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Memorial Day 2021

Today, as we should every day, we remember and respect those who gave their lives for the freedoms we take for granted. The sentence may sound cliche, which is why a whole blog. 

Memorial Day can be a day of mixed feelings. Some take issue with the role of the military in human affairs. However, today is the day we remember the sacrifice of those who gave their lives in the line of duty. It is not the day we take issue with those who sent them into battle.

There is no greater love than this," Jesus said, "that a person would lay down their life for the sake of friends." Soldiers, however, lay down their lives for people they do not know and a sizeable population who do not know them. Today is a day we can empathize with the families they left behind, who live the loss of a parent, sibling, friend, lover, or grandparent.

I want to remember my father, a world war two vet. I grew up reading Battle comics and, like many typical boys, played with guns and aspired to join the military.  "You cannot be a soldier as long as you are a vegetarian," my father would tease me. He used every possible means to try to get me to eat meat. That was one fight he never won. However, my wife, Asha, who is also my coach, influenced me recently about the health benefits of humanely-raised animal protein, so now, my dad must, at least, be pleased. So you know, animal protein is not Asha's default solution, and only some particular kinds are recommended based on a person's health goals.

While there is a lot to be said about our consciousness becoming what we eat, there is the equally powerful spiritual teaching that it is not what goes into you that is as important as what comes out. The way we speak, think, act, and conduct ourselves in the world matters, and often, this is not dependent on what we eat. Of course, what we eat matters immensely. Our speech and behavior, however, are equally important. By their fruits, you will know them.

The real war is the war within, as is the battlefield. I discovered this inner field of tension as a monk, and especially while reading the Bhagavad Gita. The Gita, along with the New Testament, is an extraordinary spiritual text that inspires us to live our lives as spiritual warriors. It is our delusions, prejudices, addictions, negative emotions, and harmful speech we must conquer. And we do this in relationship with the Divine and the community of angels and saints. And we do this by being informed by the Imago Dei, the Atman, the Self of higher consciousness.

A number of the students in our Yogic Mystery School, including those who traveled with us on our annual pilgrimage to India, are veterans or have spouses or children who serve. If you are reading this, please know that Asha and I remember you today, and we thank you for your service. So you know, this is no simple statement: we mean it with all our heart.

We ask prayers for Tom Tappan, who is in hospital presently with multiple issues. He is almost 80 now, after having served in the navy for many years. Tom has one of the sweetest voices I have ever heard. There is such vulnerability and innocence when he speaks. I was deeply moved yesterday, hearing him joke about all his pain medication being stopped so they could figure out which ones are conflicting. "This car has too many miles on it," he said.

Since many on our list and Facebook page are from other countries, we ask that you remember those who gave their lives for the freedoms you enjoy. It is possible to be spiritual, even under extenuating conditions, such as during the Holocaust. (I'm reading Victor Frankl, again, at this time). However, there are particular ways of being spiritual that can only happen when we live in a democracy that offers us true freedom. That freedom comes at a price. And today, we remember those who paid it for us.

With gratitude,

Russill and Asha

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