by Octavio Salvado.
When Ram Dass asked his Guru, Neem Karoli Baba how to find God, Guruji’s answer was simple, “Feed people. Serve People.” Essentially, practice comes to its fullest fruition only when the fruits are offered to the world. Yoga will make you more powerful, that’s just the reality. It would be lovely to think that yoga in and of itself cultivated love, but just take a look at the disarray and debauchery in the modern yoga scene and you’ll quickly dismiss the idea.
The Pranic energy cultivated through sustained and committed practice is not ‘like’ the energy of the Sun, it ‘is’ the energy of the Sun, and as such it empowers and illuminates whatever it touches. If you don’t purify your mind and intentions, those impurities will also get charged. Sexual frustration, violence, deception, Shiva doesn’t judge you for those, He showers His grace on the Gods and the Demons both, whoever worships Him through dedicated practice receives a little portion of His infinite power.
This is why a mindset of Service is essential. Service is the sword that slices off our head and removes any ideas about getting more powerful for our own sake.
I call this the Macro Universe of Intent. Are your day to day choices in line with the bigger picture? Honest self-reflection is a must. Are your practices in service of the whole? And if not, you may want to check that, because there are far too many stories, both ancient and modern of good men turned bad by power to ignore. Even if the ‘Macro’ is your family or your relationship, great! Practice your heart out so you can show up and be a better Dad, a better partner, or a better example for your community.
Whatever the goal, let me give you some advice, ‘place it beyond you’. Expand the light beyond the confines of your little, singular self. Then not only Shiva but all the Gods and Goddesses will bless you with their smiles and support.
‘To expand beyond our limits’, this is one translation of the word ‘Tantra’. Another translation is ‘Technology’. So we could say: Tantra is the technology that moves us beyond our limitations or limited views’. For me personally, Tantra is the ultimate tool and technology for Service.
First lets get on the same page. Although the birthplace of Asana is Tantra, most people these days don’t practice it that way. Modern yoga is primarily concerned with the body rather than energy and presence, the two pillars of true Tantra. And for the record, Tantra is not about sex. Again, its about clarity and energy. 99% of Tantra deals with understanding and cultivating the dormant energies within our own bodies. Only a minute fraction of the Tantric Path incorporates the addition of a second person. Because lets be honest, its hard enough managing our own energy let alone someone else’s!
Either way, the rules of physics apply. You have to give energy to get energy. No escaping that one. However, what makes the tantric approach, combining Asana with Pranayama, Bandhas and Mudras for example a more intelligent and dare I say it, elegant way to practice, is that you expend ‘less’ energy while cultivating more of it.
With a regular asana practice, for sure, you get some prana in your tank…. but you also spend a lot at the same time, at least in regards to the way most of the modern world practices asana today. Trust me, I know about this from years of personal experience. Or did you think all of those Chaturangas came for free?
The long story made short is this: The true essence of practice and cultivating more energy is that it empowers us to be able to share our authentic gifts in a way that serves the world. The less energy we spend and the more energy we generate, the more we can give to the whole and the further our reach as yogis, partners, parents, friends and teachers.
Like cells within a body, we are all in this together. If the liver cells are thriving but the kidney cells are malfunctioning…. well, we have problem. The collective has a problem. So that’s the deal. Become a vibrant force in the world. Light up the darkness inside of yourself using the least amount of energy possible, then in your own unique and magnificent way, light up every single heart, mind and moment that you touch.
Nourish it. Feed it. Serve it. Simple.