Tag Archives: prayer

A Prayer Called “Krishna’s Flute” (What Is Devotion?)

Krishna and RadhaThis is a picture of a vintage print. It is from my personal collection and hangs on the wall in my meditation room. The actual size is 18″ by 18.” It depicts the Hindu God, Krishna and his beloved, Radha. He stands behind her, seducing her with the enchanting sounds of his flute. Yet she looks away. Why?

Krishna the Amorous
All the girls in Krishna’s town of Brindavan, loved Krishna. Upon catching a distant high-pitched note or two from his flute, carried by the wind, through the open windows of their homes, the cowherding girls would escape into the night to follow him. He was irresistible and delightfully mischievous. For example, he would hide the clothes that they had hanging to dry—anything to rouse them into play. They would suddenly find themselves overtaken by an unbearable need to follow him, along the river and through the forests, and where ever he may lead them. As his notes transformed into the most delicious melodies, they would lose themselves in irrepressible bliss. And they would all dance together in mutual joy and delight.

Heartbreak & Longing
Because everyone loved Krishna so much, it was unendurable to withstand his absence. And so, whenever he would leave the village for any reason, his beloveds, especially his most adored Radha, would ache from the pain of his separation.

Merging
Their sadness and despair were inconsolable until they realized that his love was within themselves, all the while. He was never separate, at all! With his song, He led their souls to Spirit. This is why Radha looks away. She is in the ecstacy and bliss of divine communion—a love so great, so pure and so all-encompassing that it is beyond the confinement of the body of her lover.

The Role of Krishna
To borrow a phrase from Paramahansa Yogananda, each spiritual path is part of an all-encompassing “divine highway,” leading to union with our true Self. Each path invites us into the stillness of the sacred space that lies within—the wordless tranquility that emerges when we quiet the noise. The challenge is always the same, no matter how we refer to it—to become empty like the hollow reed Krishna brings to his lips. To become empty of resentment and distrust. To transform ourselves into a clean and beautiful vessel fit to receive God’s light. (Would you want to live in a dirty house?)

Just as Krishna’s breath blows softly through his flute, Spirit expresses itself through our selfless surrender to the divine will. Here is a prayer I wrote, as a gift to you, that you may use to give voice to this inner longing and purpose, if you find it helpful:

Prayer: “Krishna’s Flute”
Oh, that I may become like Krishna’s flute—an instrument for the melody of divine song…Oh, that I may see through your eyes, hear through your ears and know through your heart…Oh, that I may vibrate at such a high frequency that my absorption with the infinite becomes inevitable…Oh, that I may recognize in my heart and in every cell of my being, the spark of divinity…Oh, that I may see through my temporary role in this grand play and know that I am really an eternal soul—and that I am perfect, as I am…Oh, that I may have the courage to live as a witnessing consciousness, disabused, finally, of my illusions as a do-er.

What Is the True Role and Meaning of Devotion?
It brings us into grace and ease. As my own Dear teacher explains, “when you get a sense that you have to hold everything together, you’re not living in trust.” We all feel overwhelmed at times, but we forget that struggle is the ego’s game. We feel we are more productive if we fight everything at every step. Letting it go requires trust. It doesn’t mean we stop putting in the effort, it just means we detach from the outcome. This is what it really means to live in a state of devotion. And it requires no object. It’s simply a state of being and a way of living. It is not a matter of being devoted to something any longer. It is, rather, a matter of surrendering, in humility, the false illusion of doing. It is allowing whatever needs doing, to get done.

Five Tricks to Get your Mojo Back

Mojo, as popularized in the Austin Powers movies, is defined in the Urban Dictionary, as The ability to bounce back from a debilitating trauma and negative attitude. This is how I think of it, as well.

One of my students recently found herself in a funk (depressed mood). She asked me if I ever find myself in this sort of situation. Of course! She then asked me if I have any tricks. Of course! And that is the only difference.

Here I share my top five:

1. Before getting out of bed in the morning, do 1-3 minutes of Breath of Fire. This is a powerful breathing technique used in the form of Yoga that I teach. Among a long list of benefits, it not only balances the nervous system, but very effectively oxygenates the system, which is vital in kick-starting your body’s natural healing mechanism. Your body responds to this boost of vitality both physically and psychologically. Doctors who recognize the interconnectedness of mind and body stress the importance of breathing in the healing process. An example is Dr. Sarno, who cites oxygen deprivation as a prime cause of what he calls mind-body disorders. Whether the roots of your funk are psychological or physical, the Yogis have known about the power of breath for thousands of years. As an aside, film buffs will remember the scene, in Harold and Maude, in which the full-of-life Maude tells Harold to “greet each dawn with a breath of fire.”

*Here’s how to do it: (Remember, do this before getting out of bed!) Begin panting like a dog. Notice how the inhales and exhales are of equal duration. Notice also, how the “pumping action” comes from the belly. These are the proper mechanics of it. Now, close your mouth and continue on through the nose. This is Breath of Fire!

(To make it even more powerful, lift your legs and head six inches off the mattress while you do breath of fire for at least one minute. This gets easier with time!)

2. Super Food! 38.00 for magic-in-a-bottle. I’m lucky to live five minutes from Dr. Schulze’s famous warehouse, but they ship anywhere—and people fighting illnesses of all sorts use this product. (Note: I have no stock in this company!)

If you have a juicer, add a scoop of this green powder to freshly juiced spinach, apple and lemon. The super-trick is to make sure you drink it first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach, so that it goes straight to your bloodstream and to your cells. If you don’t have a juicer, add a scoop to a glass of water with freshly squeezed lemon, or shake it up in a bottle of apple juice or V8. Remember: on an empty stomach! Wait a half hour before eating.

3. Take a half-hour walk, first thing in the morning, before eating. The earlier, the better—preferably at the break of day when the street lamps are still lit. This rejuvenates psychologically, as well as physically. You are drawing on your own prana, or, life-force, free from the weight of digestion. Similar to the mechanism of homeopathy, this has the effect of stimulating your own inner power. On a subconscious level, you understand that you are capable of waking up your own inner vitality.

4. Switch to the heart-perspective. This has been an enormously important element in my own journey. What does this mean to you? If the funk has come about because of physical illness, how might the heart-perspective facilitate healing? This is subtle, but unspeakably powerful. It may be a simple matter of letting go of the inner fight against your physical body. And letting go of the fight allows healing. The inner acceptance of the time needed to heal, allows healing. In the case of mental disturbances, for example, an exchange with an irritating person, it may mean reminding yourself of how trivial the situation is, in comparison to worldly issues, or reminding yourself that the offensive action was done out of ignorance and not out of intent to provoke. Both perspectives engender forgiveness, and ultimately, healing.

5. Pray. This is like supercharging the heart-perspective. It took me a long time to fully appreciate the power of prayer. Especially “nondirected prayer,” which invokes the natural healing ability of surrender, and ultimately brings about an “inner unburdening” (and gives you back your mojo!)  Here’s a little something about this from one of the teachers in my tradition, Dr. Dharma Singh Khalsa:

One of the most potent forms of the mind-power effect is the type of prayer called nondirected prayer. In nondirected prayer, there is no request for a specific outcome. Instead, the person who prays focuses on the feeling that things happen for the best, and focuses upon his or her desire to see events unfold naturally, according to the benign flow of the universe.

Hence, it doesn’t matter to whom you pray. You are attuning yourself to the higher powers that be and to your own higher consciousness, which is the ultimate perspective changer. After all, as the Yogis also say, it’s all maya! Just a dance and none of it is as serious as we make it out to be. This enables a true liberation.

And don’t get stuck on the word desire in the quote above. They’re made out to be terrible things, but it depends on what kind and how we’re able to direct them.

God and Prayer

I remember my beloved grandmother teaching me how to say my bedtime prayers when I was little. I liked saying them. They made me feel secure. And for many years, I felt that something was missing and incomplete if I forgot.

Perhaps a certain spiritual longing was always there. Because I also remember relishing the opportunity to go to church with a very religious friend, during my adolescent years.

But then, as a college student — especially as a philosophy student — I encountered all of the arguments against God and later even lectured on Aquinas’ notoriously flawed five proofs for the existence of God, in my own classes. I pointed out all of the irrefutable logical fallacies in those five proofs, to my own students.

During those years, I wondered about the absurdity of it all. God, that is. And by extension, the whole idea of praying to a God. In my logically trained young mind, I wondered about the idea of a God that would proceed with his plans for annihilation and devastation, only to suddenly cancel them at the request of a petitioner. After all, I reasoned, that’s why people pray, to convince God to alter some undesirable course of events. I wondered about the idea that he might change his mind so whimsically.

But then one day, I realized how differently things can look when you flip them around. One day, I flipped around my own viewpoint about it all. Or, it was flipped around for me.

I came to see that God is within, not without.

Additionally, praying isn’t about loving a God out there, somewhere. And changing the course of events is secondary to the understanding of prayer as connection, rather than petition. It is about connecting with that which may be called, infinity, for there is no adequate way to convey the sense of going beyond the confines of what you thought of as your finite self. (Nor is there any adequate way to convey that which is beyond the confines of reason.)

And it isn’t about fear, as in the idea of fearing God, for, there’s no room for fear where divinity lives.

And about the business of changing some course of events; coming to divine consciousness – becoming conscious of our own divine nature – reveals our role in creating that very shift we seek. And that makes it nonetheless incredible, but all the more awe-inspiring and wonderful.

As Zen says, “you create your own universe.” And as Yoga says, “you control the universal consciousness.”

But alas, it isn’t really about personal pleas, petitions and procurement, at all. It is really just the personal expression of gratitude and completeness. Praying, that is. For no other purpose. Like a flower reaching up toward the light, leaning over permanently to one side with time, devotion expresses this feeling of affection and longing, but with no object of desire.