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Loving with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength

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  • Swami J
    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,
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 5, 2001
      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,

      Swami J


      Dear [Friend],

      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,

      Swami J
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