Before our departure from Kauai, we summarized our journey for Bodhinatha as having four central goals. First, to give our presentations at the World Yoga Day in Lisbon. Second, to meet with communities in seven nations in order to write a major article for Hinduism Today surveying the status of Hinduism in Europe. Third, to visit two boldly Hindu ashrams and strengthen those connections. And fourth, to have satsang with members in and around Chicago on the way home.
Our first full day at the World Yoga Day Darshana event was spent in a nice theater in Lisbon, from 8am to (it's true) 11:30pm. Many (dare we say too many?) talks, all fifteen minutes or so. The seats were only moderately filled. The talks are about one half (maybe more) by medical and research people all about studies on yoga 's effects on stress, blood pressure and such. Others on philosophy, yoga educational initiatives and a rainbow of yoga-related stories. There were entertaining skits, dramas and some impressive hatha yoga demonstration. from the stage.
A single and much-welcomed voice emerged here, that yoga is spiritual, yoga is
Hindu, yoga has to be understood beyond asana. Yoga should be a part
of standard health care.
It is quite impressive how Jagad Guru Amrita Suryananda has gathered here the creme-de-la-creme of yoga experts and researchers. His shishyas have done an amazing work, and their care of all who came was touching, filled with the spirit of service and guru bhakti. This team is dedicated, talented and deeply immersed in traditional ways and sadhanas. A rare group in the world and one which will clearly make a difference in the future here in Europe.
An articulate lady from Greece told her story of how yoga saved her from an ordinary and depressed life. She has agreed to send the article for HT. Really moving tale. Let me share here my rough notes taken during her talk:
"I am an Greek ex corporate lawyer and this is my personal journey into yoga away from disenchanted life. All I was looking for was peace, but I found it hard to find a yoga teacher. All were too physical, too manipulative, too chatty, too some
thing. Yoga created space for me. I started seeing clearly that I had to give
up 15 year legal career. Two years later I started teaching yoga. It
was birth a joy and a duty."
One talk on the Hindu Forum of Europe provided a detailed glimpse into the
politics of Hinduism here. We interviewed the presenter, Maha Prahbudas, for
our article in Hinduism Today. As always, everyone here reads and knows of Hinduism Today. We were able to give a copy of the most recent issue to everyone.
Jai Ganesha! it is ever-remarkable for me to recall that I began taking Yoga lessons from Amrit Desai at Lower Merion High School in Philadelphia in the late 50′s….my friends, family, thought I was nuts/a ‘weirdo’!, and there were almost no other students! very few! Since that time I have encountered many students/friends of Amrit Desai on Kaua’i, and Yoga is now all-pervasive in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania….it has been my great JOY to see a small garden grow SO large and plentiful with ‘blossoms’ of practitioners!! me ke aloha, Leonora
Bodhinatha's Latest Upadeshas: "The Difference in Practice of Theism and Monism" (September 3, 2014)
During a puja we're in Theism, to receive the blessings of the Deity. After a puja we can go within our self in meditation, giving up the idea of an external Deity, Monism. Monistic Theism: Advaita Ishvaravada. Advaita means the Monism; Ishvara means the Theism.
In Shum we use two words that relate to that: shumif and dimfi. First, perfect your Theism. Then become a monist. That's called Saiva Siddhanta; one leads to the other.