Monday, April 30, 2012

To be devoted

"As he grew up, Hanuman sought to educate himself and for this purpose he chose Surya the sun god as his guru saying: "You see everything there is to see in the universe and you know everything there is to know. Please accept me as your pupil." Surya hesitated. "I don't have the time," he said. "During the day I ride across the sky, and at night I am too tired to do anything.""Then teach me as you ride across the sky during the day. I will fly in front of your chariot, facing you from dawn to dusk." Impressed by Hanuman's determination, Surya accepted him as his pupil. Thus Hanuman flew before the chariot of the sun god, withstanding the awesome glare, until he became well versed."
Hanuman created the Surya Namaskar (sun salutation), which our practice starts with, as a greeting to his teacher Surya (the Sun God). 
In Hindu symbolism, a monkey signifies the human mind, restless and never still. This monkey-mind happens to be the only thing over which we have absolute control. We cannot control the world around us but we can control our mind with discipline. The path of pure bhakti or devotion, offers the mind something outside of itself to focus its attention on, thus stilling it. A one-pointed, devoted relationship with something grater than us (be it a divinity, a practice, a teacher…)allows our minds to settle.
Thus we use devotion, or bhakti, as a tool of growth, to be inspired to be able to surrender and in that surrender grow. Loving devotion is a great way to overcome fear. This brings me to where my research into bhakti yoga began: about every 6 months I start re-planning and reconsidering my immigration possibilities. I am of Italian origin, so I keep myself in this country by continuously renewing my visa, or residency permit, paying inconsiderable amounts of money to the government, in order to be here. This process is a very stressful process, but it also ends up being a huge learning opportunity. It seems each time I find myself in this situation, I have the opportunity to let fear take over me or to put into practice the lessons that all these amazing teachers refer to. So this specific time, as I come face to face with my immigration issues I realize that there is so much I can do about it, the rest is having faith. 
Devoting my prayers and my thoughts towards something greater than me, in my case Hanuman, allows for my fears, insecurities, anxieties, all that negative stuff, to quiet down, to burn in the fire of Tapas, or heat created by devotion. 
So I recalled Hanuman from having read the Ramayana, and realized that he overcame a lot of  obstacles just by dedicating his actions to the love he felt for Rama, his master. That same day I began chanting to Hanuman and really paying close attention to the meaning of the words I was chanting. All the sudden I felt this great release, as if my heart and mind expanded, realizing that when your intention is pure, there is nothing to fear, because you begin trusting that whatever happens, and something always happens, it is always the right thing. When you have faith in something greater than you, you know that whether the outcome is what you wished for, or not, there is always a lesson to learn that will make you grow, and in the end the only thing that I want is to learn. So yes I do wish to live in New York, and learn here where I am now, but when I chant to Hanuman, when I devote my self to spending time giving thanks to him, to my teachers, in other words when I devote my time to my spiritual practice, this huge sense of security takes over me, and the fear descipates. I begin trusting instead of gripping. And I believe that in trusting there is a higher chance for you to see more clearly how you can help yourself achieve what it is you want, without being attached to the result. 
Fear is how the ego responds when it perceives its existence is threatened. It is absolutly clear to me that fear can be overcome by will, but it is more easily accomplished through devotion, which naturally evaporates fear. Devotion is love, and loving is fun!
Whatever it is that you worship outside of yourself, know that it also lies within yourself, externalizing it is only a way to awaken those qualities in us.

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