Friday, January 25, 2013

In Death Shyamdas Reinforces the Purpose of Life

On January 20, 2013, a beloved person in the world of bhakti yoga, kirtan and scholarship in the ancient texts of yogic life, vanished in a motorcycle accident. There were events on his calendar stretching well into the future, and memories in the minds of uncountable thousands from his presence in the past.

His was a practice of devotion. In this he was precise -- translating seminal texts from ancient languages in order to deeply understand them and as a byproduct share them with the rest of the English speaking world. In this he was spiritual -- chanting the 108 names of his beloved with no boundaries between his sense of self and the beloved.  In this he was an ordinary traveler -- juggling his busy life, his devotional practices and his own practical requirements like the rest of us.

Each moment of life is life itself. When the vacant body is all that remains and the spirit has departed, it is shocking to the rest of us. How vivid the lesson that it is only in this moment, THIS MOMENT, that our life unfolds. Chanting, studying, smiling at each other, tasting the food, seeing the mist, feeling the sorrow, opening the heart.

Shyamdas continues his voyage, and his teachings. A friend was hoping that he had the name of the beloved on his lips as he departed. We can't know about that until it happens to us, but I carry this strange sense that he spilled open beyond all borders in that moment, when defining a name or a beloved ceases to have meaning.

Let's live, shall we? Deeply, fully, and right now. Dig in! Open up! When our moment comes - young, old, well, sick, anticipated or unforeseen - let it be a joyous celebration for those who remain in the body, present.

For books of his translations:

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