After months of dedicated work by my uber-talented team, the Śabda Institute is finally taking shape…
This institute found its origins in my confused and rebellious mind as a cardiologist just out of training. The insights and challenges of my own inner journey were often at odds with the vagaries of life. It was simply not enough to read or meditate for set periods of time, and then go about life as if nothing was different. Everything could be different, I realized, if the insights of my personal practice could be applied to all aspects of my life as a doctor, a wife, a mother, and numerous other roles and responsibilities.
Fortunately, the teachers I met demanded nothing less. They discouraged mere intellectualization or pontification and insisted on the steadfast application of the teaching where the rubber meets the road.
Years later, I was asked to teach in the same manner, and the experiment began.
The hypothesis was that the highest esoteric teachings of the nondual Eastern traditions can be applied very directly and practically in one’s day-to-day life. There is no need to abandon one’s work and family and retire to an ashram. In fact, the friction of daily life could be used to hone the teaching and to internalize it where it can eventually become the default way of being.
I’m happy to share that the experiment has been a success.
As the community of practitioners grew, there was a need to consolidate the teachings in one “place” (albeit virtual). The growth of the community has resulted in the creation of an incredibly talented team to manage it. Women from all walks of life have come together in astounding camaraderie and love, held together by the sacred thread of the teaching. Incredible talent, dedication, and devotion for the path have been the contents of the glue that holds this team together.
What is Śabda?
The word śabda refers to sound or word.
Here, Śabda refers to the primordial power that is both transcendent and immanent. The primordial sound expresses itself as the powers of intention, knowledge, and action in every circumstance and event both at the macrocosmic and microcosmic levels.
In us, this is the power of awareness that needs to be harnessed and cultivated through a systematic approach that is at once disciplined and gentle.
Through a deepening understanding of Śabda as it is expressed in our joys and sorrows, triumphs and challenges, and conflict and harmony, we arrive at the fundamental truth of existence. The journey takes us into deeper engagement with life, bringing that truth in all we do.
The vision of the Śabda Institute is simple and cohesive:
Teachings and practices that foster the cultivation of a body that functions optimally, a mind that is clear of misperceptions, and a heart that radiates harmony.
Diamond Body. Crystal Mind. Golden Heart.
Vajra Deha. Sphaṭika Citta. Suvarṇa Hṛdaya.
The teachings here leave no aspect of one’s being untapped. An optimally functioning body is the result of a disciplined lifestyle, which forms the bedrock of the path. Simultaneous cultivation of a clear mind and a harmonious heart occurs through complementary practices.
The offerings of the SI are grouped into various levels to assist one in choosing the right one. All courses are intensives on specific topics, texts, or hymns.
Two long-term teachings are currently offered:
- Śabda Series for Women: This series spans several years and works on body, mind, and heart in a practical, applicable manner. Each level builds upon the previous one, taking on increasingly subtle and advanced practices. The teachings of this program come from Yoginī Tantra.
- Śabda Saṅgha: The Śabda Saṅgha membership program is for anyone interested in ongoing study and practice. Saṅgha teachings are exclusive to members only and are not available elsewhere. Based on numerous requests over the years, we will be exploring themes from the Bhagavad Gītā while learning to chant relevant verses. Satsaṅgas will be rich with discussion, practice, and homework along with engagement with like-minded practitioners. Over time, we will explore other texts of Śākta-Śaiva Tantra with the intention of learning to put the teaching into practice in daily life.
As we prepare to welcome new and existing kalyāṇamitras (well-wishing friends) to SI, I’m spellbound by the beauty of these great traditions.