Loving with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength
- Dear Friends,
Someone had asked a question about balancing the practices of their
own religion and the practices of other traditions. I wrote the
following, and hope you enjoy it.
In loving service,
A little story (and I'll try to keep it short!) :)
Last fall I was thinking about my journey through life and what can
sometimes seem like a spiritual maze.
I am a yogi and a swami, a monk, and was remembering my Christian
roots. I, like many, have read books which try to synthesize the
various religions and spiritual traditions. Authors quote various
scriptural passages from the Bible and say how they may relate to
various yogic, or Eastern principles.
However, even though some of the observations made by the authors
were very good, and useful, I had never quite found the ones which
really resonated with ME. I mentioned this to a friend (a devout
Christian woman who is also a yogic meditator), and told her I wanted
to go through the Bible and find my OWN passages. She was so happy,
she bought me a brand new Bible, one with red letters (which I wanted
so I could easily see what the Master said).
Over about two months I sat by the Ganges in Rishikesh and read the
entire New Testament, word for word, looking for the yoga that
matched my predisposition.
What I found is nothing new, really. But the match I found for myself
was wonderful. I found the entire philosophy and practice of yoga
philosophy and science in one verse, Mark 12:30.
As we all know, we can each read our own versions into passages,
which I have admitedly done. The verse, and its context are:
Mark 12:28 -- One of the teachers of the law came and heard them
debating. Noticing the Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked
him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?"
Mark 12:29 -- "The most important one," answered Jesus is
this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.
Mark 12:30 -- "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with
all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'"
How much do we love God, "with"? Or, how much do we really love
anybody else, in our daily lives? He says with ALL of FOUR different
things (heart, soul, mind, and strength). Love "with" (through the
tools, instruments, of) ALL of EACH of these four things.
In the East, one of the words for "all" is "yoga". It can fairly be
said that the entire purpose of sadhana (spiritual practices) is to
do our part (God will do the rest) to get a little more access to
our "heart", "soul", "mind", and "strength". Sometimes it feels
like trying to move from 10% all the way up to 100%. But then, thank
God for Grace. :)
Without getting carried away here (with too many words), the
four "parts" to which we want to gain "all" our access, can in yoga,
in Sanskrit, be called the four inner functions of manas, chitta,
ahmakara, and buddhi, which are extensively talked about in the
Eastern texts, including such as the Upanishads. These are key parts
of the oral tradition, as far as purifying the mind.
The idea of the sadhana (practices) is that if we do our part of
clearing away the clutter, using these four tools, and coordinating
these four tools, we will find the Highest form of Love already there
(called Ananda, or Anandamayakosha). Then that Love can most
naturally be directed inward, in meditation, contemplation, and
May we all find That in the many religions or traditions.
In loving service,