by Michael Ketterhagen
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
--Matthew 5:3 (RNAB)
“For the masters … [of the] Sri Sukta [a song of prosperity in the Tantric Himalayan Tradition] , the domain of poverty encompasses much more than lack of sufficient food, clothing, and shelter.”
--Pandit Rajmani Tigunait
Community is absolutely necessary for an end to poverty in our world today. A group of people doing yoga asana (postures) or yoga meditation together will break the cycle of poverty in our world today.
If you have ever experienced a yoga class with others, they don’t even have to be your friends, you have experienced the exhilaration of prana, the life force, move through your body generating a feeling of strength. This is movement from poverty in the body.
Even during a gentle relaxation after the postures, the breath brings precious moments of peaceful awareness and joy to our mind and body that dissipates the suffering that comes from loneliness. Loneliness is being poor in spirit. It shatters the sense of unworthiness that pervades the life of the poor-spirited person. Practicing yoga gives the person an opportunity to ever so slightly feel and taste the love and peace of heaven. It is a moment of touching our internal divinity.
It is so easy to give a person some food and think that their poverty is momentarily alleviated. It is much more difficult to truly work at helping a person experience love and understanding. Most of us want to run from the depressed person when all we might need do is go with them to a yoga class, or sit in silence with them as we say a phrase together out loud, or as we just relax with them in crocodile.
Poverty will begin to fade in their life and in ours.
Or we could do anything that might help a person understand themselves better—maybe cooking a meal together—or experience some enthusiasm, or courage, or trigger an interest or confidence. All of these will help a person move from poverty to prosperity, from hell to heaven.
This movement is yoga’s strength, yoga’s power. This movement of yoga or meditation becomes even more effective when yoga (whatever form) is done with another person, especially the poor in spirit—the depressed, the impressionable, the dependent on the opinion of others, those lacking determination, or those who engage in mindless actions, or foul and destructive conversations.
The Center has proven this before for our very eyes, many times, especially during our Yoga for Mental Health classes and our classes for those struggling as perpetrators of domestic violence.
When the poor in spirit rise up to yoga, they experience for a brief moment the kingdom of heaven within. Also, when we feel poor in spirit, all we need is yoga! Alleluia!