Dear Yoga Mentor, My Question Is…

Sometimes students have written to or asked Swami Veda Bharati, Swami Ritavan Bharati, and other senior teachers in our tradition questions about practice.  This is one such “Question and Answer,” or Q&A.


I am a member of a centre. Activities such as meditation and yoga some centre members see as private activities. At the moment we have some members who never have time to support with anything. They don’t see that being in service for the centre is an extension of your practice and never have time to support with anything. We have suggested they meditate over the availability of time for our tradition. The situation presents a challenge in the group's ability in being able to serve the mission.


Three have answered this question: Dr. Mohan Swami, Michael Smith, and Carolyn Hume.

From Dr. Mohan Swami:

As Kalyana Mitras - noble friends on the spiritual path:

We must kindle these fires in the sadhakas who share similar goals and aspirations - to not only strengthen the global Ahymsin family but create a solid platform to disseminate the teachings and philosophy of the Master.

With inner strength and resolve and through the grace of the lineage continue with: 1. Skillful work, and 2. high moral & loving attitude so that your performance will be service to the Tradition --MS

From Michael Smith:

"Faith without works is dead."
(James 2:20)

Karma Yoga, along with Jnana Yoga and Bhakti Yoga, is part of yoga sadhana in the Himalayan Yoga Tradition. Swami Veda called these three the “Yogas of Life.” They are related to people’s natural inclinations.

These three “Yogas” are also explained in Swami Rama’s book, Choosing a Path (Chapters 1-3).

Swami Veda once said, “In our tradition, somewhere, sometime, in your spiritual journey you will be a teacher,” So service (seva) is one of the features of the Himalayan Yoga Tradition’s Teacher Training Program (HYT-TTP).

There are many ways serve. Service (seva) is important for several reasons:

  1. to show one’s gratitude and support for the teachings and teachers of the lineage,
  2. to pare down the ego,
  3. to work off karma,
  4. to help others and make the world a better place,
  5. to make the mind less preoccupied with the mental clatter around personal problems.

Good work is freeing. Good work is a little moksha. The attitude in giving . . . is Joy!

I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
I awoke and saw that life was service.
I acted and behold, service was joy —
— Rabindranath Tagore

Each person has a unique path and special gifts that they need to cultivate. As one’s sadhana deepens, students begin to see what their special function is – one’s sva-dharma (one’s duty to oneself, one’s virtue, one’s purpose in being, the way that one aligns with the natural order). Then one’s life becomes easy, and service flows effortlessly.

Better one's own dharma, even devoid of quality,
than the dharma of another, even though well performed.
Better to die in one's own dharma;
The dharma of another invites danger.
—  Bhagavad Gita (3.35) (Also 18:47-48)

Yoga students are already doing seva for their family or in their neighborhoods, or at hospitals or as counselors or in other capacities. Seva, as it pertains to sadhana, does not have to be to a local HYT center.  However, when one sees the vastness and comprehensiveness of Swami Rama and Swami Veda’s mission, it seems that seva in the HYT would have immense benefits not only locally, but also worldwide.

Before he took his vow of Silence in 2013, Swami Veda wrote Sadhana in Applied Spirituality. It is a marvelous guidebook for sadhakas – and especially leaders of yoga centers – on how to cultivate sattvic relationships in their communities.

Swami Veda has also given many talks on how to encourage and inspire students, some of which may be on the Ahymsin Website:

One of Swami Veda’s favorite passages of the Dammapada is the Buddha’s advice to his first band of monks. The Buddha told his students that ‘wherever there is suffering, that is your place’:

Charatha bhikkavo charikam bahu-jana-hitaya, Bhau-jana-sukhaya.

“Monks, wander, for the benefit of the many, for the comfort of the many.”

From Carolyn Hume:

If we examine our practices, our lives, “private activities,” many of us will realize that we have been helped by those who have served; many of us have benefitted from teachers, books, audios, classes, retreats, from friendships with our fellows. Some of us will want to help others as we have been helped and find the opportunity to help others.

It may seem some are not giving as much sewa as others. Our eyes do not yet grasp the totality of reality. This is an invitation to open our hearts to each person and not to judge them.

In 1989, when in Germany, Swami Veda found himself saying (“the answer the Guru Spirit put into my mouth at that moment”) to the sadhakas there,

“There is much ignorance, and no end to suffering on this planet. There are only a few saints and masters to alleviate it. Their work is at the scale of an entire planet. If it were not for them, humanity would have self-destructed long ago. In addition to what they do, do we also want them to come personally to all their offices and answer and organize beginning level classes? …

… The word ‘member’ means an ‘organ,’ a ‘limb.’ It is in this sense that Christians are ‘members of Christ.’ We initiates are eyes, ears, hands and feet of the spiritual masters. This is as much as we can be, to share their burden; this is how we are part of their work. Their minds' strength and wisdom works through us, so we may help a few to make a start. When we view, or know, or remember, ourselves as members in the spiritual body of the masters, their life-force, their grace flows through us. Our own minds grow in that grace — only when we remember that in all our work, we are serving as ‘members,’ as 'organs,’ of that Spirit.’

And he wrote, “The next day I heard that some residents of that ashram cried: ‘Oh how easily we forget that we are members in the spiritual body of the Guru Spirit, making a minor contribution to the Guru's planetary work!’”

In the Bible, 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 (New International Version): “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’ On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”

Editor’s Note:

If you have a question about spiritual practice, you can use this link to ask it:  http://ahymsin.org/main/adhyatma-samiti-spiritual-committee.html

To read “Dear Yoga Mentor, My Question Is…” columns, please use this link: http://ahymsin.org/main/practice/dear-yoga-mentor-my-question-is.html



The Himalayan Tradition of Yoga Meditation

Purification of Thoughts     Dhyana     Mindfulness     Japa     Dharana     Shavasana     Breath Awareness     Qualified Preceptor     Guru Disciple Relationship     Unbroken Lineage     Silence     Full Moon Meditation

Copyright © 2009-2017 by AHYMSIN ®