by Patrick 'Mahavir' Huffman
Originally Published Fall 2014
I think that this small story may resonate with a few people who find themselves in a similar situation to mine, where we struggle to find a balance between living a “normal” life, and living a dharma. There is normal life with a job and/ or duties that do not, at least on the surface seem like dharma, and there is a spiritual life.
I used to think that some people were fortunate to have an occupation that is directly helping people in some way, and they have found a way to apply the knowledge directly or indirectly to help people. That is, they can use the channels and the knowledge that Swami blessed us with in their occupation. Of course we can all use them at one time or another during any day, but some jobs are just more conducive to using them directly, such as the medical field, or hospice work for example. I think that is a great stroke of luck or great karma that some people were inspired towards such occupations. I was never so inclined.
Since leaving Penukonda, after Swami’s samadhi, I have found myself living and working in Alaska for approximately half of the year. Initially I was ecstatic to return to Alaska where I had worked years before, in what seems like another life. I was back in Alaska and it’s amazing nature, pure nature, where I felt I would have the opportunity to digest some portion of the reality I had witnessed and lived in Penukonda. It felt right, and of course, it was.
I was quite happy at first, just to be there, to be making some money again, paying some bills, or maybe planning a trip or buying something frivolous just because I could. Living a normal life. The novelty of being back in Alaska eventually wore off, and I was just working. I was recognizing that one part, I was just living a “mechanical” life again, and it began to wear on me. Soon I was caught in the inescapable nagging feeling that I was completely wasting my time. At first I tried to meditate more. Then I tried focusing more on the knowledge that Swami released. Then I tried doing both, and was becoming less happy with my situation.
I think that many times people can create a false separation between our “normal” life and our “spiritual” life. At least that is what I was doing. I would go to work, and then after work, try to practice my spirituality. As I put more pressure on myself to live this double life, I realized that I was not doing a good job at either. My frustration grew and everything suffered, my work, my sadhana, my relationships, my inspiration, everything.
I believe that one of the most asked questions of Swami was, “What is my dharma?” We wanted it spelled out clearly, what to do, where to go, with whom will I do it, etc. One night as I was ruminating on my mental state, I found my thoughts returning to something that Swami had said years before after a similar question. He answered, “Your dharma is what is in front of you.”
I thought, ‘OK, my dharma is here, in this moment. You put me here,’ (I love to blame them). ‘Whatever I have to do today is my dharma.”
So, how did I make it feel like dharma? I started dedicating every day to Baba. That was the trick. That was the one step I made towards him that allowed him to make 99 towards me. It did not matter how far the tasks of the day seemed to be from what my mind said was dharma. I did it all as if it was seva to Baba. I would pour the first cup of coffee in the morning for the Boss. I would do the dishes as if they were Baba’s. I thought of my job as seva.
The results were profound. First, it made my job much more pleasant, and I became much more productive at work. It was not just mechanical work anymore, and a means to an end, it was seva, and it felt good to do. I developed a new sense of diligence in doing what were once mundane tasks. Then I noticed something really amazing. It was contagious, and everyone around me started to be more attentive to the jobs at hand, and we all were enjoying our work and our working together. It became a joy. We had the wind at our backs, and problems just evaporated in front of us.
Since that time I have found that seva has again become a joy to me, wherever I am. If I am helping my Mom in her yard, or whatever, I do it as a seva and I dedicate the results to him. When I do that, everything is a dharma. Now I am in Laytonville and working on the new Baba temple here, and I feel blessed to be able to do it. It is a bliss to be in this Datta energy again, and engaging in a more direct way, bringing his energy to the west. By focusing on other work as seva, it has become just that. “Your dharma is what is in front of you.” I just needed to acknowledge that. It fills me beyond words to walk into this beautiful little temple now.
That is his grace.
Patrick 'Mahavir' Huffman
began his studies with Sri Kaleshwar in 2000 and worked closely with Swami in Penukonda, India until his mahasamadhi in 2012. He is a certified teacher, healer and Vaastu consultant. He lives at the Divine Lineage Healing Center in Laytonville CA.
“I will be with you, the moment you think of me, at any place.”
~ Shirdi Baba