The Rich Vegetarian

An Examined Life

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Category: This-That (page 1 of 221)

What is Spirituality?

As part of the takeover of the Instagram profile of abcdyogi, I wrote the piece below.

The word “spiritual” comes from “spiritus” (Latin), meaning breath. So, a “spiritual” person is quite simply, someone who breathes. Now, the term “spirituality” is used to mean an inner awakening of sorts, a journey towards meaning and purpose. But I like to think of spirituality as the “journey of the breath.” And what is the journey of the breath, if not the journey of life?

The story of the breath, as it moves from one moment to the next, IS the story of our individual life, and it is our personal spiritual journey.

The breath is an intimate, essential, and unique aspect of our individual selves, and so is our spiritual journey. It is our solo agreement with Life/Universe, and it is wholly unique and personal. No one can write the story for us, and no one can walk the path in our place — it is simply not possible. Because the path unfolds moment to moment, one breath after another, in real time.

Our life is our individual spiritual path, the way of our individual spirit. And we become better travelers too, as we start understanding the signs and signals, directions, etc. This is the gift of “choiceless awareness,” where we are aware of the path and its existence, and we are led forward by faith in the Universe, yet completely aware and present. This is a journey of loving faith and awareness, and it exists for each one of us.

So walk fearlessly, my friend.

Meditation & Awareness

As part of the takeover of the Instagram profile abcdyogi, I wrote a short essay on meditation and awareness. Here it is.

In September 2004, I attended a Sahaj Samadhi meditation workshop, taught by Michael Fischman. Mikey was a FANTASTIC teacher who had been meditating for many years. Mikey had such a basic, fundamental take on the practice of meditation… it was just what I needed. “Sahaj Samadhi” means “effortless/simple transcendence,” and initially, I was doubtful. The technique felt too simple, nearly non-existent. I thought, how does this work? Can I do it? It took me years to realize that this was a SIMPLE practice, not necessarily an easy one. It was truly about withdrawing effort, being still, letting go.

“Doing nothing” is how Mikey described it. How does one “do nothing?” I examined the “do nothing” instruction from all angles. Finally exhausted, I gave up, and in that “giving up,” I understood what it meant.

People talk a lot about having a “good meditation.” Honestly, I think that’s missing the point. What I feel is that meditation IS the point. The idea is to be still, quiet and unmoving, drop effort, just be. Whatever follows after (transcendence, dreams, creativity, rage, A-Ha moments) is secondary. Because what we are practising is the art of being still, watching, barely watching, just being. It is this simple, natural and effortless practice of sitting/being that then extends into our daily life and activities. Becoming an observer of one’s body, mind, thoughts and emotions, the world, people, all of it… Observing becomes a fundamental aspect of who we are. To me, this signifies the beginning of awareness, or Pragnya.

I like to think of awareness as a tiny flame. With meditation and observation, it grows larger and brighter, illuminating worlds within and without. This is the real gift of a human incarnation. We can reflect on the world, we can reflect on ourselves, and we can reflect on ourselves reflecting on the world. It is about growing into the Saakshi (witness) consciousness.

I often joke, “One of these days, I am going to write the Lazy Person’s Guide to Spirituality. Just watch.” I really think it IS that simple. Watch the changing, watch the unchanging, watch the one who watches. #abcdyogilakshmi @richvegetarian

I Taught People to Breathe

I taught people to breathe.

Breathe the proper way, that is. Where you draw the breath into your system, long and deep and deliberate, and then you stay put, be still. Then you let it go, slow and long and drawn out, no hurry or hesitation involved. It comes in, a steady inflowing stream, and then you let it flow out, a long and smooth whoosh. It can become a nice, personal dance where you are the dancer and the audience.

I taught little kids to breathe too. Their little breaths would gush out of their sweet bodies, so trusting and surrendering. They would let it all out, give it all away… and I could steal it all if I so wanted. But I’d be a nasty villain if I did that. And I know that nasty villains exist, and they were likely little kids as well, sincere and eager and trusting. Then the world began to let them down, one infraction at a time, then another, and another. Little kids learned not to trust. They started retreating, eyes not making contact, words not giving a response. There is a teenager. And I taught that one also to breathe. Played the monkey and the elephant and the snake and the lion. Breathe in, then out… don’t stop. Don’t be afraid or fearful, I am right here with you. There is love in the world, and there is sex, and there is intimacy. There is parental love, and the romantic kind.

I also taught grownups to meditate. This was my favorite thing of all. It is simple, people… NOT EASY. This is such a lovely, tough thing to grasp. And I’d spent years trying to clutch and grasp at the little meditation dance, so I had ample sympathy, an abundance of metaphors to help guide those interested.

For the first time in your life, there is no performing, not a thing to do.

It is sweet bliss.

And then I let it all go. Or it let go of me. I sank into the silence, no more eye contact, no more voice response. The farther I went, the more alone I got. The deeper I fell, the louder the silences. I whirled around in the wilderness, finally song-less, finally wordless. But the woods and wind saw it all. They silently rejoiced but I was still and unmoving.

My body had become large and swollen. I fit nowhere, I could go no place. I thought it was time to be selfish. I was going to let this fill up my insides and pulse through my veins, making them stand taut and shiny green. My voice began flowing again but the channels were hidden, and only a few could hear it. The song broke free of all chords and scales, it became a major solo orchestra, blinding and deafening.

And it was all only beginning.

Video: Guru & Connection

“I am not very active in teaching or organizing programs any more.”
“Ahh, that’s alright… as long as you are connected.”

What does it mean to be “connected?” How does it look like when someone is connected (or not)?

I wrote about this on an earlier post The Guru and I.

“Gurudev gave me wings, taught me to fly, cut me loose.”