I have just returned from an exquisite meditation retreat with Amma, Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, also known as the Hugging Saint from South India. Whenever I have the chance to be around her, I am deeply transformed.
I have been privileged to have countless exquisitely deep spiritual experiences with her. I am reminded of how one time when I was with Amma in New York City, I walked out after Devi Bhava (an all-night ceremony for world peace) into Manhattan’s dense concrete jungle. My body and being were tingling with an effervescent aliveness that comes only in surrendering to the unending stream of grace that always is.
As I looked up at the textured skyline, it seemed to shimmer, as though it were both vibrant and alive, and not at all real. I felt I was peering through what the ancient yogic sages referred to as maya, the veil-like illusion of life from which we must all awaken to fully realize our divine Self. What I was looking at did not seem to be a two-dimensional theatrical backdrop, but a fully formed space in which we live, through which our lives unfold, but that is a mirage, completely temporal and not at all solid. It was form, without any lasting substance.
As I walked into this field, I understood how though I am in my body, I am not of my body. So too, though my life takes place in this field of aliveness called maya, the form of life that comes and goes with time, I am not of it. Resting into this awesome vision, I allowed myself to come even more fully present into my purpose on this planet, the extraordinary vision of being alive, a vehicle for the divine through this divine play.
Open and present, I walked into the city with relaxed confidence. Soon a pedestrian walked by me. My thoughts became self-aware and the crystalline clarity that I had was shaken. I was dressed in flowing white clothes, carrying a rose, with red powder on my forehead. I did not look like a usual urbanite. In this self-consciousness, I realized that I feared that the pedestrian would judge me, and for a moment, I felt unsafe. As fear arose, the transparency of the mirage I saw before me thickened with greater density.
I realized then that we are always as free as I saw us to be, beyond the veil of maya. Everything is dancing light, arising consciousness, to greater or lesser degrees. Some people and things are aware of this effervescence, while others are fast asleep and lost in ignorance. Yet, the light of consciousness always is present within all. I could remain free, if I was willing to rest in this knowing of our inherent interconnection and move beyond the fear that I allowed to divide me from it. It is the fear that shook my awareness. It is the fear that drew me into believing that the mirage was real and a separate sense of “me” was threatened.
I rest in this awareness now as I prepare for the days and months to come in the urgent work to realize MAPS, the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary. MAPS is a necessary call to action for all of us, to protect all life on Earth by safeguarding the very linchpin that keeps our climate, water supply and food crops in balance: the Arctic Ocean’s ice.
The work of MAPS, with its many responsibilities on a tight timeline, asks me to meet this moment with courage and focus, while rooted in understanding that we are all interconnected. As Amma says, be a zero to be a hero. I choose to continue to feel carried in the wake of her immeasurable wisdom and compassion. I choose to meet each moment by not engaging in what my knee-jerk reactions may tell me. Instead, I choose to connect with the substratum of light beyond the illusions of divisiveness. As I move forward in my week, I know that Amma is guiding me into realizing the inherent oneness with love that I am, that we all are, so that I may be of maximum service to all beings. She is showing me how to be eternally free from the fear that binds us to the temporal and eclipses our infinite Self. In this freedom, MAPS is effortless, I feel deep joy, am filled with immense energy, and I and the world can know peace.
Take some time now to reconnect with your breath. Feel its aliveness through every cell of your being. Allow yourself to come into a spacious, rooted, vital and expansive state, so that you may experience the vastness of the moment.
From this expanded perspective, ask yourself:
- Is there anything I am afraid of, in this moment?
- What does it feel like to buy into this fear?
- What if it were not real at all?
- Am I willing to keep coming back to the effervescence of feeling connected with everything?
- What would my day-to-day life be like, if I were to move beyond fear?
- What would serving the world feel like beyond fear?
Thank you for reading! All my music, yoga and words are dedicated to MAPS, the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary. MAPS is an urgently needed global intervention to protect the polar ice that keeps our planet cool and weather stable. The ice caps ensure we have the food and water we all need to survive. Please support MAPS at Parvati.org for the sake of all life on Earth. From my heart to yours, it literally means the world.