I have a vivid memory of Guruji telling the story of Eknath, while I was on a bus during a pilgrimage in Maharashtra. Guruji recounted how, when working as an accountant, Sant Eknath spent a whole night to find a mistake in the account book. When he found the mistake, he was overjoyed. His guru, Janardan Swami, told him how much more joy he would have if he could concentrate that much to find the mistakes in his life.
It caused me to reflect on how struggles can be a chance to open. The lessons of the last year have taught me that things I’ve taken for granted, especially my body, are really miracles that He has given me.
My spiritual name is Karunavidravad Dasi, which comes from Radha’s name, ‘om sri karuna vidravad deha murtimanyai namaha’, which means, salutations to Her whose body melts with compassion.’ This name becomes more meaningful to me every day.
My thoughts and judgements about my body have been a huge source of suffering for me. The more I’m able to go into them, the more I appreciate how the suffering is a chance to look deeper. The more I learn about my body, I am so amazed by how intricately it was designed, and the most ‘normal’ activities are only ‘normal’ because I see them that way.
‘God has made the human being such a precious vehicle. It is very important that you look after it. It is very important to enjoy it and be happy with it, to respect it, to realise that it is a temple of God. It is in this temple that God is dwelling. It is in this temple that God can make humanity advance and realise itself. Without this temple it’s very difficult.’
I notice that when I am trying to get something done, there is a hardening in me. Usually, I stop noticing how I am breathing, and I go up into my head. Often, I will not eat, because eating slows me down. To be present when I’m eating means to feel what I’m really feeling and notice what I am thinking about. It’s easier to avoid it, but it always catches up with me.
Unless you’ve become a breatharian, eating is a universal need, and is such an intimate and regular part of our lives. Food influences our bodies, our minds, our relationship with the Earth, and our interactions with each other. For me, it has become a reminder of God’s unconditional Love, one that brings me back to a soft and open part of me that can slow down, notice, and accept.
When I realise that there is something in me that I don’t like, I can feel this same hardening. I become determined to change, or to be ‘better.’ I like reflecting on the fact that God designed human beings that they need to eat. We are not machines, and life is not something to get over with.
‘You don’t need to force yourself; you just need to do it with love. You just need to let it beam through you.’
As I feel the wave of hunger, I can feel the vulnerability of being human. As I begin to eat, I can feel my cells relaxing. Being nourished. There is a softening. Maybe even a melting. And maybe I can be the same way when I notice something in myself that I want to change. Instead of hardening against it and forcing it to go away, maybe I can soften into it, and learn from it. Expand. Accept. Transform.
Every act can become new, when I see it this way. Things that I’ve taken for granted: my body, my breath, eating food, looking into another person’s eyes, really listening to someone, really noticing what is happening, can be a chance to see guru and God.
What can wake me up the moment is when I notice that I am suffering. It can be in what seems like the ‘smallest’ things, but I’m learning to stop seeing things as big or small.
‘You know, it’s not about the Master running behind you and telling you what you have to do and what you have to change continuously. No. It is a certain self-discipline. Like, for example, practicing your sadhana. The guru has said to practice the sadhana, so one has to practice one’s sadhana. One has to put that discipline towards oneself. If you put the discipline towards yourself, you will see that everything will be flowing in a very smooth way. But if you put pressure upon yourself, then it becomes difficult.’
The beauty of reflecting on the daily things is to see how small habits can build up. It doesn’t have to be about revolutionizing myself in one day, but little by little noticing when I am struggling, and to be more and more present with myself. To notice when I am hardening or forcing, and to say, ‘Hey, you did this yesterday and it didn’t work. Is there another way you could approach this, maybe with more love?’
‘So, really analyse yourself and enjoy the presence of the Lord at all times. Like I said yesterday, you don’t need external signs. What He has given you, your life itself, is a miracle; the change of your life itself is a miracle, from what you were before and how you are now. You really don’t need any other sign. Look at your life itself: how beautiful is your life, how wonderful your life has become, how dear He has made you to Him and ask yourself this question: ‘Am I the same person how I used to be or I am different person?’ That is the answer you have to answer yourself.’
It takes time, but it feels exponential; I am continuously amazed by the process of learning the signals of my body and in finding new ways to respond to them. To become more aware of my relationship to food, to my body, to others, and to the environment, is a gift of getting to see everything as if for the first time.
‘Like this, little by little, you will be able to change yourself, to change your mind, so that the Self can reveal Itself to you. It’s not a process of only one month, but it’s a daily process throughout life. It depends on you to change now. Like this, one day, when you hear your inner voice, you will hear the Divine inside you.’