“To be confident that the infinite will take care of it we’re so fortunate”

To me spontaneous fearlessness is having unwavering faith and trust in the universe, it means living your destiny, your svadharma. I was fortunate enough to spend my 28th birthday on the banks of the Ganga in Rishikesh doing sadhana. This was the most magical birthday ever. I came to Rishikesh to attend the International Yoga Festival and participate in a Yogathon to raise money for children’s education. Over the course of three days I met so many amazing people and my faith and love in the world was only strengthened. From the man that sells these delicious Apple Samosas near Ram Jula to the beautiful orphans I played with to Mother Ganga her self “I Am Thou” was lived. As I was completing my 108 Suryanamaskaras on the first day of my 28th year (March 3rd) I discovered that in the Sikh tradition the number 3 symbolizes giving because this is what the third Sikh Guru, Guru Amar Das stood for. Just a another sign to me about how my svadharma is tied to service. If you really believe “I am Thou” then how can you not serve? The highlight for me was definitely singing and dancing with Swami Vishwananda and his delegation from Mauritius with all my heart.  As much as I subscribe to nondual thought I really connect with aspects of the Bakti marga (path of devotion). Below is an email I wrote to friends that supported me in the Yogathon and after that are some of my notes from the various speakers I heard at the conference.

Beloved Friends and Family,  From the bottom of my heart thank you for your support and blessings. Your contributions to Yoga Aid 2008 have helped raise close to $50,000 for education in India!  To me, all of you are yogis/yoginis because serving and sharing is true yoga not standing on your head for a few hours, touching your toes to your nose or doing 108 Suryanamaskaras!  I’ve done a few Yogathons in the past and it always takes a little more than 2 hours to complete the 108 Suryanamaskaras but this time I didn’t even notice how long it took because I just felt so loved and blessed because I have so many supportive friends and family that truly understand that living is giving and every small action makes a difference. What counts in being a true yogi/yogini has nothing to do with asana and everything to do with what is in your heart. A teacher of mine would say, “Doing Sirsasana is great but ask yourself, how do you live your life?” When yoga becomes your life then you see the same unity and divinity in all (including the environment). When you see the unity and divinity in all then how can you not contribute to making the world a better place in any way you can?  This last trip to Rishikesh (my third in the past three weeks) was most magical (and I didn’t think that was possible considering how special my trips before were). For me the evening Arati’s were like a “divine happy hour” where people from all over the world, from all walks of life gathered to give thanks and sing devotional music on the banks of Mother Ganga.  There is a very special energy on the banks of the Mother Ganga and spending the first day of my 28th year doing sadhana (spiritual practice) there was unforgettable and I just felt so incredibly lucky. Children from the orphanage smothered me with hugs and sang Happy Birthday and my eyes were filled with tears of gratitude and joy (I don’t remember the last time I cried that much!) and at that moment in my heart I knew that my dream of starting a school that truly teaches students to live in an ethical, ecological, spiritual manner will eventually become a reality some day because it is my svadharma. I came to Rishikesh alone but have never felt so much love and faith in the universe. After so many years of just trusting my gut and studying so many random things it is as if everything is really coming together and the dots are starting to connect.  I heard there was a Lama from Arunachala Pradesh who started a school for disabled orphans visiting Rishikesh. I trekked all over Rishikesh trying to track him down because I knew that for some reason I had to meet him. I was having no luck but finally 40 minutes before I had to leave Rishikesh to get to Haridwar to catch my train back to Delhi one shop keeper knew where they were staying and I had to run with my bag pack from Ram Jula to Lakshman Jula and I finally found him at the Jaipur Inn Hotel and luckily didn’t scare him off even though I was drenched in sweat. I have never met someone so filled with compassion. He grew up very poor and worked as a school teacher for six years and saved every penny he had so he could start a school for disabled orphans. His students are some of the most warm, kind, caring and huggable children I have ever met. He told me that his educational philosophy is quite simple, love. Love is what is missing from schools and many homes. With Lama Thupten Phuntsok I have found yet another role model, mentor and brother in Dharma to keep me going and keep me inspired. Shortly after meeting Lama Thupten Phuntsok I saw a man wearing a shirt that said, “It is much easier to build strong children than repair broken men” and I couldn’t help but think about the importance of encouraging the heart in my classroom no matter how draining it can be at times. I also spent a lot of time this past weekend with a group of awesome 11th graders from a school in Amritsar. Most of the students were American and the school is steeped in Sikh philosophy. The way in which the kids interacted with me and each other—they were so loving and friendly just reaffirmed the importance of values based education. The school actually plays the American Embassy School in sporting events and they do yoga before all of their games! I am hoping to visit the school the next time we head up to Amritsar for a game.  I am in the process of organizing/directing Delhi’s first ever Yogathon to take place this November the last Sunday before Thanksgiving. I am working with the Foundation of Universal Responsibility for His Holiness the Dalai Lama and hope to raise $30,000 for three charities that deal with education for the underprivileged. I will be raising money for Lama Thupten Phuntsok’s school (www.manjushreeorphanage.org), an orphanage for children in Rishikesh started by a very special devotee of Ramana Maharshi (www.sayyesnow.org) and CANassist an organization that works with a jugghi I tutor at and work with along with some of my students. I will keep you posted on how that all goes 🙂  Attached are some photos of the children, Lama Thupten Phuntsok and his students, and me in Suryanamaskara action. When I get some time I will post all my pictures on Facebook (from all of my traveling) and update my “iamthou” blog. I leave for West Bengal next weekend for a conference at Shantiniketan (http://www.santiniketan.com/) in honor of my dearest friend and mentor, the late Professor Ramchandra Gandhi. While his death has been difficult for me I do feel his strength and guidance at all times and I feel like his spirit is behind all of my crazy adventures and experiences. Of course going to Shantiniketan has been a dream and Tagore is another hero of mine! The weekend after I am taking the Middle School Principal at the American Embassy School on my yearly Yatra down South in honor of some of my spiritual heroes (Ramana Maharshi, Sri Aurobindo, J. Krishnamurti) so we can also discuss how Indian philosophy might better improve educational systems and then I am off on a much needed meditation retreat for 10 days 🙂 I will be in Nepal/Tibet all of June and am finally making it Mt. Kailash (this has been a dream of mine for so long and I can’t believe it is actually happening) and my July plans are still materializing. I may go to Arunachala Pradesh to visit Manjushree Vidyapeeth and might be in England as well taking a course on Enlightened Activism/Engaged Buddhism at Schumacher College. If any of you are interested I am definitely attending the Gross National Happiness Conference in Bhutan next November and as soon as I get details I can forward them along. Together thinking will evolve and we will make the world a better place. I had students come to my classroom after school yesterday inspired to make change after watching “The Story of Stuff” (if you haven’t taken 20 minutes to watch “The Story of Stuff” www.storyofstuff.com please do) and now we are working on and action plan to eliminate excess waste in our school community—my kids are amazing and they continuously teach me and keep me going.   “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, Founder of Shantiniketan Thanks again for your support and friendship. I am always wishing you eternal blessings and am always here for you. With Love and Gratitude,  Meena Prayer of St. Francis 

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

International Yoga Festival – Notes


Uttarakhand – Simply Heaven


Theme of the festival is clean, green and serene.


Young girls interviewed older folks asking them what they wish they knew or did when they were younger and everyone said, “yoga.”


Aarti is like a divine happy hour…hour of prayer. Communion with the divine and giving thanks. Arati means the remover of pain but it doesn’t dictate who the remover is.


The Ganga is not seen as a river but as the mother goddess. In the ganga water bacteria and viruses cannot grow.


The 98 year old yogi


David Frawley


Rishikesh is a sacred site, connect with the presence and power of Ma Ganga


Wisdom and bakti in yoga


Ishwara pranidhana


Bakti is devotion to the divine within us


Our sense of wholeness rests upon our inner experience and our true self is the Atman or Purusha beyond the body and mind


Vedanta is the knowledge side, yoga is practical


To really practice yoga you have to awaken jiva first


Being that is the subject


You are nothing and nobody and at the same time everything and everybody


Mind is the wick

Knowledge is the flame

Devotion is the oil


Cultivating the power of spirit


Yoga is about exploring who we are and what is the meaning of life


Love – Sankaracarya, Swami Vishwananda


Love has to be awakened


Kabir said that everybody talks of love but it is very difficult to understand love and once we understand love we become learned and wise. Love resides in everybody, love resides in everybody, love is an instinct we all have. Without love we cannot live. Love is always metaphysical, beyond physics. Physical attraction is lust. The moment one starts loving others as much as he loves himself he will know what love is.


Education is manifestation of perfection man already has in himà education according to Swami Vivekananda. Love has no expectations.


You can’t change society without changing individuals


Technology has brought us “closer” but our hearts are not closer.


Mandukya Upanishad – yoga is fulfilled when we experience the Self we experience in deep sleep consciously in the waking state


David Frawley

Yoga is part of the great vedic tradition. Rediscover our universal nature

Human life is avidya, we don’t know who we are. We live in the realm of becoming and action trying to become somebody. We project and external pleasure and looking for happiness outside ourselves is fundamental ignorance

Klesha is the sense of ego

Avidya afflicts geniuses, not knowledge of the mind but your essential nature. Everlasting happiness, bliss and well being. Yoga is the union of the individual self with the higher self. The outer aspect of yoga is asana and pranayama. Deeper aspect of meditation.

Knowledge without practice cannot take your far and vice versa

Practice generates higher knowledge. Purifying the body and mind to have the right vehicle. Yoga is supreme rationality.


Truly great yoga is not measured by the flexibility of the mind but by the flexibility of one’s awareness to go beyond body and mind.


It is easier to build strong children than repair broken men.


Swamu dyananda. Vedanta provides whole understanding of atma/purusha and understanding of theism, mind, meditation, yoga, karma and rebirth



End of knowledge = Vedanta

Understand ultimate reality it is a science to know the ultimate truth which is not outside but inside

What we seek and want à the sat

Element is in chit also there, consciousness is awareness what we really seek is anandaà bliss

Seeking ananda outside yourself is avidya

Law of diminishing utility and returns

If bliss was in the water you drink when you are thirsty then it should bring the same amount of happiness in each glass. If you think that water  = happiness you are taking reflected happiness because happiness is IN you

Ignorance or avidya is when we seek it outside

To know the Self is Vedanta and the practical aspect is yoga

Vedanta allows us to understand our own nature and ananda is inside


You are all truth and knowledge and you are neither born nor do you die


The most used word in telephone conversations is “I” but have you thought of “I” mistaking the body for it is ignorance.


Who Am I – Ramana Maharshi


The name is not your introduction


Svaroop is your real nature


I am truth, I live truth, I am love, I live love, I am a giver, I live in giving.


Vedanta is a study to know your self/


Yam is discipline, without self discipline there is no knowledge


Let go and let god.


Empty yourself of thoughts


Focusing on an object when you meditate is the world and you are not meditating because you are still in the world so become thoughtless


Your primordial nature will pour into you, your real self.


Swami jyotir dyananda – yoga vasista which has everything about yoga and Vedanta and time travel etc.


On Love…Swami Vishwananda

Love depends on each person. Bakti is when the ego self and the cosmic self merge together and bliss reveals itself


The easiest way to let go of the mind is the continuous singing of god


When you attain love it has to grow and blossom and the easiest way to let love blossom is through chanting


Dancing with the lords name…power of the lord’s mantra inside of you…you become the mantra