Smoke, Seva, and Surprises at Mt. Shasta
Despite smoke from the nearby fires obscuring views of Mt. Shasta, the Shasta retreat held many delightful surprises for the participants. For the benefactors, one wonderful moment came while taking a boat ride in Lake Siskiyou. Yogiraj promised that the air would clear enough for them to be able to see Mt. Shasta. And sure enough, at one moment on the trip, the grateful benefactors could see the majestic mountain peeking out from the smoky haze.
On Saturday morning of the retreat, Hamsas had another delight at the Dunsmuir Botanical Gardens. After teaching theGoraksha Gayatri mantra, Yogiraj told the Hamsas to meditate by the nearby Upper Sacramento River for 15-20 minutes. Hamsas scampered to find rocks to sit on by the bank of the gushing river. When they opened their eyes, some people were astonished to see Yogiraj himself seated nearby on the riverbank, seated in still meditation. So they quickly closed their eyes again, experiencing a deep and powerful meditation.
Those who visited the merchandise tables were delighted to browse a beautifully illustrated picture book, A Master Stroke by Divine Destiny, written by Guruma Shivangini. It tells the story of her birth into a royal family to her marriage with Yogiraj, after which she has led a life of seva (selfless service). The book reveals many of Guruma’s personal mystical encounters with sages and saints.
But the crème de la crème was the opportunity to purchase a copy of Yoga Patanjal, Yogiraj’s experiential rendition of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. This beautiful, little gilded book fits nicely in a purse or pocket and contains Yogiraj’s own spiritual revelations. The highlight of the retreat was when Hamsas lined up to have their copies of the book personally signed by Yogiraj.
Much love and effort were poured into the two books authored by Yogiraj and Guruma. Our Satguru and his beloved are both shining examples of the theme that Yogiraj discussed during the Shasta retreat, which is “Accept the world as it is and get on with the job at hand.”
Seva was a resounding theme at Mount Shasta. Seva is selfless service, done without any thought of reward or payment. Even the most menial tasks, undertaken with the right attitude, is Seva. Seva dissolves the ego.
Yogiraj often asks us to consider which ashram seva dissolves the ego more: cleaning the temple or scrubbing the toilets? The answer is the latter. It is not that one must choose the more difficult or least enjoyable task. Rather, the less we resist something we don’t enjoy doing, the more we have to set aside this dislike in order to do it. If we approach our tasks without resistance, and simply “get on with the job at hand” the service becomes selfless. Every task we do, whether picking up leaves from the lawn, throwing away garbage in the meditation hall, receiving other Hamsas at registration, setting up for a satsang, breaking down after satsang, becomes seva if we do it without self.
The most difficult seva is to remain where you are or to go where you must go when you have agreed to undertake a task at that “Most Particular Time” when Yogiraj gives a spontaneous satsang. That longing to remain near Yogiraj or to be with Yogiraj is great, but seva means you are to get on with the job at hand. So go do that job! Give yourself entirely to service, without thought for whether or not a particular act of seva serves you.
Seva is not reserved for events. If Yogiraj’s mission is to evolve humanity, then we must strengthen Community Humanity; we must ourselves participate in Community Humanity. This too is seva.
Finally, seva can also be a way of living. How many moments in your day can you serve without ego?
** Yogiraj will be back in Europe, the U.S. and Canada in the spring and summer of 2019! You can join him now at events in India! Learn more at our Siddhanath Events Page.