A Path

People often ask me what religion I practice.  Or those of a more mystical bent, might ask what path I follow.  When I was younger, I was obsessed with what I labeled myself.  I explored several religions, diving in their theology and practices for a time, proudly identifying myself as such and such.

So much has changed.  I have changed.  And yet I am the same.

I am not so caught up on labels these days.  I do my spiritual practice.  I meditate.  I pray.  I study sacred texts.  I chant.  I do good.  I attend a spiritual center on the weekends.  Yet naming my path has been hard when folks ask.  I stumble.  I have to think. I have a term for it but largely keep it to myself.

One might describe me as a yogi in the broadest sense of the term.  I seek God.  I seek awareness of God in myself and in all people...wait...in all nature as well.  In my practice of meditation, I sit with mantras (one in English and one in Sanskrit) that remind me that God is within.   When I do hatha yoga, I seek God within my breath and body.  But this has led me outward.  I seek God in the people at the yoga studio.  I seek God in the gym.

I have sat in contemplation at a saying by Ram Dass where he says to treat every person as if they were God in drag.  Just as my own self-esteem is being healed and merged with the Self who does not judge nor condemn, so to am I getting glimpses of how to love others, treating them with integrity.  I find from my spiritual practice another spiritual practice emerging...that of kindness.   It is like a mesh of karma yoga (path of selfless service offering all actions up to God and not clinging to outcomes) and bhakti yoga (path of devotion and love of God).  I am loving God in that other person, as that other person.  My religion, however weakly I still practice it has become kindness yoga.

I know there are many types of yogas with which we practice our dharma, our unique way.  My religion is kindness, my path is kindness yoga, Maitrī Yoga.  Perhaps it has no real name, other than simply what one does.

I would like my life to be a statement of love and compassion - and where it isn't, that's where my work lies. - Ram Dass


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