There is a distinct and fascinating correlation between our spiritual heart and our health. Sitting at the physical heart center is the thymus gland which is responsible for regulating the body’s immunity against disease. At the exact same location energetically is the heart centre, known in yogic parlance as Anahata chakra. A chakra is a vortex of energy and Anahata, literally translates as unstruck, the soundless sound of all of vibration.
In yoga when we focus our kriya (exercise) or attention at the heart center, we simultaneously work to strengthen the body’s immunity. By doing the physical (yogic) movement at the heart, we are releasing old repressed emotions, perhaps of loss, grief or heartache. Often here we might meet the root of our unworthiness that may be at the core of many of our blockages. Through the movement, the emotions are liberated, experienced in totality and then as with all energy, they shift and release. In its place is infinite space and a renewed, heightened awareness of this space. This may feel like a remembering, which it certainly felt for me. It wasn’t that this space was a new experience. It was as if I had cleared out a closet of debris and in that new space, the truth of what was always there was able to be experienced in its all pervasive nature.
There is no coincidence that there is a physiological and energetic correlation between this emotional release and physical health. Clear the emotions that are sitting in the cells there, and the body reaches back to strengthen against disease and illness. The physical area is strengthened, the emotional aspect is cleared and the energetical vortex is freed from any blockages. Whatever emotions might be present, experienced or released, there is still one final step for full transformation to take place. That is forgiveness.
Today happens to be the Jewish Day of Atonement. It is a day which asks for forgiveness for what is perceived to need forgiveness. This is a fragile concept too, the judgment attached to actions. We might believe in a force outside of ourselves sitting in higher judgment. It might just be our personalized sense of ethics that constrains our actions. Whether it be God or any other personalized notion, I’ll simplify our concept of forgiveness for now, as forgiveness for that which we are ready to let go of, for that which is not in service of our highest interests. Through that forgiveness, be it of others or ourselves, that is where the true healing and liberation takes place.
Yom Kippur, this Day of Atonement is for me not a day of self flagellation or deepening guilt. It is a day of liberation where I clear my body of food and water and through the austerities of fast and focus, I welcome all that is present so it may be experienced in its fullness. I can then let go of that which does not serve me. Today’s dialogue between self and God is a deeply integrated one in which I realize that there is no separation at all in fact. That the concept of forgiveness is not a reaching out but a diving within, to the God self. Through this merger of self and Self, I endeavor to forgive, not just others, which tends to come easily to me, but mostly myself, a much more challenging effort. In this gentle embrace of all acceptance, of non judgment I set myself free. I cultivate a landscape for wholeness and health and set against that backdrop, all may be healed.
In learning the sacred Hebrew language, I learned that the word for sin is ‘chet חט’ except that it does not translate as sin. In fact there is no direct translation for sin. ‘Chet חט’ directly translates as ‘to miss the point’. On this Day of Atonement, may you be liberated from straying from the target of Truth, may your heart be healed, may you release all burden of judgment and separation and may you remember now and always who you truly are. And in the inspired expression of a beautiful soul in Canada, Mary Ann that I read this morning, may ‘atonement’ really be ‘at-one-ment’!
Divine opportunity and celestial abundance has afforded me the opportunity to satiate the calling of my soul in the pursuit of Truth and in the quest for wisdom. My whole life has been parenthesized by one singular compulsion in this pursuit. I remember as a child sitting in existential angst, a deep void of emptiness, one that was clouded by despair, questioning the existence of God, and the purpose of life. I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up then, but I always had a deep knowing that there was something Divine about existence, something grand about the bigger plan. That the form of this body was a container for something magical, something more. Indeed it had to be as there seemed a void of futility without some understanding. I spent the next four decades exploring this mystery and seeking answers.
In my lifetime I have tasted freely of the Smörgåsbord of Divine offering. On this sacred buffet I first sampled the dishes of which I was deeply familiar, the religious inclinations into which I have been born, and then through a ravenous insatiability, I read, and learnt and travelled the spectrum of religion, mastery, technology and yogic technique.
In all these pursuits I received the Prasad (blessed food) of the deepest of wisdom. I imbibed of the elixir of Truth, an amrit passed through the darshan (transmission of light) of some of the greatest sages to be incarnate on this earth at this time. I have prostrated at their feet, awed at the blessing of such Infinite exposure, be it to their teachings, satsang or simple blessing. The devotional Bhakta (Devotee) in me delighting in this heart opening experience of boundless Love.
My extremely analytical mind demanded its own consumption, so course after course, lineage after lineage I greedily shoveled in platefuls of knowledge and teachings. Piling my plate with Jnana Yoga (yoga of wisdom) after Jnana. I sighed in grateful satisfaction yet only momentarily. Even a taste of Truth it seemed offered only instantaneous gratification.
These efforts of using the body as a temple and the mind as a conduit for Divine connection has proven deeply fruitful and generated boons, of which shining health, happiness and wholeness have been accessible and attained. I have helped heal from depression, participated in the service of supporting other’s through healing and transformation and generally become fulfilled, whole and clear. Yet simultaneously underlying this was a sense that I was like a donkey pursuing a carrot on the end of a stick. This goal oriented approach of seeking some perceived sense of enlightenment outside of myself, an almost impossible attainment, formed the backdrop for this lifetime’s pursuit of Truth.
And then Arunachala! How is it that a mountain, a so called inanimate, elevated structure of the Earth, could evoke in me so deep a revelation. As it turns out, I was called to her. I felt this compulsion instantaneously and I followed it, as I always have with all the spiritual callings that have propelled my journey so far.
There I was met and greeted by a sanghat (community of Truth) of the Journey, led by Brandon Bays in a manner teeming with Grace. As she recognized the mastery in each of us, suddenly a real shift started to take place, a possibility that indeed she might be right. That we are all masters, simply deluded by our egos into thinking we are anything less than that.
Arunachala’s welcome was magnificent. The mountain replaced my feet with wings, and I glided along her effortlessly, joyfully. It was a veritable falling in love, a mutual marriage of mastery as mountain and Mohamed met in spiritual matrimony. And yet as with all marriage, things were not going to be easy.
The week at the foot of the mountain was arduous. Despite the beauty of the surroundings, the excellence of service, the most opulent of luxuries from food, and accommodation, to care, to all forms of nourishment, this was no easy baby. The mountain demanded nothing less than the fire of real tapas (austerity) and Arunachala, Ramana Maharishi, Papaji and Brandon exacted the proverbial walk into this fire. I literally wanted my mommy! This was deeply challenging. There was nowhere to go, nowhere to hide. Nothing to do but to sit in the core of this fire and let it consume me.
A great despair overcame me during this time. It was somehow a negation of all that I had learnt, an eradication of the spiritual crutches I had so carefully amassed with a consequent instability, and the hopelessness of the futility of the fabric of my and all existence. I was caught between a rock (in this case a mountain) and a hard place. The ultimate impossible bind of having spiritual tools and technology and yet being so displaced, so consumed by the fire of the mountain, that they could no longer even serve me.
And then the words:
“Nothing to do. Nothing to learn. Nothing to unlearn. Nothing to achieve. Nothing to attain. Nothing to become. Nothing but this. Right here, right now.”
In the simplicity of this, the rebirth of epiphanic clarity, the get out of the illusory jail free card in the Monopoly game of consciousness. The realization that I was not the donkey frantically pursuing the carrot on the end of a stick, but that I was the carrot all along!
And indeed who is this I? A deep fascination with this awareness that observes the machinations and manipulations of the mind and a recognition of the maya or illusion that is the projection of the ego. This is my tratakum (focused point of concentration). The mind has an anchor and Self has its realization. Satchidananda. Truth. Consciousness. Bliss. Everything that I have been seeking, is right here, right now, wholly accessible. It is a simple shift of perception. Into this moment. Now.
Quite simply, I am that.
Deepest pranam to Arunachala, Sri Ramana Maharishi, Papaji and Brandon Bays and the Journey luminaries for an Inspired Journey into the recognition of Self.