|AHYMSIN newsletter, Issue - September 2011|
Swami Nitya Visits Southern California
by Randall Krause
August brought the sparkling presence of Swami Nityamuktananda to Southern California for a week.
I picked up Swami Nityamuktananda Saraswati at Union Station, in downtown L.A. She’d just taken a train from San Diego where she’d stayed for a few days after a week at Rancho La Puerta in Mexico filling in for Swami Veda. Swami Nitya was wearing her saffron clothes and was easy to spot in the crowd. Someone was pulling her bag for her, and I took over from him. We drove to an Indian restaurant in Westwood for lunch, and chat. Swami Nitya told me that the time in Rancho La Puerta had gone well, that the attendance from guests of the resort was very high.
On Wednesday, August 17, Swamiji spoke at the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center in Los Angeles, near Venice beach. To a group of devotees of yoga gathered at the Center, Swamiji gave a powerful talk on Spirituality in Mundane Life, which interweaved instruction in practices with down-to-Earth philosophy and common sense.
On the following night, Swamiji visited the Westchester Episcopal Church and spoke on Spirituality and Environmentalism to a group interested in the subject. It was a great talk. This group had a community garden and seemed to be interested in external applications of environmentalism, and interestingly, Swamiji’s talk focused on inner-work. Afterward, Swamiji took questions and gave answers.
Finally, on Sunday, Swamiji led a half-day seminar in San Diego on the topic of Practical Spirituality to a group gathered there. The seminar started with a lecture on the topic and then a group discussion ensued. It was a beautiful seminar and all there felt Swami Nitya's warmth and appreciated the wisdom imparted.
Swami Nitya's talks were filled with gems of wisdom. One of these gems occurred in Swami Nitya's lecture on Practical Spirituality, when she said “In our modern society, we live for ourselves and we forget that we are a single blood-cell in the whole cosmic body. In the same way the blood-cell has to do something, we have to do something for the greater good.” Continuing, she said that we have each incarnated with a purpose in life, and that we can do our purpose as our selfless service. Then she gave a beautiful definition of the word dharma, a word that I've always found hard to define, saying that your dharma is “your essence, that essentially what you are about, like a tree can only tree.”
At the beginning of her first lecture, Swami Nitya said, “I come from a tradition where one of the roles of a swami is to ask uncomfortable questions,” and she carried out this tradition in all her talks, and when just chatting. In this way, Swami Nitya created a learning experience where ever she went. I found this habit of hers to be extremely helpful, and it helped me understand why Swamis wear orange, the color of fire: Being asked such questions is a bit like being in a fire, the fire of transformation.Swami Nityamuktananda is inspired, extremely knowledgeable and warm. For those who were not at her talks in L.A., very good recordings of her talks have been made into a set of three CDs which will soon be available on the website www.yoga-week.com. They'd make a wonderful holiday gift for anyone interested in the practical philosophy and transformational energy Swami Nityamuktananda shared.
Randall Krause, M.A., J.D., RYT500, is the center leader of Himalayan Yoga Meditation -- Los Angeles.