keating and J.J. and Desiree Hurtak We look forward to warmly welcoming you to our next issue featuring CHANGE-MAKERS and leaders from around the world. Namaste with love, Rev Shannon Winters Managing Editor, Light on Light magazine Please send submissions for consideration to firstname.lastname@example.org 73
Click image for tickets and livestream details for Deepak Chopra’s book launch at the United Palace in New York City!
Â© 2019 Light on Light Magazine