I recently learned an important yogic lesson when I taught a graduate counseling course. I was poised to teach potential school guidance counselors about the role of ethics and multiculturalism in their counseling sessions. I usually use this topic as a platform to give a political dissertation on all things being equal with humanity. I have always loved the sense of standing on a soapbox to deliver that lecture. However, I have been led to deeper understandings through my Meditation Teacher Training, as well as Swami Nirmalananda’s Satsangs, including her online audio recordings.
So this day, with my deeper understanding, I was moved to deliver a deeper teaching to my class. In this very conventional environment of a college classroom, I followed the format of Swami’s talk, “The Religion of Man,” and I wanted to credit her Baba as well as Swamiji herself. I wanted the Grace to have the credit. I didn’t want what I was saying to be confused with me, the professor. I wanted the counseling students to think bigger than that.
They are used to me showing videos, as I constantly use TED Talks to make points. So I brought up a video of Baba teaching in America, to show where the information on my talk originated. Initially, I had some fear and reservation about “religion” and spirituality talks in this environment, as everyone in my class is employed in public schools where the separation of church and state can be a big issue. But I tried to just settle into that fear and to move ahead with my plan. Swamiji and Baba talk of something beyond church and state, and I felt this was the perfect way to address the issue I was to teach. How better to assist these budding counselors in seeing equality and non-difference, in order to help those who walk into their offices?
After all, I know what it has done for me. Swamiji’s teachings, passed to us from her Baba, have done much more for me than has my academic and professional training. Those trainings did not open my heart.
Although I had some concerns, I felt completely supported by Grace and I knew where to go. I was just so moved, and I did what I felt called to do. Before I began my talk I did japa. Then I introduced Baba as a swami, describing what yoga is, and explaining why I chose to talk about him. I talked a little about the lineage and Kashmiri Shaivism and mentioned our modern Swami, who is near where I teach counseling. I also said if anyone had an interest in learning more about these teachings, I would be able to provide more information and direction.
In my talk, I used much of what Swami talked in her “Religion of Man,” including her examples from genetics, archeology, religion and the ancient sages of India as well as Baba to discuss the common ancestry of humans.
Grace, of course, did what Grace does. Faces opened, hearts opened. The comments of the counseling students were so sweet. They said they really liked looking at religion and humankind that way. Most of them said it really resonated with them. Of course it did! Why wouldn’t it? It is the truth.
They said the talk should be a TED Talk. I had joked before that it was my goal to do a TED Talk this year. TED does university versions of their talks; the organization comes to my university. I said, however, “This isn’t my talk, but I am thinking the world may be ready for a Swami Nirmalananda TED Talk!”
I think I was surprised there wasn’t more resistance or less understanding. Perhaps all of that is really just my small “s” self bubbling up and my fear about teaching yoga philosophy. But I felt I needed to test the waters of the conventional public or something. I know if I had been in a class of people gathered at an institute for studies about Consciousness I would have felt differently. But I was talking about yoga philosophy in a normal old graduate school offering coursework toward certification for guidance counselors in Delaware public schools.
It’s true that many of these students are there to change the world, but some want a master’s degree for the pay raise. So I was just amazed at their openness. I felt a different level of openness in this younger generation than I have in the past. I was excited by that and excited by the thought that the world may be more ready for the Guru than I expected. I am grateful to Swami Nirmalananda for being in service to the world as well as for guiding me.
OM svaroopa svasvabhavah namo namah