I am always in joyful admiration when participating at Teacher Training graduation and the days that follow. In the Yoga schools where I was present, it was always a joy to see, on the night when the students were called up one after another to receive their diplomas. They had worked and studied so hard, especially in the last few days and now their names were called and after the diplomas were given they came down to join the others. There is always an excitement in the air. there is always so much energy. In a day or so, they would all be gone back to their homes with a knowledge so fresh in their minds but which they would have to share as soon as they are able.
It reminds me of when I returned to my home, my “house of prayer” from where I left six months ago, to take this course. Coming back to my home _base this time was different, for I felt I was holding something in me which was ‘burning’ unless I could share it. Being in a school where every day we studied scriptures and listened to convincing talks about the benefits for health, for well being, for peace in the nation, and the sublime experiences of some students whom we called “bliss nannies” all this was over.
Now, we are in the reality of the world and our duty is to contribute by helping to fix it by spreading the message and initiating and encouraging others on the path of meditation and so, we wait until students begin to show up.
It did not take long and am so surprised as my first student, a University professor willing to sit and listen and be guided into silence,then the joy of seeing the delight in his face at the end.
In the days, weeks that follow there are more and more who come. A French poet once wrote that “there is nothing as beautiful as seeing the face of a child in prayer” and I think there is nothing as beautiful as seeing the face of someone in deep meditation. I believe it is the most beautiful ‘work’ that one can ever do. To be able to say, to someone who is ready, “now, we will sit comfortably, close the eyes…..” and gradually lead them into the steps where with the blessings of grace, they can enter into the sanctuary of their hearts.
“The Lord of Love, omnipresent, dwelling
In the heart of every living creature,
All mercy, turns every face to himself.
He is the supreme Lord, who through his grace
Moves us to seek him in our own hearts.
He is the light that shines forever.
He is the inner Self of all,
Hidden like a little flame in the heart.
Only by the stilled mind can he be known.”
(A selection from the Shvetashvatara Upanishad, tr. By E. Easwaran, Tomales,
CA, Nilgiri Press, 1987, p. 223.)
They come to meditate and are of all ages and I am given the honor of sitting with one sister in her ninetieth year. It is a time when people are searching and T M has become popular among the youth and has spread in more than one level of society. We are in the early seventies and in the province of Quebec where we live, there is a whole new society being formed. it is somewhat like the caterpillar shreading its skin in the process of becoming a butterfly or is it like the clam slowly opening to close again. Many people of all ages are flocking to the centers to begin meditation and the centers are looking for teachers to come and give talks.
I was then, a member of a religious order in the Catholic Church and so I was good material for advertising and I was offered to come and speak at many centers. I was even offered to be taken on a tour all over the country speaking in so many cities, but I refused. I still had a community life to lead.The career of public speaking begins and as I told an audience or two, “I am not a lecturer but rather a good story teller” and it works. I discovered that even adults love stories and the visual world is not yet developed as it is today and so the audiences not only come to the talks but they sign up to learn how to sit and meditate and this is a joy. Among my best experiences was the time I gave a lecture in a small town in Ontario and more than half the audience signed up and came next day for initiation.
There were about twenty people and each one came one at a time to be taught. It was a gentleman who allowed me the use of his home and he was in the living room down-stairs receiving them. There were two rooms upstairs, where I would receive someone in one room and instruct and lead them into meditation and would softly leave them in the room while, in the other room another student will be waiting.
I started early in the morning, not stopping to eat, and went on until it became night.
The next evening they were all back, this time as a group where they could ask questions,and I gave the second instruction and we meditated together. I could not believe my eyes as we sat, as they all had eyes closed, so peacefully, so beautiful. People who were mostly strangers to one another. people from different walks of life, sitting under the same roof in sacred silence! What a blessing!. In the weeks to come, what a joy to receive phone calls…”my husband has become so calm, he is not swearing as much”. “I am so happy I slept this week-end without pills.” “My allergies have stopped”. Once in a while there have been extraordinary stories that I have been told, too many to mention but in all, my best knowledge of the blessings of regular meditation comes from the mouths of students!
I was asked on several occasions, how come a member of a Catholic community could teach something which originates from Hinduism. It was not too long after the Council of Vatican 2 and I had the response
which I will place for you to see in another post.
I end this with a quote from Father John Main
“Every time we sit down to meditate we enter this axis of death and resurrection. We do so because in our meditation we go beyond our own life and all the limitations of our own life into the mystery of God. We discover, each of us from our own experience, that the mystery of God is the mystery of love, infinite love-love that casts out all fear.
This is our resurrection, our rising to the full liberty that dawns on us once our own life and death and resurrection are in focus.
Meditation is the great way of focusing our life on the eternal reality that is God, the eternal reality that is to be found in our own hearts.
The discipline of saying the mantra, the discipline of the daily return morning and evening to meditation has this one supreme aim-to focus us totally on Christ with an acuity of vision that sees ourselves and all reality as it is.
Listen to St Paul: “No one of us lives, and equally no one of us dies, for himself alone. If we live, we live for the Lord. If we die, we die for the Lord. Whether we live or die, therefore, we belong to the Lord. That is why Christ died and came to life again. . . .”
John Main OSB, “Death and Resurrection,” MOMENT OF CHRIST
(New York: Continuum, 1998), pp. 69-70…..