What's your story? In our first segment, we'll explore Lakshmi as Dharma. Dharma is a loaded word with many meanings, from "foundation" to "responsibility" to "harmonious relationships" to "doing the right thing." Dharma also means "path," and therefore it's about discovering our way, our life-path, and considering first of all how we relate to being in this world. Are we comfortable in our body? in our home? What is our relationship with our self, with our loved ones, friends and family, co-workers, community, country, and the divine itself? How does Lakshmi inspire us to walk in balance and beauty?
Module #2: The Path of Material Wealth
Mo'money!? Have you fast-forwarded to this aspect of Lakshmi? Most certainly, Lakshmi is most widely adored as the bestower of material wealth. In this segment we will delve into the Lakshmi teachings on what "wealth" is, where it comes from, and how to generate it. We'll consider Lakshmi as both Artha (material stuff) and Dhana (the overarching "prosperity" and "prosperity consciousness" from which the material stuff springs). We'll also consider the teachings on what blocks us from generating and/or maintaining wealth, and how to move forward on the path of material abundance.
Module #3: The Path of Enjoyment
Are we having fun yet? A spiritual path that advocates savoring the lusciousness of life? That advocates jumping right in? Yes, indeed. This entire world is said to be the very body of the goddess, and the path of enjoyment embraces pleasure, delight, sensuality, and sexuality. It's about savoring, right down to rejoicing in that first sip of coffee in the morning. We will consider how expanding consciously into pleasures of the senses brings us a certain type of rich, even divine experience of the world. At other times, we may seek to fully contract from the world and turn inward, which leads us to the fourth path...
Module #4: The Path of Spiritual Freedom
I want out! As worldly travelers, we want into the world until we realize we want out.... when we wearily feel that, as Wordsworth said, "The world is too much with us." The Lakshmi teachings offer a goddess who is called bhukti-mukti-pradayini -- that is, "bestower of worldly enjoyment [bhukti] and spiritual liberation [mukti]. Ultimately, this plays out in two ways for those of us living in the world. First, we learn to enter into the "middle space" between the inhalation and exhalation, between past and future, between what was crossed off our to-do list and what's still there demanding to be accomplished. We learn to create a time and a space to stop, drop off the grid of the world, and step into the void. For just as Lakshmi is embodiment of the manifest world, so too is she embodiment of the effulgent collapsing into emptiness, the dark void from which all springs forth anew. So we learn to disengage and refresh ourselves. Emerging from the void, we may then return to the world and the three other paths with renewed clarity, perspective, and energy. And as an even more subtle way to tread the path of spiritual freedom, we may ultimately embrace the power of walking all four paths simultaneously... for, according to the most subtle Lakshmi teachings, being in the world and stepping away from the world are actually one.