WHAT A SPIRITUAL TEACHER CAN DO FOR ME
It seems somewhat selfish and mercenary, to ask oneself , “What can a spiritual teacher do for me?” And yet this is always part of the teacher/student relationship. In yogic teachings, it is said that there are several methods of relating to the teacher, and though some might seem more “pure” than others, each method has an equal ability to bring enlightenment.
(Some of the valid reasons for seeking a teacher in the Upanishads and other yogic scriptures, include: health, prosperity, knowledge, devotion, oneness/union, and divine service.)
So I allowed myself to ask the question. And here are some of my thoughts about “What I Wish to Receive from My Relationship with Beloved Rasa”:
(1). A friendship with a strong and honest woman. If I received nothing else except the opportunity for us to say “You go, girl!” to each other, it would be more than enough for me to be happy indeed. It’s so hard to find people who have brought their uncompromising nature to maturity. By the time that we reach middle age, most of us are so enwrapped in self-delusion that it’s difficult to see the world clearly. I try very hard (but with mixed success!) to keep my vision clear while looking at the conditions of society today. Rasa’s history as an outspoken and plainspoken woman of power, while it might seem paradoxical to people who view religion in a more traditional light, speaks clearly to me.
(2). A role model for my community activism. Rasa has always been in the forefront of feminist activism, while embodying the paradox that while many feminists are body-negating, true feminism means being able to clearly distinguish between degradation (bad) and self-empowerment, physically speaking. Over the years, I’ve had to learn to shrug off the people who have told me that “to be a good activist, you must mirror the mainstream in appearance and attitudes. Eccentricity is counterproductive.” Perhaps being a bit “flakey” has hurt some Old Boys' feelings in the short term…but in the long term, it has kept me sane, honest, and real. Rasa’s life story is very similar. And I would argue that her longevity as an activist, and her continued growth as a spiritual person, are a result of choosing not to be shaped by the mainstream cookie-cutter.
(3). Shamelessness. This word has unpleasant connotations nowadays. But why should we be ashamed of being ourselves? One of the issues which arises repeatedly here on the e-mail list, is Rasa’s background in modeling and bodybuilding. I love the way in which Rasa calmly acknowledges her past experiences, and rather than repenting of them, she embraces them as part of her life’s learning and understanding which still inform her spirituality today. We are so often made to be ashamed of our individuality, that we are unable to fully integrate our whole self and experiences into a stronger and more coherent life story. When choosing a photo of Rasa for my “deity wall” (the wall of divine images behind my home shrine), I found myself drawn to a glamorous image of a beautiful, mature, angelic -- and topless! -- Rasa. It was the perfection of self-acceptance and wholeness, and this is something that I wish to emulate.
(4). Rasa. It means “nectar of the Gods” in Sanskrit. I’ve noticed that Rasa lives her emotional life to the fullest. She is not afraid to feel and express her emotions (even allegedly negative emotions such as anger and loss), and yet she is not ruled by them. They appear when they are appropriate, and are easily released when their usefulness is completed. I would be very happy to learn this ability to detach from one’s emotions while experiencing them fully. In that advanced mental state, even pain is nectar.
This is the result of my contemplations of Beloved Rasa till now. The main themes seem to be self-acceptance, womanly power, and a blending of apparent paradoxes to make a whole complex yet complete person.
When I think of Rasa, I think of energy and hopefulness and honesty and undaunted spiritual journeying. I’m beginning to get quite a crush on her! Grin. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that!!!