Dear friends, October 4th was the 92nd annual World Animal Day—a celebration of our beloved furry friends. The date was selected to coincide with the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, who is famously quoted as saying “If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.”
M.K. Gandhi similarly affirmed, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
Our most revered teacher, Sri Ramana Maharshi, was a well-known guardian of all beings. There are many stories of his moving interactions with the animals that visited his ashram. It is said that once, while one of his attendants was beating monkeys for stealing fruit from the meditation hall, Ramana averred “It is not the monkeys that are receiving your beatings, it is me.” Ramana also recognized that “All this land was once a jungle in which the monkeys could roam about freely. It has been their natural habitat for centuries. We are trespassers.”
With this in mind, we invite you to bring awareness to your coexistence with all living things, being mindful of how you can be more compassionate and see yourself in the eyes of any being you have the good fortune to encounter.
My First Guru—Unconditional Love
“In my childhood, I had many good friends, but maybe the best was Corbu (‘Raven’), a beautiful big black dog. Usually, we were both very happy, playing with everyone, which was nice—except when he chased chickens.
Our wanderings together to the seacoast, far from my parents’ house, were a way of sharing our love of freedom.
We had adventures together, but also moments of intimacy.
Often, Corbu would rest his front paws on my chest and I would hold his head in my hands. Face-to-face, we would look into each other’s eyes for long periods of time, tears welling up for both of us. In this way, long before I knew about meditation or yogic samyama (identification), I experienced the feeling of living in his body. I would feel my black fur, the sensation of being on all fours, my tail moving, and my breath coming quickly, tongue hanging out of my mouth. But, what brought me to tears was a kind of longing, a sense of nostalgia for escaping the limited functionality inherent in his body—the inability to speak and the increased power of instincts hurt me… It was as if I would slowly give up my old life and become a dog, unable to say anything to other humans, which brought sadness. And still, in spite of such altered perceptions and thoughts, I felt comforted because even there, love was shining. At times, I could also feel his mature presence in that body of a child…
This is how I understood, before reading any Advaita teachings, that I am not just this body. And more than that, I learned how Corbu’s love feels—Unconditional Love.”
Mazunte unexpectedly suffered a torrential downpour with significant flooding on October 2nd. The permanent damage was minimal and the town has joined hands to make quick work of an extensive cleanup effort ahead of the Mazunte International Jazz Festival, November 17th-19th. Hridaya will again be participating in the festivities and supporting the new Zero Waste Campaign. Meanwhile, central Mexico and the state of Oaxaca are still suffering the effects of recent earthquakes. Please read more about relief efforts on our blog and consider sending a PayPal donation to firstname.lastname@example.org.
An Invitation to France!
Hridaya Yoga France is coming to life, but we need all the help, energy, and love we can garner to make this dream come true by May 2018, when we will start our first official season of retreats and teachings of the Heart. Contemplate becoming a Karma Yogi, helping us build a home for Hridaya in Europe. We are currently accepting applications for a variety of positions, including cooks, gardeners, managers, office help, and, especially, skilled renovation workers. Don’t forget to check out our lovely new website, www.hridaya-yoga.fr.
Last month we debuted a video series featuring Claud exploring the intricacies and benefits of practicing Karma Yoga. We now invite you to immerse yourself in this sacred practice by viewing the next installment of his heartfelt lecture. Karma Yoga is Claud’s passion, and there’s no better place to be inspired to take yoga into daily life than with this video. Once your spirit of service is stirred, consider joining our Karma Yoga Program in Mexico or France.
Branch Spotlight: Your Space
Sophie cultivated her creative passion in the art world before completing the Hridaya Teacher Training Course in 2015. Returning home to Berlin newly energized, she opened a studio that offers Hridaya Meditation alongside classes in a variety of yoga styles. We invite you to read more about her exciting community space in our latest Branch Spotlight.
No matter where your path takes you, our community of international teachers is waiting to guide you on your journey. With upcoming events in the USA, Canada, Mexico City, Germany, England, The Netherlands, Guatemala, and Romania, we hope you’ll take the opportunity to connect with the Heart. Visit our International Events page for more details.