Shraddha – Cultivating Commitment

“Those who lack śraddha remain in the ocean of suffering” ~ Bhagavad Gitā, 9.3

In honor of the upcoming brightest moon of the year and Guru Purnima celebration, I’m offering a 3-part series on 3 essential ingredients of the yogic journey, and sharing a bit of my personal story [something I rarely do!]. 

Part 1 is  Becoming a Mumukṣu on the first threshold of the yogic journey. 

This installment is on Śraddha – Cultivating Commitment. 

Here’s where the story left off… “By a stroke of magic, when I was 21 years old, I began to take philosophy classes in Eastern religion, texts and teachings…   

Read on for the next part of my journey...

The philosophy professor turned out to be an initiate and lineage holder in the Vedic Sampradaya. After a series of classes in various eastern scriptures with him, I joined a class called “Philosophy in Practice”. 


Along with unpacking ancient texts, he gave meditation guidance. 


This deepened the mystical experiences that had begun when I was 16. But now, rather than appearing at random and without warning, I had a practice that contained & directed the mystical within. Meanwhile I was drinking up the scriptural teachings that answered so many of the questions that had haunted me since early childhood. 


I found inspiration, guidance, support that was reliable and deep. It wasn’t being “done for me” it was being shared generously with me so that I could deepen on my own. 


Over the next year while I completed by undergraduate degree, was accepted to grad school, traveled to Costa Rica, worked in a vegan restaurant…. I also began to attend local āsana classes, was reading books on Āyurveda and was meditating daily. 


What was being revealed was that the seemingly unanswerable questions could be in fact be answered to depths far beyond my imagination. 


Within a few months I abandoned a PhD program in sociology and without telling anyone, I started traveling from the East Coast US to the West… in pursuit of more freedom to pursue yoga. 


Looking back, this took a lot of what might be called “faith”. But is was not blind faith, it was Śraddha. I left everyone and everything familiar, I abandoned plans and strategies that I had worked toward for years…and went into the unknown… for it was in that unknown that I trusted I would find that which I truly wished to KNOW. 


I was on a bus to Colorado reading “Autobiography of a Yogi”, a guy around my age on the bus was  reading the same book. We became friends. 


He was driving from Colorado to Portland… would I like to go? Yes. 


A few weeks later he was driving to California… would I like to join? Yes. 


This utterly uncharacteristic behavior. was the beginning of śraddha for me. 

Kaya in the Himalayas, around 2003

What made it possible for me to put one fateful foot in front of the other? I had finally encountered teachings answered my questions about the human experience and practical methods to direct previously random and accidental mystical awakenings. 


We arrived in California, where a friend’s mother was offering a room in her home in exchange for vegetarian cooking. Would I like to do that? Yes. 


Months later, I met Michael in a the health food co-op. Would I like to go to a drum recital? Yes. 


That same week, a friend invited me to a workshop with her favorite yoga teacher. Would I like to attend? Yes. 


Weeks later, the owner of that studio was going on a road trip to explore a yoga therapy program in San Diego. Would I like to join? Yes. 


The increasing knowledge, practice & experience was deepening my trust… the trust was deepening my commitment. This is śraddha. It is not blind faith. It is trusting commitment based on direct knowledge.

Months later, I flew to San Diego for Yoga studies. I had no place to stay and no car. Class started that evening. Before we said goodnight, the teachers made an announcement… Does anyone here need a place to stay? Yes.


There was Isabel. She lived nearby and was attending the program. I stayed with her. A year later, she was no longer attending yoga trainings. Would I like to continue to stay with them, and have her husband drive me to and from training everyday? Yes. 


I tell you there is a magic that comes with deepening, and saying “yes” to your yogic saṃskāras – it is undeniable. 

I imagine you have your own stories of śraddha – commitment that leads to magic that deepens your trust even more!


It is not that I wasn’t making sacrifices and great effort along the way – I was. But it felt easeful because the teachings, practices & śraddha were holding me. 


Even when the journey had bumps, challenges and obstacles, the “yes” moments and blessings and boons along the way confirmed the commitment which cultivated it more.


One fateful foot in front of the other into my own destiny pattern. Choice by choice, yes by yes. 

Here’s another example. 

When Michael and I were around 23 years old and living in India we asked a friend there – an older gentleman who owns a beautiful gold shop – could he suggest someone that we could study āyurveda with. 

“No” he said as 
he pushed a handwritten note across the table with a name and phone number. You’re going to study Jyotish, and you’re going to learn from this man”. 

“Okay, yes” we said. 


We had discernment, we were making choices, but we are participating with what was revealed to us, what was being given… and we were doing this because of śraddha. 


Each time I deepened my commitment, confirmation appeared. 


The strange surprising and magical things that happen with śraddha, I have to stop myself writing here… or it will never end. 


More to come in the next installment. 

“This inquiry is not about finding something to believe in, but about discovering the knowledge of something we think must exist, though we cannot necessarily see it” – Pujya Swami Dayānanda

Śraddhā is essential to yoga. Often translated as “faith” or “belief”, but these are insufficient.

The vedic tradition is not a system of belief, it is a system of inquiry and discovery the divine truth.

This is why I translate Śraddhā as an inner attitude of trust & commitment, cultivated and nurtured over time.

As a seeker, you listen, try, apply… and witness the effects. As you experience the impact of apt teachings and practices your commitment and trust deepens. The commitment itself, deepens the trust, the trust deepens the commitment.

Śraddhā allows you to take each next step. 

Growth is not the result of blind faith. No, trust allows you to commit & do the work necessary to mature. 

Śraddhā is the inner commitment that is essential to mature through the stages of the spiritual journey.


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