Today started very early, before the sun rose in Southern California, and I walked across the quiet street from m
y hotel to Karma Yoga San Diego for sadhana.
Sadhana means practice in Sanskrit and it’s whatever you do regularly as a routine to nourish your spirit and soul. In the Karma Yoga world, sadhana means the traditional early morning Kundalini routine of Sikh morning prayers (the Japji) followed by a yoga set and ending with meditative song.
I am not Sikh, though I love the open-arm, non-judgment welcome of the Sikh lineage. So as the others around me chanted in Gurmukhi, I thought about the idea of daily prayer, something I have at times in my life tried to do but do not regularly commit to.
First, you have to know to whom you pray. God? The Guru? Jesus? Who is listening?
That’s a complicated question for me as yes, I believe in God, but I don’t believe in a God that I have to worship and beseech to guide my life. I have a hard time with the God concept. If I had the kind of certain clarity that the most devoted need, I would not be on this searching path.
Ok, so let’s break it down. I believe in a higher power, stronger and more benevolent and wise than all of us. I don’t believe that power is a man in the sky with a fluffy beard. I don’t believe in a punishing God, who wags a metaphorical finger at us when we make the wrong choices.
I love the yogic concept of God that has the holy living within each a nd every being, so that in a way we are all one, all connected with the same divine life force, and all capable of creating holiness in every minute.
The yogic concept teaches that the core of a human being is in the infinite, so God is at the heart of all the living. And yet I also believe that the God concept exists beyond us and outside of us, as if a string of creation dips into each of the created and lasts for all eternity.
So what about when this life ends? I believe we have many different incarnations and our souls live on but that, too, is a hard to grasp concept. What does it mean that our souls live on? If that’s true, where is my grandmother right now?
At sadhana this morning, the lights of San Diego’s downtown glistened outside the many windows that embrace the studio. Candlelight flickered inside and the cool night air breezed in through a single open window.
As they chanted the Japji, (I do like its cadence), I pondered what I would say in prayer, what I would ask for, what I could hope for from the day ahead.
No answers came. Just the questions. And I was OK with that.
During the meditation, I laid on the mat with a blanket over me and another under my head. I slept better than I had all night in the hotel bed. Rebecca, the teacher on the stage, sang her beautiful voice along with the steel drum known as a Hang and an instrument akin to a harmonium, the Aquarian Sadhana Meditation, 7 mellifluous chants.
In the weekly email I get from a friend about the coming Torah portion, he quoted this week’s story, with a quote from the Sages: Ma’asei Avot, siman l’banim, the experiences of our forefathers are meant as lessons for future generations.
Perhaps that’s all the praying is about. The Japji consists of words from the Gurus (and I won’t go into the Sikh lineage, but it’s really interesting), forefathers, ancient masters, sending messages forward.
I’m coming to the conclusion that the idea of prayer is basically to look outside ourselves for wisdom, guidance and beauty, to fashion our lives on words of meaning rather than words that tear apart hearts and souls.
Maybe it doesn’t matter what I say but rather that I take time to say something or to reflect or to look outside as well as within and just rest on that. The wisdom of the moment, the wisdom of the soul. A spiritual gut check, so to speak.
After breakfast at Snooze Cafe in Hillcrest, I showered and readied for my media meetings. And then two canceled due to illness. You know I love it when people cancel because they give me the gift of unexpected time to create something beautiful.
And so I walked a mile-plus to Cafe Bassam, noticing the neighborhood of my client’s studio, pondering the people who live and work here, and wondering how to build relationships of meaning between every single one.
A gift of time to create something beautiful. Just what I (and all of us) need.