Sunday in Lisbon was World Yoga Day and it lived up to its name. Our Portuguese Yoga Confederation hosts took us to a small sports stadium in Lisbon for the festivities, which were webcast live. The stage was set up for short talks, skits, demonstrations and more. In fact, we should acknowledge that this, and all of the events, was highly coordinated and run by sincerely devoted sishyas with great discipline and care for the guests from all over the world. At the height, we estimate 1,500 yogis were enjoying lounging on the green but sun-scorched grass field as the program ensued.
As part of a group of masters that were called up on stage to give short prayers, Sadasivanathaswami gave a stirringly profound poem about what we owe to the grace of gurus present and past, which stunned our host and everyone else present. It stood out as totally different from the mostly "I want to thank our host..." prayers. The other stand out was an effusive, heart-felt outpouring by a Spain -based yoga teacher, Nalini. We will put Paramachariya's blessing at the end of this post.
The opening was a delight. They blasted Sound of Silence by Simon and Garfunkle followed by Allegría by Madonna while the master gathered all of his students on and in front of the stage in a big, swaying hug-fest, to the intense emotional tones of those two fantastic songs. It was amazing. After that there were lots of little talks, some impressive hatha yoga demonstrations (world-class would not be an exaggeration), more talks, and demonstrations, and on it went. It was a European yoga conference in every imaginable sense. Great, and a bit different than what we might do. But great and enjoyed by all present. Probably good to mention that is is also something historic, and there is an effort afoot to have the United Nations recognize World Yoga Day for June 21st each year.
The shade protection for the VIPs was not sufficient for the more vulnerable among us and we got quite a bit of sun. All day in the sun on the longest day of the year seems to turn the face bright red. The bus can only go so far into the village because the roads become so small that only little cars can drive on them, so they drop us off and we have to walk a beautiful kilometer or so the rest of the way to the hotel.
Every hour of the day has been so tightly scripted that is is difficult to report but we will keep trying. After Lisbon,we are on our own schedule, so days will be less intense and allow us more opportunities to communicate.
The prayer Paramacharya gave:
How immensely blessed we are to be in the presence of ancient lineages and awakened gurus. We thank Jagad Guru Amrta Suriyananda Maharaja for bringing us together on this historic World Yoga Day.
All of you present today are living proof of the power, poise and presence of yogis. And you would be the first to put those blessings at the feet of the masters who have gone before us, to whom we owe an unpayable debt.
It is said that galaxies swirl in infinite space because of the vastness of gurus past and present
It is said that the earth revolves around the Sun because of the wisdom of gurus past and present
It is said that birds sing and flowers give blossom because of the joy of gurus past and present
It is said that water flows and clouds drift across the sky because of the detachment of gurus past and present
It is said that children play and lovers weep because of the compassion of gurus past and present
It is said that consciousness evolves toward the Divine because of the sadhanas of gurus past and present
And I say we here today could not be together were it not for the love of gurus past and present
Hindus believe in each individual as a soul, a divine being who is inherently good. We all have a threefold nature: instinctive, intellectual, intuitive. Develop the intuitive/spiritual/soul nature with compassion, devotion, penance. Use the intellect to help subdue the instinctive mind. Guilt is not a part of Hinduism. There is no eternal hell. You have a continuity of consciousness when you transition to the inner worlds. There is no devil, but there are mischievous "asuras."