"In the beginning, love. In the end, love. In the middle, we have to cultivate virtues," says Gurumayi in the last chapter of "My Lord Loves a Pure Heart."
As I finish reading the book, a transcript of a series of lectures given by Swami Chidvilasananda in the Siddha Yoga ashram in South Fallsburg, New York in the summer of 1993, which expounds on the "Yoga of Divine Virtues" that Krishna explains to his student Arjuna in the twelfth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, I realize how this is exactly how my own summer has played out.
It started with love. It is ending with love. And the total "mess" in between has been a process of cultivating virtues, of developing the qualities necessary to embody and sustain that all-pervasive love that we seem to, more often than not, loose track of.
It has been a summer of unparalleled learning, full of the principles set forth in the Gita: fearlessness...purity of being...steadfastness in yoga...steadfastness in knowledge...freedom from anger...compassion...humility...respect...selfless service...the pure heart...
As I flip through the book now, I see how I walked through each chapter, learning the lessons in real time, in real life. Some came easily. Some were hard work. Others were like pulling teeth. Also, it hasn't been a straight-forward "read." There have been many twists and turns, highs and lows, which have really helped develop these qualities within me.
It's been an intense season. I have grappled with my darkest fears, I have been heated in the fires of experience, I have questioned my yoga practice and the principles behind it, I have been so sad and angry, I have had to find compassion for myself and those around me, I have been humbled, I have struggled to find self-respect and respect for others, I continue to strive at serving selflessly with pure intention, with a pure heart. It's been a full-on virtue-cultivating summer.
I do not claim to now fully exemplify these virtues, not even close. There have been times that I have felt frustrated that I couldn't connect with my inner light, that I could not keep my fears at bay, that my issues were overriding the qualities that I know myself to sincerely have. But I also know this is the part of the process that is yoga, that the fruit is the act of learning, of discernment, of slowly whittling down all these extraneous layers until there is nothing left but the Self, and there the pure heart waits, patient and knowing.