Tulsi Gabbard: “We are not these physical bodies!”


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Respected leaders, honored guests, Namaste and Aloha!

As individuals and as a society, in order to have peace and happiness we need wisdom and spiritual love. Three days ago a man walked into a church in South Carolina and in cold-blood gunned down nine people. Why? Because of ignorance and hate. For too long the world has witnessed brutal terrorism of groups like ISIS. Why do such groups exist? Because of ignorance and hate. There is so much suffering caused by this ignorance and hate. It points to our individual and societal need for the light of wisdom and spiritual love. In my view, this is why the world needs yoga so much!

Dylann Roof shooting suspect holding gun and Confederate flag.
Nine people, including state senator Clementa Pinckney, were shot and killed as they gathered for a weekly Bible study group at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal, an African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina, around 9 p.m. on Wednesday. The suspect, identified as Dylann Roof, was arrested at a traffic stop in Shelby, North Carolina, Thursday morning, after spending 13 hours on the run.

Improvements to physical health and the many other benefits of yoga are universally appreciated. But the greatest gifts of yoga, this wisdom and spiritual love are even more important. According to yoga, perfect wisdom and spiritual love exist within each and every one of us. But this wisdom and love is covered and lies dormant. However through the yoga of the Bhagavad Gita this innate wisdom and spiritual love can be uncovered and cultivated. The result of removing the darkness and hate from our hearts, we’ll be happier and peaceful individuals and a more peaceful and harmonious society and world. Understanding this truth is the path to peace. Mahatma Ghandi said,

There must be recognition of existence of the soul apart from the body and of its permanent nature, and this recognition must amount to a living faith. And in the last resort, non-violence does not avail those who do no possess a living faith in a God of Love.

Surreace Cox, of North Charleston, S.C., holds a sign during a prayer vigil
Surreace Cox, of North Charleston, S.C., holds a sign during a prayer vigil down the street from the Emanuel AME Church early Thursday, June 18, 2015. A gunman opened fire during an evening meeting at the historic African-American church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina.

In both Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras as well as the ancient yoga scripture Bhagavad Gita, we learn that we’re not this physical body, rather we are spiritual in essence part and parcel of the Supreme Soul. Falsely identifying ourselves as these material bodies and their different colors and ethnicities creates barriers and animosities between us. If we think that, “I’m brown. He is white. She is black” then we’re failing to appreciate that we are truly the soul within the body and that we are all equal and related as children of God regardless of any external differences. It is ignorance of this truth and the hatred borne of the ignorance that is the root cause of racism, violence, terrorism, and religious bigotry that we unfortunately witness at home and around the world.

A true yogi understands that we are not these physical bodies. We are in fact all spiritual beings united by our common kinship with the Supreme Soul. The wisdom and the spiritual love that we find in yoga will bear the fruit of mutual respect for other regardless of their race, nationality, religion, or any other differences. So on this International Day of Yoga, let us all be inspired to dive into the deeper aspects of yoga where we can each discover the treasure of wisdom, spiritual wisdom, and peace that yoga has to offer us all.

Jai Sri Krishna! Namaste!