They turn all places into sacred places
Sutra 69 of the Narada Bhakti Sutra
as translated by Bill Mahoney
On day 2 of the Grand Circle Bill Mahony spoke on his new translation of the Narada Bhakti Sutra. One sound bite stuck with me: "When there is Love, and we are immersed in it, we see all places as places of pilgrimage, as sacred. And we treat them as so."
Really, all places as sacred? ALL of them?
Today I had to run an errand to Target. It was after my practice of backbends and asking once again for blessings of Grace, which may be the only reason it even crossed my mind to ask the question: Can Target possibly be a sacred space? Seriously, I had my doubts but decided to create the space in my heart and see what happened.
My connection to sacred space brings me back to my upbringing in a beautiful Episcopalian church in Southwest Virginia. Since that time I've expanded my view to include many places of nature, and certainly my yoga mat. But the church or a temple is a place I think of when I think of a sacred place to make a pilgrimage towards. The place to go that is consistently held as sacred.
Target, with the florescent lighting and over filled aisles, doesn't exactly line up to my recollections of the churches and temples I've prayed in before. But, didn't Bill say All places? Best to give it the benefit of the doubt. And thank Shiva/Shakti I did because this was an experiment that quickly shifted my view.
Upon entering with a heart set for sacredness I quickly released some of my ego-driven self when I realized it doesn't matter one bit how cool I look. Sacred space doesn't care one lick if I have on a cute outfit or the latest fashions. What a relief, because as I mentioned, I'd just finished practice and was in throw on clothes. That realization immediately took me out of worrying about how I presented myself on the outside and brought me back to how I presented my heart on the inside.
Next, I noticed that just by holding the aisles as sacred, by viewing the girls' sundresses like beautiful stained-glass windows, my breath deepened and slowed. I slipped into a soft ujjayi. It was a sensation of calm and wonder that again opened me past my ego sense of self.
Then I just started to get nutty. I mean, well, yes, it is Target, but I started to see the connection of all of us. Aren't all of us there on a quest? We're there on a search for something. Some of us know what we want and go directly there, others may not even know what we're looking for, but we are looking for something. Something to connect to and hopefully make life a little easier. I personally found the waterproof mattress cover that was needed for my daughter's new big girl bed -- assuring me of less pain and suffering when the nighttime potty training kicks in. (yes, it's low on the pain and suffering scale, I know) But everyone there was on a pilgrimage of some sort. Was it a pilgrimage to reach the Highest Bliss imaginable? Probably not. Was everyone hoping to improve their lives in some way? Quite possibly. I realize I could launch into a huge discussion on finding our way out of pain and suffering by buying happiness, but let's save that for another time, shall we? Just knowing everyone there was hoping to gain a little more happiness gave me greater compassion for the shoppers around me, opened my eyes a little wider to the wonder of the world, and let it slide off my back when someone pretty much cut me off on the way to the check out counter.
So, I'm still not sure if Bill Mahony would say that Target is inherently sacred as a stand alone entity. But, I will say that when I set my mind and my heart on relating to the experience as if it was, I was quickly and remarkably shifted. Most sweetly, a simple realization of universality. Universality that doesn't need cool clothes, but recognizes that it's the inside that counts. Universality that we all share the same breath. Universality that we all want to be happy. Universality that we are all connected -- not just we the yogis, but we are ALL connected, even the shoppers at Target.
(and I made sure to smile at the clerk on the way out, and she smiled back. Sweetness)
What do you think, can Target be sacred? Can anywhere be sacred space?