act of devotion

How do we surrender all of our efforts & actions to the divine?

aimée van drimmelen

Excerpt from original article:

A decade ago, some crows built a nest and reared their young at the edges of my garden. I have been thinking about those crows lately, as my oldest son prepares to leave home, testing the range and wingspan of my devotion. From the crows, I received a message of effort and dedication that has taken me years to sort out. Only now, as the purpose for my own dedication as a mother winds to an end, can I begin to see what the crows were teaching. The effort over many years was not, as it turns out, for me. It was for my son, who is in the process of leaving the nest where he has been fed, protected and loved for nearly two decades.

Crows always arrive from winter roosts sometime in February, following the light back as it rises. They assemble in large numbers, their strong black wings whisking the air as they sort out who will mate with whom, and where the nests will be. At the end of that particular winter ten years ago, I remarked especially on their return. Their black silhouettes carved sharply into the soft lace of late-winter snow. They were noisy, energetic and determined.

In Sutra II.45, the yoga sage Patanjali introduces the fifth and final niyama, Isvara-pranidhanat. This is the Sanskrit term for devotion, or, as it is also translated, surrender to the Divine. Iyengar says it is the most subtle of all the niyamas, those daily practices that support the ever-evolving inner life of a yogi: cleanliness, contentment, austerity, self-study, and finally — surrender to a greater power. I have approached this last niyama slowly, and with considerable caution. For many Hindus, from whose culture springs the yoga that has mushroomed in popularity in the West, the thought of yoga being practised without this spiritual dimension is unfathomable. For many Westerners, the spiritual aspect remains persistently elusive.

The rearing of children is filled with opportunities to learn about surrender. Sometimes, the very best efforts of a parent result in a discouraging outcome: perhaps a ticket for speeding in a car without a seatbelt, or a failure at school, or misbehaviour on the playground. As my son has grown more and more independent, I have also caught myself wishing for a specific outcome. Over and over again along the way, I have had to surrender my own concept for his success. He will develop his own...

Eileen Delehanty Pearkes practises Ashtanga Yoga and lives in Nelson, BC. She is the author of The Geography of Memory and co-author of The Inner Green. Her third book, The Glass Seed, was released by timeless books in November 2007

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