Living with Conviction

It was moving this week to see how the world responded to Stephen Hawking’s passing.  Universally admired and loved he was remarkable man who exhibited almost superhuman capacities wrapped in a vulnerable disease ravaged body.  Stephan Hawking’s indominatable zest for life sustained him throughout decades of physical adversity that one can only marvel at; and reflect upon, with almost disbelief, his super abundant brilliance, humour and courag.

The legacy he leaves for us, through his example, is a recognition that we rarely fulfil the innate gifts we each hold and that the primary obstacle we face within ourselves is not a lack of talent or ability but a disconnect from what the yogis call “atma bala sparsha” or conviction.  The Sanskrit term actually is translated as the “strength that arises through the touch of the Inner Self.”

Commonly referred to as ‘self belief,’ from the yogic perspective conviction conveys principles and qualities that supersede the strong ego sense and personal will that typically drive a sense of self confidence.  The yogic conviction arises from a deeply felt knowing that “shakti” or universal power is moving through rather than happening to you.  Instead of having the perspective that one is the individual author of self directed work, it is the fully active yet detached participation in life without attachment to the outcome that yoga calls “skill in action.”  This alignment with the cosmic sense of natural order and “dharma” is what enables unshakable trust to take seat in one, which will be tested again and again.

Sri Ramana Maharshi had a disciple who had lived in his ashram with him under his tutelage for twenty five years.  One day the teacher approached the student with the following instructions: “You are to leave the ashram immediately, you are never to see me again, you are not to work, you are not to ask anyone for anything, and you are to dedicate yourself exclusively to meditation.  Now get going!”  And he did just that, and thrived. Innumerable accounts exist of mature or highly developed practitioners being sent into difficult external circumstances to test their resolve and conviction.

Another example is the equally challenging experience of A C  Bhaktivedanta  Swami , who arrived in New York City as a 70 year old man without a nickel in his pocket and only the clothes on his back, having been sent by his teacher to found the Hare Krishna movement in the West.  After disembarking from the ship that had brought him from India, he went and sat on a park bench in Union Square in Greenwich Village and began to chant.  He sat and he chanted and he sat and he chanted.

Forty years later while visiting downtown Manhattan I went to the same park, where two generations later, his disciples were chanting in the same square.  Of course, this organization grew into an enormous international spiritual movement, from an old monk sitting on a park bench.

Mother Teresa once said “I am not capable of great things, but can do small things with great love.”  The ability to meet what presents itself in life with equanimity, steadiness and simply the resolve to do our best while remaining open hearted can work miracles, whether from a park bench, a wheel chair, whoever and wherever we are.

Keval Pezet – March 2018




The Power of the Company We Keep

In 1975 I met a man who, in the space of just a few days, revolutionized my life.  It wasn’t anything he said or did that was so striking.  But he possessed a quality that was more than unmistakable; radiating an energy or force, some quality of feeling, that was at once both palpable yet unlike anything I’d previously encountered. There had been several notable people who had wielded significant influence upon me, through their tenderness, wisdom, outrageous joyful mirth and creativity, but this meeting was of a different order.


It seemed as if an indescribable yet totally familiar feeling arose in his company that just brought me “home” to a place so delicious and so present inside myself.  Oozing such “shakti” or sublime spiritual force he seemed to effortlessly share this state with all who came into his orbit.  According to yogic understanding our original nature is good, beneficent and full. And hanging out with this man just elicited these core qualities previously unbeknownst to me.


Our experience is the result of the impressions and associations that have impacted upon us knowingly and largely unconsciously.  The influences of our daily lives leave subtle yet influential residues or stains, permeating our minds and also bodies.  Yogic teachings emphasize right association to transform our insecurities and ensure psychological well-being.  Associating with those who elevate us and who bring peace and balance to mind and heart is essential.  While those who undermine our healing and development can’t necessarily be avoided or shunned, we can choose our company wisely, attentive to the influence it brings.


An ancient wisdom book instructs that “your self is your own worst enemy or your best friend” and counsels that the mind should be guided to always contemplate uplifting and noble thoughts. The Katha Upanishad goes on to say, “our thoughts produce patterns, our patterns engender habits, our habits determine our actions and as are our actions so is our destiny.”


Yoga recommends that one of the best ways to shut down this entropic cycle (“history repeats itself, that’s the problem with history”) is to change our company to those who are sincerely seeking truth, or just plain good happy souls.  In wise and vibrant company, our problematic tendencies naturally get sorted out.  A true spiritual teacher and friend helps us to know who we really are, in our inner consciousness.  Such a one inspires us to rest in the bright, clear and compassionate true nature we all carry that is our own best company.
Keval Pezet – 11 Feb 2018