Fanning the Spark (part 1)
The other evening, at the Bhakti Center in New York City, my teacher gave a talk entitled “Fan the Spark — tips for rapid spiritual growth”. He shared so many inspiring and practical points. Here are some simple ones that stuck out:
1) Organize your life around the principle of deliberately subjecting yourself to ‘higher’ sound vibrations (based on verse 6 of the wisdom text Sri Upadesamrita).
If you don’t like what you’re being subjected to in life, then change the subject! The word noise is etymologically related to the word nausea. So when we are hearing too many ‘low’ sounds like idle gossip, criticism, the news cycle, small talk, and so on, we experience an ‘existential’ nausea.
2) Have in hand the right knowledge and practices
This is the practical application of ‘changing the subject’. By fortifying our intelligence with the knowledge from wisdom scriptures; and building, maintaining, and expanding our personal spiritual practice, we fan our spark.
3) Be a professional encourager
To encourage means to bring courage to the heart. This is what happens when we fan the spark. The more courage we have, the greater our capacity for overcoming obstacles and learning from all experiences in life. And the more we encourage ourselves, the more we’ll be able to encourage others, just like a raging forest fire has the potential to engulf acres and acres of trees, whereas a house candle is contained to a little jar. The more powerful our fire of spiritual connection is, the more potential we have to inspire and ignite fire in the hearts of others.
One thing I’ve always noticed in hearing elevated souls speak their realizations is that there is a way in which it so often feels like the points were exactly what I needed to hear at that exact moment. It’s a mystical, faith-instilling sort of experience that gives a tangible sensation to the idea that God is within all of hearts reciprocating with our desires and intentions.
This past year has been quite the journey both physically and mentally — from dealing with health challenges that led me to move out of the ashram and graduate monkhood much sooner than I had hoped, starting to work and deal with finances again, and moving a few times and integrating with new communities — the quality, focus, and sincerity of my practice has wavered from the standard I had built in the monetary, and I’ve struggled to find the discipline to revamp it the way I’d like to.
I decided I needed to re-charge my batteries, and that the best way to do that would be to have a change of pace and place for a bit and to re-connect with some of my monk brothers. I spent five days at Gita Nagari, an eco village and yoga farm in central Pennsylvania and I’m now halfway through a week long stay at the Bhakti Center in Manhattan. So how fitting that my guru spoke on ‘Fanning the Spark’, which is the specific intention I brought on this excursion.