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June 2020

A Special Edition of

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al Day ion o at n

IDY Committee at the UN

Yoga, Healing, & Peace

United Nations 75th Anniversary

Shaping Our Future Together Featuring The INTERNATIONAL DAY of YOGA COMMITTEE at the UNITED NATIONS And renowned contributors including: Amb. Nagaraj Naidu Kakanur, Alfredo Sfeir-Younis, PhD, BK Sister Mohini, Swami Shanmuga & Amma Adi Sakthi, Jeffrey D. Long, PhD, Emmanuel Dagher, with Tributes to BK Dadi Janki, Tao Porchon Lynch, Lama Ganchen Tulku Rinpoche


M A G A Z I N E Spiritual Practices & Inspired Lifestyle

Special Edition

Yoga, Healing, and Peace Celebrating the International Day of Yoga Special Edition Editor .................................................. Denise Scotto, Esq. Host Editor .........................................................................Karuna Contributions Editor .................................................... Kurt Johnson, PhD Managing Editor ......................................Rev. Shannon Winters, MS Graphic Editor & Layout ............................................................ David Winters

www.facebook.com/Light-on-Light-157239711589063

The Interspiritual Network Serving the Emerging Global Interspiritual Paradigm

a member of the UNITY EARTH network

Welcome 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. 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 editor@lightonlight.us 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 Shutterstock. Please contact us with any information related to the rights holder of an image source that is not credited. The opinions expressed in this issue do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher or editors of Light on Light Magazine.

Š Light on Light Magazine. All rights reserved.


Table of Contents Welcomes

Welcome from Karuna, Kurt Johnson, Shannon Winters, Editors, Light on Light.................................................................................................... 4

Opening New Horizons for Youngsters through Education by Kavita Khanna & Nalini Rau........................................................................... 62-63 Challapalli: Volunteer Clean India Initiative by Suresh Nadella.........................................................................................................64

Welcome from the International Day of Yoga Committee at the UN by Denise Scotto, Esq., Chair.....................................................................................5-7

My Journey as an Opera Singer and a Yoga Teacher and How I Combine the Two by Heather Lee............................................................................................................... 65

2020 Message by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.................................................................................................. 8

Untitled Poem, April 1, 2020 by Caryn Scotto d’ Luzia..............................................................................................66

Celebrating 100 Years of Paramahansa Yogananda in the United States

Yoga & Health

Kriya Yoga: Royal Technique of God-Realization by Paramahansa Yogananda..................................................................................9-10 Swami’s Meditation Gardens: A Living Legacy by Meesha De Rumi..................................................................................................11-12

2019 World Yoga Day Celebrations

Yoga Day at the United Nations with Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed & HE Amb. Syed Akbaruddin.......................................................................................... 13 IDY Committee at the UN 2019 Celebration, Tillman Chapel, Church Center for the UN............................................................................................ 14 Yoga Day 2019 in Austria with Yoga in Daily Life by Swami Umapuri....................................................................................................... 15 Yoga Day in China......................................................................................................... 16

The Corona Virus & the Need for Spiritual Well-Being by Deepak Chopra, MD, FACP................................................................................ 67-68 Benefits of Yoga & Ayurveda during the COVID 19 Pandemic by Padmini Murthy MD, MPH................................................................................ 69-70 Karuna Response to the Corona Virus by BK Sister Mohini.................................................................................................. 71-73 Yoga of the Heart by Swami Shanmuga & Amma Adi Sakthi......................................................... 75-76 Maha Mrityunjaya Manta by HH Amma Sri Karunamayi................................................................................ 77-78 Global Healing Prayers for Corona Virus by Ven. Bhikkhu Sanghasena.....................................................................................80 Light the Lamp of Hope, Compassion & Unity by Amma Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi............................................................. 81

Yoga Day in Hong Kong with the Brahma Kumaris by BK Rohini....................................................................................................................17

COVID-19 Message by Abhijata Iyengar...................................................................................................... 82

Yoga Day in Lisbon, Portugal with HH Jagat Guru Amrta Suryananda Maha Raja............................................... 18

Yoga & Our Natural World

2019 World Yoga Day at Parmarth Niketan Ashram, Rishikesh, India with Pujya Swami Chidanand Sarastwati & Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati...... 19 Yoga Day 2019, Santa Fe, New Mexico with Amma Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi..........................................................20

Animals and Yoga: Urban Trend Urges Reconnection to Nature by Sw. Shraddhananda Saraswati............................................................................83 Grace by Lynne Newman.........................................................................................................84

Yoga Day 2019, Soweto, South Africa with Swami Purnachaitanya....................21

50 Years of Earth Day by Denise Scotto, Esq............................................................................................. 85-87

Spice Up Your Yoga on the Beautiful Island of Grenada, in the Caribbean by Roisin Fitzpatrick................................................................................................22-23

Vishva Shakti—Mother Earth—Mother Nature by HH Amma Sri Karunamayi.....................................................................................88

The Richness & Fullness of Yoga

Yoga & A Culture of Peace and Non-Violence

The Lessons We Learn from “Fierce Grace”: A Flood Engulfs my Home—and What Happens to Me? by Karuna..................................................................................................................31-34

Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Declaration & Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace by Denise Scotto, Esq..............................................................................................91-93

Established in Yoga, Perform Action by Philip Goldberg.................................................................................................. 35-36

Yogic Values Promoting a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence by BK Gayatri Naraine............................................................................................ 94-95

Yoga & Clay: When Earth Meets the Spirit by Denis Licul............................................................................................................37-38

Yogic Values and World Peace by Jeffery D. Long, PhD........................................................................................... 96-97

Once :: 1020 by Caryn Scotto d’Luzia........................................................................ 39

Making Peace with Non-Violence: Reflections on Raja Yoga Practice by BK Gayatri Naraine............................................................................................98-99

Practice & Philosophy of Yoga by Nagaraj Naidu Kakanur....................................................................................25-29

Choosing Love by Emmanuel Dagher...................................................................................................40 The Yoga of Mutual Healing the Planet Neljor Sa (Earth Yoga) by Dzambling Cho Tab Khen........................................................................................41

Yoga & a Culture of Peace & Non-Violence Introduction by Denise Scotto, Esq.............................................................................................89-90

How Yogic Values Promote a Culture of Non-Violence & the International Day of Peace by Denise Scotto, Esq..........................................................................................100-101

How Brightly Do We Wish to Shine? by Roisin Fitzpatrick............................................................................................... 43-44

2019 World Peace Campaign Awards by HH Yogmata & Pilot Baba................................................................................... 102

The New You: An Open-Eye Reading Meditation: Journey to Joy by Elspeth Kerr........................................................................................................ 45-46

Tribute to Yoga Masters

Yoga & the Work of the United Nations

Spotlight: India Installs Solar Panels on UN NY Headquarters Building........ 47 Spotlight: Making Children Safe at Maher Ashram.........................................48-49 Spotlight: IDY Committee at the UN Execo Member by Padmini Murthy MD, MPH, FAMWA, FRSPH.........................................................50 UNESCO Recognizes Yoga as an Intangible Cultural Heritage............................51 Conscious Planet: A Vision for Sustainable Development by Sadhguru..............................................................................................................52-53 Consciousness & Climate Brahma Kumaris paper for the United Nations Climate Change Conference December 2009................................................... 54-55 UN75: 2020 and Beyond by Denise Scotto, Esq.............................................................................................56-60 Beijing Platform for Action: Women’s Health & Empowerment by Padmini Murthy MD, MPH.......................................................................................61

Baba Ram Dass by Denise Scotto, Esq................................................................................................. 103 Dale Colton by Denise Scotto, Esq., and Diane Williams.................................................. 104-105 Tao Porchon Lynch by Andrea Lublinski, Susan Douglass, and Molly Roopan.........................106-107 BK Dadi Janki by BK Neville Hodgkinson.........................................................................................108 Lama Ganchen Tulku Rinpoche by Dzambling Cho Tab Khen..............................................................................109-110 Swami Ma Yog Shakti “Kathu Mataji” by Denis Licul......................................................................................................... 111-112

Closing

A Yoga Day Message from Light on Light and Sacred Stories with Karuna...................................................................................................................113


Welcome

Welcome to this third special issue of Light on Light magazine with the International Day of Yoga Committee at the United Nations. We want to thank all the individuals and organizations that have come together to make this global issue for the International Day of Yoga possible. Our volunteer staff at Light on Light and the members of UN Yoga Day Committee certainly have amazing chemistry! The impact and message of these special issues grow every year! The thousands of people these issues reach worldwide is extremely gratifying, and part of the significant influences the gifts of Yoga are providing globally. Today our world faces a myriad of interconnected crises that demand coherently interconnected solutions. Never has the interconnection of our deepest inner values with the external manifestations of our lives and living on this fragile and threatened planet been more needed. The world’s Great Wisdom Traditions are the wellspring of these deepest values— mined over millennia. Yogic Wisdom and Practice embody this core and are a vital bridge to the global future envisioned in all of our Hearts. We are pleased to serve that goal. We feel people worldwide are actually softening to a place now where were Yoga is a self-evident necessity. It’s pure; it’s energetic; it’s electric; it’s magnetic. It draws people together and transforms behaviors through its embracing forgiveness and love. Yoga’s message of unity is echoing around the world, and echoes throughout these pages. In these challenging times, which often have required self isolation at individual and family levels, Yoga helps us find the needed places for peace, meditation and care for our sacred bodies. This is a time where we can learn to join past, present and future, to work together for the world our Hearts are telling us all we want to see—and realize! Let’s not think that anything is better than what is in front of us now, and that it can be achieved by all of us together. Let’s live positively! Choose productively! Create joy! Our love to all. Karuna, Host Editor Kurt Johnson, Contributions Editor Shannon Winters, Managing Editor 4


Welcome Message

Greetings Dear Friends, I trust you are well. The past year is one of great celebration as we marked the 5th Anniversary of World Yoga Day as well as one of great suffering resulting in the global health pandemic and ensuing economic crisis due to the novel coronavirus. The events of the past year, joyful or sorrowful, ask us to look at life as part of our evolutionary story, for us as individuals, for us as a human species and for those of us who love and are supporters or ‘ambassadors’ of the United Nations. Instead of holding an event on the UN North Law to commemorate World Yoga Day last June, the weather had other plans. What beautifully sprang from this was our gathering inside the UN General Assembly Hall! For those of you who aren’t aware, it is the space where Heads of State gather every September to kick off the new GA session. How joyful it was for hundreds of us to join for the very first time in chanting the primordial sound ‘Om’ and to have the vibration of unity and peace permeate throughout the Hall! This frequency together with our focused attention and presence connected to the UN’s energy and its divine mission strengthening its inner vitality. At that time, H.E. Ambassador Naidu of the Permanent Mission of India to the UN promised he would submit an article to our 2020 edition, and, I am grateful to him, a fellow yoga practitioner, for contributing the Primer on the History, Practice and Philosophy of Yoga. The IDY Committee, BK Sr Jenna, Yoga in Daily Life and our good friend, Paul Lufteneggar, were part of an exceptional community event in Washington, DC, which took place outdoors at the Lincoln Memorial called Stand Up for Humanity (SUFH). This project is spearheaded by

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the extraordinary Rev. Sylvia Sumpter, of UNITY in Washington, DC, a yogini herself, and, where the Rev. Michael Beckwith and Amb. Mussie Hailu participated. It was truly a privilege to come together in support of SUFH’s mission to raise collective consciousness by honoring universal truths such as human dignity and liberty and taking a stand for all people. In continuing to explore how peace is integral to the metamorphosis of humanity, we look beyond the Security Council, with the UNSRC Enlightenment Society a continuing partner, holding two High Level Roundtables exploring the meaning and the unbending power of a culture of peace and non-violence. These stellar meetings included Vice Chair Gayatri Naraine, leading scholar Dr Jeffrey Long, Ambassador Isaiah Chabala, UN staff Brenden Varma and close NGO friends Monica Willard and Martha Gallahue. Committee members and guests attended Dr. Deepak Chopra’s book launch at the home of our friend, the United Palace. Did you know that TIME magazine describes him as “one of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century,” and that his latest book, MetaHuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential, is his 99th? You can view the video clip with Deepak and myself to gain a brief nutshell of the book’s timeless wisdom. 2020 gave birth to a new year and a new decade, coinciding with the 75th Anniversary of the UN. While we were active in UN matters and organized a parallel event during the Commission on Social Development in February, it also ushered in incredible unexpected change that has affected everyone and everything.


COVID-19 and the developing health pandemic, initially led to physical closure of the UN in March and the cancellation of regularly scheduled yearly intergovernmental meetings in NY and Geneva. As many staff as possible began working remotely, and, adopting new working methods, the Security Council begin to conduct meetings virtually. As of this writing, it seems unlikely the UN will re-open in time to hold in-person World Yoga Day Celebrations. No one is immune from the effects of the novel corona virus. The UN Secretary General said the pandemic is a ‘human crisis’ calling on countries to adopt a more cooperative, global and human rights-based approach. The High Commissioner for Human Rights, already called for urgent and detailed action to prevent COVID-19 from creating “even wider inequalities” amid extensive suffering. Independent human rights experts prepared a joint statement urging for governments to protect human rights in response to the pandemic, stating that it is not solely a medical issue and that concern extends far beyond the medical dimension. It is well documented that the coronavirus pandemic is further devastating the lives of people living in poverty. Billions of people are going hungry, lacking access to clean water, and millions more can’t access healthcare because they are living in crowded refugee camps or slums, where proper sanitation and social distancing is impossible. Did you know that there are 71 million refugees in the world, more than World War II ? In its most recent report released April 14, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned that the world is facing its worst downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s, and the global economy would contract by 3.0 percent in 2020. Ambassador Mona Juul of Norway, President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), told delegates April 23 that COVID-19 shows “it is more important than ever to focus on the implementation of the SDGs… Therefore, issues such as resource mobilization, illicit finance, debt and women’s empowerment must be priorities.” The global health pandemic is expected to worsen the situation and negatively impact hunger and food insecurity, specifically in the developing world. Jens Martens, Executive Director of the Global Policy Forum, told IPS the COVID-19 pandemic not only has serious consequences for the health situation in many countries of the world, but, it will also have a colossal impact on the implementation of almost all SDGs. “The looming global recession will dramatically increase unemployment, poverty and hunger worldwide.” Meanwhile, lingering questions remain: How can the UN, now in its 75th year, evolve as an institution system-wide ? Can it foster international cooperation and solidarity ? Are legal mechanisms still relevant, and, if so, how can we safeguard human dignity and equality ? Will the world’s people and planet come first ? What the SDGs survive an uncertain future? Essentially, What Kind of Tomorrow Shall We Find? 6


that connect each and every one of us, to feel our relatedness with our precious planet and to watch over the life force of the UN. The care and compassion of this community is inspiring, and I feel honored to be a part of it. My deepest appreciation extends to the entire Light on Light family—Karuna, Dr. Kurt Johnson, Shannon and David Winters. A feature this year is a Tribute section to those who have passed. All yogis in their own way, from pioneering IDY Committee member Dale Colton, to our two 100+ year old yoginis—the legendary Tao Portion Lynch and the leader of the Brahma Kumaris, the incomparable Dadi Janki—to the beloved American Baba Ram Dass, to the living Buddha nature of Lama Ganchen Rinpoche to the adored Swami Ma Yoga Shakti Puri, we honor them for their boundless contributions to promote the foremost truths and embody yogic values. I trust that reading the testimonials and learning about their lives will provide inspiration and arouse your own creativity. In the spirit of teaching by example, our Karuna shares a highly personal account of her own rebirthing, which is encouraging on many levels too. May we all be well, may our pain and losses inspire compassion, and may we continue to find comfort and strength to carry on. At the same time, may the UN revitalize itself in its 75th year and all of us be awakened to even greater possibilities and potentials which we realize by expanding our awareness to accept a greater good. We already are witnessing the immense amount of love that is showing up in generous acts worldwide. This is a testament to the unflinching power of care and compassion and the breadth and depth of our humanity and shared values. One example to Spotlight is the interfaith efforts which delivered humanitarian aid in India through Execo member Dr Padmini Murthy.

The SG is calling upon all members state to devote themselves to the infinite knowledge upon which the UN is based-harmony, respect, dignity, equality, solidarity, fairness, cooperation, dissolving differences and taking coordinated collective effort. He urged for everyone to gather the invincible power of this highest knowledge for the noble action of a global cease fire. In January, he had already started dialogues in the form of online conversations and surveys to ‘shape the future of the organization together’ with all peoples of the world adding we are one human family. Throughout all this, the IDY Committee and our members remain committed to supporting the UN in its foremost role to transform planetary consciousness through our communion in the invisible plane (what I call subtle activism) as well as through our efforts to awaken the sacred in the UN’s routine undertakings. The IDY Committee stays available to our community and to those who are seeking fellowship and resources during this challenging time. We, too, see the importance of shaping our future together. We recognized the opportunity to provide solace and to share the life changing power of contemplation for those in the greater UN community and beyond. This e-magazine is meant to offer wisdom to help us all, to lead us to be more present and anchored within ourselves, to strengthen the bonds

Back in the 1990’s, I was invited to India as a speaker to present at a professional international law conference. Afterwards, I went to many places on my destination list including Pondicherry to meditate in Sri Aurobindo’s Ashram, and, then, to Auroville, fulfilling a long-standing dream. I believed that individuals were ever-evolving, but, there, I came to know in every sense the enormity of this. We live in an ever-evolving universe and that humanity as a whole has the potential to evolve as an elevated species. Barbara Marx Hubbard, futurist, founder and leader of the Foundation for Conscious Evolution, was a guest panelist at the UN High Level Forum on a Culture of Peace in 2016. In her writings, she described the impulse of the evolutionary spirit moves through us. By tuning into this impulse of creation within ourselves, we can find our life purpose, express our deeper self, and become an evolving human. We can understand the untold cosmic plan and also realize that we are responsible for the development of our institutions and our societies—ones that are viable and sustainable. While understanding this could provide the collective action needed to create our better world, this could equally serve to provide a quantum shift in consciousness for us as individuals and us as a human species at this very moment in time. It is my prayer that we then emerge greater than the issues we are facing.

In unity, healing and peace, Denise Scotto, Esq. Chair, International Day of Yoga Committee at the United Nations (IDY Committee at the UN) www.facebook.com/yogadaycommittee denise.scotto@gmail.com 7


Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s 2020 Message The world is passing through a very tough time and it feels that all of us have been suddenly transported in the middle of a Hollywood disaster movie. It is quite shocking to believe that a minuscule virus, invisible to the eye, could bring the whole world to a standstill. The first thing to take away from this situation is that, while we seem to control many things, we do not control everything. This is true both at an individual as well as global level. Mighty governments with so much power, resources and technology, in charge of billions of people were rendered helpless by a mere microscopic organism. There are so many layers to our world, each with their own power equations. While some believe that the ability to control Nature gives us power over it, the wise know that the way to harness the power of Nature is to be in balance with it. That’s what Yoga is - a system to be in balance with Nature around you. At an individual level as well, we do not control so many critical processes in our own body - our heart beats without any intervention on our part, we do nothing to digest the food in our stomach. Do you make an effort to breathe or does your breath move on its own? Even the thoughts that impel us to act are not our creations, they just appear in our mind, like clouds appear on their own in the sky. Yoga is the study of that which lies outside our apparent control, both at an individual as well as the cosmic level. The same force that causes a plant to sprout from a seed, become a sapling and then a tree also caused you to grow from a baby weighing a few ounces to a grown adult of several pounds. What is this force or energy field in which everything grows? It exists inside us and all around us as well. Although this sounds like something straight out of a Star Wars movie, this is stated in the ancient scriptures in India which are thousands of years old. The purpose of Yoga is to find how one is related with this consciousness, the life force energy around us. Yoga not only unites the body, breath, mind and spirit, it also helps one to gain control over the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. It has been proven beyond doubt that Yoga impacts the endocrine system and can thereby, alter our emotions, our consciousness and bring about changes for the better. However, it is not just about finding a peaceful state within oneself. Yoga not only sensitizes one towards the environment, it also sensitizes one towards fellow human beings. If only the whole world starts doing practising it, the crime rate would become minimal if not disappear. It would enhance the power to resist diseases physically and the ability to endure emotional conflicts as well. The alarming situation created globally by COVID-19 has also made us aware that we take many things for granted, most of all Nature, but a crisis like this reminds us how precious it all is. This is a wake-up call to turn inward and explore the dimension that we carry within without being aware of its immense benefits to us. When you are connected to yourself, you are also connected to Nature. There is a space inside us that is revealed through the knowledge of Yoga which is untouched by all the uncertainty around. Without this knowledge, one’s situation is like that of a person who is starving while carrying a hot case with fresh food. One simply has to open the lid.

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. 8


Celebrating 100 Years of Paramahansa Yogananda in the United States

Kriya Yoga: Royal Technique of God-Realization By Paramahansa Yogananda This year marks the 100th anniversary of the arrival of Paramahansa Yogananda to America (in 1920) and his introduction of Kriya Yoga to the Western world. That same year, he established Self-Realization Fellowship to disseminate India’s universal and timeless science of yoga meditation. The science of Kriya Yoga first became known to a world audience with the publication of Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi in 1946. The Kriya path contains the distilled essence of Raja Yoga, the ‘royal’ path of yoga formally systemized in the second century B.C. by the Indian sage Patanjali. At the heart of Kriya Yoga are advanced techniques of meditation whose devoted practice leads to the state of inner stillness that enables one to realize his or her inherent soul nature and infinite potentiality. In the 100 years since the arrival of this pioneering father of yoga in the West, the perception of yoga has evolved significantly—from being viewed as an “exotic” series of physical exercises to understanding yoga as an entire way of life that incorporates scientific methods of meditation leading to realization of one’s highest potential and an enduring experience of profound inner peace and joy. The following compilation presents selections from Paramahansa Yogananda’s writings on the nature, role, and efficacy of Kriya Yoga (reprinted with permission by Self-Realization Fellowship, Los Angeles, Calif.). Yoga: Science of the Soul In the Bhagavad Gita, the Lord said to Arjuna: “I gave this imperishable Yoga to Vivasvat (the sungod); Vivasvat passed on the knowledge to Manu (the Hindu lawgiver); Manu told it to Ikshvaku (founder of the solar dynasty of the Kshatriyas). Handed down in this way in orderly succession, the Rajarishis (royal rishis) knew it. But, O Scorcher of Foes (Arjuna)! by the long passage of time, this Yoga was lost sight of on earth.”—IV:1–2 These two verses thus proclaim the historical antiquity of Raja (“royal”) Yoga, the eternal, immutable science of uniting soul and Spirit. At the same time, understood esoterically, they give a concise description of that science—the steps by which the soul descends from Cosmic Consciousness to the mortal state of identification with the human body, and the route it must take to reascend to its Source, the all-blissful Eternal Spirit…. Ascension follows in reverse the exact course of descension. In man, that course is the inner highway to the Infinite, the only route to divine union for followers of all religions in all ages. By whatever bypath of beliefs or practices a being reaches that singular highway, the final ascension from body consciousness to Spirit is the same for everyone: the withdrawal of life and consciousness from the senses upward through the gates of light in the subtle cerebrospinal centers, dissolving the consciousness of matter into life force, life force into mind, mind into soul, and soul into Spirit. The method of ascension is Raja Yoga, the eternal science that has been integral in creation from its inception. 9

Special Dispensation for the Current World Age During the descent of man from a Spiritual Age to a Material Age, the knowledge of the science of yoga declines and is forgotten….In this oncemore-ascending Atomic Age, the indestructible science of Raja Yoga is being revived as Kriya Yoga through the grace of Mahavatar Babaji, Shyama Charan Lahiri Mahasaya, Swami Sri Yukteswar, and their disciples…. Krishna is the divine exemplar of yoga in the East; Christ was chosen by God as the exemplar of God-union for the West. That Jesus knew and taught to his disciples the Raja Yoga technique of uniting soul with Spirit is evidenced in the deeply symbolic Biblical chapter “The Revelation of Jesus Christ to Saint John.”1 Kriya Yoga Focuses on Truth, Not Sectarian Dogma Lahiri Mahasaya’s teaching is especially suited to the modern age because it does not ask anyone to believe dogmatically, but rather by practice of the proven techniques of Kriya Yoga to discover by personal realization the answer to the eternal question, “What is truth?”—about oneself and God. Truth is no theory, no speculative system of philosophy. Truth is exact correspondence with Reality. For man, truth is unshakable knowledge of his real nature, his Self as soul. Kriya Yoga not only points out a universal highway of ascending the soul to the Spirit but gives mankind a daily usable technique through whose practice the devotee, with the help of a guru, may reenter the kingdom of God. One theoretical teaching leads only to another, but any true practitioner of Kriya Yoga finds it to be the shortest way and quickest conveyance to the kingdom of Spirit. The Kriya Yoga Science of Pranayama (Life-Force Control) No devotee of any religion should be satisfied with untested beliefs and dogmas but should engage himself in practical efforts to attain Godrealization. Union with Spirit is possible only when the devotee, casting aside the superficial method of ceremonial worship or of the ineffective “going into the silence,” begins to practice a scientific technique of Godrealization.


Paramahansa Yogananda in New York City during a public lecture tour.

One cannot reach this goal just by mental meditation. Only deep concentration that disconnects the mind from breath, life force, and senses, and that unites the ego to the soul, is successful in producing the God-wisdom of Self-realization. The life force is the link between matter and Spirit. Flowing outward it reveals the spuriously alluring world of the senses; reversed inward it pulls the consciousness to the eternally satisfying bliss of God. The meditating devotee sits between these two worlds, striving to enter the kingdom of God, but kept engaged in battling the senses. With the aid of a scientific technique of pranayama [such as Kriya Yoga], the yogi is at last victorious in reversing the outward-flowing life energy that externalized his consciousness in the action of breath, heart, and senseensnared life currents. He enters the natural inner calm realm of the soul and Spirit. Withdrawing mind and life force from the sensory and motor nerves, the yogi leads them through the spine into the brain into eternal light. Here the mind and life become united with the eternal wisdom of Spirit manifested in the cerebrum. The center of consciousness for the average individual is his body and the outer world. The yogi changes his center of consciousness by nonattachment to the body and to worldly hopes and fears. By a technique—such as Kriya Yoga—of consciously controlling the life processes that tie the consciousness to the body (stilling the heart and breath), the yogi becomes established in the eternal wisdom-perception of Spirit that manifests in the spiritual center of cosmic consciousness in the brain. The yogi who can change his center of consciousness from the sentient body to the cerebral throne of Spirit ultimately centralizes his consciousness on omnipresence. He attains the Eternal Wisdom.

has longer periods of three or four hours of deep meditation once or twice a week, he will find his intuition becoming sufficiently superfine to realize unendingly the dialogue of blissful wisdom exchanged between the soul and God. He will know the interiorized state of communion in which his soul “talks” to God and receives His responses, not with the utterances of any human language, but through wordless intuitional exchanges. By communing with God you change your status from a mortal being to an immortal being. When you do this, all bonds that limit you will be broken. This is a very great law to remember. As soon as your attention is focused, the Power of all powers will come, and with that you can achieve spiritual, mental, and material success. Finding Perfect Love The greatest love you can experience is in communion with God in meditation. The love between the soul and Spirit is the perfect love, the love you are all seeking….If you meditate deeply, a love will come over you such as no human tongue can describe, and you will be able to give that pure love to others….When you experience that divine love, you will see no difference between flower and beast, between one human being and another. You will commune with all nature, and you will love equally all mankind.

Kriya Yoga Practice Bestows Peace and Bliss The aftereffects of Kriya bring with them the utmost peace and bliss. The joy that comes with Kriya is greater than the joys of all pleasurable physical sensations put together. “Unattracted to the sensory world, the yogi experiences the ever new joy inherent in the Self. Engaged in divine union of the soul with Spirit, he attains bliss indestructible.” Kriya Awakens Inner Intuitive Guidance [Sri Yukteswar told me:] “After the mind has been cleared by Kriya Yoga of sensory obstacles, meditation furnishes a twofold proof of God. Ever new joy is evidence of His existence, convincing to our very atoms. Also, in meditation one finds His instant guidance, His adequate response to every difficulty.” No devotee should be satisfied until he has sufficiently developed his intuition—by impartial introspection and deep meditation, as in Kriya Yoga—to experience the communion of soul and Spirit. If a devotee meditates intensely for at least short periods every day and

John speaks of the “mystery of the seven stars” and the “seven churches” (Revelation 1:20); these symbols refer to the seven astral centers of light in the spine. The recondite imagery throughout this nonunderstood chapter of the Bible is an allegorical representation of the revelations that come with the opening of these centers of life and consciousness, the “book sealed with seven seals” (Revelation 5:1). 1

* Photos appear courtesy of SRF LA 10


Celebrating 100 Years of Paramahansa Yogananda in the United States

Swami’s Meditation Gardens: A Living Legacy

By Meesha De Rumi

“There is great value in visiting places where saints have lived. Such places are forever permeated with the vibrations left there by the divine souls who walked those grounds. Their vibrations will remain until this earth is dissolved.” Paramahansa Yogananda

One hundred years ago the United States received a sacred gift from India, wrapped ornately in saffron robes to signify his monastic vow and commitment to the exploration and education of divine knowledge. The spiritual prodigy Paramahansa Yogananda’s arrival to the U.S was invaluable to the spread of yoga worldwide, and, it is one of the obvious reasons that Southern California is an epicenter for yoga today. According to Yoga Journal, Encinitas, California where Yogananda’s disciple gifted him a seaside hermitage, is the 4th most yoga-friendly town in the United States. Encinitas, the home of the Self Realization Fellowship’s Golden Lotus Temple, which was dedicated in 1938, is where Yogananda not only carried out the final years of his life, but, also where he composed his acclaimed Autobiography of a Yogi and oeuvre. Swami Yogananda, as he was referred to by many, labeled Self Realization as a Science and taught the technique of meditation as a way of “recharging the body battery with cosmic energy.” As you enter the gates of the meditation garden, you instantly feel the long-held revere and sacredness for the expansive enclosure. You are almost tangibly connected to the thousands of souls who have pilgrimaged there before you. Under the spires of golden lotus pillars, staircases and pathways offer opportunities to elevate your consciousness by simply becoming present to the beauty in every leaf, flower bud, root vine, blade of grass, or bird song that steals your attention. Even when crowded with visitors from around the world, there is an overarching peace that transcends the chaotic culture that exists within the mind and on the streets just outside of the sanctuary’s shrubbery. Benches are strewn about for you to sit in stillness and become actualized. 11


With birds soaring free above the ever-changing skies and surfers paying homage to the vast and powerful ocean below the lofty cliffs, Yogananda was inspired by this unique location to write and share what was to become over 30 books on spirituality. Vibrant colors demand your attention and lure you through a walking meditation--almost as preparatory as yoga postures themselves in attuning the senses to a slower, more reverent pace and purpose. Pathways summon you off the main route through the garden, offering moments of solitude and reflection for all walks of life. If you have an overactive mind, ponds full of immense koi swimming about attract you to their way of life long enough to expose the pervasive vitality all around you, in every moment. You lose all sense of time in the lush surroundings and brilliant landscape architecture of this globally renowned meditation mecca. As you ultimately ascend to the top of the cliff, a stunning view of the Pacific Ocean’s horizon instantly humbles you in awe. Boundless blue water glistens with light. Every wave rushes towards you poetically with great power. You pause. It is often here at the top of the garden, with the limitless sea below that guests gather their innermost thoughts on the meaning of life, the impact of this moment, and the interconnectedness of energy. Yogananda’s Self Realization Fellowship often hosts “How to Live” retreats on the adjacent premises, not surprisingly, given the endless natural beauty of the land. Everyone who climbs the terra-cotta staircase and sets foot upon the dirt path is navigated to a pinnacle, not solely the cliff’s summit but the invisible legacy of the Father of Yoga in the West. You only need to gaze from that cherished crest over Swami’s surf break to learn from Yogananda, beyond his time and material form, for his soul swims with the sea of the divine in everything. In his own words, he invites you to “Watch the shore of the universe but do not become absorbed in it. I behold life and death like the rise and fall of the waves on the sea. I am the ocean of consciousness.”

References: “Self-Realization Fellowship Encinitas Temple.” http://encinitastemple.org/ Rader, Peter. Di Florio, Paola and Leeman, Lisa. 2014. Awake: The Life of Paramahansa Yogananda. USA. CounterPoint Films Wolf, Amy and Ferriera, Charity. 2017. “10 Towns with Top-Notch Yoga”. Yoga Journal. https://www.yogajournal.com/lifestyle/america-practices “Paramahansa Yogananda Bibliography.” n.d. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paramahansa_Yogananda_bibliography

Meesha De Rumi has a Master of Literature and has almost 20 years of yoga experience. She has been a yoga teacher for more than a decade and specializes in training yogis to become teachers themselves.

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2019 World Yoga Day Celebrations

Yoga Day at the United Nations with Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed & HE Amb. Syed Akbaruddin

In the first of its kind, the UN held an indoor event to observe the fifth International Day of Yoga inside the iconic General Assembly Hall. Addressing the group, Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said: “The essence of yoga is a balance not only within us, but also in our relationship with humanity, with the world. As such, yoga can promote solidarity, social integration, tolerance justice, and peace. It teaches us a holistic vision of the world encouraging us to live in harmony with ourselves, society and nature.” The theme of the celebration was Yoga and Climate Action, and DSG Mohammed said that yoga “has a valuable contribution in addressing climate change, the defining issue of our time, by inspiring us to shift away from the unsustainable practices towards inclusive green growth, conscious consumption and much more sustainable lifestyles.” India’s Permanent Representative HE Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin related that the International Yoga Day was born in that very hall through a resolution adopted by the Assembly in 2014. “There is growing discourse among the global community that yoga can be one of the tools in our collective quest for promoting sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature.” Yoga drives the quest for balance and this “provides us with a framework for managing our needs and desires” he said. “When applied to communities and societies, yoga offers a toolkit for embracing lifestyles that are sustainable, lifestyles that appeal to the human yearning for harmony.” The celebration included traditional Indian music and dance by professional performers. It also offered participants the opportunity to experience modified yoga asanas led by instructor Kevin from the Bhakti Center and Swami from Sivananda Yoga. What was most exciting was the group chanting of ‘Om’ and ‘Shanti’ which reverberated throughout the GA Hall. The next day, an official panel event was held on the same theme of Yoga and Climate Action. Ambassador Naidu was the Chair of the event while IDY Committee friends, Kusumita Pederson and Eddie Stern were among the group of speakers. The message which panelists reinforced was that yoga is not merely physical fitness or spiritual awakening. While it does include these aspects, yoga is a set of beliefs and values and is a way of life which can be applied to the UN SDGs. The International Day of Yoga Committee at the UN’s own special event was held inside the Tillman Chapel of the Church Center for the United Nations, across the street from the UN Building, a second home.

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IDY Committee at the UN 2019 Celebration, Tillman Chapel, Church Center for the UN by Denise Scotto, Esq. & BK Sabita Geer

Return to the Heart of the Source was the theme for the IDY Committee’s 5th World Yoga Day Celebration. Soprano, Heather Lee, regaled us with her exquisite voice sharing sacred music and tones including a song that Mahatma Gandhi wrote while he was imprisoned. Dorjiano Miletic, Yoga Instructor and Board member, Yoga in Daily Life-NY, led us gently into various modified yoga postures, breathing techniques and uncomplicated stretches. This was followed by conversation among: special guest, Bruce Cryer, CEO, HeartMath organization and proclaimed performer; Gayatri Naraine, Vice Chair, IDY Committee and UN representative of the Brahma Kumaris; and Denise Scotto, Esq. Chair. Continuing the IDY’s Committee interest in exploring the correlation between science and spirituality, they spoke about how science has, and continues to, uncover the many benefits of yogic practices. In particular, they discussed how our heart and the special qualities of compassion, love and kindness, all, influence our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. Bruce shared that HeartMath is grounded in scientific research regarding our understanding of the broader functions between our heart and the relationship our heart has to our brain. He explained how electromagnetic fields are part of everything, including our emotions. These electromagnetic fields can be measured. The fields around the brain demonstrate that thoughts are things. The different fields around the body have effects on the field of our heart, which can extend outward from our body by as much as 10 feet! In translating sometime complex scientific principles, Bruce, clarified that the length of our heart field extending beyond the physical body is the reason why we can sense what someone is feeling even without them saying anything to us through words. He described that our feelings produce a biochemical response which affects our heart, which, in turn respond to our feelings. Now the scientific evidence justifies why so many gurus and teachers recommend that we try to maintain positive and uplifting thoughts—because it is beneficial to others and also to the health of our own heart and overall well-being. Heart coherence is a measure of the pattern in the heart’s rhythm, which is independent of the amount of heart rate variability and reflects an orderly and harmonious synchronization among various systems in the body such as the heart, respiratory system and blood-pressure rhythms. We can increase heart coherence by simple actions such as: slow breathing, evoking positive feelings, using a sticky note which reminds us of a blessing in our lives; keeping a gratitude journal. We ended by putting some of the methods into practice using Heartmath simple breathing techniques, engaging in collective meditation and listening to more of Heather’s sacred music. 14


2019 World Yoga Day Celebrations

Yoga Day 2019 in Austria with Yoga in Daily Life The Indian Embassy in Austria celebrated the 5th International Yoga Day in the Vienna City Park near the Johann Strauss monument. The program was opened by H.E. Ms Renu Pall, Ambassador of India, who recalled the significance of the International Yoga Day in bringing together people for health, harmony and peace, as unanimously proclaimed by the United Nations five years ago at the initiative of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Mrs Mag. Silvia Friedrich from the Vienna City Council sent greetings from the Mayor of Vienna. This was followed by a mantra prayer for world peace and the wellbeing of all living beings by Ms. Neelam Vats, a teacher of Indian culture. Swami Umapuri of Yoga in Daily Life moderated and guided the general practice section, asanas, pranayama and meditation, which were also performed on stage by students of Yoga in Daily Life and several other yoga groups from Vienna, among them Sivananda Yoga and Art of Living. At the end of the program, the Peace Mantra was sung. Numerous members of Yoga in Daily Life and other yoga schools in Vienna participated in this event, with more than 300 people of all ages interested in yoga being inspired by this yoga day.

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Yoga Day 2019, China

Hundreds of thousands of yoga enthusiasts across China rolled out their mats to participate in colourful yoga events marking world yoga day. Yoga represents aspirations of the people from India and China that it is beneficial to work together in spirit of “friendship and cooperation”, Indian Ambassador Vikram Misri said as he along with a large number of Chinese yoga enthusiasts marked the fifth International Yoga Day in Beijing. Yoga has become immensely popular all over China in the past few decades and is emerging as a major fitness discipline which is specially promoted by the Chinese Ministry of Sports. It received official recognition in 2015 after Chinese Premier Li Keqiang along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi participated in a joint event of yoga and Chinese martial art practice Taichi. Since then, both the countries established a Yoga college in Yunnan Minzu University in Kunming, the capital of southwest China’s Yunnan Province in joint collaboration with India. A few hundred yoga enthusiasts took part in the yoga day event organised by the Indian Embassy at the India House in which Indian Ambassador Vikram Misri and his wife Dolly Misri were present.

Addressing the gathering, Amb. Misri said yoga represents not just the civilisational connect between India and China “but also the modern aspirations of our two peoples, that acknowledges the shared benefit of working together in spirit of friendship and cooperation”. China has already conducted three celebratory activities, in Guiyang, at Shaolin Temple and also at the iconic Yellow Crane Tower in Wuhan, he said. Another event is set to get underway in Qingdao. The Indian Embassy has also organised yoga events in various historic and scenic sites in different provinces of China, in collaboration with the local and provincial governments. Yoga events were held at the Tianhe Tan Park in Guiyang, Yellow Crane Tower in Wuhan, Shaolin Temple in Henan and Qingdao in Shandong, the embassy said in a statement. Indian Consulates in Shanghai and Guangzhou have also organised a number of events to mark the International Yoga Day in Shanghai in association with local governments, cultural and yoga groups. One 2019 celebrations was held at Wuyi on the auspicious day of Buddha Purnima recognising the importance of yoga in the life of Mahatma Buddha, Consul General Anil Kumar Rai said in a press release. The Indian Consulate in Guangzhou held yoga events at several places, including the picturesque Dujiangyan City, Consul General Sujit Ghosh said. The Consulate also organised a special yoga event on the banks of the Zhujiang River in Guangzhou. Around 300 yoga enthusiasts participated in this event. The popularity of yoga in China has attracted scores of Indian yoga teachers to either start their own institutes here or work for popular yoga institutes.

Yoga in Xiangyang, Hubei Province, China 16


2019 World Yoga Day Celebrations

Yoga Day 2019 in Hong Kong with the Brahma Kumaris by BK Rohini World Yoga Day celebrations were co-hosted by Consulate General of India and the Asia Society of Hong Kong. 20 Yoga organizations of Hong Kong participated in the event. The majority of Yoga experienced was Hatha Yoga with only the Brahma Kumaris Raja Yoga Centre, Hong Kong presenting a Meditation Program in Cantonese. Approximately 1,500 people attended and found benefit. The event was launched with the candle lighting ceremony followed by brief address by three dignitaries: Ms. Priya Chauhan, newly appointed Consul General of India, Mr. Lau Kong Wah, Secretary for Home Affairs, Hong Kong, and Mr. Stanley Kong, Head of Programs (Art & Culture), Asia Society Hong Kong. Dr. Devendra, Indian Consulate In-House Yoga Instructor, presented simple yoga postures and encouraged the audience to participate. Easy yoga postures were suitable for the young, older persons and people with varying disability. The BK Centre presented a program titled ”Transform Energy with Raja Yoga Meditation”. It was presented by BK Kathie Kwok. Sr. Rohini led the meditation commentary while BK Susanna Li conducted simultaneous translation in Cantonese. About 80 people participated and benefited. Two follow-up programs were organized and were well attended. One was held inside the Indian Consulate Auditorium and the other took place at the BK Centre: “Creativity & Meditation” was followed by “Healing Energy with Raja Yoga”.

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Yoga Day 2019, Lisbon, Portugal with HH Jagat Guru Amrta Suryananda Maha Raja

The Embassy of India, in collaboration with the Confederação Portuguesa do Yoga/the Portuguese Yoga Confederation and the Câmara Municipal de Lisboa, celebrated the 5th International Day of Yoga which was supported by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations. Roughly 250 yoga enthusiasts participated. It was held at the Garden of Torre de Belem/the Tower of Belem, a 16th-century fortification that has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the Jerónimos Monastery. It is often portrayed as a symbol of Europe’s Age of Discoveries and as a metonym for Portugal or Lisbon, given its landmark status. The yoga festivities included a video message by Prime Minister Modi, music, movement and asanas, breathing and meditation practices.

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2019 World Yoga Day Celebrations

2019 World Yoga Day at Parmarth Niketan Ashram, Rishikesh, India

with Pujya Swami Chidanand Sarastwati & Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati More than 500 people from across India and from over 30 countries across the world – ranging from 2 years to 84 years of age – participated in a yoga session, on the banks of Holy Mother Ganga, in the lap of the Himalayas, in the Yoga Capital of the World. The event was organized with the blessings and inspiration of HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji (Pujya Swamiji), President, Parmarth Niketan, and was led by Pujya Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji, Secretary-General, Global Interfaith WASH Alliance and Director, International Yoga Festival and Pujya Sadhvi Abha Saraswatiji (Mataji), head of Parmarth Niketan Yoga Centre. The celebrations were joined by respected Monks from the Jain and Buddhist Tradition, Faculty and Members of the Seema Dental College, Anand Mehrotra, Founder of Sattva Yoga, as well as participants and leaders from more than a dozen local Yoga Centres across Rishikesh. The day started at Parmarth with the traditional chanting of mantras by Sadhvi Abha Saraswatiji, followed by a practice of India’s Common Yoga Protocol done by visitors from dozens of countries. The celebrations included prayers, sacred mantras, pranayama, yoga asana, meditation, inspiring message and sankalpa by Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji.

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Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji who celebrated International Yoga Day in Badrinath, gave the following message: “Yoga is beyond religion. Yoga is for all. Yoga promotes not just asana, but also shows us how our lives can become assan (easy). It makes us flexible in our body and in our daily lives. With yoga, we can learn to become bridges and not barriers in our communities, building stronger relationships and foundations out of which greater service to humanity and to the world and to the planet can happen. And by which we can live more conscious, more connected lives and become agents of change, agents of positivity in our community.” Sharing her blessings during the celebrations at Parmarth Niketan, Pujya Sadhvi Bhagawatiji stated: “Yoga is the union of ourselves to the divine, the Self to the Divine. So, here on this sacred day, in this sacred place, where for thousands of years the sages and the saints have been praying and meditating along the holy banks of Ma Ganga, let yourself experience that divine union. Yoga is not just about the body. We’re not the body. We’re Spirit. We’re Soul. We’re Love. We’re Consciousness. And Yoga is the process that gets us in touch with that.”


Yoga Day 2019, Santa Fe, New Mexico with Amma Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi

Amma’s Santa Fe retreat celebrated a special yoga session with Amma on the Summer Solstice of June 21st, World Yoga Day. The program was held on the indigenous land of Pojoaque Pueblo. People of all ages and yoga experience participated in Amrita Yoga led by Amrita Yoga teachers from Amma’s ashram in India alongside Amma. While all were requested to clear the chairs, Amma remarked that anything done with awareness is yoga. ‘Chair moving yoga’ went off without a hitch, moving on to more traditional asanas. The practice began with deep breathing and “running in place” to generate heat and energy. Slow running picked up to a jogging pace and ended in an intense sprint. Amma also participated by quickly moving her arms from her seated posture. After warmups, the group was led through about 15 minutes of yoga asanas, including the silent chanting of the sacred mantras MA and OM synchronized with the breath and movement. “Yoga is not just physical movement, like going to the gym and exercising,” Amma explained. “Rather, it is yet another way to know God — the infinite power we truly are. Yoga is meditation. Just like meditation, performing yoga with awareness will help us go deeper and deeper into our own Inner Self. If physical exercises are like swimming on the surface of the ocean, proper yoga practices are like diving deep into the ocean. The experience has a totally different dimension to it. The difference is like a caged bird versus a bird flying in the sky, enjoying the vast expanse.”

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2019 World Yoga Day Celebrations

Yoga Day 2019, Soweto, South Africa with Swami Purnachaitanya Soweto has celebrated International Day of Yoga in its own unique way since 2016. Swami Purnachaitanya led the celebrations at the University of Johannesburg’s Soweto Campus. Swami Purnachaitanya is the Director of Programs and Senior International Trainer with the Art of Living Foundation which facilitates the events in the township. He has traveled worldwide teaching people of all backgrounds, cultures, and religions how to effectively manage their mind and emotions, eliminate stress, live in harmony amid diversity and bring greater peace and joy into their lives through simple Yoga techniques. “This year we wanted to make it even bigger and available to more people in a central location We are expecting a capacity of 5000 people. It is a free event open to all. The programme will be about two to three hours and we will be showing people breathing techniques and having mindful sessions because Yoga is so vast,” he explained. Swami explained that the breathing techniques would also focus on managing the mind and giving people an experience. “The session will be to give people an introduction to Yoga, for people to participate and take something home. Simple exercises that we will explain the benefit of. A simple breathing technique which is effective in calming the nervous system, so it is good for high blood pressure or stressed out people and to improve the quality of your sleep. Things anyone can practise, it’s proven and easy to learn.” He described how yoga sometimes looked scary for people as they thought it was only for fit people who can stretch their bodies out. “It has benefits for so many people. Yoga gives solutions for so many things without cost or side effects. Unlike running or walking, it keeps the body fit and the mind peaceful. You can go for a run but that doesn’t always clear your mind. For your memory to function properly you need to be focused and relaxed. This is why we teach breathing techniques because through the breath we teach people how to manage the mind.” Swami added how the NGO has programmes running in prison systems and in schools helping to rehabilitate and change behaviours. “Yoga is for everyone, young and old. I’ve had people in my Yoga retreats and they had serious problems and got to see changes within a week. It is not a solution for everything, but, in many situations, there may be a simple solution. It has become really popular, so people nowadays don’t think of it as belonging to a religion anymore and practise it freely.”

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Spice Up Your Yoga on the Beautiful Island of Grenada, in the Caribbean by Roisin Fitzpatrick

“Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul.” Oscar Wilde Flying across the Atlantic Ocean on 30 December 2018, with an equal measure of thrill and trepidation, I embarked on a dream that I had held dear to my heart for over a decade since first visiting the beautiful “Spice Isle” of Grenada, in the Caribbean. Ten years earlier, I fell in love with the warmth of the Grenadian people and the natural beauty of this island. From its lush tropical rainforest, to the overflowing waterfalls, and spectacular long stretches of powder coral-pink sand glistening in the sunlight, I promised myself that I would return to Grenada and see if this is where I would like to spend more of my life. Life had become hectic during the intervening years, taking care of loved ones, producing several art exhibitions in the US and publishing my book. However, throughout this time my soul kept whispering to me, “Grenada is waiting for you…” Finally, I created the time to follow my passion. With an invitation in hand from a Grenadian friend to his New Year’s Eve party, I boarded Virgin Airlines ready to embark on this new venture.

As a tradition, on the couple of days before New Year’s Eve I always reflect on the previous year and love to write my vision for the coming year: How much love can I live? How much light can I shine in this world? How much joy and laughter can I share with everyone? How much kindness and compassion can I experience with others? How much gratitude can I give for all the blessings in my life? While sitting on the plane, I started to jot down my list; snorkeling with exotic fish, sailing along the Grenadine Islands, exploring the rainforest, soaking in the natural sulfur baths, tasting all the local fruit, vegetables and spices at the markets and…Yoga. For how many years had I written Yoga down on my New Year’s list? It was always more of a “should do” or a “use it or lose it” mentality in my mind. Conscious that I was about to turn 50 in a couple of months (which I see as my marker for half-way through life given that my aunt lived to be over 100 years of age), I thought that this would be my ideal opportunity to take up Yoga. Little did I know that I would come to LOVE it! Venturing into my first Yoga class at the True Blue Bay Boutique Resort, it didn’t matter that I did not know Samasthiti (Mountain Pose) from Swahili, as I found everyone welcoming. There were people of all levels and ages, from total beginners to seasoned pros, and of all nationalities, including many local Grenadians. One svelte lady, who could get her body into positions that I did not think were humanly possible, was especially encouraging. Initially, when I bent over, I couldn’t touch my toes and my “Sleeping Swan” looked more like a “Dead Duck”. She would smile enthusiastically, “Keep going, Roisin, you’re doing great!” Over the following couple of months, while lying on my Yoga mat in the honey-hued wood studio, feeling the gentle breeze as it rustled through the palm fronds in tune with the waves lapping on the shore below, I began to find my own rhythm and flow. 22


2019 World Yoga Day Celebrations After the frenetic years of working around the clock as an artist and writer, I could feel my mind becoming calmer. As I tapped into the well-spring of inner peace, my heart flowed with joy. It was amazing to feel my body becoming increasingly flexible and strong. Whereas holding the poses for three to four minutes during Yin Yoga classes had seemed like an eternity in the beginning, I soon found myself lost in the moment. It was as if only the briefest time had passed. While practicing Yoga we regularly hear the tree-frogs’ distinctive cacophony after the rain. We also see luster-green hummingbirds, hovering in mid-air, attracted by the nectar concealed within the clusters of flowers on the Golden Currant that hangs over the veranda. Like Samasthiti, where we are actively engaged yet still, the stationary motion of the hummingbird is a beautiful reminder of the exquisite joy to be experienced when we choose to fully embrace the present moment. With a grateful heart I thank Magdalena and Russ Fielden, the owners of True Blue Bay Boutique Resort, for creating the openair Yoga Sankalpa Studio for all of us to enjoy. Of course, this would be an empty space without the brilliant and inspiring Yoga teachers who bring this studio to life. Each instructor has her/ his own unique style that creates the opportunity for us to reach our potential on all levels spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically. By serendipity, while completing this article I learned that Sankalpa, (the name of the Yoga studio) is the Sanskrit word that means to set an intention or a resolution. What a wonderful example of the power of New Year’s resolutions! Grenada, the “Spice Isle” of the Caribbean, is famous for its spices. One of these spices, the aromatic nutmeg kernel enveloped by a vibrant-red layer of lacy mace and cocooned by the succulent outer fruit, is a sheer delight for the senses. For me, the symbolism of nutmeg beautifully describes Yoga in Grenada, a sheer delight for the soul. Both visitors to the island and locals are all warmly welcomed at the numerous yoga studios. Is it time to spice up your Yoga life? This article is written with gratitude to all the Yogis I have had the privilege of meeting on this journey in Grenada. Namaste. Hatha, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Yin and Restorative Yoga classes are taught morning and evening, seven days a week at numerous Yoga studios. Please see the following links: truebluebay.com/sankalpa-yoga-studio/; coyaba.com; mountcinnamongrenadahotel.com; laluna.com, spiceharmonyyoga.com and Humble Beginnings Wellness on Facebook.com

Roisin Fitzpatrick is an internationally acclaimed artist, Artist of the Light, and best-selling author of Taking Heaven Lightly. A graduate of Trinity College Dublin and the University of Geneva, she worked at the United Nations in Geneva, European Commission in Brussels and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in London. Roisin Fitzpatrick is a former speaker at the United Nations Staff Recreation Council Enlightenment Society in New York. Please see RoisinFitzpatrick.com Copyright Roisin Fitzpatrick 2020 23


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The Richness & Fullness of Yoga

Practice & Philosophy of Yoga Nagaraj Naidu Kakanur Ambassador & Deputy Permanent Representative Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations

During these unprecedented times, when the entire planet appears to have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic and everyone is trying to seek relief from this common affliction, we are reminded of the Sanskrit phrase वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम (Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam) meaning, “the whole world is one family”. 2. This concept originates in the Vedic scripture - Maha Upanishad  (Chapter 6, Verse 72): अयं बन्धुरयं नेति गणना लघुचेतसां उदारचरितानां तु वसुधैव कुटुम्बकं (Ayam bandhurayam neti ganana laghuchetasam udaracharitanam tu vasudhaiva kutumbakam) – “Only small men discriminate by saying one is a relative and the other is a stranger. For those who live magnanimously the entire world constitutes but a family”. 3. The Upanishads are a collection of Sanskrit texts of religious and philosophical nature, written in India probably between 800 BC and 500 BC. The word ‘Upanishad’ means the secret knowledge that one gets to learn from a wise and virtuous teacher or guru by sitting near him. You sit near the guru because the knowledge is secret, and, it cannot easily be understood without asking questions and seeking clarifications. 4. Since the Upanishads probe into the mysteries of our existence and the truth hidden behind the illusions of the phenomenal world, and, its descriptions are often clothed in symbolic imagery and archaic metaphors, one needs the help of a guru or teacher to traverse through the hidden realm of the Upanishads to grasp its wisdom, which is not easily perceptible to the senses or comprehensible to the intellect. In other words, the Upanishads challenges us to rise above ordinary thinking. It is only then can we understand the true nature of our existence and our connection with the entire universe. 5. In India, the practice of restraining of the senses to achieve a state of liberation perhaps began with the recognition that suffering is an integral part of human life. The quest for liberation from samsara  (the endless cycle of life and death), thus, entailed asceticism and renunciation. Meditation techniques, yoga, and austerities of various sorts all were developed to further the end of disengaging from the world of desire, and, this, in turn, led to the final goal of release. The ascetic tradition in India is a very ancient phenomenon for which there is already evidence in the Rig Veda (a collection of Sanskrit hymns, likely composed between roughly 1700–1100 BC), especially in the Kesin (long hair) hymn: केश्यग्निं केशी विषं केशी बिभर्ति रोदसी । केशी विश्वं स्वर्दृशे केशीदं ज्योतिरुच्यते ॥१॥
 मुनयो वातरशनाः पिशङ्गा वसते मला । वातस्यानु ध्राजिं यन्ति यद्देवासो अविक्षत ॥२॥
 उन्मदिता मौनेयेन वाताँ आ तस्थिमा वयम् । शरीरेदस्माकं यूयं मर्तासो अभि पश्यथ ॥३॥
 अन्तरिक्षेण पतति विश्वा रूपावचाकशत् । मुनिर्देवस्यदेवस्य सौकृत्याय सखा हितः ॥४॥
 वातस्याश्वो वायोः सखाथो देवेषितो मुनिः । उभौ समुद्रावा क्षेति यश्च पूर्व उतापरः ॥५॥
 अप्सरसां गन्धर्वाणां मृगाणां चरणे चरन् । केशी केतस्य विद्वान्सखा स्वादुर्मदिन्तमः ॥६॥
 वायुरस्मा उपामन्थत्पिनष्टि स्मा कुनन्नमा । केशी विषस्य पात्रेण यद्रुद्रेणापिबत्सह ॥७॥ The longhaired one carries within him - both fire and poison and heaven and earth. To look at him is like seeing heavenly brightness in its fullness. He is said to be light itself. The sages, girdled with the wind, are clad in dust of yellow hue. They follow the path of the wind when the gods have penetrated them. 25


Uplifted by our sagehood, we have ascended upon the winds. You mortals see just our bodies. The sage flies through the inner region, illuminating all forms below. Given to holy work he is the companion of every god. Being the wind’s horse, the Vayu’s (wind/air) companion and god-inspired, the sage is at home in both oceans, the eastern and the western. Wandering in the track of celestial beings and sylvan beasts, the longhaired one, knowing their aspiration, is a sweet and most uplifting friend. For him Vayu churned, even pounded that which is hard to bend, as the longhaired one drank poison with the cup, together with Rudra. 6. Traditionally, asceticism in India was recognized and widely approved as a means to achieve liberation. The Vedas in some places say that the deities gained their status, or even created the entire universe, through the power of their inner, ascetic heat (tapas), acquired through the rigorous practice of physical and spiritual self-discipline and mortification of the body. This notion of ascetic heat as a creative, or even coercive, religious force persists in Indian religious thinking through subsequent centuries to the present. One may gain ascetic heat through a variety of ascetic techniques, including fasting, chastity, and various yogic techniques such as breath control (pranayama), and, through it, the adept can procure tremendous supernatural powers and even the status of a god. In the Upanishads, epics, and other Sanskrit texts, one often learns of various ascetics who force their way into heaven and become gods through the power of their ascetic heat. Deities such as Shiva were especially associated with this power of ascetic heat, derived from proficiency in yoga, meditation, and extreme austerities. 7. It appears that the practices of yoga developed among people who were renouncers, ascetics. It is said that Alexander during his India campaign (in 326 BC) met “gymnosophists” (naked philosophers) who would assume incredibly difficult postures for hours on end in the burning sun. There’s a strong tradition amongst Indian holy men and women of self-mortification. These austerities are seen as ways of acquiring physical power. Traditionally, asanas (postures) were not practiced in a set sequence and perhaps, have been held for much longer periods of time (hours or days at a stretch); attributable to the influence of asceticism of extreme tapas. 8. The original practitioners of yoga were celibate ascetics living on the fringes of society. Their teachings were passed on orally until the 11th - 15th century, when the teachings were written down for the first time. Yoga does not adhere to any particular religion, belief system or community; it has always been approached as a technology for inner wellbeing. It is the technology of aligning individual geometry with the cosmic, to achieve the highest level of perception and harmony. The Upanishads say that the body of a living organism has its gross aspects (comprises of various individual parts or organs) and subtle aspects (made up of Prana - breath, Manas - mind, Buddhi - intelligence and Ananda - bliss). While the gross is perceptible through the senses and can be identified by its shape, the subtle is hidden inside the gross and can be perceived only when we perfect our bodies and purify them. 9. Talking of purifying the body (internal organs), the Gheranda Samhita (one of the three classic texts on yoga, the other two being the Hatha Yoga Pradapika and the Shiva Samhita. The text is structured as a teaching manual based on a dialogue between Sage Gheranda and his disciple Chanda and was written in Sanskrit towards the late 17th century in the northeast region of India) is unique in that it devotes the whole of its first chapter to purificatory practices. The purification process is aimed at flushing out toxins that accumulate in the body through intake of external matter through different sensory organs (eyes - see, ears - hear, nose - smell, tongue - taste, and skin - touch). 10. The Gheranda Samhita outlines six purification methods (shatkarma) - cleansing of Dhauti - the digestive tract; Basti – colon; Neti - nasal passages; Tratak – eyes; Nauli - abdominal column; and Kapalbhati - respiratory system - to flush out the impurities of the internal organs. Through these purification methods, the attempt is to make sure the proper flow of Prana (defined as ‘life force’ but could also mean physical breath and even the energy of consciousness) circulates throughout the body. However, Prana can flow only if the Nadis (pathways or network of channels which allow energy to travel through the body) are clear and free from blockages. The Hatha Yoga Pradapika (Light on Hatha Yoga, a classic Sanskrit manual on yoga written by Svatmarama in the 15th century) in Chapter 2, verse 5 states: शुद्धमेति यदा सर्वं नाडी-छक्रं मलाकुलम | तदैव जायते योगी पराण-संग्रहणे कष्हमः || ५ || śuddhameti yadā sarvaṃ nāḍī-chakraṃ malākulam |
 tadaiva jāyate yoghī prāṇa-saṃghrahaṇe kṣhamaḥ || 5 || “When the whole system of Nadis (channels), which is full of impurities, is cleansed, the Yogi will be able to control the Praṇa (life force).” 11. Where Prana cannot flow freely, the mental and physical health of the person can be affected. Shatkarma (purification) ensures that there are no physical or mental obstructions (Vrittis – fluctuations because of right or wrong perception, imagination, sleep and memory) present in the Nadis and allows the Prana to flow freely, thereby, preparing the body for yoga practices. Sage Patanjali (flourished in India in mid-2nd century BC and has authored a number of treatises on yoga, grammar and medicine) in Chapter 2 of the Yoga Sutras states the goal of yoga as: योगश्चित्तवृत्तिनिरोधः॥२॥  yogascitta vritti nirodhah “Yoga is the removal of the fluctuations of the mind”  12. Once the Shatkarma’s are done, asana’s (literally “seat” in Sanskrit, but more commonly known as poses or postures) commence. The Hatha Yoga Pradipika in its 1st Chapter, verse 19 states: अथ आसनम हठस्य परथमाङ्गत्वादासनं पूर्वमुछ्यते | कुर्यात्तदासनं सथैर्यमारोग्यं छाङ्ग-लाघवम || १९ || atha āsanam haṭhasya prathamāngghatvādāsanaṃ pūrvamuchyate | kuryāttadāsanaṃ sthairyamāroghyaṃ chānggha-lāghavam || 19 || “Being the first accessory of Hatha Yoga, asana is described first. It should be practiced for gaining steady posture, health, and lightness of body.” 26


The Richness & Fullness of Yoga 13. The Gheranda Samhita prescribes a seven-fold path to perfection (slightly different from the 8-fold path of Yoga Sutras). Apart from Shatkarmas, the treatise prescribes strengthening exercises performed through regular practice of 32 asanas (different yoga texts prescribe different number of asanas - the Hatha Yoga Pradipika talks of 15, Yoga Bhasya 11, while the Hatha Ratnavali and Goraksha Samhita enumerate about 84 - the general consensus in most texts is that the preeminent four are: siddhasana, padmasana, simhasana and bhadrasana). This is followed by practice of 25 mudras which results in steadying. It then calls for pratyahara (withdrawal) which restrains the mind. Then comes pranayam which brings about lightness of body, followed by dhyana (meditation) through which self-realization can be achieved, and, finally, through the separation of the mind from the body and its union with the supreme soul, attainment of mukti (liberation) or Samadhi is possible. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras differs from the Gheranda Samhita in the flow of the limbs as detailed below: 7-limbs prescribed by Gheranda Samhita i. Shatkarma: six types of purification methods ii. Asana: postures iii. Mudra: hand and finger positions iv. Pratyahara: withdrawal of senses v. Pranayama: breathing exercise vi. Dhyana: meditation vii. Samadhi: the goal of yoga, higher level of concentration 8-limbs of Patanajli Yoga Sutra i. Yama: Restraints ii. Niyama: Observances iii. Asana: Posture iv. Pranayama: Breath Control v. Pratyahara: Withdrawal of the Senses vi. Dharana: Concentration vii. Dhyana: Meditation viii. Samadhi: Pure Contemplation 14. The Gheranda Samhita, in Chapter 1, verse 8, likens the human body to an unbaked earthen clay pot that is incapable of holding the contents and dissolves when faced with the challenge of water. It states that it is only through intense heat generated by the asana practice that the human body gets baked, making it fit to hold the Divine Spirit. 15. Asanas are practices whose purpose is to make the body healthy and to make it stable. Asana’s help increase flexibility and strength, whilst stimulating physiological systems of the body, such as the circulatory, immune, digestive and nervous systems. For any posture to qualify as an asana, it must be stable and held with ease, it must be done with awareness/mindfulness, and, it should have the potential to bring about changes in the attitude of the practitioner. Regular asana practice will develop mindfulness, discipline and concentration, in turn, preparing the mind for pranayama and meditation. 16. When doing yoga, it is important to remember that the body must not be forced past its comfortable limits. The moment you make an effort you are forcing the muscles, the muscles become taut, distorted. The postures precisely address the tension, holding, and blockage of energy in any particular joint or organ. As this tension is released, energy flows more readily throughout the body and allows patients to experience a sense of increased wellbeing and strength as well as a balance of mind, body and spirit. The Patanjali Yoga Sutra in Chapter 2, verse 46 states: स्थिरसुखमासनम् ॥४६॥ sthira-sukham-āsanam ॥46॥ “Practicing yoga with strength and in a relaxed manner gives rise to harmony with the physical body (asana).” 17. Improved flexibility is one of the first and most obvious benefits of yoga. With continued practice comes a gradual loosening of the muscles and connective tissues surrounding the bones and joints; this is thought to be one reason that yoga is associated with reduced aches and pains. Yoga helps to build muscle mass and/ or maintain muscle strength, which protects from conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis and back pain. During a yoga session, the joints are taken through their full range of motion, squeezing and soaking areas of cartilage not often used and bringing fresh nutrients, oxygen and blood to the area, which helps to prevent conditions like arthritis and chronic pain. 18. Yoga increases blood flow and levels of hemoglobin and red blood cells, which allows for more oxygen to reach the body cells, enhancing their function. Twisting poses wring out venous blood from internal organs and allow oxygenated blood to flow in when the twist is released. Inverted poses encourage venous blood flow from the legs and pelvis back to the heart and then pumped through the lungs where it becomes freshly oxygenated. Many studies show yoga lowers the resting heart rate, increases endurance, and can improve the maximum uptake and utilization of oxygen during exercise. 19. One of the main goals of yoga is to achieve tranquility of the mind and create a sense of well-being, feelings of relaxation, improved self-confidence, improved efficiency, increased attentiveness, lowered irritability, and an optimistic outlook on life. The practice of yoga generates balanced energy, which is vital to the function of the immune system. 20. Mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, stress, and insomnia are among the most common reasons for individuals to seek treatment with complementary therapies such as yoga. Yoga encourages one to relax, slow the breath and focus on the present, shifting the balance from the sympathetic nervous system and the flight-or-fight response to the parasympathetic system and the relaxation response. The latter is calming and restorative; it lowers breathing and heart rate, decreases blood pressure, lowers cortisol levels, and increases blood flow to the intestines and vital organs. 27


21. Stress has a negative impact on the immune system and prolonged exposure increases susceptibility to disease and leads to physical and mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. A number of studies have proven that practicing yoga and meditation as a means to manage and relieve both acute and chronic stress helps individuals overcome other co-morbidities associated with diseases and leads to enhanced quality of life. As a nonpharmacological form of treatment, yoga based interventions are an alternative option for the treatment of mood disorders. Restorative postures such as savasana, pranayama, and meditation encourage pratyahara, a turning inward of the senses, which enables downtime for the nervous system, the byproduct often being improved sleep. 22. According to Late Shri B.K.S. Iyengar, asana practice makes the body fit for pranayama, and pranayama practice makes the mind fit for meditation. The Hatha Yoga Pradapika in Chapter 2, verse 1 states: अथासने दॄधे योगी वशी हित-मिताशनः |
 गुरूपदिष्ह्ट-मार्गेण पराणायामान्समभ्यसेत || १ || athāsane dṝdhe yoghī vaśī hita-mitāśanaḥ |
ghurūpadiṣhṭa-mārgheṇa prāṇāyāmānsamabhyaset || 1 || “Posture having become established, a Yogi, master of himself, eating salutary and moderate food, should practice Pranayama, as instructed by his guru”. 23. Patanjali wrote in the Yoga Sutra that moving from asana to pranayama is a major step. तस्मिन्सति श्वासप्रश्वासयोर्गतिविच्छेदः प्राणायामः॥४९॥ tasmin sati shvasaprashvasayorgativichchhedah pranayamah Once the asana or posture has been perfected, Pranayam, the suspension and control of the flow of inhalation and exhalation should be developed. 24. Pranayama, the yogic practice of regulating and channeling one’s breath, can provide a bridge between the individual self and the universal soul. According to the Hatha Yoga Pradapika (Chapter 2, verse 71), the three stages of breath in pranayama [inhalation (puraka), retention (kumbhaka), and exhalation (rechaka)] can connect us to the universal soul. Iyengar tells us to think of the contact of the breath against the inner lung as the connection between universal soul and individual self. When we consciously restrain the flow of breath, we organize the mind’s thoughts and the body’s experience. The Hatha Yoga Pradapika in Chapter 2, verse 1 states: छले वाते छलं छित्तं निश्छले निश्छलं भवेत||
 योगी सथाणुत्वमाप्नोति ततो वायुं निरोधयेत || २ || chale vāte chalaṃ chittaṃ niśchale niśchalaṃ bhavet||
 yoghī sthāṇutvamāpnoti tato vāyuṃ nirodhayet || 2 || “Respiration being disturbed, the mind becomes disturbed. By restraining respiration, the Yogi gets steadiness of mind”. 25. Pranayama is a big step and requires the practitioner to build enough strength and stability in the body and nervous system through asana practice. This is required to withstand the increase in energy flow that pranayama generates. Pranayama is an advanced practice and requires guidance. The Hatha Yoga Pradapika in Chapter 2, verse 16 states: पराणायामेन युक्तेन सर्व-रोग-कष्हयो भवेत |
अयुक्ताभ्यास-योगेन सर्व-रोग-समुद्गमः || १६ || prāṇāyāmena yuktena sarva-rogha-kṣhayo bhavet |
ayuktābhyāsa-yoghena sarva-rogha-samudghamaḥ || 16 || “When Pranayama is performed properly, it will eradicate all ailments; but an improper practice will give rise to all kinds of diseases”. 26. Elaborating upon the concept of Pranayama, the Svetasvatara Upanishad (a Sanskrit text that contains 6 Chapters and 113 verses primarily discusses metaphysical questions and concludes that the universal soul exists in one and all, and, everything in the world is a projection of it) in Chapter 2, verse 9 states: प्राणान् प्रपीड्येह संयुक्तचेष्टः षीणे प्राणे नासिकयोच्छ्वसीत । दुष्टाश्वयुक्तमिव वाहमेनं विद्वान् मनो धारयेताप्रमत्तः ॥ ९॥ prāṇān prapīḍyeha sa yuktaceṣṭaḥ  kṣīne prāṇe nāsikayocchvasīta / duṣṭāśvayuktam iva vāham enaṃ vidvān mano dhārayetāpramattaḥ // 2.9 // “Controlling the senses with an effort, and regulating the activities in the body, one should breathe out through the nostrils when the vital activities become gentle. Then the knowing one, without being in the least distracted, should keep his hold on the mind as on the reins attached to restive horses”. 27. The length of the breath retention varies. According to Late Shri B.K.S. Iyengar, it should last just until the prana begins to move away from the lung. We must keep the mind connected to the experience of the body to know when it’s time to exhale. Iyengar believes that in normal breathing, the brain initiates the action of inhalation and draws energy to itself. This keeps the brain in a state of tension. When the brain is tense, the breath is constricted. But in pranayama, the brain remains passive, and the lungs, bones, and muscles of the torso initiate the inhalation. Rather than suck in air, the lungs, diaphragm, ribs, and abdomen receive the breath. When performed correctly and without strain, pranayama cools and rests the brain and floods the body with vital energy. It relieves stress and, therefore, prepares us for true meditation. The Hatha Yoga Pradapika in Chapter 2, verse 18 states: युक्तं युक्तं तयजेद्वायुं युक्तं युक्तं छ पूरयेत |
 युक्तं युक्तं छ बध्नीयादेवं सिद्धिमवाप्नुयात || १८ || yuktaṃ yuktaṃ tyajedvāyuṃ yuktaṃ yuktaṃ cha pūrayet |
 yuktaṃ yuktaṃ cha badhnīyādevaṃ siddhimavāpnuyāt || 18 || “The air should be expelled with proper tact and should be filled in skillfully; and when it has been kept confined properly it brings success”. 28


The Richness & Fullness of Yoga 28. Patanjali in Chapter 2 verse 54 of the Yoga Sutras talks about Pratyahara, or the withdrawal of the senses of cognition and action from both the external world and the images or impressions in the mind. The senses are said to follow the mind in the same way the hive of bees follows the queen bee. Similarly, if the mind truly goes inward, the senses will come racing behind. Through the routine practice of pratyahara at daily meditation time, we gradually gain positive control over the mind being obsessively drawn towards all of those objects. Sense withdrawal or pratyahara, rests on the solid foundation of a steady, comfortable meditation posture (asanas) and smooth, deep, quiet breath that has no pauses (pranayama). Without these two steps, sense withdrawal becomes a battle. 29. Meditation posture (asana), regulation of breath (pranayama), and withdrawal of the senses (pratyahara) collectively set the stage for the higher practices of dharana (concentration - the process of holding or fixing the attention of mind onto one object or place), dhyana (meditation – the uninterrupted stream of focus on the object) and samadhi (With meditation, there is still an observer observing the observed. However, when the observer becomes so absorbed in the process of observing the object that there seems to be only the object, that is the beginning of Samadhi), which together is called samyama. Talking of samyama, Patanjali in Chapter 3, verse 4 of the Yoga Sutras says: त्रयमेकत्र संयमः॥४॥ Trayamekatra saṁyamaḥ||4|| “Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi when tried on a single object is Samyama.” 30. In these days, when isolation and social distancing has become the norm, yoga perhaps offers solace in that it’s a practice that is essentially a solitary pursuit, bereft of equipment or requires large spaces. The Hatha Yoga Pradapika in Chapter 1, verse 12 states: सुराज्ये धार्मिके देशे सुभिक्ष्हे निरुपद्रवे |
 धनुः परमाण-पर्यन्तं शिलाग्नि-जल-वर्जिते |
 एकान्ते मठिका-मध्ये सथातव्यं हठ-योगिना || १२ || surājye dhārmike deśe subhikṣhe nirupadrave |
 dhanuḥ pramāṇa-paryantaṃ śilāghni-jala-varjite |
 ekānte maṭhikā-madhye sthātavyaṃ haṭha-yoghinā || 12 || “The Yogi should practice Hatha Yoga in a small room, situated in a solitary place, being 4 cubits square, and free from stones, fire, water, disturbances of all kinds, and in a country where justice is properly administered, where good people live, and food can be obtained easily and plentifully”. 31. Talking of practice, Late Shri Pattabhi Jois (the founder of the Ashtanga Mysore School of Yoga) always told his students, “Practice, practice, and all is coming”. By this statement, he meant that for a greater experience of Yoga to come about, practice is essential, and, without practice, it is almost impossible to penetrate into a greater understanding of Yoga. The Hatha Yoga Pradapika in Chapter 1, verse 67 states: युवो वॄद्धो|अतिवॄद्धो वा वयाधितो दुर्बलो|अपि वा |
 अभ्यासात्सिद्धिमाप्नोति सर्व-योगेष्ह्वतन्द्रितः || ६७ || yuvo vṝddho|ativṝddho vā vyādhito durbalo|api vā |
 abhyāsātsiddhimāpnoti sarva-yogheṣhvatandritaḥ || 67 || “Success comes to him, who is engaged in the practice. How can one get success without practice; for by merely reading books on Yoga, one can never get success!” 32. In the Patanjali Yoga Sutra (Chapter 3, verse 47) we find an excellent description of the attributes of bodily perfection that arise out of the practice of yoga. The verse states: रूपलावण्यबलवज्रसंहननत्वानि कायसंपत् ॥४६॥ rūpa-lāvaṇya-bala-vajra-saṁhananatvāni kāyasaṁpat ॥46॥ “The perfection of body includes beauty, gracefulness, strength, and adamantine”. 33. Various Hatha Yoga practices help in reconditioning of the physical body. This is well brought out in the Hathayoga Pradipika (Chapter 2, verse 78) when Yogi Svatmarama says: वपुः कॄशत्वं वदने परसन्नता
नाद-सफुटत्वं नयने सुनिर्मले |
 अरोगता बिन्दु-जयोअग्नि-दीपनं
नाडी-विशुद्धिर्हठ-सिद्धि-लक्ष्हणम || ७८ || vapuḥ kṝśatvaṃ vadane prasannatā
nāda-sphuṭatvaṃ nayane sunirmale |
 aroghatā bindu-jayoaghni-dīpanaṃ
nāḍī-viśuddhirhaṭha-siddhi-lakṣhaṇam || 78 || “Slimness of body, lustre on face, clarity of voice, brightness of eyes, freedom from disease, control over seminal ejaculation, stimulation of gastric heat and purification of subtle energy channels are marks of success in Hathayoga”. 34. To summarize, in yoga, through shatkarmas and asanas, the body is purified, strengthened, disciplined, sensitized, lightened, and energized. Universal pranic energy that flows through the body-mind-emotions-spirit continuum is intensified and controlled through pranayama using breath control as a method to attain controlled expansion of the vital cosmic energy. The externally oriented senses are explored, refined, sharpened and made acute until the practitioners can detach themselves from sensory impressions at will through pratyahara. The restless mind is then purified, cleansed, focused and strengthened through concentration (dharana). If these six steps are thoroughly understood and practiced, then, the seventh, dhyana or meditation is possible. Intense meditation produces samadhi, or the final stage of union, oneness with the universe. 35. The primer is an attempt to kindle the lamp on inquiry and interest in someone who is new to yoga. To understand yoga, there is no better way than plunge into the practice. Yoga is a lone journey, it starts with you and ends with you, but, if the practice persists, then, overtime, you would have touched everyone around you with humility, oneness and equanimity. Lokah samastha sukhino bhavanthu “May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.”7

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The Richness & Fullness of Yoga

The Lessons We Learn from “Fierce Grace” A Flood Engulfs my Home—and What Happens to Me?

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by Karuna All was going so well I was even pinching myself as I was driving up the road to my beautiful mountain home in the high country above Boulder, Colorado. My son had been visiting me from London with his newlywed and they were moving to San Francisco. They had even decided to stay an extra few days and so their stuff was piled in the hallway ready for their eventual trip west. So, we would have extra time to enjoy each other, sit by the fire, and drink in the view of the mountain peaks that form the horizon along my back deck. These two weeks together were such a precious time. I had even told a friend that after their visit it was going to feel strange going back to an empty house. In due course I was seeing them off to California and, alone again, weaving myself back up my mountain road, first from pavement and then to gravel. In stark contrast to the sunny days while my son and new daughter in law had been with me it was now starting to rain. It seemed almost fitting as an end to what had been such a wonderful time. But as I came around my greenhouse and shed, to pull into the driveway where I would normally be greeted by the bright blue window boxes that frame the windows of my house, something both strange and incomprehensible took my sight. Oddly enough it was Halloween and, as if from a Halloween movie, all of the windows of my house were frosted over from within. It was the strangest thing I had ever seen, and I immediately knew something extremely odd, or even terrible, must have happened. Of course, I immediately ran to the front door, which would usually open into my large, windowed, greeting room. I was on alert—but not prepared for what I would see. Torrents of water were running and spraying down from all the levels of my house as if in a violent, interior, rainstorm. I stood there in shock. Wow, was this actually happening? I had never seen anything like this in my life. Then it hit me that had better move fast and figure out what to do first. That moment was like a sudden slideshow flashing through both my mind and mind’s eye—gifted (I realize now!) by everything I had learned from my years of devoted yoga practice—stability, alertness and calm. So, instead of paying attention to my immediate human emotions, which were telling me to yell, shout, cry out, or just run around, I was able to become very calm and simply ask myself “OK, how do I react usefully?” The phone was working so I called a neighbor who I thought might know what was behind all this. They told me to immediately shut off my well since, likely, something might have gone horribly wrong with the water system. I did that and then immediately called my insurance company. I figured they would have a “bead” on what was going on and could advise me what to do next, since—first off—it was going to take at least a half hour for anyone to reach my home. Secondly, they would know, from my policies, what was relevant here. Wonderfully, they were immediately friendly and cooperative and dispatched someone, right away, toward my home. It was then that it hit me that I could take a deep breath and absorb what had just been happening. I stood still awhile and looked around at everything with a bit of wonderment. And, of course, the inevitable question then came across my mind: “Why did this happen?” I suppose this is the question that nearly everyone would ask—in this kind of sudden, seemingly inexplicable, disaster. So, it was my turn—and these were the thoughts that bubbled around in me for the near hour it took for the insurance personnel to arrive. Immediately, relief came with the first “prompt” they gave me after looking around. I had done nothing wrong; it was not my fault; and, my insurance would cover all of what appeared to be quite a major disaster. But, as you know, this is not the end of how we mortals question “Why?” did something happen. And, here, some deep spiritual searching, and questions and answers, are relevant to us all. So, let’s explore it. Like you, I could not quit asking myself about why this had happened— especially on the heels of such a wonderful set of days with my family, in my lovely home—a house which, in nearly thirty years had not endured any major disruption or damage at all (except once an incursion of bees). Had I done something wrong? Was this because I hadn’t done “this” or “that”? What this “pay back” for God knows what?” I must say that, especially in the context of yoga practice, and our sometimes less then mature or well-educated understandings of “Karma” (cause and effect)—these are the array of questions that would occur to any of us: “What’s going on here?” 32


The Richness & Fullness of Yoga I must also say that I’m not one to immediately “go with” some abstract notion of cause and effect, especially ones that infer “blame,” especially blame on the victim! These are plenty of easily induced notions of abstract powers and energies, rewards and punishments: “Was the Feng Shui off?” “Had my house been crying out for help and I had not listened?” “Was there some distant and unrelated thing that I had done and this was my punishment?” The deep problem with such notions is that they often end up blaming the victim—which in this case was me. Further it’s just as likely in life that things can happen rather at random—with no actual “real reason” at all. I think if we are healthy people, our worldview on these matters lands somewhere in between. Of course there are spiritual reasons that things happen. But there are also things that “just happen.” Wisdom appears somewhere in between. I remember when His Holiness the Dalai Lama commented on someone’s suggesting that the Indonesian Tsunami happened because of the collective karma of the people in the region. He said that, abstractly, that might be true but that the matters involved were by nature so complicated one would be “a fool” (he said) to outrightly suggest such a cause—especially to the media. The Lesson Well, without my knowing it, there was a big surprise in store for me in learning from this “disaster” that had just unfolded in my life. And, that is why I’m writing about it in this article. How to even say it? From the fierce, yet amazingly bountiful, Grace of this experience, I not only got my “doctor’s degree” in rejecting the tendency to play the “analysis game,” the “why game,” or the “blame game,” I was also to be shown something I really think I had not seen before. And that kind of thing is a surprise for any of us! You know, I have been so lucky to live the last decades of my life tied up within our world’s “spiritual community.” Here I get to work with such wonderful people in the context of such beautiful worldviews, and lifestyles—about love, mutuality, reciprocity, kindness, compassion and on and on. And to be honest I think, over the years, I got used to thinking that it was these contexts that made these people and the way they lived so special. After all, I was also a teacher. So—actually—I was spending my life “teaching others” about these ways of life—about love, mutuality, reciprocity, kindness, compassion and so on. I had “my own loop” in which all these wonderful things happened regularly for me. So, you can imagine my being, really, both side-swiped and flabbergasted when—thrown out of my element, thrown out of my home, throw out of my teaching center, and just “thrown out on the world,” suddenly here, among all these “strangers” were all these wonderful people running to help me (out of real authenticity and real concern, and offering help and assistance from the biggest to the smallest) and yet not claiming, or even referencing, any kind of “spiritual” reason for their goodness or good deeds, or some “spiritual practice” they had immersed in to make them so giving and so caring. Let me just say it again. Here was this amazing rush of people, full of love, care, compassion, and a desire to help, irrespective of background or belief, or even any stated identification with “people of Spirit, or Faith, or Spiritual Practice,” or anything even close to it! What We Don’t Hear Enough About We all hear these stories about “when people come together”—in a crisis or after a sudden disaster—but I honestly think we perhaps don’t hear enough of it. I don’t think we’ve plumbed to the required depth what the real lesson is here. There is something we learn about in these times which is the thing we really should be reaching for all the time—because its there, in our nature. We need to reach for how that nature in us can be acting all the time, not just when a crisis brings us together. This is not something new. You’ve heard this before. It’s nearly a cliché. But think about it, this was exactly what was happening to me in “my disaster.” It was reminding me of something that had, like for all of us, become a bit masked or even perhaps forgotten. Is that why we need these reminders?

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In this disaster in my life, from which people could have just walked away or done what was the “token” required by their job or profession, instead I gifted a steady flow of caring and help from countless people, who came into this predicament from every angle: from the details of insurance, arrangements for temporary and then long term accommodation, the meeting of immediate personal disaster needs (as all of my belongings were either destroyed or removed and sequestered), and then the plans and planning for restoring and rebuilding, if possible at all.


I had come to expect this kind of behavior (and teach it too) from people of “spiritual practice, ethics and ideals” but I was overwhelmed by these unbelievable people—on this planet earth—who have never even heard of yoga, or this or that spirituality or religion; people who know nothing about me or my past, or even voiced an opinion about me. As all this was occurring before me it seems like just one natural spiritual practice or “a practice with Spirit” as I soon came to tag it. The Future Of course, I’m still not sure if and when I’ll be returning to my house—my home of several decades. In this time, when I was first living in a hotel, and then a “temporary” house, I knew I was processing through something “big” for me. I was operating completely outside my old element, going to courses, and classes and associations I had never even heard of before simply “because they were what’s around” and knowing, all the time, that I was in this learning process about this lesson: “you’re healthy,” “you can do this,” “you can trust this.” “This is not something you would have designed for yourself, but it was apparently designed for you.” It is still not clear how many of the precious personal things I had accumulated in my home for decades are recoverable or restorable from all that was taken out and sequestered. I am amazed, however, as I have mentioned above, that even the technicians discussing with me what can be saved, and how, seem to be as devoted as I am to some kind of “happy ending” if at all possible. And, of course, you can say “well you are paying them” but I can assure you it is deeper than that. And, I’m legitimately proud of myself when I can sleep well at night in these “strange” and “unfamiliar places.” It has occurred to me that for all the “rebirthing classes” that I offered out of the yoga studio that was part of my home for 27 years, I seem now to have been offered the biggest “rebirthing” of my own! That in itself was an experience—standing in the yoga studio I have put together, floored, and furnished over years of dedication—and here it was all in front of me, in a heap! In this journey since, I—the person who was always helping others—has gotten to learn what it means to accept help from others. It’s the amazement I have experienced in how freely that help has been offered and given that really emblazons the lesson here. I can honestly now stand in my temporary house and say to myself “if there are any such things, this was a meant to be.” There is part of the yoga Sutras that talks about “steeling”—the taking advantage of abundance and then the hidden grace of our big falls down and “back to zero.” It appears that Source knows the ones who can be taken back to zero, and when. Certainly when one sees a home of nearly three decades reduced to a shell full of dust, one knows one has been offered a zero point. And, that it is time to rebuild—everything. A devoted mother, daughter, sister, friend and teacher, Karuna brings her own unique brand of compassion, enthusiasm and pure joy to Yoga practice. Based in Boulder, CO, she teaches group yoga classes and private lessons, leads weekend intensives on varying themes including relationships, women’s issues and mastering challenges, and leads retreats internationally. In addition, she offers guided health cleanses, and organizes special events featuring world-renowned Kundalini Yoga teachers, artists and musicians. She has been ordained as a “Wisdom Keeper” in both Kundalini Yoga and Lakota Native American healing modalities. True to her spiritual name, which means “compassion,” Karuna likens herself to a coach, helping her students push beyond self-imposed limits. Her classes are filled with humor, music and the spirit of transformation. Between international events, Karuna hosts Yoga-inspired retreats at Hacienda de Guru Ram Das.

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The Richness & Fullness of Yoga

ESTABLISHED IN YOGA, PERFORM ACTION By Philip Goldberg

I discovered the Bhagavad Gita in the 1960s as a college student beginning to explore Eastern philosophy. So many people I admired—Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Aldous Huxley, Joseph Campbell, J.D. Salinger—extolled the Gita that I had to find a copy. None of the bookstores I usually frequented had one—and this was in New York City! I eventually found a 95 cent paperback at Weiser Antiquarian Books, “the oldest occult bookstore in the United States.” I read it start to finish that evening, and went to bed knowing that my life would never be the same. I still have that first Gita. With its tattered cover, torn and yellowed pages, underlined passages, and scribbled notes, it sits on a shelf with fourteen other translations. I consult them frequently. I know of no other text that packs so much practical wisdom into so few words, and for people of such varied orientations. For many, the Gita is a holy text, on a par with the Bible or the Koran. For others, it’s a philosophical treatise, or a self-help manual, or a non-sectarian spiritual guidebook, or a concise exposition of yogic principles. To me, it’s a combination of all of those. One sentence in the Gita took hold of me early on and has remained a lodestar ever since: “Established in Yoga, perform action” (from Chapter 2, verse 48). I can neither read nor write Sanskrit, but from the time I first heard the phrase in that language I’ve never forgotten Yogastah kuru karmani. As a taut synopsis of Yoga philosophy—and, more important, as a guide to living a good life—nothing I know of rivals those few words. Nor can I think of a better, more practical formula for coping, managing, and even thriving in a world thrown off its axis by a microscopic marauder. “Established in Yoga” does not mean you’ve mastered a set of asana postures to YouTube-worthy perfection. The phrase points to the state of being that defines Yoga, as per the sage Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras: Yogash chitta vritti nirodhah. Of the numerous translations, the one I favor is, “Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of mind-stuff.” In other words, silent mind. Awareness without thought. Consciousness alone in its pure, primordial state. As Patanjali explains in the next sentence, “Then the seer is revealed, abiding in its own essential nature, and one realizes the true Self.” That may sound abstract, but in experience nothing could be simpler. Stilling the incessant chatter in our heads is as natural as a pot of boiling water settling into a calm equilibrium when you turn off the flame. It’s the taming of the infamous Monkey Mind. The important thing is to notice that both the Gita and Patanjali define Yoga as a state of being, not as stretches and bends. And, since Yoga’s essential meaning is unity, or union, that state is characterized by the union of the individual self and the universal Self, which is not only our essence but the Essence. At the same time, in ordinary use yoga is something we do. The vast inventory of mental, physical, and spiritual practices in the yogic repertoire are technologies for cultivating the unitive state of Oneness. In other words, we do yoga to realize Yoga. The seers tell us that yoga leads to the liberation known as moksha, Self-realization, enlightenment, and other terms. But on the way, it produces more ordinary and relatable benefits. The practices—physical postures (asana), breathing exercises (pranayama), and especially meditation (dhyana)— refine the mental and physical apparatus in scientifically measurable ways. In spiritual terms, they remove the veils of ignorance that produce the illusion of separation, revealing the Oneness that always was and always will be. In everyday terms, they yield predictable results such as greater calmness, clarity of mind, compassion, and energy. Which leads to the second part of “Yogastah kuru karmani.” Whether the Gita is an account of actual history or a literary invention is up to others to debate. Either way, it is fortunate that Arjuna, the troubled, ambivalent protagonist who requests Lord Krishna’s guidance, is not a monk, and he is not advised to sequester in a cave or an ashram. Rather, he’s a renowned warrior on a battlefield, and he is told to fight. World-denying this is not. Renunciation, asceticism, and escapism are not on the agenda. If that message isn’t clear enough, another Gita verse says, “Yoga is skill in action.”

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It’s a spiritual two-step. First withdraw, turn inward, and settle into the still, clear, unified state of Yoga to whatever degree you can; then spring out into the world, recharged, re-energized, and recalibrated, and do what you have to do. Having done step one, you’ll be better equipped for step two— more aware, more stable, more intuitive, more heartfelt, more generous, more even-keeled, more dynamic, more creative. “Established in Yoga” is an endorsement of sadhana (spiritual practice) as a savvy investment of time rather than a luxury or a religious imperative. It’s preparation for energized engagement, like warming up in the bullpen before taking the mound, or doing vocal exercises before singing, or withdrawing cash before going to the farmer’s market. Practice, practice, practice is not just the punchline to an old joke setup—“How do you get to Carnegie Hall?—it’s what makes Yoga an empirical science not a belief system. If your sadhana does not yield sufficient payoff in “real life,” it can be re-evaluated and adjusted, like a new technology or an investment portfolio. “Established in Yoga” has served me, as a reminder, a touchstone, and a kind of linguistic amulet for many decades. It plants me on my mat or cushion at times when a deluded voice in me whispers, “You’re too busy for that.” And now it serves me in ways I could never have anticipated. I’m writing this in April, 2020, with the world locked down and quarantined by the novel coronavirus, and it happens that a book of mine with a fortuitous title, Spiritual Practice for Crazy Times, has been rushed out as an e-book in hopes it can help the troubled populace. When I wrote the book last year, times were crazy enough. We aimed for August publication, thinking things would get even crazier as the presidential election drew near. Then came unprecedented levels of fear, anxiety, suffering, grief, uncertainty, disorientation, and despair. “Established in Yoga, perform action” was a guiding principle when I wrote the book, but now it resonates more poignantly in passages like this: By far the most stable, dependable, secure, and impenetrable sanctuary is not a place we have to locate, like the nearest chapel; not something we have to search for, like a calm harbor to anchor in; not something we have to construct, like a storm cellar in the basement. Nor is it something to be obtained, like a medicine or a massage. It doesn’t have to be achieved, acquired, or earned. It is your birthright. You already have it. It is within you, deep inside, at the core of your being. The sanctuary of perfect peace is your inherent nature. It is your true Self, abiding above, beneath, beyond, and within the personality you normally think of as “me” and “I”—the one that walks, talks, and acts through the singular form called your body. It is the Self of all selves, and it is closer than your breath, nearer than your heartbeat. The sages of every spiritual tradition have described that inner sanctum, pointed to the entrance, given us the keys, and implored us— sometimes gently, sometimes fervently—to enter and abide. Here you will find a balm for your beleaguered mind, body, and soul, they have promised. Open up to it, absorb it, and then return to outer life suffused anew with energy, power, and perspective. Now you can do what needs to be done with greater proficiency and wisdom. Now more than ever we need to establish ourselves in Yoga and then act for the greater good. Which is why Krishna tells Arjuna, in Chapter 6, verse 23 of the Gita, “This yoga should be practiced with determination and a stout heart.”

Philip Goldberg is the author of numerous books, including American Veda, The Life of Yogananda, and his latest Spiritual Practice for Crazy Times. A public speaker and workshop leader, he leads American Veda Tours and cohosts the Spirit Matters podcast. His website is http://philipgoldberg.com/.

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The Richness & Fullness of Yoga

Yoga & Clay: When Earth Meets the Spirit By Denis Licul

“Are you going to be an earthy person, practical and down to earth, or you are going to be a dreamer, a visionary? We are going to be both. And we can’t be and shouldn’t be talked out of it. I am both and don’t tell me I have to choose. I don’t have to choose. I am both and I live on the crossing point.” These profound thoughts from renowned ceramicist, poet, and teacher M.C. Richards, deeply resonate with me. After graduating with a degree in printmaking and art education in the mid-eighties, I was attracted to work with clay seemingly out of the blue. In retrospect, I recognize that I needed to ground myself, and this is why I was pulled toward the element of earth. I thought at that time: let me start with something functional instead of struggling to express my lofty ideas. The truth was, I needed to connect with the physical aspect of being alive, and my intuition was guiding me there. Clay, as the earth element, has the capacity to ground and balance the wandering spirit. Working with clay is an innate, primordial experience, like cooking from scratch. Ceramics also entails creating a form from raw ingredients. All you need is a lump of clay in your hands, and you can end up with almost anything imaginable. Working with clay focuses our attention on the present and engages all of the senses. It is fascinating to observe the form evolving. Our first sensory impressions and memories of this world were tactile, touching the mother’s body and breastfeeding. Similarly, the clay that we mold with our hands smells of the soil that grows our food. How we mold the clay, and each mark we make, reflects in the form. Most of the marks are instantly visible, but some emerge later in the process. Clay has memory on a cellular level. Furthermore, working with clay is a fascinating interaction of the five elements in the creative process: earth, ear, water, fire, and space. Depending on the amount of the water, the clay can be mushy, moldable, hard, or brittle. Each stage offers possibilities and limitations. Air dries the clay and fire vitrifies particles. The firing process, the level of oxygen in the atmosphere, and the cooling process after firing, all reflect on the outcome and leave marks on the form. Each element plays a vital role in the process and demands thoughtful observation and timely steps for the optimum outcome. Working with clay teaches us to respect the flow of nature and interaction of the elements. Tuning into the flow of the process is a deeply fulfilling experience. In this process, we observe many similarities with how our lives are shaped. Similarly, practicing Yoga teaches us to respect the flow of nature and interaction of the elements in our own being. Yoga practice creates harmony in the body, mind, and soul. I started practicing yoga in my mid 30’s and still remember how I felt after my first yoga class: my body, mind, and spirit were light, peaceful, and joyful. Everything around me resonated with that feeling. I have been practicing yoga ever since. With yoga practice, we harmonize five layers of our being: the physical body-annamayakosha, the energy body-pranamayakosha, the mental bodymanomayakosha, intellectual body- vigyanmayakosha, and the body of blissanandamayakosha. Yoga practice connects us with our physical body through conscious movement. It teaches us to feel relaxed in our body, less judgmental, and appreciative. We become aware of our breath, purifying and harmonizing the vital energy (prana) 37


in our body. Once we feel physically relaxed and our energy is balanced, we can tune our attention deeper and become aware of our mind and thought process. We develop self-awareness and become conscious in our daily lives. This means that we are simultaneously aware of our surroundings, and our response to it. Instead of being impulsive in our reactions, we can consciously choose our actions. Yoga is the art of living. It teaches us to live life with awareness, and it reveals the underlying essence of life: consciousness. When making a bowl on the potter’s wheel, we first need to center the lump of clay. The yogi also centers him or herself by balancing the body, mind, and emotions, to connect with the inner Self. This creates life from the source of clarity and creativity. Both clay and yoga have been and still are the tools of transformation in my life. As a teacher, I witness these two practices help people reconnect with their inner source of peace and creativity. They deepen connection with life itself. Over the last nine years, I have had the privilege of teaching a “Clay Expressions” program, offered to people whose lives are affected by cancer. The positive feedback from participants in this program, and the benefits they experience, is extremely encouraging. Any creative expression is healing by itself, and the synergy of clay as a material is profoundly benefiting to the holistic well-being of a person. When we mold the clay with our hand strokes, we transcend our state of mind and emotions in the form. This can happen consciously or unconsciously, and both ways are beneficial for balancing our emotions. Creating something completely new from clay, something functional and beautiful, reveals the creative power of the spirit. This encourages and strengthens the notion that matter can be transformed. Witnessing the transformation of clay, we become more confident that we can transform our lives as well. Creativity gives wings to the spirit, and the spirit becomes empowered to transform matter.

Tree of Life, Group Work by students in Clay Expressions Program installed in Gilda’s Club Westchester 2017

Navarartri Flowers II, Raku

Both clay and yoga teach us that everything is interconnected. We learn that every step of the way counts and is reflected in the outcome. We learn to play, accept, surrender, persist, and persevere. We learn to detach and let go, as well as rejoice. This reflects in our lives as well. As each bowl carries the spirit of its maker, our bodies are vessels of the spirit. Each of us is infused with the spirit of the maker.

Navarartri Flowers I, Raku

The Focus Point, Raku Tiles Denis Licul (Kripadevi) is a ceramic artist and a yoga instructor who lives and works in New York since 1999, where she moved from her home country Croatia. She graduated from Fine Arts University in Rijeka, Croatia. Her work has been shown internationally, on 15 solo and numerous group exhibitions. She has been an artist member and teacher at Clay Art Center since 2000. Denis stared practicing yoga in 1994, and soon after she meet HH Vishwaguru Swami Maheshwarananda, the founder of Yoga in Daily Life, and became his disciple. She is a co-founder and president of YIDL-NY and serves as SSMWPC representative at the United Nations. As an artist-teacher and yoga aspirant, Denis implements the elements of mindfulness and meditation in her artwork and teaching methods. 38


The Richness & Fullness of Yoga

Once :: 1020 Caryn Scotto d’ Luzia This is how we belonged untouched by science

space, an impersonal world orbiting around, on its axis

not yet, aware the earth was round

alone w time on its hands & only nuclear fusion for company

innocent of the fact, we live on a gaseous edge of an ever-expanding universe

another thousand years before the inability to lean

pushing further and further away from us—

atoms, standing chill of separation befriending

how pure our gothic soaring toward stained glass

an ever-rising combustion warming each other into false trust

colored realms, kind of glowing, a human gem state

the insatiable eye of unseen inferno a marble synching a hole

still the ultimate trust in light, the embrace

in the pocket of the universe a planet aflame

of our own divine luminescence without & within

{ no, not yet, not yet }

kisses of coherency alive to profound tragedy, incurable madness, the crusades, plague death a meaning, a purpose like peace, an intactness of being only arms and limbs, pulled apart, light & dark not yet the quantum physicists’ two classes of matter, or one frozen black tundra of infinite

still the intimacy of bodiless embodiment, the greater holding of being abundantly held, the self an open channel rising as notes to enough, to live upon the one & only earth fall down in its mud lie with eyes to the sky a clay angel, our human faces covered over by speckled dirt, to return guilty but blameless, from whence we came.

Caryn Scotto d’ Luzia is one of a handful of definitive developers of life-changing techniques for personal growth. For over two decades, she has helped both the general public and therapists, counselors and coaches all over the world transform their relationships with inner disharmony, inhibition, shame, trauma, sexuality, spirituality, and embodiment. Her embodied techniques are used widely in schools, at disaster sites, and in post-terrorist attacks. Caryn has taught at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY, and at the NY Open Center among other places. For one-on-one work, she offers breakthrough skype sessions, and 3 day in-person intensives on both the West and East coasts. To learn more about her work see: www.empoweredselfrelating.com 39


Choosing Love by Emmanuel Dagher

One of the most important things we can do to align with a higher way of being, is to rediscover what love really is, and, then, choose love in all experiences. For so many generations, most of humanity has been taught that it is wrong for us to love and honor ourselves in the same way we are supposed to love and honor others. This tradition is actually one of the main reasons why humanity had moved away from knowing our Divinity, and who we really are. We were taught to look outside of ourselves for the answer, when all along, it was within every fiber of our being. Those days are winding down quickly now, and, people are understanding more and more that in order to be the most expanded, open, happy, and loving version of ourselves, we must first start by truly loving ourselves. To the mind, this may not come easily, simply because we have not been taught how to love ourselves. So, we can ask ourselves some questions, such as, “How would unconditional love treat me, if it were embodied as a person? And, how can I open up to being that presence for myself and the world?” I would invite you to make a list of all the ways an unconditionally loving person would treat themselves and others. Are they generous, kind, nonjudgmental, fun, playful, respectful? Do they make themselves and others feel seen, heard, appreciated? It’s always wonderful to connect with a Soulmate from our Soul Tribe—someone who can mirror these qualities back to us. Yet in order for that to happen the way we truly desire, it’s important for us to begin showing up as our own Soulmate first. This is the new paradigm we are heading towards. Emanuel Dagher, is a multi-bestselling author, teacher, and founder of the healing technology The Core Work Method©, Emmanuel’s message of healing, personal transformation and love is resonating deeply within the heart and mind of those who are on a path to selfrealization. Having experienced the challenges of growing up in the war-torn country of Lebanon during the Lebanese civil war, he experienced and saw things that no human being should ever have to experience. He has shared the world stage with renowned luminaries such as: Marianne Williamson, Gregg Braden, Neale Donald Walsch, Carolyn Myss, Anita Moorjani, Jean Houston. He is a beloved presenter of the UNSRC Enlightenment Society.

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The Richness & Fullness of Yoga

The Yoga of Mutual Healing the Planet Neljor Sa (Earth Yoga) Dzambling Cho Tab Khen (Alfredo Sfeir-Younis, PH.D.) As an economist and a spiritual seeker, I remind myself all the time of the relationship between my profession and my spirituality. Recently, both are in holistic union (yoga) and there is no duality between them. Because economics did not come to spirituality, I brought spirituality into economics. Arduous, but very rewarding. I have done the same within activities I have been publicly involved: politics, human rights and sustainability. This union continuous to expand, evolve and transform, as everything is yoga and yoga is everything. In fact, the presence of yoga is everywhere. The teaching of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras is a landmark in today’s spiritual heritage. His definition of ‘yoga’– i.e., yogas chitta vrtti nirodhah (Yoga Sutras, 1.2) --has been an inspiration to millions of people. Patanjali creates inner awareness of specific spaces, states and attributes of our mind. The discussions of translations, interpretations, and projections remain alive, and have sprung into many definitions, schools and paths of yoga (hatha, raja, karma, bhakti, jnana…); reflecting the alterative vehicles to attain such ‘union’. Patanjali’s “state of the mind” is not the end of his teachings; it is just the beginning. Yoga is not simply a collection of postures, mantras and mudras; though agreeing that these are like ‘spiritual-acupuncture-needles’ to provoke an inner shift in awareness. A great master once told me: ‘even if you practice all the postures, mantras and mudras to perfection, nothing will ensure you will become a yogi’. A vital wisdom to yoga-practitioners who aspire to go far and beyond. My meditative experience shows me that yoga is ‘a state of inner-being’, which is present everywhere in its full expression. When one accesses that state, it springs a new vision, perception, attitude, mindset, habit, behavior, way of life... This state (to be self-realized) awakens the path to our transcendental-consciousness (‘to see beyond’). It shows me that yoga is not only the union of my body, mind and soul. It is also the union with other human beings, sentient beings, and nature. It is a union with all possible forms and manifestations of life. Furthermore, yoga is a collective state of human reality, with attributes like connectivity, (to) join, harmony, interdependence, solidarity, cooperation, balance, love, compassion, justice... The access and realization of this collective state unfolds fully when we self-realize that nature is a ‘living being’ and not a ‘thing’. This is The Law of Life. A living being with energies, forms and manifestations of intelligence, memory, and consciousness. This collective state of yoga is present in all outer and inner realities. The collective nature of yoga is the outcome of many mutually-beneficial-interactions of various consciousness within the matrix of life. Without earth consciousness, fully expressed, there is no yoga. To heal the planet and ourselves, I propose the practice of Neljor Sa (Neljor=yoga; Sa=the feminine, land, and earth in Tibetan). The planet (Sa) needs healing because of climate change, biodiversity depletion, water pollution, destruction of forests… Human beings need healing

from suffering, anger, ego, greed, bad habits, power seeking… In Neljor Sa, healing the planet and ourselves is an expression of the “mutuality of life”. Thus, it is an interactive healing process, where we cannot be healed if the planet (Sa) is not being healed at the same time. Neljor Sa has a unique spiritual scaffold supporting, and strengthening, several spiritual laws: interdependence (I am because you are, you are because I am), feminine energy, correspondence (the inner is like the outer, and the outer is like the inner), and karmic formations. These are all collective attributes of Neljor Sa. Practicing these laws, we will realize that ‘we are nature’, and ‘nature is us’. The self-realization of the attributes in Neljor Sa is possible through the expansion of our Container Consciousness—i.e., ‘the bridge, the container, and the support of the individual and collective dimensions of all our mutual interactions with nature’. Neljor Sa is the ultimate form of yoga: the yoga of all forms of life, as One. When disconnected from nature, no form of yoga may be possible. This is why everything is yoga, yoga is everything, everything possesses yoga, and yoga possesses everything. The state of the mind, which Patanjali saw out of the Yoga Sutras, is the vehicle to accessing the infinite space of our Container Consciousness. Based on The Law of Correspondence (“inner is like outer, outer is like inner”) and The Law of Life (the planet is a live being), Neljor Sa concentrates deeply on healing the five elements of life: water, earth, fire, wind and space. This is done via mantras, connections with deities, meditation, silence, mindfulness, right actions, alchemy, and ethics. These progressively enhance the inner and outer expressions and powers of our Container Consciousness (the bridge). Also, it enables us to engage in a continuous interaction with the consciousness of all forms of life (i.e., human beings, sentient beings and nature). Without attaining higher and higher levels of Container Consciousness, through Neljor Sa, it is not possible to bear human life on this planet. For example, it is this form of yoga that becomes the spine cord of sustainable development. The experiences gained by practicing Neljor Sa must then be oriented to change the nature and scope of all human activities, like economics, politics, social, institutional… The corona virus is present because we are deeply disconnected from nature (Sa). And many anomalies unfold because of that breakdown in connectedness (a low level of Container Consciousness), leading us to disregard the infinite and meaningful forms of interdependence. There will be no yoga within the realm of this disconnect. Yoga cannot be conceived as separate from the yoga of all living beings and nature. All flowers have a form of consciousness indispensable to develop our own human consciousness. All human activities possess yoga. Neljor Sa will enable us to become One.

Dzambling Cho Tab Khen (Alfredo Sfeir-Younis, PH.D.) is a Chilean economist, with a PhD in natural resources economics (U. of Wisconsin, USA) and spiritual leader who understand that spirituality must be in the public domain: sustainable development, human rights, politics, economics, and citizenship. He devotes his life to the healing of our planet for world peace. He has had a 29 year career serving the World Bank and is the Former Director and Special Representative of the World Bank to the UN (1996-2003). Candidate to the Presidency of Chile in 2013 and UN representative for the Lama Ganchen World Peace Foundation. 41


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The Richness & Fullness of Yoga

How brightly do we wish to shine? by Roisin Fitzpatrick

“Life is…a sort of splendid torch…I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.” G.B. Shaw Each and every one of us is so much more powerful than we can begin to imagine. The question is: how brightly do we wish to shine? On 22nd March 2004, when I had a brain haemorrhage and near-death experience, I was given an invaluable gift that I would like to share with you… Without any warning, my life was transformed when a sharp pain shot through the base of my neck and ricocheted throughout my skull. My head wrenched backwards in excruciating agony, pulled by a severe spasm. At home alone, I managed to call the ambulance and was later admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the neurosurgical department at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, Ireland. The physician told me, that I was having a brain haemorrhage. There was a high risk of dying, paralysis, and an operation may be required with all the potential dangers of neurosurgery. While in the ICU, I felt isolated, overwhelmed and terrified as it slowly dawned on me that my life was in danger. I thought, “Well, this certainly isn’t the best day of my life!” and then I began to question: “is this the last day of my life?” Suddenly, in an instant I was drawn out of my body and surrounded by a brilliant light that refracted everywhere into tiny glistening sparks of ignited energy. Simultaneously, I became enveloped by a love that was so real, pure and blissful, oh so blissful…Mesmerized, I realized that “I” still existed, even though I was not in my body. Yet, I felt more alive, and this place was more real than anything I had ever experienced before. I remained there free-floating, weightless and serenely peaceful. The experience of this euphoric love was so enticing, so incredibly enthralling, that I found it extremely difficult to come back. Exactly nine years to that day, on a bright spring morning in March 2013, I met with Dr. Bruce Greyson, one of the leading medical experts in near-death experience research in the United States. I went to see him at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, in search of the answer to one question: did I have a near-death experience when I had a brain haemorrhage nine years earlier? I wanted to know if the extraordinary event which had such a profound impact on my life and my whole way of being, was indeed a near-death experience. I had discovered on that fateful day that I am, as each and every one of us is, more powerful than we can begin to imagine. While I sat in Dr. Greyson’s office, the early morning sun streamed through the windows. I was surrounded by rows of beige filing cabinets all stacked tightly together and filled to the brim with research he had compiled over forty years. I explained that after that day, my whole life was turned upside down, or to be more accurate, right side up! Everything that I thought was real before, paled into insignificance. My former work for 43


the European Bank, my home, car, even cell phone, they were all totally irrelevant when I was stripped of everything material. I did not even have my body any longer. What I did have was a knowledge that this powerful source of eternal light and sublime love is my deepest truth, as it is for everyone. After speaking together for long while, Dr. Greyson smiled as he leaned forward and said, “You have something valuable to share with people who are searching to find a meaning in life, a reason why we are here and a purpose for our existence. Many people are looking for something deeper: wishing to find more joy and inner peace, maybe even yearn for a Divine connection which at some level we know exists but seems to be elusive and beyond our grasp. Through the journey of your near-death experience you can share how this unconditional love and powerful eternal light is the truth of who we really are.” Each one of us is more powerful than we can begin to imagine when we become centered in the eternal light, the only question is: how brightly do we wish to shine? There are many ways to connect with this light, including through the practise of yoga. Yoga opens our minds to possibility, our hearts to compassion and our bodies to our physical potential. Describing a near-death experience is so challenging because we simply don’t have the vocabulary to share the beauty of the light, the pure unconditional love and the profound sense of peace. It is equally challenging to share the experiential feeling of yoga. Personally, I find holding the poses in Yin Yoga for three to four minutes allows me to surrender to the experience of unity with the light within. My passion for sharing this light is then expressed as an artist and writer. My wish for you is to follow your passion and to live from your heart. This creates the opportunity for you to enhance the life of everyone you meet. The greatest gift that you have to share is your ability to shine your light as brightly, brilliantly and beautifully as you can in this world. To quote my dear aunt, who passed away a couple of months ago at the age of 102, “Life is so short, my dear, make sure you live a long and happy one!”

Roisin Fitzpatrick is an internationally acclaimed artist, Artist of the Light, and best-selling author of Taking Heaven Lightly. Her artwork features in the collections of luminaries including Deepak Chopra, Roma Downey and Marianne Williamson and has been critically acclaimed by Forbes, Wall Street Journal and Boston Globe. She previously worked at the United Nations, European Commission and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and is a former speaker at the United Nations Staff Recreation Council Enlightenment Society in New York. www.ArtistoftheLight.com 44


The Richness & Fullness of Yoga

The New You: An Open-Eye Reading Meditation: Journey to Joy

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By Elspeth Kerr Going inward, give yourself permission to enter into this Healing space on these pages. Know that you are exactly where you need to be as you read and feel into this meditation right now. It’s time to enjoy these 33 inspirational and healing words. Come home to that place, inside of yourself, to sit within your soul, as you read these words written for you. So, start by taking a few long, slow and deep breaths-in and out for about 2 minutes. Now, place all your focus on reading these words as your heart synchronises energetically in this space of now. Placing your left hand on your heart with Respect and Compassion for yourself. Be open and be connected to source. This space and these pages have been energetically implanted with high vibrational frequencies of Sound, Crystals, Love and Light. Now breathe, and feel the energetic power enter into the heart of your soul as you will ultimately be transported into your own Joy again. Let’s start by giving yourself a hug and smile. This is your restoration starting point of self love and will ignite your inner world, as you read these words. Move into Stillness and then into Joy. Your breath is your master key, the great rescuer, so allow joy to return into your energetic field as you welcome in your spiritual helpers, to protect, guide, inspire and heal you in this space of now. Breathing in Source Energy, Breathe out all else, breathing in and out 3 times. Seeing pure white light entering into you, and, as you exhale, allow all negative thoughts to simply melt and disappear. Release and let them go, Release and let them go. Begin to feel the calming and beautiful energies of your Joy Angels with you in this space. Giving yourself permission to open a little more now and be with spirit-slowly and deeply, breathing in, breathing out for 1 minute. Remembering each breath counts, so welcome in harmony, Peace, Love and Joy and allow all else to dissolve. Your breath is your friend, your constant companion, and your teacher, as you focus on it, allow it to bring you Joy and Love. Find an inner refuge with your breath, ushering in joy as you become more aligned. With every breath cycle you are going deeper and deeper, allowing yourself to be filled up with Life Force Energy, feeling the frequencies that are encoded in these words. Feel the gentleness and the stillness as your body opens up to expansiveness, truthfulness as your breathe Flows in and out. Flowing in, flowing out, deepening this Divine connection of the Divine feminine and Divine masculine parts within you, creating balance and wholeness. Feel that Unity within you as all is Just perfect. Feeling nourished and nurtured in this space as you drop down deeper and deeper in unity consciousness. As your inhale breath flows gently into the exhale breath to allow you to move into a space of Freedom consciousness and your space of healing and your space of just Being. Staying committed to your breath, allowing what is and what wants to be revealed to you today and to bring into your awareness, to be with spirit. Allow your Intuition and your love and your Joy to be heightened as your release any deep seated emotions that you have been holding onto deep in your subconsciousness. It’s time to release and to relax, in order for you to move forwards in your life and for you to move into more joy, for you to dive into your

soul and remember that you are a beautiful soul. This is your place for freedom. Freedom consciousness resides deep inside of you, and, it is there, to allow a Strength and softness to envelop you, and, for you to know, all is perfect as you now go deeper and deeper into a space to allow stillness. You move into a space of Deliciousness so you can be enveloped totally in the energies of pure love and pure joy. Begin now to fill up every cell of your body with the magic and miracles of Sacred geometry as every cell remembers. Feel these shapes and patterns of energy nourish and replenish your soul and activate your DNA as you join with the energy of the Sun, Moon and the Stars. Make a Wish, to take back, and own your joy once again, to have the energy of a master and to be the master of your own joy. Be inspired in this space and surrender into Kindness and gratefulness. Surrender into your own intuition and to feel at Peace. Deep, deep, Peace. Feel yourself opening at a soul level to receiving this Joy and Creativity as you expand, embrace your journey, make a friendship with the power of your own breath. Feel the immense energy of your breath as you release, and, have this exquisite experience. Now, feel the water within your cells, cleansing and purifying you with each breath you breathe. Allow this very next breath to wiggle into all of your cells and cleanse you. Allowing my words of Joy to be medicine for your soul. Knowing words have power as you go deeper inside, knowing, every breath is a new beginning, showing you a way forwards with strength and softness. Begin to imagine bubbles of Love, Peace and Joy enter you now. Feel their energy, their sound and their light. Breath slowly and deeply in and out for 1 minute. You are being shown what Joy truly is, that you are Love and always have been a beautiful soul. All there is, is you. Your breathing, your relaxations, and all the good feelings of Joy, Love, Peace and Celebration. Be gentle with yourself in this space of self-care. One person, One breath, One positive thought, One meditation of opening one heart to Joy at a time. Attuning and aligning with divine inspiration, this is your Journey to Joy, to serve as an instrument of Peace, as you feel the Joy journeying within you. Knowing that every moment that you are engaging in right now, your spirit fills up with happiness, joy and more of you as you Change. Now breathe in 3 breaths to integrate all of this. Embracing it all, as you bring it all together, all these 33 word of Joy, Power and Sacredness of the other linking words-All, becoming One. Knowing there is no separation, as we move in totality to Unity Consciousness with Peace, with Love and with even more Joy. Enjoy this renewal time, reach, stretch, grow. Be in your Joy, and, do all the things you love to do with Joy and smiles! Receive all the goodness of this reading meditation as you experience YOU! It’s your time to step in, step into Joy, into the glorious new Earth, Divine Love and Joy in holy balance, as you take refuge in your real self. Your eternal self as you, now rest in this space, as a Joyous Soul, who went with me on your Journey to You today. Now coming back, feeling good and amazing in every way, as you consciously take another deep breath in and out. Know what is possible for you in this moment of Joy living. Enjoy the You of You.

Elspeth Kerr was born in Scotland and now lives in Cyprus. She is a ‘soul reader of the heart,’ does sound release timeline clearings, and teaches Reiki, meditation, and self-empowerment. She uses her wisdom enabling souls to shine with joy from the inside out--helping the soul smile and beam its divine radiant light. She reminds clients to own their smile, which means: ‘Start My Internal Love Engine’. Elspeth offer services via Skype and in-person-sessions. Facebook: www.facebook.com/elspeth.kerr.3 Soundcloud: Healing Steps of Colour Transformation Meditation

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YOGA & THE WORK OF THE UNITED NATIONS SPOTLIGHT

India Installs Solar Panels on UN NY Headquarters Building

Jan Beagle, of New Zealand, UN Special Adviser on System-wide Implementation of Chief Executive Board (CEB) decisions and HE Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin

In a gesture to reaffirm its commitment to combat climate change, India gifted solar panels to the United Nations as a goodwill gesture. The panels are installed on the roof of the Conference Building at the United Nations headquarters in New York City. There are 193 panels, representing each member country of the UN generating 50 kilowatts of electricity with a projected annual system output of 86,244kWh/year. A green roof or a roof covered with vegetation measuring 11,000 sq ft was also installed on the building as part of India’s gift. The Conference Building at UN Headquarters faces the East River, and, it is located between the iconic Secretariat Building and the General Assembly Building of the UN. India contributed $1 million for installing the solar panels. India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin tweeted saying that India was the first responder to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ call for climate action. India was funding the solar project showing the country’s commitment to fight climate change by harnessing renewable sources of energy and demonstrating that the United Nations Headquarters could reduce its carbon footprint & promote sustainable energy. When handing over the contribution, Ambassador Akbaruddin said, “It is my hope that installing solar panels at UN Headquarters would set in motion enhanced solar energy cooperation at the international stage.” 47


YOGA & THE WORK OF THE UNITED NATIONS SPOTLIGHT ON Maher Ashram

Making Children Safe at Maher Ashram Located in Pune, India, Maher Ashram was granted special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (UN-ECOSOC) in May 2017. In 1997, Sister Lucy Kurien started Maher which is present in over 85 rural communities around Pune as well as locations in Ratnagiri, Kerala and Jharkhand. Maher has always strived to give meaning and purpose to those who are abandoned, those who are impoverished and those who suffer from disabilities including mental handicaps as they are the most neglected of our societies. Sr Lucy always dreamt of making their lives better and satisfying to themselves. Over 4,000 women and children have passed through the Maher experience and have emerged with self-confidence and dignity. Those who can’t be reunited with their families, because of a trauma or other complications, remain with the Maher’s community, and, many stay fully rehabilitated to work as housemothers or assistants. The global coronavirus pandemic impacted Maher’s work and Sr Lucy notes how it is a challenge to keep 1,000 children, over 550 mentally disturbed women and more than 100 mentally ill men, who are all living at the various centers, safe. Since everything is closed, going out of the house is an impossibility. Maher had already taken precautionary measures before the ‘lock-down’ began. Maher held a meeting for staff and all were instructed on how to use towels and other items to make face masks as well as good hygiene and hand washing to better protect themselves and the women, children and men residents at the facilities. Some steps taken include: - Multivitamin tablets/syrup are given to boost the immune system of everyone staying in Maher homes; - Soap and towels were provided to every center emphasizing personal and community hygiene; - Awareness programmes were conducted in all the centers and slums through street plays, videos and slideshows; - Food, vegetables and fruits are checked thoroughly and regularly; 48


YOGA & THE WORK OF THE UNITED NATIONS SPOTLIGHT ON Maher Ashram - Separate rooms and beds with clean linen are ready for any sick; - An isolation home is ready; - No visitors are permitted to enter the campus and distribute/donate food and snacks; - All the surrounding areas of the centers are kept even cleaner; - Prayers are held at every center for the world. Maher has been busy not only reaching out to those who live within the centers but also to the migrant workers, the beggar’s community, slum dwellers and the pavement dwellers. All that people need now is food & toiletries. The social workers are reaching out to them from all centers as the divine has been keeping everyone safe. The Interfaith Association of Service to Humanity and Nature (IASHN) was founded in February 2017 to mark the 20th anniversary of Maher, and to promote interfaith harmony and understanding by Sister Lucy and Maher youth who were inspired by Sr Lucy’s belief that “love is my religion.” At the local level, it walks with women, children, men and villages in need in India as they rise to new life. The Association is grounded in the Maher community’s belief in the power of all religions to light the world. The association is a way that Maher youth and others can take this powerful thought and spread the message of love to the whole world. Approximately 200 people from 8 countries have pledged to uphold the Association’s principles of spiritual practice, service, and respect for the world’s faith traditions. Maher has organized Peace Marches, and Interfaith Celebrations and Services such as the Nature Prayer and Meditation Service with prayers dedicated to world peace. Sr Lucy has participated in many international conferences including the Toronto meeting of the Parliament of the World’s Religions.

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YOGA & THE WORK OF THE UNITED NATIONS SPOTLIGHT ON

IDY Committee at the UN Execo Member by Padmini Murthy MD, MPH, FAMWA, FRSPH

As the devastating effects of COVID-19 were felt globally, in April, a small team of people from different countries united to work in sending supplies to the Missionaries of Charity ( a Catholic NGO) founded by Nobel Laureate Mother Theresa in Kolkata, India. This resulted in the delivery of food supplies of rice, wheat flour, lentils as well as 10,000 masks. The missionaries had sent out a desperate plea for help to aid the slum dwellers in some of the colonies in Kolkata. Due to the nation-wide COVID-19 lockdown in India, these people had no access to food; they were starving and had no masks to protect themselves. The Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, a well-known UN accredited NGO at the forefront of providing humanitarian assistance worldwide, joined the NGO American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) and private sector partner El Jaguar Canada in proving the necessary aid. Team members included: Padmini Murthy, Aishu Narasimhadevara and Steve Chui (New York), Debra Boudreaux (California), Branda Huang (Taiwan), Jagrit Bajwa (Canada). Effective information communication technologies among everyone, even local partners, were WhatsApp, internet email exchange and telephone. This is just one example that “Humanity is the Greatest Religion of All.”

(Face masks)

(Bags of rice)

(Missionaries receiving the food supplies)

(Traditional carts as mode of transport)

Dr. Padmini (Mini) Murthy, MD, MPH, FAMWA is currently Professor and Global Health Director at New York Medical College School of Health Sciences and Practice. An internationally recognized leader in women’s health, Recipient of the Elizabeth Blackwell medal, Global Health lead, American Medical Women’s Association, First Vice President of The Global NGO Committee, and NGO Representative of Medical Women’s International Association to the UN and MWIA focal point to World Health Organization. A widely published author, she has made over 150 presentations to international audiences and has hosted a talk show on Millennium Development Goals on AV Blog Talk radio. 50


YOGA & THE WORK OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UNESCO Recognizes Yoga as an Intangible Cultural Heritage Did you know that yoga joined UNESCO’S list of intangible world heritage? The Intergovernmental Committee unanimously took the decision on 1st December 2016 during its annual session in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia. The 24 committee members adopted the Resolution in recognition of yoga’s “influence on Indian society, from health and medicine to education and the arts”. “Designed to help individuals build self-realisation, ease any suffering they may be experiencing and allow for a state of liberation, [yoga] is practised by the young and old without discriminating against gender, class or religion,” UNESCO added in a tweet. The list of intangible cultural treasures was created 10 years ago, mainly to increase awareness about them, while UNESCO also sometimes offers financial or technical support to countries struggling to protect them. UNESCO began compiling a list for cultural and natural world heritage – physical properties such as Cambodia’s Angkor Wat or the Grand Canyon in the United States – in 1972. The list now comprises 814 cultural sites, 203 natural ones and 35 with both natural and cultural qualities such as Australia’s Uluru national park, formerly known as Ayer’s Rock. As Silvia C. Turrin wrote in article published in Lifegate back in December 2016, yoga was officially developed in India and its origins go back to time unmemorable. It can be traced through sacred scriptures

that date back to the Archaic Age and looks into the totality of a person. As many eminent Orientalists say (including well-known indologist Stefano Piano) “yoga is a synthesis of thousand-year-old research conducted by wisemen and ascetics who found a way to unify their own selves”. The first historical document concerning this practice was outlined by Indian philosopher Patanjali whose life is veiled in mystery. The legend has it that he lived between 500 and 200 A.C. His work, “The yoga aphorisms”, is still considered the reference book of those who perform the discipline. Yoga philosophy is clearly and briefly explained in this book through a series of teachings (in verses called sutra). Globalisation and materialism have changed India, yet, spirituality can still be felt in many aspects of the social and cultural life. Yoga continues to be considered a synthesis of this spirituality and is taught in many schools/ashrams. However, as in the past, the best yogis (including Yogananda, Vivekananda and B. K. S. Iyengar) are trained by a skillful as well as experienced teacher. Experience is the starting point, that’s why yoga is an initiation path: yogis pass on conceptual and practical knowledge to their disciples. The ultimate aim of yoga practitioners is not having a perfect body, nor being able to perform difficult poses, but reawakening our soul and bringing to life our divine nature. In Swami Hariharananda Giri’s words (1907-2002): “We can feel that our existence is spirit […] Body and mind are forms of the spirit. The spirit that shows itself in the matter continues to be spirit. […] India’s spiritual tradition teaches us how to understand that this spirit lives in us”.

B. K. S. Iyengar (1918-2014) is one of the most famous and admired Indian gurus in Western countries. In this photo, taken on 28 September 2005, he’s sharing his knowledge during a conference in Colorado (USA). 51


Conscious Planet: A Vision for Sustainable Development By Sadhguru

Today, we tend to talk a lot about the environment, water issues and other problems that humanity faces. But if you look at the fundamentals behind all these problems, you will see there is only one problem on this planet – the human being. If any other species had done the kind of damage that we are doing to the planet, we would have found a way to deal with them. Let’s say billions of Martian locusts landed here and began to cut through all our trees, turn our soils into deserts and suck the water out of our rivers­– we would have definitely exterminated them. But the problem is not alien locusts. The problem is us. Though we are the source of the problem, we can also be the source of the solution. It is only because we are in a mode of unconscious, compulsive action that we are the problem. If we were conscious, we would naturally be a solution. So, the most important thing right now is to create a Conscious Planet. All this while, we thought ecological issues are something the next generation will have to suffer, and whatever little we did to solve these problems was considered an act of empathy and compassion for them. But ecological issues are no longer tomorrow’s problems; they are today’s problems. It is a matter of survival. It is very clear from many parameters that if we do not do something significant in the next few years, the size and nature of the problems we will face will be of a magnitude we have never seen before. Right now, if you look at the extent of ecological awareness in the world, it is confined only to a small layer of people – and for most of these people, their idea of ecology is to use less water while showering or to turn off the water when brushing their teeth. It is wonderful that people are conscious about what they are using, and this will assist the waterworks in our towns and cities, but this is not a comprehensive ecological solution. Over 95% of the global population have absolutely no awareness of the ecological disaster building around them. This is why in the last few months, I have been working with United Nations agencies and other forces and putting across this idea of a “Conscious Planet” movement. There are 5.2 billion people on the planet living in countries with some form of franchise, the ability to vote and elect their nation’s leadership. We are looking at how to get three billion people on board so that ecological issues become the issues that elect governments. 52


YOGA & THE WORK OF THE UNITED NATIONS Right now, election manifestos talk about economy, oil and healthcare, while ecological issues are just conversations for tea parties. We want to make these three billion people aware of at least five ecological aspects that must happen in their country, and two or three aspects that must not happen. If we do this, then ecology will become if not number one, at least the number two issue in election manifestos. Only when ecology becomes an election issue, will it become government policy, and only then will there be large budgets allocated so that solutions manifest. If we want to make this happen, one fundamental aspect is to understand that today, we have structured society such that ecology and economy are going head on at each other. If we pitch ecology versus economy, economy will win. This is what we have been changing through our Rally for Rivers and Cauvery Calling movements. Restoring the ecology can be economically lucrative. And this is what I pitched at the “1 Trillion Trees” platform at the World Economic Forum 2020 in Davos recently. The platform will plant 1 trillion trees across the world by 2030. In the last few decades, nations, corporates and individuals have chased trilliondollar revenues. It is wonderful that the world is now thinking in terms of a trillion trees. But if this endeavor has to succeed, planting trees has to become an economic process for people. So it is extremely important that tree planting is not restricted just to wastelands and lands that are uninhabited. Agricultural lands must also be partially brought under tree cover through agroforestry. Agroforestry is the practice of tree cultivation with other crops in between. This has many benefits for the farmer, including better crop yields, improved soil fertility and increase in ground water levels. But above all, the farmer’s income multiplies manifold from the sale of timber, fruit and other tree produce. In India, we have worked with 69,670 farmers, who have seen a 300% to 800% increase in income in 5 to 7 years through agroforestry. Agroforestry is a game changer not just for India, but for the tropical world. In India alone, with the support of the 1 Trillion Trees platform, we can easily scale up the 2.42 billion trees we will be planting through the Cauvery Calling project, to 50 billion trees in river basins across India. Across the world, planting a trillion trees alone will not completely restore our ecosystems, but it is definitely an inspiring goal to work towards, and begin this process. This is our time on the planet. It is for all of us to make sure this is the best time on the planet. Let future generations look at us as a responsible generation of people. The most important gift we can give to the next generation is a land that is rich, rivers that flow and air that is clean. Let us make it happen. Sadhguru - Founder, Isha Foundation

Ranked amongst the fifty most influential people in India, Sadhguru is a yogi, mystic, visionary and a New York Times bestselling author. Sadhguru was conferred the “Padma Vibhushan” by the Government of India in 2017, the highest annual civilian award, accorded for exceptional and distinguished service. Cauvery Calling is a first of its kind campaign, setting the standard for how India’s rivers – the country’s lifelines – can be revitalized. It will initiate the revitalization of the Cauvery river by supporting lakhs of farmers to plant 242 crore trees in the river basin. This will increase water retention in the basin by trillions of liters, while improving the income of farmers by 300 to 800% in 5-7 years and transforming the lives of 84 million people. Visit: CauveryCalling.org or call 80009 80009. Contribute to Cauvery Calling. #CauveryCalling. 53


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Brahma Kumaris paper for the United Nations Climate Change Conference December 2009 Context As a nongovernmental organization with consultative status with the UN, the contribution of the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University (BKWSU) to the UN community is in reframing issues, such as climate change, in spiritual terms, highlighting the inner dimension of the decisions facing the UN member states. Our premise in this paper is that for the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen to have real impact, it cannot confine itself to discussions about emissions and compliance with standards. What is needed at this time is a profound shift in awareness – a shift in the thinking that is producing our current crisis. Shifting the conversation to include the inner dimension, will transform the quality of the conversation and the possible agenda for action among stakeholders. The Earth as a Living System Any real understanding of the issue of global climate change needs to be placed in the context of Earth as a living system. Living Systems Theory is a body of work that describes how all living systems function, how they sustain themselves, and how they develop and change. Living systems is a metaphor that represents an animate arrangement of parts and processes that continually affect one another over time. By definition, living systems are self-organizing. They grow. They change. They connect. They are cyclic. They are whole and systemic. To see living systems and to understand how they work, we have to observe the connections that make up the whole system. When we are able to see the interconnections and understand how they are intricately related, then our view of the world begins to change. Human Thought as a System To embrace the full scope of the global climate change crisis, it is necessary to look at another system that is influencing the living system of the Earth: the system of thought at every level of human affairs, which affects our collective efforts to create a tolerable world and civilization. In a 1990 seminar in Ojai, California, theoretical physicist David Bohm, explained the system of thought that underlies the current crisis. Acknowledging the difficult situation the world is in – ecologically, economically, and so on, he said: “People have been dealing with this piecemeal – looking at symptoms, saying that we’ve got to solve this problem or that problem or that problem. But there is something deeper, which people haven’t been considering, that is constantly generating these problems. We can use the analogy of a stream, where people are pouring pollution upstream at the same time they are trying to remove it downstream. But as they remove it, they may be adding more pollution of a different kind. What is the source of all this trouble?…The source is basically in thought” (p 2, Bohm). “…One of the obvious things wrong with thought is fragmentation. Thought is breaking things up into bits which should not be broken up” (p. 2-3, Bohm). Thought, Bohm explains, establishes boundaries to separate nations, religions, and professional groups. Thought fragments knowledge, and so our system of thought allows us to separate causes from effects, to miss the interconnections between what is happening upstream and the effect of that action downstream. Bohm goes on to explain another problem with thought -- that thought is participatory – that it affects the world, all the while claiming that it is only commenting on the world: “Thought is always doing a great deal, but it tends to say that it hasn’t done anything, that it is just telling you the way things are. But thought affects everything. Even the South Pole has been affected because of the destruction of the ozone layer,

which is basically due to thought. People thought that they wanted to have refrigerant – a nice safe refrigerant – and they built that all up by thinking more and more about it. And now we have the ozone layer being destroyed” (p. 5, Bohm). Bohm argues passionately that thought has produced tremendous outward effects, and perhaps more important, tremendous inward effects in each of us. “The general tacit assumption in thought is that it’s just telling you the way things are and that it is not doing anything – that ‘you’ are inside there, deciding what to do with the information…but you don’t decide what to do with the information. The information takes over and runs you” (p 5, Bohm). The deteriorating conditions of the natural world are the result of a failure to see relationships between the various parts and processes of the living system. Our inability to see these relationships is the result of fragmentation in our inner system of thought, what can we do to intervene in the vicious cycle of increasing fragmentation and blindness? What will allow us to dismantle the artificial boundaries we have constructed and to see the unified system of which we are apart and for which we are the trustees? A Change in Awareness: Seeing with Systemic Vision The key to intervening in the unfolding events of the outer biological system, is to create a change in the inner system of thoughts. First, we must make thought aware of its role in creating the world – or to put it another way – we must make the thinkers of thoughts aware that we are not neutral observers of a sequence of events: our inner beliefs affect our process of observing and the choices we make as a result, affecting the very world we are observing. Second, we must have an epiphany, an experience that breaks through our inner system of thought with a new and paradigm shattering awareness. It is experience that changes our awareness. We need an 54


YOGA & THE WORK OF THE UNITED NATIONS epiphany on a global scale. To change our inner system of thinking, we need a collective ah-ha moment on the scale of those of the astronauts and cosmonauts who saw Earth from space for the first time: They say if you have experiments to run, stay away from the window. For me, preoccupied with the Drop Dynamics Module, it wasn’t until the last day of our flight that I even had a chance to look out. But when I did, I was truly overwhelmed.

is a squandering of the UN’s unique convening power. Anything less is a lost opportunity. The world’s decision makers don’t need to be scolded or cajoled, they need to be awakened to the beauty of the Earth as a delicate living system and inspired to take on the elevated task of being the Earth’s trustees. Dadi Janki, Chief of the Brahma Kumaris, understands the role of inspiration in helping us find the courage and strength to do what we need to do: When your intent is pure, it has a vibrant impact on others. When you are touched by a good quality—inspired by a virtue or value – and act in an elevated way, your action has the potential to inspire others. It is a natural law that souls respond to the quality of intention they experience in others. When we speak about inspiration, this is what we are speaking about. Many things cannot be done without inspiration. If you have inspiration, you find the courage and strength you need, and nothing can stop you. (p.79, Rodgers & Naraine). -- Dadi Janki

A Chinese tale tells of some men sent to harm a young girl who, upon seeing her beauty, become her protectors rather than her violators. That’s how I felt seeing the Earth for the first time. I could not help but love and cherish her (p. 60, Kelly) ñ Taylor Wang, China/ USA From space I saw Earth – indescribably beautiful with the scars of national boundaries gone (p. 77, Kelly) -- Muhannad Ahmad Faris, Syria After an orange cloud – formed as a result of a dust storm over the Sahara and caught up by air currents – reached the Philippines and settled there with rain, I understood that we are all sailing in the same boat (p 77, Kelly) -- Vladimir Kovalyonok, USSR Astronauts and cosmonauts are members in an exclusive club – those who have witnessed the Earth from a platform in space. This experience inspired them all. And this is the kind of experience we need – a collective change in consciousness that stirs our hearts, causing us to examine the inner system of thought running inside of us. This change of awareness won’t happen by citing statistics to one another. It will happen when we are deeply moved and become aware of what we need to conserve. Cultivating Systemic Vision: A Vision of Love When we look with a vision of love, our vision expands. Chilean cognitive biologist and systems theorist, Humberto Maturana defines love as the domain of relationship when the other arises in front of us as a legitimate other. Maturana said, “Systemic seeing occurs only when you are seeing with love. The systemic seeing of love occurs only when there are no interfering emotions that make your purposes or desires guide what you do. As love becomes the unconscious guide of your doings, you see the systemic relational-operational matrix of which you are a part and in which you are immersed. You immediately know how to move in it. Seeing with love is not seeing with goodness, or kindness, or goodwill, or generosity – it is just systemic seeing” (p. 64, Rodgers & Naraine). Maturana says that when we see with love, seeing the other (in this case the Earth and the human family) as legitimate, our vision expands and we see the whole, delicate system. However, when we see from a place of self-interest, we are blinded by our own desires. We lose our systemic vision and see with a limited linear vision: “Persistent linear thinking through any conviction, whether it is religious, philosophical, political, or scientific, whether it comes from a desire to advance high ideals or private gain, negates love. And when our thinking negates love, it negates systemic vision” (p 98, Rodgers & Naraine). The Opportunity for the UN Climate Change Initiative The UN is rare in its ability to convene the world’s member nations on behalf of the interests of the whole of the world. The urgency of the Climate Change initiative requires our most profound vision and most unselfish action agenda. The shapers of policy in most cases are enmeshed in a paradigm of development and wealth. We believe that this conference, and successive conferences on this crucial issue, must intervene in the numbing cycle of citing statistics on carbon emissions and mediating among the special interests of nation states. We believe the UN must elevate its mandate to convening member states and inspire them to create a new level of global awareness. Anything less 55

Bibliography Bohm, David. Thought as a System. London, Routledge, 1994, 2, 3, 5. Kelley, Kevin. The Home Planet. Reading, MA., 1988, 60 & 77. Rodgers, Judy and Naraine, Gayatri. Something Beyond Greatness: Conversations with a Man of Science and a Woman of God. Deerfield Beach, FL, HCI Communications, Inc., 2009, 64, 79, 98. Sweeney, Linda Book. Connected Wisdom: Living Stories About Living Systems. Schlumberger Excellence in Educational Development, 2008,


By Denise Scotto, Esq.

We Can Only Succeed in Achieving World Peace if there is a Spiritual Renaissance on this Planet. --UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold

The UN is a unique institution. It’s a physical building with various organs and related agencies that implement its mission and deliver its goals and where experts have designed a large breadth of law, policies and programmes involving various stakeholders. At the same time, it’s a place of divine intelligence propelling it as an important tool for the love of truth and humanity and the evolution of human consciousness. The intent behind its creation was and still is very much alive and felt by me and others within the UN and greater UN community. January ushered in a new decade and the 75th year of the United Nations. It feels somewhat appropriate that the current novel coronavirus epidemic would also be taking place as we commemorate this three-quarter century milestone. To say it is requiring our own inner reflection as well as a reevaluation of the organization seems cliched. Yet, it is the precise moment for this undertaking given the global health and economic crises facing people everywhere in our world. I wonder if the SG had a premonition of this time of great suffering? In marking this climactic event, he explained that it provides an opportunity for the international community to begin to address the “crisis in multilateralism,” and to shape a more robust and effective organization. Additionally, the SG explained that the UN will hold global dialogues, appealing to everyone to discuss ‘our priorities as a human family, and how we can build a better future for all.’ His reference to the high ideals of the spirit of one humanity and the process of thoughtful consideration harkens back to an earlier time in our history and the history of the UN. The UN SG’s Special Adviser on Anniversary Preparations, Fabrizio Hochschild (Chile), before the onslaught of the pandemic that physically shuttered the UN, said the SG welcomes people around the world to share their vision for the UN’s future and the ways to achieve them. The UN encouraged youth and critics to provide their opinions and that their views are to be presented to world leaders at a special GA session set for September 21, 2020. In May, the UN75 People’s Forum for the UN We Need was held virtually by numerous accredited NGOs with attendance of the UN GA President. The People’s Declaration and Plan for Global Action was presented to him. The document stresses the need for a global system that works for all. In order to better understand the way forward, it may be useful to review where we’ve been and what we’ve accomplished. Let’s turn back the page of history to acknowledge the circumstances leading to the UN’s creation. In April 1945, US President Harry Truman signed the UN Charter on June 26, 1945 in San Francisco at the War Memorial Opera House. Of the 800+ delegates who signed the Charter, four were women. Female delegates from Brazil, Dominican Republic, Uruguay and women participating from Mexico, Venezuela and Australia promoted feminist views. Owing to the persuasiveness of Dr Bertha Lutz (Brazil), the Charter includes an explicit reference to women’s rights. The Charter was ratified and entered into force on October 24, 1945, which is celebrated every year as “UN Day.” It’s a day to reaffirm the UN’s mission and goals in addition to renewing its sacred purpose, our non-material or subtle support of the organization and its role in transforming human consciousness. Let’s now turn to the specific context. A result of the second world war, genocide, unspeakable atrocities and war crimes were committed; millions of persons died while millions of others became homeless and were starving; and cities throughout Europe and Asia were decimated laying in ruins. Humanity’s spirit or soul was suffering appreciably. Coming together, the founders of the UN used skillful means to acknowledge the use of violence is not a justifiable method to resolve differences, which was a key awakening in human perception. The words enshrined in the Charter and its Preamble offered hope and expand the awareness of those who study them. As we read them, let us feel the underlying intention of those dignitaries connecting to something greater than themselves to restore the human spirit and in cultivating an elevated appreciation. 56


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“We the Peoples of the United Nations are determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.” The Charter notes, “the valuable action of practicing tolerance and living together in peace with one another as good neighbors, and to uniting our strength to maintain international peace and security, and to ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest, and to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples.” US President Franklin D Roosevelt conceived the name United Nations, when in 1942, he and officials from several countries signed a document called the United Nations Declaration. In 1944, at the Dumbarton Oaks conference, the structure was considered and finalized. An aspect of the proposal was for member states to supply armed forces for the Security Council in aiding its responsibilities of preventing war and suppressing aggression. This is significant, because it was generally agreed that the lack of troops was a crucial weakness in the League of Nations and its ability to safeguard the sacredness of live and to preserve peace. Forming a lasting peace was a chief objective in the minds of the founders at the conference as was forever ending war and agreeing that acts of aggression were wholly intolerable.

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Shortly thereafter, former US First Lady and the first High Commissioner for Human Rights, Eleanor Roosevelt, spearheaded the committee drafting the historic Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which included representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world. Over time and in their unique way, women from various countries such as Minerva Bernardino (Dominican Republic) Hansa Mehta (India), Angela Jurdak (Lebanon), Begum Shaista Ikramullah (Pakistan) and Bodil Begtrup (Denmark) contributed important roles in shaping it and in shaping a greater human synthesis.


On December 10, 1948, the General Assembly proclaimed the UDHR as a ‘common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations.’ This groundbreaking document sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected. It’s known as a Magna Carta for all humanity. Available in over 500 languages, it’s the most widely translated document in the world! Feel the magnitude and the underlying energy of the principles. If we let the potency sink in, we are struck by the UDHR’s invincible power and profound influence on our societies. Here are some reasons why—The Preamble recognizes we are one humanity. It references the four freedoms that President Roosevelt outlined in a seminal speech, ‘disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people.’ Most prominently, it succinctly emphasizes the highest knowledge in Article 1 that, ‘all beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.’ The UDHR is a guiding force which has inspired a number of specialized human rights conventions, other human rights laws, and bilateral and domestic treaties throughout the world. Taken with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, it serves as the foundation of the International Bill of Human Rights. All of these have contributed to accelerating planetary consciousness. Since 1945, the UN has evolved into the foremost forum to address issues that extend beyond national boundaries. As a system-wide organization it has expanded through; establishing specialized agencies, its reach, its areas of activity and areas of work—programmatic design, service delivery, treaty monitoring, technical support--its goals and its issues. Its strengthened convening power goes in hand with its ability to unite people for collective action and nurtures benevolence. It is a unifying body that manifests the realization of our one-ness. As a staff member working in NY Headquarters, is it any wonder that time and time again, one person after the other would tell me how the UN is a venerated institution, in its positive influence in their home country, and, they would relate a story demonstrating this point. So, turning to the present moment as the UN marks its 75th Anniversary, some questions arise: Does the UN continue to be relevant? Is the UN appropriate in a time of what appears to be a move away from multilateralism and toward nationalism? Does the UN have meaningful impact? With all its faults, every one of the 193 nations remains a member of the UN, whatever their dissatisfaction. Countries persevere in sending accomplished diplomats and ambassadors to represent them in the GA and other inter-governmental processes as well as to provide peacekeeping troops. There would be immense difficulty in establishing any kind of peace without an institution like that of the UN. Does the UN need revitalization or reform ? Absolutely. Some worthy proposals have been long-standing such as changes to the Security Council, funding arrangements, better system-wide coordination for service delivery on the ground in county, and transparent decision-making. The subject of transparency within the organization extends to management-staff relations. As a UN employee at one time working in the area of the internal justice system, I saw a lack of open-ness, fairness and accountability relating to typical employer-employee relations. While good news is that we were able to incorporate concepts that were new to the UN such establishing the Office of the Ombudsperson as well as mediation for certain kinds of cases, in many instances, the absence of accountability persists due to a myriad of factors including outdated standards and mechanisms of relief, will, and, unsurprisingly, cronyism. However, the UN is still the only world entity that addresses our global pressing issues and promotes the process of international cooperation. By looking at the COVID-19 health and economic pandemics, it clearly shows how interconnected our world is and how we all are, regardless of our social backgrounds, religion, belief, education, language, etc. International cooperation is a necessity and fosters good will knowing that this challenge is easier to solve collectively, together.

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The UN is also addressing our global risks and current trends including: climate action, nuclear proliferation and disarmament, democracy, increased inequalities, cyber security. While the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were not fully achieved, they have empowered people to improve their lives and those of their families. The 2030 Development Agenda has incorporated some of the shortcomings of the MDGs—a key one being that the SDGs are universal in their application to all member states. It aims to focus on people-centered multilateralism and a people-centered approach. However, more needs to be done to achieve these goals. Emphasizing ‘prevention’ and tacking root causes and early warning signs particularly relating to conflict prevention and lasting peace is one area, in hand with, post conflict peace building. While mechanisms are in place for upholding human dignity and human liberty, existing monitoring should be reinforced and other means ought to be developed in order to hold violators responsible. A greater voice is called for in reaching conclusions that affect us all including women, youth, indigenous peoples, marginalized groups. I remember being involved in promoting the idea, over twenty years ago, of a People’s Parliament which would serve as a compliment to that of the UN GA. While this proposal has not come to pass, the viewpoints of diverse groups necessitate true partnerships with NGOs and civil society in addition to innovation with bold, new initiatives. Transformational change also rests upon serious political will with responsible leaders who dissolve differences, address our common challenges--instead of advancing their own narrow interests. Cooperate effort through internationally agreed-upon mechanisms is less costly and more reliable than unilateral action. This requires for all member states to recommit to the values and aspirations of the UN Charter. It’s time to reclaim the enthusiasm for unity. It’s also time to reveal the important role of the UN and the ability of the UN in ‘our becoming’ or to put it in another way to expand human consciousness to those within the system and the public at large. My experience in speaking with thousands of people from different countries tells me that the durability of the UN comes from the same source that prompts people to accomplish all kinds of action which restores human dignity and fulfills human needs. It springs from the unseen values underlying the UN which inspire people from all walks of life everywhere in the world with the will to take noble action to do good in the service of world benefit. These values unite us because they touch our human being-ness and our hearts. They come from the intangible aspect which can be called the spiritual dimension which is the cornerstone upon which the UN rests. Time and time again, the SG has issued numerous statements stressing these ethics urging for solidarity expressing how it is more important than ever for humanity to come together in unity and service to others. Mutual respect, dialogue and understanding, wisdom and compassion are necessary to our building a socially and sustainable, prosperous, and peaceful world. This supports the progress of humanity and continually underpins the metaphysical evolvement of the UN. We can say this is the transformational force. 59


The UN remains as critical today as it did when it was created. I understand how the circumstances of so many around the world rely on it. The text of the Charter and UDHR have held up because of their invisible pillars and they can therefore continue to offer hope the world over. The work in the un-nameable realms by so many of us contribute to sustain its inner vitality so that the UN endures as a beacon of light, divine light, shining the brightest ideals for our human family and our human spirit. Let’s use this opportunity to join in harmony with life’s vibrations and to build on its many successes for future generations incorporating the energy of its values that are central to its mission and goals. May all our leaders rise to seize this moment to realize these noble aspirations. As Nelson Mandela so aptly stated, “I believe that in the end it is kindness and generous accommodation that are the catalysts for real change.”

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 UNA-USA 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.

COVID-19 and Human Rights UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the COVID-19 pandemic should not be used as pretext by governments to violate individual human rights or repress the free flow of information. He warned, “The virus is having a disproportionate impact on certain communities through the rise of hate speech, the targeting of vulnerable groups, and the risks of heavy-handed security responses undermining the health response.” In a recent report on the pandemic and human rights, the UN highlighted that certain phrases, such as referring to the virus as a “foreigner’s disease,” could lead to xenophobia, discrimination, and racism. The UN further acknowledged in the same report the role that technology could play in addressing the virus, but cautioned, “The potential for abuse is high: what is justified during an emergency now may become normalized once the crisis has passed. Without adequate safeguards, these powerful technologies may cause discrimination, be intrusive and infringe on privacy, or may be deployed against people or groups for purposes going far beyond the pandemic response.” Click here to read the full story. 60


YOGA & THE WORK OF THE UNITED NATIONS

Beijing Platform for Action: Women’s Health & Empowerment By Padmini Murthy MD, MPH

Introduction September 1995 was a turning point in the struggle for human rights for women. More than 17,000 participants and 30,000 activists from all over the world congregated in Beijing for the opening of the fourth world conference on women. The common goal for these diverse participants was to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment globally. The outcome of this historic conference was the document, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPfA), which 25 years later is considered the most comprehensive and progressive document to advance women’s rights.1 This discussion focuses on particular critical areas in the BPfA which stress improving the health and empowering women and the girl child. BPfA and SDG 3 The 12 critical areas of BPfA are:1 Women and the environment Women in power and decision-making The girl child Women and the economy Women and poverty  Violence against women Human rights of women Education and training of women Institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women Women and health Women and the media Women and armed conflict1 Efforts to focus on promoting the 3rd (girl child) and 10 th (Women and Health) critical areas of the BPfA which refer to the girl child and women and health is crucial as it can help to meet the following SGD 3 targets: A. 3.1 which focuses on reducing global maternal mortality to less than 70 per 100,000 by 2020 and B. 3.2 which addresses ending preventable deaths of newborns and children and reducing maternal mortality. So how can these targets be met ? For specific targets of SDG 3, the author suggests incorporation of the critical areas of BPfA mentioned above into service delivery programs by global stakeholders such as--policy makers, UN agencies, civil society. Reaching the specific targets of SDG 5.1, 5.2 , 5.3 and 5.C (all indicated below) can be accelerated by incorporating the following critical areas of BPfA which are as follows: 2 (women and poverty), 4 (women in power and decision making), 6 (violence against women), and 7 (human rights of women). 5.1 End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere 5.2 Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation 5.3 Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation 5.C Adopt and strengthen sound policies and enforceable legislation for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at all levels. 3 Conclusion For the past 25 years, the global community has witnessed several initiatives and documents such as the Alma Ata Declaration, Beijing Platform for Action, Millennium Development Goals, Sustainable Development Goals and Universal Health Coverage. These focus on addressing the varies aspects of universal social wellbeing. It is crucial that the various stakeholders make conscious efforts to incorporate the critical areas of BfPA into their service delivery for the communities they serve, as we observe the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations. References 1.UN Women n.d. The Beijing Platform for Action: inspiration then and now. Available at https://beijing20.unwomen.org/en/about. Accessed on April 5 2. United Nations sustainable development Goals Platform n.d. Sustainable Development Goal 3.Ensure Healthy Lives and Well being for All at all Ages. Available at https:// sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdg3. Accessed on April 6 3. United Nations.n.d. Goal 5 Achieve Gender Equality and Empower all Women and Girls. Available at https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/gender-equality/. Accessed on April 6

Dr. Padmini (Mini) Murthy, MD, MPH, FAMWA is currently Professor and Global Health Director at New York Medical College School of Health Sciences and Practice. An internationally recognized leader in women’s health, Recipient of the Elizabeth Blackwell medal, Global Health lead, American Medical Women’s Association, First Vice President of The Global NGO Committee, and NGO Representative of Medical Women’s International Association to the UN and MWIA focal point to World Health Organization. A widely published author, she has made over 150 presentations to international audiences and has hosted a talk show on Millennium Development Goals on AV Blog Talk radio. 61


Opening New Horizons for Youngsters through Education By Kavita Khanna & Nalini Rau, UN NGO Representatives, SMVA Trust

In the remote areas of Andhra Pradesh in Southern India, children were forced into child labor and never experienced a normal carefree childhood. Her Holiness Amma Sri Karunamayi recognized the urgent need to rescue these youngsters from a life of grinding poverty and hard labor. She knew that education is at the heart of the solution to the myriad challenges rural girls specifically face. As many of us already know, illiteracy is linked to high fertility, unhealthy diet, lower income, lack of household autonomy and high child mortality. Amma subsequently founded the SMVA Trust to address these problems. When Her Holiness approached the village communities and suggested establishing a school for the youngsters, parents resisted at first. They felt their children should work to augment the family income. Amma reassured them that education would produce a better life for both the children as well as for their families. She put them at rest by telling them that uniforms and school supplies would be provided for free. Amma shared her wisdom about children freely. She says that youngsters are like saplings which need a proper environment for their development. When planted, a sapling needs to be nurtured so that in due course it grows into a big tree, thereby paying back many times over for the labor put in during the early years of its growth. In a similar way, children who are educated with love and care, later blossom to become productive citizens and contribute to society. In the early days, there was no school building so children were educated outdoors under the trees and in cowsheds. There was no facility to shelter them from the vagaries of the weather, and no bathrooms existed. This was a major challenge. When it rained, the cows were led into the sheds and the children were led out.

After some time, a school building with separate bathrooms for girls and boys and with doors for privacy was built, affecting everyone in a positive way. A ripple effect swept across the surrounding villages. As they saw their neighbors send their children to school, neatly dressed in uniforms, they began to do the same. Starting with a small elementary school, a middle and later a high school with a computer lab were added. Today there are two K-12 schools which serve the region. To further ensure the safety of the children, SMVA Trust provides a school bus to transport the youngsters to and from well-known designated stops. The school itself is picturesque, surrounded outside by green fields and rolling mountains, and, on the inside there are beautiful affirmations and photographs of great women and men. This idyllic setting provides a nurturing environment. HH Amma Sri Karunamayi says, “Students must be instructed in basic human values and their hands must become helping hands, so that they may benefit the world.� This is the guiding light for the education system in this remote rural region of Andhra Pradesh. A typical day begins with most arriving by school bus and the principal welcoming students into the building. Every morning the youngsters gather for Assembly by lining up in rows, boys to one side, girls to another, in identical uniforms. This Assembly, which ends with the national anthem, gives a sense of cohesiveness to the school. The children go to their respective classrooms where they and the teachers greet each other courteously. Every period begins with a quiet time to focus before teaching starts. 62


YOGA & THE WORK OF THE UNITED NATIONS Significantly, schooling continues beyond high school. Amma also created a college in the town of Guddur which offers scholarships and subsidized tuition. It should be emphasized that most of the students are the first in their families to attend school. Given this, they have done remarkably well and many are top academic performers. Most graduates pursue careers that were unimaginable just a decade ago. Amma believes that the girls and boys should be given a practical education to shape their character. She takes a personal interest in their development and instills a sense of pride, dignity and self-confidence. She urges them to lead a disciplined life and strive for good grades. She emphasizes universal values including respect for parents, teachers and elders. Boys are taught to be respectful toward girls through role playing. Prayer in one’s own faith, yoga and meditation are included in the daily curriculum. Environmental sustainability and living in harmony with nature is a key element of studies which comprise of green programs such as: tree planting, organic farming, and recycling. By take an active part in their community, the youngsters, by volunteering with the medical mobile units and assisting in the medical camps gain more personal experience. A holistic approach to education includes outdoor play—both structured and free play—and is built into the schedule. In addition to getting exercise and fresh air, the children, by engaging in team activities, develop core attributes such as determination, leadership skills, healthy competition, and a drive for excellence. A large playground has been constructed for the young ones while the older ones play football, participate in obstacle races, and engage in traditional team sports such as kabbadi, a popular contact sport, and khokho, an Indian tag game. It is heartwarming to see how access to education has influenced the youngster’s own aspirations for their future. For instance, the students are taught the aims of the United Nations and its sustainable development goals. They are excited to be a part of special UN days such as World Peace Day, in which they participate in Peace Marches; World Environment Day, when they plant trees; and World Yoga Day. As a result of this exposure, many students now have dreams of working for the United Nations! Amma fully understand that good education cannot thrive without providing basic needs such as clean water, safe housing and medical care. Due to a lack of clean drinking water, children to suffered from fluorosis. By equipping each village and the schools with water treatment facilities, Amma has alleviated this disease. At the same time, through the Sri Karunamayi Free Housing Project, Amma built homes providing shelter and security for the children. Similarly, the Sri Karunamayi Free Hospital was built to address health needs of the population offering a wide range of free services. Amma, in particular, instituted the Hrudaya Heart Foundation to surgically treat life-threatening heart diseases in young children who benefit from these operations regardless of religious background, gender or social status. Mobile medical care facilities, medical camps, counseling services as well as programs in nutrition and hygiene have improved the overall quality of life in rural Andhra Pradesh. The mission of SMVA Trust has grown and it has expanded to cover communities in parts of the world other than India. The Trust, in partnership with Partners for Real Change (PARC), embarked on several projects designed to provide a safe environment for girls to grow and attend school in the rural communities of Uganda. This alliance focuses on ensuring clean and safe restrooms, sanitary supplies and educating girls about their safety and privacy. For more information about SMVA Trust and HH Amma Sri Karunamayi please visit: www.smvatrust.org; www.karunamayi.org 63


Challapalli: Volunteer Clean India Initiative By Suresh Nadella

The Clean India Initiative started in the village of Challapalli (South India) with clean & green, and plastic use reduction goals. Volunteers gather every day by 4:00 AM and participate in activities to pick up the trash, plant trees, clean clogged storm drains, and paint building walls with inspirational pictures and slogans. This team provided funding to the ‘toilets for villagers’ projected and also constructed multiple public toilets. Challapalli has now been declared an “open defecation free” village. The dedicated volunteers are working very hard to educate people in waste management and to eliminate the single-use plastic items. The volunteers work together with the government to efficiently use the resources to keep the village clean and manage waste. The pictures below show the improvement of the sanitary conditions of the village. Some highlights are: - Working continuously for 1973 days with 200,000 hours, rain or shine - Donating 90% trust fund needs from their savings/salaries/pensions - Inspiring many other villages across the state of Andhra Pradesh, India - Living and campaigning for a “single use” plastic ban - Planting and maintaining greenery in and around the village (27,000 flower plants/trees) If we ask the volunteers, they always say yes as their main goal is to give back to society with unwavering commitment.

Suresh Nadella is Senior Principal Engineer at Optum and Ambassador of the ‘Clean & Green’ Challapalli project, India. 64


YOGA & THE WORK OF THE UNITED NATIONS

My Journey as an Opera Singer and a Yoga Teacher and How I Combine the Two By Heather Lee

I discovered meditation at an early age, but it was not necessarily formal. I had lots of opportunities as a child to observe things and think this is because I was the youngest of four children. A marriage break-up between my parents led me into a very internal world that nourished me and kept me pure through my childhood. There was a lot of music to listen to as a child. My mother loved the Australian soprano Dame Joan Sutherland and we spent a lot of time listening to her. On some level, I knew that I could sing, and, as I grew up, I sang more; first, singing in bands and ensembles; then musicals; then opera. Finally, I took the plunge to work primarily as a singer of sacred music – a position where things started to really change for me and when yoga and music really came together. Like many of us, I came to yoga as a young woman. When I was 16, I went along to an Ashram. There is a story behind this. I had been living with my father in a large step-family. A little while before, Dad had taken us away quickly and we moved into the house of a deeply spiritual woman named Joy, who had a profound effect on me. Joy kept lots of animals and was committed to a spiritual path. She encouraged me to find my true self and took me along to Ashrams, something every teenager should get to do. From that point Asanas came naturally. I was dancing and physical yoga and meditation helped me to be a little different from my peers. I turned vegetarian, and, a few years later started meditating more formally with an Indian meditation organization. It was a natural progression over time to turn vegan and to give up alcohol, and this really helped my spiritual path. That is how I have lived most of my adult life, following my inner voice, which I feel has nourished my outer voice. For years I was working as a singer and allowing these two parts of my life to quietly co-exist. I met some great yoga teachers and I had the experience to meet my partner Kim Cunio in a vocal ensemble. Kim’s love of early sacred music quickly spread to me. I became enamored with the spiritual history of music and the ability for the sacred thread of music that lies in music to help us to evolve. My life at this point was pretty fun, singing opera, recording for film and television then presenting very long slow concerts of cosmic repertoire in Sanskrit, Hebrew, Aramaic, Farsi and Latin.

This leads me to think that everything is vibration and that singing purely beautiful music and having a yogic practice are really good ways to investigate this. It led me to do my yoga teacher training about 5 years ago. This was interesting, because I was older than a lot of other people, and it had been years since I had completed my formal music training. I found a very wise woman in her 70s to be my guide as a teacher. She loved Kirtan as I do, and, we formed a deep connection that nourishes my teaching today. When she broke an arm and leg, she sent a picture to me and the other students of her practicing her pranayama in a wheelchair in the hospital. This is exactly what yoga offers us, something for every moment and a way to grow older with the grace of God in our hearts. On a more practical level, Asanas have kept me flexible and my voice flexible. In 2019, I sang for International Yoga Day at the UN, meeting Denise Scotto and a host of great New Yorkers who are working for our planet and its people. Coming from Australia, this was the perfect gig for me. I sang a chant written by the medieval composer Saint Hildegard Von Bingen (10981179). Hildegard took the women’s voice higher than it had ever been before. She was an inspiration combining music, visionary experience, cosmology, natural health into a vision of a total spiritual life. I would call this pure yogic chanting. For the second piece, I wanted to improvise on the feel of the room. I slowly breathed, closed my eyes, channeled the essence of harmony and opened myself and everyone else up to the journey and to the possibility in which there are no limitations. This is how these worlds of yoga and music should combine, in a natural and easy way. To finish, I would like to share a recent beautiful moment in my life. I was sitting with my father last year as he was about to leave the body. I looked into his eyes, his yogic gaze was an ocean of blue, and, I knew that there was pure love and forgiveness that would forever carry him on his journey. Because of what I do, I sang for him and I could feel the vibration of the music talk to him when he could no longer speak in words. It is something everyone can do. I hope that all of us have some version of this or another experience to draw upon, for this is our great potential as yogis in this precious life. Go well friends, Heather.

Heather Lee is a singer and yoga teacher. She has sung many of the world’s greatest sacred treasures including the Dead sea Scrolls, the Khalili collection of Islamic art, the Maharajah of Jodhpur’s sacred art collection and in recent years has recorded a number of albums with the Gyuto Monks of Tibet.

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Untitled Poem, April 1, 2020

Spring crosses the borders without a test kit, gloves, or mask, no global pandemic can send her back. By Caryn Scotto d’ Luzia

Caryn Scotto d’ Luzia is one of a handful of definitive developers of life-changing techniques for personal growth. For over two decades, she has helped both the general public and therapists, counselors and coaches all over the world transform their relationships with inner disharmony, inhibition, shame, trauma, sexuality, spirituality, and embodiment. Her embodied techniques are used widely in schools, at disaster sites, and in post-terrorist attacks. Caryn has taught at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY, and at the NY Open Center among other places. For one-on-one work, she offers breakthrough skype sessions, and 3 day in-person intensives on both the West and East coasts. To learn more about her work see: www.empoweredselfrelating.com 66


YOGA & HEALTH

The Corona Virus & the Need for Spiritual Well-Being By Deepak Chopra, MD, FACP

There are three levels of response to the COVID-19 outbreak: how it affects us physically, mentally and spiritually. The physical response came first, and by now everyone knows about self-isolation, social distancing and testing. The second effect, on our psyches, is being experienced personally but with only fitful answers and advice. The best advice in the mental area is meditation and yoga, relaxation techniques and paying attention every day to finding not just relaxation but joy and comfort in your life. The virus makes the need for a positive psychological response more urgent, and the good news is that meditation and yoga are good for anti-stress, which is connected to a strong immune response. But it is the third area, the spiritual effect of the outbreak, that is being neglected, even though the presence of death, whether we want it to or not, evokes concern about the state of our souls. Spiritual well-being is alien to many people’s daily lives, and with the decline of organized religion, millions of people experience a sick soul, however you want to define it —weariness of heart, existential dread, a sinking feeling that nothing really matters —without finding a way out. Don’t spend more than a few minutes diagnosing these feelings; everyone is experiencing them. Nor is it necessary to enter into metaphysical speculation about what life is all about. Instead, you can improve the state of your soul in the following ways: • • • • • •

Having a sense of meaning and purpose. Loving and being loved. Self-esteem, a sense of your own worth. Tapping into inner peace and joy. Being of service to others. Generosity of spirit.

We don’t need to apply the words “religious” or “spiritual” to these modes of healing. They are based on long traditions, both East and West, that have examined and understood the human condition. More to the point, they are practical. They give you a sense of control over your life. By bringing you closer to your soul, spirit, higher awareness or deeper self (choose any term you prefer), these things reverse the most damaging spiritual trend in modern society: the desperate urge to flee from ourselves. 67


Task Force Non-Pharmaceutical Approach to Lowering Inflammation A Motley Task Force There are teams all over the planet attempting to address the COVID-19 threat, each with a slightly different focus. This task force has assembled to pursue a non-pharmaceutical approach to lowering systemic inflammation that is accessible, effective, and supported by scientific evidence. The highly multidisciplinary task force so far includes: Deepak Chopra, MD is the leading figure in integrative medicine and head of the Chopra Foundation. Michelle Williams, SM, ScD is the Dean of Harvard’s School of Public Health and a renowned epidemiologist and public health scientist. William C. Bushell, PhD is a noted medical anthropologist and the research director of the Chopra Library. Paul Mills, PhD is chief of behavioral medicine at UCSD and a professor of family medicine and public health. Ryan Castle is executive director of the Chopra Library and focuses on systems dynamics relating to public health. Rudy Tanzi, PhD is a professor of neurology at Harvard University and Director of Genetics and Aging research unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, renowned for his research into Alzheimer’s, aging, and inflammation. Your soul is the most intimate part of you, and it isn’t found by running away. Write down how you can perform an act of kindness today, show appreciation to someone, offer help to those in need, or bring comfort to someone feeling lonely and anxious —the simple human gestures we tend to overlook. In a time of crisis, the impulse is to go into emergency mode, fear, concern and panic. Giving in to those impulses will engender an epidemic of soul sickness. I particularly want to underscore the issue of finding inner peace and joy, which can seem like a remote possibility just now and in the coming months. In the world’s wisdom traditions, it has been taught in every culture that inner peace and joy are available only through looking inward. The Old Testament says, “Be still and know that I am God.” The New Testament says that the Kingdom of Heaven is within. The Indian Vedic tradition says that Ananda, or bliss, lies at the heart of creation. Universal truths don’t matter until they are true for you personally. The secret imparted by the world’s wisdom traditions is that your sense of self, the simple experience of “I am,” is the gateway to inner peace and joy. Meditation is nothing more than being alone in silence with yourself and letting your awareness go to the place where peace and joy are eternal. That’s how you test an eternal truth and make it true for you. It doesn’t terribly matter what kind of meditation you do; using a simple mantra like “So hum” is effective, but you can find meditation instructions everywhere online. The point is that among all the ways to find spiritual fulfillment, this is the most lasting, the most satisfying and the most meaningful.

Dr Chopra is founder of The Chopra Foundation, a nonprofit entity for research on well-being and humanitarianism, and Chopra Global, a health company at the intersection of science and spirituality. A pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation, Chopra is a clinical professor of family medicine and public health at the University of California, San Diego, and serves as a senior scientist with Gallup Organization. He is the author of more than 89 books translated into across 43 languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. His latest, and 90th book, is Metahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential (Harmony Books).

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YOGA & HEALTH By Padmini Murthy MD, MPH

Introduction COVID 19 has unleashed unimaginable chaos, death and destruction on the global community and we seem to be powerless to stop its unrelenting effects. We are at war with a powerful infectious virus since the past couple of weeks and the global community is frantically searching for strategies to say healthy. This article gives a snapshot of possible benefits of practicing yoga and using the science of Ayurveda in addressing the COVID 19 pandemic. Advantages of Yoga during the Current COVID 19 Crisis Researchers in Harvard Medical School have indicated that the practice of yoga and pranayama (controlled breathing) can help to address increasing worldwide anxiety levels due to the pandemic. In addition, these guidelines indicate that yoga and meditation are important contributors for relaxation, which is evidence based.1

Benefits of Yoga & Ayurveda during the COVID 19 Pandemic 69

John Sharp MD is a board-certified internationally acclaimed psychiatrist for over 25 years and has been treating patients’ mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. He indicated that regular meditation is calming. Apps including Yoga studio and Pocket Yoga can be downloaded on a smart phone and used to learn yoga. Especially now, with millions of people home-bound and workout facilities with gyms and playgrounds are closed, online yoga instruction via group classes and apps are key in helping people exercise. Dr Sharp has discussed the importance of controlled breathing and shared his recommendation for a simple technique known as square breathing. “Visualise your breath traveling along a square. As you follow the instructions to inhale, hold your breath, or exhale, count slowly to three on each side. Inhale up the first side of the square. Slowly count one, two, three. Hold your breath across the top. One, two, three. Exhale down the other side of the square. One, two, three. Then, hold your breath across the bottom. One, two, three. By practicing this breathing exercise for few minutes, you should feel calmer and more centered,” 1 Other forms of Pranayama which can alleviate anxiety are Anulom Vilom and Ujjayi Breathing and have shown to have a calming effect on those who practice it. According to a special health report published by Harvard Medical School, research has demonstrated that the regular practice of yoga reduces the sympathetic response and turns on the parasympathetic response. This leads to a calming effect. In addition, a 90 minute session has demonstrated the lowering of cortisol levels in the individual. 2 The report further emphasizes the importance of the combination of the four main practices of yoga namely--yogic postures, breathing exercises (pranayama), deep relaxation and meditation. These not only facilitate relaxation but are also instrumental in increasing physical fitness .2 Since we, as a global community, are under enormous stress presently, the practice of yoga is invaluable in promoting a complete state of health as defined by the World Health Organization—WHO-(physical, mental and social wellbeing) As a result of the enormous stress that millions of people have been subjected to, there is the likelihood of an increase in substance abuse (tobacco, recreational drugs and alcohol consumption). The practice of yoga, by reducing stress, can contribute both directly and indirectly to promoting a healthy lifestyle and in decreasing dependency on tobacco, alcohol and other recreational drugs.


The most important benefit of the regular practice of yoga is its role in increasing the immunity of those practicing it. Results from a pilot study conducted in 2015 found that yoga practiced regularly for 90 minutes a week in a class and 40 minutes a day at home was instrumental in strengthening the immune system.2 Current recommendations for the global community are social distancing, staying at home, repeated hand washing, using personal protection equipment as-and-when needed, using disinfectants to wipe phones, door handles, etc. In addition, the author who is a physician, a public health practitioner and a yoga practitioner, strongly suggests the inclusion of the practice of yoga as an another recommendation. Ayurveda in the Current COVID 19 crisis At present, there is no cure for this devastating disease caused by the novel corona virus. There are various protocols comprising antivirals and antimalarial medications which are being tested globally. The science of Ayurveda has been practiced in India since ancient times. Ayurveda’s principles of preventive care are derived from the concepts known as ‘Dinacharya’ “which are daily regimes” and ‘Ritucharya’ “which refers to seasonal regimes which are recommended for maintaining a healthy life. The Ministry of AYUSH which stands for Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy in India made the following preventative recommendations to address the COVID 19 crisis there. These measures are grounded in recommendations of eminent ayurvedic experts and in Ayurvedic literature. 3 * (The author would like to categorically state that these recommendations are not endorsed in any way by her and are for informational purposes only. She strongly advises readers to seek the advice of a qualified Ayurvedic physician for further guidance on following these recommendation) General Measures recommended by AYUSH 1. 2. 3. 4.

Drink warm water throughout the day. Practice daily Yogasana, Pranayama and Meditation for at least 30 minutes Stay at home during the lockdown and maintain social distancing Regularly use Tumeric, Cumin seeds, Garlic and Coriander leaves or seeds in cooking. 3

AYUSH Ayurvedic Immunity Promoting Measures 1.

2. 3. 4. 5.

Eat a teaspoon of Chavanaprash (Chyawanprash (CP), an Ayurvedic health supplement) which is composed of a super-concentrated blend of nutrient-rich herbs and minerals. It is made from an extract of 50 herbs with the main ingredient being goose berry (amla), which is rich in Vitamin C in the morning. CP is considered a metabolic tonic, and, according to the principles of Ayurveda, possesses multiple health benefits. It has been widely used since ancient times as a health supplement to promote good health and wellbeing. Drink an herbal tea which is made from basil leaves, cinnamon powder, black pepper, dry ginger pieces and raisins, once to twice a day. Jaggery and fresh lime juice may be added as an option. Drink a teaspoon of turmeric powder in warm milk once a day. Seam inhalation with fresh Pudina (mint) leaves or Ajwain (caraway seeds) during a dry cough or for a sore throat once a day. Take Lavang (clove) powder mixed with natural sugar or honey 2-3 times a day for cough or throat irritation. 3

*Please note that symptoms of persistent dry cough, fever ,chills, breathlessness necessity the need for immediate medical attention A Simple Ayurvedic Procedure 1. 2.

Oil Pulling Therapy Take 1 tablespoon of sesame or coconut oil into your mouth. Do not drink it, but, swish it inside your mouth for 2 to 3 minutes. Then, spit it out, followed by a warm water rinse. This can be done once or twice a day.3

Conclusion As we come to terms with how to address this dire situation which has shaken the very core of the global community, we need to be positive, stay optimistic (easier written than done), exercise regularly, try to stay healthy, do our part in being socially responsible, and combine forces to overcome these challenging times. References 1. The Week 2020. Harvard Medical School recommends yoga to deal with COVID-19 anxiety. Available at https://www.theweek.in/news/world/2020/03/16/harvard-medical-school-recommendsyoga-to-deal-with-covid-19-anxiety.html. Accessed April 4 2. Kaahla SBS, and Elson L Eds N.D. Harvard Medical School. An Introduction to Yoga Improve your strength, balance, flexibility, and well-being. Accessed April 4 3. Curren Trigger 2020. Ayurveda’s immunity boosting measures for self-care during COVID 19 crisis. Available at http://www.currentriggers.com/health/ayurveda-covid-19-crisis/ Accessed April 4

Dr. Padmini (Mini) Murthy, MD, MPH, FAMWA is currently Professor and Global Health Director at New York Medical College School of Health Sciences and Practice. An internationally recognized leader in women’s health, Recipient of the Elizabeth Blackwell medal, Global Health lead, American Medical Women’s Association, First Vice President of The Global NGO Committee, and NGO Representative of Medical Women’s International Association to the UN and MWIA focal point to World Health Organization. A widely published author, she has made over 150 presentations to international audiences and has hosted a talk show on Millennium Development Goals on AV Blog Talk radio. 70


YOGA & HEALTH

KARUNA RESPONSE TO THE CORONAVIRUS

By BK Sr Mohini

Karuna comes from the Sanskrit kara, meaning “to do,” or “to make.” Karuna is a compassionate state of being as part of a shared human experience. Karuna is the compassionate doing of something to alleviate suffering. Karuna is a key element of the yogic path, opening the “eye” of enlightened wisdom to see the harmony, connectedness, and interdependence of all living beings and their natural environments within the whole universe. Karuna is the highest level of compassion and is comprised of six basic spiritual virtues latent in the soul. These latent virtues are transmitted from the living beings, souls, through the spiritual trajectory of awareness, attitude, vision, and action. These virtues live as vibrational frequencies in the soul, and their expression forms a living system of interrelationships that connects us in the experience of life. Karuna is like a satellite that emits the frequencies of love, kindness, mercy, forgiveness, non-violence, and generosity. The Coronavirus is a global health and societal emergency that calls on the collective effort of human beings to take informed and effective action to protect the self and others. The virus is an excretion of a toxic cell that has gone viral. It spreads mainly between people through respiratory droplets from an infected person as well as through touching surfaces that may contain germs from the virus, then touching one’s own mouth, nose, and eyes. In order to cope with the sudden-ness of this outbreak and the drastic precautions people are being asked to take, there are a lot of emotional and psychological consequences, such as distress and anxiety, uncertainty and worry, confusion and fear, and over-reaction. Because there is no immediate treatment available to deal with the virus, people are moving into spiritual domains for strength, support, and signals. Karuna is offered as a collective spiritual experiment to help open our hearts and souls to a more elevated response, one requiring resilience and flexibility. Compassionate Love Compassionate love is care and consideration for someone. It is not selfish in its aims and upholds respect, reverence, and regard. Its intention is pure. People who love compassionately, whether for loved ones, their community, or all of humankind, do so continually, and maintain a relationship with others through selfless service. Social Distancing – Don’t Be Distressed In observing social distancing, the space of six feet apart invites us to practice the spiritual principle of “being detached and loving.” The foundation of human life is love. Love brings souls closer. Being detached gives us the chance to be fully present. Social distancing is the opportunity to share spiritual love. With your eyes, emit the vibrations of elevated thoughts, pure feelings. This is called “drishti” -- the sharing of soul conscious love. With your folded hands, honor the divinity in the other. This is called “namaste.” With your smile, acknowledge the other with the peaceful greeting of “omshanti.” Compassionate Kindness Compassionate kindness comes from self-compassion – do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It is the ability to be gentle with the self and to go beyond self-judgments. When we enhance this inner ability to really see the self, then we can see and feel what is around us. We would treat others the way we would want to be treated. Compassionate kindness brings stability and satisfaction in relationships. It gives courage and strength to see every thought, word, and action as an opportunity to be kind in large and small ways. 71


Cleanliness Is Important – Don’t Become Frustrated At a time when we are dealing with preventative responses, the spiritual tenet of “cleanliness gives the clarity to be safe” is applicable. Every time I wash my hands or wipe a surface, I am being kind and keeping others safe. It takes a clear and clean intellect to discern between choice and compulsion. Choose kindness! Compassionate Mercy Compassionate mercy motivates benevolence – going out of one’s way to help another. To be of service to others gives a feeling of gratitude, something to be thankful for. It is a spiritual disposition of understanding the essential in the expansion, the underpinning wisdom in the vastness of information overload. Be Informed – Don’t Over-react To be knowledgeable of something is to have mercy on yourself, family, and community. Knowledge makes it easy to follow directions with understanding. Mercy is to stay with what is essential and not to over-listen, over-read, overspeak, and over-react about the information so abundantly available. Don’t keep thinking about the many different opinions. Not keeping the detailed expansion in your mind and heart means to have mercy for the self. Merge the waste of worry and stay with the pure feelings of hope. The mercy of your own heart enables you to have disinterest for the various types of ideas and opinions that could cause over-reaction on your part. Compassionate Forgiveness Compassionate forgiveness is an awareness that generates a willingness to let go of guilt and blame that cause disturbance and distress to the soul. It is the wisdom to forgive the self for acting out of ignorance and to reinstate a sense of dignity by acting from enlightened responsibility. Check for Symptoms – Don’t Blame When millions of people globally have to face the fact that they may contract a deadly virus, then we know that we are embracing a collective settlement for something that we contributed to in some way and form. The usual response is to project, to blame, and to accuse. In this particular settlement, it appears the law of karma is enabling the animals to have their karmic revenge. The time of collective settlement is also a time for reconciliation and forgiveness. It’s the time to take our lifestyle seriously and to change our awareness, attitude, and actions especially toward animals, plants, and Planet Earth. Forgiveness is grounded in deep realization of causes, symptoms, and consequences. Forgiveness sets us free. Compassionate Non-Violence Compassionate non-violence is to appeal to fairness, not to fear. The human heart is capable of conceiving a complete substitute for violence. The heart’s deepest nature is to trust what is true and real. The roots of this substitute grow from courage, not from confusion. True non-violence is only possible with unadulterated fearlessness. At Times of Uncertainty -- Don’t Get Confused Some people behave in certain violent ways when their behaviors are driven by fear. Panic unearths exclusion and discrimination, resulting in anger, resentment, and prejudices. For other people, compassionate non-violence is embodied best at times of uncertainty. At these times, these people spontaneously act from the heart, coming together in community as one human family. Compassionate Generosity Compassionate generosity is to live from the heart and not from the ego. As a human family, we must accept that in life there are many challenges. In the face of challenges, we must rise with humility, calmness, and courage. Compassionate generosity urges us to open our hearts to our people and our planet. Compassionate generosity stops us from viewing life through the eyes of greed. It prevents us from becoming small, narrow-minded, lonely, bitter, and resentful. Compassionate generosity is to live from a place of authenticity and abundance. It opens our eyes to see life as it is (a new normal), instead of how it should be (normalcy bias). Compassionate generosity awakens goodness in the soul and helps us to cultivate heart-to-heart bonds and to live pure, unselfish lives.

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YOGA & HEALTH Starting on May 14 and continuing each Thursday evening for six weeks, members of the Brahma Kumaris led collective meditation relating to the corona virus exploring different values in response. JOIN US ON THURSDAYS FOR A POWERFUL VIRTUAL VISIT TO THE UNITED NATIONS MEDITATION ROOM

PAUSE WHEREVER YOU ARE AT 6:45 PM EST

For a 15 minute meditation on the KARUNA (COMPASSION) RESPONSE TO CORONA (VIRUS) Thursday, 14 May we begin with the first of 6 values - LOVE. Together we’ll move through the doors of the UN and into this sacred space inspired by UN Secretary General, Dag Hammerskjöld: “This is a room devoted to peace and those who are giving their lives for peace. This is a room of quiet where only thoughts should speak.”

Lockdown -- Enough for Everyone’s Need – Don’t Panic There is a panic that runs through the society when there’s a lockdown. People begin to stockpile and hoard food and other essential supplies. The supermarkets and stores can sometimes hardly keep up with consumers’ demand. The mindset is “survival of the fittest.” Compassionate generosity can be applied through the simple reminders of “less is more,” “enough for everyone’s need, but not everyone’s greed,” and “sharing is caring.” To practice compassionate generosity at the time of crisis fosters a sense of community and a feeling of interconnectedness. This shifts the focus away from selfishness to a spirit of being in it together. In conclusion, the thought and deep hope is that the human family will rise and open our hearts with a more elevated response, moving from the shared human experience of the Coronavirus to a collective spiritual response of karuna. What would this look like? Karuna is like a spiritual schema, a subtle vibrational system. The combined concentrated force of Karuna – love, kindness, mercy, forgiveness, non-violence, and generosity -- is in the subconscious of every soul. The collective force of Karuna can transform the toxic vibrations present in the current state of our world. Think of Karuna as a spiritual satellite, orbited beyond the gravity of the universe, and souls as living modems strategically planted across the world. Karuna has to be generated from a “Higher Source” to carry properties to transform matter. The souls are spiritual beings, and when connected to the “Source” of spiritual power – the Supreme Being -- the souls’ collective Karuna can spread across the globe instantaneously. This is the practice of Raja Yoga. It is the way to access “shakti,” or transformative spiritual power, from the Supreme Source and to ignite the spiritual power of Karuna from within the soul. It is the method to purify the energy fields of physical matter. Mohini Panjabi Regional Representative North, South, and Central America and the Caribbean Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual Organization March 2020

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UN GA Resolution regarding COVID 19 UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the coronavirus is “the most challenging crisis we have faced since the Second World War”. The SG warned that unless the world came together to fight the virus, millions of people could die. On March 23, he called for an “immediate global ceasefire” to protect vulnerable civilians in conflict zones from the ravages of the pandemic. “Unfortunately, hostilities have gone unabated,” said Laetitia Courtois, the UN representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The UN General Assembly on April 2, 2020 approved a resolution by 188 member states calling for “international cooperation” and “multilateralism” in response to the Covid-19 crisis, in the first text to come out of the international body since the outbreak began. The resolution came as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases around the world soared past one million and deaths topped 50,000 as Europe reeled from the pandemic and the US reported the highest daily death toll so far of any country. The resolution was approved by consensus and stresses “the need for full respect for human rights” and that “there is no place for any form of discrimination, racism and xenophobia in the response to the pandemic”. It also emphasized the central role of the body in the global health and economic crisis. Unlike UN Security Council, GA Resolutions are not binding but have strong political value.

World Press Freedom Day “A healthy society should not have just one voice.” Dr. Li Wenliang, persecuted after warning about the 2020 coronavirus and died at the age of 33 on February 7. Dr. Li’s words are an urgent plea that brings up how societies need uncensored doctors and scientists to speak freely, and, for journalists to keep people informed about public health issues with truth and transparency. There is a lot of contradictory reporting between what is seen in scientific literature and what is seen in the media. For women and girls, fair and honest reporting is even more crucial. Do you know that during this coronavirus pandemic: violence against women has increased over 25% in many countries around worldwide; some states in the US are trying to temporarily bar women’s right to abortion, and, women are experiencing heavier job losses while undertaking increased childcare needs during school closures globally? Back in 1993 the UN GA adopted a Resolution marking May 3, World Press Freedom Day. It acts as a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom. It also prompts media professionals to consider professional ethics and obligations, assess the state of a free press around the world, defend the media from attacks on their independence, recognize journalists are entitled to be safe in their profession and pay tribute to those who have lost their lives in the line of duty. The theme for 2020, is: Journalism without Fear or Favour with the various sub-themes: Safety of Women and Men Journalists and Media Workers; Independent and Professional Journalism Free from Political and Commercial Influence; Gender Equality in All Aspect of the Media. In 1997, the UNESCO/Annual Prize was instituted to highlight a person, organization or institution that has made an outstanding contribution to the defense and/or promotion of press freedom anywhere in the world, especially when achieved in the face of danger. Named in honor of Guillermo Cano Isaza, who is a Colombian journalist who was assassinated in front of the offices of his newspaper El Espectador in Bogotá, Colombia on 17 December 1986.

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Yoga of the Heart By Swami Shanmuga & Amma Adi Sakthi

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has unleashed suffering around the world. It is a time when many are asking why this is happening and what we can do to minimize the suffering and prevent such tragic events from unfolding in the future. There is almost a feeling of helplessness that as an individual we cannot do much to stop this havoc. Governments, local administrations, organizations and individuals are waging a battle to contain this pandemic through various measures. Apart from these external efforts which are necessary, every individual, you, and, we included, can do something to help the world by changing our inner world. Our inner and outer worlds are a play and balance of opposites, the male and female, the yin and yang, the light and dark, the good and bad. It is a balance of consciousness and energy, also known as Shiva-Shakti. It is one appearing to be dual. When there is an imbalance of polarities, nature churns through herself to bring things back into balance. Out of every destruction emerges a better creation, a better world, even though the process of destruction is extremely painful. Our history is a testimony of this. Even as nature is resetting itself, it is forcing us to look deep within ourselves and to bring into balance the collective human consciousness. The external world is a reflection of our internal world both at an individual consciousness and collective consciousness. As we proactively elevate our inner consciousness, we start seeing changes in the external world. When enough people elevate themselves internally, the world at large will change for the better. How do we go about doing this? First, recognize the transient nature of ourselves and transcend beyond to become one with our higher Self. We identify ourselves with our body, mind, name, fame, education, family, possessions and so on. But all these are transient. As we delve 75


deep into who am I, we realize that there is a part of us that is immutable, and that is our higher Self. When we become aware of the impermanence of our bodies and everything around us, and, when we become aware of the unchanging Self, we have already started an inner journey. Second, come into Ekatvam, or Oneness with our higher Self. When one is in union with one’s higher Self, one is really in Oneness with Divine Consciousness. Recognize and acknowledge the inner light. We need to awaken our consciousness from the old to the new, from the lower vibrations to the higher ones, to birth new energies. Operate from the heart space rather than the headspace. Go deep within through the practice of meditation or delving on the Divine. As we go deeper into our inner selves, we develop the acuity to unravel the illusory layers veiling our true Self. As we pierce through these false layers and cast aside everything that is not the true us, we arrive at pure consciousness, the soul embedded deep within our being. It is a pristine place of raw potency, where we see the bright light that we indeed are. When we transcend duality within ourselves and in the outer world, we become truly One with our higher Self. Third, understand what nature is teaching us through these calamities. As the world is going through an external lockdown, we need to spend time going through an internal lockdown and sit within ourselves. Acknowledge without guilt the darkness that exists within us, and, shine the inner Divine light in those dark recesses. We need to recognize to go beyond our self-centric existence and to be more in Oneness with the world. We need to be more about unity and harmony with nature and with all beings, animate and inanimate. Fourth, stop operating from a framework of fear. What is worse than the current coronavirus is the fear of it. Our fears about something make it only worse. When we recognize that fear is an illusion that appears real, when we can observe our fears without judgment, we can stand apart from it and take action despite its presence instead of being paralyzed by it. This will strengthen our mental capacity and our soul and develop enough fortitude within us to not only face the current crisis but anything that may come. There are unseen positive and negative forces and energies that are working on the earth plane. At the current moment, negative forces are overpowering the positive ones. Like energies attract each other. If we harbour negative energies and consciousness, we attract more negativity and it amplifies itself. By becoming conscious of this, we can transcend, transform and transmute the negative to become magnets for positive energies. Doing this not only helps our individual selves but the world at large. By practicing this Yoga of the Heart, we can lend our energies for the ascension of the earth plane and become a light in our own right. We can all together in Ekatvam, in Oneness, become co-creators for a better world for ourselves and future generations.

Swami Shanmuga and Amma Adi Sakthi are a Yogi and Yogini couple who personify the Divine Mother’s energies. For many years they have been in Tapasya, a profound spiritual discipline, spent mostly in solitude. At the current time they are in Mangala Tapasya in the Himalayas to usher auspiciousness and Satya Loka energies in the world. They have been beloved guests of the UN Staff Recreation Council Enlightenment Society many times. For more information please visit www.pratyangira.org and www.ekatvam.org.

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Maha Mrityunjaya Manta by HH Amma Sri Karunamayi

OM TRYAMBAKAM YAJAMAHE SUGANDHIM PUSHTIVARDHANAM URVARUKAMIVA BANDHANAN MRITYOR MOKSHIYE MAAMRITAT

One Translation I worship the divine Lord Shiva, the Three-Eyed One, whose fragrance nourishes all beings with his healing divine energy. May he free me from all attachments—physical suffering, mental disturbance and spiritual ignorance—granting me liberation, even as I realize that I am one with him, just like the cucumber is one with the vine that sustains it. 77


Benefits of Mantra Chanting The Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra is one of the oldest and one of the most significant mantras in Indian mythology and spirituality which addresses Lord Shiva. In a sense it is the very heart of the Vedas, being found in three different places in the following three texts: the Rigveda VII.59.12, the Yajur Veda III.60, and the Atharva Veda XIV.1.17. This mantra is a blend of three words i.e. ‘Maha’, which means great, ‘Mrityun’ means death and ‘Jaya’ means victory, which is translated as victory over death. While the literal meaning of the mantra is important, the sounds of the mantra are more important to those who chant it. Just like music, the resonance of these sounds attracts the mind and leads it to an inner experience. While Shiva is customarily recognized as compassionate in his nature by being a shelter of kindness and a giver of boons, this mantra refers to his dual nature in his aspect of Lord Rudra, the one who roars, who fiercely protects the downtrodden. The Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra is also the Rudra Mantra in addition to the Tryambakam mantra, which is often chanted as part of the Rudram, a hymn to Lord Rudra. Sri Rudra protects all beings and all beings are in him. The mantra is chanted to the three-eyed one to prevent ill health and untimely death. Ill health includes: 1.Bhavaroga (ignorance, ego and the six inner enemies or character flaws.) 2. Mental disease (commotion, fear, sorrow, disappointments, pain, depression, etc.) and 3. Physical ailments(all bodily diseases). Only Sri Rudra can destroy all these diseases. Layers of curtains of ignorance are burnt away by this mantra and one is drenched by a special effulgence. Like a sieve that separates the wheat from the chaff, the mantra purifies and illumines the heart by sieving the useless samskaras (thoughts) accumulated within. To seek the grace of Sri Rudra, this popular mantra has been chanted in India since the ages. Today, the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra is used for japa by hundreds of thousands of people all over the world. The Maha Mrtyunjaya Mantra also grants peace to the Universe. When chanted with dedication, devotion and deep love, the sound waves of this powerful mantra occupy every part of the world and are capable of burning the negative vibrations in the atmosphere. When chanted during sunrise, abundant effulgence emanates from the sadhaka. By chanting this mantra regularly at least 108 times a day for some years, one will experience that everything is Shiva, that the Divine is all-pervading. One can experience Shiva in grass blades, sand, mountains, rivers, flowers, plants, animals, human beings, sun, moon, earth, stars, light, sound, energy, and ultimately realize oneself to be Shiva. The Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra is particularly appropriate for mantra chanting or japa at this time in our current circumstance. Anyone who can, should chant it at least 108 times every day with respect and devotion. Our collective prayers will hasten this disturbing time and bring healing to our Mother Earth and all beings that are on it. The compassionate Lord Shiva will surely grant this. Some are familiar with this mantra as the Mrita-Sanjivini mantra (literally “Reviver of the dead”) because it is a component of the “life-restoring” practice given to the primordial sage Sukracharya after he had completed a particularly exhausting period of austerity. Many meditators use the Maha Mrtyunjaya Mantra in their daily practice. In line with Shiva’s compassion and inclusiveness, there are no restrictions as to who may learn and recite the it, so long as one does it with sincerity. It may be easier to chant the mantra by using a mala, or a string of 108 beads, which can help one to count the number of repetitions. You may treat one complete mala as 108 repetitions of the mantra. A meaningful practice is to complete 8,640 repetitions in 40 days by practicing the mantra with one full round of the mala in the morning and, again, in the evening. The best time to chant this mantra is the early morning hours (Brahma Muhurta), around 4:00am. The Maha Mrityunjaya mantra provides a multitude of benefits and is routinely invoked as a healing and nourishing mantra. The healing force awakened by this mantra ripples out from body to psyche and then outward from psyche to soul. It strengthens our powers of will, knowledge, and action, unblocking the flow of enthusiasm, courage, and determination. It helps to tune into the healing force that is always at work within oneself, supporting one’s growth, lifting one up in times of trouble, and reminding one of the higher purpose and aim of life. The vibration of this mantra awakens one’s internal healing force while attracting nature’s healing agents, creating an environment where the forces from both origins converge. On many levels, this mantra connects us to the healer within. It helps us to receive the full nourishment from food, herbs, or any discipline undertaken for our total health and well-being, creating an inner environment to enhance their effectiveness. When chanted with respect and devotion, this mantra proves to be lifesaving. It is said that the mantra generates divine vibrations that ward off all the negative and evil forces and creates a powerful protective shield. Regular chanting protects one from sudden death, accidents, famine, misfortunes of any kind, and unexplained situations.

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 women’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. 78


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Global Healing Prayers for Corona Virus By Ven. Bhikkhu Sanghasena

The Mahabodhi International Meditation Centre and the Mahakaruna Foundation organised a Special Global Healing Prayer for Corona Virus at the Mahabodhi Temple Bodhgaya under the Bodhi Tree in India on March 9, 2020. Over 700 people including Sangha members, representing the three major Buddhist traditions, gathered under the most sacred Bodhi Tree to dedicate prayers for overcoming the Covid-19 pandemic soon. At the same time, in Ladakh, the Mahabodhi Karuna Charitable Hospital was offered to the people of Ladakh to be converted into a Covid-19 Hospital there. There are many instances in human history that genuine Prayer of great compassion have been able to control and overcome such epidemics. One such incident happened during the lifetime of Lord Buddha himself in the city of Vesali. The city was stricken by several successive and related disasters. Upon requesting the Buddha by the people of Vesali, Lord Buddha delivered the Jewel Discourse. The City was later thoroughly healed and cleansed and the epidemic subsided. Remembering the incident which took place in Vesali inspired me to organize this special Global Healing Prayer to send an inspiring message of compassion to the entire Human Family. This is an opportunity for all of us to come together to help and show solidarity with our fellow human beings. It is an opportune time to rise above irrelevant differences and develop empathy and compassion towards one another and win over this deadly virus collectively. Let us all stand strong and sail through this problem with faith and courage and come out victoriously. Let’s march from Corona to Karuna together!!!

Ven. Bhikkhu Sanghasena is the founder of the Mahabodhi International Meditation Centre and the Mahakaruna Foundation. More than two decades ago, he established the Mahabodhi Karuna Charitable Hospital offering medical and healthcare to the people of the Ladakh region of the Himalayas which has served countless people. 80


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Light the Lamp of Hope, Compassion & Unity by Amma Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi

“During this time, when the entire world is reeling in the darkness of the COVID-19 pandemic, let each of us come together to light the lamp of hope, compassion and unity. The virus is filling us internally and externally with the poison of fear and anxiety. To destroy it, we have to ignite our inner flame, our inner light. Let us light the lamp of new life, the light of goodness, the light of knowledge that dispels the darkness of ignorance. Let us eliminate this poison with the panacea of right action and right thinking at the right time. Fire is the presiding deity of the spoken word. The qualities of fire are heat and light. However, in recent times, we have been emitting only heat and smoke instead of light. This very heat and smoke now are choking us. May we all be able to come together as one and light the lamp of knowledge, both internally and externally, thereby removing this heat and smoke. If we all stand together as one, we can achieve this. Let us do the right thing with selfconfidence and with an attitude of selflessness and love. You may wonder, “How can this dense darkness be removed if I light this tiny lamp?” If each one of us lights a small lamp, the strength of the light will multiply, and everything can be illumined. Similarly, this action should help us to ignite the light in each of our hearts. May our selfless action combined with divine grace protect the world. Then, we will definitely succeed and come out of this darkness.” ––Amma (Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi) 5 April 2020 message from Amritapuri Spiritual leader, humanitarian and visionary Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, known throughout the world simply as “Amma”, and the hugging saint has served the world-community for decades, imparting wisdom, strength and inspiration. Through her extraordinary acts of love, inner strength and self-sacrifice, Amma has endeared herself to millions and inspired thousands to follow in her path of selfless service. She is Founder, Embracing the World, Mata Amritanandamayi Math, and Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, and Chancellor, Amrita University.

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COVID-19 Message

by Abhijata Iyengar, Grand-daughter of Yogacharya B. K. S. Iyengar and Senior Teacher at the Iyengar Institute in Pune, India, 27 March 2020 “My dear friends, We are now in a time and situation that we never imagined. We always believed it has happened to “them” and will not happen to “us”. Time tells us that each one is as vulnerable as the other. The whole world, as one body, is deeply affected. “We are confined to our homes and Nature has forced upon us a time to just pause. Though courage is an asset for a yoga practitioner, equally important is sensitivity to the present moment. This is a forced time for self-study for us. Your practice sessions now can be so enriching because you are practically locked down. Take up asanas, pranayama, concepts and books that you always shoved under the carpet. We always complained we had no time on our hands. Here it is. Find the joy in quiet practice sessions. Find the actions and responses in each asana and pranayama. “It is also an opportunity to sit back and revisit any of our actions, reactions and decisions. In the hustle-bustle of everyday living, we had taken many things for granted and did not quite reflect on those, both on the mat and off the mat. Here is our time to do so …. I implore you to adhere to the rules laid out by your governing authorities. Please do not step out for classes, practice sessions, meetings etc. We owe it to our friends and families, to stay put where we are. The whole world, in this pandemic has rediscovered a spirit of unity. Let us hold on to it and act sensitively. “A shloka in Bhagavad Gita explains well our duties now: Acts of sacrifice, charity and penance are not to be given up; they must be performed. Indeed, sacrifice, charity and penance purify even the great souls. (18.5).” In a far corner of the world, I pray for the health and well-being of each one of us. Please, take care. With great affection, Abhijata Iyengar.”

Abhijata Iyengar started seriously studying yoga from the young age of 16 under the direct guidance of her maternal grandfather, B.K.S. Iyengar, her aunt, Dr. Geeta S. Iyengar and uncle Sri Prashant Iyengar. She is a senior teacher at Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI).

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YOGA & OUR NATURAL WORLD

Animals and Yoga: Urban Trend Urges Reconnection to Nature By Sw. Shraddhananda Saraswati

It started in the West with baby goats wandering around in urban yoga studios. Then came kittens and puppies, yaks, lamas, kangaroos, and sheep. Some tried bunnies. I am going to hazard a guess that someone may have gotten the idea to bring animals into yoga studios from travel in India. On the subcontinent, north and south, all kinds of mammals wander around together. Doing hatha yoga with animals appears to be stylish in Western studios, and the presence of furry beings may have a deeper purpose. “It doesn’t surprise me that the innocence of animals is something people want to connect with,” said Guru Jagat, Kundalini Yoga Master and Founder of RA MA Institute for Applied Yoga Science and Technology. “Everything’s gotten so complicated and denatured that we covet anything that reminds us of simplicity and innocence,” he added. From an early age, many people in Western culture are taught that animals are “others,” and that humans are superior to them. This culturally constructed attitude has resulted in the abuse of animals in socially sanctioned activities such as dog racing. Hopefully, this is changing as rescuing dogs and cats has become the “thing to do” along with doing yoga with animals. Some yoga studios get their animals from rescue centers and encourage adoption. Good Mews Cat Shelter outside Atlanta offers yoga in the space where cats live cage-free. Yoga Nights give cats and yogis an opportunity to interact with each other. This is good for adoption.

The history of humans and animals dates back at least 3,000 years. Artifacts were found in the Indus Valley in India. Stone seals of elephants and bulls were stamped on tools and weapons. One very famous animal in the form of Nandi, the god Shiva’s bull, frequently appears as an elegantly carved murti, or sacred statue. Human relationships to animals are embodied in Lord Dattatreya, considered a Guru and a Deity in parts of India. Lord Datta was a revered Hindu monk who supposedly counted a fish, two birds, two reptiles, and five insects among his teachers. In artwork, he is often surrounded by four dogs. Some scholars think the dogs represent the Vedas, major Indian scriptures. Lord Dattatreya shows us that natural gurus are everywhere, including in the Indian scriptures such as the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and the Gheranda Samhita. Thought to originate in the 17th century, the Gheranda Samhita mentions the camel, crocodile, and frog asanas. Animals appear as masks and headresses in indigenous cultures. They lend power to dancers around council fires and give ceremonies an elemental beauty. It has been said that animals teach humans about natural movement. No wonder, then, that downward facing dog is most likely the most practiced pose, followed closely by cat and cow. As Guru Jagat says, “We’re all craving a connection to something deeper than our smart phones and that’s where animals come in.”

Founder of Sacred Feet Yoga and Anugraha Ashram in Somerset, KY, Sw. Shraddhananda Saraswati also serves as Book Review Editor for Light on Light. A college professor for 35 years, she has published numerous books and papers. She has recently completed The White Cobra, the third and final installment of her poetic trilogy entitled The Guru Sutras. She has lectured on six continents.

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GRACE

By Lynne Newman I sought to know Grace as I walked upon the land, marveling at each blade of grass, every grain of sand. I understood each mission, the purpose of each one, and felt the depth and breadth, of moon and stars and sun. A vision brought the dolphins, and creatures of the sea, and the sounding of their songs awakened love in me. In silence and in awe, living things gathered ‘round, immersing in vibrations of their plaintive healing sounds. I felt my heartbeat quicken, as I thought of the gifts of each; As keen desire overtook me, there upon the beach. I felt a rush of gratitude, as my heart opened wide, and prayers for every living thing, flowed from deep inside. Thank you for the gifts you bring, I whispered in the wind. I understand there is no space, where you end, and I begin.

Lynne Newman has been a Spiritual Counselor and Healer for over 20 years, integrating counseling and energy healing modalities for Mind, Body snd Spirit. She has also been a Rape Crisis and Domestic Violence Counselor/ Advocate for 25 years. In addition, Lynne has been a Wedding Officiant, helping couples create and officiating at their unique ceremonies for 15 years.

Together, we’re a tapestry, the essence of all life, for we are interwoven, with strands of Rainbow Light. We are One Voice

One Heart! credit mother nature image: Artist unknown

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YOGA & OUR NATURAL WORLD

50 Years of Earth Day by Denise Scotto, Esq.

“The earth does not belong to us, we belong to the earth.... We do not weave the web of life, we are only a strand of it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.”

Chief Seattle, Renown Natïve American Leader April marked the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day in the United States, a day that was created to remind us of our interconnected and deeply interdependent relationship with our planet Earth and our natural world. Millions of Americans joined together in the mission of clean air, land and water, and, today, we continue the call adding clean energy, protection of wildlife and National Parks, open spaces and a livable climate. When my sister lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico, I would visit often, and, she would arrange for us to spend time together by going to some of the most breathtaking National Parks in the American Southwest. Hiking, walking, talking photos and just breathing inside these preserves brought the words of Chief Seattle into my heart. Bandelier National Monument was close and was my first introduction to the archaeological history and the ecological diversity of the region. Sky City, according to some tribal elders means “place that always was.” It felt that way to me, as I sat perched at the top of the sandstone mesa of Acoma Pueblo engulfed in stillness and forgetting about time and everything else. Witnessing the world’s largest collection of natural sandstone arches in Arches National Pak and eroded towers was a sanctified moment. Climbing the cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde, which is a UNESCO world heritage site, made it easy to feel how our ancestors from ancient civilizations felt at one with our Earth and the natural world. However, I really didn’t have to go far as anyone who has been to Santa Fe, knows the quality of that light and its sacredness and how it touches the mountains, the landscape, the sand, and how it transfigures everything. Many of us have heard of ‘Mother Nature’, the Greco-Roman personification of nature that emphasizes the life-giving and nurturing aspects of nature by embodying it, in the form of The Mother. Many of us are familiar with Pachamama, who in Incan mythology, is a fertility goddess presiding over planting and harvesting. Pachamama is usually translated as “Mother Earth” and sometimes even “Mother Universe.” In Greek mythology we also find Gaia, who was the mother goddess presiding over the Earth. 85


The sense of a living earth grew out of living experience and a closeness to our natural elements and is woven into the fabric of our day to day life and culture. It is life-affirming and life-centered and conveys a deeper dimension of spiritual communion with our environment. In the Hebrew language, the word for Earth is Adamah. In the Judeo Christian tradition, it was from the clay of the ground that God created Adam, the first man. There is unspoken knowing that all of us come from the Earth, and to the Earth we shall all return. Beloved Saint Francis of Assisi is well known for his universal peace invocation. He confided in nature and contemplated our human condition understanding our kinship with our natural world. Attaining such a state of illumination, he lived in peaceful co-existence with all the elements and is recognized by Roman Catholics as the patron of animals. He composed the time-honored Canticle of the Creatures or Laudes Creaturarum (Praise of the Creatures) which remains influential today. It fortifies how our life is intimately connected with the universe’s supreme creative principle which is in everything, everywhere and how we, as humanity, are part of this artistry. An excerpt is: Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs. Akin to Native American understanding, St Francis experienced family relationships within all Creation. Birds, fire and wind are brothers. The moon, stars and water are sisters and our planet Earth who nourishes us is Mother. Creation is nature viewed with the Creator in mind and is fullness, life, and, therefore, community. On his feast day, October 4, there is a Service with a Blessing of Animals. In Franciscan churches, you actually see physical blessing of pets including special prayer and sprinkling of holy water. One Spring, I walked in the footsteps of St Francis following his lead deep into the glorious forest in Umbria to the hermitage or cave known as the ‘carceri.’ Here, isolated and alone, St Francis often meditated and prayed. There are many spots in this wilderness that were second nature to him including the place where he received the stigmata offering revelations to our own inner mysteries. Equally important to Francis was his divine partnership with St Clare. I sensed the acute bond they shared when I visited the cloister where she received her rapturous visions. Wandering along the path of St Francis & St Clare was a profound experience that has endured with me after so many years. We are part of nature. Being in the natural world makes us happier, makes us healthier and makes us nourish our connection to the planet we call our home. Yet, due to our human habits, it has been under incredible strain. A few common examples are: producing un-recyclable waste, electronic waste, single use plastics; PFAs, coal ash, a long list of toxic chemicals; extractive practices like fracking, mining and strip mining. Our relationship with clean air, clean water and healthy, thriving diverse ecosystems is fragile. For how long may we enjoy the natural beauty of our sprawling landscapes? or whales, dolphins, polar bears, bees, trees, the gorillas and all of the amazing species? or the biodiversity that we find all around us? ‘Staying at home’ as a result of the novel coronavirus has made a discerningly huge impact on the environment that isn’t easily debunked. We see how the canals in Venice, Italy to the sacred Mama Ganga in India, are cleansing themselves; to how the air in Los Angeles, US and in the Himalayans has cleared and these places are now visible; to how rare animals are reappearing and there is less singleuse plastic polluting the ocean. Significantly, according to Professor Marshall Bruke of Stanford University, “The reduction in air pollution in China caused by this economic disruption likely saved 20 times more lives in China than have currently been lost due to infection with the virus in that country. ” A key question comes up: How might this great pause invite humanity to engage with our natural world in different ways? 86


YOGA & OUR NATURAL WORLD At the United Nations, I have been honored walking the hallowed halls alongside prominent environmentalists. Wangari Maathai planted trees to replenish the environment which gave birth to the Green Belt Movement, and, as a result, she became the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. UN Messenger of Peace, Jane Goodall, has dedicated her life working for decades on conservation and development programs and animal welfare issues. Vandana Shiva, recognized as an ‘Environmental Hero’ by Time magazine in 2003, is a founding member of a UN accredited NGO while at the forefront of protecting the diversity and integrity of living resources, especially native seed, the promotion of organic farming and fair trade. Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, 20 years old is a hip hop artist, an American environmental activist and the youth director of Earth Guardians, a worldwide conservation organization. He is the jury award winner for his music “Speak for the Trees” that inspired the UN FCCC negotiations. He addressed the UN General Assembly and international students at the International Day of Peace observance. Greta Thunberg, Time’s 2019 Person of the Year, is a 17 year old Swedish environmental activist who gained international recognition for promoting the view that humanity is facing an existential crisis arising from climate change who spoke passionately during the UN Climate Action Summit. Echoing again, Chief Seattle’s words, ‘We belong to the Earth…….’ For some, it’s beyond doubt that we must preserve our treasured home, our most cherished Earth, our wildlife species and our natural heritage and habitat. Not everyone is involved in strategic litigation, advocacy, and environmental policy, but, there is a wide range of steps to take. Let each and every one of us tread softly and lend a hand through simple action: re-use/recycle, use cloth bags for groceries and other items, print documents as little as possible, save electricity, conserve water, eliminate or minimize plastic use, eat sustainable foods, conscious consumption, be car conscious, plant flowers that are friendly for pollinators, plant a tree, hug a tree, contact elected officials, sign petitions, donate to community based groups/environmental organizations.

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VISHVA SHAKTI—MOTHER EARTH—MOTHER NATURE— HUMAN BEINGS By Sri Amma Karunamayi

All of us have to believe there is a Vishva Shakti, a Supreme Power, which is the base of the entire universe. Human beings are all born on this Earth. Mother Earth provides all human beings with all kinds of natural resources--crops, fruits, vegetables, medicinal plants, vegetation etc. These natural resources help billions of humans with the essential power to sustain and live their lives. But, what are we giving Mother Earth in return? How can we even thank Mother Earth, who nourishes us as mother by providing us food and other natural resources? Earth means not just soil and mud, but a mother who nourishes and takes care of all living beings. When our heartbeats match the reactions of Mother Earth, we will understand the nature of Mother Earth. Can we bring the entire ocean in a small cup? Similarly, there are no words in the dictionary to express the love of Mother Nature and Mother Earth. Between Vishva Shakti, the Supreme Power, and human beings there is wondrous Nature. There are so many beautiful lakes, waterfalls, rivers which are flowing towards oceans, thick forests, majestic giant trees, beautiful birds, animals, butterflies, honeybees, great deserts, mountains, greenery everywhere. This was the beauty of Earth. But now everything on Earth has changed. There are so many power plants near oceans around the Earth. Modern civilization has completely changed and destroyed the beauty of Mother Earth. There is so much pollution around the world-sound, chemical, fertilizer, plastic and other pollution. Mother Earth has become a prisoner of all these pollutants. There are so many around the world who wish Mother Earth and Nature to be healthy and beautiful and are helping her healing. God bestowed a special quality and character to each and every human being. Humans who live for only their own happiness are selfish. They contribute no benefits for humanity or our planet. They are a burden to humanity and Mother Earth, while, people who live for society, understand others’ problems, help others and see our connection to our planet are valuable to humanity. People who use their Godbestowed special qualities for the benefit of humanity and improving Mother Earth and nature blessed. There is happiness in giving--not in taking. There is a big valley in between two huge mountains. To cross the valley; you need a bridge. Only a yogi has the urge to cross the valley of mind, various thoughts and rituals and search for the beauty in oneself and behind Nature. A Yogi utilizes ‘Prana Shakti’, the power of life, the life Energy enveloping the world. With the help of the ancient tradition of Pranayama, a yogi stops the ever-moving mind to visualize the secrets of the universe. Those individuals who, by practicing Pranayama will burn to ashes various thoughts accumulated from their different lives and see the beauty of Light. The practice of Pranayama is to intake of Prana Shakti, which permeates the whole universe. This Prana Shakti eradicates all kinds of diseases and bestows energy and power. The one who practices Pranayama lives a healthy, radiant and happy life and sees the interconnections between themselves and Mother Earth. In taking care of oneself, a yogi also takes care of Mother Nature. May humanity live in peace and Mother Earth bloom with beauty. Om Shanti Shanti Shanthi

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 women’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. 88


YOGA & A CULTURE OF PEACE AND NON-VIOLENCE

Yoga & a Culture of Peace & Non-Violence Introduction By Denise Scotto, Esq

For so many, the Security Council (SC) is the ‘be all and end all’ of maintaining world peace and security. While that is its chief mandate, over many decades, the UN has evolved as an institution with specialized agencies, an expanded scope of activities and various ways to accomplish it all. I was privileged to be involved in the work of the Security Council specifically relating to groundbreaking Resolutions that concern the inclusion of women in peace process beginning with SC R 1325, civilians in armed conflict, post conflict peace-building, the International Criminal Court and matters affecting the ‘blue helmets’ or UN Peacekeeping forces. From my broad experience in working as staff in the UN, I also saw how other work of the UN from a system-wide perspective is equally valuable in ending cycles of violence, touching the daily lives of people around the world, and helping to nourish harmony and peace. These rest upon the universal truths preserved in the texts of the Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and are grounded in an awareness of our human dignity, of our shared humanity and from which benevolent action flows.

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One special group of which I’ve been serving as an Executive Committee Member for many years is the UN Staff Recreation Council Enlightenment Society. This is an internal group which underpins the UN from both the visible and unseen dimensions, using practices that are contemplative and incorporate words as well as ones that are wordless, which, through it all, extend to the eternal un-nameable formlessness of Absolute Creation. I am therefore appreciative of my colleagues in unquestionably supporting the International Day of Yoga Committee from the onset and in collaborating with special events. Last August we jointly convened two high level Roundtables inside the UN in one of the distinct conference rooms known for its circular seating design. During these Roundtables, we examined two of the foremost channels which advance global peace and security unrelated to military strategies--the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace (COP) and the International Day of Peace (IDP). Both of these aid in accelerating human consciousness and support the UN and the invisible pillars upon which it stands. They come from the highest intelligence and have the capacity to enlighten minds and open hearts. This is how the essence of yoga unfolds. While we involved distinguished speakers, we also emphasized that both the COP and the IDP count upon the engagement of ordinary people wherever they may be in the world, and, herein, lies their power. The articles that follow in this section spring from those rich Roundtables and our sincere dialogues.

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YOGA & A CULTURE OF PEACE AND NON-VIOLENCE

Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Declaration & Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace By Denise Scotto, Esq

Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed UNES0 CO’s Constitution The promotion of a culture of peace is at the heart of UNESCO’s mandate. Unfamiliar and mysterious to many, it emerged in Africa and evolved for the first time on a global scale by during the International Congress on “Peace in the Minds of Men,” organized in Yamoussoukro, Cote d’Ivoire back in 1989. Building on the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it reinforces those texts and contributes to accelerating planetary consciousness. It recognizes that durable peace isn’t built on political and military might but requires a fundamentally different way we view matters of war and peace. Under the strong leadership of the then UNESCO Director General, Federico Mayor Zaragoza, he created the Culture of Peace Programme (COP) which was adopted by the UNESCO Executive Board in the fall of 1992, in order to “heal the social wounds of war by local activities of reconciliation” and co-operation in countries where Security Council peace-keeping operations are already being implemented or may be anticipated because of developing violence.” The words and its aims, again, nurture an expanded human synthesis. Working alongside a group of Ambassadors to lay a fresh foundation for the new century and with the support of the SG, Kofi Anan, Mr Mayor was instrumental in ensuring a new agenda item on the culture of peace was put forth to the GA for consideration. Under this item, in 1997, the GA adopted a resolution declaring 2000 the “International Year for the Culture of Peace,” and in 1998, a resolution declaring 2001 to 2010 the “International Decade for the Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World”. Efforts toward moving beyond cycles of violence and taking up conflict prevention, peaceful resolution of differences and the destiny of future generations--the most vulnerable (children)--were intensified. UNESCO’s initial draft of the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace was submitted by Mr Mayor. As customary practice, it was cultivated through nine-months of informal negotiations by representatives from all member states led by its champion, Ambassador Anwarul K Chowdhury of Bangladesh. He was highly skillful in enlisting overwhelming support so that COP was unanimously adopted by the GA on September 13, 1999. 91


Significantly, the COP has been referred to as ‘humanity’s charter for the new approaching millennium’. I can’t help but tie this together with another project with which I was involved at the time, the prep coms for the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict which seeks to end the succession of child violence and was signed in May 2000. These and other pioneering legal mechanisms from this time period, which was exciting and promising beyond words, all boost the momentum of furthering humanity’s awareness. Every year since 1997, the GA has adopted resolutions on the COP responding to and invoking our pervasive longings of peaceful co-existence, non-violence, unity, progress and prosperity for all people everywhere.

A culture of peace consists of,

“a set of values, attitudes, traditions and customs, modes of behavior and ways of live, that reflect and are directed towards respect for all life, for human beings and their rights, the rejection of violence in all its forms, the recognition of the rights of everyone to freedom of expression, opinion and information, attachment or the principles of democracy, freedom, justice, development for all, tolerance, solidarity, pluralism and acceptance of differences and understanding between nations, between ethnic, religious, cultural and other groups and between individuals.”

Key elements of a culture of peace are therefore: non-violence, respect for human rights, respect and solidarity among all peoples and dialogue between cultures, the linkage of peace to democratic participation and sustainable human development, the free flow and sharing of information and knowledge, contribution to conflict-prevention and post conflict peace-building, and equality between women and men, all best supported through projects in which people take an active role in transforming their values, attitudes and behaviors (Article 1, p 3). In talking directly with Federico Mayor, my internal knowing was reaffirmed in that when we speak about a culture of peace, we are speaking about the process of inclusivity as well as values that underlie yogic philosophy. We refine a lifestyle which practices reverence for the movement of creation that is in each and every one of us and that is found in every tradition and in moral standards. We speak of the catalyzing force of energy behind the words of unity, harmony, interdependence, friendship, kindness, sustainability, non-violence, apprehending the dignity of each and every person and respect not only for people but also for our animal companions, the natural elements and our environment.

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YOGA & A CULTURE OF PEACE AND NON-VIOLENCE Beginning in 2012, every September, the UN GA President has convened a High-Level Forum on the Culture of Peace. In 2012, the themes of the HLF were education, youth outreach, and women’s empowerment. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his opening remarks said, “When we look at the suffering in our world, we know how urgently we need a culture of peace.” Mr Mayor and Amb Chowdhury have been mainstays of the event which has been gaining more and more recognition due to their devotion and the support of noteworthy individuals such as Nobel Peace Prize Winners who have delivered inspiring keynote speeches (Leymah Gbowee, Betty Williams, Rigoberto Menchu, Nadia Murad). Greater numbers of member states representatives describe steps taken to implement the programme while foremost thought leaders and NGOs share viewpoints, best practices and innovative proposals to further advance this approach. September 2019 marked a milestone observing the 20th Anniversary of the Declaration and the Programme. In preparing for the HLF, the GA President, former Prime Minister of Ecuador, Maria Fernanda Espinosa, noted how this historic forward-looking document, considered one of the most significant legacies of the United Nations, is a process of individual, collective and institutional transformation. She described it being interlinked with the 2030 Development Agenda in sustainable development goal 4.7 which includes, promotion of culture of peace and non-violence as well as global citizenship as part of the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development. She encouraged the international community to ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills for a culture of peace and nonviolence within ten years. In the GA Hall while delivering her remarks on the theme, “the Culture of Peace: Empowering and Transforming Humanity,” the GA President eloquently gave voice to what so many of us involved in working in international fora appreciate, that “Peace is more than an absence of war. It needs constant nurturing through the pursuit of dignity and equality, of human rights and justice, of respect and understanding and of cooperation and multilateralism.” Great advocate for the cause of peace, herself, and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Ms. Leymah Gbowee, always encouraging, conveyed a message of solidarity explaining that fulfilling the promise of a culture of peace, “looks like a population of satisfied people: healthy children, educated children, a functional health system, responsive justice structure, an empowered, recognized, appreciated and fully compensated community of women; food on the table of every home, and a lot more. It is the full expression of human dignity.” I am delighted that a HLF on a COP has been scheduled for 2020 and remain hopeful that it will be held in one form or another. Sharing time together in this way provides the opportunity to expand the viewpoint. It strengthens our commitment to the evolution of the UN as an institution and to that of human consciousness. At the same time, it challenges us to be creative to heal the multiple wounds of societal conflict by community activities through restoring harmony in any number of innovative ways that are conciliatory. Achieving the culture of peace starts with us as individuals. Each of us knows deep down how peace contributes to the fabric of our daily lives. Since we are unique, it may show up differently for every one of us. It may be through a change of our mindset or through a change of our own heart or through both or through something else. We can start modestly through simple ways of living and observe as more arise naturally or spontaneously. All these add up and plays a part to magnify the perception of a COP and its realization.

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” –Desmond Tutu

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Yogic Values Promoting a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence 20-Year Anniversary of the Declaration and Program of Action on a Culture of Peace Talk by Gayatri Naraine Brahma Kumaris Representative to the United Nations

“Ensure that children (human beings) from an early age, benefit from education (learning) on the values, attitudes, modes of behaviour and ways of life to enable them to resolve any dispute peacefully and in a spirit of respect for human dignity, and of tolerance and non-discrimination.” (Declaration #9 B) Within the context of “ways of life,” the yogic values fit perfectly. So, what is culture from a yogic perspective? Raja Yoga is a way of life. What is life? Depending who you are speaking with, the answer will be accordingly. The spiritual endeavour of a Raja Yogi, a practitioner of Raja Yoga, is to experience what is life. Raja Yoga creates opportunities where every person is able to achieve their highest spiritual potential at all levels of life. Raja Yoga is a culture of ingenious simplicity. The values come from what is intrinsic in the authentic self of every human being – self-worth, self-respect, and self-dignity. To be in the awareness of what is real and true at the level of the authentic self is to be self-realized. Self-realized persons are able to cultivate characteristics through spiritual principles and conscientious practices. Such practice moulds their attitudes into a state of enlightenment and benevolence, resulting in a refinement in manners and modes of behaviour, generating sustainable lifestyles, and moving to a higher place of dignity in life. The culture of ingenious simplicity is distinctive. It calls on people across different cultural contexts to step into their authentic selves and to connect to the inner state of the world they would like to live in. This culture has four components: · Awareness, which is consciousness (a state of being); · Attitude, which is tendency (think, feel, behave); · Perception, which is seeing (absorb, assimilate, and assess); and · Action, which is doing (participatory living, learning, and experiencing).

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YOGA & A CULTURE OF PEACE AND NON-VIOLENCE It is essential to integrate these four components into the principles and practices when looking at actions to advance a culture of peace and non-violence. What are some examples of core yogic principles and practices? 1.

Original Nature: Non-violence

Principle: The swabhav, the original nature of the soul, is non-violent. To cause harm to another, I would first harm myself. Practice: When one realizes this principle to be true, then compassion becomes the central motivating aim of life. When compassion and kindness are practiced in thoughts, words, and actions, that upholds reverence for life. Such practice engages one in the process of being cleansed of the violence of vices such as impure desire, anger, ego, greed, and attachment. 2.

Intrinsic Religion: Peace

Principle: Innate in the subconscious of the soul is peace. Peace is the religion, the swadharma of the soul. Peace is to put an end to the war on the battlefield of the mind. Practice: To reclaim access to the power of peace, the soul must connect to the Ultimate Energy Source. This connection ignites the light of peace, awakens the reason and conscience, and makes the soul an instrument of peace. 3.

Life Is a Pilgrim’s Journey

Principle: The role that human beings play is connected with the goal of life. Life is a pilgrimage, and human beings are journeying to their destination of liberation in life, that is, a divine character of peace and happiness. Practice: The goal or purpose of life is to return to the true self, which is a divine character. This is the highest purpose of a human life. Once the purpose of the journey of life is clear, then as pilgrims, it is important to align the steps of actions with the purpose. Let the goal of life guide the role. 4.

Cause and Symptom

Principle: Causes are in the subconscious, symptoms are in the mind, body, and world. Practice: A person died and appeared in front of God. God asked him: “How many years have you lived?” He replied: “I lived for 80 years.” God continued: “You lived for 80 years – you ate the food, drank the water, enjoyed the oxygen from the world. So the world served you well, and you took a lot from the world. Now my question is: What did you give in return to the world during those 80 years?” Worthiness is measured by the moments spent in being kind and showering kindness on the world. We are living in a culture of anxiety and fear. In today’s world, the ultimate violence is to kill the worth of a person. Killing is not just done with a knife or a bullet. To kill with the arrow of abuse, to assassinate another’s character, to defame and harass others, to marginalize people and to discriminate against them – these are means to damage people’s worth. People are being damaged in such a way that the victims can neither live nor die. In creating a culture of peace and non-violence, there is one hard question we need to ask ourselves: How much peace have I given to people and to my world? How many tears have I wiped away? How many years I have truly lived depends on my answer!

Gayatri Naraine has dedicated her life to exploring the spiritual phenomenon of transformation in a world in transition. As the representative of the Brahma Kumaris at the United Nations, her focus is on connecting Sustainable Development to Human Flourishing. Gayatri was born in Guyana and currently lives in New York City. 95


Yogic Values and

World Peace By Jeffery D. Long, PhD

When we speak of Yogic values that might promote nonviolence and world peace, to what are we referring? One way to answer this question is to turn to the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali. The Virtue of Ahiṃsā The virtues begin with ahiṃsā, which is often translated as nonviolence, but ahiṃsā is not simply nonviolence. It is the absence of even the desire to harm a living being. It is nonviolence in thought, word, and deed. It is a desire to ensure that all beings live happily, free from fear or injury. While often translated as nonviolence, it can also be translated as love or compassion for all. The centrality of ahiṃsā to the yogic traditions cannot be exaggerated. In at least three different systems of spiritual practice–Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist– it is listed first amongst the ethical virtues that any serious aspirant on the spiritual path must practice. All these traditions are unanimous in affirming, “First, do no harm.” Indeed, do not even will any harm, or speak in a harmful way. In Buddhism, ahiṃsā is the first of five moral precepts. Ahiṃsā in practice amounts to compassion for all, which is a core Buddhist value: seeing the sufferings of others as one’s own, in recognition of the radical interdependence of all beings. In the Jain tradition, ahiṃsā is also listed as the first of the five vrats, or vows, which observant Jains are enjoined to practice. For lay Jain practitioners, or householders, they are called anuvrats, or ‘small vows.’ The lay Jain observes these vows, like ahiṃsā, to the degree possible within the constraints of living an active life with worldly responsibilities. The Jain ascetic observes a stricter version of these vows, called mahāvrats, or ‘great vows.’ These involve observing ahiṃsā to the highest degree humanly possible. To illustrate the difference between the small vows and the great vows, we can point out that a Jain layperson who is observing ahiṃsā will be strictly vegetarian, and avoid any deliberate harm to life forms in the environment. But she will nevertheless go about what most people would call a normal routine of activities. Jain ascetics observing ahiṃsā, though, will not wear shoes (to avoid accidentally treading upon small life forms). They carry a whisk to gently sweep the ground in front of them as they walk, and any surface upon which they sit. Some wear a cloth mask, or mouth-shield, to avoid accidentally ingesting or inhaling microorganisms. If they are unable to observe these strictures due to health or old age, they voluntarily give up consumption of food, offering their lives as a sacrifice to the well-being of others. How can the virtue of ahiṃsā inform humanity’s aspiration for world peace? Clearly, the strictures observed by Jain ascetics are not accessible to most people. This is something the Jain tradition affirms in making a distinction between small vows and great vows. Yogic traditions unanimously affirm that we are each at different points on the spiritual path. Expecting everyone to practice at the same level would be like expecting a student who is just learning basic mathematics to solve calculus problems. Ahiṃsā is an absolute value, but, its application varies depending upon where we are in our spiritual journey. Affirming the value of ahiṃsā is even consistent, for some, with defending themselves and their families with force if necessary. Even Mahatma Gandhi affirmed the occasional necessity of force; but he also said in this regard that if we are committed to ahiṃsā, “we have to choose the path of least violence.” Ahiṃsā is not at all consistent, however, with the glorification of violence or war. Using force while being committed to ahiṃsā means using only as much force as required to prevent greater suffering. It also means maintaining compassion even toward those against whom one uses force. This ideal is expressed well by the Chinese sage Lao-tzu in his Daodejing: The wise person enters a battle gravely, with sorrow and with great compassion, as if attending a funeral. (Daodejing 31) 96


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It is expressed equally well by Jimmy Carter, who said, “War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good.” As nations continue to pour resources into weaponry, seeing war not as an occasionally necessary evil, but as something to be pursued with enthusiasm, affirming the value of ahiṃsā means taking a firm stand against all glorification of violence, and against all hateful thoughts, words, and deeds. Ahiṃsā is rooted in the realization of the interconnectedness and oneness of life. It is rooted in the wisdom of the Mahā Upaniṣad: vasudhaiva kuṭumbakam. Humanity is a single family. When we harm others, we harm ourselves. Similarly, when we work for peace, and the well-being of all, we are, in reality, as Swami Vivekananda has affirmed, helping ourselves: “Do not injure another. Love everyone as your own self, because the whole universe is one. In injuring another, I am injuring myself; in loving another, I am loving myself.” (Complete Works 1.364) The Aim of Yogic Values: Transcendence through Transformation Yogic values are not ends in themselves. They are cultivated with the aim of achieving samādhi, or transcendence. Some might question the value of transcendence for improving life here and now, in the material world, where humanity struggles. In his lectures on Karma Yoga, the Yoga of Action, Vivekananda says there is really nothing we can do to help the world. The world, he says, is like a dog’s curly tail. We can try to straighten it out, but it will return to its previous shape the moment we let it go. This may not seem like an encouraging message for those committed to making the world a better place. But that is not all Vivekananda has to say on this subject. He goes on to say that the effort to make the world better, if pursued with an attitude not of arrogance, but selfless service, is an ideal way to transform ourselves, saying, “The world is a grand moral gymnasium, wherein we have all to take exercise so as to become stronger and stronger spiritually.” (Complete Works 1:80) The problems of the world are exercise equipment. Trying to solve them helps us transform and improve ourselves. It is not that any problem is irresolvable. But with each problem we solve come new ones. Life itself, to quote Swami Atmarupananda, is problem-solving. Thus, transcendence is to be found not in abandoning the world, but facing its problems honestly, in a spirit of what we could paradoxically call passionate detachment: passionate in being fully engaged, but detached inasmuch as we rest assured in the confidence that no problem can destroy the spiritual essence of our being, which, the sages tell us, is infinite.

The Yogic Value of Pluralism In what other ways can Yogic values inform our promotion of peace and nonviolence? These values contain wisdom with the power to transform how we see one another. The Jain teaching of anekānt, or the complexity of truth, affirms that reality has many facets, and that many, seemingly contradictory visions of truth can be reconciled in a larger vision of reality, in which they are seen not as contradictory, but as complementary. This is the gist of the ancient Indian parable of the Blind Men and the Elephant. In the teachings of the Upaniṣads and Bhagavad Gītā, we are taught that divinity is in all beings. We should treat others as we ourselves wish to be treated because, at the highest level, they are ourselves. This is the meaning of the Indian greeting, Namaste: that I honor the divinity that resides in you. The Gītā also teaches that many paths can lead to realization of our divine nature. As Lord Krishna says, in words cited by Swami Vivekananda in his famous welcome speech at the 1893 Parliament of Religions, “In whatever ways living beings approach me, thus do I receive them. All paths lead to me.” (BG 4:11) What role can yogic philosophies play in rethinking how we human beings approach religious and cultural differences? Such differences are often used to justify violence and the dehumanization of the Other. If we can begin, as a species, to conceptualize religious, cultural, and philosophical difference, not as a threat to our own ways of thinking and living, but as a source of wisdom that can supplement and deepen our own approach to truth, whatever it may be, then perhaps we can begin to view our neighbors not as people with false or dangerous beliefs, but as potential teachers who can share with us some part of the universal wisdom with which we are as yet unfamiliar, and with whom we can also share our own understanding of truth, not in an effort to proselytize or convert, but to advance knowledge for the benefit of all. This is the vision found in the teaching of Ramakrishna, when he says, yato mat, tato path–Each religion is a path to the Infinite–and in the famous teaching of the Ṛg Veda, ekaṃ sat viprā bahuḍhā vadanti: Truth is one; the wise speak of it in various ways. It is enshrined in the Jain doctrines of anekānt and syādvāda, and the teaching of the Buddha’s skillful means, in which the way to enlightenment is presented in many ways, according to the needs of each seeker. May the Yogic values of ahiṃsā and pluralism, of loving detachment, and of seeing the divinity in all, inform our efforts to cultivate peace and nonviolence everywhere in this world!

Jeffery D. Long, Ph.D, is Professor of Religion and Asian Studies at Elizabethtown College, where he has taught since receiving his doctoral degree from the University of Chicago Divinity School in the year 2000. He is the author of A Vision for Hinduism (2007), Jainism: An Introduction (2009), and the Historical Dictionary of Hinduism (2011), and editor of Perspectives on Reincarnation: Hindu, Christian, and Scientific (2019) and co-editor of the Buddhism and Jainism volumes of the Springer Encyclopedia of Indian Religions (2017). 97


Making Peace with Non-Violence: Reflections on Raja Yoga Practice By Gayatri Naraine

Raja Yoga is a way of life. It is a path of continuous experience. It paves the way of moving from learning to practicing to living. It is a movement of 3 steps – Discovering, Conserving, and Transforming. The First Step: Discovering Who am I? -- I am a being of living light. I am an immortal soul. The Second Step: Conserving What is authentic and true to me? – My original nature is non-violent, and my eternal religion is peace. The Third Step: Transforming How do I return to the Source? -- I must transcend the domain of constant change and the gravity of the material world to a realm that is silent and still. A dimension of spiritual light where the Source of divinity dwells. Making peace with non-violence is a spiritual art. Let us reflect on some elements of this art within the context of the movement of the 3 steps of Discovering, Conserving, and Transforming. In discovering who am I, let me appeal to love, not to fear. I am a being of immortal light. I am intrinsically wise. My genius is in my spiritual heart. My heart conceives a complete substitute for violence. I acknowledge that the essential core of my heart is to love, to endure, to forgive. Peace grows from the ‘Seed’ of loving, enduring, and forgiving; violence comes from the roots of hate, fear, and animosity. I am aware that true peace is only possible with a tenacity of purpose. My purpose is to be a peace pilgrim. Peace pilgrims are those who continue to love in the midst of hatred. In conserving what is authentic to me, let me be capable of the highest courage. Endless courage lets me stay with the deepest truth that non- violence is my original nature and peace is my eternal religion. I move into an inner state of peace. From this state I feel the flow of light, transmuting the heat of the vices into spiritual virtues. I hold on to the virtues as authentic to me in every situation, no matter how fierce the storms. I realize peace is a discipline of freedom, from which my unlimited potential rises. 98


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SG Calls for Immediate Global Cease-Fire

In March, in a virtual press conference, UN SecretaryGeneral António Guterres called for an immediate and comprehensive global ceasefire in all corners of the world in light of the COVID-19 global pandemic. He urged warring parties to end the sickness of war and to pull back from hostilities; put aside mistrust and animosity; silence the guns; stop the artillery; end the airstrikes.

Authenticity elates my highest potential. And with the powers of unusual foresight, I rise to the unfolding possibilities of peace on the horizon of life. To transform my awareness let me push the boundaries of consciousness. I am able to expand spiritual capacity in the consciousness of being a soul. I connect to the Higher Power and I push the boundaries of my limited consciousness. The Higher Source of original goodness floods the soul with new reserves of spiritual powers, called Shakti. I feel myself being completely saturated with the powers of truth, love, peace.

This is crucial to help create viable conditions for humanitarian aid; to reinforce diplomatic action and to bring hope to places among the most vulnerable to COVID-19. Health systems in war-ravaged countries have often reached the point of total collapse, while the few health workers who remain are also seen as targets. He stressed that the SG’s Special Envoys are eager to work with warring parties to ensure his appeal leads to action. While the message is intended for armed parties, solidarity and cooperation across borders, sectors and generations are also needed now more than ever for our human family.

This strength grows into spiritual resilience, Preparing me to be an instrument of peace.

Ten days later, in April, the SG renewed his call for the global ceasefire. It was endorsed by an ever-growing number of Member States, roughly 70 so far, regional partners, non-State actors, civil society organizations, United Nations Messengers of Peace and Advocates for the Sustainable Development Goals as well as religious leaders including Pope Francis. A grass‑roots mobilization on-line launched by NGO Avaaz gathered support from more than 1 million people.

Connected to the spiritual Source of Peace, the Higher Power, I become the light of peace shining like a ray emerging from sun, carrying the power of the Source, and touching all souls with the Shakti of truth, love and peace.

As of mid-May, there are ongoing ceasefires in Cameroon, Sudan, Angola, and Thailand; ceasefires ended in Colombia and the Philippines; and ceasefires were broken in Yemen, Libya, and Myanmar.

This is the spiritual art of making peace with non-violence. Om shanti.

Gayatri Naraine has dedicated her life to exploring the spiritual phenomenon of transformation in a world in transition. As the representative of the Brahma Kumaris at the United Nations, her focus is on connecting Sustainable Development to Human Flourishing. Gayatri was born in Guyana and currently lives in New York City. 99

The SG acknowledged that there is a huge distance between declarations and deeds — between translating words into peace on the ground and in the lives of people. The Special Representatives, Special Envoys and other, with full support from Headquarters and, whenever required, his personal involvement, are engaging with conflict actors to help move towards ceasefires as a prerequisite to lasting peace. Despite the early success of this appeal, it is disheartening to write that the Security Council has not endorsed it. Instead, it has issued “press elements” — the weakest formal response it can publicly offer.


How Yogic Values Promote a Culture of Non-Violence & the International Day of Peace by Denise Scotto, Esq

Let us not fight for peace but find the peace within ourselves first…Let us make the world, not break it with violence…. Swami Satchidananda Saraswati The International Day of Peace (IDP) is an important tool in promoting the UN’s mission as a mechanism of planetary transformation and, as a consequence, of maintaining and supporting peace and security, non-violence, harmony, friendly relations, interdependence and solidarity among nations and peoples. Peace Day was established long after the Security Council by a UN Resolution back in 1981 to coincide with the opening of the UN General Assembly. It extends the broadest possible education and awareness of the UN’s Charter and its inherent values among the global community thus continuing to advance human consciousness. The first Peace Day was celebrated in 1982 and was held on the third Tuesday of September each year until 2002, when September 21 became the permanent date. The Resolution notes how marking the IDP offers a unique opportunity to shift beyond military measures and patterns of violence, strengthen the ideals of peace and alleviate tensions and causes of conflict. It is a day for promoting and observing 24 hours of non-violence and cease-fire. “IDP shall henceforth be observed as a day of global ceasefire and non-violence, an invitation to all nations and people to honour a cessation of hostilities for the duration for the day.” As has been customary, in the morning, the UN Secretary-General rings the Peace Bell, a gift of the people of Japan, in the Peace Gardens sending the vibration of peace and harmony outward and, then, collectively observes a minute of silence with dignitaries such as the Deputy SG, the President of the GA, the President of ECOSOC, Ambassadors, UN Messengers of Peace, youth and those watching via webcast.

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Afterwards, Messengers of Peace share wisdom and exchanges with youth. Yo-Yo Ma, Jane Goodall, Midori Goto, Michael Douglas, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez are some who have taken part. It is profoundly moving to hear how youngsters are leading the way through the particular projects that they’re spearheading in their own communities which make a difference to people around the world. In responding to current challenges, the theme changes yearly. The 2020 topic is Shaping Peace Together. The 2019 subject was Climate Action for Peace, and, a survey by the Culture of Peace News Network found internet reports concerning over 655 celebrations of the International Day of Peace from 103 countries which took place around the world. Prior areas of focus included: the Right to Peace-Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70; Together for Peace-Respect, Safety and Dignity for All; Sustainable Development Goals-Building Blocks for Peace; Partnerships for PeaceDignity for All; the Right of Peoples to Peace; Education for Peace. Promoting peace and security is central to the UN’s mission and goes beyond the limits of the Security Council and military responses. We see this in the 2030 Agenda which recognizes that there can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development. We also see notice this in the disarmament agenda, and, in a report released in 2018 by UN SG Antonio Guterres, it outlines the linkages between disarmament and many of the SDGs. The importance of Peace Day, its inherent principles and its effects can’t be underscored. Building on the potency of over 35+ years of celebrations and along with that of the International Day of Nonviolence, the UN SG led a call to action on March 23rd, for an immediate cease-fire by all parties involved in war and armed conflict globally. His background as past UN High Commissioner for Refugees surely guided this decision. He describes how critical a cease-fire is for delivering humanitarian assistance and life-saving aid, for opening precious windows for diplomacy and for bringing hope to places among the most vulnerable to COVID-19. The message of the SG is grounded in our highest knowing—that violence is incompatible with our ethics and standards. His words touched upon the catalyzing outcomes of the IDP and the sincerity of the values that are the cornerstone of the UN organization. Non-violence, peace, harmony, unity, interdependence, human dignity, respect for all people, solidarity, friendship are all UN values and ones that underlie yogic philosophy. The words of Swami Satchidananda, 51 years ago, quoted above, opened the Woodstock Music Festival and encouraged people to find peace within. They still ring true today. A culture of peace and non-violence begins with each one of us, and, just as practicing yoga in its fullness and richness is a daily one, so is our being ready to integrate peace and non-violence as part of our daily existence. Otherwise, how can we expect our families, our communities, our nations and our planet to be peaceful with people everywhere living in harmonious co-existence in any meaningful sense ? The IDP expands appreciation for the larger suffering of humanity and those involved in war and armed conflict be it military/paramilitary and other actors, civilians, survivors of torture and war crimes, refugees as well as those seeking to keep the peace and build post conflict reconstruction. It gives us the occasion to identify with the inexpressible force that binds us together as one humanity. We can feel this when we move our attention to the place beyond words and focus on the power of stillness while observing a minute of silence. We can continue to support the UN and peoples of the world by taking the simple suggestion of the resolution as a daily practice. We could consider starting our day with a minute of silence where we experience stillness within our self and return to our very core. If we feel called, we can add an easy affirmation such as May Peace Prevail on Earth or Om Shanti, Shanti Om. If we’re already doing this, we ought to consider observing another minute of silence at the middle of the day or at a time when we feel uncomfortable, irritated, overwhelmed, or, dare I say-stressed, or angry? We can inhale and exhale slowly, deeply, and, again, connect to what the famous Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore described as that substance that is the ‘lifeblood of the age that dances through our blood’.

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2019 World Peace Campaign Awards by HH Yogmata & Pilot Baba

On August 4, 2019 in New Dehli, India HH Yogmata, Keiko Aikawa, and Pilot Baba presented the World Peace Campaign Awards to those who have made a significant contribution to the promotion of peace. They are both devoted to this campaign which was established by Pilot Baba with the support of Indira Gandhi, the first female Prime Minister of India. The awards are highly valued and promote world peace beyond philosophy, religion or other activities. The ceremony is supported by the Indian Government and this year, it was held in the Government’s Convention Hall, Vigyan Bhavan. Attendees included congressmen, business leaders, press, celebrities, and representatives of Japanese companies in India. Yogmata, is respected throughout India for achieving Samadhi, which is the ultimate state of yoga/meditation. She presented this ceremony as a compilation of her work toward world peace. In addition to Yogmata’s appearance at United Nations events, this ceremony also contributes to the advancement of world peace along with enhancing the friendship that exists between India and Japan. Yogmata, Keiko Aikawa, is the first and only woman, as well as only foreigner, ever to become a Siddha Master; attaining the ultimate stage of Meditation and Yoga (samadhi) through harsh ascetic training in the Himalayas. Between 1991 and 2007, she performed eighteen public viewing of samadhi, throughout India, to attest to the truth and promote world peace. She regularly holds lectures and meditation guidance workshops all over the world. In June 2016, she was invited, as a special guest, to the UN headquarters to celebrate the International Day of Yoga and has since given keynote speeches and guidance of meditation, at other UN events, in October 2016 and May 2017.

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TRIBUTE TO YOGA MASTERS

TRIBUTE TO

BABA RAM DASS By Denise Scotto, Esq

Before evolving to the iconic American Yoga Master, Baba Ram Dass, Richard Alpert, PhD, was a prominent Harvard psychologist and psychedelic pioneer who worked along with Dr. Timothy Leary exploring human consciousness. He was involved in psychedelic research until a fateful trip to India in 1967. There, he met his guru, Neem Karoli Baba, affectionately known as Maharajji, who gave Ram Dass his name, which means “Servant of God.” Everything changed and Ram Dass’ his intense dharmic life started. He became a pivotal influence on American culture that has reverberated with the words “Be Here Now” the title of one of his most famous books. Forty years later, it still stands as the centerpiece of Western understanding of Eastern philosophy and explains how to live joyously one hundred percent of the time in the present, luminous or mundane. His spirit has been a guiding light for decades, influencing millions on their journey of life and in their spiritual transformation. Ram Dass explored a variety of spiritual practices from ancient wisdom traditions, including bhakti or devotional yoga focused on Hanuman, the Hindu Monkey Diety; Buddhist meditation in the Theravadin, Mahayana Tibetan, and Zen Buddhist schools, and Sufi and Jewish mystical studies. At the same time, he practiced karma yoga/spiritual service. In 1974, Ram Dass established the Hanuman Foundation, a non-profit whose mission was to embody the spirit of service inspired by his Guru. The Foundation developed the Prison-Ashram Project, directed by Bo and Sita Lozoff, which helped prison inmates grow spiritually during their incarceration. Still in existence, it is now known as the Human Kindness Foundation which continues under Sita Lozoff in North Carolina. The Foundation also created the Dying Project, formulated with Stephen Levine, bringing awareness and compassion to the encounter with death. As part of the Hanuman Foundation, Dale Borglum founded and directed the Dying Center in Santa Fe, the first residential facility in the United States whose purpose was to support conscious dying. Today, these projects are combined into the Living/Dying Project, a separate non-profit directed by Dale Borglum in the California Bay Area. It provides support for transforming the encounter with life-threatening illness into an opportunity for spiritual awakening. Ram Dass also co-developed and served on the Advisory Board of the international service organization, the Seva Foundation. Seva helps programs which eliminate curable blindness in India and Nepal, restore the agricultural life of impoverished villagers in Guatemala, assist in primary health care for American Indians, and bring attention to homelessness and environmental degradation in the United States and other nations. The Love Serve Remember Foundation is dedicated to preserving and continuing the teachings of Neem Karoli Baba and Baba Ram Dass. It facilitates education through online courses, blogs, films, podcasts, social media and projects with conscious artists and musicians. 103


TRIBUTE TO ADVISORY COMMITTEE MEMBER

DALE COLTON In Loving Memory of DALE COLTON

1945-2019

I am dedicated to creating change through the expansion of consciousness. I believe that we have the power through choice to embrace peace, compassion and the expansion of conscious awareness in order to form a critical mass to achieve positive change on the planet. We have windows of opportunity constantly being presented to us within which quantum leaps can be made. Dale Colton

By Denise Scotto, Esq, Chair, IDY Committee at the UN Dale’s involvement in the growth of the International Day of Yoga Committee at the UN cannot be trivialized. You can gain a snapshot of her influence by reading her submissions to the 2018 and 2019 International Day of Yoga Committee at the UN Special Editions of Light on Light. Dale’s lightness and joy is crystal clear in both my mind and heart. I witnessed how she embodied the teachings of yoga, its underlying philosophy and its many aspects. Her tireless service in leading the Himalayan Institute to which she provided lasting contributions and to promoting current leaders in the field of consciousness is unique and exceptional. She met Frankie Valli, Marlon Bando and Sly & the Family Stone. She shared conversation with world leaders including Mrs Indira Gandhi and members of the Nepal Royal family and a long list of spiritual luminaries including Ram Dass whom she always referred to as “Baba” Ram Dass, Swami Satchidananda and Tao Porchon Lynch. Our introduction to each other came from our mutual service as Board Members of the Source of Synergy Foundation. We had much in common, even though this was pre International Day of Yoga Committee at the UN days. We had innumerable late night talks about the subtle work that we were involved in, and, she supported this aspect of my service in relation to the people of the United Nations and our world through legal work and the UN Staff Recreational Council Enlightenment Society (of which I have been an executive committee member). While our discussions were deep and sometimes serious, we shared tons of laughter as Dale could also be zany and enjoyed joking. As a fully engaged advisory committee member, Dale provided singular spiritual support together with insight from her experiences with world leaders to present day thought leaders for whom she provided public relations services. On the news of Dale’s passing, Deepak Chopra, MD, related to me that, “Dale was a champion for human goodness and service. I’m indebted to her for improving the quality of my life and numerous others. I wish her happy trails on her onward journey.” On behalf of the IDY committee at the UN, I offer our deep gratitude and love to Dale knowing she continues her support of our work and of creating a better world for everyone. 104


TRIBUTE TO YOGA MASTERS By Diane Williams, Founder, Source of Synergy Foundation As an early leader in the consciousness movement, Dale was a true Yogi who always lived in selfless service to others. She had a purity of heart, was kind, deeply compassionate and had a great generosity of spirit. She was always gifting friends and strangers with thoughtful presents including the squirrels that would come to her home every day in anticipation of the new bag of peanuts she just purchased. Dale was a magical being that worked to support others to shine their individual and collective light more brightly. She loved sharing with others the essence of spiritual teachings and how we could all make them an integral part of our reality. Dale made countless quantum leaps throughout her lifetime. In her early days she owned and operated wholesale and retail import businesses that created scholarships and funded charitable projects in India which included building a hospital in India. As an expert in Public Relations, Promotion and Publishing, Dale worked with individuals, centers and organizations that are part of the global grassroots spiritual/conscious community for well over thirty-five years – twenty of which were spent at the Himalayan International Institute, whose pioneering work advocated a holistic lifestyle. She had a profound connection to the institute’s founder Sri Swami Rama who she worked side by side with for many years. She served on the Board and was the Director of Public Relations and Marketing for both The Himalayan Institute and Himalayan Publishers and was a member of the Himalayan Institute teaching staff. She also directed the Himalayan Institute’s annual International Conference. One of the highlights of her life was organizing and leading Himalayan Excursions when she took people on spiritual and cultural tours to India and Nepal. It was there that she became friends with Mrs. Indira Gandhi and spent fond memories in her garden discussing world events. Many people encouraged her to write her memoirs because she had so many adventures, including taking a joy-ride with Sri Swami Satchidananda in her silver Porsche convertible, having late night chats with Marlon Brando about spiritual life on his visits to the Himalayan Institute, and riding with Sly and the Family Stone to Woodstock. She used her educational and experiential skills to bring like-minded people, communities and organizations together towards the goal of collectively creating conscious coherence. She worked as consultant to Deepak Chopra and many others and was on the Management Team of The Alliance for A New Humanity. There, she co-founded, coordinated and conducted “Be the Change” programs, an international community outreach movement. She was also a member of the Coalition for OneVoice and was instrumental in co-initiating and co-organizing its successful October 2006 program “A Passion to Connect,” which was a catalyst that led to the birth of the Evolutionary Leaders project. She was a beloved friend and colleague of the Source of Synergy Foundation (SOSF) serving on our board from 2010-2015 then on our Advisory Board from 2015-present, sharing her creativity and talents as a marketing consultant and serving as member of our Evolutionary Leaders Circle since its inception. She helped to co-organize an outstanding live event in with the Evolutionary Leaders called “A Call to Conscious Evolution” at UCLA in 2010. May her special spirit continue to soar as she journeys through the heavens with a newfound, formless, freedom. We are sure she is enjoying the ride. We love her deeply and will miss her beyond measure. By KH, Himalayan Institute Dale will be missed for many reasons by all who knew her, especially if you have ever spoken with her on the phone - her stories, her irreverent sense of humor, her wonderful loving spirit. She had a unique capacity to connect with people and a wonderful, innate, matter of fact understanding of spirituality. She was a genuine, caring human being. If you have ever met her and spent time with her, you know that this life is wonder-full, that each of us is important, and each of us is loved. Thank you Dale, I love you and indeed, Happy Trails.

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TRIBUTE TO

TAO PORCHON LYNCH By Molly Roopan I can vividly remember the first time I met the beautiful Tao Porchon Lynch. I was invited by Denise Scotto, Chair of the International Day Yoga Committee at the UN, to attend a breakfast at the famous CORE club in NYC. Prior to this, I didn’t know Tao or had ever heard of her, but, I was immediately drawn by an intense curiosity to meet her. The idea of meeting Tao greatly appealed to me because I was a beginner in the practice of yoga asanas. Upon encountering Tao for the first time, I was a bit taken aback by the powerful energy and vitality that emanated from the, then, 97 year old yoga teacher. She possessed grace and elegance which was reflected in the way she dressed and carried herself. She was glamorous yet exuded a natural simplicity - a purity that shone through her being that I strongly felt in her presence. I was instantly captivated by her and just wanted to give her a hug. As it turned out, I got my wish. I mustered the courage to ask her if we could take a picture and she welcomed me like a mother into her arms. She looked at me intently for a moment, then whispered “you are so beautiful, God bless you.” Her words were more than a mere compliment. Somehow, at that moment, it didn’t feel like she was addressing my physical beauty, but, Tao was reminding me of something much deeper, something that was true and real within all of us. She saw beauty in everything. Tao lived a full life, one that was filled with excitement and drama, from encountering many yoga masters to marching with Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, and helping Jews escape the Nazis. She gracefully danced her way through all of it and yes, she was also an award winning ballroom dancer. So, I ask, ‘what was her secret?’ While I can’t say with certainty, I sense that her motto “smile at the world and know that “this day” is going to be the best day of your life” might have something to do with it. Thank you dear Tao for the love, light and beauty that you shone into this world and into my heart. I feel your presence is always with me inside the lotus of my heart. Tao By Andrea Lublinski On February 21st, Tao Porchon Lynch, 101 year old Yoga Teacher and Ballroom Dancer, who was listed in 2012 as the World’s Oldest Practicing Yoga Teacher by Guinness Book of World Records, passed out of the body. Born in 1918, after her Indian mother died in childbirth and her French father emigrated to Canada, she was raised by her father’s brother and his wife in the French 106


TRIBUTE TO YOGA MASTERS colony of Pondicherry, India. In 2019, she won the Padma Siri Award from the Indian government for her outstanding contributions to world culture. Her motto was always “There is nothing you cannot do if you put your mind to it.” As a small child in India, she watched boys on the beach doing yoga. It was not considered “ladylike,” for girls to participate. Tao, however, learned all the moves, and practiced in secret. When she became an adult, she persuaded BKS Iyengar to let her become his first female student. She became a master yoga teacher and taught in the U.S., also giving master classes around the world in India, Slovenia, Peru, Israel and Dubai among other countries. In 2012 was honored by the Guinness Book of World Records. Tao’s uncle was a friend and supporter of Mahatma Gandhi, and, when she was 12 years old, he took her with him to march with Gandhi to protest the British rule in India. Tao was recently honored by the Indian government for being the only living participant of that famous march. When World War II broke out, she learned that her father’s Canadian regiment was coming to Europe to fight. She left India and went to live with her aunt in the family winery in the south of France. Her aunt hated the German soldiers who were hunting fleeing Jews seeking sanctuary in England and hid the escapees in empty wine barrels. Tao, a teenager, worked with a young man in the French Resistance to lead the Jewish families to boats heading for England. When her partner was caught by the Nazis and tortured, she escaped to England. During the bombings she worked as a dancer in London nightclubs. The journalist Quentin Reynolds devoted a column to her brave efforts to keep up English morale at the risk of her own life. After the war, the Lever Brothers Company came to Europe to find European models to take back to the U.S. Tao, who had recently won a “Best Legs in Europe” contest, was selected to appear on the Bob Hope show and was taken to the U.S. where she given a contract by MGM. She was a starlet who appeared in small roles in movies including “Showboat,” and “Thief of Baghdad,” and 1950’s television shows such as “I Married Joan,” and “Highway Patrol.” Between takes, she gave yoga lessons to her co-stars. Tao attended a friend’s wedding in New York and fell in love with one of the guests, Bill Lynch. They married and she moved to Westchester. Together they founded the American Wine Society. She became a wine judge and vice-president of the Southern New York State chapter of the society. After her husband’s death, she began teaching yoga full-time and founded the Westchester Institute of Yoga in 1982.She taught at the Mid-Westchester JCC in Scarsdale for 40 years. A certified yoga trainer, she trained scores of yoga teachers and taught many generations of students. When she was 87, she trained to become a competitive ballroom dancer at the Fred Astaire dance studios in Hartsdale. She won over 100 first prizes and was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s oldest competitive ballroom dancer. In an era when many focus on wrinkles, she told her students, “ I don’t believe in age; I believe in energy.” She requested that donations be made in her name to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) to save the animals and their habitats for future generations.

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DADI JANKI By Neville Hodgkinson, Brahma Kumaris, UK Dadi Janki Kirpalani, who led the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University, a spiritual movement of over a million people, died on Friday, March 27 in Mt. Abu, India. She was 104. The cause was a heart attack. Born in Sindh, in northern India, it was clear from an early age that she was called to a spiritual life. This was considered impossible in India, where spiritual leaders were almost exclusively men. As with most girls in India at that time, she received only three years of formal schooling. But at her request her father took her on pilgrimages all over India when she was still a girl, introducing her to many sages and saints. Though she saw impressive demonstrations of devotional practice and special physical powers, none of this satisfied her. At 19, while walking with her father in her hometown of Hyderabad, Sindh, a province in northern India that became part of Pakistan after the 1947 partition, they encountered Dada Lekraj, a highly respected jeweller in Sindh, whom she had known since childhood. Prior to that encounter, Lekraj had experienced a series of visions and spiritual insights, causing him to turn away from his prosperous business and seclude himself to try to understand the knowledge and experiences that were coming to him. Later she described that encounter as a moment that changed her life. She said that as he approached, his image dissolved into a field of light and she felt transported beyond the physical world into a timeless dimension and engulfed in pure love. Certain that he was somehow connected with the truth she had been seeking, she requested to go to the spiritual gatherings or satsangs he had begun holding in his home.  

But Indian tradition required that young women be married according to a choice made by their parents, and this was her fate. Newly married, her husband refused her request, making her a virtual prisoner in her home. Eventually Janki’s father realized he had made a terrible mistake in marrying her off and helped her escape to Karachi, where a small community that had grown up around Lekraj had moved in 1939. This community eventually became known as the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University, and the spiritual knowledge they taught on the soul, God and time was the focus of the remaining 80 years of her life.   After the 1947 partition of India, the group moved from Karachi to Mt Abu, Rajasthan. Then in 1974, Janki, now called Dadi, which means senior sister in Hindi, was asked to go to London and to begin serving what they called “the foreign lands”. With a tiny Air India bag and two white saris and knowing only a few words of English, she moved to a small flat in a poor part of the city. A door became her makeshift bed. She very soon met a handful of young westerners who were to become lifelong supporters of the work of the movement outside India. She was also accompanied from those earliest days by Sister Jayanti, daughter of Murli and Rajni Kirpalani, a Sindhi couple already living in London. Word of the teachings gradually spread across the UK, and then across the world, where the spiritual university now has a presence in about 130 countries. Those who studied with Dadi Janki during the years in which the movement underwent such massive expansion remember her relentless drive – her sheer force of will - that they should follow her example in study, remembrance of God, and service.   Despite teaching non-attachment, Dadi Janki was not afraid to engage deeply with those she saw as potential helpers in the task of guiding humanity through difficult times ahead. This gave many the inspiration to go beyond normal limitations and to embark on the tough task of personal, social, and world renewal.   She developed real love for those she met abroad, commenting on their honesty, sincerity and openness. And they developed a deep love for her wisdom, courage and persistent friendship that lasted the rest of her life. She was tireless, accepting invitations to speak in city after city, to be a Wisdom Keeper at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, and to speak at the United Nations, where in 1983 the Brahma Kumaris had become a nongovernmental organization with general consultative status. She gave equal time and love to those leading ordinary lives and to the scientists, prime ministers and well-known people who came to know her. Robin Gibb of the popular British singing group, the Bee Gees, wrote a song in her honour, “Mother of Love”, that he performed at Wembley Arena in 2006.  In 2007, Dadi Prakashmani, the then head of the Brahma Kumaris, passed on, and Janki was called back to India to lead the organization. She was 91. For the next 13 years, she regularly addressed groups of 20,000 or more at the Mt Abu headquarters. She took her last international trip in 2019, when she traveled from Dubai to Nairobi, then to London and New York.   Her health began to fail in February 2020. Finally, her small body, fragile since childhood, was taken to the Global Hospital, in Mt Abu, where she succumbed to breathing difficulties and a heart attack. Normally, an invitation would have gone out to tens of thousands of Brahma Kumaris and their friends and contacts to come to India for a final farewell. But with the COVID 19 virus closing borders and grounding flights, her life was celebrated in a small ceremony in the ashram to which she had come in 1950, a simple ending for one who had devoted herself to simplicity and truth. 108


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TRIBUTE TO

LAMA GANCHEN TULKU RINPOCHE

by Dzambling Cho Tab Khen (Alfredo Sfeir Younis) The Great Mahasiddha, Drubwang Gangchen Rinpoche was a teacher and a spiritual leader, a master of masters, an impeccable alchemist of natural law, a prince of world peace and of peaceful existence, a wisdom holder, an embodiment of the supreme light, and a most powerful ray of compassion. He manifested a unique transformational energy, a source of joy and happiness, and was a powerful and wise adviser and confidant. He was the maximum embodiment of the earth’s healing force and the most loving alchemist of the inner soul and nature: a majestic mountain (Gangchen) of love and equanimity. As a supreme alchemist of all expressions of life, he awakened a precise and effective way all the five elements of life: wind, water, space, earth and fire. He had the infinite power of talking with nature’s most powerful manifestations like the Amazon, the Andes Mountains, and the Himalayas. And, he healed thousands of people, animals and forests. He dedicated his entire life to serve humanity, all sentient beings, and nature. He had hundreds and hundreds of devoted disciples: ambassadors of peace, service and commitment with all living beings. What a privilege to have met him. Words do not have the capacity to convey the immense gratitude, love, and commitment we have to his teachings and unique legacy. He changed the content and scope of the path of thousands of people, so that we all could walk towards a new horizon. He taught us to heal the planet through one of the most fundamental spiritual laws of healing: “all forms of life matter”. 109

All lives have energies, intelligence, memory and consciousness, embroidering each and every aspect of One Supreme life existence. This spiritual law became the foundation to a new spiritual path for this millennium. The Great Mahasiddha was a true world citizen. He moved all around the planet with a very fundamental message: “inner peace is the most solid foundation for world peace”. He had an impeccable planetary vision for humanity. A vision of peace and prosperity in harmony with all beings and nature. It was within this context that he proposed: “A Solution for the Third Millennium: Proposal for a United Nations Spiritual Forum for World Peace”, November 1998. He first presented this proposal at The Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC), Santiago, Chile, 1995. He also presented the Spiritual Forum to multi-faith organizations like the United Religion Initiative, The World Peace Prayer Society, The Council for a Parliament of World Religions, the Interfaith Centre of New York, The Temple of Understanding, The Institute for Religious Studies (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), just to name a few. A radical and visionary proposal, full of love and compassion necessary to shift humanity towards the awakening of an age of wisdom energy. The essence was: “Inner Peace and World Peace, Now and Forever, by All the Holly Beings Blessings”. The peace proposal was a mastery in Buddhist inner science at work, which demonstrated his complete clarity about the role that collective consciousness plays in transforming humanity, and the engendering of a new form of eco-morality: a morality embedded in respect and equality of all forms of life. This served as the foundation for a single-


pointed-landscape for all of us to walk today, as well us a blueprint for future generations. He moved us towards the self-realization of inner and world peace, through the broadcasting and the germination of the seeds of peace, everywhere. Lama understood the powerful nature of communications, particularly at the level of communities and citizens worldwide. Thus, he was fully involved with the NGO communities around the planet, particularly those accredited with the UN. Himself created and developed several organizations with the purpose of transforming and enlightening all beings. Examples are: The Lama Gangchen World Peace Foundation, Help in Action, The Lama Gangchen Peace Publications, and The Lama Gangchen United Peace Voices. These organizations have been actively enlivening hundreds of spiritual seekers and their communities worldwide, with the power of his great compassion, which went far beyond individual interests. His practical presence in cities, villages, and people’s organizations, was really felt by thousands of people in the realms of their daily lives. In his global quest for peace, he met with several prominent leaders around the world, including two UN Secretary General: Mr Boutros Boutros-Ghali and Mr Kofi Anan, innumerable religious and spiritual leaders— including Pope John Paul II and Mother Theresa-academics, artists, musicians, politicians, corporate leader, parliament representatives, heads of international organizations, members of ecumenical movements, NGOs’ representatives and citizens worldwide… He wrote many books, articles and public statements, and left dozens of videos with teachings and wisdom advice, now very essential to whomever wants to engage into a meaningful and definite spiritual advancement. He received innumerable international awards in the areas of peace, education, integrative medicine, spirituality…too many to list here. Our souls live in permanent gratitude to this enlightened being, the “Lama Healer”, as many people would refer to him. He was always willing to walk with each and every one on this human journey. For those of us who had the privilege to cross paths with him, in this lifetime, we knew of his impeccable work and interventions within the epicentre of multi-lateral international dialogues: The United Nations. In this regard, he loved the UN and the NGO community within the UN. He brought there the unique blend of spirituality and global public policies embedded in spiritual values and concerns. He shared important attributes to be self- realized; all forming a meaningful ‘doublemandala’ capable of sustaining life in all its expressions. He was vital in bringing to the UN the relics of the Buddha. He always wanted us to become effective and engaged vehicles to change the world, to heal the planet, and to transform the existing public-collective-consciousness. He taught us a new form of spirituality, which surfaces from a beautiful and awaken interplay between our inner and outer spiritual transformation. He referred to it as the interwoven dance between our inner and outer ecology. Indeed, the magic world of interdependence, which he called “The 200% Society” demanded that no duality should surface between our inner and outer existence, and between our doing and our being. He wanted us to establish a new paradigm within our professions and in all realms of a person’s actions and behaviours. He understood that our society’s material transformation and inner ecology were very much interwoven with economics, business, politics, governance, citizenship... Thus, he cultivated within us the spirituality of (our) collective existence, including sentient beings and nature. It is the spirituality of the Earth as a ‘being’ and not as a ‘thing’, which we only realize as a result of an ever-higher level of collective consciousness. Also, he developed a spirituality rooted in the human daily experience and within the public domain. Drubwang Gangchen Rinpoche taught us that there was a supreme spiritual attainment by combining the traditional practices of meditation, yoga, initiations, contemplation…--indispensable to nurture

our daily spiritual mandala—with a strong commitment to a better society. He would say, “it is not only important to self-realize love and compassion, but we must commit ourselves, simultaneously, to the creation of a loving and compassionate society”. For him, this second part of the mandala was called: “Modern Buddhism”. One of the favourite places to travel with him was to the Borobudur Temple; the most powerful Buddhist vehicle of consciousness on the planet. Embodiment of the highest forms of tantric NgalSo SelfHealing. Traveling with him and visiting so many places –e.g., Tibet, Thailand, Nepal, Indonesia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Brazil, USA, Italy, Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Portugal…--was a unique experience. We witnessed the awakening of people’s hearts and souls, the great happiness and joy of Buddhist communities, the skillful means he brought to bear in his teachings, the laugh and deep happiness of children, the enlivening various temples and stupas, the merging of everyone’ souls with the natural environments… His temple was the entire world. His friends, disciples and followers were from all over this planet. His passing away was magical as we experienced how time and space married into one and gave birth to the inner most beautiful ray of light, which transported him to Shambala. A new life. An eternal life, with a unique form of inner communication: infinite communication. A new way of teaching with limitless wisdom. A new way of explaining and debating. His departure was announced by a great rainbow in the sky, reflecting the cosmic mirror of his eternal soul. We felt the glory of his ascending. We tasted, once again, the fruits of impermanence. Dearest Lama Gangchen, your legacy will continue in all corners of the world. It will continue to be seeded within people’s hearts and souls while we wait for your return. Peace in All and All in Peace.

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TRIBUTE TO

SWAMI MA YOG SHAKTI, KATHU MATAJI Swami Ma Yog Shakti, “Kathu Mataji” By Denis Licul On the auspicious occasion of Christmas Day 2019, in the early morning hours of brahmamuhurta, Swami Ma Yog Shakti left her mortal body. For many years she has been leading the Sri Deepeshwar Mahadev Shiv Bag Ashram in Bari Kathu* village in the Rajasthan, where Sri Mahaprabhuji*, the great Indian saint, used to stay and hold satsangs for the villagers under the banyan tree. She was known as beloved Kathu Mataji among villagers and the Yoga in Daily Life community. Her pure and holy life was dedicated to spirituality, her master Vishwaguruji, and the divine Sri Alakhpuriji Siddha Peeth Parampara*. Even with her passing away, she bridged the East and the West and merged her faith in Ma-haprabhuji and Jesus. Kathu Mataji was born in Switzerland in 1946, and together with her four siblings raised in an orphanage. Later, she married an Indian man from Madagascar and moved to London where she raised two sons and worked as a nurse. Her secular name was Helene Napaul. It was around 1998, while she was in India, where she met HH Vishwaguru Mahamandaleshwar Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda*, the founder of the Yoga in Daily Life System and became his disciple. For several years she lived and took care of the Delhi and Kailash Ashrams. In 2003 she came to Bari Khatu, and, since then, she was in charge of the Ashram. In 2008 she received a Sannyas Diksha and became a Swami. Kathu Mataji was able to blend Swiss’ strictness and Indian’ chaos, and, though she spoke little Hindi, the villagers and kids adored her. She could sit with 50 women and sing bhajans. There are many wondrous stories about spirited life in the ashram*. On several occasions, the couples who could not have children would come 111


to her, and she would pray with them in front of Mahaprabhuji’s altar. It happened at least with three different couples that they would get a son within nine months. Kathu Mataji suffered a severe stroke on December 5th, on a day commemorating Mahaprabuji’s Mahasamadhi, the final liberation. She was brought to the hospital in Jodhpur, where she was operated in an attempt to save her life, but she remained unconscious till Christmas Day, when her soul finally left the body. On the day of her departure at 3 am, several people from the village reported that she came to their homes telling them to get up and go for a walk with her. When they learned that she passed away, many villagers came to the ashram to express their gratitude. To add to the miraculous circumstances, her son, the UK Embassy, and the police, all gave permission to bury her in this holy place, according with her last wish. Her beloved son Robin and his wife managed to arrive from England just in time to do the last rites and assist in the ceremony. The Mahasamadhi ceremony*, marking her final liberation from this mortal world, was beautifully guided by her Gurudeva Vishwaguru Ji. She did her last parikrama (sacred circumambulation), carried in the chariot around all mandirs (shrines) in the ashram, before she was put in a samadhi (seated upright in a special grave) in the ashram where she lived for the last 16 years. According to the tradition the ceremony lasted for 16 days with pujas, prayers and bhajans (Indian devotional songs). On the 16th day after Mataji passed away, a huge celebration, a bhandara feast took place in the ashram, organized by Vishwaguruji when food and presents were given to the villagers and special guests for the occasion. Mataji Ma Yog Shakti Ji will always be in our hearts and we will remember her kind, humorous and generous personality with great love and deep feelings. Links: Sri Alakhpuriji Siddha Peeth Parampara Sri Deepeshwar Mahadev Shiv Bag Ashram in Bari Kathu HH Vishwaguru Mahamandaleshwar Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda A Story from Bari Khatu Ashram

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IN CLOSING

A Yoga Day Message from Light on Light and Sacred Stories with Karuna As a part of The International Day Yoga and Light on Light’s annual special issue with the Committee for the International Day of Yoga at the United Nations we were moved by the special contributions to this year’s annual Yoga Day issue. These are unique and challenging times worldwide and with the pandemic, the core UNITY message of Yoga and its unparalleled resources for healing and well-being are more important than ever. We want to contribute here a Yoga message and practice for these times by Karuna. “A Special Message for world Yoga Day from Light on Light and Sacred Stories,” a 30-minute video with an inspirational message and a simple, powerful, Yoga practice – one that is easy for all, and a classic Yoga healing and rebirthing practice. This is a profound message and we hope that your participation in the message and practice in this video will be uplifting, healing, and empowering for you. Yoga means “unity” and never has there been a time when its healing message was more important.

New Yoga Series at Sacred Stories Media Along with her pioneer role at Light on Light, Karuna is Yoga spokesperson now for a new series of programming with Sacred Stories Media.

Awakening the Ten Bodies with Kundalini Yoga Free Webinar

Spiritual uplifting that nurtures both body and soul is key, and the Wisdom Schools of Yoga provide major and truly effective rest, respite, rebuilding and rebirth. Karuna’s root tradtition, Kundalini Yoga, is a mystical and healing Yoga, famous for its “rebirthing” practices. FREE Video to Awaken Your Ten Bodies with Kundalini Yoga

with Karuna learn.sacredstoriesmedia.com

Enjoy this beautiful kriya that works to activate and balance your ten bodies. Nurture your direct experience with your Soul Body, Negative Mind, Positive Mind, Neutral Mind, Physical Body, Arc line, Auric Body, Pranic Body, Subtle Body, and Radiant Body. We at Light on Light and Sacred Stories are truly pleased to have these opportunities to contribute so meaningfully in these challenging times. Never has the meaning of Light on Light Magazine’s subtitle—“Spiritual Practice and Inspired Lifestyle” or the vision of Sacred Stories: “I AM You and You Are Me. Let’s write our Sacred Stories together” been more important. Join us at Light on Light and Sacred Stories as we continue serve the Yoga message worldwide.

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Over Fifty Global NGO’s Celebrate YOGA DAY As part of “World UNITY Week”, June 20-27, 2020 Worldunityweek.org Join us online in this global opportunity to foster genuine movement towards global unity, prompted by the ecological crises to rebalance our place in Nature, and by the urgent need to address global conflicts and injustices. This is a call to all for greater collaborative engagement, movement-building across many intersecting areas of work”.

EVENTS SCHEDULE

Including the International Day of Yoga, June 21 June 20: Mid-year solstice (summer in the northern hemisphere and winter in the south). The solstice has since ancient times been a time of celebration and connection to Nature and our place in the Cosmos. This day will honor indigenous voices all around the world, as well as Global Days of Unity and finish with a Gaia Dance Party June 21: Celebrating the U.N. International Day of Yoga and the launch of Purpose Earth June 22-26: Open Space Sessions on global themes, designed to connect and empower hundreds of groups around the world June 24: World Water Day is the special focus June 25-26: 20th Anniversary celebration of the United Religions Initiative highlighting interfaith harmony as a worldwide blessing for peace June 26-27: Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations signing of the UN Charter (San Francisco June 26, 1945) The “UN75 People’s Declaration affirms: “The paradigm of ‘us versus them’ no longer meets our needs. ‘We the peoples” recognize the reality of our global interdependence. At the heart of the solutions to today’s challenges lies a sincere commitment to a new posture of collaboration, innovation, and action.” Key global organizations convening in World UNITY Week include, along with Light on Light: The International Day of Yoga Committee at the United Nations, UNITY EARTH, United Religions Initiative (URI), Parliament of the World’s Religions, the SINE Network, UNIFY, The SHIFT Network, the Interspiritual Dialogue Network, WholeWorld-View, Global Purpose Movement, Good of the Whole, Four Worlds International, We The World, Together in Creation, World Summit, Global Silent Minute, Garden of Light, Source of Synergy Foundation, Compassion Games, May Peace Prevail On Earth International, and many more.

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Light on Light Magazine - International Day of Yoga 2020 Special Edition  

Light on Light, a member of the UNITY EARTH network, is a free digital magazine dedicated to illuminating the light of wisdom, inspiration,...

Light on Light Magazine - International Day of Yoga 2020 Special Edition  

Light on Light, a member of the UNITY EARTH network, is a free digital magazine dedicated to illuminating the light of wisdom, inspiration,...

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