On Sunday, April 22, Radhanath Swami was asked to speak at the inauguration of Stanton Street Yoga, a new yoga studio and Ayurvedic health retreat on New York’s Lower East Side. Stanton Street Yoga is a cooperative effort, owned and run by followers of Srila Prabhupada, headed by Badaryana and Rukmini Wienberg. Around one hundred guests squeezed into the beautiful new studio to attend the opening yajna ceremony, kirtan, talk and vegetarian meal. Below are some excepts from Swami’s talk.
“In the sixth chapter of the Bhagavada-Gita, which is one of the primary yoga scriptures, Krishna explains the process of meditation, asanas, and pranayama in a very essential form. He concludes by saying yoginam api sarvesam mad-gatenantar-atmana / sraddhavan bhajate yo mam sa me yuktatamo matah. That of all different yogis, the one who abides in me with deep realized faith, who is constantly immersed in remembering me within, and whose every thought, word and deed is an offering of transcendental loving service to me – that person is most intimately united with me in yoga and is the highest of all.”
“Yoga is meant for transformation of our consciousness – transformation of our values and our aspirations in life. In the school of yoga every different type of practice is meant to bring us to subtler, finer and higher states to achieve that. So when we connect to that spiritual essence, then we become an instrument – a conduit of that grace, that energy. Spiritual practice, whether it be puja, worship, ritual, studying scriptures, chanting the beautiful mantras of God, is actually a very very deep process to tune into the spiritual energy that is within us and all around us. Just like if you have one of these satellite televisions in your home and you just press one button and in your in New York City, in Times Square for some news report.Then you can press another button and you are in Bagdad for another news report. Another button takes you to Brazil to see a soccer game and another button brings you to Yankee Stadium. Press another button and you are in New Delhi where thousands of people doing a hunger strike. You can keep on going pressing buttons. We are accessing a certain frequency and when we access that frequency it is revealed to us because we are tuning in. So within this creation everyone is like a little antennae emitting frequencies – greed, envy, arrogance, selfish passions, anger, vengeance, hate – every time a person speaks and thinks like that or acts like that we are putting that energy into the atmosphere and it is all accumulating. If we tune into greed we are getting that greed and its going to fill our hearts, and it will affect how we speak, think and act.”
“Yoga, especially this mantra meditation, is meant to tune into the divine grace of God, Krishna, that is within us – within everyone and all around us. Its there now. It always has been. Why are we not in ecstasy and happy? Why are we not loving everyone as our brothers and sisters? Its because we are not tuned into that energy – we are tuned into so many other energies. Everywhere we go people are trying to tune us into something else and we are being affected by their energies. So it is very important that we take some time everyday to tune in and that means making priorities in our life. When something is important we make a priority and the natural tendency then is that we don’t have time – “After all, I have family, I have studies, business, so many pressure, when can I have time”. Somehow or other we find time to eat food and sleep. We have to do that in order to function in a proper way. If we actually want to live from this ananda place, this spiritual place within our hearts, we also have to give time to tune in to that transcendental energy. And that is the essence of yoga, tuning in to be transformed and then to speak, act, and think as conduits of God’s grace.”
“I see they have opened this center to harmonize their occupations, careers and families with sharing the fruits of love they have received from their guru Srila Prabhupada with the world and I’m very thankful to them for that. Such a beautiful center. And to open it by having yagna, kirtan, prasada, and talks – the idea is that they are beginning the center in the spirit of seva, unselfish pure service to the world. I pray for all success in every way. Thank you very much.”