Welcome to the Fall 2012 Season of Monday Night Class

   Although summer officially runs through September 22, still, the days are visibly shorter, the nights are cooler, the sweet scent of fall is in the air… and as the outer light recedes, it’s always good to cultivate the inner light. So, we began the new fall season chanting a gazillion repetitions of the Gayatri mantra.
   For those who are new to this practice, let me say that Gayatri mantra is considered the sound form of light… The simplest way I can unpack this rather “out there” notion is to say, think of that force we call the inner light — the light that illuminates the mind, heart, and soul — the light of awareness, love, and joy — as a living field within the mind/heart/being that is nourished, indeed fed, by mantra. The mystery of Gayatri is that the light is not just fed by this mantra. It is actually one with this mantra. Remember, there’s a huge connection between sound and light. Think of thunder and lightning. So as we chant Gayatri, we break into ever-deepening waves of our inner light. Quite a wonderful, dare I say, illuminating (!) practice…
   Many years ago, before I came onto the yogic path, I was a student of the Sufi tradition. My teacher at that time was Pir Vilayat Khan. One of the practices he taught was whirling. He’d sometimes have us sing the Shaker hymn “Tis a Gift to be Simple” with this lovely tweak at the end:
This a gift to be simple, ’tis a gift to be free
Tis a gift to come down where we ought to be
And when we find ourselves in that place just right
We will be in the valley of love and delight.
When the true simplicity is gained
To bow and to bend we shall not be ashamed
To turn and to turn it will be our delight
Till by turning and turning we turn into light…”
   Till by turning and turning we turn into light… We might say the same of chanting Gayatri. Till by chanting and chanting, we turn into light…

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