As part of the current ashram yoga teacher training course, the students were introduced to the Katha Upanishad. This text tells the story of the meeting between Nachiketas, a young boy who symbolises the ideal yoga student, and Lord Yama, a personification of Death, who represents the teacher. In the story Lord Yama asks Nachiketas for three boons (wishes). The ashram students were given an assignment to reflect on which three boons they would choose if given the chance by Death him/ herself. What follows is a poem by Ben Major in response to this assignment:
The Night I Met Lord Yama
One night, in the middle of a dream,
I chanced upon the abode of Lord Yama,
After wandering in this place for some time,
Yama arrived riding upon his black buffalo.
His menacing dark shadow cast upon me,
Yama apologised for not being there to greet
His guest, and offered me three boons,
As he had to Nachiketas all those years ago.
Oh wise Nachiketas, how could I hope to
Choose my boons as discerningly as you did?
To be able to stand firm, steadfast and resolute,
In the face of such an awesome proposition?
Oh Yama, firstly, upon my return from the realm,
May there be harmony between me and the world,
May I achieve my goals, reach my fullest potential,
And may I never feel disheartened, lost or alone.
Oh Yama, secondly, may my family and friends,
And indeed all beings in this world, find inner peace,
May there be harmony between all living beings
And may all inner and outer conflicts cease.
Thirdly, oh Yama, may you grant us all the fortitude
To see beyond duality and separation, and perceive
The deathless, ageless, timeless, limitless Self,
And understand the interconnectedness of all life.
With this, Lord Yama bade me farewell, and the
Dreamworld began to disperse around me,
Returning slowly to the waking state, I awoke
To a very different kind of world…
May there be harmony between myself and the world!
May there be harmony between all beings and the world!
May we forever dwell in that infinite, eternal Self!
Hari Om Tat Sat