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Lead Us from Death to Immortality: Re-ignite Your Spark for Life!


golden spark radiating out from center

 

I’ve been chanting the mantra below for decades and I’ve always been perplexed and confused by the third line, MRITYORMĀAMRITAM GAMAYA, which translates as “Lead me from death to immortality.” I know it doesn’t really mean this because, come on, who believes in actual immortality?

 

This ancient mantra comes from the Vedas and is known as the Soma Pavamāna Abhyāroha Mantra (invoking the auspiciousness of the wholeness value of life), introduced in the Brhadāranyaka Upanishad (Vs. 1.3.28) to be recited during ceremonies of transformation. Here is the mantra in full:

 

ASATO MĀ SADGAMAYA

TAMASOMĀ JYOTIR GAMAYA

MRITYORMĀAMRITAM GAMAYA

OM ŚHĀNTI ŚHĀNTI ŚHĀNTIH

 

Lead me from the unreal to the real.

Lead me from darkness to light.

Lead me from death to immortality.

Let there be peace. Let there be peace. Let there be peace.


snowy pine trees on a hillside under a starry sky

During the dark season, especially as we move closer to the winter Solstice, Dec. 21st, the darkest day of the year, there is a certain attitude that is very prevalent where we just want to give up on life. We feel a sense of hopelessness, desperation, or loneliness. We don’t feel like trying anymore. Doing good things for ourselves feels like such a chore. We get lazy and don’t want to do anything except eat cake and watch videos. Does this sound like you? Or maybe it sounds like someone you know?

 

From the yogic perspective, WE NEED TO GET BACK THAT SPARK FOR LIFE!

 

What is this spark? It’s the spark to want to live better, to live well, to do better, and be better. It’s the spark for life that motivates us, not just to survive, but to thrive. I mean really thrive on all levels – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually!

 

What is the spark that ignites our desire to want to wake up and do our practices? Where is the spark that makes us want to exercise, work our bodies, face the pain, cook well, eat well, be who we know we can be, and achieve the ideal weight and bone density?

 

What is the spark that pushes us to go the extra mile to take care of ourselves and to relax, to value ourselves enough to get a massage, pamper ourselves, or reach out for support when needed?

 

This spark for life is known as Shaktipata (the descent of grace). It’s very subtle, sensitive, and easily covered over with the drudgery of everyday life.

 

Shaktipata vanishes in the presence of resistance. And what part of life do we most commonly resist? Change. Change is the number one catalyst that influences our choice to go up or down. Resisting change is a major misalignment with reality and a complete rejection of the terms of life. Because change is inevitable! Resistance to change breeds overwhelm, depression, anxiety, worry, doubt, and fear.

 

But when we allow change, embrace change, flow with change, we align with the very essence quality of life. The current of grace is always flowing and when we surrender to the flow, her current carries us. Suddenly we feel less stress because we’re not carrying it all on our shoulders.


river rapids over rocks with trees in the distance

Resistance is especially strong with the loss of a loved one. Obviously, life changed but we didn’t. The extension of grief can go long beyond the healthy grieving period, which is around six months (but waves of grief can continue for 1-2 years and longer). Grief is a very heavy emotion that can become exhausting and debilitating.

 

We refuse to accept this one simple reality of life. People die. They transition, they change, they move on. Everyone dies, including us. The sooner we accept that fact of life, the sooner we can get on with living.

 

Aligning with this reality of life brings a clarity to how we want to spend our remaining days. And instead of focusing so much on what we’ve lost, it takes just a tiny shift of the mind to focus on what we’ve gained.

 

When I reflect on my dad’s passing, some 3-4 years ago, I was sad for a long time. But then something shifted as I accepted the reality of his life. He’s in a better place now, and he did what he came here to do. He helped to create me (and my sister) and he did the very best he could. He loved. He lived fully. And yes, I see that he could have been a bit more communicative and skillful in raising us kids, transitioning out of his marriage, and a few other things.

 

But when I let all of that go (which is mostly a projection of my own dysfunction of perfectionism onto him), I’m at peace with who he was. He gave me so many gifts, including how to be happy, humor, discipline, dedication, kindness, devotion, purpose, good stewardship of the earth and material possessions, spirituality, deep thinking, financial responsibility, sales ability, organizational skills, strong belief in self and others, optimism, love for travel, love for people (although he would tell you he hated people, I knew him to care about people), musicianship (he played the trumpet), sensitivity, deep listening, and the ability to give and receive love. As I write this, my eyes fill up with tears for my dad. He WAS and still IS my hero! 


man's hand holding a child's hand

Even if we don’t want the change that’s coming, the reality is that everything is changing. Resist change and we suffer. Holding on to the way life is now because we don’t want it to change is suffering. Either way, our suffering is closely related to our attitude toward change. The acceptance of change is a true spiritual practice worth cultivating.

 

Travel is changing. I just returned from an amazing workshop in Bradenton, FL, and there’s so much about travel that’s different now. Before this trip I said to myself, “I don’t like to travel. It’s a hassle.” But upon returning I changed my story.


people in yoga clothes smiling after a yoga workshop

I actually do like travel. Well, I don’t enjoy the endless waiting in line. But it’s so much easier to travel today. My ride to go from the Tampa Bay Airport to Bradenton, FL, fell through, so I used Uber. Wow! That was easy. And you can check your bags online in advance of your trip that saves a couple of minutes at the kiosk at check in. And I got my known traveler ID which automatically puts me in the TSA pre-check line, less of a wait.


And due to my metal hip, I always have to let TSA know before going through the metal detector and they let me go through the scanner. In years past, I would have to walk 2-3 lines over to get to a scanner, traverse the crowds, and cut in line. Now they have a scanner in every TSA pre-check line! It’s also easier to leave my car at the airport. I stayed at a parking company where I could preregister for a space and all I had to do was scan my phone upon entering and the shuttle van was right there waiting for me to get out of my car. When leaving I just scanned my phone again, done. The payment and everything was taken care of.

 

I’ve softened my heart and opened again to the “spark” of adventure so that when I travel, I see it as an opportunity for newness, to step out of my comfort zone, change patterns, meet new people, and experience new places. And now that travel is getting easier, I’m having even more fun!

 

To me, “lead me from death to immortality” is the reminder to soften my heart and receive the spark for life that makes me want to live again. That spark is already inside of everyone. You don’t need to add anything. When you’re able to let go and soften, you naturally receive the spark for life.



hands cupped around a strand of fairy lights

We must remember that no matter how dark and cold it gets, there’s always the promise of Spring. The light will return. When you focus on the dark and loss you will go down with the dark. If you focus on the promise of the return of the light, you will be uplifted and go into the light.

 

During the dark season may we focus on the the rarity and preciousness of the light that IS here. May we focus on what we’ve gained rather than what we lost. May we gather together with our friends and loved ones to celebrate life and all that we have.

 

This holiday season, may you return to your heart and know the deeper purpose for your being here.

May you re-ignite the spark for life which in Tantra, is the spark of longing for freedom. Everyone wants freedom from suffering, to have more peace, more ease, more joy, more depth, more connection, more friends, and more love!

 

We need to get in touch with our longing for freedom again. Otherwise, the Sthula, which is the gross level of reality, will grab us and pull us under. Like quicksand, the dark will pull us down. We need to reach for the vine of light and pull ourselves out of the quicksand. We reach for the divine by opening to the bigger energy, doing our sadhana, connecting with the kula (community of the heart), and by taking care of ourselves every day.

 

Please enjoy this beautiful song of hope by Jacob Collier, “Little Blue!”


 Lyrics:

“Don’t be afraid of the dark in your heart.”

“You’re gonna find your way to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders.”

“You’re gonna find your way home!” 

 

I wish you all a wonderful and beautiful dark season celebration of the light!

May you find your way back home to your heart where you are already whole, complete, and beautiful! Remember that I love you. I believe in you. And I believe in your ability to get your spark back, to rise up again and again as you cross the ocean of change, not afraid, and not alone. You have me. You have Ashaya. And Ashaya has you. We have each other. For that, I’m so grateful and hopeful!

 

Peace, Joy, and Love,

 

Todd and the Ashaya Yoga Team





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