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Love is..a walk around the block.

October 9, 2010

During a pensive, deliberately slow promenade around my friendly, leaf-laden neighbourhood this afternoon, I thought about opening to yoga.

I had literally just silently uttered the words “Shall I write on bhakti or giving thanks (due to the timely holiday)” in my head when I tripped over the word love in the sidewalk… sliced through with the tiniest footprints known to toddlers. “The yogi is ruthlessly truthful and honest with himself, and whatever he thinks or speaks turns out to be true”.     Iyengar wins another one.  

My teachings and personal practice today were in honour of bhakti-the practice of love- and the moment I considered straying from this intention to discuss thanks giving, I was directed back on my path mainly because where I watch where I step. I took careful steps in the autumn light today.

“When we relax our habitual image of ourselves as egos wrapped in flesh, when we cut through our primal fear, we get in touch with the power of love. Yoga tells us that our essential nature is bliss (ananda) or happiness, which is another word for love. But love suggests a more active involvement than does bliss or happiness. Perhaps it would not be altogether wrong to say that love is the practice of happiness.

Bhakti-Yoga is the discipline of self-transcending feeling – participation in the world at large. The Sanskrit word Bhakti comes from the verbal root bhaj, meaning “to participate in”. Through and in love, we participate in the larger Life, in what the teachers of Bhakti-Yoga call the Divine Person. That transcendental Person is the universal soil from which springs all life.

Love, is not merely a temporary high, a feeling of elation. It must be cultivated as a continuous spiritual disposition. We must love even when we feel slighted, hurt, angered, bored or depressed – especially in those moments. Bhakti-Yoga is the steady application of our feeling capacity in all life situations. Even in our worst moments, we must extend our love, or fundamental respect, to all others. Even though life consists of peaks and valleys, our overall commitment must be to what is revealed in our brief spells on the peaks.

We must love concretely, that is to say, we must give our love to specific beings. And we might as well start at home, with our spouse, our children, and not least our parents. What we will find is that sometimes loving them is easy, and at other times it is the hardest thing imaginable. To really love is a great discipline, because we must love stably and consistently and regardless of whether or not our love is returned. In other words, we must love despite our likes and dislikes – that is, despite our ego. We must simply allow love to be a transformative force in our lives. Allowing is the key. This is the discipline of Bhakti-Yoga.”         GEORG FEUERSTEIN

The practice of love, the practice of giving thanks – it comes to us and transforms our lives when we allow our minds to open up to all lessons, all possibilities, all people we meet during our day and all the quiet signals we encounter during brief walks: keep your eyes open and your steps light.  Hop into love, practice it, notice it and greet it. Hello love.


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