by Leonard Perlmutter

ALBANY, New York.  September 24, 2005 (The Times Union)

Every American has experienced some effect of hurricane Katrina. Even if we did not feel her destruction firsthand, we have been caught in the mental and emotional floodwaters of shock, helplessness, anger and fear. In the face of Katrina’s physical fury, we are called to deal with our emotional storms to heal ourselves and the nation.

As we watch and read the news, it takes courage to witness our own emotions and judgments without giving in to negativity, despair and unproductive criticism. If we can recognize and utilize certain eternal truths now, the actions we take next will bring us comfort and assure a brighter future built on a firm foundation. Toward the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus the Christ shares this practical understanding: “Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.” Then the Christ makes it clear that the rock to base our lives upon is not mere belief in him. Belief, he insists, must become our actions that acknowledge and serve divine will. “Not every one that saith unto Me, `Lord, Lord,’ shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

The science of yoga is a practical framework for experimenting with truth. It teaches us that our conscience – known as the Holy Spirit to early Christians – is the mind’s discriminating power that unerringly reflects divine will. Consistent adherence to the promptings of our conscience, therefore, is the rock upon which Jesus the Christ teaches us to base our lives.

Most of us sense that we are citizens of two worlds: the outer world that is seen, and the mental world of consciousness that is unseen and usually uninspected.

If we live with our attention on the outer world, and if the inner world of our thoughts, desires and emotions is not in harmony with the conscience, we separate ourselves from the truth and blessings of the supreme reality.

This alienation from divine wisdom leaves us no choice but to base our actions on habit, the lure of the senses and the suggestions of others. This path often leads to physical, mental, emotional and spiritual dis-ease. Yoga science creates a bridge from the world of wisdom to the world of action. In yoga science, we learn through meditation to base our actions on the advice of our conscience. As this unerring wisdom guides us, the stress we once experienced, including from Hurricane Katrina, will begin to vanish.

Content with America’s enormous wealth and technological prowess, many of us have lived under the delusion that our country is immune to disaster. The real America is, indeed, immune to calamity, for she is a resilient, ever-evolving human experiment in democracy. And an essential ingredient of this democratic experiment is you.

America’s motto is the Latin phrase “e pluribus unum,” out of many, one. Similarly, yoga science teaches us to “include all and exclude none.” Even if you feel that the local, state and federal governments’ response was inept, tardy or inadequate, do not be enslaved to a tide of fear and anger.

Judgments based on negative emotion undermine our essential union and only bring about more pain.

All the missteps of others are providing a powerful teaching. Be inspired by this lesson on how not to act and recognize that now it’s your turn to respond to Katrina’s fury.

The more you can witness the hurricane’s emotional floodwaters of anger, disappointment and despair without being swept away, the more free you are to choose the appropriate thought, word or deed that will heal you, our nation and our world.

Leonard Perlmutter of Averill Park is founder of the American Meditation Institute and author of the new book, “The Heart and Science of Yoga: A Blueprint for Peace, Happiness and Freedom from Fear.”