Bhagavad Gita

Heart Beats Complete: The Greatest Gift

“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.

Jonathan, meditating.

Jonathan, meditating.

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.

Jonathan assisting Troy

Jonathan assisting Troy

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.

-Troy

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From Communism to free Spirit

Twenty five years ago, the Berlin Wall fell. At the time, I was living in the GDR and my dreams of traveling and seeing the world seemed as likely as visiting the moon. Studying yogic philosophy in a form of government, where access to any form of information is strictly monitored, must be challenging. Unfortunately, it is still a reality for some places in the world.

Today, I am flooded with gratitude. This auspicious turn in world history has not only allowed me to travel the world, but also to go on a journey, that may not have been possible in the setting of communist East Germany. A journey inward. Life has brought me to San Diego and has opened many doors for me to discover not only the beauty of the outside world, but also uncover the mysteries of our inside world. I feel immensely grateful for the opportunities that continue to present themselves.

Prof Rao

Professor Nagaraja Rao on the Upanishads

Just this past week I enjoyed the opportunity to study with a visiting Sanskrit scholar from Mysore, India. Professor Nagaraja Rao discussed with a small group of students the yogic texts Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads. Upanishad actually means to sit down near a teacher. It refers to the fact that knowledge is transferred to the student who sits close to the teacher, and thus receives the teachings directly. The Upanishads are also called Vedanta, since they are the closing part of the Vedas, some of the oldest Sanskrit scriptures. There are four vedas, the Rigveda, the Vajurveda, the Samaveda and the Atharvaveda. However, there are over 108 Upanishads, since the four vedas have many branches. I learned that the four parts of the Mantra Om relate to the Vedas. When pronounced, Om is split up into A, U, M and a resonance of the M. The “A” corresponds to the Rigveda and to our waking state. The “U” is the Vajurveda and our dream state. The letter “M” is the deep sleep state or the Samaveda, and finally the resonance embodies Samadhi or the Atharvaveda. These states as well as the Vedas comprise our whole life.

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Indian Lunch with Professor Rao

The lectures ended today with a delicious Indian lunch. Contemplating ancient Indian scriptures on the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall – what better way to celebrate.

Om Asato Maa Sad Gamaya
Tamaso Maa Jyotir Gamaya
Mrtyor Maa Amritam Gamaya
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti*

Lead me from the non-existent to the existent
Lead me from darkness to light
Lead me from death to immortality
Om Peace Peace Peace

* Mantra from the Upanishads

Love, Uta