Swami Satchidananda was my main Yoga teacher beginning in 1980. He was such a beautiful human being who had a great impact on my life. He was a disciple of Swami Sivananda, a man who gave up his profession as a medical doctor because he felt he could help more people through yoga. Four other of Sivananda’s students came to the west and blessed us with this profound teaching.
Satchidananda taught us, ‘Truth is One, Paths are Many.” This teaching also has been a foundation of my life. Swamiji, as some called him, participated in many ecumenical events. Some mistakenly believe that yoga is Hindu, but it is not, although quite often it gets mixed in with Hindu celebrations. The bible of yoga, is the yoga sutras, and while it speaks of a Higher Power, it does not name a particular deity. Yoga can be practiced by anyone, whatever their beliefs are. The yoga sutras teach the necessity to live a good moral, healthy life to assist one in having a peaceful mind. Then one can start to become of aware of that eternal peace within. Yoga has taught me this is the goal of all human beings, to awaken to that truth that lays within their being, and uncover the peace within, which then lends to the peace without and into our world.
Swamiji created a beautiful retreat center on 750 acres in Virginia. There he also built the magnificent Light Of Truth Universal Shrine in 1986. The shrine is shaped like a lotus flower, because it is a place in honor of the divine light, universal motif in all faiths and nonbelievers. There is a room that displays a shrine to each of the major religions, thus a temple to the motto, “Truth is One, Paths are Many.” Meditating in the shrine is one of my favorite places to meditate in the world. The Huffington Post, http://huff.to/1d4Orjd, called it one of the 9 Utopias of the modern world.
I have been blessed to have been able to visit Yogaville, as the town is named, many times, often for a month at a time, and received numerous teacher trainings through Integral Yoga, as it is called. This very classical yoga, is the main style of yoga I teach. Swamiji taught that hatha yoga, the postures, were a part of a whole integral approach, it was not meant to be the only practice. We were to do enough to keep the body healthy. What was extremely important was to practice the yamas and the niyamas. These are like the 10 commandments of yoga, although they do not command, they offer guidance to a happier life. Some of them are non-harming (includes vegetarianism for some), non-stealing, non-lying, non-hoarding, and moderation and self-control in our enjoyment of sensual pleasures. Both the practicing of the postures and of the yamas and niyamas area an integral part of the eight fold path of yoga.
I was also blessed to be able to be in India with Swamiji the year before he passed away. It was a beautiful experience to be in India for the first time and spend six weeks being with him, his fellow disciples, receive further teacher training, visit his birth home, and go on a tour of sacred temples and other Indian saints. Which takes me to the next turn on the path of my spiritual journey, which I will share on my next blog post.
But before I go there, here is a you tube link to a great, short trailer with Swamiji at Woodstock. Wow, it is so cool hearing him speak and seeing the crowds at that monumental event in our American history.
May I end with an often said yogic prayer, May the entire world be filled with peace and joy and love and light. Om Peace, Peace, Peace.
Thank you Swami Satchidanada!