People Making a Difference
Muni Natarajan - “Peaceful Warrior”
By David Emch
Special to the Moultrie News
Time and misinterpretation dilute things of value. So it is with Yoga, an ancient method of attaining spiritual enlightenment. What is commonly called “Yoga” today is but a preparatory tool used in a single stage of the age-old discipline. Adherents claim that this original form (known as Raja, Jnana or Ashtanga Yoga) is a time tested pathway that leads to self-realization and a direct spiritual connection with God. This yoga teaches the student to carry the resultant intuition, wisdom and serenity into their daily activities and interactions. And locally an ascetic of this tradition teaches and lives.
Muni Natarajan of Daniel Island spent 37 years as a monk in an order that directly traces its lineage back 3,500 years when the ancient Veda scriptures were written in India. Although monks do not usually leave the monastic lifestyle, Muni did so after the death of his teacher, Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami 1927-2001.
During his time as a monk, one of Muni's jobs was to serve as a guide and teacher on spiritual tours of the East. These tours were organized by the monastery. During one of these tours, he met his future wife, Mary Beth, who was one of ninety pilgrims on the 2004 “Inner-search,” as it was called. In 2007, Muni left the monastic life to marry, and now resides with his wife, Mary Beth, on Daniel Island. The author of two books (A Monk's Tale and Into the “I” of All,) Muni shares his knowledge and discoveries of spirituality and Yoga through weekly classes, workshops, music and art.
“My teacher was forever telling us, ‘I'm just a garbage man,” says Muni. “What he meant by this was that everyone is perfect in essence - they're just carrying garbage. This garbage consists of those subconscious ‘issues' that are not yet resolved in understanding. Typically, this so called garbage only surfaces in embarrassing situations or as impediments to meditation. My teacher insisted that a deeper practice of yoga can help those who are willing to let go of their garbage.”
“The true yoga starts with the body and breathing which are physical hooks and handles for seeking internal awareness. Once one has found harmony within and with the external, the inner and outer are yoked together in the yoking of yoga. The overcoming of each impediment leads to ever deepening meditation, which ultimately culminates in a deep state of bliss. Holding this bliss without falling into distraction ultimately leads to enlightenment. This Yoga takes much persistence, hence one must have a deep yearning for knowledge and spiritual growth. Although anyone can realize much benefit from Yoga, those who are driven to it by some manner of deep adversity progress the furthest. And each student is an individual – each has their own unique set of intentions and capabilities which I must consider and then teach accordingly.”
Teaching at this level doesn't just happen. Muni awakens at 3 a.m. each morning and spends four hours in personal yoga practice. Working through eight steps of an ancient yoga practice brings him into a state of mind that allows him to intuitively and effectively convey what is needed to those who seek. “I cannot give something that we all don't already have,” says Muni. “Deep within, we are all perfect. This perfection is there to be realized. The only thing blocking that realization is garbage.”
And his efforts are making a difference. “Everyone I know who comes to Muni's classes is becoming calmer, nicer, more friendly,” remarked one Daniel Island resident and student. And thus a peaceful revolution has begun – one student, one interaction and one community at a time.
For more information about Muni and his work, please visit his web site at 4siva.com. You may also contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
David Emch, author of this article, is a Mount Pleasant resident who is currently on a three year journey around the perimeter of the United States as a fund raiser to drive research for a cure for epilepsy through MUSC. You can follow him and assist this effort at www.CaptureAmerica.blogspot.com or by contacting him directly at CaptureAmerica1@gmail.com.