Some of the yoga traditions that include a guru lineage believe that a guru can transmit grace (whatever that might mean) through their presence or touch. Back in the days when I was doing my first yoga teacher training, a fellow student asked me whether I had ever received shaktipat? My answer was yes–when I’d had the opportunity to shake hands with William Brennan. He’s not a guru, my fellow student objected. But he is a being of extraordinary grace, power, and intelligence who has devoted himself to the service of our collective well-being and my being in his presence inspires me to show my best light; isn’t that what’s supposed to happen with shaktipat? I don’t think she was ever fully persuaded by my unorthodox reading, but I had no need to persuade.
I found myself thinking about that discussion today, having gotten to shake John Lewis’s hand when he walked through the crowd to speak at day 2 of the people’s filibuster for health care. In the presence of his inspiration, I am compelled to figure out what more can I be doing.