ASHRAM BLOG: “Embody the Divine Servant”
We have come to love Hanuman-Ji for his superhuman feats offered in service to the divine. However, have you ever asked yourself what great acts Hanuman would perform in the world today?
We dedicate our Ashram Blog to sharing examples of how we can embody Hanuman’s devotion and Ram’s Dharma during this essential time.
Jai Hanuman! Jai Sri Ram!
“All action is prayer. All trees are desire-fulfilling. All water is the Ganga. All land is Varanasi. Love everything.”
“Devotion & Service”
For the most part, we know who or what we are devoted to.
For example, in the Ashram, devotees will easily point to Hanumanji or Baba and say that’s who they are devoted to.
What is often less clear is “who is devoted?”
So it is that at some time on the journey the devotee is urged to make a 180 degree turn! The devotee is urged to look at herself/ himself; to find out who is the one who is devoted.
It can be uncomfortable to look at oneself. Sometimes we find it more comfortable to look to God, to look to the object of our devotion. But both are essential if we are to come to a full and clear recognition of reality, and of our own true nature.
It is good to remember that devotion is ultimately a path to self realization.
In one of the greatest Indian spiritual discourses, the Bhagvad Gita, Lord Krishna tells Arjuna that Bhakti Yoga, or the path of devotion and service, is one of the most powerful paths to recognizing our true nature.
What does it mean to look at oneself?
It means to look at that within us which resonates with the God of our devotion. And it also means to look at that within us which does not resonate with God.
To face that within us which does not resonate with God is difficult. To not avoid that within ourselves which is merely human, fallible and imperfect, is difficult. For it brings up guilt, shame, fear, and negative thoughts and feeling states of all kinds. So sometimes we end up using our devotion as a way to avoid dealing with our humanity.
Baba said “Whatever we experience and learn through the mind and the senses is not the truth”.
The tendency of thinking mind is to divide things up, most often as good and bad.
Sometimes we have to discern if our path of devotion is being co-opted by our minds and senses to avoid reality, because reality is too painful.
The path of devotion and service, or Bhakti Yoga, keeps pointing us back to our hearts. For it is in the human heart, which is the same as the universal heart, that our humanity and our divinity come together in form, and as one.
It is in the heart, rather than in the mind, where we can experience unconditional love that sees God in everyone and everything.
In the heart there is no distinction between humanity and divinity.
They are one.
In the heart there is no distinction between the God we worship, and ourselves.
They are one.In the heart there is no distinction between our “godly good selves” and our “flawed, vulnerable human selves”.
They are one.
In the heart there is no distinction between oneself and other.
They are one.
When we truly get this, it fosters, not arrogance but great humility. And in this great humility, we can drop the tendency to judge ourselves and others negatively.Devotion and service are, of course, closely bonded. If there is any part of ourselves that we leave out in devotion, then we tend to judge that in ourselves and in others. And this is directly reflected in how we serve.
We may think that what we are serving to others is food, comfort and kindness. And yes that is so, but above all what we serve to others is ourselves, and our very being!
Perhaps we can all relate to situations where we may have offered food, comfort, and even kindness to others with our hands outstretched but with our hearts holding back?
So this invitation to look at ourselves keeps bringing us back to our hearts, gently returning our awareness to the attitude with which we serve.
This is not about right or wrong, good or bad. If we find ourselves holding back in our hearts sometimes it is ok, and simply gives us another opportunity to open into awareness a little more, and to try it again differently.
It is like we are being continually moved in the direction of greater and greater love and honesty within ourselves and towards all beings. We are being continually moved deeper and deeper into the heart’s view which sees God in everyone and everything, starting with ourselves.
Service is indeed about actions, but it matters even more where the action comes from. When we serve from wholeness and love, then what we serve is wholeness and love. Right action flows naturally and effortlessly from right attitude.
So together, let us heed Baba’s invitation to love everyone, including ourselves, more fully.
Together let us heed the invitation to look at, not only God and goodness, but anything and everything we deem as other God and goodness.
Together let us heed the invitation to include more and more of ourselves and other in our devotion and our service.
Jai Neem Karoli Baba
Note to Readers:
I feel incredibly blessed to have been included in the family of devotees at the Neem Karoli Baba Ashram during my stay in Taos. I have witnessed first hand, the sincerity and love with which the sevaks continue to offer themselves in service.
From where I stand it is very hard work and demands much from all who serve! As everyone here says all the time – Hanumanji’s grace and Baba’s love light the way.
I am deeply touched, and feel enormous appreciation and gratitude for this amazing space, nestled at the feet of the sacred Taos Mountain, filled with the blessings of Sri Ram, Durga Devi, Hanumanji and Baba Maharaji, and lovingly nurtured by the sevaks.
Deep bows and thank you to all who make this temple and Ashram available to so many.
I attribute this article to the grace here.