How my Guru Fixed my Greatest FlawJul 24, 2021
My dear all,
With a full and grateful heart, I wish you a Happy Guru Purnima…the full Moon dedicated to the one who leads you home to your highest Self.
Many of us who practice yoga tend to discount the role of Guru. We tend to think it’s enough to have an “inner” guru because human beings are naturally flawed. It can be dangerous and even delusional to think someone outside of yourself has spiritual authority over you.
We’ve all seen what happens when we transfer our power over to Gurus.
But I’ve had an actual human Guru whom I’m indebted to for teaching me my life’s most invaluable lesson and practice: Serve.
I confess I hated to serve. When the bell rang for daily “seva” at the ashram, I’d run and hide to meditate instead. I’d joke with the other devotees that really seva is “slave-a.” We had more important things to do for our spiritual evolution than clean the bathroom.
Then one day my Guru found me in my hiding place and thrust a broom in my hand. He commanded me, “Serve!”
Grudgingly I accepted the broom and got to work.
So many years later—and many hours of practice—the only teaching that comes to me in moments of crisis, depression and anxiety is what my Guru taught me. To quote Bob Dylan, I have to “serve someone.” Not because I’m a great saint. Service is the only thing that pulls me out of negativity and the pit of self-absorption.
For the past four months here in India we’ve faced one of the biggest humanitarian disasters in recent history…and ever in the history of South Asia. It’s estimated 4.7 million people lost their lives to Covid in India alone.
It’s hard not to feel the weight of that. You can see it in everyone’s faces. You can feel it in their energy. There isn’t one person in India who was not deeply and personally affected by this tragedy.
When the wave hit, my Guru’s teaching came to me like it once had with the broom. Serve!
Only this time I wasn’t reluctant or resentful. I knew it would help me to feel better if I focussed on someone else.
So we served. Even when it seemed hopeless, we worked to bring help to our community. Every day (as we received the news of yet another friend or family member who’d died), we continued—even when we were told nothing could be done.
The outcome didn’t matter. It only mattered to keep showing up and serving.
Yesterday our efforts ripened and we offered our fruits to the local community. Donations from all over the world (as well as supplies for a fully functional triage in preparation for India’s impending third wave) have reached us—a very remote and forgotten part of India.
Words can’t express my gratitude, not only for all who lended their support and generosity to us here in Dunagiri, but for my first Guru—Sri Sri Ravi Shankar—who saw my biggest flaw and forced me to fix it. Not for anyone else’s sake, but my own inner peace and happiness.
As this last Covid wave relaxes, I’m making my way back to my “normal” life. I am flying back to the United States on the 4th of August for much needed connection with friends and family. I’ll also be back to teaching online and offering Vedic astrology consultations.
I really can’t wait to connect with you all again!
In the meantime, I bow to you for giving me an opportunity to serve you over all these years.
Happy Guru Purnima!
P.S. One other way I passed the time during lockdown was to creatively reimagine my social media efforts. I'd love for you to check out my daily doses of inspiration on Instagram and to follow me! :-) @drkatyjane
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