“A gift is pure when it is given from the heart to the right person at the right time and at the right place, and when we expect nothing in return.” Bhagavad Gita 17:20
I’ve never considered myself to be a particularly “heart-centered” individual. Quite often I have questioned if was even capable of love. “What does that even mean anyway?” Living in a selfie-centered society that breeds fixation and co-dependency, I never understood what it meant to truly love without condition, without some weight of debt or to surrender to dharma- Not until my teacher died.
It’s been just a year now and I remember the striking effect the news of his passing had on my heart. It felt raw. I was confused. Prior to this point my yoga practice tended to be intellectual and practical. The thought of Bhakti made me nervous and I was skeptical of blissed-out hippies (still sort of am). But something magical happened on the day of Jonathan’s death. When I asked his wife, Angela, “what do you need?” and she replied, “I need you to come back to San Diego and teach all of (his) classes,” a strength and confidence emerged from within me that I can only describe as unconditional love. It was a bravery I had never before experienced. For the first time in my life I felt an absolute sense of duty.
The maneuvering which was required to leave San Francisco on such short notice, to face trying to rebuild my life once again in San Diego was massive. But somehow I wasn’t afraid. The deep respect and admiration I have for Jonathan, and the desire to be there for his family, for his students was the fuel to forge ahead with no questions asked.
Since this transition, life has begun to blossom in ways I could have never imagined. It seems that all aspects of my being have grown, evolved, matured. I’ve resigned a part of my own identity to play the instrumental role of carrying out Jonathan’s work with the Bheemashakti Yoga School and it feels great. This devotion to serving my teacher connects me the essence of God that threads through the entirety of existence. Surrendering to this is absolute freedom.
The discussions Jonathan and I had over the years really shaped the way I saw yoga, spirituality and life. He never told me what to think or believe, but instead pointed me in the direction of the answers I was looking for. He truly felt that a student should have their own experiences in order to gain insight and develop wisdom. This is a concept that has been proven valuable in my experience. And in looking back at how much has changed since the day I received the call, I realize that my heart was due for a major tune-up.
The greatest gift my teacher ever gave me was the spark of devotion. Now I understand what it means to be selfless and to serve with love. And through this concentrated energy emerging from my heart, the world around me continues to transform. No path of yoga is complete without knowledge, service, self-control and divine love.