Author Archives: Justine Hoang

Main Themes of ‘The Dhammapada’

The Dhammapada provides invaluable insight to those who are just starting down the path of yoga; however, it provides a good reminder of some essential points to seasoned practitioners as well.  It is particularly important to serious yoga aspirants, as it provides a set of ethical guidelines that must be constantly observed, in order to fully adopt the yogic lifestyle.  If yogis are indeed highly conscious beings, then they should strive to demonstrate in an unfailing manner the behavior that is prescribed within the pages of this sacred text.

Through its poetic arrangement of couplets and effective analogies, the Dhammapada presents a code of conduct that is expected of all yoga sadhakas.  By holding steadfastly to these rules, we contribute to the greater good and help to raise the overall consciousness as well.  Ultimately, we must all act in a way that preserves the universal order among all beings, in order that every thought, word and deed gives rise to positive consequences. If we fail to exercise mindfulness and compassion, we risk incurring suffering and pain, not only for ourselves, but for others as well.  The graver our transgressions, the greater the likelihood of severe repercussions, be it in the present lifetime or the next one into which we are reborn.

This philosophy should resonate soundly with yoga practitioners, since it aligns completely with the Laws of Karma, which state that, for every action, there is an associated outcome that affects one or more beings, including one’s own self.  Even our thoughts must be closely monitored, for they can be extremely powerful;  after all, intentions and ideas can often materialize.

…the first two verses of the Dhammapada emphasize the power of the human mind in shaping our lives, and the importance and effectiveness of a person’s own actions and choices.  This theme reappears throughout the text.  We are told, for example, that we are our own protectors  and the shapers of our own destinies (verse 380).  What we do, especially with the mind, determines our future happiness or unhappiness (verses 1-2).  Each of us must make our own effort along the Buddhist path; teachers can only show the way (verse 276).  Ethical and mental purity – important ideals in the Dhammapada – cannot be achieved through the intervention of others:  “By oneself alone is one purified” (verse 165). [ref. 1, extracted from page 1-2 of the “Introduction”]

Good intentions and loving thoughts produce positive outcomes, which, in turn, provides incentive to stay on the path of virtuous action.  In contrast, negative thoughts and harmful intentions, if fuelled by a strong motivational force, can potentially give rise to devastating consequences, both to the doer and the victim(s).  As we are all accountable for our sins, we will inevitably have to bear the consequences, which translates into one or more subsequent birth and death cycles.  Every re-birth can be thought of as a probationary period, in which we are required to undergo spiritual correction for the wrong-doings of our previous life.  As  such, there is bound to be some suffering, the extent of which is dependent upon the amount of pain inflicted during the previous lifetime.  If we persist in committing evil deeds, we are simply opening ourselves up  to the possibility of continual re-births, in order to burn off the negative karma that accumulates over subsequent lifetimes.

With steady effort
One should do what is to be done
Because the lax renunciant stirs up even more dust.
A foul deed is best not done –
The foul deed torments one later.
A good deed is best done –
For, having done it, one has no regret.
[ref. 1, verse 312-314]

Finding fault in what’s not at fault
And seeing no fault in what is,
Those who take up wrong views
Go to a bad rebirth.
But knowing fault as fault,
And the faultless as the faultless,
Those who take up good views
Go to a good rebirth.
[ref. 1, verses 318-319]

It is obviously in our best interest to comport ourselves in a way that will not inflict grief on anyone or anything, because  the pain that we cause to others will eventually come back to us in some form or other.  Similarly, the more peace and kindness that we share, the more we benefit from the grace that comes back our way.  This concept is fully consistent with the theme of union, which is prevalent in yogic philosophy. Since we are all linked together through that portion of God that resides in every being, it follows that what we do to our neighbours, we do to ourselves.  Once we are able to recognize all beings as reflections of our own Selves, we begin to develop a strong unconditional love for everyone.  As a result, it becomes completely unfathomable to engage in wrong-doings that will cause harm to anyone.  This is the key to attaining Samadhi, the state of bliss absolute.

Glory grows for a person who is
Energetic and mindful.
Pure and considerate in action,
Restrained an vigilant,
And who lives in the Dharma.
Through effort, vigilance,
Restraint, and self-control,
The wise person can become an island
No flood will overwhelm.
[ref. 1, chapter 2, chapter 22, verses 24-25]

Buddhism, like other religions, enforces a code of ethics that one must adhere to strictly in order to attain enlightenment.  It reflects, to a great extent, the same restraints and observances that are depicted in the yamas and the niyamas – that is, the first two of the eight-limbed path of yoga.  This code of ethics dictates the comportment that is required of its followers in order to uphold a high degree of order and maintain peace among all beings.  The Dhammapada is a text that relays the Buddhist code of moral behavior, in a highly insightful and poetic manner.

These verses of the Dhammapada sum up in the simplest language the core teachings of the Buddha.  Memorized and chanted by devoted followers for thousands of years,  these words remind all who hear them of the universal truths expounded by the Buddha:  Hatred never ends by hatred.  Virtue and wise action are the foundation for happiness.  And the Buddha’s teachings offer the possibility of a thoroughly unshakeable peace and liberation of heart for those who follow the way of the Dharma and free themselves from clinging.  [ref. 1, extracted from the “Foreward” by Jack Kornfield, Spirit Rock Center, 2004]

The Dhammapada describes the behavioral patterns that inevitably cause a disruption to the harmony  within a community.  The aim of all beings should therefore be to avoid such errant tendencies, for they set the karmic wheel in action, which ultimately brings about suffering.  If everyone was to live in constant observance of the same set of ethical rules, then perhaps we would eventually see an end to all the conflicts that exist between different cultures and societies. Moreover, perhaps we could even conceive of cooperating with other nations in order to resolve problems of a global scale. Yogis, knowing the significance of the yamas and the niyamas,  must continue to pave the path towards this end, through leading others by example.   Eventually, more and more people will follow suit, once they experience the deep benefit of acting with consciousness.  Sri Dharma Mittra often says, ” Same attracts same!”  Therefore, seek out those individuals who are serious about their practice, for they are the ones who are eager to learn and strive to shun harmful thoughts, words and actions.  As teachers, we should be thinking of ourselves as ambassadors of peace and love, on a lifelong mission to propagate the divine teachings of yoga…for armed with these truths, we empower all beings to rid themselves and others of needless pain and strife.

Lokah samastha sukhino bhavantu!
(“May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.”)
[ref. 2]



  1. Fronsdal, Gil. The Dhammapada – A New Translation of the Buddhist Classic with Annotations, Boston, Massachusetts: Shambhala Publications Incorporated, 2005.
  2. “Focus of the Month: Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu”. Web. April, 2010. <>.



Insights on Swami Nikhilananda’s text, ‘Self-Knowledge’ (the Ātmabodha)

The text entitled ‘Self-Knowledge (Ātmabodha)’ , which draws from non-dualistic Vedānta philosophy, provides invaluable insights to those who strive to live their yoga to the fullest extent.  After all, the very title denotes the state that we, as spiritual aspirants, are hoping to attain and reside in.  If we compare our yogic path to a journey in which self-knowledge represents the final destination, then this book would surely be considered a useful guidebook to refer to both prior to embarking and all throughout the trip.

This text aims to educate the reader on the meaning of self-knowledge and how it applies to our spiritual growth.  Furthermore, it warns of the challenges that are imminent in the pursuit of this utmost level of realisation of truth, and prescribes the steps that need to be followed in order to progress.

Of particular significance, the Ātmabodha starts off by admitting that the teachings are targeted towards a specific audience – that is, those who are already on the path towards self-realisation:

I am composing the Ātmabodha, or Self-Knowledge, to serve the needs of those who have been purified through the practice of austerities, and who are peaceful in heart, free of cravings, and desirous of Liberation [ref. 1, p. 117, verse 1]

While this may appear discriminatory,  it must be pointed out that the concept of self-knowledge is very complex, even for those who are serious, long-time practitioners of yoga; therefore, individuals who have a strong inclination towards spiritual self advancement are the most apt to benefit from the teachings of this text. This is due to the fact that such individuals are aware of the greatest obstacle that stands in their way of attaining their goal, which is ignorance.  Hence, they would likely be interested in discovering how that ignorance manifests in their quest for liberation.  Armed with this knowledge, they can be better equipped to avoid (or at least deal with) the illusions that could delude them.

Action cannot destroy ignorance, for it is not in conflict with ignorance.  Knowledge alone destroys ignorance, as light destroys dense darkness.

It is only because of ignorance that the Self appears to be finite,  When ignorance is destroyed, the Self, which does not admit of any multiplicity whatsoever, truly reveals Itself by Itself. like the sun when the cloud is removed.  [ref. 1, p. 121, verses 3 & 4]

In both the introductory address and the notes that accompany Sankarāchārya’s scriptures,  the author repeatedly reminds the reader of the essence of the true Self – Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute – which has been expressed in one of the great Vedic statements:

“That beyond which there is nothing; which shines above māyā and is infinitely greater than the universe; the Inmost Self of all; the One without a second; the true Self; Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute; infinite and immutable – that Brahman art thou. Meditate on this thy mind” [ref 2, verse 264]

The main point of this passage is that we are one with Brahman.  It follows, therefore, that the true nature of all beings is divine, infinite in its potential and boundless in its capacity for bliss and knowledge.  In fact,  Brahman, alone, is real and all-pervading;  What we perceive to be real, which is basically the entire universe and all matter contained within, is simply illusion, born out of our ignorance.

The world appears to be real as long as the non-dual Brahman, which is the basis of all, is not known.  It is like the illusion of silver in an oyster shell.

All the various forms exist in the imagination of the perceiver, the substratum being the eternal and all-pervading Vishnu, whose nature is Existence and Intelligence.  Names and forms are like bangles and bracelets, and Vishnu is like gold. [Ref. 1, pp. 124 & 126, verses 7 & 8]

Thus, all that constitutes primordial nature is ever-changing and eventually perishes, as a function of the 3 gunas, which are always in flux.  Brahman, however, which represents its composing fibre, remains forever unchanged.   As per the example, though we may create innumerable pieces of jewellery of every shape and size, the metal that we use to form the jewellery remains constant in each of the creations.

Our greatest challenge that we experience in our quest for self-knowledge is our attachment to the physical aspects of our own selves as well as the universe.  Again, this is due to ignorance.  We have difficulty with the concept of non-duality, and because of our weak discernment skills, we mistake things from the relative and phenomenal world, for the true Self.  Furthermore, as a result of our limited imaginations, we cannot easily relate to anything as formless and intangible as the individual or collective soul.  We tend to either superimpose names and forms upon Brahman, or we conjure up limitations or conditioning characteristics (known as upādhis, in Vedānta philosophy) on Its nature, but this obviously creates a false portrayal of Brahman.

Our quest to discover our true Selves is, in essence, a journey that takes us into the inner  layers of our being.  As we go deeper inward , we shed off more of our ignorance and become more akin to Ātman – that is to say, the Supreme Soul. This process is well illustrated by the traversal of the  five kośas, or sheaths.  Each sheath represents a veil that covers the innermost and true Self.  As one would expect, the outermost sheath, consisting of gross particles of matter, is the most dense.  Those who reside at this layer identity only with the physical body. As the thirst for self-knowledge grows, though, we acquire the intellect to drill into the underlying sheaths, which symbolize the subtle and causal bodies. The sheaths become increasingly finer, allowing more and more of the true nature of the Soul to be revealed, until the innermost sheath – that of bliss – is reached.  However, it is important to remember that, like any type of covering, it is not the actual  object that is being sought.  By clinging to the bliss experienced at this level, we would remain entrapped in an illusory state.

On account of union with the five sheaths, the pure Ātman appears to be like them, as is the case with a crystal, which appears to be endowed with such colours as blue or red when in contact with a blue or red cloth.

One should, through discrimination, separate the pure and inmost Self from the sheaths by which It is covered, as one separates a rice-kernel from the covering husk by striking it with a pestle. [Ref. 1, pp. 134-135, verses 14 & 15]

As spiritual aspirants, we should be striving to become jivamuktas, which, upon attaining that state of ultimate self-realisation, enables us to become the embodied Brahman and enjoy absolute freedom from suffering.  As a result of this complete liberation from ignorance, we need no longer fear becoming bound by our sense organs and minds, for we are now able to differentiate between what is real and what is illusion.  With this comes eternal bliss and enlightenment, and the promise of immortality:

A yogi who is a jivamukta, after crossing the ocean of delusion and killing the monsters of passion and aversion, becomes united with Peace and dwells in the Bliss derived from the realization of the Self alone. [Ref. 1, pp. 158-159, verse 50]

The path to liberation is admittedly difficult.  Our inability to discern causes confusion and makes us prone to numerous setbacks along the way.  In all probability, we will, from time to time, draw our own conclusions which leads us even more astray and further from the Truth that we seek.  However, provided that we continue to fuel our desire for liberation, adhere to the practices prescribed in the eight-limbed path of yoga, and faithfully follow the guidance of a trusted guru, it can only help us in our quest.  Of course, intense contemplation is also required in order to gain deeper understanding. Through constant meditation upon a subject, one may eventually reach the state of all-knowing with regards to that topic.

He who, renouncing all activities, worships in the sacred and stainless shrine of Ātman, which is independent of time, place, and distance; which is present everywhere; which is the destroyer of heat and cold, and the other opposites; and which is the giver of eternal happiness, becomes all-knowing and all-pervading and attains, hereafter, Immortality.  [Ref.1. p. 171, verse 68]

The  points that I presented here are those that resonated most deeply with me.  There are, of course, many others, but it would require considerably more words to adequately summarize them.  Suffice it to say, it is very clear to me now why this book forms the basis of so many spiritual discourses by our beloved teacher, Sri Dharma Mittra.  I wish to conclude this reflection with a passage by the author, Swami Nikhilananda, which touched me profoundly.  May these words serve to inspire as many individuals as possible to cultivate a strong desire for self-knowledge, for it “serves the practical purpose of destroying pain and suffering (which are always caused by ignorance of the Self) and also the positive end of helping everyone enjoy supreme peace and blessedness here and always.” [Ref. 1, p. xv]




Swami Nikhilananda, Self-Knowledge (the Ātmabodha), New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 2005.

Śankara, Vivekachudāmani, publishing information unknown

Insights on Swami Sivananda’s ‘Raja Yoga’

The sacred science of yoga is intended to bring an individual into blissful union with their Supreme Self.  This is the state in which one has realised their divine and immortal nature, having had attained the highest level of knowledge, discipline and perfection.  As a result, the yogi forevermore enjoys complete freedom from suffering caused by ignorance, and sees all beings as manifestations of God.

To some, the expression ‘sacred science’ may seem somewhat paradoxical.  The terms ‘God’ and sacred tend to conjure up an association with religion, which, if brought into the context of yoga, may produce some negative reactions towards the practice.  On the other hand, using the term ‘science’ in conjunction with yoga can evoke a cold, clinical impression that is equally uninviting.  Undeniably, however, there are elements of both religion and science in yoga that are attributable to its effectiveness.

As with all religions, yoga employs a system of beliefs and observances in order to effect the appropriate moral conduct from its community of followers.  Just as Christianity has the Bible and the Muslims have the Quran, there exist a number of yogic sacred scriptures produced by enlightened beings that reveal the fundamental beliefs and philosophies.  They prescribe a code of ethical behavior as well as descriptions of rituals to be performed in a certain manner, which serve to fuel devotion through regular disciplined practice.   The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali Maharshi is a concrete example of one such authoritative guide.

A modern definition of science has been given as “‘the way through which knowledge is pursued, not just the knowledge itself'” [Ref. 2].  A more precise description of science is “a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws” [Ref. 3].  Hence, if one equates the verses and their sequential order of Patanjali Maharshi’s text to this systematic arrangement of truths, and his explanations of how certain behaviors and thought patterns impact our destinies and those of other beings, there are some definite parallels that can be drawn between religion and science and yoga.  Clearly, the intention and method for deepening one’s knowledge is a common goal amongst all three disciplines.  One needs only to study their holy scriptures and other closely related sacred texts produced by the great sages and philosophers to find evidence of this. For instance, Swami Sivananda authored numerous volumes on the subject of yoga, among which included the work entitled “Raja Yoga”.  It is of particular interest to the global yoga community, as it examines the path of Raja Yoga through the context of the Yoga Sutras.  Coincidentally, this is the branch that is known as the king of all yogas, as it primarily concerns the mind, thus giving more justification for the use of the expression, ‘sacred science of yoga’.  Patanjali Maharshi’s ancient text, supplemented by Swami Sivananda’s commentary, represents an exceptionally thorough source of knowledge for devoted yoga practitioners.  Together, they provide spiritual aspirants a systematic and intellectual approach to reach the highest realms of yoga, that which is denoted by Samadhi.

All the Western Sadhakas take to the practice of Raja Yoga.  In Europe and America, hundreds of men and women Sadhakas owe their progress in the practice of Raja Yoga to the practical and efficient guidance of Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj.  Sri Swamiji’s approach is direct, clear and positive, [Ref. 1, publisher’s introductory note, p. 7]

As suggested by the meaning of the term ‘sutra’ (thread), Patanjali Maharshi’s insights are presented as a prolific stream of reflections.  To me, the experience of reading through the sutras felt much like listening to the guru giving a lecture to his students, which at times, is interrupted by a question and answer exchange…only the questions are never actually heard.   Consequently, there are points in the text where there are some discontinuities in the flow of thoughts, as another subject is addressed or the topic at hand is expanded upon.   Furthermore, the sutras themselves tend to be quite short and lacking in detail.  Had it not been for the book entitled ‘Raja Yoga’, I likely would have not gained the full benefit of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.  Every verse of the sacred scripture was accompanied by a thorough interpretation of the thread, which often included relevant supporting information and examples to illustrate difficult concepts.  I also appreciated his explanations on what effects could manifest in one’s practice as a result of exercising or shunning the guidance provided in any given sutra.  His approach of providing an extensive knowledge base and presenting different perspectives on the topics greatly helped to me grasp a better understanding of Raja Yoga.  As a result, I now have a better sense of where to direct my focus in my own yoga practice, and where the pitfalls may potentially be encountered.

The text, ‘Raja Yoga’ is aimed at those who are seeking ultimate fulfillment of their innate potential, which comes about when they realise the union with their Supreme Souls. In this state, the yogi becomes an embodiment of God (Brahman); they become omniscient, omnipotent and eternally blissful.  This complete absence of concern and freedom from suffering arises from the knowledge of the cause of suffering, which is ignorance.  By understanding the root cause, it becomes possible to determine the potential effects that entrap us in a never-ending cycle of ignorant behavior, which inevitably creates more pain and anguish.  Our failure to see past the finite, physical layer of our beings and our tendency to cling to the material universe – whether it is in the form of possessions, other beings, activities, etc. – is what binds us to the physical world. These attachments are spawned by desires, which produce a restless mind, which in turn leads to incessant activity.  This produces more desires and consequently more potential for suffering. Thus, the loop begins once again.  Only once we can recognize and accept that the true Self is actionless and completely indifferent to sense-objects and material desires, are we able to escape the wheel of life and death.  Until such a time, we must continue to perfect our life experience and increase our self-knowledge, each time we are re-born, so that we may eventually see an end to our suffering.  The only desire that truly counts is to be one with God, for God is present in all things and all beings.

It is the path of Raja Yoga, which constitute the uppermost three limbs of yoga that will bring us liberation from our ignorance, for it teaches us how to discipline the mind.  Through constant practice of the concentration and meditation techniques of Raja Yoga, we learn to control the thought waves that translate to desires, which can eventually lead to attachments.  Through observing Vairagya (non-attachment), we develop resilience towards cravings for sense-objects, for we understand that true bliss cannot be found in the sensual desires of the physical world.  We learn to quell negative thought fluctuations which could give rise to evil words and actions by replacing them with positive and loving intentions, which are fortunately much stronger.  By establishing a strong character through observance of Yama and Niyama, radiant health through the practice of asana, a calm and undistracted mind attained from consistent Pranayama practice, and the ability to withdraw from the senses through control of the Indriyas, we create a strong foundation for our Raja Yoga practice.  Eventually, through the regular practice of Samyana (which refers to the combined and simultaneous practice of Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi), we acquire the power to discern between reality and illusion, which ultimately brings us deliverance from pain and suffering:

These three practices purify the mind.  They constitute the very basis of Yoga.  With the help of these three, the Yogi dives deep within and brings out the pearl of knowledge of anything. [Ref. 1, Ch. XI, verse III-4, p. 139]

Hence, the way of Raja Yoga is undeniably long and difficult; however, the rewards are boundless and beyond imagination.  Thankfully, we have the life works of Jivanmuktas such as Patanjali Maharshi and Swami Sivananda to provide us the guidance to meet with success…

Why is your mind wandering in various directions with anxieties, O peaceless man?  Is there no one to guide you, who, catching hold of your hands steadfastly, can cause true knowledge to dawn in you by explaining creation, destruction, etc.?

Get yourself free from the Samsara (wheel of birth and death) by taking shelter at the Lotus Feet of your Guru; and realise the Self in your heart by controlling the senses and the mind. [Ref. 1, “Instructions of Sankara”, p. 8]


  1. Swami Sivananda, Raja Yoga, Himalayas, India: The Divine Life Society, 1999.
  2. Wikipedia contributors, “Science”. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 26 July 2015. Web. 29 July 2015. <>
  3. “Science”. The Free Dictionary By Farlex. Random House Kernerman Webster’s College Dictionary. 2010. Web. 29 July 2015. <>

Reflections on my 800hr LOAY Teacher Training Experience

There aren’t enough words to describe the experience of taking part in the LOAY 800 hr Teacher Training (TT) program at the Dharma Yoga Center!  To say that it was phenomenal does not do it justice!  I recall having similar feelings a few years back, during the 500 hr TT; however, this program proved to be even more critical to my growth.

The window of opportunity opened up for me at exactly the right time, as it always seems to.  I am certain that it was no coincidence that I arrived at this juncture in my yogic path, along with the other sadhakas.  Destiny brought us all together to share in this amazing experience, and I feel extremely blessed to have met so many like-minded beings.  Each participant contributed a special energy to the group, resulting in a super-charged environment and a deep collective consciousness.  I cherish every minute I spent in the company of these highly devout and motivated individuals.

To the directors, mentors and other contributors to the LOAY 800 Hr TT program, we owe an enormous debt of thanks and respect.  They all went well beyond the call of duty to ensure the best possible experience for the trainees, on every level.  I felt that the schedule that they set for us, although demanding, provided a good balance between contact teaching hours, practicing of techniques, and personal time.  Their guidance was invaluable; in a very true sense, they carried us right through to the end of the training.  I cannot imagine having better role models than our teaching mentors; it was a genuine honour to learn from them!

I greatly appreciated the specialized classes – such as Dharma Yoga Wheel and Partner Yoga – to add some diversity to the curriculum.  I was also happy to have, once again, the opportunity to learn, observe, and practice teaching the three yogic techniques in small groups.    This model served as a good reminder to be receptive to different perspectives, teaching styles, to draw from one another’s strengths, and to offer constructive feedback.

Finally, I must acknowledge our beloved guru, the one who has been so deservedly named the Teacher of Teachers!  In all training opportunities that I have had with Sri Dharma Mittra, I cannot remember a time when he was more vibrant, engaged and fun-loving…which is truly saying a great deal.  Perhaps he had a strong sense of our commitment to pursue higher knowledge.  It was an incredible gift to get his guidance on all aspects of the practice, which, in previous training programs, were handled mostly by the mentors.  To that effect, however, I gained tremendously from having each of the mentors lead us through pranayama, psychic development, Dharma IV and yoga nidra;  there is so much value and beauty added through diversity!

Sri Dharma Mittra has armed us with some extremely powerful tools to help us in our quest for self-realization.  I am now halfway through the three-month practice portion of the internship, and each day, I reflect upon this amazing gift of knowledge that he has bestowed upon me.  I am continually struck with gratitude for having learned these very special techniques, and have already seen clear evidence of their power manifesting in my daily life…it is almost unsettling to think about how much of an impact they have made, in such a short time span.  Notwithstanding, I am highly motivated to continue  my journey of learning and practicing, and to eventually share this extremely powerful knowledge with some of the most devoted and receptive yoga practitioners within my entourage.  Now, more than ever, I feel a strong pull to the Dharma hot yoga, my spiritual family, and am eager to join them in propagating divine teachings that have been handed down to me from Sri Dharma Mittra…for I know that in accepting this mission, I can help to cultivate more bliss in the lives of those around me.  After all, aren’t we all in pursuit of the end to our pain and suffering?