I know that expectation always leads to disappointment. I know that and yet I can't seem to help myself. Yesterday the anticipation of my satsang with a real swami was unbearable. I couldn't wait for 8pm to arrive. I couldn't enjoy the live music because I was anxiously waiting to learn the meaning of life from the swami! I had convinced myself that I was going to learn some ancient yoga secret to a life of peace and joy!
During the program I begin to think that this message, this secret to a life of peace and joy was not getting to the people who really needed it. Those of us who had gathered there to listen to Swamiji (as he is affectionately known) already knew that we weren't going to find happiness in the stores or in catalogs. We already had a glimpse of the bliss that comes from a connection to the Divine. What about the people in the world who are suffering? Who will bring this message to them?
There was a young woman swami with him. She spoke first. I wish that I could share with you the entire discourse but I can't so I'll share with some of the points that stuck with me. (I'm paraphrasing)
Just image that you want some Orange juice. You really really want it and nothing else will satisfy you but Orange juice so you go and milk a cow. That's right, you go milk the cow and try to get orange juice from the utters of the cow!! Funny thought isn't it? Absurd really. But that's exactly what we're doing when we try to find happiness by acquiring more stuff or more money, more power. Perhaps you desire to have someone and you convince yourself that if he/she behaves a certain way then you'll be happy. You're trying to get Orange juice from a cow. If you want happiness you have to look within.
She also told a story about a man who put his reading glasses on top of his head when he was finished his work and then went about his day. Later when he needed them he couldn't find them. He asked his wife, "where are my glasses?" He asks his children "have you seen my glasses?" They all see the glasses but they don't tell him. Finally one of his children tells him to look in the mirror and you'll find your glasses.
The closeness of the glasses was of no help to him. They may as well have been in China. Until he realized that they were there it didn't matter how close they were. It seems to me that we're all looking for our glasses that are right there on top of our heads. The happiness and peace that we are seeking is right there within us but it's closeness doesn't help until we realize that it's there.
I enjoyed her talk and by this point my anticipation of what ancient wisdom the Swami was about to impart on us was overwhelming. I listened patiently as he chanted mantras. Some of which I myself have chanted with my teachers. Again, I will paraphrase just a small portion of the Swami's wisdom here for you.
The key to peace and happiness is only one thing - an intimate connection with the Divine. He talked about how we all have so many appointments to keep during our day but the most important appointment is the appointment with the Divine. In order words, daily spiritual practice - sadhana.
You don't need any special mantras or techniques. You don't need to be a sanskrit scholar. You simply need a little corner in your home where you can place a symbol or photo of the Divine. The beauty here is that you can choose whatever aspect of the Divine that resonates with you. Take time each day to visit this space and have a conversation with God. Talk to God in whatever language you see fit. Then, close your eyes and in the depths of meditation listen to God talking to you.
There you have it. The ancient yogic secret to happiness and peace. Daily spiritual practice -- Sadhana.
After the discourse we had the opportunity to receive a blessing from the swami. I watched some folks bow in front of him, touch his feet in reverence. As I knelt in front of him, I placed my hands together in front of my heart - prayer pose. I looked into his eyes and offered my sincere thank you. I didn't bow or touch his feet, I looked into his eyes and saw such warmth and love. He held my gaze (which usually makes me uncomfortable) but strangely, I felt some familiarity. As if our paths had crossed before or perhaps I was recognizing the Divine within him that is also within me.
I wasn't disappointed in the experience but it certainly wasn't what I had envisioned in my head. The anticipation and expectation of learning some new, secret wisdom that only a real swami would teach turned into a sense of gratitude for my teachers. I am eternally grateful to them for the wisdom they share with me everyday in their words and by their example.
So to re-cap: The ancient yoga secret to happiness and peace is daily spiritual practice - sadhana. Now I've shared this wisdom with you - Tag! you're it! Go and share it with someone in your life.