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Doing What Needs To Be Done

September 25, 2007 by Lightwaves

gitahead.jpgChristine Hodel’s reflections on the Gita Weekend.

Branches hang low adorned with the glimmer of ripe fruit. It’s harvest time. All around, the activity of fall is in full motion. Animals and humans gather and store food while the trees generously give fruit. The Gita Harvest Weekend at the Ashram (Oct 5 – 8th) is a time to celebrate this abundance. As we offer our gratitude we are given time to reflect on the meaning of our work together.

christine.jpgMany mornings I find myself in the lap of a wise fruit tree. As I harvest the fruit I wonder about the fruit of my own reflections. Am I aware enough to notice when it is ripe? I am amazed by the generosity of the land, how easily a tree lets go of its fruit. I remember the ideal of selfless service. Karma Yoga is the foundation of life here; our community is sustained by work. Our ideal is to do the work that needs to be done, willingly, without concern for whether it is work we like or whether we will receive recognition for doing it.

Part of my work at the Ashram is to develop a sustainable food-buying policy. In theory it works. First, eat what we grow. Second, support local organic farms. Third, buy local and store for winter. It continues like this, concluding with the last guideline: buy from other countries only when there is absolutely no other option. This often means careful discrimination between our desires and our needs.

In a community of 35+ this is not an easy task. Taste and food preferences hit home on a very personal level, literally a gut level.
Can we incorporate the ideal of Karma Yoga as we adapt our diet and menu to reflect local seasonal foods? When we act from a place of greater awareness and selflessly make sustainable choices based on true needs rather than desire, we are putting yoga into action.

But how do we put these ideals into action? How do we embrace change? How do we let go of desires and preferences as easily as a tree offers ripe fruit?

It is easier to ask these questions of myself. The tricky part is to juggle these questions as part of a dynamic community. Decision-making in community is a process⎯a process of cooperation, consideration, patience and sacrifice. I learn a lot about myself along the way. What happens when change is slow? When I begin to measure the value of my work by results rather than the intention to offer my knowledge and skills as service, I create a sticky trap of apathy and indifference. I am caught reaching for fruit when the essence of Karma Yoga teaches us to focus on action and not on the fruits of action.

Decision-making in community is a process of deliberation. It often feels like two steps forward, one-and-a-half steps back. When I pause to reflect on what is happening I wonder if anything has changed.

gitamain.jpgI observe and participate as the Ashram embraces change with the focus of sustainability. How do some people dance with effortless grace in times of change while others fumble? What qualities support the flow? Immediately I think of foresight and adaptability. It is one thing to have these tools and another thing to use them. Karma yoga is the yoga of action. Decision-making means putting our choices into action based on ideals.

Can we approach this decision-making process in the same manner as our work? We have to. I keep bringing myself back to the ideal⎯to do selflessly what needs to be done in cooperation with our larger community instead of holding on to my personal preferences. Like the tree that gives up its fruit easily, I try not to be attached to outcomes.

By Christine Hodel

No Comments »

  1. Hi hristine,

    What an honest, moving thought provoking and poignent article. You seem to blossom with the fruit of the trees. I hope to be at the Ashram for the Gita but if not soon after. Last year participating in the Gita was one of the most meaningful events of several years. I wish you and everyone well. And I’m thinking of canning a lot of apple sauce about a year ago.



    Comment by Sharla — September 27, 2007 @ 4:57 am

  2. Wonderful article. Great questions to think about as I harvest fruit in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley.

    Comment by dj. — September 28, 2007 @ 6:32 am

  3. ” How clear ”

    I feel like I am at the ashram right know


    Comment by jarek rees — October 2, 2007 @ 5:29 am

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