I am starting these writings with the first issue of Space Light. Back in 1999, inspired by my newly acquired email account, I offered to send out emailed issues of writings I was doing on meditation and the philosophy of Yog to people I thought might be interested in receiving them. These writings tended to be on a topic of yogic Self-knowledge I chose to explore missed in with snippets of satsangs with Swami-ji, Swami Shyam. Since much of the time I was musing in these writings, I later called them just that, musings.
Recently, I decided to pull these issues into book form, planning to call it Space Light, the title of the emailed series. Hearing this, my friend Shree suggested offering them on a blog. And here we are.
I may periodically add some current expressions on meditation and Self-knowledge.
Knowledge and love,
A Glimpse on Devotion
20 August, 1999
I went to satsang yesterday. It had been two weeks since I had gone. For one reason or another I had skipped a week. By the time I went, it was as if I had to overcome some kind of resistance to going. I just get so dug into my own space in my kuteer. Sometimes I don’t see anyone for a day or two at a time. By the end of the day, I realize I haven’t said a word all day, a kind of automatic maun, observance of silence. I pursue my various projects, meditate and do saadhanaa, write, for a long time now no music, no painting. Watching the mind, knowing the Self, expressing sometimes through giving some classes, sometimes through letters.
Email has been quite good for that, allowing for a much more timely response, a sense of closer connection in time and space. I enjoy the moment of sending and receiving. There’s still a magic in it for me, a child-like delight, that I can write to my son Ryan in Seattle, my cousin in Rochester, Mahabir in Montreal, others all over the place, and all in an instant. Such a sense of efficiency!
In satsang, Swamiji talked about the Gita verse “You have the right to act, you do not have the right to the fruits of actions.” (Bhagavad Gita, Chap II:47) He talked about how this verse had confused so many people as they tried to act without attending the results of their actions. His point: If you don’t keep your attention on the fruit of action, then how will you do actions? And if you just act, as the first part says, without keeping your attention on your goal, then actions will become chaotic. It will just be random action with no purpose. You will have to attend the fruit in order to move towards your goal.
But this is being said for the one who is confused and has become paralyzed into inaction, and then has concluded that inaction is knowledge. That is useless, nay, detrimental to living a life. Krishn is talking in order to get Arjun to start acting. Otherwise, he’s finished, and everything will be a mess for him. We must attend the fruits of our actions but know where the fruits are coming from: Krishn, Pure Being. A human being needs to become strong and one-pointed in his or her action, so Krishn is emphasizing the right to act. The verse is a challenge to Arjun to start thinking about what is happening and about what he is thinking.
Everybody spoke at some point or another. When I was on the seat, he praised the new Gita and told me he’s still reading it, up to Chapter X. He said it will be a pocketbook version. He really likes that idea.
Later, talking to Mira about her doing pooja every day in the pyramid and about her idea of devotion and claiming that she would do whatever he told her to do, he said that there are two kinds of bhakti –– apar bhakti and par bhakti. Apar (not beyond) bhakti is involved with form, such as being devoted to a form of God or Guru as separate from oneself. Par Bhakti, he said, is knowing that the Self is indivisible and One, one’s own Self. It is beyond division.
For a few minutes, he said Mira should do pooja in the pyramid all through satsang every day because she had told him that she would do whatever he said. As soon as he pronounced this sentence upon her, she became sad. She said, “Do you really mean that?”
Swamiji: “I am saying it.”
Mira: “But sometimes you say to me that unless you say it three times I should not take it literally.”
Swamiji slowly and methodically repeated it three times, letting each word sink in. He let her stay in the effect of that for a while; and then he relented, saying she didn’t have to abide by his words, she could just do it when she was ready to do it. He was lighting up our statements such as “I will do whatever you say, Swamiji,” showing that the person already has something in their mind about what they actually want even while saying they will do anything.
If we want to be devoted around Guru-ji, we’d better be clear and intelligent about it. In other words, we still have to purify the ways in which our minds work and become aware of those ways. His interaction with Mira was a classic case of his elucidating a point through using a little drama. On the topic of devotion, he has humorously said that he is the greatest devotee. But there is nothing facile, cliché, or dumb about his devotion. He is guiding us to understand that devotion is the final result of exquisitely honed intelligence and Self-awareness—devotion to the Indivisible One.