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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Little Princess, Little Prince

In the ancient tradition of India, where yoga comes from, there is a Sanskrit term: rajanika.  The literal translation of this word is "little princess" or "little prince."  In the Sanskrit language, however, there is often a deeper meaning attached to words, a spiritual meaning.  Like the English word lord, the word raj in Sanskrit refers to both royalty, and to divinity.

In a spiritual context, rajanika could be translated as "a little piece of the divine source," or "a little bit of god."  Each of us is rajanika.  Each one of us is a manifestation of the divine.  What's more, each of us has dominion over our little piece of life.

Dominion is a tricky word.  We tend to think of dominion as synonymous with control, but it is not.  Here's how I explain it.  If I were to give you a cell phone, you wouldn't be able to control how the programming of the phone works, or how the electrons move through the silicon within the phone.  Yet, you can control how you use the phone, what numbers you dial, who you text or talk to, and so on.  You would also be responsible for keeping the phone charged, and for taking care of it so it continues working.  You don't have complete control, but you do have dominion.

Similarly, we have dominion in our lives.  Each of us is rajanika, and each of us is given gifts over which we have dominion.  We have the ability - and the responsibility - to use the gifts we've been given.

The Gift of the Physical Body

Each of us is given the gift of the physical body, and we have dominion over the body we've been given.  I can't control the atoms and molecules of my body, nor can I change many of the characteristics and structures of the body.  Nevertheless, with this gift, I am rajanika.  I can choose what I do with this body.  I can choose how I use this gift in my actions in the world I live in.

Dominion over the gift of the physical body allows each of us to make the following choices:
  • choosing what we do with our bodies - our actions in the physical world
  • choosing what we put into our bodies - food, water, and so on.  Ideally we make choices that sustain and nurture the well-being of the body
  • being in the physical body - bring our awareness into the body, and 
  • using awareness to align the structures of the body.
Each day in my devotional practice, I say the following, to guide my actions for the day:
    This physical body is a gift of divine love, and I am grateful and honored to receive it.
    I commit this day
         to strengthen and nurture the physical body
         to align these structures with awareness
    And I offer all of my actions to divine service.

The Gift of Life

Each of us is given dominion over the life we lead.  Life is the energy that animates all living things, including us.  Life comes to us as a gift; it is the source of all motion and emotion.  Through this gift of life, we experience the world around us.

We don't get to choose everything that happens in our life.  As with the physical body, life deals us a set of cards, and we don't have control over what we're dealt.  We do, however, have dominion over our life experience.  Wa have choices:
  • choosing how we respond to the events in life, choosing the perceptual filters on our experiences;
  • choosing to be fully open to life's experiences
  • choosing to live an energized life
  • choosing to move and breath with joy and vitality
  • and surrounding ourselves with life enhancing energy fields that nurture and support our experience, while at the same time removing ourselves from low energy, draining energy sources
Each day in my devotional practice, I say the following, to guide my life experiences for the day:
    This life is a gift of divine love, and I am grateful and honored to receive it.
    I commit this day
         to strengthen and nurture the life I've been given
         to energize this life experience with awareness
    And I offer this life to divine service.

The Gift of Thought

One of the myths of western culture is that we can choose the thoughts that come into our minds.  We can't; thought comes to us as a gift from beyond ourselves.  Nevertheless, we have dominion over our thoughts.

The mind is a space within which thoughts occur, and each of us has dominion over this space.  We have choices we can make to strengthen and nurture the thoughts we're given:
  • when a thought enters the mind, choosing to dwell on the thought, or to let it pass
  • choosing to bring full awareness to our thinking
  • choosing to dwell on thoughts that strengthen and nurture, and to let go of thoughts that weaken
  • not allowing ourselves to be defined by thought
  • accepting the thoughts we're given as gifts to teach us and help us grow in awareness
  • surrounding ourselves with a "thought environment" - sayings, books, readings - that support and nurture ourselves.
Each day in my devotional practice, I say the following, to guide my thinking for the day:
    Thought is a gift of divine love, and I am grateful and honored to receive it.
    I commit this day
         to strengthen and nurture this thought-gift
         to empower this mind-space with awareness
    and I offer all thought to divine service.

The Gift of Pure Awareness

Awareness is the essence of our being; this is the gift of rajanika.  The more we grow in awareness, the more expansive is our dominion.  For, whatever is within the field of your awareness is within your dominion.

Let me repeat something said earlier, to make sure there is no confusion.  Dominion is not the same as control.  I am aware of the weather outside.  It is within my dominion.  Yet, I cannot control it.  I can choose how I respond to the weather, how it affects my experience, and my perception of it.  I have volition and influence.

Our spiritual practice, then, is about growing in awareness, expanding dominion, Rajanika.  And, our practice is about knowing the difference between dominion and control, and choosing to use our volition within the limits of our dominion.  

Each day in my devotional practice, I say the following:
    Awareness is a gift of divine love, and I am grateful and honored to receive it.
    I commit this day
         to grow in awareness
to empower all that I think, all that I experience and all that I do with awareness
    and I offer my entire being to divine service.

The Gift of Divine Consciousness

Rajanika is the recognition of the divine source in each of us.  We are each a wave rising up from the ocean of divine consciousness, and each of us is given a little piece of the infinite within which we have dominion.  Each of us is individual and one with the infinite at the same time.

When we understand our source as unlimited and divine, we know our selves as both limited and unlimited.  Our dominion is limited as an individual, but when we allow divine grace to flow through us, our capacity to create goodness in the world is infinite.

Each day in my devotional practice, I say the following:
    Divine spirit of life
    Make of me an open channel of love and grace

    and use me this day to create a sacred experience for all I encounter.

    Let divine grace flow through me into this world.



Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I read the following taoist saying recently:
     People are constantly spoiling projects that are only one step away from completion.

Whatever we wish to accomplish in life, there will be obstacles along the way that must be overcome.  It is how we face these obstacles that will determine whether we succeed in our endeavors, or not.  In my experience, it seems that the largest, most challenging obstacles come right before we reach the end point.  It is as if we are expected to demonstrate - one last time - that we really intend to complete the project we've taken on.

Perseverance is the most important quality in accomplishing any goal or intention in life.  Very few projects we take on are actually impossible, unless we give up before we finish. Our ability to "hang in there" until we've completed something will determine what we accomplish.

In our spiritual practice, too, perseverance is essential.  There is no end point in our spiritual practice - no specific goals.  Our practice is only about a continuous expansion, a growth  in awareness.  Yet, the challenges we face in our practice require as much "stick-to-it-iveness" as any in our life.

There are days when the day's events overwhelm all that I experience in my practice; times when I feel trapped in unhelpful thoughts.  Even after years of practice, I sometimes experience frustration in my meditation, unable to calm the mind or the relax body.  This is when I most need to persevere in my practice.  I've learned that the most powerful insights and breakthroughs on my spiritual path often come as a result of moving through a difficult time period.

The most challenging times are, of course, when we most want to give up.  Don't.  Instead, use these times as a chance to show yourself that you can persevere.  When you are struggling, spend more time on the yoga mat, not less.  When you are having difficulty concentrating or relaxing, return to your meditation practice, and give it another chance.  Stay with it, and something wonderful will happen.