June 12, 2019
The Yoga Sutras continue to say in a variety of ways, that the Power of Samadhi comes through the practice of Ishvara Pranidhana. Ishmeans to wish and vara is to fill. Pra is to bring forth, ni means liking and dhana is wealth. This is not the wealth of physical possessions or dollars but the wealth of the human spirit. It is the wealth of the remembrance of our true inheritance that is always with us. It is the wealth that we are and have always been connected to the Universal Source of all creation.
What would it be like to feel that every wish you have ever had in the past, now, and in the future is already fulfilled. Everything you have ever needed or wanted is overflowing from your heart center. What would it feel like to know that everything you’ve searched for outside of yourself is already contained within you? What would it be like if there was nothing more to want, nothing more to learn that is not already known? This is Isvara Pranidhana. It is the realization that all our wishes are already fulfilled and in turn, bring forth dhana, the true riches of spiritual wealth where all jewels of wisdom and insight present themselves.
Isvara Pranidhana is mentioned in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutrasmore than any other concept. Some think of the Sutras as an intellectual study, but they are highly devotional in the continual reference throughout the scriptures to Ishvara. The Sanskrit name Isvara, “to fill with wishes and to bring forth the wealth,” is to bring forth the ever-expanding consciousness; the bliss of knowing this eternal cosmic vibration in every cell of our Being.
In the Sutras, we are urged again and again to offer our thoughts and actions to the invisible Source. For many years, I was a householder spending most of my time in the kitchen. I learned to practice Isvara Pranidhana by imagining my kitchen as a Temple and the sink as an altar where I turned washing dishes into my worship of the Divine essence of creation. I found that in scrubbing floors, I was offering to the Lotus feet of God. When stirring the food on the stove it was a time of remembrance that I was not separate from the Universal Source.
Sant Keshavadas, a living Saint of India, stayed with my husband and me frequently over the years. One day, as I held my youngest infant child in one arm, I went about the work in my home with the other. Santji reminded me that with one arm, I was cooking and serving others but never taking my mind off the child that I held in the other arm. He exclaimed, “No matter what you are doing in the world, your mind is never away from the child. Your child is like the essence of God! As you tend to the needs of others, your mind is always on the eternal spirit that is ever pervasive.”
Over the years, I discovered that every word we speak, every thought we think, and every step we take can be our offering to the Divine. Isvara Pranidhana is a powerful practice to lighten our steps upon the earth as we remember to speak more gently so the force of our words no longer wounds, but heals the hearts of others.