This election has been, for many of us, a wake-up call. Not the joyful wake-up call of birds on your windows, entreating you to open your eyes to the sunrise over mountaintops, not the wake up of roos...
In 1893, Swami Vivekananda travelled from India to Chicago by boat to take part in the Parliament of Religions. His opening line, "Sisters and Brothers of America", continues to echo throughout the world. Today, 122 years later, the Parliament of Religions that just concluded in Salt Lake City focused on a shift from prayer to action. Rather than exhorting audiences only to live together peacefully, the leaders at this Parliament emphasised in myriad languages, myriad contexts and myriad themes that we must act and serve for each other.
As I began the hike nothing but the aspens stretched out in front of me as the ridges of the Rocky Mountains towered above. It was too quiet. The signs at the trail head cautioning about hiking in bear and mountain lion country preoccupied my thoughts. Five minutes later I was back at the base and decided instead to walk the safe, paved, asphalt street winding its way through million-dollar mountain mansions. That street hit a dead-end within about 300 feet, the metaphor of which was not lost on me.
We need masses of people to make changes in their lives and lifestyles. I believe the fastest and most effective way to achieve this is through faith based organizations that connect the world's people with the guiding principles, morals and values of their lives - their own religion.
Yoga, the word itself, literally means "union." It is not merely a union of our forehead to our knee or our fingers to our toes. It is a union of the self to the Divine, a union of the small self to the universal self, a merging of the drop back into the ocean.
The saints and sages always exhort us to light lamps in order to dispel the darkness of ignorance. My Guru, Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji always reminds people, "Don't only light the lamp in the temple, but also light the lamp of truth in your own heart to dispel ignorance and falsehood."
When I first came to India I almost immediately decided to wear sarees, and I wore them poorly at first. So poorly in fact that every time I wandered outside of the ashram, random women would come up to me, stick their hands into my saree, grab the place where the pleats tuck into the petticoat, and -- with a sharp tug -- pull my saree into its proper place.
Yet here in India, birth and death, joy and sorrow, rich and poor, somber and rambunctious all seem to flow together as seamlessly as the waters of Ganga carry both the ashes of the deceased and the flowers of the devotee.