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Message from Swami Ritavan Bharati “Annual Festival of the Spirit” 40-day Period of Spiritual Renewal: 27th of May through the Full Moon of Guru Purnima, on the 5th of July 2020

Message from Swami Ritavan Bharati

“Annual Festival of the Spirit”

40-day period of Spiritual Renewal: 27th May till the Full Moon of Guru Purnima, which this year is on the 5th of July

We are reminded that since this annual event began in 1983, we have accrued an abundance of wealth for every beautiful thought is worth saving. We have saved a small treasure enhancing the treasures of non-violent, beautiful, and beneficial sentiments. During the festival, we are reminded to renew the spiritual focus of our life. And with the challenges we have all experience through the Covid-19 Pandemic, it is of utmost importance to again cultivate the soil of mind to become abundant in with the fruits of kindness and compassion for all. What we have done together as sangha and kalyana-mitras in the past years have awakened the transforming energies of emotional purification and pure spirituality to remind us of our goal and purpose of life.

First, is our purification of lifestyle: thoughts, emotions, attitudes, and how they influence our actions in thought word and deed. Purification means Beautifying, making the mind a beautiful, gentle and loving place, a harmonious, peaceful place. A place of solitude in the simple, the humble, and in the truthful. And in so doing, practice willfully selecting beautiful sentiments for ourselves and cultivating them, thereby enriching ourselves and those around us.

And second, we practice the pure spirituality in meditation, mantra-japa, and ajapa-japa.
For your practice of japa, I would again recommend 125,000 repetitions of your own mantra or combine it with a specialty mantra such as Saumya, Gayatri or Maha-Mrityunjaya. Those who want to do it a little more intensely need not limit themselves to the period of 40 days. They may complete the practice over a longer period. (Refer to the 40-day Guidelines here.)

Keep the habit of same place, same time for these 40-days, and, when you sit for the practice begin with a few recitations (3-11-21) of Gayatri (or extended Gayatri) at the beginning and at the end of your daily meditations. Also, increase your Saumya mantra recitations and include these in your daily japa. These are the basics of the japa, along with practices from previous years that you may also adopt.

For this year, let us also return to two themes we have spoken of in the past. First, the Vasudeva principle. (Refer to the article: Vasudeva-Toronto-2004). And, second is Sthita-Prajna, the theme of Steady Wisdom given by Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita II:54-72. This Spiritual Festival is an invitation to continue living the vasudeva principle, the principle of the in-dweller, the in-dwelling spirit, in-dwelling consciousness force; and the steady wisdom of a sadhaka who has matured in his practices of purification and meditation. (Refer to the booklet: Stita-Prajna).

Allow me to share a para-phrased and highlight what Swami Veda previously shared on this theme: 
“All these years, we have prepared, encouraged and practiced this step. And what is that step? – the very first step in yoga, the first one is yama , the interior spiritual disciplines. And the very first one of the five yamas is ahimsa, or non-violence. We come back to this principle as a center-point in our lives. When we live by the in-dweller principle, we know that spirit in all beings is One, and we live with a spiritual center to our lives.

We must live by it in our relationships with all beings. Not the ecology of saving the earth’s bio-diversity for the commercial benefit of human beings, but for the well-being, the unity, and harmony of all life. Why is that? It is because we know we live by fear. We are shaken with fear at all times in our lives. The Yoga Sutras define fear as violence. It is not fear of violence committed by others towards us; it is the recognition of the violence within us: I know within me that I have hurt living beings, not just human beings. I have hurt living beings. I have visited death upon them. We are living in this fear at all times. While you are asleep, thousands of living beings are being killed so that you may eat them for breakfast. And the sigh that goes out of those living beings when they face extinction is the same fear that makes you tremble at the thought of death, and the way this instinctual urge remains so dominant in your life. Your fears are merely creating blocks and barriers and separating you from the whole. You forget that you are part of this very fabric that includes all life living together in harmony as one-spirit.

So for these 40 days extend your non-violence to all living beings, and according to your capacity, refrain from partaking from anything as food that has been killed. Remember, it is not an act of compassion towards them, it is a recognition of the oneness of the in-dwelling spirit. Every act of murder is a suicide because that other is also I, the Universal Self. Please remember that. Experiment with it. Read once again the autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi.

The second step along with that is that all anger is anger at yourself. Frustration at one’s own inadequacy in love is fear and fear invites anger. Where you find excuses or justification let this sentiment mature. Let us start working on the periphery, and not solve all the moral dilemmas right now. Let us make an experiment in life for these forty days. Cultivate sweet sentiments, cheerful and kind sentiments. Again, it is not an act of compassion, nor is it a repression; it is an act of cultivating a beautiful sentiment. For if the in-dwelling spirit is one, at whom am I being angry? Ask yourself that question, and that would help you to overcome the strong urge towards violence. Violence of speech, for instance, violence that exhibits itself in a loud voice, in a screaming and a stamping of feet. Recognize this urge to use other living beings for your pleasure, to use others as your emotion-releasing valves. Both are violations of the principle of the one, indwelling spirit. Just begin curbing it for this period in your life. I am simply recommending cultivating the thought of the one, in-dwelling spirit.

Contemplate, and let your contemplations become your sentiments, and let your spirit soar to realize the unity that is the uni-verse. I think of this world at times as one single poem, and that is how I think of the word uni-verse. Let your life be a poem. Let your world be a poem to you. In this way, the level of relationship you feel with the guru lineage will become more clear. And, I have observed in my own life, that unless this relationship deepens, all these practices will lead you nowhere. Please find your own path and ways of deepening this relationship as the period will end on Guru Purnima.

Finally, I suggest that each day during these forty days that you take a walk for about ten minutes and watch where you are stepping. And then when you come upon an ant or a bug, know the oneness of the in-dwelling spirit. Let your heart be filled with love and compassion. Carry some sugar in your packet and bend down and feed the ants. Walk for ten minutes, watching so that you are not crushing any living being. Not only that, but you are seeing every living being as your kith and kin – lovable. And after you have thrown some sugar to the ants, you will have such a sense of satisfaction. Think over it. Let this be an experiment in your life. Yet, let-go of the strict self-judgements you have a tendency to make toward others and yourself. Get in the spirit of it. Absorb and assimilate the sentiment and attitude. You know what it will do you if you practice this non-violence? It will help you to conquer the fear of death; for fear of death, as I said, is nothing but the unconscious recognition of the fact of “how many times I have visited death upon others; may it not rebound to me.”

If you have at any time any questions about your spiritual practices, please talk with your spiritual mentor in our AHYMSIN centers, or write to me, address an email to Dear Yoga Mentor, My Question Is…. I pray for you, pray for your serenity and love in your life. Srb