Asha Praver's Monthly Letter
July 2005

Dear Friends,Asha Praver photo

Last night we went to a house blessing. Friends have just moved into a new condominium and wanted to infuse it with the blessings of the Masters and the vibrations of Ananda. We chanted and meditated, then made a procession. Each person carried some symbolic item, like a candle, incense, a picture of one of the Masters, or holy water. While a few kept up the chanting, others went from room to room, blessing every part of the house.

(It is a lovely thing to do; call the Sangha if you are interested.)

We were used to seeing our friends their former apartment, but we had no trouble recognizing them in their new one. The essence of who they are had not changed, just the setting.

Taking a longer view, this is not so different from the way we change bodies from incarnation to incarnation. We are used to seeing our friends in one setting, that is, one body. But in the next incarnation, we see them in new surroundings, that is, the soul is now “surrounded” by a new body. But we still recognize them. Just as we recognized our friends in their new apartment. The essence is the same

I recently heard a marvelous way to explain to children how to relate to their bodies that is also useful for devotees. The body is the place you have been given to live in for your whole life. But it isn’t you; it is just your address. It makes it easy for people to find you, and recognize you when they get there. It is the only body you will have this whole lifetime, though, so you need to make it last; you have to treat it with care and respect.

Ever since I read that, I have been thinking of my own body as my apartment. For some reason I visualize the occupant, my divine self, as about the size of a piece of popcorn. This gives me lots of space to live in. Master once pointed out that we aren’t even omnipresent in our own bodies.

Athletes and dancers have a more expanded awareness of the body, musicians, artists, and sculptors, have developed particular skill in certain parts. Otherwise, most people live around the medulla where the ego is centered and from there through the eyes. Meditating devotees try to shift the focus from the medulla and live from the spiritual eye.

Now that I am a piece of popcorn inhabiting what amounts to a mansion I have been wandering around in my visualization investigating rooms I seldom visit, like my calf muscles, and my knees. On one level, it all sounds utterly ridiculous. But it has had a surprising and interesting effect on my consciousness. It helps me appreciate, among other things, why Master created the Energization Exercises. They have many benefits, and one of them is to make us fully conscious of the body temple in which we live.

If, from the moment of conception, someone set aside a beautiful house for you to use for as long as you lived, naturally you would be deeply grateful. You would care for it lovingly. Even if it didn’t have every feature you wanted you would appreciate its good points and accept with good humor whatever it lacks. And when age began to take its inevitable toll, you would do what you could to keep it in good shape but still respond with gratitude for all the good years you have spent there.

And when the Owner comes to take it back, why hold on? He isn’t throwing you out on the street! He is giving you another place to live, even more beautiful and interesting than this one. Go willingly; don’t make Him forcibly evict you!

See how easily these thoughts apply to the body? And how helpful it would be to think of the body has something distinct from what you call yourself? Swamiji said, “I don’t identify with ‘Swami Kriyananda,’ I consider him an event for which I am responsible.”

In Patanjali’s yoga sutras, one of the fundamental attitudes of a yogi is defined as “non-greed.” The interesting point here is that when you have perfected this quality, Patanjali says you can remember your past lives. This requires a little explanation.

Another of Patanjali’s fundamental attitudes is non-covetousness. “Non-covetousness,” Swamiji explains, “is not to desire what is not rightfully one’s own. Non-greed means not to be attached, even to what already is one’s own. Non-greed, perfectly practiced, leads one to become non-attached even to his own body. It is by such perfect non-attachment that the blindness of temporary identifications is overcome, with the result that one can remember his past identifications with other bodies, other places and events.”

A lovely way to cultivate the attitude Patanjali recommends is to think of your body as a long-term loan from Divine Mother. You use it, and care for it, but it is never yours.

And what a creative way to talk to young children, whose sense of identity with the body is still fluid. As meditating devotees, we can hold on to that child-like fluidity, too, without being burdened by the child-like inability to bring the body under control.

I was feeding a small baby recently. He was as sweet as he could be, but so helpless! He just had to lie there and wait for others to provide everything for him. Not because he doesn’t have a fully developed soul consciousness, but because his body is new, the systems are just getting organized, and he has to learn how to operate it.

Think of yourself as a ray of the Infinite Spirit, inhabiting for a time the body God has given you. Treat the body respectfully, feed and exercise it as needed, appreciate its virtues, but never make the mistake of thinking that the body you live in is you. If you identified with your apartment the way you identify with your body, people would think you were crazy!

But what is the difference? Only that, in this unspiritual age, people think a materialistic view of life is normal. But it isn’t, not if Self-realization is the goal.

Joy to you from David and me,

Asha