The Yoga of Lent

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We are in the beginning of March, the middle of Lent. It is a time for preparation; anticipating Spring and the promise of resurrection in Easter. The zodiac year ends in dreamy Pisces and starts again with the impulsive energy of Aries. Flowers are poised to blossom while mountains shed their white snow caps. The Dharma Wheel turns; it’s squeaks removed by karmic oil.

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As the darkness of winter passes, it gives way to ideas of rebirth, rejuvenation, renewal, resurrection and regrowth. Now is the time to prepare the ground for these to happen. And so it is in Lent that we spend 40 days in prayer, meditation, reflection, abstinence or sacrifice, and in doing good works to be ready to embrace the light. Not just the physical light of the sun, when after the Spring or Vernal Equinox the days begin to get longer than the nights; but the Light of God-Consciousness too.

The story of Jesus Christ is referred to as “the greatest story ever told” because it is in fact the story of our own spiritual evolution. It is the story of our redemption and resurrection; the transformation of our being. As Angelus Silesius, a seventeenth-century mystic and poet wrote, “Christ could be born a thousand times in Galilee- but all in vain until He is born in me.” In other words, like Jesus, we can undergo a radical and permanent transformation of being; born of flesh, we too can become “One with the Father” by filling our lives with Spirit in awareness and in action.

To be a mystic is to know first-hand, by experience, what God-Consciousness is. To be religious is to have Faith in the second- or third hand knowledge from others of this Consciousness. To be a student is to keep looking inward; to keep yearning to find this Self-awareness; to keep listening to that nagging voice that says nothing external can completely fulfill the deep longing within for something more. “Longing is the core of mystery. Longing itself brings the cure.” – Rumi.

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The original Greek word for ‘sin’ is ‘hamartia’ which literally means forfeiture because of missing the mark; the mark being that we are originated from and empowered by God-Consciousness. The way of the Cross is literally dying to one’s own self-will or ego so that we can attune to our Higher Self and allow the will of God. When we deny or fail to be aware of our profoundest part, i.e. that we are Spirits/ Gods in bodies; then it is said we live in “sin.”

Here lies the foundation for the miracle of being able to heal the root cause of every form of suffering; which is the delusion that we are separate and apart from God. For to miss the mark is to suffer. And the cure is apprehending our own nature as individualized Spirit and perceiving Spirit as the essence of everything. “There is no reality but God; there is only God.” – Rumi.

We can learn to control our thoughts, life-force energy, and physical body to be in God Consciousness. Living morally by abstaining from harming others, falsehoods, stealing, incontinence and covetousness yields self-control. Living with purity, contentment, austerity, study, and devotion to God-Consciousness yields mental calmness. Disciplining the body through mind-body activities such as yoga or qi gong allows one the ability to assume and maintain postures for meditation and prayer. Controlling the life-force by breathing exercises can calm the heart and remove sensory distractions from the mind. This withdrawal of the mind from the senses yields the power of complete mental interiorization and stillness to be able to become one-pointedly concentrated upon God. And this opens one up to experience the vastness of God, the endless expansion of Cosmic Self Consciousness; i.e. the full realization of the soul’s oneness with Spirit. To “be still, and know that I am God”- Psalm 46:10.

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We thirst for love in our hearts because we are made in God’s image of Love. To love God and the blissful feeling of God-Consciousness is to know God in our bones. And then we share that love by loving our neighbors even as we love our Selves. In Mayan tradition, there is a greeting,” Lak’ech Ala K’in,” which means “I am another yourself;” acknowledging the Divinity that we all come from. In yoga, we greet with “Namaste,” i.e. “The Spirit within me bows to the Spirit in you.”

The Kingdom of God is within you. Right now, right here; whether you are awake to it or not. Just behind your perceptions, your thoughts, your feelings, God is right there. “How far is the light of the moon from the moon? How far is the taste of a kiss from the lips?”- Rumi, the Persian poet, asks. Every breath you take, every move you make is God.
And so Rumi invites us to “Come to the orchard in the Spring. There is light and wine, and sweethearts in the pomegranate flowers. If you do not come, these do not matter. If you do come, these do not matter.”

Have a Blessed Lenten Season.
-Rickienanda

Photo Credit: Daniel Ramirez: Sun behind the clouds with rays (https://www.flickr.com/photos/danramarch/10257598526/), Pink Sherbet Photography: Peaceful Meditation (https://www.flickr.com/photos/pinksherbet/4548016109/), Pink Sherbet Photography: Early Spring Tulip (https://www.flickr.com/photos/pinksherbet/5634612947/), MAMJODH: Simply Love (https://www.flickr.com/photos/mamjodh/8178391047/)

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