A Karmi, A Jnani, and a Bhakta Walk Into a Bar…
By Kristine Kaoverii Weber | September 29, 2020
A Karmi, a Jnani, and a Bhakta walk into a bar…with masks on. But when they realize the boisterous crowd is ignoring social distancing, they decide to hang out in the parking lot and yell through their car windows to each other for a few minutes before heading home.
That pretty much sums up my social life these days.
It’s day 200. I am working hard to avoid being sucked into the black hole of monotony. But I get lonely sometimes. I would like to teach a live yoga class, or sit at a café with a friend and talk about…anything. I want to go somewhere besides the woods or the grocery store. I fight an impulse to hug strangers.
I consult inspirational books to remind myself of the inherent beauty of existence – even in difficult times there are always choices. I can walk the path of the Karmi and be of service to others. That always helps me feel more normal. I can take up Jnana and study something fascinating that leads me to a deeper understanding of myself. That tends to satisfy my seeking mind.
And I can practice Bhakti – chanting, singing kirtan, practicing devotional meditation. I can work on expanding my capacity for being present with myself and others – and connecting to and developing a deeper relationship with my higher power – which plugs me in to a vast wellspring of love and support.
Soon after I had my son 16 years ago, a good friend who’s also a talented healer came over to visit. I was weeping – lost in a hormonal forest of post-partum despair. When the baby fell asleep, he set up his massage table, helped me up on it, and started to work.
I cried more.
As he cradled my head, he said this:
“I want you to imagine a golden rope. It connects you straight to your source. Hold onto it. Hold on tight. You are being held. You will never be abandoned.”
He helped me climb out of the post-partum pit. Soon after my hormones normalized and I could enjoy mothering the new being I’d birthed. But I’ve kept that rope with me ever since.
And when times get tough, I hang on.
Make no mistake, we are in the middle of a collective global trauma – the likes of which we’ve never before experienced. The impact of which we will probably not fully comprehend for years.
And so, the path of the Bhakta beckons – it’s not jnana yoga, which is arduous and intellectual – often called the “razor’s edge” and it’s not the busyness of the karma yogi. It’s different – wide and inviting, soft, accessible, strewn with flowers.
This is what calls me these COVID days.
It’s easy to be happy and feel spiritual when things are going your way. When they’re not, there’s practice, and there’s Bhakta to soothe the soul. I randomly open the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra and read this:
Imagine the entire world consumed by flame.
Stay steady, do not waiver,
As fire transmutes form into light
The soul reveals itself
To itself as Radiance.
verse 53 (trans. Lorin Roche)
evameva jagat sarvaṃ dagdhaṃ dhyātvā vikalpataḥ
ananyacetasaḥ puṃsaḥ puṃbhāvaḥ paramo bhavet || 53
It’s time for tapas. Regularly throw all expectations, all attachments into the fire of practice and find stillness in profound acceptance. My baby is long gone. Now there’s a lanky teenager with an attitude. Still, the brightness and essence of his smile shines through his quickly changing form. His essence is timeless – it will never evaporate.
This realization of essence – everywhere and in everything – that’s the Bhakta’s silver bullet.
There is a very powerful benevolent force, the most benevolent force in the universe. And it’s never distant, it’s intimate, more intimate than a breath. More intimate than the most intimate lover, more intimate than even a heartbeat or a thought. And it will never abandon, because it’s bound by the fiercest love.
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