A Krishna Das-Tim Miller retreat? Yes, please

I’m pulling something out of Tim Miller’s latest blog post — all about his time at Bhakti Fest this past weekend — that, I realize, probably shines too much light on it, but the idea is just too enticing not to mention: A Krishna Das & Tim Miller retreat.

Yeah, that sounds pretty dang awesome. Here’s how Tim mentions it:

After class I texted Krishna Das to see if he had time for a short visit before his sound check.  He said he could meet backstage at 5:30 and we had a few precious moments together, catching up on the latest with our families, our travels and, once again, talking about doing a retreat together someday.  Nina was in on this conversation, which means that something might actually happen.

You can put all the caveats on that you want. Perhaps you also can take my reaction to it as a nudge, I guess mainly to Nina — with whom I had a brief correspondence back when KD came through LA, so, Nina, don’t forget that! — for these two guys to get together and see what kind of magic they can make.

Maybe if enough of us are talking about it, it will encourage them to put something together. So… talk about it, people.

Here’s a little more of Tim’s reflections of Bhatki Fest:

My next class wasn’t until 5:30 pm so I had plenty of time in between for breakfast with my assistant Maria Zavala, a nap, a reiki treatment, and another nap before driving back to the festival to catch some afternoon kirtan.  I met my friend Uta at the main stage at 4 to see someone she highly recommended–Karnamrita Dasi, an American bhakti who has one of the most beautiful voices in the Vaishnava tradition.   When Karnamrita began to sing, the pure devotion pouring through her voice immediately touched a chord in my heart and brought tears to my eyes.  I could have listened to her for hours, but had to leave at five to go teach my class—An Introduction to Pranayama.  I figured that at this time of day it would be good for people to do something more sedentary and restorative.  Some of the students apparently hadn’t read the class description and, despite the brilliance of my presentation, several of them made early departures.  I was reminded of a recurring dream I have, where I am teaching at a big yoga conference and the students gradually walk out of the class until I am the only one left.

There’s plenty more that makes Bhakti Fest seem like a worthwhile use of a weekend. I recognize that suggests maybe we should have gone. There’s always next year.

Posted by Steve

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If the Kali Yuga ends this weekend, we don’t have to go to Bhakti Fest

There is a pair of items from Tim Miller to share with you today.

The first is his weekly blog post, which returns to all things celestial this week. And big things are happening there:

On Saturday July 26th at 3:42pm PDT, the Sun and Moon will be conjunct at 10 degrees Cancer in Pushya Nakshatra.  This promises to be one of the most powerful new moons of this year, or any year. The Moon in Cancer is in the sign that it rules, its natural home.  Pushya means “to nourish”–it is symbolized by the udder of a cow and provides the quality called “Brahmavarchasa Shakti”, the power to create spiritual energy.  The presiding deity of Pushya is Brihaspati (Jupiter), the guru of the gods.  As mentioned previously, Jupiter is also occupying Pushya, and is particularly strong here in its natural abode, offering support to the Moon.  The Sun, Moon, and Jupiter are considered to be friends and having them all together in Pushya is thought to be particularly auspicious.

Tim goes on to note just how auspicious this conjunction is:

In fact, the Srimad Bhagavatam says that the conjunction of the Sun, Moon, and Jupiter in Pushya heralds the advent of the tenth and final avatar of Vishnu, Kalki. The appearance of Kalki signals the end of the Kali Yuga and the beginning of the Golden Age.  Some people are actually suggesting that this will happen this weekend!

He does dismiss the possibility, noting that during the hundreds of years since the Srimad Bhagavatam was written, there have been numerous such heavenly alignments. Which is too bad, because it means that the second item from Tim — via email, so you may have received it — will still happen.

That event: That Tim will be out at Bhakti Fest in early September.

Wait, you’re saying — probably at varying degrees of outrage and volume. Why is it too bad that Bhakti Fest will be happening?

First off, let me remind you to stay in the bhav.

Secondly, it’s too bad because one of “aha” moments from our Yatra — not one of the major ones, admittedly — was recognizing that Bhakti Yoga is of a firmly dualistic nature: You’re serving, singing to, being devoted to God as a separate being from yourself.

We’re of the firmly non-dualistic bent, however. (Potentially even more radically so than your Advaita Vedanta way of understanding the world; that’s the subject for another blog.) So there is a natural hesitation or disconnect there.

But, yes, yes, there isn’t exactly a hard and fast wall between them. (Well, for some there is.) Devotion, singing, kirtan, etc. can be a way of expressing one’s non-dualistic knowledge of the world. Albeit it is different from the Bhakti path — one perhaps best associated with Krishna. And Tim, we know, encourages devotion to make sure we remain “juicy” given all the heat and tapas of the Ashtanga practice. But the devotion he shows — or at least as we experience his showing it — is part and parcel of the practice, and so still within a non-dualistic way of experiencing the world. As far as we’re concerned, anyway.

I could go on. Let me just conclude with: This is a complicated subject that hasn’t had a solid answer for centuries.

And it is a long way of saying: If you were thinking of going to Bhakti Fest, there’s another good reason to do so: You can catch an asana class with Timji. (Although the exact schedule doesn’t seem to be finished yet.)

Posted by Steve

Friday asana aid: ‘Open your heart, damn it’

Today’s asana aid is in intended for our overnight guests from Wednesday: Thad (our elephant journal contact) and Frances (who blogs over at LilaBlog). They are among the 3,000 or so who are at Joshua Tree right now for Bhakti Fest.

It was terrific getting to know them offline. We’d known them only from emails and, obviously, reading of each other’s blogs. Another big side benefit (actually, the central benefit) to blogging: getting to know great people.

I’m sorry our visit was as short as it was, but I had to get to work (boo!) and they had to get to Bhakti Fest (yay!).

As a nod to the festival, this week’s asana aid tackles what, for me, is the hardest of all poses: opening up. The headline, I’ll admit, is a version of Tim Miller’s tongue-in-cheek version of the more heart-opening yogas out there (the ones that are counter to our “yoga of no”). I toyed with going with “Bhakti Fest-edition,” but I thought this better captures my own struggle with opening to grace.

Here are a few aids to doing so: