Dear graduates, congratulations on what you have achieved, for the effort, courage and energy you have brought to accomplish the teachers’ training course.

You listened, you put in the time and energy. From here on in, you can give yourself the credit that you can do it. This is how you learn not to buy what they are selling in the world – get rich, get smart, get this, get that. I have trained people who are billionaires and they were suicidal.  You have learned the difference between a life with yoga and a life without yoga.

When I see you and all you have achieved, sitting over there in your yellow t-shirts, I remember how it is that I never took the TTC myself. There was always an excuse – I have to work so my children can get college degrees, I have to do this, I have to do that. I never took the TTC.

I don’t have the TTC, but had the great privilege to be taught me one on one by Swamiji, which was wonderful. Forty years on, I am comfortable with what the years have given me.

There is so much more to know than what is seen by the naked mind, if you stay – don’t leave the party too soon! You have already accomplished a huge deal, and I would urge to you stay at these holy places so you can benefit from the spiritual vibration. Never ever, ever, whether its pranayama, asana, karma yoga – never quit too soon. Give yourself the chance to go deeper.

Now I’ll tell you a small story.

Many years ago, in the 19th century, the United States attracted people from all over the world with its promise of work and the chance to create something from nothing. It was the land of milk and honey, and the streets were paved with gold.

There was one guy from a country, say Ireland, or maybe Russia, who very much wanted to go to the United States so that he could express his life more fully and see what it was like there. Only a certain amount of people from each country were allowed into America per a quota system, so first of all you had to fit into that quota. Then, tickets to America were very expensive.

This person saved up money for a year, worked everywhere he could, did everything he could, put away dollar by dollar, patiently waiting for that dream to come true. Eventually he had enough money to buy the ticket for the ship which might take ten, twenty, thirty, even forty days to reach America.

So, our traveler has his suitcase and boards the ship ready to embrace his new life in America. But things do not go to plan. A fellow passenger asks him, “Are you sick? Seasick perhaps? You don’t look so good.” The man replies, “No, it’s the crackers. When I bought my ticket for the ship, I went out and I bought a suitcase and filled it with crackers, and that is all I’ve been eating.” His fellow passenger was taken aback. “Why are you doing that?” he enquired. Our traveler admits, “It is because I only had enough money for the ticket. I do not have any left over to buy food.”

The fellow passenger replies, “Are you crazy? Look, every day three times a day they have the finest fruits, the best vegetables, and the most beautiful homemade breads – as much as you want. You can sit there and eat for hours. It’s a banquet three times a day! If you get hungry in the middle of the night you can knock on the kitchen door, they’ll give you anything you want. Why are you eating crackers for heaven’s sake?”

The traveler said, “Well it was the money, I was afraid…” The fellow passenger interrupts, “It is included in the price! The ticket gives you passage to America for this long, long journey, and included in the price is the banquet! Step up to the banquet!”

My friends, what you have worked hard for, what you have achieved is wonderful. But there is more for you. Just as the banquet was there to nourish the traveler’s body, the environment and spirituality you find in the ashrams will support you on your journey. Karma yoga, staying at spiritual places, will deepen your understanding of the path of yoga. Step up to the banquet! Expose yourself.

My friends, the help is there for you. So don’t eat crackers, step up to the banquet! Then pass it on.

God bless you all.

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